Actions

Work Header

Endless Nights of Sombre Thoughts

Chapter Text

It had been a few months since Voldemort had been defeated. Harry had turned down the offer to begin Auror training and had simply felt lost. There was no goal in his life anymore, no big task that the saviour was supposed to do. Harry was the face of the wizarding world and he just wanted to be normal for once in his life. He had thought that saving the wizarding world would allow him to just be Harry, to be an ordinary boy -well, man - but everyone just kept expecting things from him. He was tired of being the hero. Tired of being the one to make the tough decisions. He had lost his childhood to that bastard and all he wanted was that time back. So he had refused the Auror offer. He wasn’t ready to be an adult just yet, even if he had been forced to be an adult since the age of eleven.

After the war, Harry had spent the summer at Grimmauld place feeling the weight of everyone’s expectations on him. For that reason, he usually drank away the evening, not senselessly, just enough for the buzz to make him forget about the outside world. Those moments usually brought out repressed memories of certain people. His parents and how they died for him, his godfather and his limp body falling into the veil. But surprisingly his mind lingered on a certain blond-headed boy, of what he was doing now that the war was over, how he was coping with the changed world and how everyone was treating him. The last time he had seen those sad grey eyes that seemed to be sinking into black bags, was in the court of the M.O.M. Harry had testified for his release and a new chance, he was just a boy trying to protect himself and his family, he was just doing what he had been raised to do. After that he had missed those eyes burning holes into his skull, he had missed the smirk that plastered itself with those red lips every time he made a snide remark to Harry.

The hope that things would be the same with himself and Draco was so strong that it kept him awake at night until his own eyes were puffy and dark. Draco had been the only person who treated him the same all the time, no matter what the Prophet wrote about him. Draco was the only one that understood the fact that Harry, contradictory to popular belief, was just a regular boy even if he was the “chosen one”. And Harry knew that Draco was just a boy, no matter what his blood status or wealth said about him, no matter which side he had been on, no matter what other people whispered and spat about him. In that way they were similar. They were more similar than Harry had ever realised at school.

It was one night in particular, when Harry was drinking in the living room at Grimmauld place; his body stretched on the couch with one foot over the back and the other over the edge of the cushion, glasses askew and a bottle of Ogden’s finest on the floor near his head, when his mind rambled off to its own place of fond memories of school and the buzz was ebbing away, then a faint tap at the window startled him out of his reverie. He pushed his glasses up and stumbled off the couch, tripping on empty bottles of alcohol. At the window was a small owl and with it, a letter that reminded him of all those Hogwarts invitations his uncle had burned all those years ago. A little flame flickered in his chest and his breath caught. He seemed to sober up quite fast as he recognised the wax seal of Hogwarts that was all too familiar.

Harry flopped back onto the sofa and carefully peeled back the wax. The letter was indeed from Hogwarts and Harry's smile only grew as he read more.

Dear Mr.Potter,
As the events of last year and the beginning of this year have unfolded the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have come to the agreement that it would not be in the best interests of the students or the Wizarding World to proceed with the examinations of O.W.L’s and N.E.W.T’s that would have taken place last school year.

For this reason, Hogwarts is inviting the seventh years from last year to return to Hogwarts for an eighth year to take their N.E.W.T's. The choice to return to finish your education is completely optional but, under the circumstances, I highly recommend that you return. Arrangements for the housing of students and the classes they take will depend on how many students return. There have been great losses in your year group and to make the eighth year as convenient to the staff and students as possible, a reply will be required for your place at Hogwarts. Remember; Hogwarts is your home. I understand that time to think about the eighth year is necessary but I must inform you that without a reply by August 25th, it will be difficult to accommodate you. If you do wish to return you will find your list of school supplies needed for the eighth year on the next piece of parchment. I wish you all the best in your futures and I only hope that you make the right decisions for your own well-being.

Your’s faithfully.

Minerva McGonagall
Headmistress of Hogwarts.

 

When Harry had read the letter a few times and the idea of returning to Hogwarts and maybe seeing his face again, maybe returning to the way things were, had sunk in, Harry finally lay back on the sofa. His tense shoulders relaxed and he gazed at the parchment with an intense curiosity.

Harry cast a tempus which showed that it was about 9:30 pm so without a second thought he rushed from his living room and into his study where he found a disgusting lack of any writing necessities. He cursed under his breath and shook on his cloak. Within seconds he had apparated to the middle of Diagon Alley. After purchasing his writing ink and parchment from Scribbulus Writing Instruments, Harry entered The Leaky Cauldron to replace the well-missed alcoholic buzz with something other than Ogden’s for a change.

 

***

 

Draco Malfoy was sat in a far corner of the Leaky Cauldron, hunched over his Hogwarts letter and fire whisky, his mind wandering in and out of focus as he remembered how terribly his sixth and seventh years had gone. He put the letter on the table and brought his hands up to his forehead, lifting his fringe slightly from his eyes. He felt like he couldn't breathe, couldn’t take a gasp of air that he desperately needed to bring him back to his present location and not the top of the stairs at Hogwarts, offering his hand to that black-haired boy with his stupid glasses and his unfortunate scar that set him apart from everyone else. The rejection had been tormenting, always getting what he wanted was normal and when Harry had denied him it hurt as if he wasn't good enough for “Saint Potter”. Pushing the old memories aside, he wiped a small tear away from his cheek and decided that going back to Hogwarts to finish his education would be his best chance at getting a job, given his family name’s bad reputation. The noise in the pub seemed to disappear as someone walked in but he paid no attention until said black haired boy walked up to his booth, two butter beers in hand and a brown bag of items from Scribbulus Writing Instruments under his arm. The man had very messy hair and his under eyes were black.

“Harry?” Draco asked his mouth opening to a stunned silence, Harry’s eyes widened at the use of his first name, “What are you doing here at this hour Potter?”

Harry frowned a little but it soon disappeared, “I could ask you the same thing." A pause stretched between them. "I’m here to get things so I can write to Professor McGonagall that I will be returning to Hogwarts for the eighth year.” He looked at Draco’s letter and the Hogwarts seal attached to it, “I hope that you will consider returning... may I sit with you?”

Draco’s eyes seemed to brighten at Harry’s words but all he could reply was, “Why would you want to sit with me? After all I did to you and your friends, I’ve done terrible-”

“You did bad things for good reasons. I am no better than you in that area and I hope that the past is not keeping me from enjoying a butterbeer with you.”

Draco appeared to stutter to himself, opening and closing his mouth a few times before he receded back into his seat and nodded to the side opposite him. He had only given in because he was lonely and somehow Harry was the only one who could make it go away.

Harry placed one of the butterbeers in front of Draco and sat down in the seat opposite him. Harry began to drink his butterbeer but Draco just looked at him with wet eyes.

“And what reason could possibly be good enough to dismiss my actions?” Draco asked breathlessly as he drank his butterbeer.

Harry put his cup down, “You would have been killed if you didn’t do what you were forced to do, then there's the fact that you were forced to do it, you wouldn’t have wanted to disappoint your parents considering their high expectations from you and you wouldn't have wanted to disgrace your family name or your pureblood status. It was all you grew up knowing. It was all you were ever taught.” Harry picked up his butterbeer, took a sip, and then reached into his bag to get out his parchment and ink.

Draco watched his every move, how could Harry know him so well when they hadn’t ever been close, “You can’t possibly know how I was raised, you think you know everything.” He mumbled to himself, all the time watching the boy opposite him.

Taking his quill out, Harry looked at Draco with sad eyes, “See, that’s where you’re wrong, I don’t think I know everything, most of the time I'm absolutely clueless. I just know you. We aren’t so different.” there was a moment of silence where the two held eye contact and seemed to look into each other's hearts for something. “I hope that what I've said hasn’t hurt you,” Harry said and then began to write to Professor McGonagall.

They both continued to sit in silence until Harry had finished his letter. "You never answered my question."

Draco finished the last of his butterbeer and seemed to think about his next words carefully, “Would you happen to have some spare parchment and ink, I think I have a letter to write to McGonagall.”

Harry beamed up at him. When he lifted his head, Draco barely recognised him from the deep bags under his eyes and the puffy red lids that covered his green globes. “Yes, Malfoy, I think I do.”

A brown bushy owl took both letters away and Draco stood from the booth, “I think I’d better get off now, it's late and it appears that I have some shopping to do tomorrow.

Harry stood up too, “Yes I think I’d best get going too. Will I see you, before Hogwarts?”

Draco looked into those soft eyes and almost broke. How could he ask questions like that when he had rejected him and dismissed him all those years ago? He buried the painful thoughts and felt his face turn sharp. “No, Potter, you won’t,” he said calculatingly but with not nearly as much venom as he had intended it to have.

The other merely closed his eyes and lowered his head to control himself, then he looked back at Draco and smiled sadly, “Hogwarts it is then.” And walked through the back of the pub and disapparated.

Draco followed shortly after and disapparated to his flat where he opened yet another bottle of vodka and drank away the nagging thoughts of Harry Potter. He fell asleep with swollen eyes and half a bottle of vodka by his side only to slip into a state of unconsciousness as dreams took over.

 

***

 

Over the summer, Harry had not seen that much of Hermione or Ron. He had secluded and isolated himself by closing his Floo and avoiding most letters from people. Others found comfort in friends and family whereas Harry just wanted to be left alone, he just didn’t want to exist and if ignoring people made them forget he was alive then that suited him just fine. He couldn’t be dealing with all the fuss from his friends and the little family he had. Even though they meant well they would always put him in positions where he would have to answer questions that made him uncomfortable or tell him that he just needs to find a passion and then find a job from that. And if it’s not that then it’s the convenient question of a lover. Things between him and Ginny had been getting awkward and every time they tried to further their relationship to the next level Harry would always back out. It just didn’t feel right. Every time they tried something new he found he wasn’t into it and he just got turned off. They had decided to talk about their relationship like adults and it was then that Harry realised that he just wasn't into girls.

Since then their relationship had been fairly simple. They were friends. Being gay had only drawn more attention to Harry and he had the Prophet to thank for that. More unwanted attention had piled up on him and in the end, it was too much. The atmosphere at the Burrow seemed to turn icy and awkward even though Molly made her best effort to make him feel at home.

Harry had soon discovered that being a recluse made him feel better. Nobody was judging him. Nothing was forcing him to make decisions. He felt free.

Which is why, when Hermione and Ron showed up at his door a few days after meeting Draco, he was without a doubt putting on a fake smile. It felt odd to have to do this around his best friends but the point was, he didn’t have the energy to pretend to be happy. Lack of energy accounted for, he kept up the pretences so as to not awaken any burning questions from the depths of Hermione’s mind. Harry liked being alone too much but that just made him feel lonely. How ironic and it was all his fault. More nights than not he would go out to muggle clubs and go to young men's homes for a quick hard fuck just to fill the space. Most of them too drunk to care about whether Harry got off or not but that wasn't a new thing. Well, there was always one person who cared if he got off... Harry shook his head from the thoughts going on in his head and he tried to push away particular memories of that one person - they weren't pleasant memories after all.

It was the 28th of August and he had already gone shopping for his school supplies. He had not seen Draco in Diagon Alley again and he was surprised by his own need to see someone, to be around someone. Perhaps it was because Draco had left him and that had meant that Harry didn’t have to worry about him outstaying his welcome and begin to ask him questions. Or maybe it was for some different reason altogether.

Hermione had nagged and nagged Harry about every single thing to do with the eighth year; did he have his books, did he have his robes, had he written back to McGonagall, was he even going back at all?
The answer to all those questions had obviously been “yes” but the one-word replies were getting nowhere with Hermione and Harry was getting more and more stressed by the minute. Somehow Ron, usually as oblivious as Harry had been in school, picked up on Harry’s tense shoulders and closed off posture and for that he was grateful.

“Lay off him ‘Mione you’re driving him around the bend. Even I couldn’t put up with that many questions and I love you.” Ron chided.

Hermione looked taken aback but it was worth the peace Harry got after she stopped. “Right well we’ll see you on the train then, Harry,” Hermione spoke cautiously. And then they left and everything was better, quieter, and less stressful. Harry reached for the nearest bottle of alcohol and started to drink.

Chapter Text

The Hogwarts train was full and most of the compartments were bursting what with the extra thirty or so students that had returned for their eighth year. Harry stood at the end of the train looking out on the caboose. The wind ruffled his hair and made it even messier if that was even possible. The September chill seemed to have more of an effect on him as they moved further north. It was peaceful out here with nobody to talk to. He had considered trying to find Draco but the thought of being so close to everyone else and the whispers that would be spoken about him put him off. They would all be too loud and all Harry wanted to do was relax before the inevitable conversations he was going to have to have at Hogwarts. Why could nobody understand when to leave him alone. Why was the only person he actually wanted around the only person who gave him the space he required from everyone else?

As if his mind had been read, the door opened and someone stepped up to the railing. Harry didn’t look to see who it was, he didn’t need to.

They both stood in silence.

Draco was the first one to break the quiet, “Do you want me to go?” he asked in a soft voice. Worried about a second rejection that he knew would be even more painful than the first.

This time Harry did turn around, “No, you’re the exception.”

Draco’s face made a confused expression, “Why do you want everyone to leave you alone but not me?”

“Because you understand me.” He said simply.

This made Draco even more confused, “You always knew that there wasn’t anything special about me and you treated me the same even when the prophet wrote crap about me. You weren’t fake. And we have more in common than you might believe. It’s taken me time to understand and accept that but my best friends don’t get it. They fought in the war and moved on, they have lives now. I don’t. There’s something I haven’t found yet, a piece of me that’s missing. I don’t know if I’ll ever find it, but I feel lost without it, whatever it is. We are both broken, both lost, and we both understand what each other went through.” Harry snapped out of his thought trail. “People tell me things I already know. They tell me it’ll get better, that I'll find someone, that I'll get a job. I’m tired of hearing empty words that are a weak attempt to comfort me.” He hoped that Draco wouldn’t ask him any more questions. If he truly understood him like he thought he did then he wouldn’t.

Draco looked at the boy with fresh eyes, “Well I thought I’d find you here, away from everyone else, it's nice. Quiet.”

They stood there for what seemed like forever and Harry didn’t even notice that Draco had left until the door opened again and he came back with two liquorice wands, and apple and some peppermints.

Draco passed Harry a liquorice wand, “For the butterbeer.”

And Harry understood. He nodded,”Thanks,” he said as he started to nibble at the end. Then he made the mistake to look over at Draco and caught him sucking on a liquorice wand which gave him some vivid images of other things that delicious tongue could be licking. He caught himself staring and warned himself not to let his sexuality ruin this new thing that he had with Draco. Well, it wasn’t even a thing, he just hoped they could be a comfort to each other and could maybe become something like friends. He didn’t want to push him away by accident.

They chatted and Harry soon found out that Draco’s favourite thing was Peppermints as he had eaten a handful of them. It wasn’t surprising that after a while he noticed that Draco smelt of mint and liquorice with a hint of fresh apple. He began to like this smell a lot, it was as good as the smell of broom polish or treacle tart, but good in a different way, separate from those smells.

The two parted ways to get dressed in their school robes and didn’t see each other until they were travelling to Hogwarts by the thestral carriages. Draco was already moving away with Blaise and Pansy, in a second carriage; Theo, Daphne, Astoria and Millicent were following behind. Harry got into a carriage with Ron, Hermione, Luna, and with a squeeze, Neville. They all looked at Harry with a concerned look as he watched the thestral. Dean, Seamus, and a few students from other houses followed in the carriages behind them.

The group was silent throughout the journey to the castle entrance until they met McGonagall.

Walking to the gathered thirty or so students, Harry noticed her tiredness first and then her genuine smile to see students back at Hogwarts.

She beamed, “Welcome back to Hogwarts! I am absolutely delighted to have so many of you back to finish your education. I would like to tell you that you will sit for this meal with your house tables but after this evening you can sit at your eighth-year table at the back of the hall. After dinner, I will be taking you to your new common room. You are, as of now, all in the same house, you will have classes together, you will share dorms together and you will hopefully enjoy your time together. I want the eight years to fully represent the house unity that Hogwarts will be aiming for. The war was about prejudices and I hope to eliminate such things. Now, the first years will be arriving shortly so head to the hall and sit with your house.”

***

The arrival dinner was the same as every other year. The first years were sorted, the announcements were made, the new teachers were welcomed, they ate. A quiet buzz of conversations that were indistinguishable filled the hall. Harry didn’t feel like eating, he didn’t feel like talking much either. The evening seemed to drag on.

Then he caught those grey pearly eyes. It was like being back in his sixth year where his obsession began and he had thought; ended.

Those eyes felt familiar. Even if there wasn’t any hatred in them anymore, perhaps there had never been hatred, to begin with, but the obsessive desire to stare longer was still there.

“HARRY!”

Reluctantly he tore his gaze away and gave the person a bored look, “Yes, Hermione?”

“What has gotten into you, Harry? Stop feeling sorry for yourself. We are back at Hogwarts to finish our education so you can’t live your life moping around as if nobody else has suffered. I thought things were getting better? Harry you know you can tell us if things aren’t getting better.” Hermione attempted to comfort.

Harry may hate being around people but these were still his best friends and it hurt him to think that they only saw a person who was pitying themselves. “Of course other people have suffered, the list of how many died is endless, how could you possibly think that I believe I'm the only person who has suffered?” he said, the hurt clearly showed on his face as his cheeks reddened with anger. “Well at least you were being honest.” he spat. “I wouldn’t want you to be around someone who only thought of themselves. You know Hermione, as much as I care about you, you just don’t get it. You go and live your happy little life with your job and your house and your family and your boyfriend.” The words slipped out of him faster than he could think about what he was saying. Once his brain had caught up to his mouth he stopped, “Hermione I'm so sorry, I didn’t mean it. I’m s-so sorry.” He looked around frantically as if he had only just realised where he was and the few people from other houses who had heard him shouting, not to mention Malfoy. “I can’t- I - I can’t do this.” and he tripped over his seat and ran from the hall.

***

The shouting brought him out of his conversation with Blaise and Pansy. It was almost quiet in the hall except for Harry and a few remaining conversations. Then he was mumbling something and tripping over his seat. A few of the professors at the front of the hall had stood up at the same time as Draco had. He didn’t even know what he was doing. Someone, probably Theo, was yanking his robes and telling him to sit back down but when Harry ran from the hall holding one his hands to his face Draco was running after him. The hall resumed to its noise behind him as the prefects took each house to the common room they would stay in. Draco would have nearly missed Harry if it had not been for his stifled sobs. He took a few steps back and gingerly pulled back a tapestry to reveal a small dark corridor. On the left side, back to Draco and leaning against the wall on his left shoulder, whilst sitting on the floor all curled up, was Harry. He didn’t even turn his head when a burst of light snuck in from behind the tapestry.

The sobs were louder now. “Lumos” Draco whispered and a faint glow emitted from the end of his wand tip. Draco walked over to the boy, his heart racing, slowly he stretched out his hand and tentatively rubbed small circles on Harry’s back. He snivelled and bawled more with deep gasps and he sank more into the wall with his hands outstretched as if he were trying to get comfort from an inanimate object. Draco lay his wand on the floor and brought the boy to him wrapping his arms around his back and head. He didn’t really know what he was doing, all he knew was that in the times he had been like this all he had wanted was for someone to hold him. Harry had said that they were more similar than he thought and so surely this was what the black-haired boy needed. Harry was helplessly weeping now and clutching onto Draco’s robes as if he was afraid that he would leave him. After a while sitting there Draco ran his fingers through the messy black hair and did what he knew would help, that only he had ever done to Harry, and what he knew would be familiar to the boy in this very unfamiliar situation.

“Stop crying Potter you sound like the first year that’s had their Chocolate Frog taken from them.” He drawled with as much exasperation as he could muster.

The crying lessened and Harry took deeper breaths to calm himself. Draco wiped the tears from his cheeks and under his chin, “where’s a bottle of Ogden’s when you need it am I right?”

Harry looked up at him and smiled, “Indeed, I wonder h-how much you drink Malfoy. I’ve t-tried to stop but I always end up h-having a little, just for a buzz to distract me. It helps. S-shit, I don’t know where our common room is.”
Draco smiled, “Only just thought of that one did you, Potter, yes very smart to run away, and I thought you were a Gryffindor.” He tutted with a smirk.

Harry stood up and smartened his robes before replying, “C-come on Malfoy let's go to McGonagall’s office and ask where we are supposed to be.

Draco stood with him, Harry’s eyes were now swollen red just like they had been at the Leaky Cauldron. He wondered what he had looked like and if he had looked as much of a mess as Harry had. Harry was right, they were more similar than they ever cared to admit in their earlier years.

The corridor leading to the headteacher’s office was occupied by McGonagall herself. “There you are,” she said breathlessly. Draco and Harry had walked to her office side by side, not quite touching and the latter had calmed down quite a bit when McGonagall put her arm around Harry's shoulder and mouthed a thank you to Draco. “Fizzing Whizzbee”

The door opened and revealed a staircase which she gestured Draco to go up first and then she helped Harry onto the steps himself before following after him. Once in the office she spelt a tea service over and transfigured a small seat into a couch that Harry and Draco planted themselves on.

McGonagall sat in front of them making tea, “I think I can speak for all of us when I say I’m surprised that you Mr Malfoy chose to go after Mr.Potter of all people instead of Miss Granger or Mr Weasley. I think that you two are an excellent example of inter-house unity in this post-war era and I am now most confident in the decisions I have made in regards to your housing. Might I ask what the argument was about Harry?” she offered tea to both boys and sat waiting. “Harry dear, I know it is hard, I know that you feel lost without a goal that everyone expects you to do, I understand that you feel unaccomplished with certain… aspects of your life. But Harry, your friends will always be there for you, even if they don’t understand you as Draco seems to, they always care. I believe they only ask things of you because they are scared of what you will do to yourself if they don’t. The things you wrote to me in that reply have made it clear that your friends fear for your well-being, therefore, they pretend that you are perfectly fine and demand you to have a normal life.”

Harry sipped his drink, “I know Professor, and I do care about them. They- “ he sighed, “they said that I’m not the only one suffering as if I believed that I was the only one who had pain. I know that I am not the only one suffering, I understand that others are suffering, family members are dead, loved ones have been taken away from us, the wizarding world held grudges to those who have been given second chances…” he looked at Draco. “Everyone is on edge, just because I refuse a job offer and I don’t want to be the saviour doesn’t make me the only one suffering.”

Harry could feel the eyes of Draco and McGonagall looking at him over their tea.

“Thank you,” McGonagall began, “for explaining it to me. I am certain I made the right choice in the dormitories. Harry, you are rooming with Draco. The decision was made a while ago but I feel like today has solidified that it was the right thing to do. I felt that with both of you feeling… out of place and without people understanding you that you would be there for each other and suit each other very well. You have both been damaged by the war, and I know that nothing can change that but maybe you can try to comfort each other.”

Draco looked between the two then into his tea, “I wanted to room with Potter anyway.” and Harry turned to him, surprised.

They all stood up, “well then let me show you to your new common room”

***

The common room was large. In a high tower, even higher than Gryffindor tower, their dorms had been allocated. Smooth oak adorned the place and ash grey latched itself onto everything just like red had done in Gryffindor tower. The curtains were grey and the sofa was grey, silver made some things more lively than others and the whole place seemed to remind Harry of...Draco’s eyes. It was as if the room had been designed in honour of him and the soul that was visible through those grey windows. A large fireplace burned brightly in the far left corner of the common room and a seating area right beside it. The centre of the common room was empty and Draco could only assume that it would soon be filled with numerous cushions that were piled up in the corners of the room. The stairs to the dormitories were situated at the far right side of the common room and Harry wondered what the rooms would be like.

Harry’s gawking was stopped short when Hermione ran up to him, “I am so sorry Harry.” she whispered to him as she clung to his shoulders in a tight embrace. Harry realised that he would have to start letting people back into his life someday so he might as well start now.

“It’s ok, I’m sorry for pushing you and Ron away. I know you were just trying to help, I know you care about me.” Harry mumbled into her hair. “I promise I won’t push you away again, it’s just hard for me to fit in, I feel empty most days and I just don’t know what to do with my life, I feel like I’m waiting for something but I don’t know what.” He pulled away and sighed. “I’m just really tired right now and I think I need to sleep, I'll see you tomorrow yeah?”

Hermione took Ron’s hand and nodded, “yeah we’ll see you tomorrow Harry.”

Harry turned to Draco, ”Are you coming too Malfoy or are you staying down here for a while?”

Draco spoke for the first time since he entered to common room, “No it’s late enough as it is, I'll come up with you.”

Everyone who had returned to Hogwarts had gathered in the common room by now to see the latest revelation on Harry’s argument. The large group of students parted a way for Harry like the red sea as he walked to the staircase. Draco said his goodnights to his Slytherin friends and then followed Harry up. He could feel the pairs of eyes shift from Harry to him as he walked up the staircase and now he understood what it felt like to be in the middle of all this attention. Sure he had had his fair share when his trial had come about and all that stuff with his family happened. But Draco hadn’t grown up with it, Harry had. He didn’t know if Harry had simply gotten used to it after all these years, or whether front page after front page had finally broken him, but it didn’t take a genius to work out that it was the latter. Snape was right, fame isn’t everything.

The dormitories were separated into two parts; girls on the left and boys on the right. Draco wondered to himself what the school would do when the few people who wanted to be in both dormitories at the same time, or neither or even change the dormitory that had been assigned to, spoke up. That would be an interesting conversation that he would love to be a part of.

It wasn’t difficult to find his and Harry’s dorm, the long corridor had doors on either side and a large bathroom at the end. Each door had name plaques on it and it seemed that it was two to a room. Draco soon came to a door with his name on it and just underneath, Harry’s name too. He slowly twisted the handle and opened the door slightly. The room was dark, grey and silver lined the walls. There was an oak desk on each side of the room and a chair to match. The centre of the room was accommodated by two identical beds; Four poster oak with a canopy and grey thick curtains on all sides for privacy with a chest in front of each. The floor was a solid dark oak and the walls were made of stone like the dungeons. The only light in the room came from the moonlit window where Harry sat on a padded bay window seat looking out onto the lake.

Draco saw the luggage in the centre of the room and figured that at least McGonagall had the decency to let the students choose their own beds. “I see you’ve quite acquainted yourself with that window Potter so I’ll take this bed over here.” He said taking his luggage and beginning to unpack it into the chest by his now claimed bed.

Harry looked at him indifferently, “I don’t sleep anyway so it makes no difference to me which bed you take, Malfoy.” then he turned to get his suitcase and unpack too.

“Why don’t you sleep?” Draco asked, looking at Harry from the corner of his eye.

The other boy, taking his clothes from his suitcase to unpack too, shrugged. “Last year, when Ron and Hermione and I were on the run we were looking for those Horcruxes, we didn’t have any clue where they would be or what they were so we had to keep on the move. Each time we got to a new place, we set up our tent and protection wards but we knew it wouldn’t be enough. So we kept guard at night, kept watch. The nights I did, I never even slept, I had to keep them safe. So it just became normal for me not to sleep. Then they found us and brought us to… Since then I just haven’t slept the same. I know it’s stupid, he’s gone and he can’t come back but things like that just stay with you. I’m sure you understand how it is.”

Draco took his school books to his desk and leant on his chair, “Yes I do know how it is, you won’t need an explanation it will be very clear tonight, at least I know I won’t be keeping you up with my sleeping habits. I’m… sorry, truly sorry that I - that when you were taken- that I almost-”

Harry had taken his school things to his desk as well and was now sitting on his bed, “Don’t be sorry, I owe you my life, you knew and you didn’t… you kept me safe.”

Draco turned to face him, “You owe me nothing! You saved my life in the room of requirement when you could have easily left me!”

Harry stood and walked back to the window, “It is not so easy to leave someone to die when you have a choice to do something about it. But if you insist then I guess it’s even. Except I still owe you because without your mother I would have died. Did- did she tell you about that?”

“She mentioned it but only the fact that you were breathing and she told… him that you were dead.” He sat across from Harry on the window seat, “She said that if I wanted to know more I’d have to ask… you.”

Harry looked at Draco, “will you ask me?”

“Only if you want to tell me, I know you don’t like talking too much about these things.” he replied looking at his hands.

“She checked my pulse, saw my breath and asked if you were alive, she only said your name but I knew. It was the only question a mother could ask in a time like that. So I nodded because as far as I knew you were. Then she stood and proclaimed me dead.”

Draco stood and undid his robes, “then you still don’t owe me, my mother never said anything about a life debt but we are purebloods and I suppose she would be expecting your repayment. Only after school though, she is very particular about people’s education. She wouldn’t want anything from you now. God, I must sound like an arrogant prick, always the one expecting things from people. I’m no better than your friends are down there.”

Sighing, Harry stood and pulled out some pyjamas, a pair of blue bottoms and a checkered blue button up top.
“Look, Malfoy, I knew I owed your mother it’s not news so don’t think that you’re asking anything from me because you’re not. And you are not like them, you’re… different. Look it’s getting late and you’re right I don’t like to talk lots of the past so let’s just go to bed yeah?”

They each got changed with their backs to each other and Draco settled under his covers. Harry put his clothes in his chest and took his seat back on the window ledge. He could see the giant squid splashing. The moon was full and it only reminded him of Remus so he pulled his knees up to his face and rested his head on his arm. That way nothing could remind him of the people he had lost. Draco had been watching Harry but when he pulled his legs to his chest he turned over and let sleep take him, he couldn’t be bothered to pull his curtains closed.

Hours later the room had gone silent with the deep breathing of Draco and Harry’s miserable attempt to keep his memories of late nights with Hedwig out of his mind.

Then he moved.

It was rather sudden, Draco’s arm batted away something that Harry couldn’t see, he cast a tempus which was around three in the morning.

The breathing suddenly quickened as Draco began to toss and turn slightly in his sleep, “Mother… please.”

Harry stood up “Lumos” a faint light showed that Draco was sweating as he writhed in his bed.

“I have to do this… he’ll kill me.” Draco whimpered and started to shake. “Mother help me.”

Harry walked up to Draco and shook his shoulder, “Malfoy. Malfoy! Wake up it's a bad dream. Malfoy!”

“Mother? Stop it, make it stop.” Draco reached for Harry, his eyelids moving rapidly.

“DRACO!” Harry said a bit louder, yanking his shoulder which made him start away and sit upright.

“Potter?” He asked looking confused, “But I thought… you’re dead! You were in Hagrid’s arms!”

Harry looked at the blond boy and shook his head, “Yes that did happen but I’m safe and so are you, it was just a dream. No one will ever hurt you again.”

Draco pulled the covers over himself again, suddenly feeling cold. “But you hurt me. In our first year… you… you-”

Harry pulled a glass from the nightstand, “Aguamenti,” and gave it to Draco to drink, “none of that matters now.”

Draco took the glass and drank from it, his puffy eyes pierced Harry as if he wasn’t real. Wordlessly, Harry took the empty glass and set it on the bedside table. He let Draco turnover and helped pull the covers over him. His felt quite tired after that and crawled into his bed. It was cold. After casting a warming charm and taking a last look at Draco asleep again, he put out the light and slipped into a comma. A reverie where his mind shut off completely, too tired to dream anything, let alone nightmares. It wasn’t until the blinding light of dawn that he woke up. Searing pain behind his eyelids as he was wrenched from his rest. Three hours sleep, he could go through the day on three hours sleep no problem. Even if his tired face looked like it didn’t agree with him.

***

Harry peeled back the covers and made his bed. Draco was still asleep. Quietly, he took out his toiletries and made his way to the bathroom at the end of the hall. He knew from his sixth year that the boys liked to stay in bed until around eight on a school day so he had the privilege of the bathroom all by himself.
The tiles were bright white and cold from the September night. The room had a line of shower blocks on the left, each separated by a curtain. On the right, there were a few toilets near the back and the rest of the wall was urinals. It was split by a line of back to back sinks that didn’t reach either end of the bathroom. Harry got into the shower at the end and pulled the curtain back. The water was warm and refreshing. He tossed his clothes to hang on the wall and started to scrub away the grime and sweat from last night with some mint shower gel, hoping that the intoxicating smell would erase the dirt. He washed the muck out of his hair and began to sing. He didn’t know how it happened but a song that he had picked up on the Muggle radio started to slip out of his mouth.

“I thought I saw the devil
This morning
Looking in the mirror, drop of rum on my tongue
With a warning
To help me see myself clearer
I never mean to start a fire
I never meant to make you bleed”

He didn’t know how he knew the words, he just did. And the words seemed to run off his tongue just like the water ran from his fingers. He went to rinse the bubbles from his hair.

“I'll be a better man today.

I'll be good, I'll be good.
And I'll love the world like I should
Yeah, I'll be good, I'll be good.
For all of the time
That I never could.”

Harry reached for his body wash and started to scrub like he had ‘damaged’ written over and over him in blood, sweat and tears. He was going to get better.

“My past has tasted bitter
For years now
So I wield an iron fist
Grace is just a weakness
Or so I've been told
I've been cold, I've been merciless
But the blood on my hands scares me to death,
Maybe I’m waking up…”

Harry ran his hands over his body to get rid of the soap.

“...today,

I'll be good, I'll be good.
And I'll love the world like I should
Oh, I'll be good, I’ll be good.
I'll be good, I'll be good”

He grabbed his toothbrush and started to brush his teeth, humming the tune with a foamy mouth. He spat and rinsed his mouth.

He turned off the shower and stood there. Letting each droplet of water work its way down his body. An itching sensation crept through him. He could feel the drip of water on the nape of his neck from the shower. He punched the shower wall, the brick absorbing no impact. The pain sent sweet relief up his arm and he did it again. His knuckles split open and he felt something other than guilt. Felt the pain and the punishment and let himself hurt, it was the only way to feel anything. Thick blood splattered the shower wall and the clinging water droplets diluted it. He inspected his bloody hand and tasted his pain, metallic. The memory of his last damaging actions still vivid in his mind, the kitchen, boiling water. His hand started to shake.

“No. No, no, no, no!” His hands shook more, “I'll be good I promised you, I won’t do it again, I'll be good, I'll be good. Sirius, I’m sorry, I never meant-.” He took a shaky breath and reached his bloody hand up to retrieve his grey towel. He pulled it down and wrapped it around his hips then reached for the curtain that brought him back from his insanity.

***

Draco woke to the gentle click of the bedroom door. Harry’s bed had been made, or even more likely; not slept in at all. He cast a tempus, it was still early in the morning, he doubted whether breakfast would even be ready yet. He got out of his bed and made it quickly before heading down to the bathroom. The door opened quietly and if it did make any sound it was muffled by the running water of the shower and beautiful singing.

It was Harry. He had a beautiful voice. Draco had never heard the song he was singing but the words seemed to have a deeper meaning as soon as they reached his ears. The words “I'll be good” repeated over and over again.

Draco moved to the end of the bathroom and stood on the right side of the isle of sinks. He listened and as the song seemed to come to end he was even quieter. The shower stopped and he waited. He wondered what on earth Harry was doing, he hadn’t come out yet. Then he heard the smack of flesh hitting wall. And a grunt that seemed unsatisfied. Draco moved from behind the sink to the gap in front of the occupied shower. He heard the beat after beat of something hitting the wall. He was almost afraid to open the curtain. Then a whimper broke the steady rhythm of thumping.

“No. No, no, no, no!” Harry wailed.

Draco let his jaw drop as the words kept falling out Harry’s mouth. A bloody, mangled hand reached over the top of the shower to get a towel and Draco almost gagged at the sight. The same hand pulled back the curtain and Draco took a step back. Harry’s black rimmed eyes were the first thing that Draco saw.

“Fucking hell” He whispered and Harry looked up to see him gawking at him.
Harry brought his bloody forearm to wipe away water, “What? Come to judge me as well have you? Just fuck off Malfoy and leave me alone!” And he walked out of the Bathroom.

“Potter.” he hissed, “Potter, wait!” and ran after him.

Harry was in the bedroom, facing the window. Draco walked up to him and turned him around by the shoulder. The other boy looked away from him and held his gaze to the floor. Draco took his bloody hand and healed the cuts. He felt something rough on his fingertips and Harry tried to pull away from him but Draco was too fast turning his wrist face up. A series of raised lines were adorned on the boy's wrist and he still wouldn’t look at Draco. He took his other hand and saw the same there. He brushed his thumbs over the lines and then up his arms down two particularly deep scars that went up the length of Harry’s inner forearms.

“You tried to do it.” he said holding onto the boy’s wrists still thumbing the scars.

It wasn’t a question but Harry still nodded, he didn’t trust his mouth to speak. When Harry tried to break free from his grasp Draco let go. The boy reached for his uniform and began to get dressed.

“I don’t judge you, I don’t blame you either. It was your choice. I just hope you don’t try again because I quite like having you around to talk to. No one quite understands me like you do. You, of all people, should understand. It’s selfish of me to say but it’s the truth.” Draco walked to his side of the room and eased off his shirt to get dressed, Harry stopped and stared, His back was covered in white lines and marks that stuck out. The marks were long and appeared to be deep.

“Sectumsempra,” he whispered in shock, “Merlin’s beard, I didn’t mean- I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to! Don’t hate me. I’m so sorry.”

Draco turned around confused, “what?” It was a genuine question, almost as if he hadn’t heard what Harry had said.

“Oh dear God,” Harry brought his hand up to his face as Draco turned around and if his back was anything to go by, his chest was ten times worse. “I’m so sorry. I should have never- I didn’t know what it would do.”

They had stepped closer together at some point and Harry brought his fingers tentatively up to Draco's chest which seemed to move quickly under his hand. Draco's heart pulsed quicker and Harry felt the strong pulse under his skin. He ran his hands over the scars and in any other situation, it might have been funny that Harry was feeling him up but as he shook his head in disbelief of what his spell had done, it seemed less and less funny.

One of his scars went across the bottom of his right nipple and Harry ran his fingers over it brushing the flesh that would have been so sensitive. “Do you still feel this?” Harry asked but as Draco’s nipple hardened under his fingers his question was answered for him. They looked at one another, eyes holding for seconds but it felt like forever, like it was only them two. Then Harry remembered what he had told himself on the train and stepped away from Draco, leaving his hand to fall away much slower than necessary.

“Don’t apologise, I was about to cast Crucio on you, you were just trying to protect yourself.”

Harry went to put on the rest of his uniform as Draco turned away again. “It doesn’t make it right.”

They got dressed and gathered their books in silence.

***

The common room was empty when Harry and Draco got downstairs and life started to exist back in the boy’s dormitories as they woke up. Harry walked straight to the portrait hole and began to make his way to the hall. Draco fell into step by his side as they walked down the moving stairs.

Surprisingly, breakfast had already started by the time they both got to the hall. What wasn't surprising was the fact that the hall was mostly empty, except for a few sixth years. The table that had been set up for the eight years was at the back of the hall that went in the same direction as the teacher’s table. Another thing that wasn’t surprising was that Hermione was the only one sat at the table and was already reading the Prophet and eating some scrambled eggs.

She looked up, “Hey Harry, hey… Draco. What are you doing up this early?”

Harry sat at the seat across from her and Draco sat next to him, “I didn’t sleep much last night, think it was about half three before I was out, don’t look like that Hermione I’m fine, I can still function, I've done it before on no sleep.”

He helped himself to some toast and started to nibble on it. “Hermione, can you pass the pumpkin juice please.”

“Sure,” she said as she reached to her left for the pitcher of juice.

Draco thought that either she didn’t notice, or she chose not to comment when Harry held the sleeve of his jumper as he took the handle of the jug. Obviously to hide the marks. He poured a drink for himself and then offered the juice to Draco.

Breakfast was strangely quiet but it was a silence that was welcome. On the Slytherin table, they had all gossiped about anything they could and it was never pleasant to be around, especially if you were the one being gossiped about. Most of the time he had wished he could just get up and leave. He was fed up of existing in his sixth year and everything he did made him more miserable. Which is why, when he sat with Harry and Hermione and just ate without talking, he did nothing to start a conversation. It was different, not having to think about anything this early in the morning. He supposed this was why Hermione was up at this hour, it was probably her only time for herself what with homework and revision and that ginger prat always clinging around her. They must have known about Harry’s arms, it was obvious now, the conversation that they had shared in McGonagall’s office sprung to mind and of course, his friends had been worried, he had tried to kill himself.

Breakfast didn’t feel long, within the next half hour most of the eight years had come to their table and had begun eating.

***

Lessons were a drag. Everyone was in one main group because there wasn’t that many of them, their whole year had been reduced to a classroom. Some teachers were sympathetic towards them, they avoided rough topics and left the quieter of those that had returned alone. The first lesson that they had had was transfiguration and Professor McGonagall taught as if it was any other lesson on any other day. They had begun with a little theory of transfiguration to get them back into the swing of it which led on to the practical work which was to transfigure some desks into sofas and then transfigure them back. Overall the lesson had been boring given the fact that Harry had done considerably harder spells with Hermione during the war. The lesson had gone without any fuss, whereas their second lesson had been past unbearable. History of Magic had never been Harry’s sweet spot, and Professor Biggs had argued that even though Harry had been a major part of Wizarding History, even he had to pass the exam. It had now been made mandatory to get a passing Newt for some reason like learning from the past mistakes. And Harry could see the importance of that, what he could not see was the importance of a twelve-inch essay on some prehistoric rot that wasn’t even relevant to the war that had just happened. Harry had skipped lunch and had instead gone to the astronomy tower in hope for some respite. The day had barely begun and Harry was already dismissing the idea of sticking out the year. The only thing that he guessed was something to look forward to was the time with Draco. He was a breath of fresh air, he was something new and he smelled like mint and apples, it was nice. Ron had smelled like something foul. It was like the boy was trying to push away Hermione. Luckily she had seen past his endearing outer layer. And he wondered to himself why he had been smelling people. Harry was happy for them he really was, it just seemed like they were caught up so much in themselves that they forgot about how difficult things could get for Harry. He had never loved like that. Never been touched like they had. To be honest his sexual encounters had left nothing to be desired. And he hated himself for it. No-one knew of his first time, or his third time, or his twentieth time after that. He had hated himself first for being used by that person and second for seeking what they had done to Harry from others when that person was out of his life. He must have been sick in the head but it was all he’d done, all he knew. He had no idea that sex was anything other than pull your pants down and bend over. He felt like all he was ever good for was to be used. Which is why he had openly been fucked by many of his admirers, why he had allowed them to use him. It was strange to Harry to see all these couples being so affectionate for each other, it didn’t seem right to watch but when Draco had pulled him into that hug in the corridor he felt as if all was right in the world and he had clung on for dear life as if he was flying away and Draco was the only thing grounding him. Or that he was falling and Draco was the only one who could save him. He had clung on as if he was afraid that Draco would let him fall and leave him. Just like all those men had done.

That was the first time someone had hugged him like that.

It was safe, Harry had been safe.

The astronomy tower was cold and the September chill had seeped into the stone which Harry felt as he sat down, leaning against the wall with his robes wrapped around him like a makeshift blanket. If Professor Snape saw him now he would most certainly sneer at his ineloquent demeanour. Harry thought best not to dwell on Professor Snape, after all, he had not been the complete git that he acted like, no he was only half the git, but Harry had forgiven him. For his treatment of Harry and for… no, his mind would not go there. He had gotten past this part of his grief and had come to terms with his mentor’s death. He would most definitely not go there.

Harry looked out of the tower and wondered how long it would be until the snow started to settle in Scotland. The trees were almost all bare and the leaves on the floor were crisp and golden. Before he knew it, it would be Halloween. No not going there either, definitely not going to think about how innocent his first year had been; celebrating Halloween and not knowing that the death of his parents had been on that day. No, certainly not going to think about it.

The large bell rang and echoed in Harry’s ears as he left the tower and headed to his charms class. This had been pretty fun. Simple little charms had not been too strenuous, they didn’t get any homework and the lesson overall had been pretty laid back. Except of course for the initial Hermione nagging about where he had been for lunch and that starving himself was not going to work if he had become adventurous with his ways of… dealing… with his problems. She had made it perfectly clear that she would force feed him if he got any smart ideas. She had even gotten Ron in on this one and had forced Draco, as his roommate, to make sure he was eating properly, though she made sure not to give away the fact that he had tried to commit suicide. It was funny really, she had gone to the effort to keep his secret and unknowingly it was all for nothing. He already knew though Harry wished he didn’t.

It was quite embarrassing, being vulnerable in front of people. Especially when you were the chosen one and weren’t seen as vulnerable by the rest of the Wizarding World, yet another thing wrong with his fame. Unfortunately for Harry he was vulnerable all the time and made a piss poor effort at hiding it, try as he might.

His last lesson had been the most interesting of them all though.

Newt levels in potions were gratuitously difficult as it was for this reason that the classroom was half empty. The other reason was that it had been a chosen subject and not many people had taken it. The last reason was, of course, the loss of students in the war.

Ron had been adamant to go to potions but, as he had taken it with Harry for a choice, he had gone to attend along with Harry and Hermione. The room was fairly empty with only around eight people there. Professor Slughorn didn’t seem to mind, he was just happy that some students had taken a liking to his subject. Once the lesson had begun, Slughorn asked everyone to find a desk (somewhat close to each other as he didn’t like everyone spread out, it just made the class seem smaller). Then he asked for everyone to get into partners and of course, the couple went together.

Harry looked at Draco, “would you mind?”

Draco smiled, “Not at all. I think your ability is somewhat lacking Potter, I can help you there.”

“Oh Malfoy,” Harry laughed, “Maybe I’m my abilities are accounted for elsewhere. “And he laughed again but the moment he realised exactly what he had said he blushed and looked away.

Draco seemed a little flustered and began to open his advanced potion making book. They were practising a simple potion today, it was just like Slughorn to want to get stuck in right away. Of course, the potion was child’s play for Draco and Harry had a job keeping up with all the steps, on three occasions he almost ruined the potion which Draco had to save from the abyss that was Harry’s clumsy hands. At the end of the lesson, the two had a reasonably acceptable concoction which Draco sampled, bottled and labelled all while Harry cleaned up their desk. He had quite enjoyed himself, working with Draco. So much that in fact, Harry had forgotten it had been a lesson in the first place.

Slughorn had not set any homework and once the class had been dismissed Draco turned to Harry, “Not so bad Potter, I’ll get a passing Newt out of you yet.”

Harry just frowned, “I don’t think it’s that easy Malfoy. I almost ruined multiple times and that wasn’t even the most difficult potion we have to do for our NEWT's.”

“And that is why,” Draco replied, “You have me, Potter, even if I have to drag your arse through that exam and give you extra help, you will pass.”

Harry simply raised an eyebrow.

“Scared Potter?”

“You wish,”

Draco smiled at that, “We have a free period now, do you want to come to the library with me to do that homework, then it means I won’t be bored to death tonight waiting for you to finish whilst I talk to the wall.”

“Sure,” Harry smiled and followed Draco to the direction of the library which was fairly empty this early in the year. They grabbed a table by the back in a secluded area where, when the library did become full, they would surely not be disturbed. It was an unwritten rule that you had a “set” table and the one you sat at the first time around was the one you sat at for the rest of the year. It was almost dinner time by the time they had completed their homework.

If the first day hadn’t gone as bad as he had anticipated then maybe the rest of the year would be better than he had anticipated too. The two walked straight to the hall, neither of them could be bothered to walk all the way upstairs just to drop their books off only to then traipse all the back again. And besides all that work had made Draco hungry. Harry knew he should eat and he felt like he could however, it was one thing to think about eating but it was another thing completely to be able to force the food down when it sat in front of you on a plate. The hall was full when they sat with their friends and the teachers all seated themselves at the large table at the front. And so dinner began.

Chapter Text

The main meal had been awful. Everything looked and smelled amazing but as soon as the food hit Harry's mouth it was like he was eating flour. He had left most of his meal and when dessert came that wasn't any better.

Even though treacle tart was on offer the filling tasted sickly and it slid down his throat like thick grease. He had been so excited to have the school's treacle tart again but now even that was ruined. nothing was right anymore. Maybe Hermione was right, maybe he was getting more adventurous in his torture methods and not even realising it. He just felt sick at even the thought of putting anything else in his stomach and he wanted to vomit.

The conversations at the table had been light-hearted and fortunately, not aimed at Harry. It was enough trouble just listening to all those fourth-year girls whispering and eyeing him up.

Draco couldn't help but notice the way Harry looked at the dessert like he was a little child again, a kid in a candy store. It was good to see him looking forward to eating and it was completely different to how he had looked when he had tried to eat a portion of shepherd's pie. It was rather cute. Nothing good ever lasted though and as soon as Harry took the first bite of it, he shivered and pulled a face, receding into his chair and recoiling from his plate. It wasn't a massive reaction, just enough of one so that Hermione, Ron, Pansy and himself saw. Not that Draco was staring at Harry's and watching him eat with great interest.

Hermione gave the boy a pointed look, "Harry something must be really wrong if you now don't want to eat treacle tart. It's your favourite."

“I never said I didn't want to eat it, I do. It's just... it- it doesn't taste great.” Harry replied poking his spoon at the treacle tart. “Did you finish your homework from today yet?” he asked trying to change the subject.

Hermione just rolled her eyes, “Yes Harry, I don’t think you’re one to talk I should be asking you that, and it’s too soon to start picking on my academic streak. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; doing your homework as soon as you get it you know. And I know you're trying to change the subject.”

Harry laughed, “I’m not making fun of you, and yes Malfoy and I finished our homework already so you don't have to worry about me wanting to copy.”

Pansy, who had been sitting next to Hermione on the other side of the table, leant over to Hermione and whispered something in her ear. And Harry knew that look in Hermione's eyes, the spark of a new idea or a plan lighting her up.

After they broke apart they began to eat again and Harry just sat and sipped his pumpkin juice. at least he could have that and not feel the need to cough it back up later.

“Harry,” Hermione said cautiously, “seen as we have finished our homework I was thinking that maybe we could all spend tonight together, as a group. Maybe get to know each other better, Pansy and I were planning-”

“Hermione don’t you think that everyone knows enough about me already what with all the rot the Prophet spits out about me, I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing else to know, and-”

Draco looked at Harry intently, “I think it’s a good idea.”

Harry let his jaw slack as he turned to Draco, “What do you mean? How could this possibly be a good idea?”

Draco sighed, “Well we don’t know everything about you Potter, some of us chose not to believe some of that rot, and anyway not everything is about you, don’t you want to understand and get to know more about the people you consider your friends?”

Harry closed his mouth and seemed to shrink, Draco was right after all. Not everything was about him. He took a sip of his pumpkin juice, “Fine.”

Draco still wasn't satisfied though, "Promise?" he pushed.

Harry placed his cup down on the table, "Yes I promise Malfoy" he mumbled, staring into the depths of the cup.

Hermione beamed and silently thanked Draco whereas Harry just hung his head and poked his treacle tart which was now not even nice to think about. He couldn't bear the thought of shovelling it in as he had at the beginning of the meal.

Once dinner had finished, the hall seemed to erupt into a mass of students all heading to their common rooms. It was noisy and Harry felt claustrophobic in the crowd. The eight years strode to their common room and Harry felt relief sweep over him when they got through the portrait hole. He was too tired to go to his room and Hermione would certainly make a fuss if he left straight away so he found himself sinking into a soft armchair with a high back and a deep seat. It was covered in grey fabric like everything else in the room and the cushion was covered in grey fur. It made the seat even more comfortable and Harry was sure there had to be softening charms on it.

The seat was in a perfect position, by the fire but in the corner of the room so that he was a little secluded. It was turned just enough that the arms and back gave him privacy without the risk of being accused of not facing the group or the rest of the room, he could still talk to the others but if he wanted, which he probably wouldn't, he would hide away in the deep seat. This seat was going to be his and his alone and anyone who sat in it would soon learn that it was now his. It didn’t matter if that wasn’t a nice thing, he didn’t have to be nice all the time. In fact being nice was tiresome and most days a facade so he would take the goddamn seat and he would bloody well enjoy it and enjoy being himself.

Not many people had finished the homework that had been given so there were only a few people left in the common room.

After only five minutes of relaxing in the common room, Hermione and Pansy sought something to do to ease the boredom, which was very un-Hermione as she would usually be doing her extra revision. But the argument was; that it was the first day back at school and she didn’t have anything major planned for revision until around October, a month and a bit before some assessments of the school subjects. She also had hoped that this would help Harry open up and become part of a group again without shutting anyone off, though she didn’t dare say it.

The only reason Harry had turned slightly in his chair to seem like he was joining in was that he knew that Hermione and Pansy were conniving plotting evil little- well, they would have it in for him if he didn’t join in.
Somehow the two had become friends in the short space of a day after Pansy had sat next to her in the hall, (Ron being on the other side of Hermione) they had been rather civil towards each other. The cause for his disrupted gazing into the fire was the loud voice of Pansy.

“Okay everyone, gather round gather round. Now, because we are sharing a common room and some of us don't know others too well, Hermione and I decided that in order to get to know everyone in our new house we should play a game!”

Most people looked at each other with worried looks.

Hermione helped out well if you can call roping us in ‘helping out’, “It’s okay we just thought a game of ‘never have I ever’ would help us get to know each other, It will be fun, it’s played with alcohol and we have some fire whisky here so if you want some you’re going to have to play. Those are the rules. So who's in?”

Seamus and Dean were the first to join Pansy, and pretty much the majority of the common room had sat on piles of cushions in the centre of the room and soon there was an eerie silence as Harry tried to sink even deeper into his seat. All efforts were a waste when he felt a tap on his shoulder, which he ignored, and then a low cough. Harry looked up to see Draco Malfoy stood scarily next to him. He towered over Harry and his hands were on his hips.

“Potter, I believe you promised that you would join in”

Harry just mumbled.

“POTTER!”

Harry looked up, “Fine! Fine, I'll join your stupid game!” and with that Harry stormed over to the cushions and threw himself onto the nearest one. The surrounding students were trying to hide their sniggers. Trying and failing. Harry sighed.

A smug looking Draco sat next to him, Hermione saved him from Harry’s wrath with s ploy to get everyone tipsy, “Right now that we have everyone settled… we shall start. I think we should all have an initial shot, just to erm… calm the nerves.” she tried her best not to look at Harry whilst she said that but it was evident that the statement was aimed at him.

Harry glared at her, “I’m not nervous! I just hate people sticking their noses in where it doesn’t belong.”

Hermione returned his glare with a shot of fire whisky which he downed and then she refilled his glass which she made him drink too. Everyone was looking at him with an amused expression.

Harry felt some sort of weight lift off his chest and a familiar buzz replaced it, “thanks” he whispered and ran his hand through his hair. He was visibly more relaxed and before long everyone had taken their initial shot and the game was in full swing.

“Right,” Pansy started, “Well I’ll start off with an easy one. Never have I ever injured myself whilst trying to impress someone I liked.”

Nobody drank.

“Why are you like this?” Draco asked to his right and drank. “You’re never going to find out who it is, so stop trying.”

Pansy laughed, “It was worth a try.” she looked to her left where Hermione sat, ” you next.”

Harry felt the blush creep on his cheekbones as he wondered who Draco had been trying to impress, “When did you hurt yourself?” Harry asked he hadn’t meant to interrupt Hermione.

Draco actually blushed now as he turned to Harry, his grey eyes darkening a little, “I- err- well it was when that Hippogriff- err, well yeah I was trying to impress… someone and the brute attacked me.”

Harry laughed, “so is that the reason you were being so melodramatic then, you just wanted your crush to notice you, aww. I’m sorry for making fun of your… acting skills,” Harry giggled, covering his mouth.

Draco huffed, “can we get on with the game?” he said to Pansy and Hermione who were both conversing to each other in hushed whispers while glancing at Draco and Harry.

Hermione blushed, “Never have I ever set fire to someone on purpose.” and she drank. “Professor Snape, I thought he was bewitching Harry’s broom in our first year, really it was Quirrell and Snape was casting a counter curse. But yeah I set his robes on fire. It worked though.”

Most of the group just stared at her with a look of ‘Who are you and what have you done with Hermione Granger?”

Blaise laughed, “he probably deserved it a little bit anyway.”

Dean was next and said he had never had sex with an animal, he had drunk and to everyone’s concern so did Seamus. They had reassured everyone that they were both animals in bed and for some reason, this was all the explanation needed. Harry hated listening to other’s sex lives, it made him feel like a freak.

Seamus started to snog Dean rotten, his hand reaching closer into the other’s hair. There were lip biting and tongue and it was very fascinating. Harry had never really seen an open display of affection from others before and it was yet another thing he felt like he was missing out on. A little cough separated to reluctant two and Seamus said his never whilst looking into Dean’s eyes, “never have I ever fallen in love at first sight.” and they both drank. A few Hufflepuff's drank too and as eyes went around the circle they finally rested on Harry, he didn't pick up his drink and didn’t dare look anyone in the eye, his finger circled the brim of his shot glass. He had never been one for love, all he was good for was banging and he had never had any kind of relationship with anyone but Ginny. Things had ended abruptly with her and he still hated himself for feeling like he'd led her on though.

Draco next to him took his glass and drank too. Harry had to fight back his anger which had mutated into jealousy. Draco had fallen in love with someone and Harry knew that now he had no chance with him.

Pansy stared curiously at him, “Since when have you ever been in love? You have never found anyone that remotely interests you. Every time you went on dates you came back more and more miserable and you never seemed interested in anyone.”

Draco glared at her, “Shut. Up. Pansy. Just shut it. And people are interesting, if they weren’t I would be a recluse. If I'd known that this game was just going to be a series of questions aimed at me then I wouldn't have played.”

Pansy huffed, “nobody interested you… like that I mean and if you had not wanted to play you wouldn't have told Potter that it was a good idea.”

“That, Pansy, is where you are wrong. Neville, I think it’s your go.” Draco said without removing his eyes from Pany’s gaze,

Neville looked a little lost for ideas, “never have I ever pulled an all-nighter.”

Many people drank that round and there were lots of sighs as the need for alcohol had been abated.

Harry sighed and mumbled, “It wasn’t pulled, it was forced.”

Ron frowned as he overheard, “who forced you to stay up? Surely you're not talking about… mate, we all had to stay up you know that.”

Harry’s face paled, “Ron I didn’t mean it like that, I wasn’t thinking of that, I know we all had to stay up. I was talking about every day. I don’t sleep. I barely sleep- it’s- oh I can’t fucking do this shit game anymore.”

Harry was about to stand and get up when two strong hands yanked him back down again, “not so fast sunshine,“ Draco said, “Don’t worry about it Ron, he just doesn’t sleep.”

Luna said something about thestrals and drank. In fact, everybody drank. Though this round had been bitter and had not gone down so easily.

Blaise picked up his drink, "Never have I ever done something so bad that I hate myself for it."

"What the fuck"

"Where the fuck are you getting these questions from?"

Draco and Harry said.

There was a low mumbling around the group, Pansy raised her glass, "Blaise that was inappropriate," and drank.

Draco reached for his glass with rage and Harry snatched it up before he could pick it up, "Potter give me my fucking drink." He snapped. But it was too late. Harry had drunk it. He was starting to feel the alcohol in his blood and the itching began, he had to relieve the suppressed nerves. He needed to bleed. Harry clenched his fists until his nails dug into his palms.

He took Draco's hand and put the shot glass in it, "Not. Your. Fault." He said and hiccupped giving Draco a serious look.

"Why?"

Harry looked at his own shot and necked it. the fire hit the back of his throat and he felt himself relax.

"Why did you drink two?"

Harry dropped the glass to the floor and it rolled away slightly, he brought his knees up to his face. "There are... things that I've done. In my-" His breath caught and tightened and his voice lowered with determination, "-In my childhood. there are things, things nobody knows." And now it was barely a whisper, "Things people would freak out about, disgusting things. I am disgusting." He was fading out in a reverie of his past when Draco grabbed his jaw and brought his face to his. Eyes intent and stern as steel. They were so close and Harry felt his tongue go dry.

"You have done nothing wrong. it is not your fault how your family treated you." Draco spat.

Panic flooded Harry, surely Draco couldn't know what Dudley had done to him, it was impossible.

"You were an orphan and they made you serve them like a house elf, Never feel bad for what they did, never feel inadequate," Draco said, his grip loosening on Harry.

Draco pulled away from Harry, “never have I ever worked with someone who I hate with the passion of three burning suns.” he said casually.

Harry was still in awe at Draco's words and he waited, waited for Draco to drink. He never did.

Harry looked at the shot then back up at Draco and Draco was doing the same thing to Harry.

Harry sighed, “For a second then I thought you hated me.” and his smile slowly sank as he lost himself in Draco’s silver eyes.

Draco’s eyes quickly snapped from Harry’s mouth to his eyes and he managed not to look at his mouth for too long, “I asked to see if you hated me. I’m glad you don’t. Hell, I’m more than glad you don’t.” And he looked away, flushed.

Harry smiled a little which quickly faded, he picked up his shot and nearly spilt it, “never have I ever had sex with someone twice my age.” he slurred and drunk, poured himself another, tossed aside the empty bottle, and drank it. He started to get himself another but then decided it was easier to drink Draco’s. No-one else drank.

***

Draco looked at Harry in disbelief, “What?” It was almost hurt that was in his voice.

Harry seemed to realise what he had said, he clamped his hand over his mouth, this time there was no laughter.

Harry pushed his hands to his eyes, dislodging his glasses and ruffling his hair. This was a mess. He growled and threw his shot glass, “This is what fucking happens when I get drunk I say stupid fucking things that I wouldn't ever say if I was sober! So Draco I'm not disgusting? Are you sure about that your face seems to say otherwise? I guess you’ll not want to share a room anymore, or help me with potions, or sit with me to do homework. If you’re that disgusted then you can fuck right off. You don’t have a fucking clue about me or my life. You’re no different than anyone else, always fucking judging me.” Then he started to cry and ran off to the dorms, albeit very wobbly.

Draco stood and watched Harry run away, “I didn’t mean it like that,” he mumbled, “I didn’t think anything bad of him. It's not like I care who he goes with.” and he ran off to catch Harry up not even caring what everyone else in the room had thought.

Draco ran to his room to find a pile of robes on the floor and a naked Harry trying to get a onesie on. Draco thought it was cute but nothing could be funny, not even the bunny tail covering his smooth round arse. Harry pulled the zip up but not completely, a small ‘v’ of tanned skin was visible and Harry’s collarbones were poking out. At least, they were in the reflection of the window which Draco could see quite clearly when Harry sat down on the window seat. He was resting his head against the window and watching the clouds move over the pearly moon, his gaze shifting to the whomping willow. Draco doubted if Harry was even aware that he was feeling his scars. Touching the remains of what he had almost done to himself and the pain he had caused.

Draco undid his tie and slipped off his robes to place them on a chair. He moved Harry’s clothes from the floor onto the same chair and then he dressed in his pyjamas. Harry had been staring at his scars and watching the blood flow under his skin in a drunken-ish haze. Feeling bad about his reaction, Draco hovered across from Harry giving him his space.

“I’m sorry about what I said.” Draco whispered, “I don’t think you are disgusting it was just a shock, everyone seems to think that you don’t like talking about sex and well- when you said that it just took me by surprise. I didn’t think anything bad of you and I never will. I’m sorry, please forgive me.”

Harry moved over to make space for Draco and pulled him down to sit on the opposite side, “I wouldn’t worry about it, I’ll forget by tomorrow. And I’m happy that you don’t think I’m disgusting. To be honest I don’t really know why I did it. I guess I… no I think I'll just stick with the conclusion that I have no fucking clue what I’m doing with my life anymore and I'm hopelessly drunk. I don't think I'll get a hangover though, I've drunk more before.” And after a few minutes of aimless mumbling and apologising, Harry had fallen asleep.

Carefully, Draco lifted Harry up and took him to his bed where he attempted to tuck him in, only Harry was set on never letting go, at least his subconscious was. So, with no other option, Draco decided to lift him again and put him in Draco’s own bed and got in as well. Draco pulled the curtains around them so that the moonlight wouldn’t disturb them and then he laid there, trying to get to sleep. Every time Draco tried to release his arm from the clutches of Harry, his grip would only tighten. Eventually, Draco stopped trying. Throughout the night, Draco would drift off to the beginnings of sleep but would then be woken up by Harry’s death grip pulling the two closer together. The strange position was hurting Draco and so he gave in. The blond-haired boy rolled to his side to face Harry and he attempted to move his arm a little to get the blood flowing again. It was oddly comforting, being this close to Harry, like no matter what Draco did or said, he would always be there, ready to take more dirt and scathing words from Draco. It made him sad, thinking of all the nasty words that had been shared between them. But he reminded himself that neither had taken the shot to say that they had hated someone so perhaps things were okay between Harry and Draco. Swimming through his thoughts, Draco became more relaxed and eventually sunk into the small embrace, his body moulding to Harry’s. He was so relaxed that he didn’t even notice when Harry’s arms wrapped around Draco loosely. He was slipping into a dreamy state when he returned the gesture and put his free arm around the small of Harry’s back, bringing them even closer together. Harry’s hair stuck up and tickled Draco’s neck. It smelled of mint and it reminded him of his peppermint sweets. It was bliss. The Slytherin boy wondered if he could sleep like that, tangled together.

Which of course he could.

Later that night Draco was woken up by some late night ramblings that were obviously a wet dream. Draco knew the hardship of waking people up during these and decided it would be better to let Harry sleep so he had endured but rather enjoyed the few sloppy kisses Harry had given Draco’s neck and the little grinding in his hip. Harry’s cock was hard and with every brush-up Draco’s thigh, it got slicker with pre-cum that seeped through the bunny onesie. Draco felt his pulse quicken and a rush of blood seemed to be travelling south, rapidly. The urge to rut up against Harry was overpowering. Little gasps and muffled moans sent shivers down Draco’s spine, no self-control could have prevented the shocking heat that hardened in his pyjamas. As Harry’s wet dream had continued, Draco, unable to stop himself, started to grind against Harry too. After all, he wouldn’t remember. Draco gasped and tried to hold in his groans of need and want, and before he could weigh up the morals of what he was doing, they had both come and Harry had slept through the night as if nothing had ever happened. He was completely oblivious to his late night frottage and Draco had absolutely no hope of getting to sleep after that. He had laid there listening to the slow breathing of the boy next to him and the feel of his curls next to Draco’s chin, his cheek dampening as slow salty tears ran from the crease of his eyes. He had used Harry. And maybe Harry had used him too but Draco had let him, Harry had had no say in the matter. Draco had used Harry just like his family had used him as a house elf and nothing made him feel more vile and disgusted at himself than that.

Draco did fall asleep though and his dreams were filled with Harry and all the horrible memories that tormented him and plagued his mind. It was a nightmare even a drunk boy couldn’t wake him from.

***

Harry woke with a stutter as if he had been wrenched from his bed to sit upright. That seemed to be the only way he could wake up these days. He looked frantically around to see nothing but a faint blur. He pulled his hands to his eyes and rubbed away the sleep. His eyes were sore and it hurt every time he blinked. The curtains of his bed were closed, no… not his bed… Draco’s bed.

“What the hell?” he managed to croak out. His breath stank of liquor and his legs felt wet and sticky. “Why am I in your bed, Malfoy? Malfoy?

Harry pushed his hand through the gap in the curtains and struggled to find his glasses. The cool metal was a familiar touch and he brought his hand back through the curtain to put them on his face. Aimlessly he ran his hands through his hair. Draco had detangled himself a little throughout the night somehow and had slept through Harry’s disruptive awakening. Now, however, he was wide awake and he felt the only way to subtly check if indeed Harry had forgotten last night was to play the sarcastic git he had been earlier down the school years.

“Alright, sleeping beauty, calm down. How’s your head? You drank a fair bit last night though I’m not sure it was enough to get a hangover… Potter?”

Harry looked Draco in the eye with a sad glance, “Why am I wet?” he said with a tinge of disgust.

Draco blushed but held the eye contact, “You erm… last night… well, you wouldn’t let go of me so I had to put you in my bed and well… last night you had a wet dream. Whilst holding on to me, It’s fine you don’t have to worry about it but you were fast asleep and I couldn’t wake you and well… you came.”

Harry looked mortified. He brought his hands to his face and he seemed to curl up into a ball, “I am so sorry Malfoy, I didn’t mean to… I… ugh I feel disgusting, I am disgusting. I bet you think I’m dis… I-I remember last night. Ughhh, no. I can’t believe… I hate myself.”

Draco pulled him up by the shoulders, “Don’t talk like that! You are not disgusting and you never will be, not even covered in… cum.” he added sheepishly.

Harry nodded absently, "Then w-why are you wet?”

Draco’s blush deepened, “Oh erm… it got on me.” He lied.

Harry shook his head, “I’m so sorry.” there was an awkward silence, “Shall we shower? How long do we have until breakfast?”

Draco cast a tempus, “We have about an hour until breakfast starts, you always seem to get up early, but not to worry. Let’s go shower. By the way, nice onesie, it’s cute.” He laughed.

“Thanks.” Harry blushed and gingerly lifted himself from the bed along with Draco.

The two made their way down the corridor and into the bathroom where they walked to the showers. Draco suddenly vividly remembered the last shower Harry had been in and pulled Harry’s arm.

“Please,” Draco pleaded, “please don’t hurt yourself, I know that it helps you feel… something… but don’t do it. If you need to feel something, need to get something out of your system, take it out on me. Hit me, hurt me, but don’t hurt yourself. Please.”

Harry looked up from the floor and into Draco’s eyes, “Never offer yourself for abuse, it’s not something you would want to ask for.”

“Promise me.”

Harry turned away, “Okay.” and something lifted as he said those words. A promise. A promise that he needed to keep.

Draco sighed in relief and let Harry’s arm go gently, he gave him a sad smile and pulled his shirt over his head in a way that seemed to be a show for Harry but it was so casual and normal that there couldn’t have possibly been anything to it. Harry could only stare at the scars.

“I’m sorry I know it’s rude to stare. I- How can I ever be forgiven?” He said as he looked at the harsh welts in Draco’s skin, his mind caught in a trance.

Draco turned his shower on, “How can you forgive me for what I said last night? That’s the real question. I’ve already forgiven you for this” he said gesturing to himself, “I had forgiven you as soon as you had done it, back then I thought I deserved it, I still do but I know that you’ll try to convince me otherwise so just don’t.”

Harry’s green eyes looked sad as he followed the lines over Draco’s body, without realising he had let his eyes rake over to Draco’s bottoms where the scars thinned and slipped under the hem of them.

Draco looked at him through his hair as if to ask when Harry was going to get into the shower or if he was just going to stand there all day. Harry blinked himself to the horrible reality and blushed a little before turning away. He unzipped his onesie and slipped it off partly so that it hung from his hips. He flicked on his own shower and within a few seconds, steam had created a layer of fog in the bathroom. The humidity was a welcome change to the Autumn frost.

The water was blissful. Every drop seeping into Harry’s tense muscles. Loosening every knot. Relaxation swept over him and the mist curled the ends of his hair. He lathered up some peppermint shampoo and began to lather up his hair, scrubbing the grime and dirt from his scalp. It was refreshing and the mint seemed to soak into every pore and cleanse his entire body. It was one of the things that helped clear Harry’s mind and made him feel physically and mentally clean. The scent of the peppermint wafted through the mist and every breath Harry took was filled with cool cold mint. It freshened his lungs and it felt like Harry would be able to breathe much better after this shower. He felt the mint tingle through his nose and he imagined all the things he would smell more intensely after the water stopped running. It was like breathing through your nose for the first time after it had been blocked and clogged up for days.

Harry tilted his head back and rinsed the soap from his hair. He scrubbed his body though not as viciously as he had the day before. After truly feeling clean he just stood in the shower letting the water fall over him. He heard faint mumblings and, after straining to listen, realised that those mumblings were more whimpers. And that someone… dare he guess Draco… was wanking? The sound of the water drowned out most of the noise but Harry could still hear the faint slap of skin on skin.

He turned his shower off.

Draco was still in his own shower by the time Harry had brushed his teeth and dried most of his hair. The noises were slightly louder now and they came faster until there was only the sound of the water falling against the shower block. Draco was in the shower for a few more seconds after that before he came out, albeit a little flushed, but Harry didn’t mention it.

***

Draco took his pyjama shirt off, he had done it without even thinking but when he noticed Harry glancing at his torso he realised the implications of what he had done and blushed a little. Draco had almost zoned out of Harry’s apology, the guilt of last night still weighing on him. He turned his shower on and a steady trail of mist rose throughout the bathroom. Draco looked at Harry and wondered how long he was going to stand there.

The shower was hot, it stung.

The thoughts of last night’s game lingered in his mind until the memory of last night pushed through. Draco felt the heat rise to his cheeks and he didn’t think it was because of the shower.

He began to wash his hair and body but soon found that he was feeling himself up more than washing himself.
The soap and bubbles made his skin slick and smooth as he ran his hands over his chest, the water making his nipples harden. He breathed out a sigh as he thought of Harry’s aching body up against his, seeking satisfaction. Harry had come on Draco, come against him and Draco had been the one to cause it. The thought sent a pool of heat to the end of his cock and he took a sharp inhale of breath as he felt arousal slowly build up there.

If he thought very hard he could almost remember the feel of Harry’s lips on his neck, his tongue seeking the hollow of his neck and collar bones. He could remember the warmth of his tongue exploring him and he fantasised about those lips on his. Desperately kissing with a tight hold on each other. Then his mind wandered to other things that Harry’s warm mouth could be kissing and he felt his pleasure increase as the tip of his dick slicked with something other than water. Draco moved his soapy hand around the base of his length and began to tease himself; slowly running his fingers up the underside of his cock and gently brushing the head, producing even more pre-cum.

His hand easily glided back and forth and the thought of Harry in the shower next to him, naked, made him even harder. The water hitting the tiled floor managed to drown out the sound of his short breaths and low whimpers. Any moment now Harry could turn off his shower and hear him, and that made his cock ache. The need for release was overwhelming and he had to come soon or he might explode.

Then Harry stopped showering.

The thought sent panic down Draco's spine and with it a deeper wave of arousal that had him coming. He bit his lip tried to muffle his orgasm but it was to no avail. Little moans slipped from his mouth as he rode his orgasm out, his legs shaking from the high. Draco held a hand to the wall underneath the showerhead and cleaned up the mess. His cheeks were cooling now and he turned off the shower. Wrapping a towel around his hips, he stepped out of the shower.

Harry gave him a quick look and turned away to put his toiletries in his bag. Draco didn’t know whether he hoped Harry had heard him or not. It was weird.

Draco was the first one to speak, “I forgave you for the spell and you say you forgive me for what I said yesterday so can we both be even and put this behind us.”

Harry looked up at him astonished, “Yes we can put it behind us but how can I forget when the evidence of what I’ve done stays on your body?” Harry felt awful or the spell he had cast but in a way he was glad that it was his mark, he was glad that it might bring them closer and he hated himself for thinking it.

Draco sighed and shrugged his bathrobe over his torso then walked out from the bathroom.

***

They were both down early for breakfast again, and again, Hermione was the only one sat at their table. She was dressed in muggle clothes for the weekend and reading the Prophet when Harry and Draco sat down and eyed them both cautiously. September the 1st had been a Thursday so they had only had yesterday for a full day of lessons before their first weekend had come about. It was pleasant, and it was an easy way into the gruelling year. Harry was wearing a pair of grey skinny jeans and a black jumper that he had thrown on with no care, the collar of a red flannel poking out the top. He wore small red converse that should have left his toes cold in the September temperatures but even after Draco told him this he still wouldn’t listen. Draco, on the other hand, was dressed in a green shirt by the suggestion of Harry and a loose grey jumper that showed a little of the green, the sleeves of the shirt were longer than the jumper and they fit tightly around his delicate wrists. He wore tight black trousers and big black heavy lace-up boots that were similar to Doc Martins.

Harry looked tired, the black bags under his eyes had faded a little but they were still there. He reached for the juice and didn’t even bother to hide his scars, it was probably a slip up from his lack of sleep. Hermione scowled at his arm and was about to say something but caught herself and helped bring the juice to Harry. They ate in silence.

“How are you, Harry?” Hermione asked softly after putting the paper down and folding her arms to lean on the table.

Harry had looked at nothing but his plate all morning and had eaten hardly anything.

He sighed, “I’m fine. Look it’s not your fault I shouldn’t have said what I said, I brought it on myself.”

There was another awkward silence.

Hermione drank some of her juice, “How is everything with- with you two?”

Draco put his elbow on the table and rested his head in the palm of his hand, “Everything’s fine, I apologised and we talked about things. Don’t keep asking questions it’s just- it’s not going to help anything but thank you for your concern.”

Harry watched as Hermione receded back into her seat and he dropped the toast he had been picking at and left the table. On his way out he passed others from his year and they all kept a decent distance from him. No-one said good morning which he was grateful for, he couldn’t be dealing with these civil exchanges.

Draco watched him leave, “I want to go after him,” he said to Hermione, “but I’m afraid I’ll make it worse.”

Breakfast continued in a subdued manner.

“If you think you can persuade him to join us in Hogsmeade rather than be a recluse as he has become used to being,” Hermione began, “then we would love to have him. But I understand If you need the day to… sort things out.” She gave a weak smile and Draco made the effort to return it.

When everyone left for Hogsmeade, Draco left to find Harry. A task that proved to be very difficult.

***

Harry left the common room with his invisibility cloak and closed the portrait hole with a bang. He threw on the cloak. Today was not going to be filled with other people staring at him and whispering things about him.

He left the top tower and made his way through the castle to the place he felt was his. He didn’t know what drew him to the astronomy tower. Maybe it was the loss of the last person in his life that he had counted on. He had lost his parents, his Godfather, his owl, and when Dumbledore was the only thing left, he had lost him too. Perhaps the thing drawing him to the same place he had witnessed the life slip from his mentor’s eyes, was the fact that he was brought back to that night. He still felt a part of Dumbledore with him every time he visited, like his presence was there watching Harry but unable to comfort him. Sometimes he had gone to the tower and cried his eyes out and sometimes he had gone and shouted. Sometimes, like today, he had gone and had simply stood at the balcony in silence. No matter how or why he was there, he still felt the remains of Dumbledore’s soul lingering.

Sometimes it brought a smile to Harry’s face, sometimes it made him cry as he remembered every word that Dumbledore had said over his six years with him. It reminded him of all the secrets and thoughts he could share with Dumbledore and not be judged and that made him feel more alone now. More alone than ever. There were so many people he could confide in, but none who wouldn’t judge him or talk about him behind his back. It made him feel more alone than ever before.

He remembered how he had felt in the M.O.M after witnessing Sirius’ murder. He had felt empty as if a dementor had personally attached itself to him and gave no signs of leaving. Somehow the screams of his mother had turned into the screams of himself as he was forced to re-live Sirius’ death. Had been forced to look at his limp body float into the veil. But of course, there had never been a dementor near him, it was all in his head.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

That’s what Dumbledore had said to him. Sometimes he wished he had chosen to die, then he remembered how others would have suffered, how his friends would have suffered. And he was glad that he had survived the killing curse.

It was one of those days where Harry looked from the tower balcony and let his mind wander. He had had to think so much lately that it was refreshing to not think at all. So he stood there, not even bothering about warming charms. He kept his cloak on for the lack of effort to take it off, that and the annoyance of someone walking in on him. The wind swept his thoughts up and took them away.

Chapter Text

Draco went to the common room first, then the bedroom. There was no sign of Harry. He went back out of the portrait hole and was about to head off when he turned back to look at the portrait.

“Maxwell, have you seen Harry at all? Did he come back to the common room after we left together?” He asked the young boy in the portrait.

The boy smiled and stepped closer to Draco, “Yes, Master Malfoy, Master Potter returned to the common room but he did not stay long.”

Draco moved closer to the painting, “Did you see where he went?”

“He went in that direction,” the boy answered pointing his flat hand to some moving staircases, “He seemed to be heading up, perhaps to a higher floor, but he disappeared before I saw which staircase he took, just vanished into thin air.”

Draco looked at the staircases, “Thank you,” he said to the boy who bowed his head as a gesture of goodbye and Draco walked briskly to the moving stairs. He went up the only one that was still.

After looking in the classrooms and coming to terms with the fact that Harry was probably under his cloak, had probably been in a room that Draco had walked in, and was probably hiding from people like Draco, he gave up. It was still early in the morning and Draco was alone. He didn’t feel like going to Hogsmeade with the rest of his year. Draco was about to return to the common room when he remembered the astronomy tower. He hadn’t taken the time to look there yet.

He bounded up the stairs only to find an empty room, he didn’t expect anything else. It was difficult, being back up here where he had shown his mark and threatened Professor Dumbledore’s life. The Slytherin ran his hands through his hair and looked at the balcony. He felt a shudder go through him as he remembered that night. He felt like he was going to be sick and he put his hands to his head before walking over to the balcony. Leaning heavily on the railing, he lifted his left sleeve up and saw the mark. It had faded a little over time with Voldemort’s death but the image remained. He found himself dragging his nails up and down the snake slowly as if he could peel it off and he couldn’t help but feel like he was being watched. He thrust down his green sleeve and held both his cuffs over his hands for warmth. A flicker of movement caught his peripheral vision and he yelled as Harry removed the cloak.

“Ahh, shit- Merlin’s beard! Holy fucking shit, you scared me.” Draco yelled. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere Potter.”

Harry smiled, “Sorry,” he said smugly, “and why Malfoy would you be concerned with where I am?”

Draco smirked, “Maybe Potter, it’s because I can’t let anyone see you with that bird's nest on your head.”

“And I thought I was the blind one,” Harry retorted, “Malfoy, you do realise I have had my invisibility cloak on the entire time, no-one could have ever seen me.”

Draco tried to keep a straight face, “Talking of blindness Potter, why do you have the same glasses as the first year? Surely your big head must have outgrown them. Or even your eyesight must have.”

Harry grinned, “Well you’d know all about my big head wouldn’t you since you’re commenting on it all the time.”

Draco blushed furiously, “Why is everything you say some sort of innuendo Potter? Can’t you stop?”

“You wish!” Harry said and with that, they both ended up laughing.

Draco beamed at Harry, “So what do you want to do today? Everyone has gone to Hogsmeade but I don’t feel like going. I’d rather stay here with you.”

Harry’s heart pounded and he felt something warm in his stomach, “Let’s go back to the common room” he suggested and they walked back to the portrait hole.

“So you found Master Potter then Master Malfoy!” the boy said.

Draco blushed faintly but Harry still saw it, “Yes I did, thank you, Maxwell. Brutum fulmen.” and the portrait opened. The two went to their dorm where they sat on their beds opposite each other.

Draco shifted around on his bed, his hands under his thighs. “What did you have in mind then?”

“Wait here” Harry smiled and a mischievous grin and ran down to the common room. He levitated a pile of cushions and a few blankets and brought them upstairs. When he opened the door, Draco didn’t see anything but Harry’s red shoes, the pile of cushions squeezed through the door and landed in the centre of the room with a soft thud.

Draco laughed, “Potter, what on earth are you doing with all of those?”

“We, Malfoy, are going to build a blanket fort with pillows and cushions.” He stated as he started to pick up blankets from the floor.

Draco frowned, “A what?”

Harry looked up from the bundle of blankets, “A fort. You’ve never heard of a blanket fort? A den?”

Draco shook his head.

Harry beamed, “Well that’s okay, I can show you. I didn’t know what one was either, not really, not until I went to the Burrow for the first time. I made one with all the Weasleys over Christmas and they helped me. I never got to do things like this at the Dursley’s. They wouldn’t let me.” His smile had turned sad and then bitter. Almost repulsed and he lost himself in his thoughts. Harry’s hands began to tremble slightly and the blanket fell from his fingers. He heard someone calling him but he was too lost in the pitch black of the cupboard under the stairs and the small cramped bedroom that Dudley had pushed him in… and had locked the door… and had come over to him… his face lit with glee and his smug mouth telling him to be quiet as he grabbed hold of him and-

“HARRY!” Draco crouched next to him, he hadn’t even realised that his legs had given way and that he was now on his knees on the floor.

Draco went to reach for him but Harry crawled away, kicking his legs out and slipping on the blankets, “Don’t, p-please don’t do it, not again.”

Draco knelt down behind the cushion barrier, “Harry, It’s me Draco. You’re safe, no-one is going to do anything that you don’t want. Whatever someone’s done… it won’t happen again. I promise. Potter?” and he started to edge his way slowly to Harry.

He looked like a bunny in headlights.

Draco slid his hand over the wooden floor to Harry and stopped when it was near him. The other boy was still shivering and pressed flat against the closed door. Draco waited and Harry seemed to realise that he was safe.

Draco watched the boy slide down the doorframe and bring his knees to his chest, hugging them tightly in an attempt to comfort himself. His green eyes opened and looked at Draco’s. No not at him, in him, through him, Harry saw into his soul.

“Hogwarts,” Harry stated and Draco nodded his head. It pained him to see the grief-stricken look on the child, that is all he was, even if he was of age. You couldn’t look at this trembling heap and not see an innocent child frightened to death.

Harry closed his eyes and took a shuddery breath in, “I- … I-” he began through stifled gasps of breath, the kind that you have after relentlessly crying. Only Harry hadn’t cried.

“Shhh. It’s okay you don’t need to tell me anything you don’t want to. I’m here if you do but you don’t have to.” Draco whispered.

Draco watched all the tension exhale as Harry let the first tear slip down his cheek in a relieved grieving choked up sigh, “It was h-him.”

Draco moved closer slightly, “Voldemort?” He asked, brushing the tips of his fingers against Harry’s shoe and squeezing it slightly for reassurance.

Harry narrowed his eyes and wiped his face. The look of determination on his face was unsettling, “I would have said that it might as well have been but I’ve come to realise that I’m not scared of Voldemort, I never was. No, he is worse, far worse.”

The confused look Draco must have given Harry had probably been the thing to bring him back.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” He gave a distanced look to Draco then back to his shoe where Draco’s grip had strengthened. “I see you have finally come round over my shoes,” he said with a facade of a smile.

Draco saw right through it, he had been watching Harry for years after all. He held the worried gaze for a few seconds more, then gathered himself. “No Potter, they are still appalling. Now, what is this fort you were going to tell me about?”

Harry smiled a genuine smile at that, glad that he could carry on like nothing had happened. This is why he valued their friendship; Draco didn’t ask too much of him and he knew when to return to their sarcastic remarks.

It was a blessing it really was, “Right, I had almost forgotten. Well, we are going to get the blankets and put sticking charms up around the corners of our bed frames. Then we will make this middle part in between our beds comfier.”

Draco smirked, “Isn’t that what our curtains are for Potter? Damn you’re even blinder than I thought.”

And Draco laughed at his own comment along with Harry.

They soon set to work, hanging blankets up around the bed canopies and then they scattered the space in between their beds, that was about the width of one of their desks, with the various cushions. There was a slight awkwardness between them now, nothing that they couldn’t hide, of course, it was just uncomfortable. Once the fort was complete, the two stood by their bedroom door to look at their finished project. It was a while before dinner time and all this work had made the boys-

“Hungry?” Harry asked and donned his invisibility cloak.

Draco, after being beckoned by Harry, followed under the cloak so that it covered them both, “Indeed Potter. All this work is tiring.”

Harry snorted as they made their way to the kitchens, “It’s worth it though isn't it?”

Draco felt the heat between the two of them, their warm breath humid against the confines of the cloak. Every time Harry stopped abruptly so as to not bump into another student, Draco would bang into him in all the wrong but so very right places, The heat was stifling in this September air which was strange and all this added to his arousal as he flushed. He was so very close to Harry and his cock yearned for something it hadn’t yearned for in years. Yes, that obsession with Harry had not been good and now it seemed to have come back full throttle and crashing down on him in a way that sent blood flowing the completely wrong way.

“Well I don’t know if it’s worth it yet, you had better make it worthwhile.” Draco sneered playfully.

They came to the kitchen and tickled the pear, “Is that a threat Malfoy?”

Draco smirked with those red lips that Harry’s attention lingered on for a second too long before returning to Draco’s eyes. “It is whatever you want it to be Potter.” And Draco left to gather food leaving a slightly flushed Harry standing at the door.

Draco had gathered a handful of snacks; sandwiches, pumpkin juice, pumpkin pasties and a few sweet things before heading back up to the common room. Getting back, however, was much more difficult as they now had hands full and the cloak threatened to slip from them every so often. This, of course, meant that the two had moved even more close to each other to balance the cloak on their heads. They were both grateful to be back in their dorm with the cloak removed and placed in the very bottom of Harry’s trunk.

Harry opened their door to the fort and Draco brought the food in whilst sitting down in the gap between their beds. They had managed to make it comfier by layering the floor in blankets and a few cushions, not to mention a few softening charms. The blond started to eat a sandwich and Harry followed him in. They sat there for a while, Draco eating and Harry picking at a sandwich.

“Harry, why aren’t you eating?” Draco asked when he saw that the Gryffindor was nibbling on a sandwich without really eating any of it.

Harry looked from the sandwich and back to Draco, “Well I thought I was blind but I am clearly eating a sandwich”

Draco gave him a pointed look, “You haven’t been eating properly. Hermione told me you might get like this and I have to say I had hoped that she was wrong. I just- I … care about your eating habits. I won’t say anything else because I don’t want to hurt your feelings but please eat something even if it’s just a bit of pasty.”

Harry sighed and ate the sandwich. It felt dry as the bread slipped down his throat and he went to reach for his pumpkin juice to get it down faster. The pasty was far easier to eat, the pastry crumpled in his mouth and the saltiness complimented the pumpkin in all the right ways.

But he had put it down after the first few small bites.

“You know,” He said swallowing the small mouthful of pasty, “I love pumpkins, I love anything pumpkin really, I can’t wait for October when even more pumpkin things are made.”

Draco smiled around his chicken, “I know what you mean, It’s good that you like them. I’m not so healthy because I love peppermints” He said with a smirk.

Harry took an apple from Draco, “I know,” he laughed, “but you also like apples so there’s that.”

Searching for those grey eyes, Harry found himself staring at Draco.

The blond-headed boy felt those eyes on him and he looked up, “Yes, green apples, your eyes look like green apples but they’re brighter, like when you shine an apple on your shirt. I guess that’s because our eyes are like windows to our lives. When someone passes… you can tell. Their eyes aren’t bright anymore. Your eyes have always been bright even in the third year when you looked like your whole world had fallen apart.” Draco caught himself as Harry paled and looked at his hands where an exploding snap set laid, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry for the jerk I was then, I’m sorry for how I treated you.” He sighed, “So Potter do you want to play?”

Harry looked up and blushed which was visible on his pale face, “W-with exploding snap you mean?”

Draco didn’t mention the blush, “Well, of course, Potter, give them here.” And he reached his hand to retrieve the snap. “Let’s play the patience version yeah?”

Harry gave the cards to Draco and they played a few games of which Harry won the majority. They had sat and talked away the day about all their arguments in the past and laughing at all the insults they had thrown each other. Now they were onto impressions;

“Educational Decree number twenty-six; boys and girls are not permitted to be within six inches of each other” Harry mimicked in a high-pitched voice with a bitter-sweet cough on the end.

Draco laughed, “Well at least it didn’t affect the fabulous gay people in our school like ourselves.” He grinned.

Harry’s smile faded but Draco didn’t notice due to the knock at the door. Draco stood and walked out from the fort with the other boy following behind him.

It was Ron, “Hey Harry, Hey Draco. I- well- we all thought that since you two have been here all day that we would bring you back some stuff from Hogsmeade so well- we got you a bag of things.”

He smiled weakly and was about to leave when Harry took his shoulder, “Look, Ron, can I talk to you?”

The Gryffindor looked as if his day had been made, “Yeah sure mate.” He grinned and Harry looked towards Draco who was closing the door behind him with the bag of things in hand.

Harry looked back to Ron, “I just wanted to say that I’m - I’m sorry about what I said, at the beginning feast. I didn’t mean to use your relationship with Hermione as a… well as an insult. I think it’s great that you’re together and I couldn’t be happier for you both. So I just wanted to apologise for what I said. And I hope that I can be forgiven. And I also wanted to thank you for our friendship, sometimes you know when I need to be alone and you let me be. So I wanted to thank you, for giving me the distance I needed this summer and sorry for pushing you away. I think I’m going to be better now, I hope so anyway. I just needed you to know that you and Hermione mean so much to me, you’re like my family that took me in.” And with that, he hesitated but slowly brought his arms around Ron in a tight hug.

Ron patted him on the back, “It’s fine mate, apology accepted. I think I should tell you though that things between me and Hermione have been a little stretched lately. She’s going through some rough times, she doesn’t know what she want’s… if you know what I mean. Things between me and her are just different, we’ve changed. I think she likes- well I don’t know what she want’s anymore. Certainly, something that I can’t give her.”

Harry pulled back, “Oh Ron I’m sorry to hear that, look mate I think I know what you… well, what you mean. And I guess all that stuff with you liking Krum has made things difficult for you too.”

Ron’s jaw dropped, “Harry that didn’t mean anything.”

“Well Ron, maybe you both just need to… experiment a little.” Harry suggested. He could see the conversation giving Ron a headache, “Anyway, we should set up some Quidditch practice. I haven’t been flying much since… well for a long time I guess. It’ll feel good to be back in the air.”

“Sure mate.” And with that Ron smiled and left down the stairs. Harry watched him leave and turned to the bedroom and into the fort where Draco was sat on his bed. He was eating a green apple.

Harry went to his own bed and laid on it facing the canopy of his bed. The day had been draining emotionally and he wished that he could just crawl into a hole and wait for lessons, that way he could actually be distracted from everyone. He felt nothing, laying there, he felt empty. The endless amounts of homework he would have would be welcome. All this free time was adding to the overwhelming sense of being insignificant and having no purpose in life anymore. That had been the main reason for wanting to end it, well a healer had told him he was depressed but he had known that he wasn’t. It was times like this when he wished he could be alone, the expectation for conversation burying him, suffocating him. To the point where he wanted to drown in the silence. Maybe it would kill him and he wouldn’t have to do it himself. The fort was beginning to get stifling and sticky and Harry felt his breath become more desperate and raspy. His head was pounding, well it wasn’t, he just felt the need to slam his head against the wall, cut, burn, anything! Just to make it fucking stop. It was agony! All of the life’s pressures and burdens came crashing down on him as he turned his back to Draco and he wanted to scream. He needed a better word than ‘FUCK’ to shout and when he wanted to yell the roof down nothing would come from his fucking mouth and he hated the fear of letting every fucking person in this fucking castle know how fucked up his fucking mind was. He threw himself from his bed and Draco sat up. Harry marched to the window and threw his palms up to the cold glass. The sensation refreshing and pleasant in comparison to the sweat running from his temples and neck. He slammed his right palm to the window and let out a growl through his clenched teeth, his jaw prominent and the veins popping to the surface of his skin. He felt the blood pump through him and he felt his heartbeat and it made him sick and he wanted oh he wanted so much just to stop that thumping in his neck. That irritating pulse that made him warmer than was necessary. He had been holding his breath and he felt his eyes unfocus and fade a little in sharpness. His sense of hearing drowned out by the drumming of his bloody heart. His nose picked up on the stench of sweat and he wreaked. He needed to shower. He needed to be clean. He bit down on his tongue as he growled again, drawing blood that tasted metallic and it was satisfying and he groaned, a small noise of satisfaction as he felt some of the built up pressure abate from his body. The feeling of imminent explosion of his lungs faded as he rested his forehead against the cool glass and exhaled. He tried to listen, he tapped his index finger to the window pane and he tried to hear it, to make sure that he was sane. It was faint. But as he focussed on it more it grew louder until it was so loud that he stopped himself. His breathing was irregular. A few seconds passed before he left the room, almost knocking into Draco who had been standing a distance away, giving him the needed space. He needed to be clean, all he could smell was filth.

The shower was cold and he let the water take away his thoughts down the drain, he scrubbed and scrubbed but the smell was still there. Sliding down the back of the shower until he was sitting on the floor he looked at his arms, palms up. The scars were anything but pretty. A vague smell of apple crossed his nose then. Even peppermint hadn’t distracted him but this… this was something else. A small pale hand came around the shower curtain and in it held a container of something that was even stronger smelling. He took the container. His hands felt weak as he undid the bottle. The smell was intoxicating and he couldn't help but pour some on his hands and work it into a lather getting into every pore. And for the first time since laying on his bed, he felt something; gratitude.

The shower was long and methodical and he stood by his promise to Draco, as much as it killed him to keep it. Ironic until the end.

***

Draco had returned to the bedroom and removed the blankets and cushions and put them back to their place in the common room. He lay waiting for Harry on his bed. To do whatever the black-haired boy wanted. To talk, to be quiet, to listen, to sleep, to do absolutely nothing. To exist.

He had been waiting well over half an hour after giving Harry that body wash, a muggle one he had bought that smelt amazing. When Harry returned to the room he replaced the bottle on Draco’s nightstand and went to his side of the room. He stood in front of a floor length mirror but didn’t look at himself in it. The boy pulled his shorts on and brought the towel up to his hair where he towel dried it. No wonder it always looked like a birds nest. He threw the dirty towel onto his chair and sat at the window seat. The two remained in peace and Draco waited for Harry to make the first conversation, the first anything. It was late into the night before either of them did something.

“Thank you for the shower gel,” Harry mumbled. It was nearing midnight and sleep hadn’t come for either of them.

Draco waited to show the other that they didn’t need to talk if he didn’t want to, “No problem.”

There was another silence that stretched out. The room was darkened when Harry closed the curtain. Then he fumbled his way to his bed and turned to Draco who, in turn, did the same to Harry.

They watched each other and somehow knew that they were in this together. Whatever demons plagued their minds they would get through it together.

“We are playing Quidditch tomorrow, will you join me? I believe that a going up against each other as seekers will do us some good. It’ll be like our first match.” Harry suggested.

Draco nodded but in the dark, it was barely visible, “Okay.” He amended.

That one word had been a promise. A promise from Harry in the shower room and a promise from Draco now.

He really was getting soppy and sentimental. It disgusted him.

Blackness.

Chapter Text

At some point, through the night the two had fallen asleep. And it was the obnoxious banging at the door telling the two that breakfast would be ending soon that had woken Draco up.

Harry had already gotten a shower and dressed in a simple grey long sleeve shirt and black jeans to answer the door when Draco lifted his heavy head from the pillow.

The banging ceased and Harry was muttering an apology for not waking him up or something like that which was perfectly fine with Draco, he had slept very well, hardly any nightmares and it was refreshing not to be wrenched from his sleep at some unnatural hour.

Draco pulled on a slim fitting shirt and a pair of dark green skinny jeans, his autumn wardrobe was slightly out of place in all the natural reds and yellows of the school grounds but he didn’t care.

Breakfast was good and Draco was pleased to see Harry eating some porridge which he had added honey too. Draco thought all that toast was boring and so helped himself to porridge as well. When they had arrived that morning it was to no surprise that the hall was quite full. Many turned and dared a look at him and Harry. The whispers started but it wasn’t anything he could pick out. The green apple he had was nice too. Crunchy.

No longer than half an hour later, everyone made their way to the Quidditch pitch, even if they were just spectating it was good to be part of a group. The teams were made with the selection of eight years who wanted to participate.

Seeking had been good, great actually. The wind tousling Harry’s hair and flapping his Quidditch gear. The trousers were tight against his thighs and the top was taught against his biceps, after all, they didn’t have the Quidditch uniform in a bigger size than sixth or seventh years. The match was tiring and it turned out that you couldn’t play very well on a below minimum hours sleep. It was as if Harry hadn’t slept at all. The first few minutes had been okay but soon every twist and turn of his broom made him dizzy to the point where he thought he would vomit up his breakfast. He felt the vision in his eyes strain as he searched for the snitch. They had come close to catching it, Draco and Harry, their speedy races were neck and neck and eventually the snitch had vanished again. Harry felt the strength in his arm weaken and he couldn’t find the energy to hold onto his broom properly. He was about ready for the game to be over when Draco spotted something near the centre of the pitch.

Harry tailed him as fast as he could and outstretched his arm to reach for the snitch. The two took a steep dive to keep up with the snitch, shoulder to shoulder. The ground was getting dangerously close and Harry was about to pull out of the dive. The moment’s hesitation cost him and Malfoy wrapped his fingers around the golden orb. They both managed to pull up just in time.

Harry was truly happy for Malfoy and would have congratulated him if it had not been for the ground swaying underfoot. Harry took Draco’s shoulder and opened his mouth to praise him on his skill in the dive when suddenly his legs gave way underneath him and the blond-headed boy only had seconds to catch him.

“Potter? What’s wrong? Why can’t you stand?” Draco asked with a worried expression.

The breathless, “Tired” was all that came from his mouth when the rest of the players came to his side.

“Harry, what's wrong?”

“What happened?”

“Are you okay?”

The abundance of questions from his friends was too much and Harry rested his pounding head on Draco’s shoulder.

Draco tutted, “Come on Potter, you need to get some sleeping draught, you’ve barely slept these past nights.” And with that, he bent to pick up Harry’s legs just under the knee and told everyone that Harry would be fine, that he had not slept for a while and that he had exhausted himself in the match. The others tried to follow him but he soon told them it would be okay if they went by themselves.

“Harry Potter what are you doing to yourself.” He muttered to nobody as Madam Pomfrey gave Draco a bottle of Sleeping Draught. She had said that it would be better to rest in the infirmary but Draco said that Harry would be more comfortable in his dorm and that if anything did happen that Draco would tell her immediately. So, with Draco’s charm and persistence, he gently laid Harry onto his bed and began to take off his Quidditch uniform that was sweaty and uncomfortable. When Draco finally gave Harry the potion, he was left on the bed in only his trousers and the undershirt of his robes.

The large curtain was pulled shut and Harry’s bed curtains had been closed for more privacy. Draco had to decide between staying in the room if Harry needed him and going to the common room to let him sleep. The latter seemed more sensible as he would be out for a while but he felt, for some reason, a need to stay with Harry and be there for him. It was like he felt responsible for the boy.

The choice inevitable came down to his responsibilities and even if he spelt a paper crane to fly to him when Harry awoke it wouldn’t do his mind any good. No, he had to be there to make sure everything was okay. Which is why he found himself moving from the window seat to the desk, his bed to the chair all in an attempt to keep himself sane. He had decided to pick up a large volume for potions and extremely advanced and potent mixtures. The NEWT he was sure to get for potions would be easy enough but he yearned for something more, he wanted to expand his knowledge of potions further than anything they were ever going to be taught at school. He loved it. Adding the ingredients and following each of the steps exactly. It was methodical and it distracted him, not having to think about anything other than a perfect brew.

Over the summer he had honed in even more on his potion brewing. On late nights when he woke from the terrors he would calm himself by creating complex concoctions. His father had gone to Azkaban and his mother usually kept to herself. Sure she would see Draco and they would spend time together, they would do that more than anything else. It was her feelings about this whole thing; the war, father, the heir of the Malfoy name, that she kept to herself. And Draco understood why. If you were vulnerable in front of people they could use it against you and emotions were some of the hardest things to experience in the first place without everyone else’s input on what you should feel. He wished he could comfort his mother but he knew that she needed time to herself, time for her own thoughts especially after coming out as gay. He had needed time too. The war still hadn’t settled down in his mind and the nightmares were as bad as they had been during his seventh year with that evil fucker living in his house. They had re-decorated in the summer. At an attempt to make the manor their own again and remove the tarnished atmosphere that he had brought into the house. Now, most of the deep greens and black were lighter and the house overall was more silver and grey, just like the common room he supposed. The green was still there but is wasn’t drowning out the life in the house and making everything dark anymore. Now the house had bright green accents, bright as emerald and especially in his room. Now he was confused because he missed his house and his mother and his alone time brewing potions and his green room, but then it was replaced with other things. He was happy to see Harry again, happy to see his friends again, he was happy to have a distraction other than the endless interviews and hearings at the M.O.M which had, luckily, died out over the last month of the summer holidays.

He had sort of realised that the words in the page he was looking at were not going in and he concentrated to at least move his eyes over the page but reading in the darkened room was not good for his eyes and he felt the strain. He sighed and put the book down on the desk when a gentle tap on the door begged him out of his seat, which wasn't at all comfy anyway.

It was Blaise.

Draco welcomed him into the room after giving the bed a quick glance, Harry was still out.

He sat on his bed and gestured for Blaise to sit in the seat opposite him, and he had been kind enough to bring him something to eat. “Merlin, what time is it?” He whispered

Blaise handed him a plate of beef and potatoes that were drenched in gravy, “It’s just gone eight o’clock.” He hummed, his voice quiet so as to not wake Potter prematurely.

“Thanks,” Draco said in a hushed tone and began to eat the plate of food in front of him.

They were both quiet and the only sound was Harry’s breathing and the slight noise of cutlery clacking together every now and then. “How have you been?” Blaise asked, “The nightmares?”

Draco sighed and reached for his glass which he filled with water and drank from, “They haven’t been getting any better, they’re still as bad in content but now other things have come into them, certain … people are more vivid in them and the dreams seem more real than ever. Which I suppose they are since they are not too far from reality, from what happened. But it’s like I’m back there.”

“And Potter?” Blaise asked cautiously, eyeing the closed curtain of the bed next to them.

Draco cleared the plate and sent it back to the kitchen with a flick of his wand, “The dreams aren’t every night, I- I don’t know why. At least I don’t think I know why. The first night, I had one, he woke me up and everything was okay, he made it better, a bit like Theo and you tried to do. He has insomnia so he’s actually able to wake me up, though that’s why he’s like this now. He hardly ever sleeps, doesn’t eat as much as he should.” Draco stopped himself before he said something he shouldn’t. “Blaise, he has always been in the dreams but this time… it was awful, I couldn’t stand it. He was dead in Hagrid’s arms and I remember the hopeless feeling like I would never be free again. My mother started to call me and then I heard my name and so I thought it was her and called back. It was just Potter, that was the first time I’ve ever been woken from them.”

Blaise nodded as he took all this in, “Do you maybe think, well with sharing the same room as him and making amends for our school years, that you have come to care for him as good as his friends?”

Draco brought his hands up to his face, “Of course I care. I figured I could be civil with him because of summer and what he’s done for my family and with him saving my life. I saw him in the Leaky. I never mentioned it but he came to me and it was like we had always been friends, he treated me as if I was just a regular person and not a death eater. He was broken, he is still broken and I can’t help but notice the same thing in… in me. We understand each other. So yes I care because we know each other and what each other has been through. I feel like we could actually be friends if we aren’t already. We talked about the other night with that stupid game and I think everything is settled now, I hope so anyway. I can’t help but feel like I’ve fucked everything up” And the words ended on a subdued tone.

Blaise leant back in his chair, “what I should have asked is; do you think you care for him as more than a friend?”

Draco snapped his head up, “This is Potter we are talking about. I may be gay but it doesn’t mean I cling onto every guy that I happen to share a room with, or even like.” He snapped in a whisper.

Blaise raised an eyebrow, “I know that. I never implied that. Why are you so defensive? I won’t push but I can see it, I’m not as blind as Potter or in denial like you. I’m not the only one who can see it either, there are people who are smarter than me who don’t even know either of you very well who can see it. If it isn’t something more on your part you had better tell him that, if you want to that is” He smirked. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow Draco, you might want to set some sort of alarm so that you can rouse Potter from being a sleeping beauty.” And then he left.

Draco changed into his warm nightwear and pulled his sheets over him, Blaise’s words on repeat in his mind.

***

Harry heard voices. Muffled whispers. Quiet and steady breathing. It was dark and he relaxed into the abyss as he let his ears find words in the haze of mumbles. His mind was a little foggy which was why he hated taking those damn sleeping potions and why he had stopped through the summer. They hadn’t helped and Ginny had suggested something stronger but all they did was give him horrible nightmares even though they weren't supposed to. Nightmares he had thought had stopped. In fact, that is how he had woken, the distant dream of the veil and the graveyard lingering in his mind.

He listened intently to the conversation, even if it was just whispering. His heart skipped a beat, they were talking about him, about Draco’s dreams and then back to Harry and his obvious feelings for Draco. Feelings that Harry didn’t even know he had yet, that apparently everyone else did. That’s right, just as usual everyone knew him better than he knew himself, just like always. Silent tears bore tracks into his skin and wet his pillow at the door clicked shut. Why was he crying? He didn’t think he had feelings for Draco, he was merely attractive eye candy. But if that was true then why did Draco’s response hurt him so much? He had just been rejected and by the only person whose opinion had actually mattered to him, whose friendship seemed more than Hermione’s and Ron’s. No, not more, different but no more or no less. This was a different relationship with Draco, and now he had been rejected from even thinking about anything other than that with him. He secretly wondered if this is how it had felt when Harry had rejected his friendship back in their first year.

He closed his eyes in hope that he would be knocked out again, but to his dismay, he found that he was very much awake.

***

Days turned into weeks and soon they were in the last week of September. Harry had cut back on the flirting and any unnecessary touch between him and Draco had been stopped. Harry simply didn’t want to lose something he never had in the first place. He was aware that Draco was attractive and even more so in his personality now. He was aware that ridiculous feelings could start to develop even though that was ludicrous, this was Malfoy. Harry was still friends with him of course, how could he not be. It’s just there were no deep talks anymore and that was something Harry had missed greatly. They had both seemed to close up their demons and keep their problems to themselves which was frustrating for Harry because now he had no-one. There was nobody quite like Draco who could understand him, but it had to be done for the sake of keeping their friendship. Harry was so afraid that if Draco thought he was coming onto him that Draco would push him away completely and that was the last thing he wanted. So they had gone back to the sarcastic comments and smiles and at every opportunity, they took the mick out of each other. It was all for fun though.

There were no leaves on the trees now and every step was a rustle and a crunch as the crisp golden flecks disintegrated under the shoes of the students. The work load had gotten harder and now Draco and Harry spent nearly all of their free time in the library studying and revising and completing homework assignments.

Life was good, well as good as it could have gotten. Though Harry felt as if he was missing something again. After going to Hogsmeade with everyone the past two weekends he had realised that he was beginning to hate the company of others again. He wanted to be alone more and more and of course, when he was alone he just felt empty and that made him want to feel. And he would feel by any way possible, he had wanted to hurt himself so bad the last couple of days but his promise to Draco had pushed those thoughts aside. His daily showers had gone from a necessity to clear his head and scrub away some invisible grime to mere force of habit. Things had gotten better but now he felt as if he were running back to the beginning of a race that had already started. He had started to feel the itch of dirt and sweat build up and the plaguing thoughts were poisoning his mind. Everything was worse this time around because now he really had nobody to talk to and it wasn’t like he could go up to McGonagall and tell her he felt like cutting again or maybe smashing his head against a brick wall. No, he was trapped in his own mind.

Professor McGonagall had actually confronted him in her office and they had talked. She had done most of the worried hassling and Harry had merely sat there and taken it all with a pinch of salt.

“You’re as pale as a ghost and stick thin. You haven't been eating and you look like you haven’t slept in weeks.” She had told him.

He had looked her in the eye, he remembered, “ And? ” was all he had said.

She had looked at him like he was a lost cause like there was nothing to be done. And all Harry could think was ‘Finally she get’s it. Nobody can fix me. It’s about time she understood.’

Things had deteriorated with his friends as well. Ginny had become more distant after he had shouted at her for trying to shovel potion after sleeping potion into his system. He hadn’t even felt bad about it. It was just like when they had been together and she had thought that she was right that every one of her ‘solutions’ would work. She had been wrong and they had split up. Now she was having troubles of her own with Neville and Luna and Harry almost wanted to laugh and say ‘How does it feel Ginny to be caught up in problems that don’t have solutions?’ Of course, he hadn’t said anything and had let her get on with it. And of course, she had managed to find a solution to her problems and figured out the rough patches in her life. Of bloody fucking course she had.

Luna had tried to recommend teas and herbs and anything that was a part of her crazy world. She was nice and didn’t deserve Harry’s scorn but he had pushed her away too. After she had subtly tried to talk about his condition and how some Nargles must be affecting him. She had even dared to talk about how sometimes her mum talked to her, came to visit her. Sometimes other people came to visit her but not all the time, then she had gone on to talk about his mum and that had been too much for Harry. He had pushed her away and probably hurt her in the process, all because he was hurting too.

Ron and Hermione’s relationship had gotten even worse and they had eventually broken up which in turn had made them both more sensitive to Harry and his behaviour. Hermione had been talking and talking to him endlessly about all these mental illnesses and depression and all that rot. None of it which applied to Harry and he had just gotten so fed up now that there was no Ron there to stop her when things had gotten too much. Harry had actually ended up pushing Ron away, even more, his friends had turned even more sour over it. Ron had eventually confronted him about it.

“I thought you said you were sorry for pushing me away?” Ron had snapped after grabbing Harry by the shoulder and taking him down to an empty corridor.

Harry had said nothing and had just waited, waited for something to come into contact with him. A punch maybe? It was probably something he deserved.

“Ugh, ” Ron had yelled and shoved him into a wall, hard. “ You’re impossible! Do you know how much I’ve lost? Do you? Hermione’s gone, she doesn’t even talk to me most day’s, always hanging around Pansy of all people. I have no-one. Ginny has her own problems and never has time to talk to me. I have no fucking clue about anything anymore, I don’t know what I’m doing! I’ve already lost… ” Ron had stuttered and choked on his words. “ I’ve lost enough people in my family, in my life. I can’t lose you too Harry. Yet you push me away! It’s infuriating.

After that, the two had left each other alone.

Lessons had seemed duller and with every new assignment and every new potion that Harry had to master, Draco became less and less like Draco and more like… Malfoy. Their sarcastic comments had started to hurt Harry and he just wanted to be held again by Draco. He badly needed someone to just hold his wrists and tell him that he didn’t need the pain, that he didn’t need to bleed anymore. Every lesson he would stand with Malfoy and get on with his work, they would go to the library and study at their secluded table. And now Harry felt even lonelier but there was no self-pity. He had brought this upon himself by pushing away all of the people who cared most about him. Even if Draco was the only person to make his feeling of isolation go away and that nobody else would do, it was still his fault.

As the weeks of September dragged on there was a higher demand for work. Everyone was preparing for assessments in their NEWT subjects and even though it was a welcome distraction from his aimless mind wanderings, nothing was being retained.

It was after a school day crammed with information when things finally took the last bit of life out of Harry.

He had been in his dorm with Draco and each of them had been at their own desk with various piles of books and parchment scattered around when Harry’s brain finally shut down. They had been working late into the night with completing masses of homework. He pushed himself from his chair and walked over to Draco.

“May I help you?” He asked, not lifting his head from his work.

Draco was busy copying some text from a book when Harry got the cunning idea to have some fun. When Draco looked back to his parchment to write something down, Harry slipped his hand over the book to cover the writing. Draco looked back to the book, he was smirking and obviously trying to look indifferent as he over exaggerated his head turning to look at the page next to Harry’s hand clearly showing that Harry had the wrong page. He covered his mouth to stifle a laugh and when Draco turned to write another sentence to his essay in his neat cursive then Harry moved his hand to the other page.

Draco, completely aware of what Harry had done, turned back to the page and stared at Harry’s hand. The smirk on his face grew more difficult to cover and he was trying to look annoyed but he failed miserably. Harry was almost unable to control himself at this point as a little giggle left his lips and he clamped his hand over his mouth hard. Draco decided to lift his eyes from the book and lazily look Harry in the eye. The dark-haired boy tried to muster an innocent face but it was surely ruined when Draco quirked an eyebrow up. Draco took his hand and lifted it from the book and held it away.

Harry’s heart was convulsing out of beat and he suddenly felt very hot under the tightness of his tie.

“Do you promise to stop?” Draco asked, not looking up and still writing.

Harry saw his chance and took it, ”nope” In the hope that Draco would continue to hold Harry’s hand away from the book, which he did. And they stayed like that for what seemed like hours but it must have been only a few minutes because Draco was nearly done with his homework.

Without realising, Draco had been running his thumb over the scarred hand which was left from the punishment of Professor Umbridge. He wrote the last sentence and sighed as he took a look at their hands, “Potter you are positively filthy, I shall have to wash my hands,”

Harry finally let his hand drop from his mouth and laughed uncontrollably, “you’re one to talk, look at all those ink smudges” He chided taking Draco’s other hand and shoving it in his face where the smudges were the worst. Really he had just wanted an excuse to touch Draco more.

“I’d better get clean then hadn’t I Potter,”Draco said with darkening eyes.

Harry felt breathless and mumbled, “Yes you better had.”

It was the most contact that they had both had for the past two weeks and it was brilliant. Draco withdrew his hands from Harry's and left to head to the bathroom with a slight sway of his hips. Harry knew he was looking and he didn’t care.

He was disgusting, how could he allow himself to look at other people after what he’d done. He was a filthy whore and he hated the sight of himself. All the goodness drained from his body as he thought back to his summer and how he had spent it by giving his body to any bloke who wanted it. And the thought of that just brought up certain memories he wished could be removed from his brain forever. An obliviate would have done it, but he didn’t want anyone knowing what to look for when casting the spell, he didn’t want people to know what had happened to him and for that reason he let his mind repress those memories as best as it could by itself. Which wasn’t too great considering he liked to torture himself by eyeing up Draco Malfoy.

Harry didn’t follow him.

Instead, he got changed into his bunny onesie. It was comfortable and warm and Harry had worn it too many times to remember. Sometimes in the summer, when it was raining and cold as per usual for British weather, he had worn his onesie. It made him feel like a kid again and sometimes it was just comforting to run his fingers through the fluff. The bed was soft and even though he knew he wouldn’t sleep he closed his eyes. They were heavy and sore and… wet. Why were they wet? Harry brought a fluffy sleeve to his eye and wiped away the dampness. He just needed something to hold, something to cuddle something to pet. Hedwig was irreplaceable though and Hedwig was gone. The tears were leaking from his eyes again and this time they wouldn’t go away. It was silent. It was almost as if he wasn’t even crying. It was just… happening. He felt so empty and he didn’t even know what was wrong with him.

“Accio Sirius’ mirror” He whispered.

The mirror gently lifted from his trunk and blurrily floated over to him slowly. Harry was startled by a tapping at the window and he thought for a split second it was his old snowy friend. It wasn’t. The rain started lightly it hardly made any noise, then the low grumble of clouds echoed through the sky and the rain came down heavier.

Fractured, broken, unrepairable. That’s what the mirror was and when he looked into it and saw his reflection splayed across multiple pieces of glass, he knew that he was those things too.
“Sirius” He whispered, closing his eyes and feeling more tears fall. He gripped the frame ferociously and began to sob. Putting the mirror to his chest and wrapping himself around it, he curled up into a ball on his side and gently traced his scars, his fingers moving up and down over every ridge and then down that messy raised scar that had gone so deep down his arm. He remembered his utter relief when he had done it and the pain and fear leaving his body and mind. He remembered his promise to Draco. Now the only pain he could get was by looking at him and seeing something he couldn’t have, the only pain he could get was through looking at the scars and remembering what he had done to himself.

Coward. That was what he was. What would everyone think of him now if they knew?

If there really was an afterlife as Luna seemed to believe, then it really had been his family that had visited him in the forest. It really had been his mother standing in front of him with a yearning that tugged on his heart. The feel of hopelessness and loneliness had consumed him when he had reached for his mother’s hand and it had gone right through his own. If there really was an afterlife then his family had been watching him like they said they had been. They would have seen it all. They would have seen his heart and his fear of his past. They would have seen how desperate he was for someone, anyone to be there for him, to love him like family. Yes, he had the Weasleys but it wasn’t enough. He needed someone to hold him at night and to tell him that everything was going to be okay. He needed so desperately to be back in the forest and to curl up with his family near him. To huddle up in a pile of dirt and hold himself and rock himself to sleep. He needed his family to watch him and be with him and he needed them to take him away from this miserable lonely world. To take him away and leave his body in the dark damp autumn leaves whilst the first frost of winter froze his grime filled hair. He needed his mother to come to him and put her transparent arms around him and pretend to wipe away his tears. He could waste away in front of the mirror of Erised at how much he needed that and not even Dumbledore could convince him to leave it’s reflection this time.

His chest tightened and he rocked himself on his bed in an attempt to comfort himself. He could almost hear their voices now.

Sweetheart, darling, my baby boy. Mama’s here, mama’s got you. You’re not alone. Harry baby, I’m here. You don’t need to hurt any longer. We are here.

“Mama” His whispered in a strangled choke.

My strong boy, Papa is very proud of you. You are so good, so amazingly good. You just have to be a little stronger for us now. Can you do that for me, Harry? Can you be a strong boy for me?

“Yes-” He whimpered and rocked himself some more, “yes papa, I’ll try.”

Harry my boy. You are not a bad person, you are a good person that bad things have happened to. You cannot be blamed for your abuse and you cannot be held responsible for your way of coping with it. When you hurt yourself you are hurting us, we care about you and we love you very much. You are good, so good Harry. Don’t ever think anything different.

“Sirius I-” Harry began but his voice was cut off by a stifled sob.

Look after Teddy for me will you Harry, don’t leave him. I know it hurts and I know you love us but I can’t bear to think of him by himself all alone. You and Teddy are not so different. You are all he has. Just remember to eat some chocolate every now and then, It’ll make you feel better even if problems can’t be solved by chocolate.

Harry pulled his hands up to his eyes and bawled. The rain was miserably cascading and hammering against the window. He felt the touch of something on his head and moved towards it slightly, he didn’t even open his eyes. Maybe that way he could pretend that it was his Dad or his Mum or even his Godfather or Remus.

The bed dipped and the felt two strong but gentle arms pull him close. This person was hot, an intense heat that was very much real and alive. The mirror was pulled gently from his clutches and when it was gone he held himself tighter. The hands resumed their position around Harry and he felt himself being pulled into someone’s lap. His fluffy bum fitting snuggly in the dip as this person brought their knees up to encase Harry and bring him closer. Harry was hiccupping and catching his breath as he rested his head on this person’s shoulder and nudged his head in the crook of their neck. Whimpering, Harry felt the slow steady pulse of blood pumping in their neck and the smell of apples and peppermint what was highly unmistakably Draco. He felt himself become limp in the boy’s arms and he allowed himself to be brought in even closer. Long, nimble fingers were brushing their way through Harry’s curls and Harry let out a desperate sob as he clung to the warmth that seeped through Draco’s pyjamas.

“Shhh, shhh, it’s okay. You’re okay, you’re not alone, you’ll never be alone anymore. I’ve got you, Shhh, hush now, close your eyes and rest now, I’ve got you” The soothing voice said. And Harry felt unable to do anything other than comply. His breath caught and he slowed down to something that could be called a regular pattern. He felt like a child, like a baby, and that was fine by him. He remembered those nights in his early life, the earliest memory he had; under the stairs in a cot, crying, desperate for something close to love. He had cried and cried and nobody came. It had been dark and cold. Eventually, he had realised that no-one was coming so he had sat back in his cot and pulled his blanket over himself, the tiniest piece of light bursting through the grate in the door. He had known he was alone then. Now he felt like that toddler and he felt as if this was the hug he had needed back then. Pressing his hands to Draco’s waist and pulling himself closer he drifted to sleep, the hand still running through his hair and the smell of apples still strong.

***


Draco had fallen asleep like that, His hand stuck in Harry’s hair and his cheek resting on the boy’s head. The rain had continued relentlessly into the night and the last leaves fell. October was here. A new month a new slate. Everything was wrong, this boy’s life was broken and he was sinking into something that Draco didn’t know if he could fix.

***



Harry woke up before Draco as he usually did. Instead of getting up to go for his daily shower he waited. It was nice to be held by someone, it was even nicer to be held by Draco. The blond-haired boy was breathing steadily under him and he found the rise and fall of his chest relaxing and comforting. September had moved to October overnight and it was a change that was welcome. The nights were getting longer and colder. Fog covered the castle grounds outside the window. It was a new day and Harry felt a weight lift from his chest. The boy underneath him rose from his sleep and brought Harry closer.

Harry’s eyes were puffy and red and he reluctantly slipped from Draco’s grasp to stand in front of the mirror.

“I’m a mess,” He said to himself, then turned to Draco, “Thank you… for last night… I-” He sighed and looked back to his reflection. “I just haven’t been doing great recently.”

Draco just watched Harry, “I know the feeling.” he commented, “Go and get your shower, It’s Saturday and I want to go to Hogsmeade with you, and we can’t have you looking like that can we Potter?” He smiled at him slightly.

Harry just nodded and gave Draco as much of a smile as he could muster, “Be back in a few.”

When Harry came back, Draco was dressed and sat on Harry’s bed. He was wearing a red jumper that Harry recognised as his own and with it, a pair of black jeans and some black boots.

“You don’t mind do you?” He asked as Harry looked him over and smiled.

“No. It suits you, you should wear red more often especially with all these autumn colours.”

Draco sat up,”Exactly! Most of my clothes clash with all these golden leaves, it’s so frustrating.” He sighed.

Harry turned away to put on a pair of bright red socks that had snitches on. Then he dressed in black jeans and some boots that Draco suggested he should wear. After throwing on a loose grey shirt and a hoodie he took his thick jacket and hung it over his arm.

Draco stood from the bed, “You know you don’t have to put on a fake smile just for me,” he said as he lifted Harry’s Gryffindor scarf from the back of the chair and then fetched his thick black coat that went to his thighs.

“I know” Harry mumbled.

Draco took Harry’s head in his hand and looked at him deeply. Harry closed his eyes and sighed into the embrace of Draco’s arms and they held each other. Draco rested his head on Harry’s and the black-haired boy rested his own on Draco’s shoulder facing the crook of his neck. His slow breaths tingling up Draco’s spine. And they held each other and took each other in. Remembering the feel of each other, their smells. The way their bodies seemed to mould together. Harry physically thought of every single inch of his body that was touching Draco and he swore that he would never forget how it felt. He vowed to remember his strong arm and the way that they made him feel safe. Draco had done the same. Remembering this moment and mesmerizing it in a way to eradicate the nightmare of his rejection. How Harry had looked from his hand and back to his face and had practically spat out that Draco wasn’t good enough for him. He would never forget how Harry had just fallen into his arms and made time stop. And time stopped. Everything else in the fucking miserable world stopped and it was just them, holding onto each other for however long they wanted and everything and everyone else could wait. Nothing else mattered.

Chapter Text

Harry sighed in relief as he was held by Draco. He was the only thing thing that could keep him sane, the only thing that could ever hold him up when he felt the floor collapsing under his feet. Draco had held Harry for as long as Harry needed him to. So, when Harry started to pull away, Draco did the same. They were still in some sort of a hug, still holding each other. Harry brought his hands back from Draco's waist and took the fabric of his shirt in his hands over his chest. Holding onto Harry’s hips, Draco watched the other boy and waited. The dark-haired boy raised his head and lifted his eyes from those red lips to those warm grey eyes. Once his furrowed eyebrows and tight jaw had melted away, Harry found his eyes became heavy and sore. He looked at Draco through his dark eyelashes and lowered his head a little when he felt a burning sting come to his eyes. The movement from looking back to the other boy dislodged a single tear and Harry watched Draco's thumb as he came to wipe it away. Closing his eyes and leaning into the hand, other tears fell too. It was a silent cry. One that Harry had done all too much.

“I hate to see you like this” Said a pained choked up voice.

Harry opened his eyes to find Draco’s own tears falling slowly. He put one of his hands over Draco’s that was on his cheek and he lifted the other to wipe away the trails of salt that had gathered under the blond’s chin. Moving his fingers gently to cup his cheek as he was doing with Harry.

The Gryffindor and the Slytherin. United by tears.

Harry moved his hand to hold Draco’s neck, “We cry, we comfort, we wipe away the pain and we get better. We get stronger and we will get through this.” He whispered determinedly

“We get through this.” Draco echoed. And he took Harry’s hand in his and looked at it, running his long pale fingers over many different scars, “We will both get better,” He promised.

Harry watched as Draco touched him, so caring and so gentle, like no-one had ever done before.

“Let’s go get breakfast.” He whispered to the Slytherin who nodded and opened the door to leave their dormitories.

***

When they sat down, shoulder to shoulder, Harry looked from the toast to the porridge, the cereal to the pancakes. It was all too much. Draco lifted Harry a pancake and put some syrup on it to make a smiley face, which managed to bribe one from Harry’s lips in return. They looked at each other and Harry suddenly didn’t feel the overwhelming sickness over eating. It was just one pancake, and besides, it had a smiley face on it. Harry started to eat and Hermione could only watch in astonishment as she witnessed the first smile from Harry that she had seen in weeks. He looked at her and ate his pancake. Draco poured himself and Harry some tea and they ate breakfast quietly. Giving each other food or other things when they needed them.

When Ron sat down with them Harry smiled at him, “Morning Ron.”

The redhead looked as if a goat had just spoken to him, “Morning Harry.” He said and smiled a weak smile.

Harry and Draco sat and ate even as more of their year came to the table.

Pansy sat with Hermione. Dean and Seamus sat with each other; Ginny, Neville and Luna huddled together and the rest of their group sat with others in conversations about Quidditch and Witch Weekly.

It was all very bizarre.

Everyone seemed brighter.

***

They set off from the hall, some of the eight years had stayed in school to finish assignments and studying in the library so it was only a small group of them that had actually gone to Hogsmeade. Pansy and Hermione linked elbows the way most friends did and led the way down the corridors to the door of the castle. Blaise and Theo were laughing about something and Ron had been talking with some other Gryffindors about Quidditch when Draco put his arm around Harry, a gentle touch above his waist. The corridors were mainly empty except for a few younger years who were playing. Throwing jinx after jinx at each other.

Harry watched them and smiled, they were free. The two boys started to talk about Hogsmeade and all the pumpkin things that would be for sale now that it was October when Harry tripped and his legs gave way underneath him. The conversation came to an abrupt stop as Harry yelped and put out his arms to catch himself before he hit the floor, but Draco was already there. His strong hands holding his waist. Draco was leant over and tried to lift Harry when his legs just slid under him. Harry was struggling and grabbing hold of Draco as he was turned over in the boy’s arms.

They looked at each other and laughed.

A smirk edged its way across Draco’s face, “I think you just fell for me, Potter.” He mumbled and laughed.

I fell ages ago. Harry laughed his blush away, “You wish.” He teased. But the whispered ‘yes’ that came after that was muffled by the second year that came running up to Harry and apologising.

Harry didn’t pay any attention to the boy, it was only on Draco, “What? “ He asked, his mouth open a little.

Draco blushed, “I didn’t say anything.” He said as he lifted Harry up some more. The group of eight years had realised their absence and Hermione came to him and cast the counter curse before giving a few words of warning to the second year.

“Thanks ‘Mione” He mumbled, still focused on Draco.

“No problem Harry. Honestly some second years.” She huffed and began to walk the rest of the group out into the courtyard and down the road to Hogsmeade.

***

The ground was hard and dry and the golden leaves were turning dark and decayed. Harry and Draco walked side by side, knuckles brushing slightly with the sway of their arms. Hogsmeade was busy and the group decided to split up and get together for a butterbeer later. Hermione and Pansy left in one direction, whispering and looking back at the boys. Everyone else spread out and within a few seconds it was just Draco and Harry stood in the centre of Hogsmeade.

“So, what should we do?” Harry asked Draco, who smiled and took Harry’s wrist. Draco Dragged Harry in the direction of Honeydukes and stopped by the door.

“Pumpkin things remember.” He said with a wink and they both went inside.

Harry took in the new decorations. Pumpkin Cakes and Bat Fangs were displayed on circle tiered shelves that were rotating. Harry smiled and Draco beamed at him.
They wandered around the shop with handfuls of sweets; chocolate bats, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, pumpkin cookies, truffles (mostly pumpkin), sour jelly slugs, chocolate frogs, liquorice whips and peppermints. The list was endless. The boys were little children as they sheepishly went to the counter and bought their treasure. The cashier had just given them a smug look and Harry grinned and became very shy all of a sudden.

When they left the shop, Draco took Harry to a secluded part of Hogsmeade that was near the shrieking shack.

“What are we doing?” Harry asked as they sat down on a bench near the forest.

“Well,” Draco began, “I thought that we could start by eating some of those sweets we just bought.”

They both reached for the bag at the same time, laughing as their hands touched.

Harry reached for the bag of pumpkin truffles and took a small bite of it, “Mmm, pumpkin” He grinned and turned to Draco who was watching him with a raised eyebrow.

Harry raised his own and put the rest of it in his mouth. The Slytherin crossed his arms and lifted his chin as he watched Harry take another bite of a truffle. Trying not to smirk, Draco pouted and furrowed his brow. With a grin that turned into a blush, Harry brought the half eaten truffle to Draco who ate it from his fingers. His chest tightened as soft warm lips touched his fingers and he felt his cheeks warm in the cold October air.

“Mmm this is good, maybe you can convince me to try all these pumpkin things.” He smirked.

Harry closed his mouth and lowered his hand, “Sure, I can.” and he picked up a pumpkin cookie and split it in half, “Here try this,”

They both took a bite and the crisp cookie melted in their mouth, “Why haven’t I been obsessed with pumpkin like you? I’ve been a fool.” Draco declared dramatically and they both laughed while they finished their cookies.

A gust of wind blew scattered half-dead leaves into Harry’s face which made him splutter as he almost inhaled a leaf. When he turned to Draco he was obviously trying not to laugh. Harry elbowed him and shivered.

“This is what you get for wearing a thin hoodie when I told you to take a coat, Potter.” Chided Draco as he pulled leaves out of Harry’s hair, “Come here,” he sighed. The dark-haired boy shuffled over huddled into Draco’s warmth. He smelled of rain and the forest and now pumpkins, it was different but it was entirely Draco. Harry shivered more as Draco wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulder and brought him closer, they had already cast warming charms and nothing magic would make any difference now.

“Next time Malfoy, I'll be sure to take your advice.” He muttered.

Harry’s shivering eventually stopped but they still held each other, like they had earlier that morning. They were both quiet as they listened to the rustling of the trees and the shrieking shack in the distance, the humming of crowds back in the main village, their breathing as the foggy mist was puffed out from their mouths, their pulsing blood as it got louder in their lack of conversation.

“What do you think the others are doing?” Draco asked suddenly which made the other boy jump a little.

“Erm… I don’t know, getting drunk maybe, shopping, why?” Harry replied.

“No reason,”

Harry felt cold again and shuffled closer to Draco whose grip on his shoulder tightened and kept him warm.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said watching the leaves swirl on the floor, “That I couldn’t do more for you and your family. After it was over I- I saw you in the hall with your parents, you were just holding each other. I’m sorry about Crabbe.”

“Potter… stop. There was nothing else that could have been done and Vincent’s death was sad but in truth, it was him that had cast the fiendfyre, it would have killed him even if he hadn’t fallen.” Draco had turned away slightly, still holding Harry but he was now looking in the other direction. “We could spend years apologising to each other and it would get us nowhere, so can we stop.”

Harry frowned a little, “Yeah. Sure.”

“Look, Potter, I understand your need to apologise for things that you feel guilty about, even if it isn’t your fault. Even is in no way shape or for the blame could ever be placed on you, but it isn’t healthy. It wasn’t your fault. Lots of things aren’t your fault, yet you still blame yourself. We both need to heal and the only way you can do that is if you stop blaming yourself for things that have happened in the past.” He sighed, “Tell me, Potter, what is the real reason you don’t sleep at night?”

Harry went rigid, “I told you, it was all the long nights whilst we were on the run.”

“Potter,” Draco urged, “I’ve seen you at night, as soon as you close your eyes you’re out like a light, are you telling me people with insomnia get to sleep straight away? Somehow I don’t believe you.”

Harry played with the hem of his sleeve, “It’s nothing you need to concern yourself with.”

“But I am right aren’t I… there is another reason.” Draco persuaded.

Harry sighed, “Malfoy, please…” He trailed off.

That was when Pansy and Hermione came through to the clearing, “Harry?” Hermione asked. “Why are you hugging Draco? Are you okay?”

Harry took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “Yes Hermione I’m fine.”

Pansy walked closer to them, even though there was still a fair bit of distance between her and the boys, “Draco you have some explaining to do. I can’t believe you wouldn’t tell me of all people! We’re friends how could you not tell me that you two were together! You keep lying to me and pushing me away-”

Draco glared at her, “I have never lied to you-” He said evenly before he was cut off by Harry.

“We’re not together, I’m just bloody freezing because I didn’t listen to Malfoy when he told me to take a warmer coat so he was keeping me warm.” He said icily.

Hermione took Pansy’s arm, “Right then. It’s just you two… together-”

Harry stood up now, “So what if we were together? We’re not but would it be so wrong if we were? You’re hardly one to judge considering things.” Harry defended.

Her jaw dropped a little, “And what might that mean may I ask?” they held eyes and Harry dropped down to the bench. Hermione ran to him, “Harry I’m sorry I know how you feel about your sexuality, I think it’s awful that you believe it to be disgusting but we all support you we all love you no matter what. I know your Uncle loathed you when he found out but just because he didn’t approve doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy.” She put her arm around him, “Harry?”

“You’ve said too much” He whispered almost inaudibly, “Don’t talk about them, not Dudley not anyone. Don’t talk about Dudley.” He choked and threw himself around Hermione repeating his mantra of sorts, “Don’t talk about Dudley”

Hermione held him fiercely and Pansy and Draco watched, “Harry we’re not talking about him. It’s okay, you’re okay, shhh”

And by this time Harry was sobbing into her shoulder as she stroked her hair.

***

Draco watched as Harry broke in Hermione’s arms and eventually he stood up and walked away a bit with Pansy to give them some space.

“Pansy, I have never lied to you, I just haven’t told you every single thing about me. You have your own secrets so it’s perfectly fine for me to have my own.” Draco told her.

Pansy looked from Harry to Draco, “I know. I’m sorry it just seems like things with you and Potter have changed and I just worry about you.”

“How is everything with Hermione?” Draco asked.

Pansy looked back to Hermione, “Fine I guess, I think we are both just cautious about what we want. Nothing is ever easy and we don’t want to ruin the friendship we already have.”

Harry appeared to have stopped crying and now Hermione was looking at them to come back.

Draco walked over to Harry and saw his empty face and his empty eyes, “Come on Potter, I want to show you something.” he said gently, holding Harry’s arm and running his hand up and down it softly.

Harry looked at him with red eyes and nodded, “Okay.” he whispered. Draco helped him to stand and put his arm around Harry’s waist while the dark haired boy leant into Draco and holding onto him tightly. They walked away from the clearing and back into Hogsmeade.

Pansy joined Hermione on the bench and held onto her as they watched the boys leave, “What’s going on with Harry? What’s going on with them both?”

Hermione turned away and faced Pansy, “For once I have no idea, he doesn’t talk to me about his family. I assume that they abused him, especially his Uncle Vernon, but now I can’t help but wonder what drastic part his cousin Dudley played in all of this. To react in such a way at the mere memory of him… I can’t help him because he won’t open up to me. I feel useless Pansy I’m his best friend. What am I supposed to do?”

The other girl brought Hermione’s face to her’s and whispered, “You are not useless.”

Hermione’s frizzy curls blew in the wind and Pansy tucked them behind her ear. She was about to drop her hand when Hermione leant in and kissed her. It was a slow kiss that gently became more open and they became more urgent as a new warmth filled them in the cold October wind. When they pulled away and smiled at each other, it wasn’t long before they were kissing again, this time more patient.

***

Harry would have asked where they were going but in all honesty, he didn’t really care, he just wanted a distraction and so far Draco’s body pressed against his was a distraction enough. Except for the fact that it reminded him of the conversation he had just had with Hermione and that only made him think of his family. As if he could even call them that.

“ter… Potter.”

“Hmm?” Harry realised they had stopped walking.

Draco took his hand and Harry’s heart clenched, “I wanted to take you here because I think there will be something you'd like to get.” He explained.

He furrowed his eyebrows, “I don’t know what you mean?” He replied. Draco just opened the door and took Harry inside.

“Usually prefects buy things from here because they are the only people who are really able to use them but I figured there would be some Halloween things now so-”

Draco broke off as Harry wandered to one side of the small shop, shelves upon shelves were filled with assorted bath products, shampoo, bubbles, shower gel, soaps. The smell of the shop was almost overwhelming. Draco smiled at his curiosity and guided him to the section that would probably suit Harry’s likings more than lavender scented soaps.

“This,” Draco said as they came to a Halloween display case, “is the reason I brought you here.”

Harry beamed at Draco and it was good to know that he had managed to take Harry’s mind off of the problems in his past, at least for now. “Pumpkin!” Harry almost squealed. His eyes were bright and it was as if he could jump up and down on the spot. He took his time to look at all of the pumpkin specials and took in each smell as he inspected everything.

Pumpkin shampoo, pumpkin bubbles, pumpkin shower gel, the lot. Harry bought a few different products and turned to Draco to thank him but he was nowhere to be seen. “Malfoy?”

“I’m here Potter I wouldn’t leave you” he joked and watch Harry relax a little. Draco bought something small and left the shop with Harry.

“What did you get?” Harry asked

Draco smirked and shrugged innocently, “Just a little something.”

Harry sighed and shook his head, “Come on, we should meet the others at the Hog’s Head for that butterbeer.”

The blond haired boy looked down at Harry fondly, “Come on then.” He said as he hooked his arm around the other.

The Hog’s Head was busy and Harry had a hard time finding their friends but eventually, Draco spotted Blaise and took them both over to a secluded booth near the back of the pub. It was a tight squeeze but somehow everyone managed to fit in. Draco sat next to Blaise and Harry who was sat next to Ron. Theo sat on the other side of the booth with Pansy and Hermione and a few others had stolen chairs from nearby tables and crowded around the end of the booth.

Pansy got up with a smile and offered everyone a butterbeer. Draco thought that she seemed quite happy and he wondered what had happened with Hermione after he and Harry had left the clearing. The frothy butter beers came back with a clunk on the table and Harry looked at Draco as he sipped.

“I’m glad our past is not stopping me from enjoying a butterbeer with you,” Harry mumbled into Draco’s ear, echoing his past self at the Leaky where this friendship had … begun?

Draco smiled and bit his lip before drinking. When the cup was half empty Draco had a frothy moustache and Harry giggled. He brought his finger up to the moustache and flicked away the froth which stuck itself to Harry’s intruding finger. He looked at it and blushed as he licked his finger clean and sipped his own butterbeer.

Round one had gone quite fast.

“I’m glad that I can enjoy a beer with you too” Draco whispered into Harry’s ear when nobody was listening.

Of course, that didn’t mean nobody was looking when Harry blushed slightly, of course, Hermione and Pansy were watching with great interest. Everyone else? Oblivious.

Harry coughed a little and offered to get everyone’s next order, most of it was alcohol which Harry passed up on if the last time he got tipsy was anything to go by.

The group drank and drank and every time the next person asked for orders Harry would say he was fine.

The group of friends had mostly been going steady on the beverages and not being too extreme in terms of the amount of alcohol they took in but Draco was having fire whisky after fire whisky and Harry was getting more and more concerned about him.

Four alcoholic drinks later and Draco was happily buzzed, he leant all over Harry, not that he minded but he rather wished that Draco wasn’t on the verge of being inebriated.

Once they called it a night, Harry led Draco back to the castle. He was still sober enough to walk but he was being very talkative and it amused him. Back in the dorms, Draco put their shopping in between their beds and flopped down. Surprisingly he was still coherent.

“Do you want to know what I bought back at that shop?” Draco asked.

The black-haired boy smiled and sat on the edge of the bed next to Draco, “Yeah sure.” He grinned.

Draco took the small package from one of the bags and gave it to Harry, “A present for you. That’s what.”

The other boy took the small wrapped gift and looked at Draco with something he couldn’t quite describe, “Thank you” he whispered and gently began to peel back the wrapping. Inside lay two medium sized bath bombs that were obviously pumpkin scented, they were orange with red swirls in.

Harry looked from the bath bombs to Draco and his jaw dropped, “you didn’t have to- but - I can’t use them… we don’t have a bath.”

To which Draco smirked and tapped his nose, “Well… what if I told you that you could use the prefect’s bathroom… “ He trailed off and left the rest hung in between the air.

Harry leapt up at Draco and wrapped his arms around his neck, “Thank you.” He whispered into his ear and Draco held back a shiver as he put his arms around the smaller boy.

“Run along then, go before curfew and then we can sit and talk the night away.” Draco smiled and the boy returned it, gathering his new shampoo and bubble bath.

“Did you plan this?” He asked.

Draco smirked, “Maybe.”

The boy looked like a little child who was eating popping candy for the first time and being completely in awe as their mouth cracked. Harry’s bright green eyes were gone from the room within seconds and Draco found that he missed them dearly.

Eventually, after sitting down on his bed for longer than bearable, Draco stormed to his desk and wrote.

Dear Mother,

I’m sorry that I am a disgrace to the Malfoy name. I’m sorry that I prefer the company of men to women. I am sorry that you will not have biological grandchildren. What I am not sorry for is my utter adoration of the man I have loved ever since I first saw him. I am not sorry for being smitten with him and I am not sorry that I will leave the title of the Malfoy heir if it means I can be with him.

I know that father is the main cause for all of your feelings about this and I know he does not approve of my affection for Harry Potter. The truth is; I love the man. He doesn’t even know it. I love him and nothing can convince me otherwise.
So even if you and father disown me, it won’t matter. Even if I have no family after sending this letter it won’t mean a damn thing because as long as I have Harry, be it in a relationship or just as friends, I will have enough of a family. You live in the old ways of thinking, we are not in the 1800’s anymore. And I may or may not be drunk right now. I can’t tell, but either way, this man is my life and nothing will change that.

Love, Your SON.

Ton petit dragon.

P.s I’ll see you at Christmas.

He didn’t know why he had done it but no sooner than it was written it had been sent by owl to Malfoy Manor leaving a half-tipsy Draco stood in the owlery wondering how much more he could fuck up his life in one day.

He ran.

Just like he ran from his father when he had told him. Just like he had run from Voldemort in his house. Just like he had run from help in his sixth year. Just like he had run from all his problems and denial. Just like he had run when Harry had first rejected his hand. Run away from the thought of being his friend that was, there was nowhere he could have physically moved to, to get away from Harry on their first day.

He ran to the only place where he knew comfort could be found. Well, one of the places, he could have gone to Harry but Draco didn’t want to be seen like this, especially not by Harry. After all, Harry was the cause for Draco’s pain and would it really help to look at a person and know that you couldn’t have them. And even if he did go to Harry it’s not like he could tell him about the letter he had just sent.

So he ran to the only other place he could go to.

“Fizzing whizzbee”

He knocked on the large door and it opened for him.

“Draco?” McGonagall asked, “What can I help you with?”

He ran his hands through his hair and begged, “Please, Professor, I need to speak with Professor Snape, I must speak to him.”

She had a hand held over her chest and looked at him in astonishment, “Well, of course, you can talk to him. The portrait is just over there.” she said pointing to a secluded room, “Would you like some privacy?”

Draco sighed in relief, “Yes Professor. Thank you, thank you so much.” He said and almost ran to the room. The portrait was empty, “Godfather” he whispered and the portrait seemed to move. A tall figure dressed in black took a seat in the painting and rubbed his temples.

“I had wondered when you would come to see me Draco.” he drawled affectionately. “How is your family taking the news?”

Draco sighed and flopped into a chair without an ounce of etiquette. “They had guessed in my earlier years. I told them after the war and…” He heaved a despairing sigh, “father will always be set in his beliefs but I had hoped mother would do something. She avoids everything about it and I- Severus I just sent her a half drunken letter professing my love for… Harry Potter. I don’t think things can get much worse than this. I told her I wouldn’t care if she disowned me but I do care!” he raised his voice. “I do care,” he mumbled, “She’s my mother of course I care.”

“Draco,” Severus began, “I know that these things cannot be helped and pureblood traditions are becoming very outdated but are you sure that your mother is against it? She loves you very much and I would not think her to be the type to just abandon you when you most need her. She had me cast an unbreakable vow for you, she had many things in place for your protection and I wouldn’t dismiss her love just because of your… sexuality.”

Draco took all of this in and nodded silently.

“Does the boy even know of your feelings?”

Draco paled and shook his head, “No. No, he can’t know.”

“Why not?”

Draco opened his mouth but he didn’t have an answer. He clamped his hand to his face to muffle a choke and tried to blink away the stinging in his eyes. He brought his knees up to his face and turned away from his Godfather when the sobs broke the quiet. Severus merely watched as Draco bawled and, unable to comfort him, left to get McGonagall.

The headmistress came into the room shortly and took Draco into her arms. Reluctantly he allowed himself to be held and eventually he forced himself to stop crying.

“I think I’d best be going now” He whispered and stood.

McGonagall stood with him, “You can come back here anytime you like you know that don’t you.”

Draco had almost left through the door when he turned back to the headmistress, “Yes Professor. I know”

Draco was back in his dorm room a full twenty minutes before Harry returned wearing a cute dog onesie that brought a smile to his face.

“You’ve been crying,” Harry stated, walking over to Draco’s bed.

“No, I haven’t… I like this onesie, I didn’t know you had a different one.” Draco attempted to change the subject.

“Yeah it’s one of my favourites.” obviously it had worked or Harry had understood the need for a topic change. “You said you wanted to talk the night away… but I can see that you’re tired. You’re already in your pyjamas and you were half asleep when I came in. so do you just want to sleep?”

Draco turned off the lights in the room with his wand, “Sure, night Harry.”

The black-haired boy looked taken aback but it was hidden in the darkness, a flutter of something rose in his chest at the use of his first name. “Goodnight Draco,” He said brushing the blond’s hair. He was already fast asleep, “Sweet dreams” he whispered and shuffled his way over to his own bed.

***


The sky was grey and cloudy with the promise of a storm looming. The wind was harsh on his back as it ruffled his dirty blond hair. Stinging coldness seeped from the stone courtyard and made his feet cold to the point of being numb. It was crowded and he felt the hundreds of eyes all on him. His mouth dried and he felt the urge to lick his lips but even that wouldn't abate the sandpaper in his throat. He held his breath, waiting, for the eyes to judge him if he even dared to move. So he didn't. He stayed. Exactly. Still. His muscles frozen in fear past the point of being useful. Fear raided every inch of his being. Despite the painfully cold atmosphere, a small sweat had begun to break out at the nape of his neck and his chest felt tight as he watched the Dark Lord glide into the centre of the courtyard. He went rigid.

The mass of black that followed him was immense. Follower after follower supporting him in his victory as those four words rang out like a knell in the echoing silence.

“Harry Potter is dead!”

The distant screams and cries were not heard by him. His weight threatening to buckle underneath his legs that had gone boneless and felt like dust and ash; falling through the gaps between his fingers. His heart stopped. Tightening. Constricting the blood flow as if his grieving would actually kill him. As if his own unexplainable mourning and sorrow would see his pain and end it for him. Heart attack.

No.

The buzzing in his head ebbed away and the string that had been yanked on his heart turned from heartache to something else entirely. A burning desire to kill. To hurt. To destroy that which had taken his Harry from him.

Because in this reality, Harry was his.

The limp body. Covered in dirt and grime and filth. The limp arms flopping from his sides and swaying with his carrier's movements.

The eyes seemed to be in him even more now and he couldn't breathe. The crowd had not even moved, yet they were on top of him. Squashing him. Sucking the life out of him as if they were all dementors and this was the worst vision they could make the blond see; Harry dead.

The red eyed monster demanded his Harry be dropped on the floor by his feet. The boy crashed down to the stone with an overwhelming smack that echoed and rebounded off of every surface.

The blond was moving. He hadn't realised his actions but eventually, he was in front of Voldemort and starring pure hatred into his eyes. He dropped to his knees and cradled his limp Harry in his lap. He brushed away his hair and stroked the scar on his forehead. He rubbed away the dirt and mud on his face and washed away the grime with the tears that had stung and burned and fallen from his eyes onto Harry's face. He lifted his chest and pressed their heart's together. Rib to rib. One was cold and the other was as good as dead as it broke and shattered inaudibly.

“Harry” he sobbed.

“Harry, Harry, Harry, my Harry. What have you DONE to my Harry.”

The blond haired boy took Harry in his arms and rocked them both together.

“shhh, you're safe now. I have you.” He whispered as he wept and pressed delicate fingers to the limp boy's chest. Held his fingers there and echoed. “I'm here. I am here.” tapping and pushing his palm into Harry's heart.

He retrieved the limp hand and pressed it to his own heart and echoed. “You are here. You are here.”

The mist and fog settled over the limp body as he kissed his closed eyelids one by one. Then his fingertips. Then finally his mouth. A slow desperate grieving kiss that would be the last thing pulling oxygen into his lungs.

***

Draco’s sobbing and his wet cheeks woke him up.

“Harry” He cried out. Drawing the name from his lips in a lasting breath of longing.

He wrenched open his curtains and slipped into Harry's where the black haired boy was having a nightmare of his own. Tossing and turning and shaking almost.

Draco put his hands on either side of Harry's face and whimpered. The other boy woke with a startle at the touch.

Groggily he turned to Draco, “Draco? What's wrong?” he whispered. Lifting the covers and pulling him into the warmth of his bed.

Pushing his own dream aside, Harry brought the foetal like Draco towards him and soothed him with a comforting “shh” and protective hands running through his silky hair.

Harry didn't even know what he was doing when he pressed a gentle kiss to Draco's forehead. After spending the next five minutes like that Harry decided to bring Draco fully under the covers. At first, they faced each other. Draco let out a quiet breathless sob and gasped for hitched breath every few seconds. He clawed at Harry's onesie for some sort of comfort as if reaching for Harry would make sure that the boy would never leave him.

Harry had felt useless he was unable to bring any form of comfort to the boy in his arms, “Turn over.” He whispered. Draco rolled over under the covers and almost started to weep again at the complete loss of Harry’s presence when Harry brought Draco’s back flush with his chest. The dark-haired boy hooked a protective leg and arm around Draco and rested his nose in the crook of Draco's neck and the blond-haired boy felt himself sink into the touch. He buried himself into the protective embrace and matched his breathing to the boy behind him. They were pressed so close that he felt Harry’s heartbeat through both layers of pyjamas. The hiccuping subsided and Draco clung to the arm that was around him, holding it closer. It was half three in the morning and sleep came like a blessing to his puffy red eyes.

They were safe.

We cry. We hold each other and we pick ourselves back up.

Then we get better.

Chapter Text

Apples, silky hair, velvet skin.

It was the best way to wake up, well at least it was for Harry.

He wrapped his loose arm tighter around Draco and pulled him closer. Harry was practically half on top of the boy. His hand pressed firmly against the boy’s chest and his fingers brushed over his collarbones. The touch was intoxicating. Draco stirred under the warmth of Harry’s arm and shuffled slightly to face Harry, his eyes staying closed.

Harry lifted his leg a little and loosened his arm to let Draco turn over, the blond-haired boy still had his eyes closed. They were puffy and red with dark bags underneath them, Draco had really been tormented last night by what Harry could only deduce was a nightmare. Once the boys were facing each other, Harry tightened his arm again and lowered his leg. He pulled the other boy closer to him and their noses were almost touching on the pillow. He ran his hand up and down slowly on Draco’s back hooked his leg around his thigh more. Why couldn’t he wake up like this forever? Why was he so close to something he had wanted for a reality for so long? Why was Draco allowing him to do this? His other hand was being awkward and was threatening to stop blood circulating through his body so he moved it and released the pressure. It just so happened that the only place that was comfortable was having his arm against Draco’s chest, his palm touching the beating heart beneath it. Harry brought his other arm from Draco’s back and held the other boy’s neck. He slid his hand to the side of the boy’s jaw and started to stroke it with his thumb.

I’m disgusting. I shouldn’t be doing this. We’re both boys. It’s not right. I’ll just end up whoring myself off to him like I do with other men. I’m filthy, disgusting.

Stop.

This is okay. I’m okay, I’m doing nothing wrong. I’m not disgusting. I’m not.

Harry closed his eyes as he battled with himself, then he opened them again and brought his thumb to those puffy eyes. Stroking them and gently rubbing the sleep from them. He was gentle ever so gentle, and Draco let him do this, this was okay. He was very aware of Draco’s hand on his back, underneath his own arm. Draco’s hand was tentatively resting on the small of Harry’s back sending small shivers of heat up his spine. Harry closed his eyes and shimmied down the bed to rest his head against Draco’s chest, his hair lying just underneath the blonde's nose. The hand on his back moved up to his head and fingers laced themselves into the locks of hiss curly mess. They massaged his scalp and gently held onto pieces of hair.

“What are you doing?” Harry whispered contently into the chest in front of him.

Draco inhaled the luscious hair, “Waking up.” He murmured into it.

“With my hair I mean.” Harry corrected and sighed into the smell of apples.

“Smelling it,” Draco replied, taking another deep breath.

“Why?”

“Because it smells good,” Draco whispered.

Harry laughed a soft short laugh into the blond’s pyjamas, “I thought you didn’t like pumpkin” He whispered, smirking.

“Well, now I do. Harry Potter, you have converted me and now I love pumpkins.” Draco laughed quietly into his hair and it sent shivers down his spine.

They were quiet for a while, holding each other and breathing each other in.

“What was your dream about?” Harry asked.

Draco took a sharp intake of breath, “You.” He exhaled slowly, “You had died and we were in the courtyard at Hogwarts and Voldemort had won. You didn’t wake up.”

Draco finished taking in Harry’s hair again, “What about you? You were having one too when I came to your bed.”

Harry went rigid, “It was nothing." He protested.

"Harry." Draco pushed in exasperation.

Harry swallowed, "I- I was back at … the Dursleys. I was in my small bedroom, the one I had been moved to after school found out that I had been in the cupboard under the stairs. I was on my bed looking at the picture of my parents that I had kept on the bedside table and… and then… “ He took a deep breath, “ and then Dudley came in, my cousin, he… he locked the door and he came across to me, it’s a small room so… he was - I tried to get away- I- he took the picture and threw it on the floor and he - it smashed- he- then he- he grabbed me and- and-and-” Harry sobbed and clung to Draco who had brought the boy to him as they sat up in bed.

“Did he beat you!” Draco demanded. “Harry, did this actually happen? This isn’t just a dream, is it! Harry, you tell me now. Did he beat you?”

Harry clung to Draco, his lips quivering and his head shaking furiously in terror, “Yes. He- he hurt me… hit me- but other things too” He wailed, the tears draining from his eyes in an endless stream.

Draco held Harry close and wiped away the boy’s tears furiously, “Harry tell me what he did to you! Please tell me.”

The black-haired boy closed his eyes, spilling more tears and shook his head, “I- I c-can’t. I c-can’t!”

Draco brought the wailing boy to his chest and cradled his head in his arms and rocked him aggressively as he tried to control his anger. He clenched his jaw and ground his teeth and spat out between gritting them, “They locked you up in a fucking cupboard for eleven. Fucking. Years. They beat you and starve you and refuse to take you to school. They let their fucking disgrace of a human being son hit you and do only Merlin knows what else. They fucking scare you to death and have traumatised you to the point of fucking tears and fucking nightmares.” He said evenly with jagged phrasing. “I’ll kill them. I’ll kill them all! Those fucking waste of space, waste of life, waste of oxygen parasites. I’ll fucking kill them.” He growled. “I bet this is the real reason you don’t sleep at night. Because of what those sick fucking bastards have done to you.” He took steady breaths and evened out his anger. Harry had stopped crying and was simply left clinging to Draco’s pyjamas. Draco lifted his head to face Draco’s, Harry opened his eyes and took the last few shuddery breaths as his tears subsided, “I. Will never. Ever. Let anyone hurt you again. That I promise.”

Harry lay there looking up to his warm grey eyes. The silver molten softened the harsh cloud of steel and now Draco’s eyes were open and kind and… loving. Draco wiped away the last remaining tears with the back of his hand. The knuckles grazing lightly over his cheekbones.

Draco watched the green eyes dull and become empty with fear and numbness. It tore at his heart to see the boy beneath him, once filled with fire and passion, be brought to this. His heart wept for him and he felt the tenseness of his face fade away. His eyebrows relaxing from their furrowed place and his narrowed eyes becoming loose and open. He scanned those eyes and wiped away the wet trails of salt that were about to dry on Harry’s face. The brightness came back and were filled with something that was stronger than fire.

Wordlessly, and without taking his eyes from Harry, Draco reached for his wand and brought over two pairs of clothes.

He sat up with Harry in his lap and leaning heavily on his shoulder as he gave the black-haired boy a grey long sleeved shirt and some black skinny jeans. Draco lifted Harry from his lap and placed him gently on the bed before standing up. The tanned boy clutched Draco’s hand with wet eyes that threatened to overflow again.

“I’m not going anywhere,” He said quietly as he ran his free hand through the boy’s hair. Harry looked at his clothes and loosened his grip on Draco’s hand. The Slytherin gently slipped from his grasp as he took his own clothes and began changing at the end of Harry’s bed, facing away from him. When Draco turned around his grey eyes met green as he watched Harry sitting, curled up in a ball. He was hugging his knees tightly. The blond-haired boy edged his way to Harry and sat in front of him, one leg bent on the mattress, one leg hanging over the edge. Draco smiled and brought the red canvas shoes over. Harry smiled gently too, a small smile that was enough for Draco at the moment.

He took the left shoe, loosened the laces and pulled Harry’s leg to his lap. Draco slipped the shoe onto the boy’s foot and gently tightened the laces, making the shoe secure but not uncomfortable. He did the same with the right shoe.

Harry watched his delicate hands as they moved and worked the laces, tying the knot with two bows each. Just like Harry did. And when Draco stood from the bed with his arms out, palms up, Harry took them and let the boy take him to their desks to get some books for studying.

“I think spending some study time in the library will be a good enough distraction for the both of us.” Draco stated as he slung both their bags over one shoulder and held onto the shoulder straps with the same hand, “I can get a foul temper sometimes especially when things make me angrier than usual. I think I’ll need to calm down today and you need a distraction from last night. Is that okay with you?”

Harry nodded and held onto Draco’s free hand with both of his own. Harry stayed close and held Draco’s hand tightly in his cage of two hands as they left the common room. Harry’s eyes were still a little puffy where Draco’s were not. The blond’s grip on his hands was strong and reassuring. Walking to the hall like this had earned them a few holding glances and whispers to which Draco gave a stern glare and Harry merely clinging tighter, hiding behind Draco. They sat at the breakfast table with Hermione.

“Harry! What’s wrong?” She exclaimed in a panic, standing from her seat and coming to the other side of the table to sit with Harry. She looked at Draco for something to tell her what was wrong with him. He only whispered ‘library’ to her as she hugged Harry and ran her hands through his hair. To her surprise, he hugged her back with one hand that had been resting on the back of Draco’s hand in their clasped grip.

Hermione only nodded to Draco and pulled away from Harry slightly. She picked up a bowl and filled it with some porridge. Before giving it to Harry she made a smiley face in it with raspberry jam and then placed it in front of him. He smiled a weak half grimace smile as he took the spoon from her hand and began to eat. It was small mouthfulls but soon the bowl was empty with the help of some pumpkin juice that Draco had poured for him with his free hand.

Harry was still subdued but he was feeling slightly better after he had eaten and he watched Hermione and Draco finish too. By that time Pansy and a few others had come down to breakfast. Pansy sat in Hermione’s usual seat and watched the three of them as Ron came down and sat next to her. He also looked from Hermione to Draco and then to Harry who was looking into his empty bowl.

“Harry, what’s wrong?” Ron asked gently. His voice filled with concern.

“Nothing,” Harry rasped and coughed looking to Ron, “nothing Ron, I’m fine” he whispered.

Draco put his elbow on the table and rested his forehead in his hand, he was breathing deep breaths and his jaw clenched.

Harry turned to the blond-haired boy. Looking at him, he squeezed his hand. The boy turned to him and unclenched his jaw, the steel turning to warm ash. He drank his pumpkin juice and turned away from Harry who also turned back to his empty bowl.

Ron and Pansy looked between the two but didn’t ask anything else when Hermione silently told them not to by shaking her head.

“Pansy I need to study in the library today,” Hermione said, giving a small smile to her friend, “I have some History of magic homework to catch up on so if you need me I’ll be in that area.” She stood and put her hand on Harry’s shoulder, giving Draco a look to see if he got her message, he nodded and turned away again. Hermione nodded to herself and gave Harry another worried concern, rubbing small circles on his back before leaving.

Other people from their year group started to arrive at the breakfast table. Ron and Pansy soon took their attention away from Harry and began in conversations of their own.

Draco slung the bags over his shoulder again and leaned to Harry, “Come on, let’s go to the library” he said.

The black-haired boy just nodded without looking to Draco and he stood up. Draco followed him and led them out of the hall, Harry staying close to him.

Once they got to the library and sat down, Draco cast some privacy spells.

“This was nobody can disturb us,” Draco explained.

Harry took out his books and began to flick through his Advanced Potion Brewing copy in search of their assignment potion that they would be tested on in the middle of November. Amortentia. Due to its dangerous addictiveness they had been forbidden to practice the potion outside of class but learning the theory and the method had been recommended. Draco sat next to him and took out his History of Magic essay that he had yet to finish.

“Thank you,” Harry said, turning to Draco, “For- well for this morning… I- I’m sorry that I can’t tell you the rest of my dream… I- it’s just- it’s difficult for me.”

Draco looked at Harry intently, “Don’t worry about it, I don’t expect you to tell me, I’ve never expected anything from you. I just hate that those bastards have hurt you.” He closed his eyes and turned back to his essay, “I need a book for my essay, will you be okay here? I don’t know how long I’ll be but nobody will disrupt you whilst these charms are up.”

Harry looked back to his textbook, “Yeah I’ll be fine here, just- don’t be too long yeah?”

Draco gave Harry a sad smile, “I promise” and stood up trailing his hand over Harry’s shoulders and neck as he left.

Harry felt immediately alone.

***

Draco went to the History of Magic section and sure enough there Hermione was. She was sat at the desk with a pile of books at her side and a dozen notes in front of her. She looked up to him when he sat down in the chair next to hers.

“What happened?” She asked, putting down everything in her hand and turning to face Draco completely.

Draco looked around for anyone eavesdropping but they were alone, “Last night we both had nightmares. I woke up from mine and went to see Harry because I was in a right state and he was having one too. I woke him up from his and then we just… well- we slept together. Not anything like that. Just we slept in his bed and we …oh god why am I telling you this. We slept together to comfort each other and we just … held each other all night. Then this morning when we woke up… well he asked me about my dream and I told him about it. Just Voldemort winning and Harry not getting back up when he said that he was… dead. And well after that I asked him what his was. Hermione, he’s… as a child… do you know what his family did to him?”

Hermione looked intently and shook her head, taking everything in, "He never said too much, he never really told us anything. Though I know about the bars on his window in second year and I know that he was kept in a cupboard."

Draco looked away again and then back at her, “They put bars on his window!" He began and then shook his head, "Hermione, they… his Uncle beat him, he was locked up and raised in the cupboard under the stairs for eleven years until school found out and then they moved him to a small bedroom. They hit him, beat him, I don’t know to what extent but I can say it was fucking awful, he was in pieces this morning telling me. Anyway, he… he went on to explain the dream. He was in his bedroom and he was on his bed looking at a picture of his parents and Dudley came in and he locked the door. Harry said that he took the picture and threw it on the floor. It was smashed. Then he hit harry and started to grab him and then Harry couldn’t tell me anymore. He won’t tell me the rest and I need to know. I need to help him. Hermione, there must be something we can do, he’s a fucking mess and all because of what those bastards have done to him.”

Hermione shook her head in confusion and mumbled, “That picture is real and it’s smashed, we couldn’t repair it, the photograph was ruined and it doesn’t move anymore.”

Draco’s knuckles went white on the desk edge, “I asked him if these dreams were real if they had actually happened. He said yes. Oh god, Hermione we need to do something, he’s being abused and we don’t know what else.”

Hermione’s eyes lit up and she took Draco’s arm, “There’s a games night tonight. Pansy suggested truth or dare with veritaserum. If we can convince him to play then we can somehow get him to tell us. It’s cruel and it’s using his trust to our advantage. It’s not fair to use the game like that to our advantage but if it’s the only thing that can be done to make him tell us then maybe we should try. You’re right. He’s never going to be stable unless we know what we’re dealing with. He could- he’s tried to kill himself before-”

“I know.” Draco cut in.

“If we don’t help him soon then he could try again.”

Draco shook his head, “I shouldn’t think so, I made him promise me that he wouldn’t hurt himself again and there have been times where he has had moments-”

“Moments?” Hermione asked, eyes wide with fear.

“Moments where he has wanted to hurt himself, breakdowns, I’ve always been there, helped him, calmed him down, most of them have been in our dorm room and I’ve helped him. I’ve done everything I could. He still has breakdowns and they don’t stop. He’s just a child he’s so scared and he doesn’t even hear me or recognise me until he’s calmed down. Sometimes I wonder if he has actually gone into a different place altogether. He’s wanted to hurt himself and he hasn’t done. He hasn’t because I asked him not to.”

Draco looked down at his hands, they were shaking. Hermione held them still.

Their eyes met in determination, “I’ll kill them when I find out what they’ve done.” Draco hissed.

Hermione shook her head, “No Draco. No, you won’t because Harry needs you and you won’t be able to help him in Azkaban.”

Draco stood and took a random book from the shelf, “I know you’re right. I’d best be getting back to him or he’ll start to worry. We need to figure something out before tonight then. Don’t tell anyone what I’ve told you. Not even Pansy.”

Hermione watched him take the book, “Of course. I won’t tell anybody.”

Draco left the desk.

***

“Found it.” Draco said to Harry when he returned to their desk. He had been resting his head in his folded arms on the table and was staring at the book.

“You were a while,” Harry stated.

Draco sat down and brought Harry to him, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him to sit closer to Draco, “I’m sorry about that, The one I needed wasn’t on the shelf so I went to the front desk to see if it was there and it was.” he lied.

“How much do you have left to finish? I can’t think at all- at least… not about anything- not about-” he sighed into Draco.

“I know Harry, I know. Not much left to do, do you want to go back to the common room after I’ve done?”

Harry nodded into Draco’s side and the blond-haired boy opened the book to a random page. He finished the essay from the general knowledge that he had revised in the past couple of lessons and only pretended to search the book a few times. Harry stayed by his side and rested on his shoulder as Draco wrote. He had begun putting his books away when Draco finished and with a flick of his wand, Draco sent the borrowed book back to the shelf.

“Let’s go.” Harry said to Draco and took his hand.

The other boy ran his thumb over Harry’s knuckles, “Yeah.” he gave Harry a sad smile. The black-haired boy looked at him with tired eyes that fluttered shut at an attempt to blink away the stinging in his eyes.
“Come on,” Draco whispered, nodding his head in the direction of the door and started to walk out of the library and up to the common room with Harry by his side, resting his head on Draco as they walked. Soon it was just easier for Draco to slip his hand around Harry’s waist and pull him closer as they went up the moving staircases.

***

The common room was quiet, a few ravenclaws sat reading by the bookshelves and a few hufflepuffs were sat on the window seat at the back of the tower. Crackling firewood and the occasional page turn of a book were the only noises that filled the room. Harry sighed uncomfortably as some of the eight years looked up at them. Draco squeezed his hand as Lavender Brown got out of Harry’s chair by the fire and went to the girl’s dormitories.

Harry walked to the vacated chair and stood near it.

“Aren’t you going to sit down?” Draco asked him.

Harry turned to whisper, “You sit there.”

“But it’s… your chair.” Draco whispered with a shocked expression but promptly sat down anyway.

Harry pulled his sleeves into his hands, “Can- can I-” he asked with a small gesture to Draco’s lap.

“Sure” Draco gulped with intent eyes on Harry.

The black-haired boy pulled on his sleeves harder and held onto one of the chair arms before clambering onto Draco’s lap. His bum rested perfectly in the dip between Draco’s legs and he looked to those grey eyes as he bit the hem of his shirt. Draco pulled the boy towards him and Harry surrendered, resting his head on the nearest thing. He curled up and Draco ran his fingers through his dark curls.

A few eight years in the common room gave them confused lingering glances but the two didn’t notice due to the back of the chair and tall sides that encased them and separated them from everyone else.

Draco looked down at the boy in his arms, Harry’s eyes were closed and small gentle tears were making their way down his tanned cheeks. The Slytherin stroked the boy’s cheek and wiped away the droplets of salt. The black haired boy sucked on the hem of his sleeve making it damp and wrinkled.

“It’s okay Harry, you can cry to me.” Draco whispered to the boy’s hair and pressed the gentlest kiss to his temple.

It was almost undetected by Harry but when he looked up to those grey eyes with a wave of hopelessness, Draco knew that it had not been as discreet as he had thought.

Harry’s eyes stung and the rope around his heart ached. What were these feelings? They were so new, so different. So welcome as opposed to the emptiness he usually felt when he was around other men. Maybe it was a result of being held like this. Draco was the only one who had held him like this. The thought just brought fresh wounds to his chest, like a thorn twitching on the edge of his heart and Harry was the force that was driving it further, closer. Puncturing him. Killing him. Then that would mean that Draco was the thorn. He was something Harry wanted in his heart, but the act of bringing him closer was hurting Harry. Every time the thorn got closer to his heart it would threaten to pierce the muscle and kill him but then even the thought of removing said thorn; tearing it away from the flesh and making it bleed, seemed worse. Excruciating. His heart ached from the constant battle of letting the thorn in and pushing it away. In either case he’d die from the pain so wouldn’t it be more pleasant and easier to just let the thorn hit him like a train crashing.

He turned away from those liquid silver rings and watched the fire crackle, a log spitting every now and then accompanied by some hissing flames and a warm glow that heated up one side of Harry’s face and hair.

***

The two had been sat in their chair for a few hours, listening to the ambience of the common room and the quiet chatting of students passing through. Time seemed to slip away from them as Harry curled up more and more in Draco’s lap. Only when Blaise handed a green apple to Draco, who held a sleeping Harry in his arms, had the concept of time come back to him. With his most free hand he took the apple and quietly bit into it. Slowly, so as to not wake the boy that was cradled towards his shoulder. He gave Blaise a look of thanks and his friend sat down on the sofa across from him. Hermione and Pansy sat down next to him and it was the first time he had noticed them there. The blond-haired boy felt quite judged with the way the three of them were watching him but he hid behind his apple and ate it slowly.

Draco’s other hand was subconsciously rubbing small soothing fingers into the boy’s scalp and brushing his hair from his face every now and then. The embrace was quiet and undisturbed as Draco finished the last of his apple which Blaise took and disposed of. The hem of Harry’s shirt was still caught in his mouth and Draco watched him intently. The boy’s pink lips were wet and plump with the dampness of his shirt and his dark eyelashes rested peacefully on his tanned cheeks. He was like a baby wrapped up in a blanket that had fallen asleep in someone’s arms. Draco was pulled from his reverie as Justin Finch-Fletchley waltzed into the common room creating a loud gaggle of noise with a few of his friends. Instinctively, Draco lifted his hands to Harry’s ears in an attempt to block out some of the noise but as soon as it had appeared it vanished. Pansy and Hermione had hissed and snapped for them to shut their mouths which of course they had done given the frightening looks the girls had berated them with.

Harry had somehow managed to sleep through the oafs boisterousness and when he looked back up from Harry to his friends they were mouthing words to him. Do you want to take him upstairs? Draco had nodded but had given a disdained look at his inability to stand up. Sure, a levitation spell would have been useful, but Draco wanted to take Harry to their room himself.

Steadily leaning forward, Draco rocked himself to his feet and felt his spine click. He winced and Pansy raised a sharp eyebrow in concern. Draco felt like a parent taking his sleeping five year old to bed, of course it was something more than that really. This protectiveness over Harry had gotten stronger. Draco now had most of the common room’s attention and he tried to ignore it as best as he could as he took small steps to the stairs. It was difficult, watching where he was walking and also watching Harry, to ensure that he wasn’t disrupted, at the same time. Each step up the stairway to the boy’s dormitories was agonizingly slow and once they reached their room Draco internally sighed in relief.

He moved over to Harry’s bed to lay him down and, unlike the first time he had done this, Harry left Draco’s arms without a fuss. The door clicked as Hermione shut it behind her, the noise from downstairs muffling. The blond felt something close to vulnerability, surely they must all think of him as a fool for wanting to stay like this with Harry. Blaise walked to the window and pulled the curtains closed slowly. The room wasn’t quite dark, the light from outside still bled through the fabric of the curtains. Looking back to Harry, the boy shook, trembling and a small bead of sweat building at his temples.

“Hermione.” Draco whispered as he put a hand to the boy’s forehead, “He’s burning up!”

Hermione ran to the other side of the bed and put her hand where Draco’s had been, “We’ll have to take off his clothes.” she instructed and began to sit him up.

Draco flushed a tiny blush on his cheekbones but it quickly vanished with the set of his face and the importance of looking after Harry. The boy went rigid as Draco lifted up the hem of his shirt and pulled up, his arms constricted and sleepily attempted to push it down again. Draco took hold of the boy’s arms and forced him out of his shirt which he dropped onto the floor. Hermione laid Harry down again and by now he was tossing slightly in his sleep, his skin hot and sweaty. Pansy and Blaise set themselves to taking his shoes off and Hermione and Draco slipped him out of his trousers.

She brought her hand back to his forehead again and sighed, “he’s cooled down a little but he’s still shaking- I- I don’t know what to do- I-”

“Nightmares.” Draco whispered in a daze, “Hermione he’s having a nightmare!” He put his hand on either side of Harry’s face and tried to lull the boy out of his sleep.

The girl stepped back and watched as her friend twitched and shivered, trying to escape the hands that held him.

“Harry. Harry wake up.” Draco said sternly, “Harry. Harry! Wake the fuck up!”

“Draco!” Blaise scorned.

“Harry wake up please wake up.” Draco continued. Fear stung in his eyes and he brought Harry’s writhing body to his chest. This only seemed to make things worse.

Harry was thrashing his limp, sleepy arms around in an attempt to push Draco away, “Please,” He whispered, “Stay away from me.” Harry cried.

“Harry It’s me! It’s Draco! I’ll kill the lot of them. They’ve done this to you.” He shook Harry’s shoulder.
The dark-haired boy lifted his hand up to Draco’s chest to distance him when he stopped fighting. A small whimper slipped from his mouth and he choked, “Stop.”

Draco brought the child to him and looked down to his face. He was crying and gasping for breath echoing, “Stop, stop, stop-” Draco shook his arms.

“Harry. You are dreaming. Wake up. It’s not real.”

“Y-yes it is.” slipped from his lips in between sobs as his eyes opened, “Draco” he wailed and the name stretched from his mouth and clung at his lips in the same way that his hands clung to Draco’s shirt and sobbed into it.

***

The sun was bright and harsh on his face. Burning like a fire under his eyelids.

Then he was in his room.

The familiar constricting walls closing in on him, setting the trap. The grimy walls were peeling from the worn wallpaper. His bed was lumpy and rickety in the corner of the room. The door opened and clicked shut. Harry’s lungs tightened and collapsed with ragged breaths. Dudley stood at the end of his room wearing a grin so disgustingly fierce that it made Harry’s heart skip a beat.

The large boy took slow intimidating steps to Harry’s bed and he scrambled back pushing himself into the corner as far away as he could get from Dudley. The covers rolling up at the end of the bed from his struggling legs.

His grin widened and stuck from ear to ear. He took the small curtain and closed some of the light out, dimming the room. The scrape of the metal rings on the metal railing was like nails on a chalk board. It was menacingly slow and it made Harry’s mouth go dry with dread.

His breaths were coming at quickly now in short struggling rasps. “Please.” he whispered. Those green eyes were blown wide with terror and he paled as Dudley cupped his own ever-growing bulge.

He sniggered, “Begging for it are we Potter?”

“Stay away from me.”

He looked to the door then back at Dudley.

“Now Potter, we aren’t going to behave badly are we?” He barked, leisurely opening his belt and dropping it to the floor.

Harry jumped and flattened himself closer to the wall. He suddenly felt very cold.

Dudley lept at him and grabbed his legs, Harry kicked at him furiously, he was pulled away from the corner and down the bed. The grip on his ankles was bone shattering. The large boy took hold of Harry’s wrists in one arm and pinned him down under his weight, his knees holding down Harry’s thin underfed thighs. With his spare hand he started to rip away the belt buckle.

“Stop.” Harry cried and wriggled as much as he could. Soon the buckle came undone and Dudley sprang back to flip Harry over.

His face was suffocated by the pillow and his muffled cries didn’t go far. The pressure on the backs of his calves were agonising. Dudley had one hand pushing down on his head so that Harry couldn’t move and the other whipped his trousers and boxer shorts down to his knees, his arse in the air.

Dudley molested his arse and groped his cheeks and his offending length ran up Harry’s hole.

“Stop” Harry sobbed.

White hit his eyelids as he screamed, Dudley thrust his penis completely into Harry and sent blood to Harry’s mouth and eyes. He held his breath to mute the pain. It stung and burnt as if a hot poker had scolded him.

“Stop” Harry wailed.

The large boy on top of him rammed, again and again, groaning as his disgusting arousal grew.

“Stop” Harry panted breathlessly.

His cousin pounded him and soon his orgasm came, thrusting deep into Harry.

“Potter you whore, you disgusting scum of the earth, clean yourself up.” Dudley snapped as he pulled out.

Harry flopped on the bed and stared at his filthy wall. His tears so strong flooded down his cheeks.

Gingerly he rolled over and pulled his boxers up whilst looking at the ceiling.

“Harry.”

He looked over to his cousin, his lip quivering and his eyes puffy and stinging,

“You’re dreaming.” He said.

Harry was pale and he felt sick.

“Wake up,” Dudley said.

Harry looked at him dead in the eye with hatred.

“It’s not real” Dudley whispered.

Liar. Harry thought, “Y-yes it is” he choked, his mouth still dry.

He felt his eyes closed and when he opened them again he was staring at warm ash.

***

“Draco.” He sobbed.

The blond-haired boy rocked the pair of them and smoothed dark curls away from Harry’s forehead.

“I’m here, I’m here now. I’ll never let anyone hurt you. Was it him Harry? Was it Dudley?”

Harry shut his eyes closed and wailed into Draco’s shirt clinging to it for dear life.

“Harry look at me. Look at me.” Draco whispered, “Was it him?”

The dark-haired boy opened his eyes and choked on his tears. He nodded and sat up to hug Draco. His arms in a tight knot around the other’s neck.

Draco grimaced and his eyes narrowed. Clenching his jaws he held Harry in a tight constricting embrace.

“Tell me what he’s done to you. Please, Harry, tell me what he’s done to you.” Draco begged.

There was a wet patch on Draco’s shoulder now, “I told you I can’t” he sobbed.

“Why?”

“I just c-cant!” He choked and coughed.

Pansy held a glass to Draco and he eyed it up. “For Harry.”

Draco pulled back from Harry and gave him the glass which Harry drained in seconds, the Slytherin looked at Blaise who was sat on Harry’s chair in something similar to shock, then he looked to Pansy who was holding Hermione’s hand, finally his gaze fell to the other girl. In her hand was a small bottle.

Draco’s eyes widened then flicked back to Harry, “Did you-” he asked Hermione.

“-Yes.”

Everyone in the room looked at Harry who was resting his head in his hands on his knees and hiccuping the last of his tears out.

Gently, Draco lifted Harry’s head and his own tears threatened to fall at the sight of those sore puffy eyes. “Harry, why won’t you tell me about your nightmares?”

Automatically Harry replied, “Because I’m scared”

“Why are you scared Harry?”

“Because you’ll judge me and think I’m disgusting.” Harry brought a hand to his mouth, “What have you given - veritaserum - no- please don’t make me tell-”

“Harry,” Draco said, holding the boy’s hands, “What has Dudley done to you?”

The boy bawled and clamped his mouth shut but eventually the veritaserum got the better of him, “Raped me. Molested me. Beat me, hit me, tore my clothes off bent me over -” his breath caught, “he- he r-raped me.”

Draco’s eyes grew furious, “He did what to you!?” he growled.

“Raped me.” Harry breathed and flopped his head on Draco’s shoulders.

Draco picked up the boy and sat him on his lap with shaking hands, facing the other three. Every one of them had their mouths hanging open in utter shock. He clenched his jaw together.

“How many times?” Hermione asked.

“Can’t remember. To many to count. Probably hundreds of times.” Harry sighed.

“When was the first time he raped you, even if he didn’t penetrate you it can still be rape, when did he first molest you?” She asked

“The summer before our third year. The day I got back, he said he had a welcome home present for me so I followed him to my room and then it was all summer. Almost every day. Hogwarts was an escape and so was Christmas. Each summer it got worse.” Harry supplied.

Tears fell from Draco’s eyes and onto Harry, “How many people have you told?”

“Four.” he said looking around the room, wiping Draco’s tears from his own cheeks and then rubbing them away from Draco’s. “Don’t cry.”

“I’m so sorry,” He sniffed, “I’m so sorry that you would think that I- that I would think that you were disgusting. I’m sorry that you couldn’t tell me and I’m sorry I forced it from you like this.”

“Don’t be sorry, If you hadn’t have done this I wouldn’t have told anyone. I feel better now that I’ve said it.” Harry reassured.

“Is there anything else you want to tell me, anything that you’re afraid to be judged for?” Draco asked.

“Yes.” Harry looked at his hands.

“Tell me.” Draco prompted.

Harry felt limp and empty against Draco, “This summer, after the war was over. I didn’t go back to that house, I stayed at Grimmauld Place. The prophet- everyone I knew tried to deny those headings and stories for me and they thought that they were lies, about me going with any bloke who wanted some. They were true, the stories were true. After Dudley was out of my life I- I felt like I was a waste of space, like I wasn’t needed. I had been- used- for so long that when it had ended I didn’t know how to go about my life. So,” he took a deep breath, “So I went with anyone. Well I mean I went with blokes. After Dudley I realised that Ginny wasn’t- she didn’t… I mean I just don’t like girls. That’s why I felt disgusted about- about being gay- because I thought it meant that I liked what he had done to me and I didn’t, I didn’t like it when I went with those men either I just needed it, I don’t know any different. Does that make sense?”

Draco looked into those green eyes, “I- I think so yes. Let me tell you now that no matter what anyone tells you; you are not a waste of space. If you hadn’t figured out already I need you, your friends need you, Teddy needs you. We care about you. We love you. I- we need you.”

The words were a jab at the thorn in Harry’s heart, he wanted to get rid of it, but it was too late now. Harry sighed into Draco’s shirt and inhaled the smell of him. This was as good as it was going to get.

***

“We can’t change the past Harry,”

The dark-haired boy looked to Hermione.

“But we can help you now, we won’t let anything hurt you.”

The boy laughed bitterly to himself and stood up. All eyes were on him. Harry threw his trunk open and the lid fell against the bed with a bang making Draco flinch.

“Harry what are you doing?” Draco asked.

The boy sneered, “Well I thought I was the blind one, Malfoy. Maybe you need to get your eyes checked because I am clearly getting dressed after you lot stripped me.”

He reached into his trunk and pulled out a baggy dirty white shirt and slipped it over his head.

“You were burning up,” Hermione explained in a tone that implied he was ridiculous for questioning what they had done.

Draco wrapped his fingers in the bed sheets, “Don’t do this Harry.”

“Do what?” He spat, pulling on trousers on. “The last time I checked I asked you not to force me to tell you what had happened but you ignored me so I think I have every right to do what the bloody fuck I want!”

Draco paled and set his face, “Don’t leave.” he said evenly, “don’t shut yourself off, don’t refuse the help that we want to give you.”

Harry scowled and took out his invisibility cloak, “Well I’ve had enough of doing what other people want me to do, always expecting me to be the saviour the strong person to save them all, I’ve had enough of being forced to do things that I don’t want to do! Don’t you understand that? How can you possibly help me? Hermione’s right; we can’t change the past so what the fuck have you got up your sleeve that can possibly help me now? How are we supposed to move on from this? How can we carry on with- this-” he said waving a gesture between himself and Draco, “and pretend that nothing has changed between us? Everything’s changed! You forced me to do something, forced me to tell you something that I wanted to keep to myself and you just had to stick your nose in didn't you. Well, guess what Malfoy we can’t go on from this pretending that nothing has changed between us, so just leave me the fuck alone. I enjoyed being your friend but who would want to be friends with someone like me? All your going to do is look at me with pity and I hate it! You’ll never be the same person around me again because you’ll feel sorry for me. I don’t want your help. I don’t want your pity. I just want things to go back to how they were in our first year. Everything was fine in our first year. Everything’s changed.” His voice was starting to break and his scowl was starting to melt into silent tears, “Everything’s ch-changed.” he hissed and he realised that he had spoken Parseltongue. He took a step back from everyone in the room and hugged his cloak.

Draco scowled, “Well you know what Potter, not everything is about you, why do you have to make this about you! Yes, everything that’s happened to you in the past was his fault and it has hurt and tormented you but life doesn’t just stop after something bad in our lives happens. I’m trying to help you Harry and you won’t let me! So if you think that I’m going to pity you and tiptoe around you like you’re some kind of explosive then you don’t know me at all.”

Harry paled and his face fell, his eyes were empty and red. Tears fell onto his cheeks but he didn’t even wipe them away, “I’m sorry Draco.” his empty voice whispered.

“For what?” Draco asked into the silence.

“For our promise.” He whispered as he slipped out of the room and pulled his cloak on him.

The three of them remained in the room with a state of shock hung over the air. Draco felt eyes look at him but he ignored them.

“Harry?” Draco’s voice cracked, his hands started to shake. “No, I- I’ve fucked up again, I-I’ve lost him again!”

Blaise took Draco’s arms in his hands, “Draco, calm the fuck down, he’s going to be fine. You went a bit over board but it’s what you had to do to show him that nothing had changed.” The other boy was shaking.

Pansy stood next to Blaise and Hermione followed, “What did he mean by your promise?” Pansy asked.

Hermione’s jaw dropped at the sudden question and her eyes met Draco’s at the same time.

Fear stretched across them in silent understanding.

“Hermione? Draco what does he mean?” She asked again.

Blaise dropped his hands as Draco pushed himself from the bed, “He promised me he wouldn’t hurt himself again! Hermione, we have to find him! We have to go now!”

Pansy went a little green, “Where did he hurt himself the last time?” She demanded.

Draco stared at her, “He tried to kill himself, Pansy! His arms if you must know!”

Pansy scowled at him, “Where you dolt! Which room?”


Draco blinked, taken aback, “The boy’s bathroom in the showers,”

Pansy grabbed Hermione’s arm and pulled her out of the room.

“Blaise you look in the prefect's bathroom, I’ll go to the astronomy tower.” They both ran from the room and down the dormitory steps. The strange looks that everyone gave them as they ran through the common room went unacknowledged.

***

Harry left the common room uninterrupted and made his way to the Astronomy tower. He was there in seconds even though it was the highest tower in the whole school. Maybe his emotionless mind had just gone blank and not really been in the present moment as he had been making his way up the stairs. Maybe his mind was already leaving him. The astronomy tower was cold with the rain outside. Somewhere between this morning and now the storm had started now the dead leaves were blowing in the wind. He took off his cloak and left it at the top of the stairs.

The rain was gushing onto the balcony and large puddles were gathering.

Harry meandered to the railing and sat down, his legs hanging over the edge and the bars holding him in place. He took out his wand. The rain pelted down on him and he was completely soaked to the bone.

The wood felt dead and cold in his hand and the magic inside of it felt overpowering and out of place.

He looked at his wrists and felt the deep scars burn under his touch, his pulse slow and calm, almost at peace.

Harry pointed the tip of his wand to his left wrist where his long messy gashed scar began. Last time, he had used a knife because it was easier, now he didn’t have anything. Except for his wand.

Sectumsempra” Harry whispered as he dragged the tip down his inner arm.

Blood spurted out, thick and dark. Harry gasped and his breaths came quick, panic rushed through his brain but then he remembered what he was doing and why. And he revelled in the pain. The blood congealed and dripped into the puddle of rainwater at his side where it diluted and ran off the edge of the balcony. He took the wand from his right hand and weakly transferred it to his mangled hand. He made his limp wrist point the tip of his wand to the beginning of his other scar on his right arm.

Sectumsempra” He mumbled, his head feeling dizzy. As he dragged the wand down his arm, his breaths became harder to take and his vision blurred as black dots covered his eyes. He dropped his wand on the floor by his side and flopped his head on the railing in front of him.

Slowly, the sound of the rain went away and he cared less and less about the harsh stabbing of the rain on his head.

Then everything faded away to white.

I’m sorry mama.

***


Draco bounded up the stairs of the astronomy tower and tripped up over the invisibility cloak that was on the floor. His hands broke the fall and he half crawled half ran to the balcony.

“No”

The rain was crashing down on him and as he knelt to Harry the bloody water seeped into his trousers, staining them. Draco could barely take it all in. Harry's body leant against the railings surrounded by a pool of blood.

Draco tentatively pulled Harry away from the balcony with shaking hands and the dark-haired boy fell limp into his arms. He was ghostly white and his wrists were gashed and seeping blood. He reached to hold the boy’s wrists and his hands were immediately covered in thick dark blood that dripped down his sleeves and stained his pale arms. He pressed his fingers the boy’s neck to find no pulse.

“NO! NO!”

Draco trembled to retrieve his wand from his trouser leg where it was holstered and levitated the limp boy in his arms. He clawed for the other boy’s wand and cloak and sent him down the stairs, holding onto the boy’s wrists as he went. Then he ran. And he kept running. And he never tired and never stopped running, not until he came to the gargoyle.

“FIZZING WHIZBEE!” Draco shouted and the door opened slowly with a terrified McGonagall on the steps. “Professor!” He cried the tears choking his words.

Without any other words shared between them, three cats exploded from her wand and ran towards the Hospital ward. The headmistress ran to Harry and held his wrists in place of Draco’s.

“We need to take him to Saint Mungo’s so you’ll have to carry him to the floo. There’s no time to lose follow me.” She spoke calmly. Draco took Harry and countered the levitating charm so that the black-haired boy fell limp in his arms. McGonagall held his wrists firmly as they went up the staircase. Draco followed the headmistress into the fireplace where she took a handful of floo powder and threw it down with a yell of “Saint Mungo’s”.


***


The hospital was quiet and the nurse at the head desk split the silence as she called for Healers immediately. Draco carried the limp boy to his private room where the team of Healers led them and placed the boy on the hospital bed.

The group of lead Healers scurried around him and Professor McGonagall pulled him away from the bed. He didn’t even know he was crying, sobbing until she pulled him into an embrace which was slightly awkward given their height difference. They were working too slow and time seemed to go too fast.

“ … magically cut…”

“ … Unknown curse.”

“ … loss of blood… “

“ … drained his magic…”

“ … intensive care…”

“Mr Malfoy?”

Draco snapped his head up to the Healer, his head was dizzy and he felt like he was going to throw up. The lump in the back of his throat made his mouth dry.

“Mr Potter has a pulse, it’s slow but he is going to die because we don’t know what curse he used, do you have any idea, any indication at all for any spell he could have used?” He questioned Draco with tired eyes. “It could help us save his life.”

Draco walked to the bed where Healers were casting various different spells on his body, he reached for a wrist and gently looked at it. His bloody hands left fingerprints on the tanned skin and the deep cuts were still oozing blood which leaked from the boy’s arm and onto Draco. He could sense the dark magic that laced itself in the fresh wound and he couldn’t help but notice it’s familiar haze that seeped out of it. Like the Dark mark but… no, he had felt this himself before!

Draco darted his gaze to the Healer’s, “He used a made up spell, it’s called Sectumsempra. I know the counter curse. May I use it?”

The healer gave a confused but hopeful nod to Draco, “Yes. Use it.”

Draco hadn’t taken out his wand quicker, “Vulnera Sanentur. Vulnera Sanentur. Vulnera Sanentur.” Draco echoed and it was almost like a whispered song, dragging his wand over the clean-cut wounds. The flesh knitted together and the blood stopped seeping from Harry’s wrists.

Draco put his wand away and ran his hands through Harry’s hair which he failed to notice had even more wet blood on them, watching the colour seep back into his cheeks slightly. His chest tightened. He let out a single sob and pressed his forehead to Harry’s, “Don’t leave me,” He whispered through his tears. “Please don’t leave me,” he squeaked.

Draco took a ragged breath that filled his lungs and stood up with his hands to his head.

“I’ve never heard of either of those spells.” the healer said to Draco.

The Slytherin sat down in the chair next to Harry’s bed, “They were made by Professor Snape when he was at Hogwarts,” Draco’s voice was strained and hushed, “He told me so himself. Sectumsempra. Sectum being Latin for “To cut or make an incision” and Sempra coming from the latin word “Semper” which means “always”. The counter curse is Latin for “wounds are being healed” You have to say the counter curse three times” He explained tiredly, “The first time slows the blood flow and prevents death from bleeding out, the second time cleans the wound and begins to heal it, and the third time starts to knit the wounds together. Now we need essence of Dittany to stop the scars so-”

“But there’s no point,” the healer interrupted, “He already has scars from self-harm and a previous suicide attempt from what I can see so we’d only-”

“-I said. We. Need. Essence of Dittany. Now if you would be so kind as to get me some so that I can prevent scarring I would be very grateful. Thank you.” Draco dismissed and turned to Harry to take his hand.

The healer turned to Professor McGonagall in protest, “I think you had better get the Dittany.” she warned him and he soon left.

A few seconds later the healer returned with a large bottle of Dittany which he passed Draco.
He unstoppered the top and let the Dittany drip on the wounds, they sizzled and smoked a little as the drops replenished new skin on some of the gashed scars. It was supposed to be a painful process but Harry didn’t stir once. When Draco had healed Harry’s wounds as much as he could he gave the almost empty phial of Dittany back to the nurse, “Thank you.” He mumbled tiredly and sat back in his chair, pulling it closer to the bed. The blond-haired boy took Harry’s fragile hands and rubbed his thumbs lightly over the new scars. His skin was cold and limp.

McGonagall came to his side, “Harry is very lucky to have a friend like you Draco.”

Draco looked at her, “Is he really?” it was rhetorical.

She held her gaze for a few seconds before walking around to the other side of the bed, putting her fingers to Harry’s neck, “He is alive, so I would say he is lucky, very lucky indeed.”

Draco just sighed and sat back in his chair, his arm resting on the bed and still holding Harry’s hand.

“Let me clean you up,” She said with a half smile and walked to Draco’s chair, “scourgify… I need to return to Hogwarts to make sure the right people get the right information about what’s happened, I can trust you’ll take care of him.” The headmistress began to turn away when she asked, “Where was he when you found him?”

Draco’s back was to the door and to McGonagall, “The astronomy tower, there’s a lot of blood there, it- it needs cleaning up.”

“I would have thought so yes… well, Draco I leave him in your hands, I will be back later this evening.” And with that, she left.

“Mr Malfoy?” A nurse came up to him, “We need to run some tests and then we will be able to know how we can speed up the healing process, he- he almost died so he will have to stay here for a while but… well, the physical healing process will be finite, the mental healing process… he’s a broken man and he’s very sick, depression isn’t just something we can cure. Anyway, our best team of healers will be arriving to do the tests so don’t be alarmed by how many there are.” she said attempting to put a weak smile on her face.

Draco just nodded to her and turned back to Harry.

It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Healers crowded the bed.

Spells were cast. Tests were run. Time was wasted. Draco already knew that Harry would be in a critical condition, he already knew that Harry was damaged and mentally ill.

Draco waited outside the room. An hour of nothing had left him on the verge of insanity. He was tired and fed up, so it was a distraction to count how many tiles were on the floor, it was a distraction to count the number of scratches that were in the wall’s paint. It was a distraction to listen to the shuffle of footsteps from the nurses and healers. It was a distraction not to think about anything at all. The ward where they were located was fairly secluded and the lack of patients made the hallways feel cold and empty and dead. It was late now, around ten o’clock at night, and the corridor was dark. The dim lights overhead didn’t really help much.

The bang of the door closing brought back Draco's attention and he stood up to go to the healer. A tall witch with auburn hair that was tied back in a neat ponytail. She wore white healer’s robes with an overall that had been covered in blood until she cast a scourgify on it. The rest of the team left the room and went down the corridor with parchments of notes.

“What’s the worst then?” Draco said morosely.

“Do you know where the Headmistress is? She needs to be here for-”

“I’m here, I just came through the floo, I’m sorry I took so long Draco.” Professor McGonagall announced as she walked briskly down the corridor, her robes flapping as she went.

“Well then,” The healer began, “If you’ll take a seat…” She gestured to the seats that Draco had been occupying. Professor McGonagall looked at Draco and then took a seat, the blond-haired boy sat next to her and the healer sat across from them. “The physical damage is pretty extensive.” she began as she flicked through her notes, “The curse did a lot of damage to his arms; his tendons were torn and some of the muscle was severed. We have done what we can to fix this but the remains of the dark magic have made the process a little difficult, so he won’t be able to move his arms by himself for a few days at least that is after he comes around. The blood loss was catastrophic and a lack of oxygen was a result of this, some of his vital organs started to lose function and we don’t know if there will be any brain damage.”

Draco clenched his jaw and looked away, “However we were able to heal his other organs and get them functioning again so we do have hopes that there won’t be any damage. He is very weak, I understand that you found him without a pulse… we have managed to make his circulatory system stable and his pulse is getting stronger but for now, he will be in a coma-like state. The main problem is that he is magically exhausted, not from the curses. We don’t know the source of this deprivation in magic; perhaps it is the blood loss, perhaps it is his depression… we are pulling at strings but the underlying note is that he will recover.”

She set aside her notes, “Now. Mr Potter will have to remain on our ward for at least a week and you are welcome to stay here with him Mr Malfoy. We will provide you with anything you might need if you do choose to stay and if Professor McGonagall permits it, if you make the decision now then we can set you up with accommodations but I have to tend to other patients and write up notes for treatments so if you need anything I’ll be near the reception.” And with that, she left, leaving a dumbstruck Draco sat outside Harry’s room.

“Try not to look so surprised at their behaviour towards you. They are just healers, not the prophet. They don’t care what happened in the war, they’ve had to heal death eaters and criminals before and you are neither one of them, no matter what you think. And besides Harry would have died without you tonight and they know that. If I might be so bold as to say that they are not blind either… they see your care for the boy and I see it too, and I see his care for you.” McGonagall stood up, “I have to return to Hogwarts now, I’m sure Harry will get visitors and I’m sure Hermione will give you all your necessary school work.” She turned to leave, “Oh, and Draco…” He looked to her, “Try to rest. It won’t do either of you any good if you’re both out of action, he needs you to be strong and to be well rested, I know that you will look after him.” There was a long pause.” I’ll be back tomorrow morning.” And then she left down the corridor in the direction of the reception and floos.

 

***

 

The door shut softly behind him.

Draco sat in the chair that he had moved next to the bed and grumbled at the uncomfortable lack of padding. The chair was worn and dirty and it reflected the room. The walls were dull, the floor was dull, the light was dull and everything was covered in a layer of dirt even though the room smelled of antiseptic healing potions and scourgify charms. The room was dirty with a layer of death as if they couldn’t cover up the smell of infection and injury well enough as if they couldn’t hide that people had died in this room. It felt like this room was the end of all things, you were probably lucky to leave this room alive. This whole ward was a death zone, it’s bare rooms and corridors just screamed death. The word might as well have been written on every surface in blood and hidden by concealment charms it was that disturbing.

The boy’s chest was rising and falling slowly. Silently. Blood flowed and his heart beat. Draco took a ragged breath his hands shook, the dark mark burning in his arm, itching. He understood Harry’s desire to cut and to get rid of the nagging itch. But there was nothing that could be done about this itch. It was branded and imprinted into his flesh and blood forever now and nothing would ever erase it. Draco absently scratched the faded mark, the more he scratched the more it itched and the harder his nails dug into his skin. His left forearm was red and blotchy with clawed scratched along the snake and he forced both of his hands flat onto the arms of his uncomfortable chair.

The boy was still breathing. Still alive. Still struggling. Draco didn’t even know which one of them he was talking about anymore. A shaking pale hand reached for a tanned limp hand. It was cold.

“My Harry.” He trembled, stroking a thumb over the boy’s knuckles. The tears slipped from his eyes and he gasped. “My Harry.” He whispered, “Oh what have you done?” He quivered, pools of salt gathering at his chin and snot running from his nose. “What will I do if you don’t wake up? Only in dreams has that been a reality and I-I c-can’t” He whimpered. His fingers knitting themselves in between Harry’s. He closed his eyes and held back his gasps, thinking about the times when Harry had laughed and his cheek had dimpled, the curve of his lips and the way the corners pulled up slightly. And how he might never see that again. How he’ll look at Harry’s body and only see the blue lips up in the astronomy tower, lips that were so cold and lifeless. He thought about how the two had held hands and held each other and cried together, he thought about that child curled up in his arms, his dark lashes fluttering against his cheek and his piercing green eyes. He remembered their talks; about how eyes get dull when someone dies and how he wouldn’t be able to look at Harry if that happened to him. He wouldn’t be able to go back to his house filled with bright green or eat his green apples. He wouldn’t be able to look at pumpkins without thinking of his Harry and he wouldn’t be able to drink butterbeer without thinking of that night in the Leaky Cauldron. He thought about that damned bunny onesie and the little tail over his perfect body and the fluff keeping him warm and the fur making him seem like even more of a child. And then he thought about everything that bastard had done to his Harry and how he was still alive and safe when Harry was here in hospital on a possible death bed, asleep and with suspected brain damage. Then he remembered how he had used him all those nights ago, writhing up against him for his own pleasure, without the other boy’s consent and how they had held each other and how he had used him. Draco had used his Harry and now it was even worse given what he had found out earlier that day. He was sobbing loudly now and he stood up to stand next to Harry, next to his resting head. He trailed his fingertips gently across the boy’s jaw and over his cheeks where those dimples would be. He ran his fingers under the boy’s eyes, where black bags gathered and protruded, then he lifted his hand up to his scar and stroked it. He brought his head to the other boy and inhaled the scent of his hair; blood and pumpkins, but mostly blood. The blond-haired boy let out a sob as he ran his fingers through the curls and waves and twisted them gently in his fingers. They were so close. Harry’s breath was faint and weak and irregular as it slipped from his lips every now and then. It was a taxing breath, a struggling breath but a breath nonetheless.

Draco wanted nothing more than to run his fingers over the boy’s lips and kiss them gently but strongly and deeply in a yearning way that would never be enough. He wanted to tell himself that it was a nightmare and that Harry would be in his bed in their dorm room and that they would both get into bed together and hold each other and sleep their troubles away. But some part of him, deep down, knew that this was it. This was reality and this was the truth. And if Harry didn’t make it then he would have to move on and cope. And live whilst hoping that he didn’t die of grief.

He moved away and paced the room slowly, holding his head in his hands and running his fingers through his hair and wiped his face before leaving the room.

He headed down the abandoned corridors and went to the reception. The healer he had spoken to earlier was busy writing up something when she spotted him.

“Ah, Mr Malfoy what can I do for you?” She asked.

Draco looked at the desk and tapped his fingers on the glass quietly, “I’m staying with Harry but I would like to be in his room… if that’s okay.” he looked up at her and saw her sad smile, “I don’t need anything. I just want to stay with him.”

She nodded to herself, “Very well then. We have a cafeteria down the main hall but I’m afraid our coffee hasn’t got much to be desired so there’s a coffee shop around the corner if you want anything. It’s a muggle one just down the road and right.”

“Thank you,” Draco said politely and headed for the exit. Coffee was something he definitely needed right now.

 

***

 

The warm heat hit his face as he walked to the counter.

“What can I get ya love?” the barista asked.

“Anything pumpkin?” he replied.

She smiled, “We have a pumpkin spiced latte is that okay?”

Draco nodded.

“Name?”

His brain stumbled for words, “er Harry” he mumbled. Why had he said, Harry? It wasn’t like he would be able to dr- “Thanks” he sighed and took the cup.
When he walked back into Mungo’s the reception desk was empty. The halls were less quiet and there was more staff. He rounded the corridor to Harry’s room and walked in.

His blood curdled.

Tubes were coming out of Harry’s mouth as the nurses and healers forced potions down his throat. He almost dropped his drink.

“What are you doing to him?” He yelled and one of the male nurses took him out of the room.

“What’s wrong with him?” He begged the nurse asking him with pleading eyes.

“Mr Potter is Magically drained and he does not have the energy for his lungs to function properly,” He said evenly, “Whilst you were gone one of his lungs collapsed and we are currently trying to give him potions to rejuvenate his magical deficiency.”

Draco couldn’t tell whether the nurse was really calm or just getting at Draco. The words ‘whilst you were gone’ played over in his head. Was he really spitting on Draco for leaving of was that just Draco’s paranoia, he had heard people talk to him like that for so long that now he just assumed everyone thought the worst of him? Then he remembered what McGonagall had said.

“Will you be able to help him?” Draco asked

“I don’t know,” He said kindly. Maybe it had been in his head after all.

Draco sunk down into the chair and downed his drink in one go. He threw the empty cup in a bin next to his seat and put his head in his hands, elbows on knees. The nurse took a step towards him and stopped, then he turned on the spot and went back into the room. Draco peered through the gap in the door.

Harry’s chest was deadly still.

***

Time passes slowly. The more you think about time the slower it passes and the days seep into the night's and the night's bleed into the days.

Hermione walked into the ward with Ron and Pansy by her side. Draco sat in his chair facing Harry, it had been one day since his hospitalisation. “Draco?” Pansy’s voice echoed from the walls. The blond ignored them, only gripping Harry’s hand tighter. Hermione walked to his side, “Draco I-I brought you your school books, McGonagall asked me- well… I’ll make you an extra set of notes from our classes.” She finished.

With each tempus charm, the seconds tick slower.

Draco cast the fifth tempus charm in the last half an hour. “Draco why don’t you try to sleep, you look exhausted.” Reasoned a faint voice. It had been two days since Harry’s hospitalisation. Hermione had brought him his notes and had proceeded to stand on the other side of the bed. She huffed loudly, “I still can't believe it. He could have fucking told me. I’m one of his best friends and he didn’t say a word. How could I have not seen this? How could I have not looked at the signs! I should have gotten him help, I should have taken him away from that awful fucking house- oh don’t look at me like that Ron I can swear if I like. I swear on my life I’m going to sort this out, I’m going to get him help and I’m going to- I’ll- I….” She deflated taking a deep breath and fisting the sheets in her hand before promptly leaving the room.

The dim light from the room and the corridor make time seem absolute. The sleepless nights and the endless days drag on. Death lingers in every corner and it waits; it waits for you to make mistakes and forget treatments and ignore the signs. It waits for you to leave the patients at their most vulnerable. And when it takes them; well, then it takes you too.

The spasms of muscles alerted Draco first. He hadn’t slept in well over 72 hours and every single nerve was awake and buzzed on pure fear and adrenaline. The grip on Draco’s hand had clenched and the spelled warnings made a ringing noise around the bed. A nurse came running into the room and he sent a Patronus out through the door. The boy’s legs and shoulders were convulsing and as a group of healers entered the room Harry’s body went limp. The Slytherin stumbled back and crashed into the wall.

Time and death.

“He’s here suffering like this when his bastard of a cousin is running around free” Ron shouted out in the corridor.

Sidekicks.

Hermione stretched an arm around his shoulder, I know Ron, I know, he’s going to be okay it’s just his magical deprivation. He’ll pull through.”

The perfect match in a hospital ward.

“You don’t know that.” he retorted coldly.

Time is agonizing.

The healers had worked through the night and the dim overhead lamps made the flow into Harry’s fourth day being hospitalised seamless.

And death is even worse.

Harry was cold.
Molly refused to give up, refuse to accept it as she stood by his side.
Arthur stood at the end of his bed remembering how he had been saved by the very boy in front of him and how he could not return the favour.
George watched the dark haired boy and watched his family. Watched their faces and remembered the grieving expression that Fred’s death had brought with it reappearing once again.
Ginny stood by the back of the room near the door, she cried silently and set her determined face onto the bed.
Her mourning was a great friend, a friend who she had loved very much, a friend that she could not make happy.
Ron stood with Hermione. For the first time since their break up, they held hands. They were both on the verge of losing something that they cared about very much.
Eyes were stained red as the Weasleys left the room for the last time.
Ron, Hermione and Draco remained in the room.
At some point into the early morning, things had gotten too much and Ron had had to take Hermione away from St. Mungo's which was why at four in the morning Draco found himself on the hospital bed. Laying still next to Harry. Curling up to him under the blankets. His arm draped lightly over the boy’s chest as his slight breaths lifted it up and down. He laid there and wept, the tears spilling onto the pillow beneath him. He was so close to his Harry. So close yet so far away.
And when things had gotten too much for him too, he removed himself from the bed and resumed his seat.

Taking Harry’s hand and feeling the coldness seep into his fingers.

But sometimes, miraculously, time and death are defeated. And care and love succeed; forcing the duo to move into the next ward to the next patient.

Then, hope renews.

***

The smell of antiseptic potions and healing charms lingered in the air. It was cold. The remanence of grime missed by scourgify charms clung to everything.

Harry's back felt compressed and sore. The blankets weighed down on him and he was cold even though he was completely covered up to his neck. The lids of his eyes were heavy and sweaty. His hair was stiff and filthy with grease and something else.

Harry took raspy breaths and it made his throat dry. His tongue was sandpaper, cut glass. It stuck to the back of his throat and to the top of his mouth.

Then he felt the pain.

His neck ached as he turned it slightly. The smallest of movements. He felt his left hand and it was considerably heavier than his right hand. He dared not move it.

His heart beat a little faster as a thumb stroked his knuckles. Fingers ran across the scar on the back of his hand from his detention all those years ago and the thumb moved up his arm gently caressing the puffy and sore scar on his inner arm.

He winced but managed not to move. Opening his left eye slightly he saw a blond boy sat on a ragged arm chair, he was holding Harry's hand under the blanket whilst his other hand held a book. Harry could see that his eyes were still. Those grey globes weren't moving and they just stared at the page. Harry managed to close his eyes again before Draco snapped the book shut and dropped it to the floor.

He heard the chair creak and move, the hand never leaving his. The chair was closer now and another hand joined the first, pulling his arm from under the blankets. Fingers ran up the length of his scar and Harry heard a faint sad sigh. Suddenly there was breath near his arm and his spine shivered. He felt the hair on the back of his back stand up and he was sure he was getting goose bumps.

Those warm smooth hands left and when they returned they were wet with something soothing. Harry's arm hurt a little less and some of the itchings subsided.

Harry felt the boy's presence shift as he came to the other side of the bed and massaged the salve into the other arm. He relaxed back into his sheets and focused on breathing slowly and easily. Draco moved back to his chair and took Harry's hand in his. The dark haired boy opened his eyes the tiniest of fractions and looked in the direction of the chair through his eyelashes.

Draco was pale. More pale than usual. And he was thinner. His skin sunk into the hollows of his cheeks and his jaw was more prominent. Usually, his pointy features were pleasant but this was… not right… it was disturbing and Draco looked ill. His eyes skimmed to their hands, bony pale fingers rested on top of Harry's tanned ones and the contrast was garish. His eyes panned up to the other boy again; one of his legs were crossed over the other and his right elbow was resting on the arm of the chair, holding up his head. His fingers pressing into his eyes and rubbing them then running up his forehead and brushing his hair back.

This was not the Draco that Harry had seen in school. Not even the Draco Harry had seen in his sixth year. This was worse. Something was seriously wrong. His face was pale and gaunt and his lips were thin and chapped. His eyes were rings of black that sunk back into his skull. The bluish bags folding heavy under his eyes contrasting the puffy red sadness of them that seemed to be from crying.

The boy's eyes were tired and distanced as they stared at the floor, Glazed over and away from reality.

Harry swallowed in his dry mouth and tore his lips apart. His voice was rough as he whispered, “You look like shit.” it was quiet but Draco's eyes still snapped out of their reverie and narrowed at Harry. Draco's jaw dropped slightly as he sat up and looked back and forth from the door and Harry. His hand was stiff on the arm chair as if he was about to push himself out of it. He blinked at Harry and licked his lips. Standing up, he reached his free hand to Harry's neck and felt his pulse strongly through his palm.

“I'm not dreaming.” He whispered in awe and brushed his hand through Harry's hair.

The touch left Harry as Draco started to the door.

“Don't leave me!” Harry begged, his voice cracking, “don't leave!”

Draco turned to him and narrowed his eyes, his jaw tensing, “You don't get to tell me what to do,” he began, walking slowly back to the side of his bed, a distance between them, “four days you were in a coma. Four. Fucking. Days. You promised me-” his voice cracked, “you said- and you think you can tell me not to leave! That's the only thing I've been saying this past week! You're the one that could have left me. You tried to leave me. You tried to end your life and you tried to leave me. Well, I'm sorry for wanting to be there for you and to help you but obviously, my help or my presence wasn't wanted so don't you dare tell me not to leave now. You fucking hypocritical prick.” Draco stepped closer to the bed and leant over Harry, holding his shoulders, “I'm sorry for everything that's happened to you, I'm sorry for your past, I'm sorry for what your pathetic excuse of a family has done to you, I'm sorry that you felt this was the only way out. You have to realise that people love you. You have a family that you have made of your own, the Weasleys, Teddy, your friends… me?” Draco averted his eyes and walked away from the bed.

“Draco” His voice was a whimper, “I'm sorry. Please forgive me. You are my family. Your right you are my family and I have made my new family and I have people who care about me. I'm sorry I wasn't thinking. I'm so sorry. I don't want to leave you. Or- or Ron or Hermione. I'm sorry I tried. I'm s-sorry” Tears slipped from the corners of his eyes. He lifted his shoulder to stretch out his arm to the blond but found that his wrist wouldn't comply with him.

The blond turned to him with a slight blush across his cheekbones, “You -you consider me your f-family?” he asked in disbelief as he reached for the other's leg as if to hold himself up.

Harry strained to look at Draco, “Y-yes! I- please don't leave me.” He lifted his shoulder again, “why can't I move my wrists?”

Draco stepped to Harry's arm and held his hand, “W-when you… when you used the curse it cut through your tendons and muscles and it was difficult to heal because of the dark magic but it will get better after you start to use them again… you- I healed your arms when I realised you had used… sectumsempra… and I stopped your arms from scarring even more. But I have to leave to get the Healer… she - she needs to make sure that you're going to be okay.”

Harry pulled his shoulder back to bring Draco to him, “Just - don't be too long yeah?” he echoed his words from the library.

Draco rested his hand on the boy's cheek, “I promise” but he didn't leave.

Harry looked into his eyes, the warm grey melting, a fire burning into ash, “you promise?” he whispered.

Draco looked down into those green eyes and saw the life and shine in them. The apples of his eyes begged for Draco's promise. He leant over across the dark haired boy and whispered into his ear, “I promise, this time I don't have a book to look for. I don't have anything to look for because all I've ever needed- all I've ever looked for I've found.”

He pulled away with tears threatening his eyes. It was as close to a confession as he could muster right now. When he looked back to Harry he saw that small dimple in his cheek and something warm fluttered near his stomach and lifted to his chest making it ache. He ran his fingers across Harry's hand as he left and looked back at the boy once more before he left the room.

Harry didn't know why he was smiling. He had attempted suicide and talked about rape and confessed things that he wishes he hadn't. It was just… Draco. Through his ill appearance and tired expression and the shouting and name calling that he had every right to do, he was still Draco, his Draco. And somehow the words that they had just whispered between them was everything and more that Harry wanted to hear. Maybe he didn't have to push Draco away. Maybe letting the thorn hit him wasn't so bad. Maybe it was really a rose and the thorn he felt was just something he had made up. Yes, that was it. A rose. And its thorns were really just making Harry feel something. Making Harry know that he needed Draco. Making his … feelings, as new and strange as they were, real. Gentle touches, being held in those warm comforting arms, holding his hand, his hair run through with those lacy hands, that gentle kiss that was pressed to his temple… those were the petals. Brushing him. Loving him. Caring for him. Those were the things that made his feelings real. He was sure of it now. He wanted Draco and no-one else would do. No-one else would ever come close. Yes. He needed his rose even if it was just as a friend even if it was just as a platonic family. As long as they were… with each other… that was enough. It had to be enough. Harry couldn't expect anything else anything more than friends. He knew that. But a rose is a rose and it's better than a thorn.

***

Draco returned to the room shortly with a healer. Her hair was auburn and pulled into a tight plait that fell just below her shoulders.

“It's good to see you awake Mr Potter. Can you tell me how you are feeling and then we can begin some tests.”

“Shit” It was true. He felt awful. “My arms and back hurt and my throat are sore.”

The healer nodded and noted something down on her parchment before beginning the tests.

“Auditory and vocal responses are good,” she said bringing up her wand to Harry's eyes, “Lumos, pupil dilation is normal.” She cast a spell to monitor his breathing and heart rate and noted the result down. A simple spell gave the healer Harry's temperature and it seemed that everything was normal. “Well, Mr Potter it seems that you have recovered rather well and there doesn't appear to be any permanent damage. We will start you in physio tomorrow and therapy-”

“I don't need therapy.” Harry interrupted.

Draco caught his eyes and the healer raised an eyebrow, “Your therapy will begin tomorrow.” She concluded. “Until then you must rest. Get something to eat and drink and then our nurses can help you get cleaned and more comfortable. We will inform the headmistress after you have returned to your room, I'm sure your friends will be here too. A lot of people have been worried about you.” She looked at Draco, “The patient's bathroom is private, down the corridor and the third on the left. I'll have a nurse bring in fresh clothes.” Then she left, running over her notes and back in the direction of the reception.

The two sat in silence.

“I don't need therapy,” Harry repeated.

Draco huffed, “Harry…” He said exasperated, “You need this, you need help-”

“I've got you.” Harry supplied. And he turned his gaze to Draco.

The blond pushed up from his chair and moved away from the bed, “I'm not taking no for an answer. You're going. End of.”

Harry frowned, his voice unsure and quiet, “Are you saying I don't have you then?”

Draco bolted and stormed to the bed, “Don't. You. Fucking. Dare. I've been here day and night. Waiting-hoping that you'll wake up. I can't sleep knowing that you could just… that you could go in the middle of the night. I left for five minutes to get a coffee and you'd stopped breathing. Don't you know how that feels? To watch someone you… you care about … and not being able to do anything about it. It makes you feel useless. Potter, if you don't have me then nobody has me. Nobody stands a chance.” He felt the sting at the back of his eyes and he schooled his face to indifference.

“Why do you do that?” Harry asked

“Do what?”

“Put on a face, a facade, make everyone think you don't care.”

Draco narrowed his eyes and was about to declare no recollection or understanding of the accusation when he exhaled, “Because I'm fucking pissed with you.”

“Why?”

“Really? You tried to commit suicide after you promised and you're asking why I'm pissed.”

Harry tore his gaze away and closed his eyes, “There's something bothering you.”

“No shit.”

“Draco-”

“Harry.” Draco mimicked

“I can't do this shit” Harry muttered.

“And there we go. There's the prize”

“If you can't be civil then leave. It's not like I've cried to you or anything. It's not like I've emptied all my secrets to you. Not as if I've had nightmares and you've been there to hold me. I've put up with this shit for too long.”

“You've pushed through it for 18 years! Can't you push through it some more? Can't you keep going? If not for yourself than for others?”

“That's exactly my point. I've put up with it for 18 years. Why should I have to put up with it any longer? Why can't it all just end.”

“And this is why you need therapy.”

Harry turned his head and the first tear dropped from the crease of his eye and into his pillow. Then he felt a soft hand on his cheek and he whimpered into the sheets. The hand pushed his hair away from his forehead and wiped away the tears running over his nose.

“W-will you go with me?” Harry whispered through the sobs.

“Of course” Draco whispered back, stroking Harry's head.

The black haired boy opened his eyes and looked to the grey eyes.

“Come on, let's get you cleaned up” He whispered and gave the other a sad smile. Draco peeled the sheets back and hooked his hands under Harry's arms to sit him upright on the bed.

Harry swung his legs over the side of the bed and looked up through his eyelashes to Draco. Tentatively he put his arms around Draco's neck, oblivious to the boy sucking in a breath, and he rested his head on the blond's shoulder. And they stayed like that. Holding each other in silence. Feeling each other's heartbeat. Getting closer together. Draco put his arms around the boy’s waist and dug his nose into the crook of the tanned neck.

Harry’s breath jumped over Draco's chin, “I'm sorry.” he whispered.

Draco shivered under the heat and was so close to pressing his lips to Harry's neck, “I'm sorry too.” He mumbled, his lips lightly ghosting over the popped vein in Harry's neck.

Harry was alive. And things were going to get better.

Draco's breath caught and he slowly pulled away from Harry's neck and held the boy’s head in between his hands. “We get through this. You and me. And we'll hold each other for as long as we need to. You're never alone. And I know now; neither am I.”

Chapter Text

Harry took a shuddery breath and removed Draco's hands. He pulled himself from the bed and lay his feet lightly on the ground. It had been four days since he had used his legs and he felt exhausted. Harry's gaze shifted from his feet to Draco and the blonde was watching him with concern. His bum slipped from the bed and his knees buckled underneath him and he fell into Draco's readied arms. His wrists caught on his sleeves and he let out a whine in pain. His chest tightened and his vision blurred. Blood rushed to his head. Harry felt the soft bed underneath him again and he sighed into Draco's chest. Then he realised that Draco had been talking to him.

“... you okay? Harry? Talk to me. I've got you.” Draco murmured into his hair.

It was a raspy response, “Just… dizzy. Hurt my… wrists on these… sleeves and… my legs… feel like jelly.”

Draco lifted Harry's chin and took his hands in his own, “Do you want me… do you want me to carry you to the bathroom?” He asked cautiously.

Harry gave him a tired nod, “yes… yes please.” He answered.

The blonde wrapped Harry’s arms around his neck, “Put your legs around my waist,” he said softly and Harry complied immediately but his legs soon slipped down Draco. He was too tired to do anything.

Draco lifted Harry up by his thighs and tightened his grip so that the boy didn’t slip again. Resting his head on Draco’s shoulder, Harry sighed contently and sleepily as he was lifted a little for Draco’s leverage. One arm held most of Harry’s weight and Draco’s hand lifted Harry under his bum. The other hand made its way up Harry’s back to cradle the boy’s neck as you would with a baby.

“I feel dizzy,” Harry whispered to Draco’s neck, his hands spreading through the silky locks.

Draco shivered and gently walked to the door, “I know bunny I know,” Why had he said that? Where had that come from?

“Bunny.” Harry murmured into Draco’s neck, his eyes half shut and his breaths misting over his neck with effort, “Can I wear my onesie?”

Draco smiled slightly as he walked to the third door on the left, “Yes Harry, we’ll get it for you.” he whispered.

He lifted Harry up again in his arm as he opened the door and found a female nurse standing over a regular bathtub and testing the water when she turned to the boys, “Shall I… I’ll leave you to it,”

Before she could leave Draco stopped her and spoke quietly, “I was wondering if you could send an owl to Hogwarts, I need a few things for Harry and I think they will help him with his recovery process, he’s bound to feel more comfortable surrounded by his own things.”

The nurse nodded in agreement, “That’s a very good idea Mr Malfoy, what is it you’ll be needing?”

Draco smiled at her, “In his trunk in our shared room he has a few onesies, comfier pyjamas, I need all three of them, at the bottom, there should be some baths things, ask for all of the pumpkin soaps.”

“Anything else?”

“No, thank you.” Draco finished.

The nurse nodded and looked to Harry who was quiet in Draco’s arms, “Very well then, I shall see that they are brought immediately.”

Draco thanked her again and soon they were alone in the patient’s bathroom. The bathtub was at the far end of the room, steam poured from the top and up to the ceiling. To the right, there was a toilet and a sink next to it. On the other side of the room, there were a few padded chairs. The Slytherin walked over to the chairs and knelt down, carefully setting Harry’s bum on the soft cushion. Slow, exhausted breaths filled the room as they held each other, the warm puffs of air misting over each other's necks and they let their heavy eyes fall shut. Harry trailed a finger from the back of Draco’s hair and down the pale neck dipping it into the hollows of his collarbones before replacing his hand slowly and bringing Draco into a tight embrace, the tightest he could manage with his weak arms at least. Draco reciprocated and dug his nose into the crook of the boy’s neck.

Draco’s chest heaved as he took in sudden deep consuming breaths and looped his arms around the boy’s waist more, his shoulders surrendering to the uncontrollable sobs.

“Don’t cry?” Harry said weakly.

Draco ignored him and held tighter which forced the other into a coughing fit. The blonde pulled away quickly, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to I’m sorry,”

The dark haired boy took lungfuls of air and held Draco in his hands, “Don’t be sorry.” He sputtered, “Don’t cry.”

Draco felt the wetness on his cheeks dry and Harry stroked his thumbs over pale cheekbones, “I just can’t bear the thought of losing you,” he whispered.

“Then don’t think about it,”

“Easier said than done Harry.”

“Why do we call each other by our first names now?”

“Oh I… Potter I - “

“I never said stop. It was just a question” Harry smiled slightly.

The two searched each other’s eyes and waited. For something, anything, for respite in this hell.

Harry closed his eyes and rested his forehead on Draco’s, “Why did you call me bunny?”

Draco sighed, “I don’t know, it just felt… right. I’m sor-”

“Call me it again.”

“What?”

“What is this Draco? A deaf and blind act?” he let out a small laugh.

There was a pause and the steam from the bath filled their lungs as they breathed in each other’s air.

“Come on, let’s get you in this bath,” Draco said pulling away from Harry.

The dark haired boy sighed in relief and looked up to Draco who, now kneeling up was taller, started to unbutton the hospital pyjamas.

His fingers were delicate, caring and methodical as they pushed the shirt from Harry’s shoulders. His fingers lingering slightly on the bare skin. Gently, so as to not accidentally touch the new scars, Draco slipped the sleeves from Harry’s forearms.

It was the first time Harry had seen what he had done. The red raw scars were prominent over the tanned slashed skin. His jaw tensed and he ran his fingers up the sensitive flesh. One of his hands came to his face to ease away the start of a headache when Draco took his palms.

“Hey, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. You don’t need to stress about them.” Draco whispered into his ear, massaging the palms of the boy’s hands and working the fingers under his touch.

“I know.” He said screwing his eyes up, the smile faded from his face and Draco felt something tug in the bottom of his chest.

“Lean back let me take your clothes off,” Draco reassured.

Harry suddenly took in a deep breath his eyes flew open wide in fear as he grabbed the waistband of his pyjama bottoms. Hurt flashed across Draco’s face his mouth opening and closing slightly.

“I would never hurt you.” and the pain was evident in his voice.

Harry rushed to take Draco’s face, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I know that I know-” his voice caught, “I know.” he sighed and leant back hesitantly.

Draco crouched back down to Harry’s eye level and rested his Hands on the boy’s knees, watching as Harry let a small inaudible gasp slip past his lips. Slowly his fingers travelled up the younger boy’s thighs and gripped the top of his pyjama bottoms. Harry watched him intently and raised his bum from the seat. Slowly, Draco pulled down the bottoms and watched Harry, looking for discomfort. The pyjamas slid from his cold legs and fell to the floor.

“I’m not going to look,” Draco comforted. And Harry closed his eyes and nodded. He would have liked to say ‘I wouldn’t have minded if you did’ but he didn’t. He would have liked to say that but the truth was he didn’t want anyone to see him, he didn’t want anyone to look at the places he had been molested and even if he did want Draco, he didn’t want him to see that part of his body. Draco was different to all those men in the summer. So he nodded and watched as Draco peeled back his boxers, dropping them to the floor. Harry felt exposed and he shivered. Draco, with his eyes still locked onto Harry's, lifted the boy up by hooking one arm under his knees and the other supporting his back. They made their way to the bathtub and Draco lowered him into the steaming water. Harry made a loud sigh as the hot water made his toes and fingers tingle. Harry’s arms were left outside of the bathtub and he lowered himself to his neck in the water.

Just then the nurse came in with a bundle of clothes and bottles, “I hope I got everything for you,” she said as she set the items down on the seats.

The steam fogged up Harry’s glasses as he sunk deeper into the bath to avoid the gaze of the nurse. Draco stood in front of him and sat on the edge of the bath with his feet crossed. “Thank you, I’m sure that’s everything.” He replied and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows, baring the dark mark on his left arm. The nurse nodded her goodbye and closed the door gently behind her.

Draco felt soft fingers on his back and he turned his head to look into ivy green eyes. He held in a sigh and rubbed his tired eyes whilst he retrieved the assorted pumpkin soaps and carried a chair to the end of the tub.

The first smell of pumpkin was intense as it fell into the bath, the metal frames on Harry’s nose slid down and he pushed them back up, screwing up his nose to re-adjust them. Draco let his hand swirl the water around and bubbles started to form. Soon the end of the bath was a cloud. The blonde knelt by the bath and put the bottles of soap on the chair. The faint splashes of water rippled through the room every time Harry moved his legs and he sighed in blissful relief. He closed his eyes and felt the steam curl the ends of his hair more and plaster locks to his forehead, a few small beads of sweat gathered on his temples and eyebrow which made his glasses slide down again to the tip of his nose. The dark haired boy went to raise a hand to push them back up when the frames were pulled from his face. At first, he had thought that they had fallen off into the water but his eyes snapped open to see two pale hands easing them from his nose. Draco was careful with them and folded the arms over each other, resting the glasses on top of the chair with the onesies. A curl of hair fell into Harry’s eyes and Draco pushed it back.

Harry’s heart boomed and thundered in his ribcage, the heat from the bath brought blood to his cheeks and his breathing sped up.

Draco looked away to reach for the pumpkin shampoo and he took Harry’s head and neck and lowered it to the water level to wet it.

“Draco.” he whispered in the silence.

“ … Yes?” Draco whispered back as he sat Harry upright again, the use of his name sending a shiver down his spine as it rolled off those soft red lips. He poured a handful of shampoo on top of Harry’s head and the coldness seeped through his curls.

“I'm sorry that I did what I did, I- I..." he quivered, sinking into the water, "I just feel so empty and so alone. No matter how much I'm told that I'm not alone I still feel that way. Sometimes I just can't take it anymore and I want to feel things and there's this numbness and I just want it to stop, I feel too warm and I itch all over and I’m scared because I don’t want to do anything bad again.”

Draco worked a lather into Harry’s scalp and the boy groaned at the sensation, “Harry I’ll always be here... you say you feel alone but you push people away. You push me away. And then you isolate yourself to the point of- the point of suicide... and then who is really alone? All the people who you leave behind. Look... I'm trying not to make this about me but it hurts. It hurts a lot when you isolate yourself. It almost feels like I'm not good enough. Like I can't be there for you."

The dark haired boy let out his breath as Draco scrubbed his nails over his scalp, trails of soap ran down his spine and it made his breath hitch. “Draco - I - Draco you are there for me” He began tiredly, "it's just that... I've never told anyone things about me and when I - when I finally told you what had happened it was just too much for me. I felt like I could break down and fall apart like I was drowning in my own head and that in telling you all this stuff it was just eating me up from the inside. That's the reason why I push people away. I push them away so that I can get back my control of my emotions so that I don't let everything out so that I don't become overwhelmed. Sometimes I just need to be alone.”

Draco sighed, “And what about now? Do you feel overwhelmed now?” he asked pointedly.

Harry sunk deeper into the water, Draco’s hands still worked through his hair.

“You ask too many questions.” Harry simply stated.

The hands in his hair stopped and Draco rinsed them in the water before taking a small bowl at the side of the bath and washing away the bubbles in Harry's hair.

“Well I’m so sorry that I care about you and that I ever bothered to know anything about you,” Draco snapped, standing up to retrieve a towel.

“Fuck off,” Harry replied with a sigh, “everyone asks too much of me. I thought you were different, clearly, I was wrong.”

Draco turned around, his eyes narrow and a scowl set on his face, “ ‘clearly you were wrong’ oh really, well I should have known that Saint Potter would just assume he knows best, of course, who could ever believe that a death eater cares about them. Don’t fucking push me away now, I can’t-” he closed his eyes and turned away slightly, “Where the fuck has this come from? You were fine when you woke up.”

Harry sat up in the bath with effort glaring down at Draco, “Ahh yes, because once someone’s happy they stay like that forever, if they wake up okay then nothing can make them feel bad again. Oh wait, it doesn’t work like that.”

“What the fuck did I do?” Draco asked perplexed, “What did I do since bringing you in here that has made you feel shit, that has made you fucking ugh- just tell me what I’ve done so I can put it right!”

Harry brought up his knees and rested his forehead on them, I’m sorry Draco. Truly I am, but whatever’s wrong with me is not something that you can just “put right”. You can’t help me, I’m not going to that shitty therapy, they can shove it down someone else’s throat, someone who actually needs it.”

“Can you hear yourself? You fucking need it!” Draco yelled.

Harry growled, making the chairs fall over and the water in the bath shoot upwards and splash back into the tub and onto the floor and it made Draco take a step back, “Just. Fucking. Go. Malfoy. Leave me. The fuck. Alone. Go get a nurse to help me back to my room then you can go off and have a talk with Hermione seen as you always conspire about me anyway. Just fuck off.”

Draco threw the towel down on the floor, picked up his wand and left the bathroom, slamming the door on his way out. Why the fuck did he have to be so arrogant sometimes. Harry was just a child, a scared, abused child. And he would never ever be his. No matter how much they shared with each other Draco could never tell Harry all of his problems. He could never tell Harry how he went from feeling empty and numb to having an overwhelming need to cry because of his love for the boy. For years he had denied himself the right to love, for years he had lied to himself and those around him that he preferred men, for years he had been in denial for the fact that he loved Harry Potter. And for that short stretch of just over a month, he had allowed himself everything. He had allowed himself hope. Hope for love, hope for Harry, hope for some form of happiness.
Now those words played in his head and he could already feel himself withdraw, there was no hope. It was selfish of him to want Harry, selfish in every way possible. His feet were walking, talking him somewhere that he had no clue of until he collided into Pansy.

“Draco?” She took his face in her hands, “Darling what’s wrong, we just got a message from McGonagall that Harry is awake. Why aren’t you with him?”

 

***

 

The harrowing sob that was wrenched from his heart explodes as Draco collapses on Pansy’s shoulder. She just turns to Hermione who has fear etched on her face. Ron and Hermione already set off to Harry’s room.

“I hate him.” Draco sobs.

Pansy brushes her hands through his dirty hair, “Really?” she comforts, “Because I think you love him,”

Draco shoves her away, scowling, “Well you know what thought did.” He spat, “You don’t know anything!”

Then he left through the doors of St.Mungo’s and walked for hours. Even when his feet started to ache and the cold of winter made his bones stone, even when it started to rain and his robes were drenched, even when the full moon rose into the sky and the streets went quiet. Even though he had no idea where he was going. Even when he was running out of adrenaline. He even kept walking up until the point of passing out. Holding the wall. His head unable to stay upright, his legs buckling, his eyelids snapping shut with no energy left.

 

***

 

Harry sat in the bath. He actually left. All his anger faded along with his energy. Harry slumped over the bath. He didn’t even notice when he was carried out of the bath, he didn’t notice when he heard his name, he didn’t notice that he was dressed in his bunny onesie, he didn’t notice that he was laying on his bed, he didn’t notice that the Weasleys were there, he didn’t notice that his eyes were puffy and sore and wet.

But he did notice the itch.

Everywhere, under his skin, in his eyes, in his hair, at the back of his throat, on his chapped lips.

His skin burned like fire.

And the words he had said to Draco lingered in his mind.

***

The Burrow was warm with the smell of fresh bread. It was unusually quiet as the Weasleys waited for news of Harry, every now and then the silence broke with the hiss of a log and the crackle and spit of flames in the hearth. Molly Weasley had set herself to the task of baking, something she had found that seemed to ease the stress and distract her from her troubling mind and thoughts. She had settled on bread, her fingers working to bring the new mix together into a dough. Ginny watched and flinched every now and then when her mum banged the dough down onto the work surface to knead it.

Then the fire glowed green and the flames danced higher, leaping and licking at the mantle. A crowd of red hair surrounded the fire and the green haze illuminated the Weasleys features, dappling across their anxious skin and worried eyes. When the blinding glow dimmed it was to reveal McGonagall’s face in the grate.

“Harry is awake.” She said with a smile.

The fire dimmed and flared as McGonagall left and the Weasleys flooed to St.Mungo’s.

***

Molly had been standing by Harry’s side for a while, talking to him, soothing him. He hadn’t listened to anything anyone had to say. He had only laid there, gazing at the ceiling, tears trickling from his red rimmed eyes. Molly had had enough and pulled Harry into a sitting position where he fell onto her shoulder, sobbing into her neck like he had done with Draco. Draco. Where was he? Why did he care? Molly’s warm hands ran soothing circled up and down his back and cradling his head and neck. The room was quiet other than his stifled sobs. Then, like trying the wedge a light switch so that it was neither on or off but failing and the switch flipping the other way completely; the room was deadly silent and Harry wiped away his tears. He pulled himself from Molly’s grasp and pulled the hood of his onesie over his head, covering his eyes. He didn’t want anyone to see him like this. Harry pulled his knees up to his chest and played with the zip on his onesie, pulling it up and down.

Ron and Hermione offered to get drinks for everyone at the cafe round the corner of St.Mungo’s and Harry watched them leave. He was past the point of caring about anything. Molly left his bed and sat on a chair with the others in the room, the dark haired boy simply turned away and curled up into a ball, taking in the smell of antiseptic and absentmindedly scratching his wrists.

***

The hallway was filled with faint alarms from monitoring spells that seemed distant as Ron and Hermione made their way to the reception.

“I wonder what was wrong with Draco.” Hermione voiced to Ron.

The other shook his head, “Pansy will have found out.”

“Pansy?-” Hermione stopped walking. Ron would have commented on the fact that obviously Pansy would find out because they were best friends but the pure fact that, when he turned to look in Hermione’s line of view he saw Pansy running towards them with a look of sheer panic plastered on her face, stopped the chiding remark from passing between his lips.

The girls’ wordless conversation whilst Pansy ran towards them ended with Hermione dragging Ron by the arm and sprinting full speed ahead out of St. Mungo’s.

***

“Point me Draco Malfoy” Pansy quivered, casting the altered four point spell. Her wand immediately spun to the path in front of them and the trio followed the wand like a compass. It turned out that at some point during Draco’s little walk he had, without realising it, begun to walk back to the general area of St. Mungo’s and so it was after only a short time of following Pansy’s wand that they found Draco, hurled against the wall, pale, cold, and passed out.

“Sleep deprivation,” Ron mumbled. The recognizable signs obvious to him after all those sleepless nights listening to the wireless in their seventh year.

“I told him to take care of himself!” Hermione huffed exasperatedly.

Ron looked to Pansy, “Manor or Mungo’s?”

“Mungo’s” They both answered at the same time.

It was with great difficulty and an appalling lack of grace (that would have had Malfoy in a fit of stress had he been conscious enough to see it) that the three of them lifted him and apparated to St’ Mungo’s where he was ushered into a small dingy room that was nowhere near Harry’s.

“What an idiot,” Hermione sighed into the silence, “I told him to rest and he’s made himself unnecessarily ill.

The healers had given him some potions and a concoction of healing remedies to bring his strength up and that was where he had remained for the next few hours or so before a fitful nightmare shook him from some sort of rest.

The blonde woke up with a start but sleep still clung to him like the remanence of a cold that just wouldn’t go away “Harry?” Draco asked groggily, catching his breath and rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

Pansy huffed, “Well sleeping beauty’s awake. Eighteen years I’ve known him and the first person he calls out is the specky git, damn you Draco that’s not fair.”

“Sorry Pans,” Draco replied in a tone that was obviously not sorry at all.

She huffed, mumbling, “and you say that you’re not infatuated and obsessed with him.”

Under other circumstances, Draco would have put up a fight to that comment but he had not heard it through the nagging thoughts racing through his head.

How could you leave Harry? He was in the bath for Salazar’s sake! How could you turn your back on someone in a fragile state of mind and abandon them when they needed you the most? Merlin, you really are a piece of shit Draco. You can’t have him. You never will.
And you don’t deserve him.

Somewhere along his tangent of thoughts he had gotten to his feet and walked out of his room in the direction that seemed to head towards Harry’s room. He barely even noticed the calls of his name behind him.

Of course, he was only going over there to- well he was just going there. No reason behind it. He didn’t have any rights to Potter and why was Harry the reason for all his actions - he wasn’t. No, Draco was just going in that general direction. Pansy was wrong. What did she know? It’s not like she would have any idea of - well she had Hermione now… but that was beyond the point. The point was- well there really was no point. Merlin, Draco really was in love with the git. Fuck. And he’d only gone and fucked it up in the bathroom. Double fuck. Oh, gods, he was screwed.

***

“You’re screwed”

“Excuse me?” Draco asked with his mouth open wide before realizing how uncouth that was and shut it promptly.

“I said,” Ron sighed, “Your food. See Malfoy there’s this substance that muggles and wizards have to consume for us to survive and-”

“I know what food is you-” Draco sighed, “Thank you, Weasley,”

Ron gave a smug nod, “Courtesy of Hermione and Pansy. They are fierce sometimes. How do we put up with them eh? You might want to start looking after yourself otherwise you’ll have them two on your back.”

Draco took a weak bite of pumpkin pasty and rubbed at his temples, the beginning of a migraine building up at the base of his neck, “Thank you for your pep talk but I am really not in the mood for any long conversations.”

Ron sat in a seat next to Draco, outside Harry’s room, “Sorry. Sometimes I talk too much- I- Sorry.”

“No, it’s… fine I guess,” Draco sighed an exasperated sigh, “I’m just- it’s just- nevermind.”

Ron ate his own pasty and began to talk with his mouth full, “It’s okay. You worry about him. We all do. It’s fine.”

Draco turned up his nose at the lack of eloquence and manners but then again this was Weasley, what could you expect?

Ron finished the last of his pasty, “I reckon he’ll be out of his therapy session in a few minutes. I thought you would have gone in with him but it doesn’t matter now, we all know how exhausted you’ve been. I- I know what it’s like- to worry about your friends. Your family. It’s shit; even though he’s gone we still have all our fears and problems. We might all have magic wands but we can’t put everything right with the flick of a wrist. Look, Malfoy, I- I know that you were a git before… and that you weren’t pleasant most of the time but I can see how you’ve helped Harry and I know that you’ve both put your pasts behind each other and well I guess I wanted us to try to be civil and put our pasts behind ourselves too. For Harry.”

Draco did everything but eat his pasty, “Sure. For Harry.” He nodded to himself then added, “But don’t expect me to call you Ron, that would be too weird.”

The other laughed, “Sure Malfoy.”

***

The room was stark white and the pure cleanliness of it seemed to be a lie like it was hiding layers of dirty secrets underneath the front of minimalistic furniture and casual robes. Gods how Harry wanted to leave that room. The walls were getting closer with every second and the stupid woman across from him didn’t seem to notice. Beads of sweat started to build up at the base of Harry’s neck even though he felt shivers all over his body and his leg couldn’t stop jiggling up and down.

“Harry,” The woman said sweetly, “How can I help you if you don’t talk to me?”

The dark haired boy gave her a pointed glare and looked to the walls again which was closer to him than before.

“We’ve been like this for almost an hour, I want to help you-”

“I don’t need help.” Harry snapped his neck back to her and cut her off.

She let out a gentle sigh, “There is a hill. It’s seems large, overpowering to you, maybe not to others, maybe there are others at the bottom of a similar hill that looks just as big, but the hill is just a hill, it is not a mountain. No matter how much you want to get to the top of the hill and see the easy slope of the valley on the other side, the climb scares you. Your friends get you a broom to fly over it but if breaks, you’re given floo powder by doctors but the floo network is shut and in the end you resort to good old fashioned muggle rope to climb the hill. It is difficult at first, getting your bearings on the rock but once you start, some things become easier. You recognise areas where you can put your feet and your hands and you get skilled enough in climbing that the journey gets a little easier. The summit is the hardest. Mustering the energy to haul your body over the top of the overhang but once you do it you realise that there was no overhang because it was a hill and not a mountain.

“And you look down into the valley on the other side, then you look back from here you came and you want to stay on that summit forever but you know that if you do not move down the valley where you will most likely face a new hill, you will wither away and not live your life. So you decide to slide down to the valley and you decide to climb the next hill, just as you did the first. Even if the rock is a different material or the weather is difficult to climb in you still have the skills from the first hill. You will always have those skills. For now it is not what is on the other side that you need to concern yourself with, it is the acceptance of the fact that you need good old fashioned rope.

“I can help you with that rope I can teach you the knots to use to keep you from falling and I can guide you to footholds and I will be here for you to vent about how rough the rope is on your hands and how the rock is cutting your skin. I will be here. But right now you need to accept the rope and instead of using it to hang yourself use it to climb.” She sat back and let her words sink in with a neutral face, “I think we are done for today, we shall meet again next week. I think you need that much to be alone and mull things over.”

Harry stood from his chair slowly and gave the mind healer a pensive look before he left the room.

***

Exhausted and missing Hogwarts, Harry trudged his way back to the grimy room. He rounded the corner and stopped in his tracks. His heart beating with pain and anger and something else that gave him butterflies and and a dry throat.

“Harry.” Draco stood from his chair at the end of the corridor. Stating his name like it was a lifeline. Asking if he could still call him that without asking the question at all. The use of his first name rolling from those harsh lips that spited him all these years. Those cutting words in the bathroom. How ironic, Harry had left Dra- Malfoy in the bathroom crying and Malfoy had only gone and done the same to him. Karma. He didn’t deserve any sort of friendship with Malfoy. Didn’t deserve to even think about anything else. Those sharp lips and tongue of fire spitting words that hurt and stung. It made his eyes well up with unshed tears and the back of his throat dry and crack.

Malfoy. Malfoy. Malfoy. “Draco.” He said back, his voice breaking,

“Harry” Draco repeated.

Harry felt the sting behind his eyes, “You left. And I made you leave. I’m sorry that I made you leave, I don’t want you to go anywhere. You don’t deserve how I spoke to you. I’m so sorry.” His voice broke, “Please forgive me.” He whispered and took one step forward.

Draco closed his eyes and sighed in relief, “There’s nothing to forgive, Harry.” he said his name again to make sure that it was still okay to use. “I would have come back but I-”

“I know. You- you were exhausted and I was selfish when I spoke to you like that. I didn’t even think. I didn’t even thank you for everything you’ve done. I was only thinking of myself. I know that you… that you collapsed and I’m so sorry that I tried to- that I- I’m sorry that I did what I did and that it caused everyone pain. I’m sorry that you haven’t slept in days because of me. I’m sorry that I hurt you.” A single tear overflowed and ran smoothly down his cheek.

“There is nothing. Nothing to be sorry for. You are not selfish. You were in pain, you were forced to tell the truth about something terrible that was done to you and I couldn’t be there for you. I couldn’t help you in the way that you needed…”

Harry let out a sob and walked to Draco who slipped one hand around his waist to bring him into a hug and the other underneath the hood of the onesie to run his fingers through Harry’s unruly hair, soothing and tugging slightly to let him know that he was there. Harry linked his arms around the blonde’s neck and sobbed into his collarbone, the tears pooling at the tip of his chin and nose and his glasses fogging up. Draco lifted Harry to his waist and the smaller boy wrapped his legs around Draco like a constricting snake.

“Come on bunny, let’s go home.” Draco whispered into Harry’s ear and he dark haired boy nodded into his shoulder.

The two left down the corridor leaving a flabbergasted Ron sat on the bench with Draco’s uneaten pasty in his hand. Apparently neither had remembered that he was there.

“Merlin what the fuck just happened.” He asked no-one. Wide-eyed he stood from his bench and followed the two to the reception where Hermione and Pansy were giving each other side glances and knowing looks at the two boys.

***

The group flooed to the fireplace in McGonagall’s office and, under instructions of the headmistress, Draco took Harry to their room to rest and Hermione, Pansy and Ron left to the hall for dinner.

As it happened the common room was empty due to the meal downstairs in the hall which made the process of carrying Harry o their room less awkward than it could have been which Draco was grateful for. Even if everyone had seen him carry the smaller boy before.

Their room was the same as usual if not a bit cleaner than they left it, Draco shuddered at the sight of Harry’s bed where he had told him of the nightmares that plagued his mind and the horrid past of abuse that he was a victim to. Swallowing the thought, Draco moved toward the bed nearest the window and sat down, Harry still clinging to him like a baby monkey holding onto its mother. Sleep had taken the black haired boy on their short journey home and it reminded Draco of the exhaustion that lingered in his bones. He wondered what had happened in the therapy room and what had made Harry change from pushing him away to openly hugging him, not that he was complaining. He rested the boy gently onto the mattress, removing his glasses and putting them on the bedside table.

The tan boy was thin and the onesie hung loose from his frame and the only noise in the room was quiet breathing.

Draco watched the boy and his breathing and the pulse in his neck and he took the frail tan hand and gently pulled back the sleeve and looked the the healing wrists, “I have always loved you, and I always will,” The blonde whispered leaving a trail of kisses up the scar, “and it kills me to know that I cannot have you, that you will never feel the same,”

Draco leant over the boy and inspected every inch of his face, “I love your eyes, I love how they sparkle and shine when you're happy, I love those stupid glasses and your scars and the dimples you get in your cheeks when you smile and laugh. And I love when I am the person that you’re smiling to, the person who made you laugh, I love the way your unruly hair is like a bird’s nest and I love running my fingers through it. I think you are adorable in your onesies and hot every other time. I love the way quidditch robes fit you so well and I love the way you look on a broom. Sometimes I imagine what you would look like with your legs either side of my hips instead of that wooden stick as we kiss and I wonder what you taste like. Treacle? Pumpkins? I want you so bad, I want to kiss and cherish every part of you, I want to give you everything I have, I am yours. My body is yours and I want you to take it. I want to feel your lips on me I and your hands to roam over my body and I want to do the same to you.

“I love when you crawl into my lap and let me hug you and I love how you fit so perfectly in my arms. I need you to hold me too. I need you to notice me too. I need you. I love you. We are so close I could kiss you,” he whispered, his lips millimeters away from Harry’s, “My bunny,” he whispered as their lips brushed, “My baby,” he pressed their lips together ever so gently and a single tear slipped onto Harry’s cheek, “Harry,” he whispered and bit back a sob.

“What the fuck is wrong with me.” he hissed to himself, closing his tired eyes and pulling himself from the room, as much as he wanted to curl up on the bed with Harry.

***

Walking down the dormitory stairs, the first thing Draco noticed was that the common room wasn't as empty as it had been when he had first arrived. The second thing he noticed was the gathering of a few Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Among the gathered eight years, Seamus stood out, in particular, his stance aggressive and his weight shifted to one side in a way that was supposed to be intimidating. Draco noted that his boyfriend was nowhere to be seen and highly doubted that dean would approve of such a display.

“So Harry’s back then?” He asked pointedly.

Great. It was going to be like that. “Yes. Harry is back.”

“Where have you put him then?” some Hufflepuff called out.

“Harry is in his room, our room, asleep. If anyone goes up there I swear to Merlin I’ll-”

“-What will you do eh?” Seamus interrupted, “Force us to the point of suicide will you?”

Draco blink. “What? I didn’t - no I didn’t-”

“You can say all you like. We know who you are. What you are. Nothing can change that. You hated Harry all those years and now you’re so kind and caring. How bizarre. We know that it was something you did that made Harry try to off himself. He was with you last.”

Draco swallowed, his jaw clenching in anger and dread at that night, seeing Harry’s cold limp body and the pool of thick blood and those slit wrists and- he was going to be sick. “What is it then? Tell me all your conspiracies. What did I do?”

Seamus looked to those around him and then back at Draco, “You pretend to be kind to Harry just so that you can feel like you’ve done good by him. You just fake everything to trick us to make us believe that you’re actually good but it’s all a show. You’re still a death eater and you always will be. You’ll try anything to feel like you’ve put everything right. Well, I hate to break it to you but you can’t put it right.”

The group seemed to get closer to him and he was unable to tell whether they had actually moved or not. “We both know it was your fault.” Seamus hissed to him. Apparently, he had moved closer. It almost struck. Almost. Fist against almost flesh. Blood would have been spilled. Lips split. Eyes blackened. Muggle methods would have been more satisfying had it not been for-

“Seamus!” Dean burst through the portrait, “What on earth are you doing?” He came in with Hermione and Ron, swiftly followed by Blaise and Pansy. Draco took his chance and moved a step up, away from any immediate danger. The four came to stand with him and Dean took Seamus by the shoulder.

Ron stood in front of Draco, like he had done for Harry in some similar situation years ago, “Draco isn’t the reason Harry tried to kill himself,” the words were choked a little but it was clear enough, “Draco isn’t the reason that Harry is depressed, isn’t the reason he was in hospital for almost a week. Draco is the only reason that Harry is alive. If he hadn’t ‘of found him… Harry would be dead.” His voice cracked slightly, “So if anyone’s got a problem with Draco you can take it to McGonagall, if you’ve got a problem with him then obviously you hate the fact that it was Draco who saved Harry and none of you.”

The group of eight years seemed to shrink and the gathering dispersed, some walking past Draco up the stairs without giving any second glances, others staring him down every step of the way.

“Thanks,” Draco supplied once the room had died down a little more.

“Don’t mention it. Not to Harry. And you’re welcome.”

***

The next week came and went. Therapy came and went. Lessons came and Harry went- to a few of them. Time was a numb slur. A murky sludge. Harry sometimes got out of bed, sometimes ate, sometimes went to Hogsmeade, sometimes went to class, sometimes did homework. Most of the time though he stayed under the covers, warm, safe. He just didn’t… feel anything. Except for when Draco was around. He had good days and bad days. Days where he wanted to be alone and only Draco could make him see that he needed to be around people, around him. Days where he could laugh and get excited. But today was a bad day.

It was drawing to the end of October. Harry had been inconsolable in his room and, on a Saturday, it wasn’t a particularly good way to waste time. He had been alone, in the bay window, thinking about the turnings from Autumn into Winter and how snow would soon begin to fall. How the wind would be harsh and the rain like ice. And how it would feel to be flying, but he soon pushed those thoughts of flying away. He didn’t feel like he could hold himself on a broom, his sleepless nights and nightmares had taken away most of his energy and his lack of appetite hadn’t helped much either. It was then that Draco came into the room with some solace for his miserable state, at least he felt miserable, that was better than feeling nothing at all.

“Hey, Harry. How are you doing?” Draco grimaced at his own question, “Sorry that was a stupid thing to ask… I- I just wondered… if maybe you would want to play a Quidditch game with some other 8th years?” Really Draco had expected a refusal straight away so it took him by surprise when Harry asked:

“Who’s playing?”

Draco blinked, “Oh er… Me, Ron, Blaise, Millicent, a few others, just a casual game and I wanted you to be there.”

There was a long pause, Harry opened and closed his mouth several times obviously deciding on his participation when he said, “Okay.” and smiled. A bigger smile was reflected back to him as Draco held his hand out. The two left the room, left the castle, hand in hand, concealed under the flaps of their cloaks, concealed so that only they knew how much they needed each other, how much they relied on each other.

***

Harry’s broom felt light, as usual, under his broom, his cold feet were planted firmly onto the foot rests and his back was arched over the length of the broom. He looked up for the snitch and found that Malfoy was doing the same thing not too far away. In hopes of a different angle, Harry leaned forward and lowered in the air. The stands were practically empty at the beginning of the practice but as the game was dragged out more and more people had started to sit and wait for the inevitable end that was soon to happen. They had been up in the air for just over an hour now and in the late October air, Harry was quite happy to be going inside with a hot chocolate and resting by the fire in their common room.

That's when the bludger came crashing into the side of his head.

The shouts of his name had been inaudible and the wind picked up as if to blow him out of the way. But it came at him nonetheless. His grip on his broom slipped as he was knocked sideways and he was falling. The wind whipping past his ears and the breath forced from his lungs.

“Accio Broom!” Harry yelled and his broom came flying past him into his hand. It was too late.

“Draco! Don’t let me fall Draco!” he yelled as he clasped the air, tears falling from the crease of his eyes.

***

Draco had been watching the game, looking for the snitch, but also, he couldn't deny, at Harry.

Though the snitch was nowhere to be found, the game was just as lively as ever. The beaters were having a hard time keeping the Bludgers at bay whilst the quaffle was being so competitively thrown that it hardly even managed to get to the other side of the pitch to score, and when it did it almost always got knocked back out by the goalkeepers. The game all in all had been very good. For a practice. Then Harry fell.

Draco had been one of the first to see the bludger coming at him and he had tried to warn him but the bludger was too fast.

“Harry!” he yelled at the top of his lungs but he was falling. A weak attempt to Accio his broom had done nothing to help him and Draco had been flying over him, holding his hand out to try and clasp at something, anything! Then he heard Harry calling his name. And then he had hit the floor with a loud smack.

Draco pulled his broom up out of the dive and flew low to the ground going straight to Harry. He was terrifyingly still when Draco put his hands shakily on the other’s cheeks. Harry whimpered as he moved his bright green eyes to look at Draco's shiny silver eyes. Another tear escaped down the side of his cheek and Draco wiped it away. Harry began a startling sob and hitched his breath with the pain which only brought about more tears.
“Shhhh,” Draco told Harry, “I’m here, I’m here Harry.” Draco murmured. The others had come down from the pitch to hover around Harry and Draco giving them space of about two meters. Draco turned to them, “I'm taking him to Pomfrey” he said as he levitated Harry to hip height. All the others could do was nod as they apparently had no say in the matter. Draco flicked his wand to start sending Potter across the pitch when Hermione sent a Patronus to Madam Pomfrey and Headmistress McGonagall. The same otter as always scurried off as she went to get Harry's broom which had seen better days but was somehow miraculously still in one piece, the same could probably not be said for the owner of the broom.

The moment Harry had started to move, Harry grabbed onto the cuff of Draco’s sleeve. Pulling it as the spell dragged him back to the castle. Draco turned around surprised but quickly joined Harry, “I’m not leaving you don’t worry.” he reassured but it wasn’t enough as now Harry had his wrist. Somehow, as they went up the stairs to the entrance hall, the wrist seemed to slip to a hand and then Harry held on tightly, well as strong as he had the strength to do.

The other’s had followed in step behind the two and the corridors of students parted for them with just as shocked faces. The headmistress met them at the hospital wing where Draco put Harry down onto his assigned bed. Pomfrey had been there no less than three seconds before she was shooing people out of there. Draco hadn't even heard it until Hermione held his shoulders and started to pull him away.

“Come on Draco, we have to let him rest. He’s badly hurt.”

“I just got him out of the hospital and now he’s back again.” He whispered in disbelief.

She stared at their hands, the grip clasping his palm tightened weakly. A mumbled “Draco” was heard followed by; “ 'Mione where's Draco?”

All eyes scanned from Harry to Draco and he replied with a hushed “I’m here, how many times do you have to get injured and land in a hospital for you to realize that I’m not going anywhere?”

The next second Harry started to cry in pain to which Pomfrey attempted to give Harry some sort of potion to ease the pain but when he couldn't take it she looked to Draco absently for help. He was already there as he sat on the edge of the bed taking his hand once again. Pomfrey tried again and Harry gagged and almost spat it out when Draco's hand came over Harry's mouth holding it shut.

“You have to drink it, Harry. I- I’m sorry but you have to” he whispered, his voice catching as he held back something heavy on his chest. Harry looked him in the eyes and swallowed the drink, shivering slightly, as beads of sweat slowly ran down his temples. Draco took his other hand to Harry’s forehead lifting his hair up and wiping away the sweat when he didn’t even realize the others slowly leaving the room. Pomfrey and McGonagall stood at the side of the bed as Harry’s pain eased off. Pomfrey explained that in order to see the true damage he needed to perform some mandatory spells.

***

Harry’s mind kept switching on and off the way a camera lens might shift in and out of focus but as soon as Pomfrey cast a spell to presumably see his injuries he was painfully awake. A headache came on the back of his neck and seemed to open up the door of pain that he had been blissfully unaware of until now. He let out a long slow groan and took a sharp intake of breath. Harry clutched onto the bed sheet and dug his nails into something in the attempt to lessen the pain. He grit his teeth and the muscle in his jaw clenched as the rest of the noise was muffled by his closed mouth.

“Mr. Potter I have to say you are lucky to be alive.” Mrs. Pomfrey declared, “ You have bruised your lungs and spine thank gods with no permanent damage to either, but you have broken several ribs- nothing I can’t fix in a jiffy, you’ll be fine.”

To that Harry laughed still with his eyes closed, “of course I'll be fine, my big bum has taken the worst of it.” and he laughed again before coughing and wheezing.

“Well, at least it hasn’t damaged your sense of humor.” Draco chuckled trying to distract Harry from the pain. And it was then that Harry's smile faded a bit and a faint blush crawled up his neck and down the bridge of his nose. Harry opened his eyes and felt the weight of the gray piercing him but he couldn’t look away.

***

The night was long with the mix of potions Harry had been made to drink, Draco sat in a seat next to the bed, holding Harry’s hand and resting his head on the mattress. Some way through the night Harry rolled over into a deep sleep as he curled around Draco's head and hand.

***

The next day Harry woke to Draco holding his hand and looking at him with those warm ash eyes. He went to get a glass of water but Malfoy had already taken the pitcher to pour a glass.

“Thanks,” he said with a weak half smile that really wasn't a smile at all. He drunk the lot.

“More?” Draco asked looking at him through his hair.

Harry brought a hand to his neck as he nodded. On his third glass, Draco eradicated the awkwardness and did the only thing he knew.

“Gods Harry, leave some for me.” he chided.

They both looked up at each other and laughed before Harry started to cough up his lungs again, “damn Draco. Don’t make me laugh it hurts.” He wheezed.

Just then Madam Pomfrey waltzed in and told Harry that he was free to go for breakfast and that at least his bones hadn’t vanished completely this time otherwise he would have been in a lot longer. But when Draco and Harry walked into the breakfast hall together he wished his bones had been lost, that way he wouldn't have to deal with all the 8th years staring at him like he was a pig for slaughter.

Stumbling over to the table with Draco’s help, Harry sat opposite Ron and Hermione who were looking at him as if he had asked whether kneazles liked treacle tart or not.

Oblivious, as usual, he helped himself to some pumpkin juice and a slice of toast which he started picking at and was not really eating it at all. It was very quiet at the table and he looked up at his friends, drank some juice, then looked at them some more.

“What?” he asked.

“Harry James Potter!” Hermione started and Draco suppressed a smirk, “You can’t just exhaust yourself after being in a critical condition only a few weeks ago. Eat. Now. And I swear to Merlin if you don’t start looking after yourself I’ll force feed you and I’m not joking.”

Harry’s eyes went wide and he bit his lip, “Well then I guess I don’t have much choice do I?”

“No you don’t” Draco mumbled under a sly grin.

Harry broke out a quiet laugh and began to eat some porridge with its very much missed honey face, before eating he turned to Draco and saw the beginnings of a smile turn the corners of his lips, then he ate and everything was okay. They were okay. And that was fine by Draco.

Chapter Text

If there was one thing Harry was certain of it was that Hermione’s determination was not a force to be reckoned with. Which was why, when Hermione gave him food, he ate it without question even if it often was with muttered words and grumbles. It was also the reason that, after she had presented to McGonagall a list of over one-hundred reasons to incorporate some form of therapy for those students who needed it after the war and for other situations like Harry's, her new regime had begun within the next week and students were getting the much-needed therapy they deserved. Harry had been thrilled with the knowledge that he wouldn’t have to go back to St. Mungo's for his therapy. He was so tired of that hospital and the thought of going back for his second session was exhausting him to the point of not leaving his room. It was also the reason that, when planning the eighth year Halloween party with Pansy, she managed to persuade McGonagall to allow the eight years to have a sleepover in the shrieking shack and without her knowledge had arranged for several bottles of alcohol for them to drink.

With pansy by her side, Hermione seemed to be embracing her rebelliousness all the more. Maybe it was the exams, maybe it was just the stress of war not quite leaving, not quite being over that has pushed her into an almost carefree state.

 

***

 

Light stabbed through the window, searing behind Harry's eyes. Specks of dust and ashes floating softly through the beams. His eyes hurt. Another bad dream. The sorrow-filled sigh Harry released blew the dust away from him in circles. Everything hurt. Everything itched. Harry's droopy eyes fell to his wrist that he pulled from underneath his pillow and the blotchy marks of obvious scratches make him aware that he had been itching in the night. It was bad on the other arm, worse even, his wrist blotted with blood clots dispersed up and down the would-be-healed gash. Opening it up every now and then.

 

His head started to hurt, the nape of his neck aching deep into the bone and the piercing light sunning his eyes closed. The overwhelming feeling of emptiness forced Harry to bring his palms up to his eye sockets and hide away in the darkness he found there. He wanted to pull his hair out. Harry hated it when he felt helpless but for some reason, it was a constant cycle. Helplessness, self-hatred, pushing people away, Draco, help, feeling okay again, helplessness.

It was Draco. It's always been Draco.

Pushing up out of his bed, Harry walked to the window in his bear onesie, the third and least worn of the three he owned. Draco was still asleep with his back towards Harry and the top of his bare shoulder peeping above the covers, his blond hair fanned across his pillow. Harry dared not move the curtain in case he woke the other with the added light. It was far too early and not even the overcast sky could hide the early morning sun.

He didn't want a shower today, the harsh pelts on his back would not do anything to help his mood. It was Halloween. That in itself was enough explanation.

It wasn't a conscious decision that his mood should be lonely and desperate for warmth just because it was the anniversary of his parent’s death. It just happened. One more year of being alone. No family. No alive family at least. It was too much to bear. So, with passing thoughts of his loved ones and taking his pumpkin toiletries, he stumbled to the perfect bathroom with his uniform and towel hung over one elbow.

 

***

 

The steam was a blessing. Pumpkin spice filled the air and fragranced the bubbles. Harry began to undress, though, even with all the food Hermione had been piling up on him, he was still thin. His bottom ribs visible and his hipbones slightly jutting out. A delicate wrist held onto the bath side whilst a cautious foot toed the water. It was hot. Maybe too hot for some people but a numb coldness had started to soak into his bones along with the loneliness and this would do just the trick.

With a heavenly sigh, he sunk into the water neck deep. Some of the bubbles moved out of the way for him, some made a soft cloud for him to relax into and some got caught in the curls of his hair and the frames of his glasses. He had almost taken them off but, as an afterthought had not in case he found himself in the situation of not being able to find them again.

The smell was intoxicating and he lost track of time watching the mermaid brush her hair. The bubbles were disappearing when he felt a weight on his chest. The sweat from his temple mixed as it came down his face with the salt of quiet tears. They fell without emotion. Without anything at all. He felt nothing. The weight on his chest, it turned out, was the need of relief, the want of releasing emotions. But it was too exhausting to even think about. The need to gasp and sob was there but the need didn’t, couldn’t relieve itself. The need to feel was painfully numbing and soon enough he didn't care that he needed to cry. He just sat there as the bubbles dissolved. His eyes were burning again and I was with great strain that he heaved himself from the cooling water and dressed once more. He thought for a second, as he looked in the mirror, what a green and silver tie would look like in place of his red and gold. What it would have been like to go with Slytherin and not judge an entire house on a few lone people. Then he pushed the thoughts away. The thoughts of being Draco's friend from the start. From being his roommate. From being his everything. And he left the bathroom.

 

***

 

Upon returning to the bedroom, Harry realized that he had been in the bath for quite some time. Draco was no longer in bed. He was nowhere in sight.

Harry left his things in his trunk and retrieved his bag before turning to go to the hall for breakfast. Draco could find him later.

 

***

 

"Hermione I don't know where he is. I'm telling you I've looked everywhere. He's not in the shower or the astronomy tower or in the common room or in other dorms-" he splattered, worry tearing at his face and twisting into a snarl.

The hall was busy and they were sat at the eighth year table.

Hermione rolled her eyes though not without her own worry splayed across her face, "he'll be fine," she said unsurely.

Draco scanned the room and the entrance when suddenly black hair and green eyes met him. Draco's snarl slipped easily into relief at the sight of him and he jumped from his seat walking and meeting Harry halfway.

Harry's empty expression and red eyes, never meeting his gaze, set Draco on edge, "Harry?" He began tentatively, "Harry what's wrong?" He asked sweetly, his hands on either side of Harry's shoulders. When the black-haired boy did not look at him Draco brushed one hand to cup the boy's back and the other to lift his chin, a faint blush painted on the tanned cheekbones.

"Hey," Draco whispered, searching Harry's eyes, his gaze flitting between the two green globes. He leaned back only slightly as if to take in all of Harry then drew close again, lifting his thumb up to rest by the smaller boy's ear.

 

Harry felt the warmth of Draco’s hand and he became drunk on the feeling of being held. Unconsciously he stepped closer to the blonde. Draco’s arm slipped easily around the smaller boy as he came closer and he urged Harry to rest his head on his shoulder, which of course Harry had no objection to. Small raspy breaths tickled Draco’s neck and he pushed his hand soothingly into the black curls. Harry was completely oblivious to the entire hall staring at them, Draco had, in fact, noticed the attention but he couldn’t care less what they all thought. Harry needed him and Draco would always be there for however long he was needed.

“Come on bunny,” he whispered, “let’s go eat.” And Draco pulled Harry over to the table, never letting him go and never letting him notice the rude gawking of the room.

The noise of conversation and mutterings started to fill the room once the boy’s had sat down and their year all looked at them with knowing glances. Knowing what though Draco didn’t understand. He didn’t like to be in the dark with people knowing things he didn’t He couldn’t understand what they were all looking at. They all stared as Draco filled two glasses of pumpkin juice, filled Harry’s plate with sausages, beans, toast, eggs, all whilst keeping one arm around Harry’s waist. Seriously Draco didn’t know what was so interesting to watch. The two boys were the only ones really eating at their table. Harry kept his head down, cutting up all his food and then stabbing it wearily with his fork and taking his time. Draco, arm still around Harry, ate slow spoons of his oats and fruit with worried glances at Harry every few seconds.

Across the table, Dean elbowed Seamus. “What?” he mouthed. Dean just gave him a look and then inclined his head to Harry and Draco. Seamus went paler and receded, shrinking into his boyfriend’s side which only got him a second elbowing.

Seamus cleared his throat, “Umm Draco,” the name sounding strange on his tongue breaking the quiet and sounding far too loud even though he was talking at a reasonable volume. Harry and Draco both looked at him expectantly and with a little surprise at the use of his first name. “I - I just wanted to apologize for the other week, I was wrong. Again. And I’m trying to get over my prejudices so I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you.” Seamus gave a sheepish look to Dean who smiled at him and then turned back to face Harry and Draco. The former with a look of confusion on his face.

“What did you say to him? Harry asked.

“I forgive you,” Draco said at the same time.

They both looked to each other. “What did he say to you?”

Draco swallowed a blackberry, “It’s fine Harry he didn’t say anything.” he avoided his pointed gaze and tiredly stirred his oats.

“I said that Draco was the reason you were in the hospital and that he hadn’t changed. That he was only looking for a way to make everyone think he was a good person and that was the only reason for being your friend.” Seamus donned a guilty expression as Harry dropped his fork and it clattered on his plate.

Tears burned underneath his eyelids and his throat felt like sandpaper, “There are several reasons why I was in St. Mungo’s and you’re right Draco is one of them. I was in there because he found me and made sure I didn’t die so unless you wanted me to never go there then... “ Harry stabbed his food viciously and was very aware of the tightening grip on his side. “I did what I did because of-of things that happened to me. Things that made me want to die, made me believe I was a whore and a piece of trash to be tossed around. I had no childhood and I certainly had no life in the summer holidays.” Tears slipped from Harry’s eye but his voice remained even, “My childhood was so fucking miserable that I- I … I tried to… you don’t have a fucking clue.” The jugs of juice had risen into the air slightly and Hermione gave them wary looks before they fell back on the table, splashing juice in places. Harry took a breath in and let it out in shudders.

“I’m so sorry Harry” Seamus whispered.

“Yes well, maybe next time you’re quick to judge you’ll keep it to yourself.” Harry mumbled, “Just don’t talk about it, Draco is my… friend. If you have a problem with him you can go and tell McGonagall because I’m done hearing bad things about him.”

The group ate in silence until Hermione said something about Harry’s puffy eyes and why he was sad.

“Harry, I know that it’s… Halloween… and well it must be diffi-”

“Don’t Hermione” Harry’s voice cracked, “Please I can’t. Talk about anything you want today but just not them.”

Hermione nodded and finished her breakfast. So that was why Harry had looked so empty this morning, Draco thought, of course, it was all on Halloween.

Eventually, they all left the Hall to go to their first lesson, for Harry it was potions.

 

***

 

“Today we’re going to be brewing a potion that you probably attempted during your fifth year, nevertheless,” Slughorn explained, “It is still an advanced potion and therefore one you must be able to produce. Now, should your brew be less than acceptable the results will be disastrous so follow the instructions carefully. You have two hours the recipe can be found on page 50 of your books.”

Harry flipped to page 50 of Magical Drafts and Potions where the instructions for Draught of Peace could be found and left Draco setting up the apparatus to retrieve the ingredients. The store cupboard wasn’t that busy with the class being so small so no longer that Harry had left he returned with everything.

Then they begun. “Powdered moonstone, Powdered porcupine quills, powdered unicorn horn, syrup of hellebore,” Harry checked off.

Indeed the potion was very complex as they soon found out, other pairs managed to create green sparks emitting from their brew which definitely wasn’t supposed to happen, others had created a potion so thick it set like cement in the cauldron and there were few brews that were close to perfection, emitting a dark gray steam instead of the silvery vapour as expected. However, through the many steps, vigorous stirring, and the constant colour change of the potion that was hard to keep track of, Harry and Draco managed to create something that resembled the desired brew. It shimmered a faint silver vapour and the liquid was a turquoise blue. It wasn’t a surprise, working with Draco, that when Slughorn tested their potion it was deemed perfect. What was surprising was their reward was to keep and use their brew for themselves.

Harry had enjoyed the lesson. The difficulty of the potion was a welcome distraction from everything else that was racing through his mind. Every time he read out an instruction to Draco even though the blonde probably knew the brew by heart, made Harry feel like he was worthwhile like Draco needed his help. Every time he took the reins and got something wrong, instead of laughing at him or getting mad at him, Draco simply stood closer to him and showed him what to do sometimes using Harry’s hand and directing it which made his chest flutter in strange places like it had never done before. And it was all worth it for the look Draco gave him when they had done, the look of awe like Draco was proud of him. It lit him up and left him glowing and he couldn’t help but smile a toothy grin.

Draco definitely didn’t get butterflies every time Harry slipped up and gave cute sheepish looks at Draco for help, he definitely didn’t get a feeling of adoration for the smaller one when they had produced a perfect potion together and it would be ridiculous to think that his heart started to pound and hammer at his ribcage when he saw those two dimples on Harry’s cheeks and those beautiful lips spread into a cheeky grin. Absolutely ridiculous.

 

***

“You should use it you know”

“Hmm?” Harry asked, breaking from his reverie. They were in the common room by the fire for their free periods after lunch. Instead of the usual armchair Harry resided in, the two had taken the sofa next to it, Draco sat at one end with his feet resting on the coffee table and Harry splayed across the length of the sofa with his head nestled in the small ‘v’ created by Draco’s slightly raised knees.

Draco’s hand brushed through his curls whilst the other rested on the boy’s chest, “The potion, it would take away your anxiety for tonight. I know you don’t feel great about going to the feast but this could help you.”

Harry turned his head slightly towards Draco, his glasses smashing against his face awkwardly, “Are you sure? What about you? Wouldn’t you like to use it?”

Draco took his eyes from the fire and fell into emeralds, “I am quite sure.” he whispered with a smile.

And sure enough, when the time for the feast came about, Harry drank the potion and rid himself of all his anxiety, grabbed Draco’s hand and left the dorms. Harry never ever felt so light. He managed to eat quite a bit without being pushed and he engaged in conversation with everyone at the table despite keeping mainly to himself this morning. And when the time came to go to the Shrieking Shack, he was so carefree that he even offered to collect the alcohol.

Draco felt like he was in the background, watching Harry but never being with him. He was happy that Harry was relaxed and was enjoying tonight instead of being miserable but he was sad that he had needed the potion for it. Maybe one day it would come naturally Draco hoped. And he hoped that he would be there to see it when it did.

 

***

 

They were on the way to the shack.

Blaize was talking to Ron about chess and Hermione and Pansy were whispering to each other, though slightly more conspicuously than usual. Neville had decided not to join them, instead he had gone with Ginny and Luna for the sixth and seventh years party then the lucky bastard was no doubt going to enjoy the empty eighth-year common room. All night. Theo walked on his own. He kept mostly to himself these days what with Blaise finding new chess competitors and Pansy with her girlfriend. And Draco with… Potter. Merlin only knew what was going on with them. It was times like this, Theo thought, that he would truly appreciate Greg coming back to school, then he would have someone to talk to. Greg had his reasons, as did everyone else who didn’t return. Millicent walked with Justin and she found that when he was done being an arsehole he could hold a decent conversation about the latest topics in the muggle world and she found it interesting to learn more about the world of which she was encouraged to hate. Dean and Seamus were, as ever, not so subtly groping each other’s arses and biting each other’s lips and necks. How Draco envied them. They had what they wanted and they could flaunt that they had it without anyone else’s opinion surfacing or without worrying of rejection. Yes, Draco envied them very much.

Come to think of it, there weren’t many eight years at all.

“Right,” Seamus said, turning around and smacking Dean’s eager hand away gently, “Harry, you go get the drinks,” he smirked, “Draco can go with you if you want, everyone else- let’s go.”

Harry watched them leave and then turned to Draco smiling a little breathlessly, “If I want.” the corners of his mouth twitched and he looked down to their hands, “Come on then,” he whispered looking up through his lashes and damn did it do things to the blonde.

 

***

 

“Yep, didn’t think about that.” Harry sighed rubbing his wrists.

“Well, I did tell you that I’d carry the crate but you insisted.” Draco chided, hiding his smirk.

Harry pouted, folding his arms.

Draco righted the crate on a bench and gathered the few, thankfully unsmashed, bottles that had rolled away on the floor. Then he walked over to Harry and took his wrists, inspecting them. “Are you okay?” he asked at a murmur. The dark-haired boy nodded and watched intently as soft pale thumbs smoothed his skin. “You’re lucky it didn’t open up again,” his voice was strained, “I don’t think… I wouldn’t be able… I-” he took a deep breath, unconsciously bringing the hands to his face. Harry stroked his rosy cheek and ran his callused fingers down his neck.

“It’s okay,” Harry reassured, “Let’s go”

Painful, that's what it was. To love someone and not have them was one thing but for them to be openly... affectionate... and still not have them was another. Draco carried the crate with Harry by his side as they made their way to the shack and by the time they had reached the main room, the party had already started.

House elves had brought food from the kitchens and the room had been transfigured so that the tables were stable enough to hold the mountains of sweets and cauldron cakes, pastries and lollipops. The room, instead of actually being decrepit and mouldy, had been transfigured so that muggle looking decorations hung from the walls and ceiling, the layers of dust had been swept away and replaced with cushions and blankets. Bat decorations and floating mini ghosts hovered in the air and chased each other around the room. A few levitating candles and dim Lumos’ lit the room. Upon the arrival of alcohol, everyone abandoned the food and seating and grabbed themselves a small bottle of Ogden's, to begin with.

Everyone had been keeping to themselves, the golden trio unusually split, and the alcohol was definitely helping everyone get more comfortable with each other. Harry and Draco were at the corner of the room drinking away their frustrations.

“I need something stronger,” Draco muttered, peering down the neck of his bottle.

Harry chuckled, “Tell me about it,”

After more peering, Draco sighed, “How did this happen? You and me?”

“What do you mean?” Harry's eyebrows creased and relaxed as he took another swig of his drink.

Draco drained the last of his, “How did we become… friends after everything that happened between us?”

“I thought we already covered the fact that I’m over it, we were kids. We didn’t have the greatest of childhoods you and me so can you really blame us for acting the way we did? Look about us being friends…”

Harry didn’t know what he was doing. Was he about to ruin their friendship completely? He had the right to ask…

“What?” Draco whispered with fear slapped on his face.

It was now or never, “Well I’ve been wanting to ask you… well, I want to-”

“Everyone!” Seamus shouted. Great. “It’s that time of evening when the games begin! Gather round.”

Harry gripped his bottle tightly, maybe it would have been a mistake. He threw back the last of his drink and stood up above Draco who seemed to have forgotten what Harry was going to say. “Aren’t you coming?”

Draco gave him a wary look, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? I remember the last time we played party games didn’t end too well. You’ll regret it once that potion wears off.”

Harry waved his hand nonchalantly, “I want to have some fun and I need more alcohol. I don’t care anymore what anyone thinks of me. I’m passed the point of giving a fuck. And that potion wore off a couple of hours ago.”

The blonde receded further into the back of the chair.

“Malfoy.” Harry urged, lifting the other’s chin with his fingers. “Come on.”
Draco blinked then nodded, standing up with Harry to join the others in the circle of cushions on the floor. Harry sat down on a plush green cushion with Draco to his right when Seamus chirped up again.

“So, now that we have everyone we’re going to play a game. It’s very easy and it’s a bit like never have I ever but without the drinks.”

Draco mumbled to Harry, “This game already sounds bad. No drinks, what will we do?” The dark-haired boy snickered.

Seamus pushed away the many complaints from the lack of beverages in the game, “Now, we are going to play “the lap game” I’m going to ask questions or someone else can I don’t mind. This is where it’s like never have I ever because if you can say yes to the question you move to the seat on your left but if you can’t say yes to the question you remain in your place. If you see the slight “problem” here you’ll notice that if the person next to you says yes and you say no then you’ll have a resident on your lap until you can say yes to a question they can’t. Everyone understand? Good. The first person to be back at their original seat, whether sat on their own or on a lap or two, wins. Let’s play.” He smiled a mischievous grin.

They all looked at one another around the circle. Seamus was opposite Harry and gave him a small wink as he asked the first question. Ron was to the left of Harry followed by Blaise, Justin, Seamus, Dean, Millicent, Theo, Pansy, Hermione and lastly; Draco. “Have you ever…copied homework?”

Harry bit his lip, “Does it count if you changed it a bit?”

Hermione huffed, “Harry Potter you move right now. You too Ron.”

Harry sat in Ron’s vacated seat as the ginger blushed and got comfy on Blaise’s lap. Justin sat in Seamus’ lap as apparently, he had only ever gotten help from Dean. Pansy smirked and sat down elegantly into her girlfriend’s lap.

“Pansy!” Hermione chided.

Blaise laughed over Ron’s shoulder, making the other blush even more, “Pansy you liar, you just want to sit on her! How uncouth.” he snickered.

Pansy huffed and moved back and muttered something about Blaise being the uncouth one.

Dean began to talk but Harry interrupted, “Had you heard of a blanket fort before eight years?” He asked the group, looking at Draco from the corner of his eye. Blaise tapped Ron’s side so he could move across to the seat on his left. Millicent and Theo both moved across and Pansy sat down rightfully on Hermione’s warm thighs. Draco smirked and took Harry’s original seat, making sure that he was close to the dark-haired boy.

“Have you ever flown a broom drunk?” Seamus sat on Dean leaving Justin in his seat. Ron sat on Blaise, Harry sat in Ron’s seat and Draco moved too. Dean wrapped his arms around the smaller boy in his lap and whispered something in his ear.

“Have you ever flown a broom naked?” He asked. Nobody moved, “Oh you’re all boring.” Dean whined.

Pansy broke from her quiet conversation with Hermione to ask, “Have you ever been kicked out of a bar?”

Draco was the only person who moved which just drew more attention to the fact that he was now sat on Harry’s lap. Harry, although slightly smaller than Draco, seemed to engulf him, his arms wrapping around the other’s waist, his chin resting on Draco’s shoulder. The blonde smelled of mint and apples and he was noticeably tense in Harry’s grasp until he whispered, “relax, I’ve got you,” in his ear. Then the blonde sunk back slightly into Harry’s touch. The two were so involved with themselves that they didn’t even notice when all of a sudden Justin was sat in Dean’s lap with Seamus next to them. Millicent, Theo, Pansy, and Hermione had all moved up one and the next question was being asked.

“Have you ever gone skinny dipping in the lake?” Pansy sat in the seat next to her albeit making everyone fully aware of how pissed she was about leaving the warm cushions for thighs that her girlfriend owned.

Harry leaned forward into Draco’s neck, “Aw, Draco, you’ve never been naughty and gone for a bit of risky swimming?”

The words went right through him as he tried to control a shiver, “You wish,” The only reply he got was a puff of hot air against his neck which he definitely didn’t lean into.

Dean sighed, “Well, this is boring, I haven’t moved yet.”

Seamus turned to him with a soft pout, “have you ever received a love note or poem?” He asked sweetly.

The other smiled and leaped from underneath Justin, “Yeah and don’t you know it,” He was about to sit on his boyfriend when he moved too and then he sighed again with a longing look to his left. Millicent sat on Theo and Hermione sat on Pansy. Harry was the last one to move and he missed the seething look of jealousy that Draco gave him as Ron made room to accommodate him.

Millicent caught it though, “What’s that look for Draco? Have you ever given someone a love note or poem?”

Then the blonde blushed. Ron moved to sit next to Blaise which left Harry sat in Blaise’s lap. Dean and Seamus both moved, both with looks of longing at each other’s laps. Draco once again sat in Harry’s lap.

Pansy leaned from behind Hermione, “No. Way! You would never!”

Draco blushed more, “When?” Pansy demanded.

Draco merely shook his head and hid behind his hair.

“I will find out! Don’t test me!” Pansy warned but the game soon continued.

More questions were asked and more people moved. Draco continued to give jealous looks at Harry whenever he sat in someone else’s lap and when, somehow, Draco managed to get his golden boy in his own lap, something within him took control and didn’t go unnoticed by the others in the group. Draco possessively held Harry and clung to him like he would lose him if he didn’t. Every now and then his thumbs brushed Harry’s scars and stroked his palms. Every now and then he took a deep breath of Harry’s hair and memorized the scent of pumpkins, and every now and then he would purposefully ask questions so that he and Harry would be closer together. More than often Hermione noticed these things and more than often they whispered to each other about the next game they would play. That was until Theo sat back in his original seat and won the game.

Ron sat up from Blaise and walked over to the table of food, “Can we play a game with alcohol now? I’m too sober for truth or dare just yet.”

Seamus ran to retrieve the bottle of Ogden's and returned to his seat eagerly. “Right, so we don’t have any veritaserum but I’m sure we can all be honest yeah?” With nods from everyone in the circle, Seamus passed around the drinks.

“I’ll go first,” Pansy offered, “Draco. Truth or-”

“Dare.” He said firmly

“Tsk. You’re no fun. Okay then. Uhh… let me write something on your forehead that will only go away once the sleepover is finished.”

Draco sighed, “How plain of you. Very well.”

The girl grinned and crawled over to the blonde with her wand at the ready. She seemed to think of something for a while and then began to cast the spell. Harry watched his forehead, turning pale and gulping as Pansy retreated back. The circle of friends were giggling like children when Draco scowled.

“What?” He turned to Harry sharply, “What did she do?”

Without even thinking, Harry’s hand had come to rest on Draco’s left cheek and his thumbs dragged over the writing softly. His forehead had been marked with a lightning bolt on the left and the word “Potter’s” next to it. The image made his mouth dry and suddenly the room went quiet. Draco stared into those green eyes and begged for an answer. But no answer was given and Harry looked away, not before quickly glancing at the other’s pink questioning lips for a second or two.

Somehow he was glad that he hadn’t asked Draco for something more earlier. For something other than friendship. He didn’t even know what these feelings were, he’d never really been loved as a child so how could he possibly label his feelings towards Draco as something so strong. He would have been rejected anyway.

“Harry truth or dare?”

“Truth he whispered.”

Draco watched him intently, so many questions he wanted to ask, “What does it say on my forehead?”

Harry hid behind his hands, “It says “Potter’s” next to a lightning bolt.”

The blonde smiled, “Well Pansy, you certainly are plain. I would have expected a dick drawing at least, I’m disappointed. Why are you hiding Harry? It’s the truth, isn’t it? I- I am yours. I’ll always be yours, I’ll always be here for you. I know I wasn’t before but I am now. I’m your’s.”

I wish. Harry looked up and plastered a smile on his face, “I know.”

“Right well…” Millicent said, “Ron, truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Have you ever thought about going with… a guy?”

“Merlin how is it not obvious. Yes, I have thought about that- a lot. I did have a crush on Krum for a while if you all recall… I really don’t know how it’s not obvious that I’m bi.”

Next to him, Blaise laughed. Nobody else seemed surprised other than Millicent.

Drinks went around. More questions were asked.

“Seamus! Truth o’ dare?”

“Truth.” his Irish accent slurred.

“List 10 places that Dean loves to kiss on your body.”

“Easy. My lips obviously, my neck and behind my ears, my nipples, he loves to get ‘em nice and wet, he loves to kiss me stomach ‘cos I’ve got a tiny belly and it’s not as flat as his but he finds it cute so he kisses my belly button too and he kisses my ankles. There’s this lil’ place on my thigh,” He spread his legs and pointed to his inner thigh right next to his dick, “Yeah he loves to kiss me there and put my legs over his shoulders whilst he kisses my arsehole especially with that skilled little tongue of yours and my cock. Yeah, you love kissing that don’t you. I love it too.”

Justin sighed, “really didn’t need a pornographic novel,”

Dean smirked, “It’s not his fault the horny girls asked. Damn you have a filthy mouth when you get a little drunk.”

Seamus frowned, “I have a dirty mouth all the time babe. Anyway, I thought you like it when I talk like that… and worse.”

“There’s worse?” Theo asked exasperatedly.

“Oh don’t get me wrong,” Dean continued, ignoring the comment, “I do. Very much so. It’s just we can’t be alone tonight and I might get needy.”

Seamus giggled, “No might about it.”

“Harry. Truth or dare?”

“I’ll go for dare seen as you’re all boring.”

Seamus laughed, “Kiss Justin.”

Harry and Draco both exclaimed “what?!” at the same time.

“You heard me. Kiss Justin.”

“What if I don’t want to.”

“A dare’s a dare.”

“I like how I don’t get a say in this.” Justin chimed in.

“Well, Harry, if you don't want to kiss Justin, then how about I choose someone else… say Draco for instance.”

Harry went pale and didn’t answer.

“Well?”

The dark-haired boy gulped and suddenly seemed very small.

As much as Draco wanted to, he was seething, “You really have no idea, do you? The things Harry’s been forced to do. By his own cousin. Imagine the worst and then go ten steps beyond that. Harry you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to -”

“It’s fine. I- I’ve never. I-” he took a deep breath in and tried to ignore everyone staring at him.

Hermione spoke up, “Harry. Draco’s right you don’t have to do anything. Especially not after what happened to -”

“Just. Fucking. Say. It.” Harry hissed, “Rape. I was raped. Every time you skirt around it… act like it never happened… It was rape Hermione and I’d rather you all know now that avoid the topic. It’s just a kiss. I’m not being forced to do it because this is a game. Last time I checked, I wasn't being locked in a room full of people who wanted to use me, it’s just a game and I can do what I want. So I’ll do the fucking dare. As a matter of fact I’ve never been kissed before by a guy so I’m sorry if I’m shit.”

The circle was filled with shocked and repulsed faces.

And then a hand was on his cheek. “You won’t be shit.” was the last thing he heard before soft hesitant lips gently brushed Harry’s. His neck was bent at an awkward angle so he twisted his body to face Draco’s, unsure of where to put his hands. Eventually Draco pulled them up to his neck and Harry instinctively ran them through silky hair. The distance between their knees was uncomfortable so Draco lifted the smaller boy under his thighs and pulled him to sit on his lap. Harry pulled away but didn’t open his eyes and Draco begged entrance by dragging the tip of his tongue over Harry’s bottom lip. A tiny gasp escaped him and Draco used it to push his tongue gently into the heat of the other’s mouth. This was bliss. This wasn’t perfect but nothing ever was with the two of them. Draco wasn’t sure whether a slight moan had slipped from him or not but he didn’t care. Harry wrapped his legs around the other’s waist and they pressed their lips harder together. They were careful and oh so gentle with each other but merlin did they need and want. Teeth clacked and the kiss became slightly messier as Draco slipped a slender hand underneath the smaller one’s red jumper.

Harry had never imagined the touch of someone else to feel so good but it did and he couldn’t get enough. It was addictive and he was high on the feeling of being warm after years of cold touches. It was relief and he choked a cry as he drew even closer to the blonde, tugging mercilessly on his hair. Draco had never believed that this could happen and he was grateful for every shit thing in his life for allowing him this moment, grateful for every bad thing that had happened and was going to happen for giving him a break and some sweet thing in his life. How did he ever deserve this moment right now.

Draco was so caught up in the kiss that he didn’t realise he had been whispering, “Your’s, your’s” at every second for breath. Draco tasted the saltiness of tears and he groaned. Nothing could ruin this. It was only him and Harry. But it couldn’t be like that, Harry would never be his. Never. And it would only be more painful when he had to break it up. So he ended it. He pulled away. Harry’s lips still clinging to his, his breath puffing against his nose. Green eyes that he had to avoid. Tears that he had to pretend weren’t there. And that noise. That begging for them to come together again, to be together again. The noise of want and the begging not to be lonely. He pretended he didn’t understand that noise and he pretended he didn’t hear it.

Harry drew back and walked to the table to drink. The ringing in his ears filled drowned out the silence of the room.

“Wow.” Someone said.

“Game over then.” Another nameless voice.

“Bed?” Hermione probably.

“I think that would be best.” No that was Hermione.

“Everyone get in your pj’s then. Me and Justin will get the sleeping bags.”

“Harry?”

“Harry you need to stop drinking that.”

“Leave him.” Draco. Or was it Ron? The drink was getting to him.

“Where’s my bunny onesie?” Harry slurred.

“Here.”

Everyone changed. Sleeping bags were laid out. The lights were spelled dim. The rain started.

Harry tried to wrap himself up more in his onesie. The Shrieking Shack was freezing. Rain battered against the window and the full moon hid behind some clouds. Harry turned over in his sleeping bag and faced the blonde boy who was about a meter across from him. His eyes closed and his breathing too heavy to be asleep. He looked peaceful though his mind was probably racing.

Feeling eyes gaze at him, Draco lifted his eyelids and met green globes. They watched each other. Their breathing, their dilating pupils.

“Can’t sleep?” Draco whispered to Harry.

The boy just shook his head.

“Nightmare?”

Again, another shake, “Cold.”

Draco smiled, “Warming charm perhaps?” he stated sarcastically.

Harry just laid there unmoving. Watching.

Draco sighed and closed his eyes again but when the sounds of rustling sleeping bags made his aware of Harry even more, he reached for his wand. He did not however cast a warming charm. Instead he made the sleeping bag bigger and unzipped part of it. Holding it open with his eyes still closed, waiting. A warmth engulfed him. It clung to him as he zipped up the side again. Fluffy skin hugged his torso and a leg swung over his hips. All ha could do was embrace it. So he held on. Held on for dear life. No matter how much he couldn’t have the healing potion, he took it anyway, because without it, he would die.

The night watched over them as they held each other, warm breaths sticking to each other’s necks and hands clutching at each other’s backs. Nothing was ever simple. Nothing was ever easy. And tomorrow would be just like any other day.

Chapter Text

Slytherins were early risers, at least some of them were. Draco was most certainly not an early riser. Mornings were the enemy and could only be saved by a cup of earl grey or, on the worst days, a strong cup of coffee. Fortunately, Draco wasn’t the Slytherin that was awake.

Theo knew that coffee would be required today. Last night’s little revelation had made that clear. Now everyone knew that something must be going on between Potter and Draco whether the boys knew it themselves or not. They wanted each other that much was clear. The remaining question plaguing everyone's minds though had been; why restrain your love?

Theo certainly knew that if someone loved him he would search them out and try to understand why they could ever love someone like him. If someone loved Theo he would make sure that he didn’t throw it away. Love was precious. Love was rare.

The Shrieking Shack swayed as he rolled up his sleeping bag. Why they couldn’t have conjured up some more comfortable beds was beyond him. The others were asleep as far as he could tell; Pansy draped on top of Hermione with interlocking hands and curls fanning around them, Millicent sound asleep as if like the muggle Aurora that was cursed by that witch hundreds of years ago, Justin with his hair sticking up in every place and a soft snore escaping his lips every few seconds even though his boisterous demeanour during the day would have you inclined to believe that he would snore like a bear, Dean and Seamus slipping into something that could be described as half awake and half asleep as they rolled over slightly so that the blonde was now on top of the other. Deans knees parted, tenting the sleeping bag as Seamus slowly and quietly disappeared from sight leaving the silent whimpers, parted mouth and closed eyes the only indication of what was going on down there. He must say, thumbs up to Dean for keeping quiet and extra thumbs up to Seamus for not making obscene gagging noises or wet spit sounds that surely would have woken everyone currently asleep. And he guessed thumbs up to both of them for keeping it in their pants for one night. Blaise, who he had noticed going back to his facade of sleep at the sound of Theo, tried to keep his eyes closed under Theo’s gaze, not long after the slender boy had “turned away” though, he was back to watching the only ginger in the room under half-closed eyelids. Said ginger was rather beautiful when asleep he thought, not that he had any interest in him, it was merely an objective statement. Ron’s freckles stood out boldly against his pale skin and his hair curled this way and that after a good night’s sleep. The mouth closed as pale hands rubbed his eyes and fell back on the pillow.

Theo wasn’t surprised to see that at some point through the night Harry had joined Draco’s sleeping bag. He wondered if the two always slept with each other for comfort, the same way he wondered why they didn’t have the courage to just open up to each other. It was clear Draco loved him as his near-daily rant about him in their lower years of Hogwarts had faded. Instead, he had just watched from afar now it was obvious that the watching was more longing. Draco wasn’t an idiot either, Theo thought, he probably knew his feelings very well and was afraid of them afraid of rejection like that first time. He had never lived it down so obviously a second rejection would be worse. He wasn’t an idiot no but he was blind to how scared Harry was. If everything Theo knew added up right then he would guess that the black-haired boy willingly let those other men use him just to replace what his cousin had done to him and that was the saddest thing of all. The fact that Harry felt like a useless waste of space if he wasn’t being raped. Maybe Theo was wrong on that part, maybe it wasn’t like that at all but it was sad nonetheless. Men picking him up and dumping him whenever they felt like it just because he was the chosen one. Just to boast to their friends that they’d had a piece of him. Well, they were wrong, this boy clearly hadn’t given anything to them; his heart was whole but fractured and he had given it to Draco, put it in his newfound caring hands to fix. Piece by piece.

Don’t leave him Draco. It would ruin him now.

He didn’t know why he thought it, of course, the blonde wouldn’t leave him. Not forever. It was like there was a string attaching them to each other.

Draco’s nose was nestled in the crook of Harry’s neck, his lips parted and his hands wrapped around the fur waist of Harry’s onesie. The tanned boy had his hands through the silky hair cradling the other’s head and neck. They were both asleep.

A small gasp drew his eyes away and he raised an eyebrow at the bundle of boys. Dean was smiling lazily as Seamus resurfaced with rosy cheeks and wild hair.

“Goodmorning” The blonde whispered against Dean’s lips and he smiled even more.

“Goodmorning my beautiful boy.” He kissed the other languidly, “I can taste it.” He groaned slightly as he whispered and bit the blonde’s lower lip, “You are so beautiful I shall have to take my pencil to paper and draw those luscious curves of your arse and define the beauty that is the cock you own; fully hard and lea-”

“Yes I’m sure we’d all just love to see that illustration,” Theo yawned with a smirk.

The two boys blushed and Seamus buried his head into Dean’s shoulder after whispering in his ear, “What a pervert; watching us. Take your pencil and make whatever use of it you want to in our room tonight.”

Theo promptly walked away when Dean groped the other’s arse.

He made himself some tea and walked outside the shack whilst casting a warming charm on himself.

 

***

 

The forest was calm in the early morning dew. He sat on a tree stump and sipped his tea trying to get the thought out of his head that his friends had changed. The people he cared about most had other things to worry about than him and their problems were far greater than his. They didn’t understand when he needed them anymore and he didn’t know who would be there for him and who wouldn’t leave him.

He wanted his mother. She would know what to do.

By the time he had finished his tea his friends had come down from the shack and he had decided to visit the Thestrals.

“Theo are you okay?”

He looked up to see Draco and Millicent crouched next to him in their school robes. The girl brushing away a tear gently from his cheek.

“I just think I need some time with the Thestrals today,” he managed to whisper, “Can you tell the professors-”

“Yes, we’ll tell them,” Draco reassured.
“Theo… you can always talk to us. We’ll always be here and so will Madam Pomfrey…. Hermione’s managed to push through with that new regime so... “

“Thanks but… I think I just need to be with them at the minute,” He vanished the teacup and set off down a side trail to where the Thestrals were.

 

***

 

The other’s headed down to the castle and went up to their common where they found Neville sat alone on the big couch in front of the fire.

Harry smirked, “Hey Nev… where are the two lucky ladies?”

The other boy just stared blankly into the fire.

“Are you that insatiable to the point where you’re grumpy?” Harry laughed.

“Harry. Stop.”

The sudden change in mood made Harry’s smile fade, “Nev, what happened?”

“I- I think I’m gonna go down to the greenhouses. Don’t follow me,” He dismissed and left the common room in a hurry.

The rest of the year watched him leave, “What’s wrong with Neville, Harry?”

“He didn’t say.”

 

***

 

The Thestrals weren’t alone.

“Hello, Theo.” Her soft voice welcomed.

“Hello, Luna.”

“I didn’t know you could see Thestrals.” She murmured.

He swallowed, “My mother…”

Her eyes met his, “I’m sorry. My mother died when I was nine. I think about her sometimes.” She looked back to the apple in her hands, “Of course there was the war so a lot of people can see them now.”

Theo walked over to one of the skeletal horses and stroked it, “I don’t usually come here. Not regularly at least but every now and then.”
There was an awkward silence as another apple fell to the floor and was eaten.

“Would you like to feed them? I have plenty.”

One gentle nod later he was feeding the young Thestrals meat fillets and apples. Feeling at peace he asked, “What brings you here? I thought you would have been with Neville and Ginny.”

Luna sighed, “Ginny doesn’t love Neville, she tried but love is something you can’t force.”

Theo didn’t seem so surprised, “Love is rare. It is difficult being polyamorous when most of us will go through life without a single love. You say she has no love for him; she loves you then.”

“Yes. She loves me.”

“Jealousy is a cruel thing.”

“How did you know?” Luna asked, taking out a fillet of meat and feeding it to one of the creatures.

“I’ve seen jealousy work; I know it all too well. If she loves you and not him then, of course, she would be jealous. Of having to share you. Sorry, It’s not my place…. What about you? Do you love him?”

“Define love and I’ll tell you.”

“The same love as Ginny,” Theo stated.

“Then no not the same. I’ve realised that our love was never… well… now it feels like he’s my friend.”

“Can’t you be in love with your friends?” Theo questioned as he crouched down to a baby Thestral.

“I guess you’re right. I think then he’s more like a brother maybe.”

The only sound for a while was the rustling of trees and the crunching of apples.

Luna sighed, “Neville says he loves people too easily, I think he’s scared that no-one will love him and it has nothing to do with being polyamorous. He’s just like that.” She started to give out the last of the food, “I think at some point Neville realised how I felt and realised that you can’t force love. I feel bad for him though because now he’s lost both of us through no fault of his own of course.”

Theo stood and folded his arms; kicking the dry leaves around his feet.

“I’m going to find Ginny now.” Luna stated wistfully, “It was nice talking to you, Theo. Make sure you get whatever’s on your mind off otherwise the Nargles will get in.”

Then she left and Theo left too.

 

***

 

The greenhouses were cold in the early morning chill and all was silent except the distant murmurs of Neville consoling a potted plant that he had presumably given a name to.

It was peaceful; Herbology lessons didn’t start until second period.

Theo was just coming back from his visit with the Thestrals when he noticed Neville through the glass of greenhouse 2. He stopped in his tracks, looked around the corridor and entered the glass room.

“Harry I told you not to follow me.” Neville sighed.

“It’s just me.”

Neville turned around clutching a plant, “Oh.” Looking down to his plant he stuttered, “Did Harry send you?”

Theo, with his hands behind his back, walked over to the far side of the greenhouse inspecting various vines and potted plants, “No. Actually, I didn’t come back up with them; I went to see the… Thestrals. Luna was there.”

The other stroked his plant, “Oh.” he said again. “Did she..?”

The Slytherin looked back up to face Neville, leaning on the bench opposite him, “She’s gone to see Ginny now. I understand that things are complicated between you three at the minute. Or simple. Depending on which way you look at it. And no; Luna did not tell me what’s happened.”

“So how do you look at it?”

“That is not my place to say. I am not a part of your relationship nor do I know what happened…” Theo sat down on the bench and looked at the other boy.

Neville sighed and sat next to him, “Well…”

 

***

 

The Halloween party for the sixth and seventh years was in full swing. Luna and Ginny were giggling down the corridor away from the room of requirement.

“Nobody will be in the eighth year common room,” Ginny giggled, “And Neville will be having too much fun so why should we not have some fun ourselves?”

Luna grabbed her hand and smiled, “I don’t know why you’re still talking Miss. Weasley, take me right now.”

The common room was empty when Ginny wrapped her hand around the other’s waist, “I love you so fucking much,” She murmured against Luna’s lips.

The blonde hummed in amusement, “More fucking please.”

Ginny pulled away with a mischievous grin and feigned shock, “Language miss.” Then guided the two of them to the nearest seat which happened to face the portrait hole.

Their lips lingered on each other even as Luna sat down in the chair and Ginny sunk to her knees. The redhead pushed the other’s orange dress up her thighs and layered a trail of kisses up each side from knee to hip. Her breath ghosting over the wet skin. Luna’s bat earrings dangled boldly against her fair hair as she gasped and threw her head back. The girl wrapping slender fingers through fiery locks.

“Ginny!” She moaned as the other brought her knees to rest next to her hair over her shoulders and worked her finger into the blonde.

“I want to make you feel so good,” she hummed against Luna’s warmth, “You’re mine.

“Yess… Oh! Right there. Yes yes yesyesyesyes” She moaned, “I love you too,” she whispered.

A shudder went through the both of them as the blonde came to completion for what was supposed to be a long night, “Nevile?”

Ginny stood up and turned around, “What are you doing here? I thought you had a sleepover at the Shack.”

Neville smiled, “Ahh. I did but I decided I wanted to spend my night here instead.”

Luna pulled her dress down and stood next to Ginny; Nevill’s smile faltered a little, “Is there something wrong with that?”

The girls looked away from him, “Neville, I-I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while but I don’t… I can’t be part of this anymore.”

He frowned, “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Ginny continued, “That I can’t share Luna anymore, that the only reason I’m with you is to have her. And I’m sorry that that is the most selfish thing I could do but I love her and… well I-”

“You don’t love me,” Neville stated emotionlessly.

She looked away. Luna took her hand and brushed a curl of hair behind her ear, “Neville… I know we talked about… us. And well… I’m sorry but I can't-do this either. I love you but not the way you need me to. I can’t lie to you anymore.”

The boy took a deep breath in, “Well. This is all horribly convenient, isn’t it?”

Ginny ran a hand through her hair in frustration, “Neville I’m really sorry-”

Sighing he closed his eyes, “Just stop. Go. It’s fine; I know that things would have never worked out between us three anyway. Just go.”

The boy, alone in the grey common room, looked at the chair they had been sat in and promptly sat on the sofa in front of the fireplace.

 

***

 

Ginny sat in the breakfast hall poking at her cereal. It was dull and soggy. She was too busy watching the milk dribble from her spoon and back into the bowl that she didn’t notice the person sat next to her. Warm thin arms embraced her.

“Harry.”

“Shh. It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry for being a bitch to you and rubbing it in your face when I thought I had my life sorted because I definitely don’t and it’s all fucking ruined and I shouldn’t have talked to you like that and-”

Harry brought her closer, “Ginny stop talking for five minutes. Everything is going to be fine.”

“I’m sorry.”

The dark-haired boy huffed, “Stop apologising!” To which Ginny opened and closed her mouth and pouted. She seemed to straighten her shoulders and take a deep breath before releasing herself from Harry’s arms.

“Luna’s here,” he told her and gave her one last smile before getting up and sitting next to Draco at the eighth year’s table.

 

***

 

Theo watched as the plant stretched out a vine and clung to his wrist, “And are you okay with it?”

“It will get easier but I kind of knew that we would never work out as a trio. Those two love each other more than me and Ginny can’t share which is understandable.” Neville stroked his plant and tickled it under the vine until it released Theo.

The Slytherin stood up once he had been freed, “Come on then. I’m starving.”

 

***

 

The lessons became more demanding with the mock NEWT’s only around the corner. Harry laid in his bed and looked at the grey canopy. The mornings were getting more overcast and the sun rose later and later. The mere thought of going through a whole day was exhausting and he wished he could just stay in the warmth of his bed and do absolutely nothing. The shuffling noises across the other side of the room were not enough to make him turn his head until the bed dipped.

“How are you today?” Draco asked.

He blinked, “I don’t know,” he whispered and closed his eyes, “I feel empty, I don’t want to do anything, schools too demanding and I have a seventeen-inch scroll due tomorrow and fuck I don’t want to think about all the lessons I have to go to today.”

“Hey,” Draco said softly. Harry looked at him, “One step at a time yeah. First step: breath, second step: sit up. Take however long you need to do it. I’m here and I’m not going.”

The smaller boy inhaled sleepily and rubbed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. The blonde leant over him and considered his gentle features before planting a soft kiss to the other’s forehead.

Harry’s eyes shot open and Draco was still sat where he had been before the kiss, “What was that for?”

He looked away, “It’s what friends do, isn’t it?” He said without any hint of a question.

“Is it?”

Their eyes met, “It’s what friends do,” he murmured, “Come on, I’ll get your uniform. How about we go through that seventeen-inch scroll together tonight.”

Harry sat up slowly, “Yeah. Okay. Thank you, Draco.” But Draco hadn’t moved and now their faces were very close together.

Draco’s pale hand stroked Harry’s cheek, “One step at a time.”

***

His cheek still stung from where those knuckles had been. Pain from the loss, heat from their warmth. Draco had finished searching through Harry’s trunk for his uniform; the blonde was already dressed. Harry brought his knees up under the covers and crossed his legs to give Draco enough room to perch right next to him.

His slender fingers laid the robes on the bed flat and brought them up to Harry’s pyjamas carefully before hesitating, “May I?” He asked unsurely, his ash-grey eyes piercing the others.

Harry swallowed and nodded. It was the first time someone had asked his permission and the first time somebody cared to know if he was okay with what someone was doing. It was strange, he felt as though he would be doing something wrong by saying ‘no’ and he realised he had to stop thinking that way. Although it was easier said than done.

The Slytherin gently brought his hands away from the buttons and up to the black-haired boy’s neck with his fingers only slightly intertwining with the curls, “Do you mean it?” He whispered, “No-one will ever force you to do anything you don’t want to again. And you won’t force you to do something you don’t want to do. I won’t allow it. I won’t let it happen. You belong to yourself and what you want is for you to decide.”

Harry took in a shaky breath and held Draco’s wrists in his loose grip, “Yes.” He said quietly and brought the hands down to his pyjamas again.

His fingers worked fast and efficiently but slow enough that the tips lingered on Harry’s skin. When the shirt was removed the stark white scar over Harry’s chest caught his eye and he inspected it without thinking. It was smooth and flat to the surface of his chest; a mere discolouration of his tanned skin.

“One of the Horcruxes.” Harry answered the unasked question, “The locket fixed itself to my skin and I wouldn’t have gotten it off if it wasn’t for Hermione. She severed the bond with a spell.”

“I didn’t notice it… before.” Draco’s eyes panned up to two punctures in the boy’s neck, “And here?”

“Nagini,” he brought his hand up to his neck and rubbed the marks self consciously, “it was disguised as someone, it’s not important now but when I realised it was Nagini it attacked and well…”

Draco turned and retrieved the white shirt and brought it over Harry’s shoulders, doing up the buttons with ease. Then he lifted the covers and tugged on the bottom of the shirt to settle it when his hand was clutched with urgency, “What?” he asked softly before recognising a look of terror in the pools of green and bringing the smaller boy into an engulfing embrace. “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have put my hands there. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have undressed you if I knew it would- I’m sorry Harry I-”

He stood up, holding his head in his hands, leaving Draco on the bed. Then, seeming to shake himself, reached around him for his school trousers and pulling back to hold them out to the blonde, “I’m sorry. For a second I thought… I’m sorry.” The blonde took the offered trousers.

Draco looked up expectantly then sunk to his knees, “Can I do this?”

“...Yeah,” his bottoms were pulled down to reveal white boxers with snitches on.

“They’re cute,” Draco mumbled then, “Is that?”

Harry sighed and sucked in a breath, “Yes. It is.” he bit out.

“Why didn’t you just get rid of it?” Draco asked, his mouth dry, looking at the obvious hardness in Harry’s boxers.

The black-haired boy closed his eyes, “Dudley…” he winced, “He said I was dirty, caught me the first time I tried to relieve my… told me that I wasn’t allowed to touch myself and that I was only to be- that I was his and that I didn’t deserve to feel good. So I never did.” he opened his eyes to see Draco screwing up his face with a murderous look, “Of course it’s a natural thing to happen in the morning or … anytime… I know that now but back then I didn’t and I felt disgusting when I tried to touch myself. One time he- when he burst in and found me doing what I was doing he-” His breath caught and he choked, “He pushed me off the bed and pressed me into the floor and ripped my pyjamas off and I’ll never forget what he- I’m sorry, you didn’t need to know that,” he whimpered and closed his eyes; making the burning tears fall down his cheeks. If only the salt in them would be enough to fight away the demons in his soul.

“I hate him,” Draco breathed with his eyes still closed. “Don’t you ever apologise for telling me something.” He stood up and wiped away the drying tears then pulled the other closer. Harry’s crotch bumped Draco’s leg and he hissed, wringing his face and swallowing as if he had been forced to drink acid. Draco cradled Harry’s neck in his hand, holding the small of his back with the other.

When he pulled away, Draco lowered to his knees again. He skirted his hands over Harry’s thighs, “You’re too thin. When we go down to breakfast you are going to eat everything that Hermione and I give you.” He brought the bottoms down to his tanned ankles and held Harry’s right thigh so he could step out of them and did the same with his left. Harry held the blonde’s shoulders and leant on him as he got his trousers on then he put his fingers around the back of the blonde’s neck as he did them up and fastened his belt.

“If nothing will help you through today,” Draco said softly after they were both dressed, “Just remember that I’ll help you with your homework and that you don’t have to do things alone.”

***

“Did we have homework for charms?” Harry asked as he sat down with Draco for their second lesson of the day. They had had Defence Against the Dark Arts first which had been tame for Harry as their November assessment would be on performing non-verbal spells, which Harry had been doing for years, and Inferi.

Draco hung his bag on the back of his chair and retrieved his quill, producing a second for Harry, before pulling out his Charms book. “Nothing that was written but we did have to practice non-verbal spells.”

“Thanks,” Harry mumbled as he took the quill and set it down on the table.

The class practised aguamenti verbally and then, once they conjured water effortlessly, practised it non-verbally. Harry took the goblet at the front of his desk and cast a wandless non-verbal to fill it with water, trying to hide a grin when he noticed Draco’s raised eyebrow.

“Show off.” He joked.

“I do try,” he sat back and watched as Draco conjured water into his own goblet non-verbally but with a faint twitch of his lips as he stopped himself from uttering the spell. The dark-haired boy took a sip from his goblet and held it out to the other, “Thirsty?” he asked.

Draco licked his lips, “Well, it is thirsty work.” he justified and drank from the cup, tilting his neck back to display his Adam's apple and looking out the corner of his lidded eye to witness Harry’s unrelenting gaze.

The bell tolled and they packed away their things. Harry laughed dryly, “Great. Another essay I have to write. Who would have thought there could be eleven inches worth of content on the theory of how non-verbal spells can be useful.” He gave the quill back to Draco, “Come on. We’ll be late for Transfiguration.” Harry was about to pick up his bag and tuck in his chair when the blonde held his arm.

“It’s break now.”

Harry stilled, “Oh… oh.” He said again.

“And we don’t have transfiguration,” he smiled sadly, “We have potions,”

“Oh.” Harry blushed and screwed up his eyebrows. He picked at his nails and forced his lips to smile, “How stupid of me…” His smile faltered and he stood there biting his nails and rubbing his eyes.

“It’s okay,” Draco held out his hand and Harry hesitantly took it. Their fingers moulded together perfectly and their interlinking fingers locked in place. For a few seconds, Harry was distracted from everything, he gazed at their hands with a fierce intensity and he felt out of breath. How could people so casually hold hands? Even though they had held each other and slept side by side this affection was still very new to Harry and it made him uncomfortable to think about everyone holding hands, kissing, cuddling, fucking. How could they bare to let other people near them? How could they stand lying on a bed and being impaled? It made him sick. He was disgusting. They were disgusting. He pulled his hand from Draco’s grip and tried to inhale some air. How did the room get so hot? The black-haired boy removed his outer robes and stuffed them into his bag.

“Harry, are you okay? You’re shivering.” Draco dropped his bag back onto the seat.

“I’m boiling is all. I’ll be fine.” Harry replied, not looking at the other.

Draco frowned, “You’re shaking like the last leaf on a tree.”

He scowled, “I’m fine. Let’s go.” And he left the classroom with the other running after him to keep up.

***

“I hope you have all studied the set potions in your free time because I hate to alarm you but your assessment in creating these potions is next week.” Slughorn bellowed as the group of eight sat down, “As for a reminder to those of us who have postponed such studies, the potions are Amortentia, Draught of Living Death and the Hiccoughing Solution. All of which are under unit one of the Required Potions and Practical Theories spec. Now...”

Usually, Draco would have listened to the monotonous drone of his potions class. Well, that was a lie. Snape was always the much more capable professor. However, the blonde was far from paying attention to the task at hand; the theory of different ingredients and how they could be used or something that he probably knew like the back of his hand anyway. Instead, he was too busy subtly watching the boy next to him run his fingers over the feathers of his borrowed quill. The one that Draco had leant him. His skinny fingers glided over the feathers from the nib to the end where the feather became too heavy and flopped into a semi curl. At some point Harry proceeded to tap the quill against the desk and then against his lower lip, unknowingly smearing the residual ink on them, which was quite the sight for one infatuated blonde. He couldn’t look away.

He only managed to steer himself from gazing at Harry’s lips when the boy sighed and put the quill down altogether before burying his head in his hands and flicking absentmindedly through his potions book at the concoctions that they would be required to produce within the next week or so.

“Is this lesson ever going to end?” Harry muttered under his breath to himself.

The table shook from Harry’s shaking leg and Draco leant over, “I bloody well hope so Potter, I refuse to sit here any longer,”

Harry looked up to Draco under his black hair.

A sudden idea struck the blonde and his grey eyes went wide and cunning as he whispered slyly, “How about we bunk off. There’s just over an hour left and we won’t be doing anything productive so-”

“Mr Malfoy. Is there something you and Mr Potter wish to share with us? What is so fascinating that you are both unable to read through chapters two and three in silence?”

At the sound of his name, Draco’s head had snapped forward and, in turn, so had Harry’s. Smirking his signature smirk, Draco raised an eyebrow at Harry and then smoothed his face to innocent concern at Professor Slughorn.

“Sir, Harry isn’t well. May we be excused?” Draco asked politely.

Fear spread across Horace’s face as he asked, “Whatever is the matter, my boy? You can't leave. Your assessment is next week for Merlin's sake. Don't you want to pass your Newts and become an Auror?”

Harry’s eyes narrowed at Draco and then he sighed and pinched the bridge of the nose; he was exhausted and he couldn’t take it anymore.

“Professor,” Hermione chided, “I find it absolutely disgusting that you are putting a student's grades above their health. You may have high hopes for Harry but here's the problem. If Harry is ill or worse dead…” she bit out, “then there won't be any exam for him to do because he won't be around to take it. So I suggest you let him leave and if you refuse then I will personally take this to the Headmistress.”

Ron, who had been watching Harry with concern, glared at the potions master, “Sir,” he began evenly, “Harry is not well. And he doesn't want to be an Auror so you can shove your potions newt up-”

“Mr Weasley! If eight years were still contributing to the house points then you could consider yourself in debt to the rest of your house for how many you would have just lost them.”

Draco bit his lip and whispered to Harry, who was still narrowing his eyes at him so that only he could hear him, “Are you actually okay? It was just a reason to get out of here but if you’re really not okay then- what am I saying; of course you’re not okay.” Then he packed away his bag and Harry wasn’t even aware that Draco had stood up until he felt a gentle hand at the crook of his elbow, “Professor, I really think Harry should come with me.”

Slughorn and the entire class watched the two boys, “Now wait here!”

“No, sir. We’re leaving.”

Harry’s head was spinning and he could feel everyone staring at him. Pulling on the sleeves of his jumper so that they were gathered in his fists, he looked up to his side where someone was talking to him. The words weren’t processing and he closed his eyes again. Harry felt a strong hand lift him up by his elbow gently and another around his waist. And then he was outside the classroom.

“Fucking teachers,” Pansy muttered to Hermione.

***

Draco closed the heavy dungeon door behind them and they leant against the wall before the blonde pulled the other up the stairs and into a light-filled corridor.

He sat Harry down on a padded alcove and pulled out the stuffed robes to hang them over the smaller boy’s shoulders in a weak attempt to warm him up; he was still shivering. Then he took out his wand and cast a warming charm on him.

“I can’t believe you were going to use my mental health problems as a way to bunk off a lesson,” Harry said quietly; his leg still bouncing up and down. “It’s one thing to call in sick but it’s like you want me to feel shit just so we can get out of lessons.”

Draco stood there gobsmacked, “Harry, it wasn’t just to bunk off. You’re not well. And I have never wanted to make your health problems benefit me in any sort of way. To be honest… I’m quite hurt that you think that.”

“Can we just forget this whole thing?” Harry asked tiredly.

The blonde stepped forward and Harry flinched making him step back again.

Harry stood up and left down the corridor, “Harry. Harry! Potter!”

***

Smoke rose from the chimney in Hagrid’s hut and the warmth of the fire engulfed him as the half-giant let him inside.

He was crying by this point and it only became worse when he was squashed almost to death by loving arms.

“‘Arry don’t cry. Please. Can I get you anythin’? How ‘bout some hot cocoa? Does that sound nice?” Hagrid’s mittened hands guided Harry to a seat where Fang padded over to him and rubbed his head up to Harry. Then he proceeded to set up a small cauldron over the fire to make the hot chocolate.

Suddenly there was a loud caw and a faint low scream.

“What the bloody ‘ell was that?” Hagrid muttered, tossing the gloves on his table and opening the door where he found Witherwings, more commonly known as Buckbeak, on his hind legs, wings spread and scrutinous eyes looking upon a blonde head of hair. “Malfoy?”

“Buckbeak get down, stupid thing,” He shouted as he went to help Draco from his current hiding place behind the pumpkin patch.

“Merlin’s beard I’m sorry for third year can you let it go?” Draco yelled in desperation.

“Now now Malfoy, you’ll ‘ave to apologize prop’ly. Buckbeak is very proud so you’ll ‘ave to bow to him if you remember correctly.”

Draco stood from his hiding place and almost tiptoed to the creature. His wings spread again as he warily inspected the boy and was not satisfied until he was almost kneeling to the floor.

“That’s it. Nice ‘n low.” Hagrid reassured.

The onslaught of noise had drawn Harry to the door of the hut where he had stayed and was currently standing, leaning against the doorframe.

“Now he’ll let you ride him.” Hagrid chirped and lifted the Slytherin onto the back of Buckbeak. The dark-haired boy frowned but eventually, the corners of his lips turned into a smirk. It was funny to watch Draco flailing about.

“But I came here to see Harry!”Draco looked to the hut. “Harry! Help me I don’t want to ride the thing.”

His smirk fell as he stood up to go back inside, “Not so fast!” Hagrid bellowed, “Get ‘ere ‘Arry.”

The giant lifted Harry too and sat him on Buckbeak behind Draco giving them no chance to find purchase or balance before telling it to fly.

Grabbing onto Draco was merely instinct. His arms wrapped around the other’s torso tighter as they flew higher. The wind rushed through his hair and Harry remembered how it was exactly the same as the first time he flew with Buckbeak. Or it would have been exactly the same if it weren’t for the never-ending yells coming from the boy in front of him.

“Shut up Draco. You’re giving me a headache.” Harry shouted into his ear.

Well, that shut him up.

He completely forgot about their small argument as he relaxed into the Slytherin’s back, the peacefulness settling into his bones with every breath. Hogwarts became smaller and smaller, Draco noticed, as they flew over the Forbidden Forest. He put more trust into Buckbeak with every flap of its wings and began to let go of his hold on its neck. Instead. moving his hands up to meet Harry’s where they rested on his stomach.

They flew a few more circles around the forest and over the lake until Draco’s legs started to ache and Buckbeak’s wings started to tire. Landing at the pumpkin patch, the boys were greeted by Hagrid who pried Harry from Draco’s back and then Draco from Buckbeak’s. Their cocoa waited for them inside the hut which they sipped quietly in front of the fire curled up together across from Hagrid in his big chair. Draco finished the last of his hot chocolate and stood up to stretch. Looking out the window, he noticed it was still bright outside and the wind had picked up. Up at the castle, the bell had yet to toll for the last lesson of the eight years day so he dragged his gaze back to Buckbeak and the pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch.

“I can’t believe you’re obsessed with pumpkins and yet we didn’t carve any for Halloween.” Draco blurted, interrupting Harry’s conversation with Hagrid.

“What’s that? Ya didn’t carve pum’kins?” Hagrid gasped. “Harry, what are ya doin’ not carvin’ pum’kins?”

The dark haired boy let his jaw drop, “I completely forgot!” he exclaimed, “But how do you know about carving pumpkins Draco?”

The Slytherin frowned, “I may not be a muggle but I know how to carve a pumpkin, Harry.”

“Well, what are ya waitin’ for? Let’s get you two a pum’kin!” Hagrid laughed and left the hut. The two boys watched from the window as the half-giant pointed his umbrella at a fairly large pumpkin, cut the stem and levitated it to the hut.

“It’s massive! We’ll never be able to scoop it out.” Harry said as the orange thing dropped to the table with a thud.

“Nonsense.” Hagrid chimed cutting a suitable lid from the top and setting it aside. He pointed his wand and cast a spell that Harry had never heard of before which stripped away the innards of the pumpkin. The orange flesh flew through the door and deposited itself outside on a compost heap.

Draco smiled at the smaller boy and retrieved a carving tool that Hagrid offered to him, “What do you want to carve?”

Biting his lip, Harry took his own carving utensil, “I don’t know… I never really carved pumpkins when I was… when I was a kid.”

Draco frowned, “You still are a kid. Come on. How about we carve one of those asinine faces that you always see.”

Harry smirked, “What like your’s?” He giggled.

The blonde was absolutely gobsmacked, “My face isn’t stupid. I’ll have you know it is utter perfection. I have the face of a princess and-”

“It was a joke!” Harry howled, holding his stomach, “You have the face of a princess? Really? Well if you insist.”

Hagrid sat back in his chair by the fire and watched Draco huff and point to the pumpkin mumbling something about more interesting things they could carve into it. They began to carve out chunks of flesh and eventually, sometime later, they finished their design.

“Perfect,” Harry declared and giggled into Draco’s shoulder

“I couldn’t agree more,” Draco added with a smirk.

Hagrid strolled over to the table to levitate the pumpkin out the door and by the steps to his hut, “Right then lads. Light it up.”

Draco hurried to his bag to fetch a scrap piece of parchment. He screwed it up into a ball and levitated it inside the hollowed pumpkin.

“Incendio,” Draco mumbled and replaced the carved lid. It had gotten a little darker as the evening came, so the effect of the light wasn’t as strong as it could have been but at least there was still some contrast in the light. A glow escaped from the gaps in the pumpkin so that it illuminated the design.

“My you lads do ‘ave a funny sense o’ humour,” Hagrid chuckled and sighed.

The two looked at each other then back at their pumpkin and sniggered at the glowing penis that radiated through the hollowed gaps.

“Thank you Hagrid,” Harry said as he retrieved his bag from inside the hut. “I wish I could stay longer but Draco and I have homework to do and I really need his help so I- sorry I couldn’t have stayed longer-”

“Harry,” the giant interrupted, “Thank you for comin’ to visit me. I know things are ‘ard for yeh so I appreciate you two comin’ to see me for the time you could. Off yeh pop then. I hope you’ll visit again ‘cause I’m always ‘ere for a nice cup o’ cocoa if yeh needs it.”

The small boy lifted his arms and gave Hagrid a final hug, thanking him for the hot chocolate and the pumpkin, before returning to Draco’s side and heading back up to the castle.

***

Green to orange to red to black to dust. Trodden into the ground by thousands of steps. Drifting away in the breeze. The forest floor littered with specks of dried up life ready to wither away to nothing and feel the earth so that new life can begin. Shed away the diseased and the weak and crush it to dust so that from it new things can grow and new leaves can fill the trees. But if the new leaves are made from the stuff that was the old, then how will there ever be anything good and healthy? Crush the leaves. To dust if you must and bury it beneath the soil. Then move on. Find new land. Find new trees. And grow.

But Spring isn’t here yet and the new leaves aren’t ready to grow. First, they must be crushed and until they are dust, we remain in winter.

The wind is harsher now and it becomes more of a relief to cosy up in the common room. Steam building on the lens of glasses. Thick socks and woolly jumpers that are “absolutely hideous” but you don’t care, do you? No, you don’t.

***

Harry and Draco’s room had been receiving the full effects of Autumn more and more to the point where warming charms were now required in order for them to feel their toes. Now they both sat on top of Harry’s bed; the smaller leaning against the headboard and the other hunching over the pieces of parchment that had been displayed and scattered in the middle of the covers.

“So the question asks how various types of fungi can be used so you could talk about-”

“I’m sorry.”Harry interrupted.

Draco looked up. Harry was in his bright red and oversized sweater that Mrs Weasley had knitted him. The thing was absolutely ghastly but it was perfect; perfect for how it hung off one shoulder revealing a long-sleeved shirt, perfect for the way Harry’s small fingers clutched the hem of the sleeves and the frayed bottom of the jumper. Perfect. The two had gotten changed after returning to their dorm and Draco had only then noticed how messy the ride on Buckbeak had made Harry’s black hair. It twisted this way and that and was even messier than usual if that could ever be possible. Somehow, on top of years of mocking the bird’s nest that Harry called hair, the sight of it had become endearing to the blonde. As endearing as those circle framed glasses that the small boy kept pushing up his face with the back of one woolly sleeved hand every now and then.

“What do you mean?” He finally asked after what seemed like a while of ogling at Harry.

He picked at the hem of his jumper, “I’m sorry for how I talk to you, for how I treat you.” He began, “I act like I can walk away from you, to get away from you then expect you to be there when I need you because I do… I need you. And there will be a time where you aren’t there. So I’m sorry that I treat you like-like shit and that I drop you and leave you when I feel you’ve done something to me because you’ve never done a single thing to me whilst we’ve been back at school. I made you feel like it was your fault when I… when I told you about my a-abuse and then when I ran off I took you for granted and then I didn’t even think about anyone but myself when I tried to-” He took a breath and looked Draco in the eyes, “I’m sorry that I tried to kill myself. It got to the point where it was more difficult to find reasons to live than to find reasons to die and never think that you weren’t one of the things that made me want to live. You were.

“I took you for granted in the hospital when I pushed you away. I thought that you would come back to the bathroom but you didn’t and I realised that there would be a point where you would never come back. I realised that I had no right to expect you to come back but I expected it anyway. I’m so fucking sorry that I left you today and I’m so sorry that I hurt you with what I said. Everything I’ve done… every time I push people away it’s because of my family. You held my hand today and it was hard for me because I’ve grown up without being held, without being loved. If I’m honest I don’t think I even know what love is. Is it stupid to think that love is being at Mrs Weasley’s house for Christmas? Or that when Sirius died I felt like for the first time I had truly lost something. I’ve grown up losing people my entire life. Sirius offered for me to live with him and then that Summer I wished it had been possible. My childhood was ruined and I had no escape. Fucking Dumbledore sent me back every single year. So is it strange to think of love as that time when Sirius held me in his arms and I felt like it was the closest thing to love I’ve ever felt because I was safe and I wasn’t going to be hurt by him? Now he’s gone. I think the reason I thought I was in love with Ginny was because of the way she held me; the way we held hands and she never let go and It made me feel like I was okay. But then I hated her touch because every time I tried to do something with her I was reminded of Dudley and everything he did. I began to hate her merely because her touch reminded me of him. She never hurt me.

“I want to live. I want to live because of you. I want to love and I want to give and I want to be brave and take happiness but I can’t because every time I try I feel this crushing weight on my chest that tells me I can’t be happy. That I don’t deserve to be happy. Dudley made sure that I knew my place. He made sure I was miserable. I want to tell you so many things Draco. So many things. But I can’t. So I’m sorry. Especially for pulling my hand from yours because it was the last thing I wanted to do. It was overwhelming. It was too much. But I need you so much.” tears dripped heavily from his eyes and stuck in his lashes. Some landed on the inside of his glasses making his vision blurry, “So many things,” he whispered and hiccoughed, taking deep laboured breaths to calm himself down, “I can’t let it out.” He whispered and squeaked.

The conversation had been heart wrenching and the blonde threw the papers on the floor. Harry was inconsolable. Draco crawled up to the small boy and scooped him up only to make the gasps and sobs louder. He peeled back the covers and settled them both underneath the warmth that Harry had heated up. The black-haired boy clung to Draco; hands, arms, legs, everything. His fingers knotted in his silky hair and his feet hooked on the back of the boy’s thighs.

“Harry, when I hold you do I remind you of Dudley?” Draco asked sincerely.

He held Draco tighter repeating the mantra in his ear, “no never, never, never” before pulling back and plastering a gentle lingering kiss on his pale forehead. Just like Draco had done to him that morning. It was the first time he had ever kissed someone on the forehead.

Draco felt relief flood him and he locked Harry in the safe cage of his arms whispering, “My bunny, you’re mine and I’m not going anywhere. My precious bunny, my sweet, sweet bunny. My baby boy I’ll never let anyone hurt you.” The words were right on the tip of his tongue; I love you. But they never met his lips and they never met Harry’s desperate ears. “My bunny, my beautiful baby boy,” I love you. “I’ll never leave, I’ll never let you go. You’re mine.”

And the two held and held on to each other through the night and through until the morning when they had tired themselves of whispering sweet things and almost whispering their longing desires. It was the closest Harry had ever gotten to expressing his feelings and in some way, he had told Draco exactly how he felt. But the blonde was so dismissing of the idea that Harry Potter; a broken boy, could ever love him when he was not perfect when he would never be good and when Harry didn’t even know how to love because those bastards had never shown it to him.

Through the night, Draco had dreamt of Harry around four years old in his cot that was far too small for him. Pitch black under the stairs in his tiny cupboard. Calling for help. Crying for love. Wishing to be held. He dreamt of opening the lock on that cupboard door and lifting the very small underfed child carefully out of the cot. He dreamt of holding him on his hip and plastering him with hugs and kisses and feeding him the most beautiful treacle tart in the world. He dreamt of holding his hand and taking him away from that fucking house and bringing them both to Diagon Alley. Eating ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s. He dreamt of giving all his love to that little child and watching him grow up without harm or hurt. The pain that woke him up though was the dream’s path taking an unwanted direction. A happy healthy Harry being friends with Draco and not even knowing that the blonde had rescued him from that hell. Watching happy healthy Harry fall in love with Ginny Weasley and the pain of going to their wedding and being Godfather to their children and watching Harry be happy. Without him. And the heart-wrenching pain woke him up crying quietly into the arms of Harry. Broken Harry. Sweet Harry. His Harry that he had no right to call his own.

Draco nuzzled up to the boy and, resting his chin on a pillow of black curls, watched Harry suck and nibble at the screwed up corner of his jumper. The child had drool on his chin and the hem of his sleeve was sopping wet. Dried tear tracks laced pretty patterns on his tanned cheeks and eyes were puffy from the night before.

He didn’t know how long they were laid like that but awhile later Harry mumbled, “Draco, I don’t want to go to lessons today. Please don’t make me go to lessons today.” The fear that he would be forced to face life and responsibilities hung on every word and threaded itself into his plea.

“That’s fine bunny,”

The soft knock at their door made Theo’s presence less startling. He watched the two in bed together and only Draco could see who now stood in their room and closed the door behind them.

“Who is it?” Harry whispered to Draco; his back was facing the door and he had yet to open his eyes for the first time this morning.

“It’s just Theo,” The blonde reassured.

Theo walked silently over to Draco’s bed and sat on the edge. He didn’t say anything but he quietly watched Draco tighten his hold on Harry ever so slightly. It was a bit strange to watch the saviour, the one who killed Voldemort, so broken and desperate. It was also strange to watch Draco cradle him like a baby even though he was seventeen years old.

“How are you, Harry?” He asked softly.

The boy sighed against Draco’s neck sending shivers down his spine and making his eyes closed at the sensations for a second. When he opened them again his gaze met Theo’s.

“I heard what happened in potions,” He offered which earned him no answer from the small boy, “We didn’t see you at dinner… would you like me to bring you something to eat?”

Harry opened his eyes and rubbed them with his jumper. He felt a warm hand on his back and then realised it was rubbing soothing circles on him. “Thank you, Theo, I- can I have a smileyfaceonit?” he mumbled.

“Sorry, what did you ask?” Theo said.

“A smiley face,” Draco told him, “Porridge or pancakes or anything but just get a smiley face on it.”

Theo grinned, “Of course. Anything I can get for you Draco?”

The blonde perched on his elbow so that he was now slightly over Harry but still holding him, “Actually I need to go and talk to someone today,”

Harry’s eyes widened and his mouth opened as if to say ‘don’t leave me’ but he remembered his talk with Draco and closed his mouth.

“I will be back Harry, I’m not leaving. I’ll never leave. Once I’m done I’m coming right back here and I’m staying here until we go to watch the fireworks.” Draco said to him as he searched his eyes and inspected his face for hurt or fear. Neither were present. The small boy lifted his hand to Draco’s neck and brought his head closer until their foreheads touched.

“Come back to me,” he whispered in Draco’s ear that didn’t face Theo.

Always,” Draco replied at a whispered promise.

Before he could pull away, Harry placed the lightest of kisses to his forehead and the blonde was doubting that it had ever happened it was that gentle.

Theo left the room followed by Draco after one lingering look at Harry.

In the hallway Luna embraced Draco, “Theo asked me to come,” She told him in a soft airy voice. “You’re a good friend to him Draco and even more than that. We both know it.” During the war, Draco and Luna had become very good friends. They helped each other, saved each other, from hunger and loneliness. From pain.

“Thank you, Luna,”

“I’m going to go sit with him whilst you’re away,” She told him and opened the door with the kindest of “Hello Harry,” ‘s you would have ever heard.

It was just Theo and him. The former waiting for him to speak.

“I love him,” He said. His face twisted from sincere to shocked as he realised that it was the first time he had physically confessed it to someone. “I love him,” he said again and ran his hands through his hair whilst sliding down the wall of the corridor.

“Yes, I gathered that much you fool.” Theo chided, “Do you know of his feelings?” he asked although he knew the answer already. Draco was pessimistic at the best of times and right now was not the best of times.

“Theo, don’t even ask me that. I can’t cope with that question,” He sighed and stood up averting his eyes from the other boy. “Just go get him something to eat with a smiley face on it. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

And with that Draco left the corridor to make his way to the familiar staircase, “Fizzing whizbee,” He muttered and, once taking the unfolding stairs, closed the heavy door behind him.

“Ah. Mr Malfoy. I have been anticipating your arrival,” McGonagall said tiredly as she stirred her tea, “Please take a seat I feel like we are going to need it.”

Chapter Text

Harry’s eyes lingered on the closed door hoping that a certain blonde headed boy would walk back in. Instead, he heard the muffled noises of conversation albeit nothing he could discern. The dark haired boy turned away from the door and buried his head under the covers, curling up into a ball to keep his toes covered, as the menacing sun was bringing out his inner vampire. Try as he might to close his eyes and sleep, the stifling heat under his sheets had him wide awake. He wouldn’t have minded if someone knocked him right out at that very moment. At least it would stop all the annoying thoughts buzzing through his head. He brought his hands up to cover his ears in an attempt to make the humming noise in his ear go away but in doing so he missed Luna’s “hello Harry” and was almost frightened to death when the weight on the mattress shifted as she sat next to his lumpy form.

“Oh Harry, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to startle you.” Luna apologised “What are you doing under there?” she said as she pulled the covers back.

Harry must have looked a right state; his cheeks slightly pink from the heat and his bed head prominent against the grey pillow. “Um… Well, I was just… The sun is too bright.” He concluded lamely.

Luna raised an eyebrow and looked at the closed curtains, “Harry-”

“It’s a strong sun okay!”

“I think you have a bad case of the nargles.” The blonde moved to lie next to Harry, “There’s something on your mind Harry…” she trailed off.

He heard the groaning of the castle walls and the whistle of the wind through the gaps in the stone, he felt the crushing weight on his chest that couldn’t be from his covers and he saw the invisible tension hang in the air and stretch out until it had seeped into every corner of the room.

“Harry.” It was softly spoken, almost begged.

“How…” he began, “How do you know what love is?”

Luna turned to her side, “Define love and I’ll tell you.”

Harry swallowed the bile in the back of his throat, “Ginny and I… Ginny is like my sister. She was always nice to me and told me she loved me but I always felt uncomfortable around her. One wrong move and I would ruin everything. She’s always been my sister but for you, it’s different she’s … more. So how do you know?”

“Ginny was not always nice.” Luna mumbled, “She has said bad things before, been mean before to you about… things… but yes I love her as more than a friend. And I know because when I’m around her I’m home. Everything feels right and I feel completely calm. Some people think love is feeling nervous around someone, feeling like your heart will skip a beat or you’ll stop breathing altogether and they are the only ones to give you oxygen but I don’t think it’s like that. When I’m with Ginny, love is just being able to talk to them to not be scared of them, to open up to them and be able to tell them your deepest thoughts and most suppressed memories because they love you and you love them and together you are safe from everything else.”

Harry rubbed his puffy eyes, “I guess I felt like I couldn’t tell Ginny everything about me. And I guess in a way I was scared. Scared that I wasn’t normal and that I couldn’t give her the things she wanted because… because I don’t know anything about love or sex or… or being wanted so how would I know what to do?”

The faint sound of rain echoed in the silence.

“You didn’t love them,” Luna stated wistfully, “Those men that used you. But you kept them just to feel normal after what your cousin did to you. You drank. A lot. And don’t tell me you didn’t because more often than not you would be passed out in your Godfather’s house. I know that you went through a hard time of hating yourself and wishing you were dead and you weren't okay. You still aren’t okay. But you need to understand that you are normal and you are loved and you can love and give people what they need. You need to let go of the past and the abuse and all those people who used you. You need to let go of the way of thinking; that everything you do is disgusting and abnormal. Find someone that thinks you are everything because... you are everything, Harry.” The blonde turned her head to listen to the rain better, “Find what love is to you, find someone who bothers to care. Don’t waste your tears crying over something you can’t help and over worthless people who didn’t treat you right. Don’t wake up in some stranger’s bedroom. Know your worth, know who you are and know that you deserve better.”

Harry curled in on himself and pulled his sleeves over his hands, “Once again your brutal honesty astounds me,” He muttered before biting the hem of his sleeve.

“Harry, look at me,” She said as she turned to face him completely, “Don’t push me away. Not again.”

She sighed, “I suppose you don’t need me to tell you anything because we both know you’ve already found someone.”

He closed his eyes and tried to block her out. The rain thudded against the window so Harry clung to it; the noise. Clung to it as if the sounds of gentle tapping against glass could pull him away from this world. He just wanted to be alone. The covers felt cold even though he hadn’t left them. He felt a chill up his spine and down his legs and it made him curl in on himself even more. He felt the weight on his chest again and it was like he couldn’t breathe. He was desperate for release. Desperate for people to stop saying things to him that were too honest; that was too painfully true. He just wanted his family and Draco and soft touches and hugs and gentle kisses on his forehead. He wanted to know love and understand love and feel safe. Harry wanted so much. He wanted to give so much. The small boy felt the need to break and let everything out but he couldn’t. The pain had made a home in him and it wouldn’t leave as easy as that. His breath became ragged as he tried to force out his tears and tried to force the crushing weight out of his lungs. Nothing worked.

“You’re mother wanted me to tell you that whenever you are alone they're with you. They see you struggling and they are with you every step of the way.” Luna broke him out of his reverie, “I’ll leave you now because I can see you getting uncomfortable but just know that you are never truly alone.”

He was close. So close to tears at her words. She didn’t know when to stop! It’s not as easy as it sounds to put abuse behind you in the past and simply forget about it because it hangs onto you and is chained to you for the rest of your life like a second shadow. At some point, the curtains around his bed had been shut and Luna had left him alone with his dead parents and family apparently. At some point his hands had uncurled from his sleeves and had pushed up into his hair, pulling harshly. At some point, his mind had begun to wander and he thought of horrible pointless thoughts like gouging his eyes out or smashing his head against a wall or punching something until his hands bled. Scratching his wrists, he thought to all the times Dudley beat him up and punched him and nearly choked him to death as he used him. He thought of being locked in that cupboard and waiting in the darkness to hear his name; ‘freak’. He thought of the time he severely burnt his hands whilst making breakfast for the first time on the hob and being scolded for ruining Vernon’s meal. He had been seven. He thought about all those times he went food shopping with Aunt Petunia. Four-year-old Dudley in the cart and refusing to walk. Harry keeping up behind her and remaining quiet. He thought about those other children in the shops and how they got to choose a sweet if they were lucky or how some had a soft teddy or a toy. He thought about how he wished with all his heart that Christmas for a teddy bear but of course ‘Santa was only giving presents to good boys and not freaks’.

He thought about what his life would be like if he had a family. If they would give him onesies and teddy bears and hugs and kisses and never do anything bad to him.

Then he broke. He fractured and let the pain out. And once it started it never ended.

He sobbed and heaved and shamelessly wept, cradling himself and holding his stomach in the hopes of easing the feeling of vomit. He shattered as he wondered how his life would be like if he could use a time turner and return as a child with his mama and papa and paddy and moony. He wondered what would have happened if he was a child and knew the things he knew now. Could he have warned them somehow? If he had taken a crayon and written something, anything then he could have saved them and they would still be with him. But time turners don’t work like that. He wailed over the fact that he lost his childhood and that he never got to do the things that most boys got to do. He never got to go to the park with his family. He never got pushed on the swings or lifted into the air on a seesaw. He never got to ride a toddler broom or play seekers games with his dad. He never got to bake with his mum or have time to talk to her about crushes. He never got to have sleepovers with his friends. He never got to go to nursery or primary school. The sudden realisation of all the things he never got to do and will never get to do left him bereft and he sobbed and sobbed until the sound of his cries drowned out the rain.

He had broken and was now a mess on his bed. His mind drew a blank.

It was that feeling when you’ve been crying for a long time and the tears have dried on your face because it was too much of a hassle to wipe them away anymore. You can feel the tightness of your skin and the soreness of your eyes and it either made you cry all over again or not be able to at all because you can’t feel anything anymore and you’ve given everything you can and now you’re just empty.

That’s what Harry was; just empty. A shell.

The curtains were ripped back as Theo spoke to him but the words weren’t processed. He felt a hand on his forehead and arms hauling him up into a sitting position. More words and shouting and he zoned out and looked at his hands. Every part of him was shaking. He was truly going to throw up. Theo’s face came in front of his and searched his eyes but Harry couldn’t focus his gaze. He felt dizzy. Then the shouting stopped and another face appeared in front of him.

 

***

 

McGonagall’s office was as cosy as ever with portraits hanging from every wall and several candles flickering in each corner. The fire was lit and the desk was home to a currently burning incense stick whose smoke rose in ribbons and dispersed through the air near the ceiling. Draco had taken his seat on the other side of the desk as had the headmistress and he had taken his offered tea and biscuit. Now they were both sat in a comfortable silence until…
“Professor… how did you know that I would be talking to you?” Draco asked out of interest.

McGonagall took a sip of her poignant tea and set it down in front of her, “Your new friend, Miss Granger, came to my office after your potions lesson together and told me exactly what happened. I have already spoken to Professor Slughorn and changes will be made I can assure you Mr Malfoy. So I presume that you’re here about Harry?”

The blonde regarded his tea with a grimace and put it down on the desk, “I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I’ll get straight to the point; Harry’s timetable isn’t working for him. A lot of things aren’t working for him. It’s about time some changes are made to accommodate his mental health issues and don’t get me started on how much he has going on. PTSD. Eating problems. Night terrors. The list goes on yet nothing is being done to help him.

“Professor, I don’t mean to be rude but it is extremely worrying that, considering the war we had was only this May and considering how many students fought for the school and continued to be affected even after the fact, it only took for Hermione to suggest some sort of therapy and mental help to be suggested for there to be a system in place. There was nothing set up from the beginning of the year. There was nothing to help students at all. But I'm here to talk about Harry.”

McGonagall tried to hide her smile filled with pride at Draco as she looked at the portraits on the walls, “And what do you suggest I do?”

He huffed and crossed his arms in exasperation, “That’s supposed to be your job. I suggest we rearrange Harry’s timetable for a start. He doesn’t want to be an Auror anymore so all the unnecessary newts he’s taking to qualify for that are just adding more stress to his day. He enjoys DADA, Transfiguration, potions and herbology but charms is an utter drag seen as he can perform wandless and nonverbal spells. His required enrichment; History of Magic is a joke. He’s the most powerful wizard in Britain for Salazar’s sake! He is History and he doesn’t need to learn about it or get the constant reminder of what he went through. I suggest that you remove him from charms and even possibly herbology and instead swap History of Magic to muggle studies. At least it will be easier for him. Yes, I know he grew up in the muggle world but that’s the point. It would be easy for him and he could wing the test at the end of the year. It would be more relaxing not to mention he would get those school trips we have to go on.”

He was out of breath but didn’t dare let it show, casually taking in deep breaths and avoiding McGonagall’s gaze.

“I will make amends to his timetable. Anything else?”

The blonde took his tea again to hide behind,”He receives too much homework. Every piece he gets he asks me to help him with and don’t get me wrong I gladly help him but I have newts of my own and I can’t help him all the time and things are only going to get harder and the workload is going to get heftier so… speak with his teachers and suggest extended timetables or less homework or simpler versions for him because honestly… it’s gotten to the point where he struggles to pick up a quill. He can’t concentrate on set reading homework and the words go in one ear and out the other. With fewer newts to focus on this will be easier to manage but solutions still need to be in place.”

The elderly witch peered at him over her glasses, “I will see to it Mr Malfoy.”

In Draco’s honest opinion the whole meeting had gone far too smoothly, “That’s it? You’ll “see to it.”? Why aren’t you telling me off for talking to you like that? Why aren’t you mad at me? If this was so reasonable and understandable to ask then why wasn’t it thought of from the beginning of the year? Why-”

“Mr Malfoy.” The incense stick burnt to the end and the ash fell to the bottom of its holder. The fire crackled and the portraits grumbled at the disturbance, “You are right. I have not made this year easy for Harry, for anyone. I haven’t done things I needed to do because I was waiting to see how long it would take for the houses to work together to cooperate and look out for one another. I wanted to know how long it would take for students to realise the importance of including muggle therapy and other muggle solutions into our daily life. For the students to realise that they need to help each other and they need to accept that we are part of the niggle world. We need to move forward with developing muggle technology for our own purposes. Magic and Muggle methods need to come together.”

Draco snarled, “So you waited and waited and even when Harry tried to kill himself you still didn’t intervene.”

McGonagall shrunk into her chair a little and had the decency to look ashamed, “I admit that things went too far and I swear to Godric that I never intended any true harm to be done but I stand by what I said. The lesson needed to be taught to the students and so far the students have learnt. If you must know I have a list, a very extensive list, of changes to be made in this school and changes to be made for the students. It was just a matter of time. If you feel like I’m not doing a good enough job as head teacher perhaps you would like to review the list yourself? I can assure you that things have already started to change.”

Putting his cold tea down again, Draco sighed, “Well I’m glad your little experiment is over but right now you need to be taking your job more seriously. The students and parents put their trust in you to make the necessary changes as soon as possible and not wait until you’ve seen the pupils demand those changes. You should be doing better to actively make school easier for us but you haven’t been. Please. Don’t wait for us to ask more of you. Start working through that list. Start helping us.”

She nodded in agreement to herself, “I must say Draco your response to this whole thing has been quite impressive. You are a model student… I suppose you want to get going but Professor Snape wishes to speak with you.”

At that, some of the paintings grumbled and left their portraits, “About what?” Draco asked.

She gave him a fragile smile, “You'll have to ask him yourself.”

 

***

 

Professors Snape's portrait was, as usual, absent of the man. Draco sat on the sofa in front of the frame as he had done before and waited for his Godfather to return.

He didn't have to wait long as the flare of his robes announced his presence.

“Severus.”

“Draco.”

“Have you been to mother then?”

His stern eye looked away as he folded his hands into the pockets of his billowing robes, “Your mother received your letter… as she has received every letter this year. She has not told me anything but… she did say that you had better keep your promise to return at Christmas even if… circumstances might dissuade you.”

Draco frowned, “circumstances?”

“With your mother under house arrest and your … father in Azkaban. Well. Circumstances are going to change and when they do… your mother wants you to return home for Christmas. She said she needs to talk to you.”

The blonde stood, “But I don’t understand! My mother would have replied… she said… she promised me. You said things will change… does that mean my mother is being taken off house arrest early?”

Again, his godfather looked away, “No Draco. It is your father-”

“He’s nothing to me. I’ve looked up to him all my life and now he’s nothing. I hate him. I hate what he put me and mother through so don’t you dare call him that and say what I think you’re going to say.”

Severus sat on his chair in the portrait, “Nothing's for certain.”

The two left an awkward silence lingering, “I’ll go for Christmas. Even if … even if things change. Does she even love me anymore?”

“Draco. Your mother did everything she could to protect you. To save you. She loves you very much. I just needed to warn you that your father’s situation could change and you need to be ready for that.”

The blonde forced his eyes shut and bit his tongue before nodding his goodbye to Severus and entering McGonagall’s office once more. Arriving at the door, he took one last look at the desk where she watched him studiously, “Thank you, Professor.” He mumbled and left.

 

***

 

Theo left the grand hall with a plate of pancakes adorned with a chocolate spread smile and hair made of blueberries. Everyone had been eating their breakfast in a hurry with the first lesson of the day starting in fifteen minutes so they hardly noticed Theo. He made his way to their common room and saw Draco further ahead on the staircase.

“Draco!” He shouted, “Wait.”

The blonde didn’t even plaster a smile on his face as he turned around mid-step.

“What? Draco, what happened?” He asked holding the plate in one hand and hesitantly reaching Draco’s arm with the other.

“I spoke with McGonagall. Everything’s fine with her but Severus… he wanted to talk to me about-” He stuttered for his words, “My mother hasn’t been replying to my letters when she promised me she would. You were there when she promised me. She promised. Lucius is in Azkaban where he deserves to be but he might… Severus said he might…”

“Do you want a hug?” Theo asked quietly.

The blonde shrugged Theo off and walked a few steps up.

“Draco-”

“Luna?” Draco muttered, “Luna! Why aren’t you with Harry?”

The blonde girl skipped up to Draco with Ginny linking her arm as Theo gave Draco a worried glance and left them to give Harry his food.

“I could see Harry getting uncomfortable.” She frowned, “we talked about his summer and things that happened to him and I could see that he wanted to end the conversation so I- I left.”

Draco, his own problems forgotten, let his jaw drop and his gaze follow the direction that lead to their common room.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine Luna. Thank you for staying with him for as long as you did.” He replied. Ginny and Luna watched him continue up the rest of the stairs and disappear around a corner.

The first thing Draco heard when he entered the empty common room was shouting. It took him a second to realise that it was his name being called but not by Harry which he had first assumed but by Theo.

Malfoy’s don’t run. Scratch that. Slytherin’s don’t run. It’s far to inelegant and the perspiration is extremely undesirable. There had only been a few times where Draco had run yet this is what he found himself doing. Nothing registered other than his name and he ran towards it. His shared bedroom door was wide open and the plate of food had been dropped on Harry’s trunk. Blueberries were everywhere. Somehow he had managed to look at that much before his eyes instinctively snapped to the boy in the bed.

He was sickly pale and visibly shaking. The blonde hurried to the bed where Theo was, making the other move to the window. Draco straddled Harry’s legs and cupped his chin. His green eyes were glazed and unfocused and his breath was strained and fast.

“Harry.” Draco spoke clearly and gently, “You are being so brave. Can you look at me?”

The small boy began to splutter and his breath became more desperate.

“Look at me Harry, good boy. Just keep looking at me. Focus on me. Look at my eyes. Good boy, you are so brave.”

Harry managed to force his gaze to the voice’s grey eyes and he tried harder to actually look at them rather than zone out.

“Good boy. Brave boy. You are here in bed and I’ve got you. You are safe and you are with friends. You are safe.” Draco said and released Harry’s neck gently to rest his head against the propped up pillow and headboard, taking his shaking hands instead.

“Harry, what do you need? Tell me what I can do to help.”

The tanned boy took the effort to squeeze his hands and lift them slightly off the bed praying that the voice would understand. His breathing sped up at the fear that he wouldn’t understand and he wasn’t safe and he felt sick and dizzy.

Draco felt the touch on his hands and felt their interlaced fingers lift off the bed slightly.

“Good boy, thank you, Harry. I’m going to count to ten and I want you to lift your arms up above your head. One… Two… Three…”

Together they lifted their hands off the bed, “ Eight… Nine… Ten… Focus on your arms and my voice, feel your fingers and your toes and notice if they feel strange.”

Harry did as he was asked and felt the tingling in his fingertips but he also felt the ache in his head and the churning of his stomach.

The blonde noted that, as they lifted their arms up and down slowly, Harry became more relaxed and his breathing evened out slightly.

“Good boy. Do you know who I am? Can you say my name?”

Harry hunched forward as if he was going to be sick and took his hands from the voice’s to hold his head.

“Draco,” He wheezed.

“Good boy,” he assured before the child slumped onto him in exhaustion. Draco looked over to Theo who began to look awkward and left their bedroom quietly.

Emptiness. Harry was the epitome of emptiness as his fragile body slumped against Draco with his arms hanging freely and limply at his sides. He felt a hand cradle the back of his neck and he closed his eyes as he was gently eased away from the comfortable shoulder and lowered back onto the pillow where his throbbing head was consumed by the fluffed up arrangement. Absently, he acknowledged the fond slender fingers that brushed away his hair and caressed his cheek.

Tiny shudders and trembles ran through his body which Draco soothed and stroked away with his grounding hands.

“Are you still hungry?” Draco whispered when he had calmed down and the tremors became less frequent.

The small boy screwed his face slightly and nodded before opening his eyes a crack to see the blonde summon the discarded plate of food.

In a comfortable silence, they sat and Harry ate and Draco fed. The Slytherin took the time to break the pancake into small bites before bringing them to Harry’s lips and letting the other take the food as slow as he needed. Pancakes had become one of Harry’s favourite breakfast foods since Draco had forced him to eat three full meals per day. He felt the soft cloud against his lips and opened his mouth to take it in making sure to suck any chocolate spread from the blonde’s finger and thumb before pulling back and swallowing. It took too much energy to concentrate on eating that he didn’t notice the flush on Draco’s pale cheekbones. The few remaining blueberries that had little to be desired were last and when Harry had eaten his fill Draco vanished the remains.

“Good boy,” The blonde said softly.

It went right through Harry and made him feel strange. He had only just become aware that Draco had been saying those exact words to him during his panic attack, which he was now able to understand that to be, and the mere thought of those words being uttered once more left him breathless and a little hot.

Draco stood slowly from the bed and changed into pyjamas so that he could be comfier when he returned to the bed and shimmied under the covers with his small boy. The two moulded together seamlessly, effortlessly and perfectly with the taller of the two rubbing circles into the other’s back and pulling him into his chest. Harry felt those soft lips on his forehead and he melted like fudge it was that sweet. His head moulded to the curve of Draco’s neck and his legs hooked perfectly over the other’s hips and together, tangled up in a comfortable ball of safety and acceptance, they fell asleep.

 

***

 

Little disturbed them whilst they slept. Every now and then their door would open and Draco’s eyes would snap open to see Ron or Blaise or someone else peek in to check on them. All that time with that monster living in his home had made him a light sleeper and even though he woke at the slightest of noises Harry remained fast asleep. In the times he was awake he was lonely and the silence started to get to him but then he remembered the soft breathing of the small boy next to him and he saw his soft lips slightly parted and wet and he felt the other’s legs and arms clinging to him and he didn’t feel alone. Other times he woke up it was to Harry’s slight mewling in his sleep which Draco adeptly stopped with a hushed whisper of “I’m here. It’s okay. Good boy. You’re safe.” All in all, they both slept well.

When Draco woke for the last time it was to Harry’s lips on his neck. Just like all those nights ago. They were wet from when he had been drooling (whichwasdisgustinganduncouthanddefinitelynotcuteshutup). Draco merely accepted that they were against his lips and thought nothing of it until they started to suck slightly. Sheer panic went through Draco at the thought of a hickey but it was soon replaced by a bit back moan as Harry’s tongue met his pale neck. The blonde subconsciously tilted his neck to give the small boy more access and he pulled Harry closer without even realising it. At some point, Draco had gently lifted the black-haired boy on top of him and Harry’s small and quiet groggy noise that escaped his lips made Draco remember that Harry was still, in fact, asleep. The small boy was now straddling Draco’s hips and they were both chest to chest as Harry kept up his ministrations. Draco was fully aware of what he was doing when he wrapped his arms around Harry’s back and neck to hold onto him as if he would stop or run away and when Harry’s sleeping form felt his support his arms twitched and found Draco’s neck and hair which he too clung to.

He was going to have a hickey. Draco was certain of it. Luckily Harry’s lips were near his collarbone so it would be easily hidden but damn this boy drove him crazy. Especially when said boy rutted against him every few seconds. And Oh.

“There oh Harry. So good… Right there…” He gasped quietly. Every jolted rut brought enough friction to tease but it was so good so good. His hands slipped down Harry’s back to lightly cup his soft arse cheeks which he squeezed ever so gently. His own hips pushed past his restraint and bucked upwards to meet Harry’s. Oh, why did he have to be asleep?

Draco felt his eyes roll back as he came with his breath held and hips twitching. He took deep breaths to ground himself to the small boy that whined softly on top of him and felt the soft escape of a snore against his neck. He felt awful. How could he have done it again? Carefully, Draco turned over and settled the other boy back on the mattress which was how they remained for at least a few minutes until the whispered fearful “Oh no.” alerted him to Harry’s state of being awake.

“Harry.” Draco’s apology got caught in his throat.

“Draco I’ve… I’m… h-hard. What do I do? What time is it? Oh no we’ve got the fireworks soon!” Harry fretted.

He ran his hands through his hair and looked up to the blonde.

Draco gulped, “Harry you’re allowed to get rid of it you know. You don’t have to wait until it’s gone.”

“No no no. He said-”

“Harry. You are allowed.” Draco forced and ran his hand over Harry’s in his black hair. “I’ll…” He began to leave the warmth of the bed,”I’ll let you take care of it. I’ll be out in the hallway-”

“No!” He sat up and looked a bit sheepish, “No please what if someone comes in? What if someone catches me? Please stay. Please … “

Draco shrunk against the window, “O-okay… I’ll be by the door so no one walks in. You’re safe here Harry so just do what you need to do.”

The blonde sunk against the wooden door and pulled his knees up to his chest praying that he could block out the noises that he would surely hear.

After about a minute the distinct noises came to Draco’s ears and if he paid attention he could pick out the rustle of the covers and the strokes of his fingers and the whines…

“I… Draco I can’t! I can’t please it hurts. Please, what do I do it hurts? please! “ Harry cried.

Draco’s heart almost skipped a beat and he stood up and hurried to the bed where Harry was crying.

“Please, Draco, please please help. Please, it hurts.”


“What do you mean? What do you want me to do?” Draco whispered with anxiety.

“Stop it from hurting!” Harry begged.

Draco pulled back the covers and averted his eyes from Harry’s abdomen, “Are you sure? Do you want me to make it go away?”

“Please please please,” He cried.

Well. There there was only one thing he could do.

Draco stared intently at Harry’s member. It was smaller than average but that was probably due to his malnutrition. It was still a decent size though. The tip was pink and so were his fuzzy balls, precum dripped at the top and it made Draco’s mouth water.

“Draco, please. It hurts.”

Draco pulled Harry’s pyjama bottoms off to fully release his balls which made the small boy gasp and close his eyes. Then he gently wrapped his fingers around the base of Harry’s cock one by one, drawing out ragged breaths from the boy. He tightened his grip and pulled upwards making Harry’s legs open wider of their own accord.

“Draco…”

The blonde twisted his wrist slightly and push back down to pull his foreskin over his pink tip. Gently, he probed his thumb into the slit, massaging the head and following with a downstroke.

“D-Draco please!”

“What’s wrong baby boy?” Draco whispered.

Harry’s dick twitched in Draco’s grasp. Oh.

“More…” Harry muttered breathlessly, “More more please need more.”

“Good boy.”

Harry’s eyes rolled back and his back arched into Draco’s touch exposing his hard nipples.

Draco leant over the boy and wrapped his tongue around one nipple, sucking it and twirling it around his tongue. Then he did the same to the other noticing how they stiffened afterwards in the cold air and how Harry’s chest heaved up and down rapidly.

“More…” He groaned.

“It’s okay baby boy… I’ll take care of you.”

Draco lowered down Harry’s body and stroked his inner thighs to widen them. His hand stopped and Harry cried out.

“Harry… can I do this?” Concern laced every word. Harry looked down to where Draco’s mouth hovered over the tip and his breath ghosted over it making him shiver in his nod.

The first thing he felt was Draco’s warm heat and wet tongue gently sucking over his tip then his mind exploded as Draco sank down to the hilt in one and swallowed around his twitching form.

“D-Dra- D- Draco - Dra - D…” his breath became laboured and he arched into the gifted mouth panting his moans and gripping to the sheets beneath him. His arm flung back to the headboard as Draco pushed his tongue into the slit when he bobbed up then swirled around his tip and under the vein and sucked hard when he bobbed down to the hilt. One pale slender hand took his balls and stroked them.

Harry came with a cry as Draco milked his tip and swallowed most of it though some dripped down onto Harry’s groin. Harry began twitching from the over sensitive sensations. When Draco pulled back with a quiet pop he sat back on his heels. Harry started blissfully at the ceiling with blown out pupils.

Draco could have used his wand but instead, he conjured a cloth and some warm water and wiped his chin. Then he ran the cloth up Harry’s thighs and through his pelvis to clean up any spilt come. Tentatively, Draco ran the cloth down Harry’s flaccid cock and wiped away any lingering spit and precum making sure to keep away from overly sensitive areas. Lastly, he took Harry’s hands and wiped them down of anything from his own ministrations.

Whilst Draco took care of him Harry simply laid there.

“Harry… are you… are you okay? I didn’t do anything wrong did I?”

A small smile cracked his face, “No that was… that was the first time I’ve ever... come.”

Draco frowned, “But I thought you said you’d orgasmed at least once before…?”

Harry caught the blonde’s gaze, “I lied. I’ve never… not until now. I didn’t want you to get angry at those other people who never cared… Draco that was…” His eyes fluttered shut and a smile played on his lips.

Outside the fireworks began. Draco flicked his wand to open the curtains.

“Harry I…”

“Does this change things?” Harry asked.

“What do you mean?”

He gulped, “We never talked about Halloween and the… kiss.”

“Please. Stop. Don’t ruin this.”

Harry sat up, “So doing whatever you just did isn’t as horrible to talk about as a kiss?”

Draco felt his eyes flick down to Harry’s cock and he looked away to the fireworks outside. A green flash broke the black sky.

The blonde flinched at the memory of Avada kedavra but with Harry’s gentle touch on his arm, he remembered it was only a firework but his gaze was still captivated by the green streak of light.

He felt Harry’s hand on his cheek turning his head away, “Hey, Draco, look at me. Thank you… today for helping me with my… panic attack. I was worried you wouldn’t understand. I was scared that you would leave which is stupid because I know you wouldn’t do that to me. Thank you for helping me with… my problem.”

Draco looked into Harry’s green apple eyes and took Harry’s hand away from his cheek to hold it. “At Halloween… that kiss.” His gaze flicked up to the other’s and they drew closer together, “it was… “ he licked his lips and shook himself, “I should let you get dressed…” Draco stood and watched their interlaced fingers part hesitantly. The blonde got into his own bed and with one last look at Harry, he closed his curtains.

“Goodnight.”

“Goodnight you speccy git.”

“Prat of the century.”

“Birdsnest.”

“Beakface.”

“Idiot.”

“Ferret.”

“Night Harry.”

“Night Draco.”

 

I love you.

Chapter Text

The fireworks were still crackling and fizzing outside and the curtain around Draco’s bed illuminated with coloured light every few seconds. In a daze, he stared at the ceiling with the entire day flying through his head at the speed of light.

I just sucked off Harry.

I JUST SUCKED OFF HARRY POTTER.

The blonde brought his fingers to his lips and tasted Harry in utter bewilderment. Without even thinking, he pushed his fingertips past his lips and started to suck with the memory still vivid in his mind. Closing his eyes in bliss, he kept going and soon his fingers were as deep as the second knuckle. The cum from earlier was cold under his pants now and Draco was well aware that he was hard. His hands took charge and whilst one pushed to the back of his throat the other traced down his chest brushing his nipples slightly and making its way under the hem of his boxers.

Surely Harry must still be awake though. The thought scared him, the idea that Harry would know how he felt, but it also spurred him on; that Harry would hear and maybe like what he heard and maybe…

His fingers were warm when they wrapped around his length and luckily his full mouth muffled the small groan that came with the touch. Every drag of his foreskin made his legs twitch and every press of the small vein on the underside made him writhe at the thought that this is what Harry had felt. This is what he had done to Harry. He had made the innocent boy feel good for the first time in his life. It was that thought and that thought alone that eventually brought him to the edge. He removed the fingers from his mouth and brought his arm over his face. Draco came silently, mouth open to his inner elbow and his neck arched into the pillow.

Collapsing after the high had died down, Draco turned to his side facing Harry’s bed. He listened but the only noise was soft breathing. Maybe he had gone to sleep after all.

 

***

 

“Goodnight Draco”

He had sat up on his bed after Draco closed the curtains and he had remained like that. The only noise now was the distant fireworks illuminating the night sky. Every bang and crackle making him jump slightly. Harry dragged his eyes away from those closed curtains and towards the side of his bed that was still warm only to find his bottom lip poking out and a sad frown painting his face. For some reason, he wanted to cry. For some reason, he felt lonely. His fingers traced the warm patch of the mattress and then he let them wrap around his chest. He still had his jumper on from two days ago and he pulled it down to cover his torso from where Draco had pushed it up to lick his… He looked back at Draco’s bed. Gingerly, he tiptoed to his trunk to retrieve a clean pair of boxers. They were green with little monkeys on and they fit him rather snuggly.

Draco’s bed was quiet. Maybe he was asleep. His pouted lip caught the first taste of salt and he crawled back into bed not even bothering to bring the covers up to his neck. Harry curled up into a ball and watched the fireworks. Alone. His tears stained his cheeks and he couldn’t understand why they were there or why he felt so empty. He wasn’t even making any noise the tears were just falling slowly and were simply there without any hysterics. Harry didn’t close his curtains and he didn’t call out and he didn’t fall asleep. He just laid there alone and watched the colourful sky. Only when the fireworks stopped did he lose his conscience and slip into sleep.

 

***

 

Not even when the fireworks ended did Draco fall asleep. He couldn’t stop fidgeting in his bed; tossing and turning. Eventually, he opened the gap in his curtains to see Harry’s bed and the small boy that curled up there. He must be freezing.

“Idiot.” He muttered and got up out of bed to pull the covers over Harry who was stone cold. When he was satisfied that Harry wouldn’t die of hypothermia he let the night sky take his attention.

The stars burst through the empty void and he couldn’t help but let his mind wander.

His fingers touched the cool glass and he sat on the cushioned seat letting his mind follow a twisting road to insanity.

It’s sad to see something beautiful and know that you’ll never be able to call it yours. To know that one day it will be gone for good.

His voice was only a whisper in his mind and he thought about his mother and about her star and for some reason he felt like he was looking at her when he looked at the bright sky. Draco looked at the sleeping boy in the bed.

But it’s even sadder when it’s you I look at and it’s you who looks back at me because you are beautiful and I can’t call you mine. And one day you will vanish too.

“I wish I had the Gryffindor bravery to tell you that I love you. But I don’t.”

He stood with the intention of returning to bed but Harry muttered, “Draco come back here.”

His heart froze with panic as he turned around.

“Draco… get the… get… puppy… Can we… that one?” He whispered and stretched under his covers until he faced Draco’s bed.

The blonde smiled and slipped under the covers with Harry whispering, “We can get whichever puppy you like if you’re a good boy.”

He snuggled up to Harry and put his head on Harry’s chest and intertwined their legs. Harry’s eyes cracked open with the disturbance of the mattress and squinted at Draco whilst half asleep. The smile spreading across his face wouldn’t go away as he became aware that Draco had come to his bed. He wrapped his arms around the blonde to cuddle him. Harry’s smile wouldn’t even let him sleep as he was too aware of Draco in his arms and of Draco’s apple shampoo and of Draco’s breath touching his skin. He stroked Draco’s hair and combed through it and eventually fell back asleep rubbing circles into the others back and lightly kissing his forehead.

 

***

 

Morning was abruptly dropped on their heads by the sound of Hermione’s incessant knocking.

“Hermione I told you I’d get them you don’t have to-”

“Harry. Draco. Wake up. You need to get breakfast right now or we’ll be late for the bus.”

Draco groaned into Harry and the other mumbled, “What’s she on about?”

“Muggle studies trip for assessment.” He replied not so eloquently. “Shit.” He sat up wrenching Harry from his warmth and the last dregs of his sleep. It was a Saturday after all and he deserved a lay in. “The trip. Yeah, we’ll be out soon!” He hurried to get Harry a pair of light blue jeans, a random grey shirt and one of his many thick woolly jumpers; the selected one being a rich green.

“Get dressed.”

“Umm…”

“Clothes. Harry. Put them on.” He warned whilst picking out his own black skinny jeans paired with a black turtleneck and long green coat.

Harry almost put his jumper on back to front when he saw Draco’s outfit it was that distracting.

The blonde stared hopelessly in the mirror at his untamed hair which he usually left unstyled most days but this was one step too far. This was Harry Hair.

Harry didn’t see anything wrong with it obviously, “You look great. I like your hair like that.”

“You would,” Draco muttered before turning around to see that Harry had, in fact, put his jumper on the wrong way. He huffed, “Arms up.”

“What..?” His question went unasked as he put up his arms without further argument.

Draco took Harry’s glasses off and removed the jumper. He made sure the sleeves weren’t inside out and then put the green thing back on the right way around.

For Harry, at least the morning so far had been a rush but time seemed to slow down when Draco eased the glasses back over the bridge of his nose carefully making sure they were straight.

“You’ll like today.” He whispered and took the small boy’s hand to go to the bathroom shortly followed, with the accompaniment of Hermione, by the hall.

 

***

 

Harry tugged on a thick black coat whilst trying to finish off the last of his waffle which he had almost dropped out of his mouth if Draco hadn’t taken it for him.

“Can someone tell me what the bloody fuck we’re doing? Why is there a bus? What are-” Draco shoved the waffle back in Harry’s mouth just some peace and quiet instead of the onslaught of questions.

The muggle studies professor raised her eyebrow as Draco got on the bus, “Sorry we’re late professor. Harry slept in.”

Outraged, Harry swallowed his mouthful of waffle, “I slept in? I’m not even- you slept in!”

The professor wrote on her clipboard with an unimpressed roll of her eyes.

“They both slept in,” Hermione smirked and got on the bus.

The trio headed to the back of the bus where their usual seats had been saved. With a slight struggle, Harry squashed up to the window on the very back row and Draco sat next to him doing up their seat belts. Hermione took her seat on the row in front of them and opened up a book for a bit of light reading.

“Draco. Why am I on the muggle studies trip?” Harry had been set on staying in bed all day and waiting for Draco to get back. It was the first trip of the year that required a half day and Harry hadn’t really been affected by Draco’s in-lesson trips before so it was strange that he was not actually going to be left alone.

Draco smirked, “Well you see Harry. Yesterday, a certain someone went to pay McGonagall a visit and that certain someone might have changed your timetable and so you see… you might find that a certain someone removed Herbology and Charms and might have switched History of Magic for Muggle studies and might have persuaded the teachers to give you less homework. So…”

Harry stuttered, “You’re joking… so this… the trip… you’re joking!”

Draco shook his head with a smirk.

“Right class! Today I want you to take full notes and observations on our trips. Immerse yourselves into the Muggle world. Take part in tasks that you could write about in your essay and remember to keep your assessment in mind on this trip but remember to have fun. It is the weekend after all.”

“Where are we going anyway?” Harry asked.

“The zoo.”

Harry looked out the window, “Oh I like the zoo. I’ve only ever been once and boy was it an experience.”

“It’s more than a zoo Draco!” Hermione said in exasperation as she knelt on her seat and leant over the back to face the two boys, “It’s a sanctuary for homeless animals. It re-homes them and prepares them to be released into the wild again. It’s got several-”

“What happened at the Zoo?” Draco interrupted.

Harry tried to hide his grin, “I spoke to a snake for the first time, accidentally vanished the glass to its enclosure and set it free and then after Dudley fell into the enclosure I accidentally put the glass back up. Like I say; one hell of an experience. The relatives were not happy.”

Hermione tried to hide the concern on her face, “They didn’t… do anything did they?”

He looked to his lap and wrung his hands together, “Only the usual.”

Draco snarled, “Do I even want to know what that entails?”

“Probably not.” Harry sighed, “Look I don’t want to think about it so can we just talk about something else?”

“...sure.” Draco met the other boy’s gaze with a warm but sad smile.

 

***

 

Flamingo Land was extremely busy even though the class had set off from Hogwarts early. Muggles were running around everywhere; kids pulling their parent’s arms, pointing at strange loud mechanical things. Kids screaming, babies crying. People shouting on those metal structures and moving seats. Salazar who would want to sit in that!

“Salazar give me strength,” Draco muttered once they stepped through the gate, eyes piercing and judging causing Harry to stifle a laugh behind his hands.

“And what do you think is funny Potter?”

Harry leaned on Draco and giggled into his shoulder, “You, Malfoy.”

With a roll of his eyes, Draco grabbed Harry’s hand and stalked off in the direction of the actual zoo and not this boisterous monstrosity of a… of an… of whatever this horrid place was. The cinema Draco could handle; minimal interaction, decent food even if it was overpriced, and extended magic pictures pfft muggles stole that idea from wizards he was sure of it. But this was just ridiculous.

Hermione had tagged along and observed the two with her knowing look™ which was rather entertaining, as Pansy had never taken muggle studies so therefore couldn’t entertain her, and making a mental document of all the third wheeling she was currently doing was better than taking note of the muggle world which she was very much accustomed to.

The Meerkats were interesting sure but Draco’s casual arm around Harry’s waist was even more so. The flamingos searched for fish in their enclosure whilst Harry searched for Draco’s hand to hold. Three lion cubs rolled around in the grass and pretended to bite and scratch each other and of course, Draco was too busy pulling out some stray grass from Harry’s curls (that some horrid giraffe had dropped on top of him) to notice. Harry spoke to the snakes with wide eyes and such an innocent face that he looked eleven again, perhaps even younger. He was so engrossed with their conversation that when the snakes told him the blonde was looking at him funny he was utterly thrown by the change in topic and turned slightly to see a blonde with features softer than he had ever seen. Draco’s eyes were full of wonder and love, Hermione noticed because Harry wasn’t familiar enough with those emotions to recognise them himself bless him, but she also saw under the sheer adoration of Harry embracing his inner child the lust that burned and exploded in his eyes at every hiss and soft movement of Harry’s lips. How with every giddy sentence Harry spoke, Draco would become a little pink in the face and his eyes would be drawn to the boy’s lips and shining eyes. Merlin, he could kiss him. Harry said his goodbyes to the snakes and left to the louder more disturbing, according to Draco, part of the zoo.

Hermione meandered behind them only to realise that they had stopped in the queue for Mumbo Jumbo.

Pleaseeee Draco,” Harry whined.

“Well you won’t get me to do anything by whining will you Harry? Why don’t you ask me properly.” Draco teased.

“Draco. Please, will you go on Mumbo Jumbo with me?” Harry pouted.

“Good boy. Very well then. My hair can’t get any worse.” Harry flushed at the endearment and soon they were on the roller coaster weaving up and down and round in steep climbs and sharp drops. Draco left looking rather green.

“I take it you won’t be going on Kumali then.” Said Hermione.

“On what?” Draco wheezed.

Harry pointed to the ginormous ride next to them with several loop the loops and the steepest climb of the amusement park.

“Merlin no. Nope. No. Potter take me ba- I’m going to be sick. Salazar this is so uncouth. Potter-”

Harry held the other up just as he looked like he was going to faint, “Don’t worry. I’ve got you. Come on let’s go back to the bus.”

 

***

 

They were back in their seats before the others had returned and Draco looked less green now which was good; it didn’t suit him no matter what his house was. Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry cooing over Draco and making sure he was okay with small gestures like smoothing his hair down and taking his coat off to use as a blanket. These boys were either in denial or just oblivious she huffed in exasperation and took out her hefty book to read.

It wasn’t long before they were on the move. Their professor talked to them about things they could write about in their essays like roller coasters and animal enclosures as well as the food. The whole day had been rather exhausting which was why Harry found, twenty minutes into the trip back to school, Draco leaning on his shoulder fast asleep. He looked so peaceful. So vulnerable. He couldn’t take his eyes away nor could he move so it was a good thing he was comfortably leaning against the window half asleep himself.

 

***

 

When Draco woke up with the arrival of the bus at Hogwarts he was most displeased that he had fallen asleep in public on Harry's shoulder. Luckily everyone was too busy getting off the bus to notice so Draco didn't mention it.
“Harry.” He whispered to the sleeping boy pressed up against the window “Harry wake up.”

He blinked awake with a jump and rubbed his eyes. The bus was half empty by now. Following after Hermione, Harry and Draco headed to their common room where they collectively decided to write their essays together. It was harder than Harry thought it would be; picking out the parts of the day that were apparently useful (Draco almost being sick was unfortunately not relevant) and then piecing it together in a coherent way discussing muggle customs and phrases as well as the zoo and the animals and roller coasters. Putting an opinion in the essay, as was required for growth and understanding of muggles, was quite difficult Harry realised when you had grown up raised entirely in the muggle world but he soon asked Hermione how she used that to her advantage and then it was a breeze.

Time flew as they completed their essays that had yet to be handed in for another three days and when they had finished Harry was so drained of homework that he refused to complete anything else.

“Hey, Harry.” Ron yawned as he sat down in front of the fire where the three had been working.

“Hi Ron, sorry for abandoning you mate,” Harry mumbled.

He laughed, “Don’t worry about it! Blaise and I had a great time we played a game of chess and he helped me with my homework because I didn’t quite understand this thing and it turns out he’s quite good at explaining things.”

“Oh. Right. Well, I’m sorry anyway.”

“Look, mate,” Ron said earnestly, “It’s fine. Look, how about we have a game of chess together?”

“Merlin, you know I’m pants at it… go on then.” Harry sighed.

Draco watched the two play which was boring, to say the least; Weasley was winning. So he summoned a blanket from the corner of the common room and found something to read. Over the summer he had grown quite in love with poetry and even though some people thought it to be drivel and an endless rambling fitted into one long sentence, Draco couldn’t help but divulge and devour every word. The small second-hand book that was accio-d into his lap was a battered copy of Dylan Thomas’ poetry that he had picked up in a Muggle bookshop. His favourite poem by far was “Do not go gently into that good night.” Draco flipped to the worn page automatically and read slowly, his fingers brushing the stinging words as they were spoken in his head. It was on repeat. It must have been because by the time he had reached the last couplet the chess game had finished and Harry had crawled under Draco’s blanket and linked his small hand through Draco’s arm with a cheek resting on his shoulder. He must have read it multiple times and not even noticed. Draco closed the tatty book and set it down on the coffee table in front of them.

“Draco… are you okay?” Harry whispered.

He turned to the small boy clinging to his arm and gave him that same warm but sad smile, “Just reading a sad poem,” He barely managed to get out given that he was refusing to sniffle or wipe his threatening to overflow eyes. Trying to blink back small tears had the opposite effect and he turned away from Harry.

“Hey,” The boy whispered, putting his free hand on Draco’s cheek and making him look at Harry. “Draco, it’s okay to find things sad and to cry about things even if you think it’s stupid or not worthy of tears. I feel like crying sometimes without any reason at all. It doesn’t mean we’re over emotional we’re just being human. It’s better to cry than to not at all because it means you’ll either keep it all bottled up or you’re an emotionless robot. Don’t hide from me of all people, never me.”

Draco screwed up his brow as he tried to control his emotions but it took too much effort so he hid his face in the crease of Harry’s neck and watched the glowing flames spit and flare barely even realising that one hand intertwined with Harry’s or that the other was being held by Harry to his tanned cheek. He didn’t even notice, as he drifted into a peaceful state of bliss, that Harry took his hand and pressed delicate little kisses to each of his fingertips with gentle soothing strokes on his palm. He didn’t notice it but his heart broke a little more and his soul pulled towards the other a little more all the same.

***

“Do you see that?”

“Yes, Pansy.”

“They annoy me so much!”

“We know Pansy.”

“Are they so brainless that they can’t just get together?”

After Ron had finished his game with Harry he had gone and sat next to Blaise and everyone else, joining them in their conversation about how stupid their two boys were.

“Maybe we should play another truth or dare. Try to get them together.” Pansy suggested.

Everyone around her looked at her with caution.

“What? They could do with a little pushing.”She argued.

“No.” Neville said whilst holding a small cactus, “We need to let them figure it out themselves. We need to let them do it themselves.”

Theo looked up from the small fuzzy plant and looked at the two sat on the couch by the fire at the other side of the common room, “Neville’s right. We can’t force it.”

“But maybe if we-”

“No Pansy.” They all collectively groaned and Blaise chuckled at her muttered: “You guys are no fun.”

Hermione pulled Pansy further onto her lap and sighed at the two boys on the sofa who currently had the halo of the fire outlining their silhouettes. Draco’s head was tilted and resting on the other’s shoulder as they had been for a while now.

“What do you suppose they’re talking about?” Hermione wondered.

Neville watched the boys and let his eyes scan the room to see if any of the other eighth years had been watching them- a few were but mostly everyone was getting on with homework. “I don’t think they’re even talking…” he replied softly and petting his cactus, “I think they’re just sat enjoying each other’s company.”

Ron raised an eyebrow, “Welp. I never thought that this was how my eighth year was going to go. Have I gone round the bend ‘Mione?”

“No Ronald.” She mumbled a bit distantly like she was lost in her own thoughts. The sound reminded Neville of Luna and he stood abruptly.

“I- I need to go. I think I- Night.” And he left before anyone could reply to him, cradling his potted mini cactus.

Theo bit the inside of his cheek and looked back between the staircase that Neville had just run up and his group of friends, “I think I’ll go see if he’s okay.”

The group looked amongst themselves in confusion but easily shrugged it off when Pansy leapt up from Hermione’s lap and attempted to make her way to the sofa by the fire. She almost escaped the group when Blaise grabbed her her elbows and tugged her back with a pointed, “Don’t. Pansy.”

The girl huffed and snapped, “Well I’m sorry. Actually no. I’m not. You act like you want to do nothing about them being oblivious but every time you’re around me it’s ‘Oh Pansy what am I going to do’-”

“Stop.”

“‘He’s amazing Pansy. We have so much fun playing chess and’-”

“Shut up Pansy!”

“‘I love Ron’s freckles they’re so cute and he’s so comfy and we hugged Pansy! Can you believe we hugged!’- Now that Blaise is hypocritical.” She sat herself down again and pouted.

Ron’s ears were red and so was his neck but the colour turned, even more, when Blaise looked at him with a sheepish smile. He bit his lip and sat on Blaise which would have been exactly like Pansy except he had one leg either side of the chair and he was so close to Blaise that the insides of his thighs brushed the other boy’s hips.

Just as they were about to brush lips Pansy dragged Hermione away, “Now why won’t that work with Potter?”

Hermione sat in their inevitable seat- an armchair by the fire. Harry’s armchair to be specific. The two boys were asleep when she whispered to Pansy who had resumed her comfy chair, “Because Harry doesn’t understand emotions like love or pining. Sure he probably experiences it but he doesn’t understand it because he’s never been surrounded by loving people until he was eleven. Imagine a baby with its mother. As soon as she leaves the baby cries and it will continue to cry until it is surrounded by familiar faces and reassured that it is safe because it has an attachment. Harry’s attachments to the people he trusted were taken away from him when he was housed with relatives. I can’t imagine them cooing him and playing with him, giving him kisses or hugs, even smiling at him. He’s never had another attachment. He would have been better raised by Remus and Sirius. By his real family. Another thing Dumbledore failed at. If you were to do to Harry what you just did to Blaise he would get scared. He would isolate himself and deny himself the happiness he deserves. We can’t do anything. We have to wait.”

Pansy eyed the sleeping boys carefully, “How did you escape Ravenclaw?”

The other rolled her eyes and smirked, “should we tell them to go to bed? It’s nine already.”

“Sure.” Pansy sighed.

***

Harry woke with the disruption of Draco waking up next to him. He had fallen asleep in the common room without even realising and by the sounds of it- so had Draco.

“- really go to bed.”

“What?” Harry groaned.

“Come on.” Draco stood up, stretching, and held his hand out for Harry to take, “Let’s go to bed.”

“O-okay.” he yawned and sleepily dragged his feet to their room but by the time he got his bunny onesie on and slipped under the covers, eyes on Draco in the dark, he was wide awake.

Draco hesitated to get into bed as if considering the warmth underneath Harry’s covers but when he noticed the boy’s unrelenting gaze he plastered a rehearsed smile on and got into his assigned bed.

“Goodnight bunny.” He whispered into the dark.

“Goodnight Draco.”

***

It was around one in the morning when Harry had enough. He threw his covers back and got out his invisibility cloak along with his map which he set on the bed after the muttered: “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good”. He didn’t really know why he did it. Maybe it was in case Draco woke up and wanted to know where he was which was unlikely given the time. Maybe he did it in case, for some reason, he decided to hurt himself… maybe it was just his subconscious begging Draco to come after him. He really didn’t know. He looked to the sleeping boy and wrapped his cloak around him more for warmth than anything else and when he left he didn’t catch the gentle furrow of Draco’s eyebrow and therefore had left by the time Draco started to shake in his bed.

***

With the hope of easing his mind and tiring himself out, Harry made his way to the castle. He wandered aimlessly about the corridors and past the kitchen. His feet took him to the great hall where he froze. Clutching the invisibility cloak tighter, he stepped into the large space where again he froze and felt like the floor was being sucked from underneath him. Hundreds of times he’d been back at the hall this year. He was fine. He was okay. Why was now different? The candles were out and the tables were put to the side. The room looked bare and it brought back memories, gratuitous memories of the fear he’d been hoarding in sneaking into the school and into this hall. Standing with the others but feeling like he was standing alone. He remembered Ginny’s reassuring hand squeeze and felt his chest restrict. Tugging the zipper of his onesie down a little he tried to rid the thoughts of the summer just gone. Of how he’d become so close to Ginny and enjoyed being with her but then how she asked for more without understanding how hard it was. How he had soon grown afraid of her and her desires.

His eyes snapped shut and he prayed that the memories would go away. He and Ginny were friends now, she understood why he had to leave now. He was okay. But then his eyes opened and caught on the place where Remus’ body had laid. Where Tonks had been. Where he realised how Remus had a son. Where he realised he had to be an adult for this small baby and he couldn’t breathe. Remus had been happy with Tonks but happier with Sirius and she had realised that too. They were all together now. He looked at Fred’s resting place where Molly had wept over her lost boy and George had seen half of himself turn cold and absent. He looked at the other end of the hall where he remembered Draco standing with his Mother and Father, all huddled together, afraid and relieved. He couldn’t take it. His lungs had been crushing him from the moment he stepped through the doorway and he didn’t know how long he’d been there but he ran all the same.

***

Harry's limp body hit the floor with a smack, his head splitting open and seeping a blanket of blood underneath him. The pool of cold blood dipped into the cracks of the courtyard and made a path down its avenues until it finally reached Draco.

Draco under imperious.

Draco with a knife.

Draco with blood splattered hands.

For the fifth time, the knife plunged into Harry's chest. The first time he had looked into grey eyes as his body spasmed and he had coughed and gasped blood with Draco's name on his lips. The second had Harry claw at the courtyard beneath him. The third led him to muster all his energy to hold Draco's arms, his shoulders muttering “it's okay. I forgive you. Remember- ahhh- that I forgive you.” The fourth...The fourth made Draco stutter with the realisation of what his fingers were gripping. His eyes flicked up to the small boy's green ones beneath him that screamed at him to end it. “I love- ngggg - I love you Draco” His green orbs lost their glow and a tear spilt out the corner of his dead eyes. The compulsion hit and he stabbed for the fifth time.

He blocked the spell. Pushed aside the link to Voldemort's wand and broke free.

Draco met the knife clatter on the floor next to him. There wasn't any time. He held Harry's cold still hand. He stroked away his curled hair and ran his bloody fingers through it. He tried to get rid of the blood in his mouth but when it wouldn't stop - what he’d done wouldn't stop - he kissed the blood away. There wasn't any time. Before he had a chance to say he was sorry and that he didn't mean it and that he loved Harry the dream had already started falling apart and Draco was already being wrenched away with a cry for Harry.

Harry was nowhere to be seen.

“Please… you can’t be gone… It was just a dream… I didn’t- I didn’t really do it! Please please please please where are you.” He sobbed whilst clawing it the messed up sheets and making the map fall to the floor.

Draco felt it hit his foot and he snatched it up. Rooms. Names. A map. He pulled on a pair of slipper haphazardly and tugged his emerald dressing gown on, not even bothering to tie it up. Scouring the map for that name; the one that meant the most to him, the one that he had to know was safe, he ran out the common room. Harry’s name could be located somewhere near the lake and Draco let his feet take him where he needed to go only to find a half frozen, half awake looking boy sat against the back of a tree looking out across the water.

“Harry?”

He didn’t answer.

Draco hurried to put his hands on either side of the small boy’s face, “Harry are you okay? Tell me that you’re okay? Please? I didn’t do it I didn’t I didn’t I- Harry please please I-” He pressed his warm lips against Harry’s cold forehead and when that gained no reaction from him Draco took his dressing gown off and wrapped it around his shoulders. He hauled the small boy onto his lap and cradled him with a gentle hand brushing the inky hair from his face.

“You’re okay you’re okay you’re okay,” He repeated but whether it was to Harry or himself he didn’t know.

Draco found himself rocking Harry in his arms as if he were a cot and he tried helplessly to warm the boy up. In a sheer panic, he cast multiple warming charms and thanked Salazar that he hadn’t forgotten his wand and, eventually, Harry murmured; “They died. They’re gone. It’s nearly morning. You’re warm.”

Draco continued to rock the small boy, “You’re okay. Shhhhhh. It’s okay. It’s okay.”

Curled up together, Harry finally fell asleep not to be woken again until two hours later when the sun started to rise and Draco’s stomach growled.

“I want to show you something.” Harry whispered, “Well… it’s more of a somewhere.”

Draco’s stomach rumbled again, “O-okay. Can we get something to eat first?”

“No I can’t- I don’t” His voice caught, “I can’t go back there yet.”

Standing up Draco strokes Harry’s cheek, “Okay. Where do you want to take me?”

The boy bit his lip and looked to the Forbidden Forest,”I’ve wanted to go back there for a while but I can’t go by myself.”

“Harry.” It comes out as a warning, a gentle question asking if he is okay but the begging look he receives is enough to make him take his hand and walk through the dense woodland.

***

The leaves are brown and crumbling on the floor going unnoticed. Many creatures of the forest hide in the shadows and run away as they wander absently to that place where the end seemed clear. Hand in hand they traverse the fallen logs and stones sent to trip you and they pull each other and hold each other when their tired legs try to give. The forest doesn’t seem as dark and gloomy as it did on that day and you can even see little snowdrops sprouting through the moss. Life is here. Mushrooms clinging to the bark of trees or the base of stumps. The odd snap of a twig here and there to remind them of the animals roaming around. The forest doesn’t seem quite as scary when you’re not alone and all those memories of wanting to die after seeing your family by that blasted stone are replaced with the warm smile and giggles and life that echo from the two of you. There’s hope. There’s life.

***

“Why don’t we settle down here?” Draco suggested.

They were in an open area of the woods where Harry assumed he died those months ago. The small boy was about to follow Draco in sitting down but a small creature poked it’s head out from behind a tree and Harry couldn’t help but be fascinated. He crouched and let the animal come to him.

Slowly but surely, the small thing came closer and cast its big bright eyes on Harry.

“Forest puppy,” Harry whispered and stood slowly to pet it. The animal craned its neck upwards to look at him.

“Harry. That’s a deer.” Draco laughed.

He pouted looking at the baby creature, “It’s a forest puppy.”

The deer wandered around Harry’s onesie trying to pull the tail off but eventually got bored and left the open space with one last look at the two of them. Fun over, Harry sat with Draco and curled up next to him.

“I feel sometimes… like the only thing keeping me from actually ending it, all is the idea of someone in the future looking at me and holding their arms open to me begging me to hold on because I haven't met them yet. And when I do I'll love them with such intensity that it would kill me to leave them. That they would love me back with such intensity that they'd know. They'd just know that they needed me... It's like that feeling when you are aware that ghosts could be watching you right this second or talking to you or reaching out to you. It's that feeling but just from the future. From the ghosts of people you haven't met yet, that you would never meet if you ended it all. I know it’s selfish. I just wish I knew what it felt like to be wanted.”

Draco wrapped Harry in his arms, “What if those arms begging you to hold on came from the present? Came from right now? Right here? Because I need you, Harry. I don’t think I’d live without you.”

“Life is pain.” Harry laughed humorlessly, “I wake up every morning, I’m in pain. You know how many times I wanted to just give up? How many times I thought about ending it?”

“No. I don’t know” Draco whispered. “It’s hard. Isn’t it? Pretending you’re okay. I’ve felt like that Harry. I’ve felt like ending it all before too. Pansy would kill me though if I did and I don’t want a problem with her in any possible afterlife which is why I guess I’m still here. Pansy’s wrath is just too risky.”

Harry let a small giggle escape him and he his it on Draco’s shoulder, “Life is pain. Life can suck a dick.”

Draco huffed a laughed, “You know what else is a pain Potter? My stomach. Come on. I’m starving. Let’s head back to school yeah?”

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

The walk up to the castle was tedious, as it usually was, to say the least. Every few seconds Draco’s stomach rumbled which was followed by a murmured apology from Harry. If he was totally honest with himself, Draco felt… well, he felt… that is to say he - he had no idea how he felt. And that was honesty. Harry’s words hadn’t really sunk in until they started to walk - in silence and very much apart - up the same old path to the castle. But now they were clear as crystal. And they stung. At least Draco thought they stung (again he didn’t really know).

The Slytherin had laid there next to Harry and blatantly told him that he needed the small boy that he would die without him and for what? To be ignored. To be shut down and cast aside like his statement didn’t mean anything. So yes it stung or it hurt or it felt like a punch to the gut or something like that. Or maybe he was just numb to it because he’d certainly been ignored before; said things before (obvious things) that just didn’t get past that bird's nest and didn’t register whatsoever. The brutal fact was Draco was tired of feeling second best and sometimes not even that. He was fed up with trying to show his affection for Harry when, in the end, it got him nothing in return. It got him nowhere.

The two boys didn’t talk as they walked into the kitchens because they certainly weren’t going to the great hall in front of all those students in nothing but their pyjamas. They ate quietly, thanking Winky for her effort in making fresh porridge and bringing pumpkin juice to them both. Draco snagged a juicy-looking apple before they set off to the dormitories and changed into their school uniform.

 

***

 

Harry couldn’t tell if things had gotten awkward between him and Draco since he told him all those things but the way he had cut off the conversation and almost changed the subject had seemed like he didn’t want to listen anymore. Maybe he really was just hungry. Maybe Harry was overthinking things. Harry also couldn’t tell if the walk back up to the castle or breakfast in the kitchens or getting changed and heading to the first class of the week was just a comfortable silence, a silence where they felt no need to break it with small talk, or whether he really had made Draco uncomfortable. The small boy just didn’t know if he had done something wrong. He wasn’t an idiot; talking about wanting to die with one of your best friends was not something pleasant and maybe it had triggered Draco in some way. After all, Draco did say that he had felt the same before. Harry should have known. It shouldn’t be up to Draco to tell Harry his triggers. Harry should have warned him what he was going to talk about. Perhaps he was still overthinking things but Harry couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow, for whatever reason or for whatever he had done, he was in the wrong and he had upset his friend. Whatever he’d done, he had time to think it over in his new free period.

 

***

 

Herbology was less interesting now that Harry was absent from the class especially with Neville taking Theo’s time up and attention away from himself. It was boring shovelling magical soil into potted plants and planting new bulbs and seeds (the school’s way of keeping supplies in stock whilst also teaching students the units on the spec) without having Theo to talk to. No, instead he was talking to the other blonde. Draco huffed; today just felt… off. And why were those two so close anyway? They barely ever spoke.

 

***

 

“I think I’ll go see if he’s okay.”

Neville clutched his potted mini cactus close to his chest and made his way to his dorm room that he shared with Justin. As he went to open the door he heard faint noises from down the hall and with a frown walked quietly to the noise emitting room. Well, there was no doubt of what the noise was considering it was Seamus and Dean’s room and - Merlin he wished he hadn’t leant his ear up against the -

“Yes. Yes, Deaaan… Oh! Harder. Haarder. Please. There! Dean Dean!-”

“Neville?” Theo’s voice made him jump and almost drop Fuzzbo (the cactus) “What are you-?”

Neville moved away from the door, “I- I wasn’t- there was a noise and - Dean and Seamus are… I wasn’t- I was just going to put Fuzzbo back.”

Theo raised an eyebrow, “Fuzzbo?”

Neville looked at the tiny pot in his hand, “Yeah I called him Freddy Fuzzbo… Jeff for short.”

Theo brought his hand up to his forehead, “How… is Jeff short for Freddy Fuzzbo?”

The blonde pushed his door open and took Fuzzbo to the window ledge before turning around, “I don’t really know… but it’s a funny name so…”

Theo’s face lit with a smile that had long been missing from his face ever since their eighth year had started. It was just then that Neville noticed Justin on his bed and that he wasn’t … alone.

“Merlin- Justin I’m so sorry. I didn’t knock I'm so sorry Theo we need to go.” He grabbed Theo’s hand to drag him out of the room but his gaze was caught in the headlights as he saw not just any girl but-

“Millicent?” Justin tried to cover her up with the covers of the bed which then left Theo disposed to Justin’s….

Neville succeeded in dragging him out of the room and shutting the door.

“My room?” Theo suggested after they both got over what they had witnessed and with a shaky laugh Neville replied, “Sure.”

Luckily his room was empty as he shared with Blaise and right now he was downstairs with the others. They both sat on Theo’s bed knee to knee and sat and waited for the other to speak.

“You know,” Theo broke the silence, “It’s okay to still feel for them… it’s okay to hurt… it’s how you know you’re human.”

Neville frowned and caught himself wanting to stroke Fuzzbo for something to do. Its prickles were really soft and usually, it calmed him but right now Fuzzbo was left subjected to whatever Justin and Millicent were now doing.

“You sound like her. It’s something Luna would have said.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You did nothing wrong.”

“It still sucks though…”

 

***

 

Draco’s next class was DADA and he was about to sit next to Harry when Hermione took his place.

“Hermione? Why aren’t you sitting with Pansy? Harry why-”

Harry turned to the Slytherin with a smile knowing that Draco still wanted to sit with him and that Harry can’t have upset him. He had definitely been overthinking things. But before he could ask why Hermione was sat next to him - because, like Draco, he didn’t know - Pansy walked up to Draco, linking his arm and asking to sit with him.

Regrettably, Draco agreed to her demand and left Harry with Hermione.

Harry turned around and opened his textbook, whispering to Hermione, “Why did Pansy want to sit with Draco?”

“I have no idea,” she sighed and turned slightly to him, “I assume she wants to spend more time with him; you two are always together and she doesn’t really see him as much anymore but, if I really am honest, I don’t know. I hate that I don’t know. She always seems to be a step ahead of me and sometimes I just can’t quite figure her out.”

They both looked back a few rows of desks where Draco and Pansy sat talking.

Draco frowned, “You’ve never been this keen to sit with me… what changed?”

“Nothing Darling, merely the fact that you spend so much time with Potter these days that I’ve forgotten the fact that day and night I used to listen to your incessant moaning about -”

“It wasn’t incessant and it wasn’t moaning. And besides everyone has complaints it just… happens to have turned out that those complaints aren’t required anymore…” Draco argued.

Pansy huffed, “So we’re pretending those “complaints” about a certain black haired green eyed Gryffindor weren’t just you pining for him.”

“There’s nothing to pretend. They were merely complaints so there’s no need to say it like that.” He shrugged off her invasive statements.

The lesson started and the shutters to the windows closed with a wave of the professor’s wand, leaving the room in darkness for the projector to be turned on. There was a beat of silence but once the objective of the day had been given and the reel of the projector film started to turn Pansy began to talk in hushed whispers again.

“Do you remember at the hospital-”

“Don’t,” He pleaded with her. He didn’t want to think about that now.

“You walked away and you said you hated him and I said that you were wrong; you love him. You’ve always loved him. Right from the start so why can’t you just grow a pair and ask him out? Or take him for a date? Or tell him you’re feelings? Or ask how he feels? It’s not difficult!” She hissed earning a well-deserved threat from the teacher for detention if they didn’t stop talking- after all their assessment was soon and they couldn’t afford to waste time talking.

Draco took a scrap piece of parchment and scrawled on it

‘ later in the common room. We need to talk. I asked you to stop. And it’s actually more complicated than you could ever perceive. You know nothing Pansy.’

 

***

 

The rest of the day went by and each time Harry and Draco tried to be alone Pansy would come and take Draco by the side but her demands to finish her plan were ruined every time Draco shook her from his side and told her to wait until the school day was over.

 

***

 

You see, the previous night, after Draco and Potter had gone to their dorm room, Pansy had sat on Hermione’s lap in a world of her own. Hermione simply thought that their relaxing was due to the late night and the warm fire when, in fact, it was due to Pansy’s deceptive plotting.

Everyone would congratulate her when she managed to get those stupid fools together.

Her logic was simple. If she couldn’t get Harry to talk, she’d get Draco to instead. She’d ask why he wasn’t making any moves… ask what was stopping him. She’d point out his flaws and any possible reasons for Harry rejecting him and then tell him that none of that mattered. It was foolproof. Once he’d see that all his excuses were stupid then he’d simply get the job done.

Or so she naively thought.

 

***

 

“Care to tell me what’s wrong?” Draco asked Pansy. It was evening now in the common room and a few people were scattered around the edge completing homework and other various assignments but at the sound of Draco’s voice they eagerly looked up; it was rare that Draco raised his voice given the good reputation he now had to build for himself.

Pansy wore her most practised neutral face, “Draco… nothing is wrong at least not with me… look why don’t we-”

“I’m sick of you telling me how to feel Pans. I don’t want to hear it. I-”

“Why? What’s wrong? You said it’s complicated… therefore you don’t deny your feelings for him! Tell me why it’s so wrong to admit the bloody fact to yourself.”

Neither noticed a small trickle of students tiptoe into the common room subtly keeping to the edges to go unnoticed.

“Don’t Pans! What do you want to hear from me? I don’t get it! Do you want me to profess my love for him right now? To you? Why?”

She shook her head and said all too sweetly, “I’m not the person you need to tell… it’s him.”

Draco laughed bitterly.

“You don’t deny it Draco so what’s holding you back?” She asked and still, the two didn’t notice even more eight years enter the common room.

He clenched his fists and set his jaw.

“Is it because you think you’re not good enough for him? How could a death eater possibly be with the Saviour? The chosen one.”

“Don’t call him that.” He snapped but tried to keep his reserve.

“Is it because you have a dark mark? Or that your family almost brought the Dark Lord right to him? Or that your Aunt traumatized my girlfriend? Why are you so scared?”

Draco’s eyes watered, “Don’t talk about that stuff. I don’t want to be reminded. You think I don’t think that every second? Do you think I’m not haunted by that bastard living in my house for years?”

She pouted, “So you do think those things then. He was hurt in the past-”

“Like you would know!” He spat.

“As if you know everything about him!” Pansy yelled, “What, do you think that just because he was abused you can’t be with him? Do you really feel like you’ll hurt him? Break him. Rape him if you -”

“SHUT UP!”

The fire roared in the silence and the others watching jumped a little. Pansy opened her mouth to say something like ‘ You would never hurt him’ or ‘you worry about insignificant things’ or she would have reassured him but the second her mouth opened again he grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her back into Harry’s special armchair.

“I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!” Draco cried. This was the first time he had cried in front of a group of people that he had yet to see.

He was breathing heavy and almost didn’t hear the giggle of laughter enter the common room from the portrait hole. Harry was laughing to Hermione as they walked in clearly oblivious to the argument just had. Draco turned to see his small year group looking at him but his attention was brought to Harry with a worried, “Draco?”

Harry was right next to him, a tentative hand on his arm and a gentle brush against his cheeks to wipe away the tears there.

“Draco what- what’s wrong?” Harry asked.

“I can’t do this.” Draco sobbed and hid his face, “Just leave me alone Potter.” He begged in a whisper and fled out of the common room.

“Draco? Wait, Draco!” Harry ran to the portrait hole but Draco was already gone.

Just then Blaise and Ron walked in, “Hey where’s Draco going?” Blaise asked Harry but when no reply came, his gaze shifted to Pansy who looked a mixture of shocked, scared and worried.

Ron looked around the room, “What are you all looking at? Don’t you have homework to do?” The gathered eighth years scattered and busied themselves.

Blaise pushed his way towards the armchair, “What did you do?”

She stuttered, “I thought I could help.”

“Oh yes, you’ve definitely helped Pansy.” He sneered.

Others in the room were still looking at Harry as he watched the empty portrait hole but Ron soon took him out of the common room and into a nearby corridor.

“It’s all my fault.” Harry muttered to nobody, “He’s gone and it’s all my fault.”

Ron brought his strong arms around Harry and hugged him tightly, “You’ve done nothing wrong.” He said to Harry’s head of hair. “Come on. Let’s get you to bed. You’ll feel better after some sleep.”

Mindlessly, Harry allowed Ron to take him up to his room and to get him in his pyjamas. He even let Ron tuck him in and smooth his hair out of his face. With a final goodnight Harry laid in bed but he didn’t sleep. How could he? The room was too quiet. To empty. Harry raised his hand above the cover whilst trying to keep tucked in and accio-d his map which he had tucked away in his trunk earlier this morning. It fluttered over to him and he whispered the silly words. The map opened up and somehow Draco’s name shone out to him brighter than the others as if the map knew who he was looking for. It drew his attention straight away and he realised that Draco was just in the kitchens along with Winky. Harry forced his eyes shut and painfully put the map back away, willing himself to sleep. But sleep never came.

 

***

 

Draco didn’t return to their room that night and he didn’t show up to classes the next day but that night he did return to the room. Harry ended the day’s worth of lessons to find Draco already in their room and at his desk packing things away.

“Where have you been?” Harry asked softly.

He got no reply.

 

***

 

Draco studied more and more in the library and any spare time he had would be spent alone. At any point he bumped into Pansy he sneered at her on the outside but on the inside, he was reminded of what she had said and every time he was reminded it was a stab to the chest.

 

***

 

Harry grew used to arriving at his dorm room to see Draco already in bed. Uniform hung up ready for the next day. He grew used to being ignored.

 

***

 

The boys still worked together and still sat together. Draco still got Harry’s food for him in the great hall. He still made sure that he wore a coat before leaving the castle. He still made sure Harry’s shoelaces were tied before he left, though Harry wouldn’t notice Draco’s glance at his feet. Draco still woke Harry when he had a nightmare but what he no longer did was hide under the covers with him. They no longer talked the night away and tried to keep the nightmares at bay. They no longer hugged or held hands. Harry no longer felt Draco’s lips on his forehead. He no longer heard the endearments of “bunny” or “my baby boy” or “good boy” he felt like he was no longer Draco’s. Harry didn’t play seekers games with Draco anymore. They both didn’t play anymore. They didn’t play exploding snap. They didn’t share sweets from Hogsmeade. They didn’t make jokes about the teachers or share funny stories. They no longer…

 

***

 

The time came for their potions assessment. It was a blind brew. They were each given a recipe but it lacked any actual detail for the potion they were supposed to be brewing. It also lacked a name and therefore the real test was to deduct which potion it was from the ingredients and try to create it filling in the gaps of the lacking instructions. At the front of the desk were three piles of instructions and, by random selection, the piles were mixed and sent off to the different pairs.

Draco identified the potion they were brewing within seconds of looking at the ingredients list.

Amortentia.

Slughorn was surprised when he realised that Draco actually kept getting the instructions wrong putting it down to not enough revision but Harry knew with all the time he’d been spending in the library and any other time really that Draco knew this potion inside out. Harry had seen his friend prepare ingredients and he did it with a careful finesse and effort that when the blade in his hand was shaky and the ingredients weren't always perfectly shaped Harry became concerned. Harry offered to take over the chopping but then Draco almost stirred the potion anti-clockwise instead of clockwise and almost ruined it. As the potion became more and more complete Draco grew more and more unsteady with every movement and at one point he had to sit on a stool to clear his head. The fumes were overwhelming. Harry finished the brew with a concerned look over to Draco and when he realised that the potion’s strong scent of peppermint and earl grey and treacle tart were taking control of him, he placed the cauldron lid over the top.

Draco immediately seemed to sober up after that but it didn’t help the fact that that night, whether Harry was aware or not, he went to bed crying silently.

 

***

 

It was the last week of November. Harry didn’t want their friendship to end nor did he want their relationship to stop being what it had been. So, with a brave face, he asked Seamus for his game of Battleships and took it back to his bedroom.

“Draco,” Harry said.

The blonde pretended to ignore him.

“Draco please.”

He couldn’t really resist that voice forever so he turned over and inspected the box in Harry’s hand with a raised eyebrow.

“Play with me?” Harry asked.

Draco choked, “w-what?”

“Battleships.” Harry smiled, “It’s a muggle game.” He whispered waving the box with a rattle.

Draco, being coerced into this, played with Harry for a solid hour and a half with laughter and humour and it felt like nothing had changed but as soon as Harry put the game away the same awkward atmosphere came back. It became apparent to Harry that if he truly wanted to make Draco stop being a prat then he would have to do a lot more.

 

***

 

Near the end of November, things hadn’t changed much and all of Harry’s and Draco’s friends seemed to look at them warily. Harry wished they wouldn’t.

Like many other nights, he was laid on his bed waiting for sleep to claim him however this night was different in the fact that Harry was disrupted from his wandering thoughts by the tossing and turning in the bed next to him. The small boy made his way to Draco’s bed and pulled back the curtains to see Draco having a nightmare.

They had become more frequent now that they weren’t talking as much but that was merely coincidence Harry thought.

He sat on the edge of the bed and tried to still Draco, “I don’t want to ruin anything by cuddling you,” He whispered half to himself and half to Draco, “But I’m here. You’re safe from whatever world in which you’re suffering, I’m here and I’ll always be here.”

Harry moved Draco’s platinum hair from his forehead and tucked him back in and, when he was sure the nightmare had subsided, he walked back to his own bed.

The night sparkled and with the morning came December the first.

***

Draco was the first to wake. As usual for the past week or so his nightmares had become regular occurrences at night and his sleeping patterns had become more and more disrupted. Even though exhaustion clung to his bones and his muscles ached with every move, he pried his eyes open and managed to wipe away the sleep in his eyelashes. Draco’s back cracked twice as he sat up, making him stretch and push his chest out to relieve some of the built-up tension of his late night ordeals. Again, his dream last night was of Harry - they always were. He had been playing Quidditch when a beater had lost grip of their bat when hitting a bludger and it had gone and pummeled Harry on the side of his head. Because dreams worked like that; making up the most horrific scenarios and forcing you to go through them. Before he had woken up though, the scene had changed into one of Malfoy Manor where he was asleep in bed. His mother had been sitting on the side of his bed brushing the hair out of his face. The words I’m sorry replayed in his head in both his mother’s voice and Harry’s voice. It had been confusing at the time and very very real which was why he woke up slowly and disorientated expecting to see someone on the side of his bed actually brushing his hair back. But, of course, when he checked behind his curtains the other bed was still occupied with slow quiet breathing.

Draco pushed the duvet away and pulled back the curtains on the side that didn’t face the window. The floor was cold but he toed on his slippers and pulled his thick dressing gown on in the hopes of retaining some heat. Casting a tempus he was shocked to see that it was not, in fact, time to be up for the new school day and instead was just gone five in the morning. Draco sighed and cursed his stupid body clock. He was determined to get the last scrap of sleep he could and so headed back to the warm comfort of his bed but before he could surround himself with the blissful and cosy heat his bladder decided to wake up too. No more than ten seconds later he made it to the nearest toilet and was relieving himself with a half laugh half grimace thinking about what his father would have said if he had seen the Malfoy Heir run just so he wouldn’t pee himself. Then again, Draco didn’t fancy thinking about that problem in his life so, quickly, pushed the images of his father in prison, or even worse his father at home if he could even call it that, out of his mind.

Harry was the first thing his eyes focused on when he went back to his bedroom. The small boy was curled up in a ball with his mouth parted slightly and a trail of drool making it’s way to the grey pillow beneath him. One hand was squashed underneath his head, pushing his cheek up adorably, and the other was upturned on the pillow next to him. A strong impulse overtook Draco’s body and before he realised what he was doing he was next to Harry making little circles in the palm of his small hand. The caramel fingers twitched and pulled away to hide under the covers leaving Draco’s heart feeling warm and his cheeks even warmer. Draco bit the inside of his cheek and averted his eyes where he noticed for the first time the soft cloud-like layer of snow on the outside of the window. He made his way over to inspect the view and sure enough, the grounds of Hogwarts was covered in a layer of pure snow untouched by anything.

Small candles flickered in the lanterns, randomly adorned in the courtyard and paths, so gently and peacefully that Draco was drawn to the light, his fingers pressed to the window pane. It was cold obviously and it would have had him reeling back at the icy pang that shot up his hand but the frostbite-like pain was almost welcome. The heat he had been trying to retain quickly escaped onto the glass and melted the thin frost that had gathered there. Ever since Pansy had confronted him about his worst fear he had felt numb. Every word, every gesture, every thing Draco did was now numb and monotone because he couldn’t let himself get close to Harry again and after the absence of Harry’s warmth and his constant self-affirmation that he shouldn’t feel anything towards Harry he simply became what he pretended to feel. Numb. That was how he existed now in a trance; an emotionless void. What some people would believe all Slytherins to exist in from the moment they were sorted because of course all Slytherins were heartless bastards who couldn’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves and their own gain, right? Except Draco had these rare moments when his wall of indifference shattered. He hated himself the most in these times and often hid away in the library or, for some sick reason, the astronomy tower. Maybe it was the last remnants of Harry’s blood that drew him there or the faded stain by the balcony that made him feel close to that small boy. These moments were often whenever he caught Pansy’s eye; the fear and hurt flooding back to him in flashes of memory at just the sight of her, or whenever Harry was being particularly desperate for his attention and even the times where the table or common room got suddenly quiet when either he or Harry joined (It was usually Draco) and Harry would raise his warm eyes and sadly smile at him as if giving him some sort of moral support or showing him that he was still a welcome part of their lives. Those moments broke him so badly that he ignored everyone else and soon after left to someplace more solitude.

Draco pulled his hand from the window and with a wince overlooked Harry’s bed, instead of heading straight for his own with the intention of getting all the sleep he could.

***

The sun was beginning to peek through the trees out of McGonagall’s window as she huffed and drank her lemon tea with a bitter expression.

“What’s got you so forlorn?” Snape asked dryly.

The headmistress pouted in thought, “I just want everything to go right. It’s December and I want to make this Christmas the best but of course, there’s always something getting in the way.”

Severus arched an eyebrow.

“Those silly boys!” McGonagall huffed as she put her tea down on the table. “Can’t they just end their rash behaviour and- and stop hurting each other this close to Christmas? All I ask is for some sort of yield on that bet.”

The portrait pulled back the folds of his robes and put his hands in his pockets in resignation, “You already know that those two are complicated and I did internally sigh at Pansy’s futile attempt to get them together but maybe… maybe intervention of some sort is needed here. Subtle intervention. Well thought out coincidences that will make them spend time together.”

“Seven years Severus. Seven years this bet has been held. Whatever you’re planning better have results and better leave me with the winnings.” She warned over the rim of her fresh cup of tea.

Snape laughed, “How Slytherin of you. Not concerned for the students at-”

“Oh stop.” She smirked, “you know as well as I that I care for each and every one of them. You’re just not as keen to show how eager you are to get them together.”

The potions master pursed his lips, “I reject that entirely. I’m merely exhausted from your inept ability to do anything about the situation at hand.”

“Well then. If that’s the case would you care to enlighten me on this miraculous plan of yours,” She muttered, sipping her drink gingerly then retrieving a small bottle of firewhiskey from the inside of her dressing gown and tipping a small (well let’s be honest a generous) amount into the cup. Only looking up to notice the scrutinizing glance from the man across from her. “What? You’re only jealous that you can’t have some.”

“It’s not even eight in the morning.”

McGonagall took another sip, “Doesn’t stop it from tasting good.” she grumbled. “Go on then. What’s this plan of yours?”

***

The second time Draco woke it was a reasonable time in the morning. Nineteen minutes past seven to be exact.

“Morning Draco.” Harry’s soft voice floated from the window ledge where he sat looking out at the snowy scene below.

Draco made a noncommittal noise and left the room to go get a shower.

“It’s snowing.” Was the soft statement Draco came back to once he was dressed in his uniform and stood before the mirror fixing his hair.

“Once again your ability to state the obvious astounds me, detective,” Draco muttered.

Harry moved from the window ledge in order to get ready and just as he finished putting on his other shoe and tying the lace slowly he made his way over to Draco. “I’m sorry.” he murmured hesitantly.

Draco finished putting his books in his bag and looked up at the boy next to him who wore a delicate frown on his face.

“Whatever I’ve done… I’m sorry.”

Damn him. Draco thought. How could his sweet boy think that this was in any way his own fault? No, this was entirely on Draco and Draco alone. This was all Draco’s fault because he couldn’t risk hurting Harry. Idiot. His mind supplied. You’re hurting him more by doing this. But he pushed the thought away. Harry’s sombre tone almost made him hug the small boy and never let him go. Almost made him kiss those sad lips and wipe away tears and call him sweet names. Almost.

“What makes you think you’ve done anything?”

His little mouth parted as Harry cast his eyes to the floor with a flood of uncertainty, “Because you’ve changed.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re implying,” Draco said when their eyes met again but his attention was soon taken by the large flat rectangle thing that sat on his trunk. “What’s this?” he murmured in confusion picking up the lightweight object.

Harry didn’t go to his side but instead to his own trunk where a similar object resided, “It’s an advent calendar.”

“A what?”

Harry sat on his bed with a bounce and inspected it to find the first door, “An advent calendar is a muggle thing that has 24 squares on it, one for each day of December leading up to Christmas, you open one door each day and behind it is a chocolate.”

Draco watched the other search for… something on the thing he was holding and then he heard a ripping noise followed by Harry eating what looked to be a miniature chocolate frog. Even more confused, he looked at his own advent calendar as Harry had called them.

“That was my first one.” Harry whispered, “They never let me have any growing up.” His lips pulled into a soft smile as the chocolate melted in his mouth.

Draco had to look away and instead of recognising how his heart had fluttered he “searched” for this chocolate but he couldn’t see anything. When Harry’s small finger pointed out part of the box Draco jumped and almost dropped his calendar. The other smirked and pointed again to the small number ‘1’. Draco looked back down to the number and then tried to pry open the ‘door’. Satisfaction was the only explanation for what Draco felt when he ate the small chocolate frog. Satisfaction and then awkwardness; he was entirely too close to Harry.

“Come on. Let’s go get breakfast.” Draco sighed and left the box on hit trunk, picking up his satchel on the way out.

For some reason, the chocolate didn’t seem as sweet in Harry’s mouth anymore.

***

Their first lesson was uneventful, to say the least. Harry and Draco received the results of their potions assessment which had left the latter in a foul mood for the rest of the hour and they had barely talked as the class made notes on the last topic they would cover that term. Harry decided his notes would be put to shame by Hermione’s.

Harry’s next period was free and so he had planned on going to the library but for some reason, his feet seemed to be following Draco to his next lesson. The Slytherin was painfully aware that Harry was following him but he didn’t give in to the temptation of starting a conversation with him and neither did Harry. Instead, they walked side by side until a familiar voice called them or rather-

“Harry?” McGonagall caught his attention. Both Draco and Harry stopped and turned around where McGonagall was making her way to the Gryffindor. “Ah Harry, you have a moment? I was hoping to see you in my office.”

Draco, who had been standing behind Harry, stepped forward as if to follow him when Harry acquiesced and went to the headmistress with a “yes of course” only to stop in his tracks when she finally acknowledged him.

She looked at him expectantly, “Can I help you Mr Malfoy or have you a lesson to be going to?”

Draco blushed at the fact that he had no excuse to go with Harry but soon that embarrassment turned to irritation. Both at the fact that he couldn’t follow Harry but also at the use of his family name. It was ironic; the one thing he had been most proud of as an ignorant child was now the thing he most despised.

“Of course, Headmistress.” He said curtly and with one last look at the small boy and a swish of his robes he left the corridor to go to his lesson.

McGonagall watched him leave with a raised eyebrow and a smug look which she soon wiped from her face.

“I’m not in trouble am I?” Harry asked with caution.

She beamed, “Of course not my boy I just need your help with something.”

***

Everyone could tell that Draco’s mood had not improved since their last lesson. In fact, some argued that it was worse. To put it simply; Draco was pissed. His classmates were staring at him and the teacher kept asking him stupid questions that honestly they could have asked anyone else. It was like everyone was trying to get at him. At this point, Draco was willing to crawl in a whole and disappear. To trapped in his own thoughts, Draco didn’t notice the school bell toll or Blaise standing by his side until the latter tugged on his elbow and pulled him towards the Great Hall.

With a gentle push into his seat, Draco sat at the eighth year’s table and automatically began reaching for cheese and chutney to make himself a sandwich. He had begun to eat it when he was rudely interrupted by a gratuitous opinion.

“That’s disgusting.”

Draco swallowed what was in his mouth and raised his eyebrows, “I’m sorry did I ask for you’re opinion on what I eat, Blaise?”

He laughed and helped himself to some salad, “Do you want some more salt on your sandwich or are you good?”

“Peachy,” Draco muttered.

They continued to eat in silence with the only interaction being amused glances from Blaise. Tuesdays were a decent day for Draco because he was able to eat earlier due to his timetable though that would have meant spending an hour without Harry. Of course now though he couldn’t really claim that time for himself; he didn’t deserve Harry’s attention.

Just then bell tolled again and the Weasel arrived.

“Sorry I’m late,” Ron apologized, kissing the top of Blaise’s hair and inhaling its scent, “We were kept behind after class.”

Blaise tilted his head back and pulled on the other's neck to gently bring their lips together as Ron wrapped his arms around Blaise’s neck to which Draco just grumbled.

“Still bitching then I see.” Ron sniggered.

“Shut up Weasley,” Draco mumbled before taking another bite of his sandwich.

Draco diligently ignored the new couple’s conversation as Ron ate like an animal and Blaise peppered him with kisses. His sandwich soon lost its flavour and everything began to taste dry in his mouth. The exasperated sigh he expelled was one of many throughout their meal but Draco suddenly forgot how to breathe when Ron announced that Harry was here. The small boy seated himself next to Draco and took some of the cheese to eat by itself.

“So?” Draco asked.

Harry turned to him, “So what?”

“So,” Draco huffed, “Are you going to tell me what she wanted?”

“Are you going to tell me why you’ve been ignoring me?” Harry replied calmly.

Draco sneered, “Fine be like that,” he growled and stormed off.

Blaise and Ron looked at each other wearily, “So what was all that about mate?” Ron asked.

Harry sighed, “McGonagall just wants me to set up a DADA club to help the younger students with their lessons and exams but because Draco’s being an obnoxious idiot I decided not to tell him what she wanted.”

“He’s going to brood about that for days now.” Blaise groaned.

“What’s all this groaning for?” Pansy asked as she sat opposite them with Hermione in tow.

“Draco.” All three of them replied to which she sunk into her seat and kept to herself for the rest of the hour.

***

Harry didn’t see Draco until he was back in their dorm. Draco had been avoiding everyone again but when Harry had checked in the library Draco wasn’t in their usual place. He wasn’t there at all. The small boy had given up after an hour of searching and had decided to wait in their room.

As per usual, Draco ignored Harry and begun to get changed into his pyjamas - green silk. Harry was already in his puppy onesie so when the blonde settled on his bed with a book Harry took his chance and joined him.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Draco demanded when Harry laid on the bed with his head in the other’s lap.

Harry bit his lip and curled in on himself slightly, “If you want to know what McGonagall wanted me for then go to the room of requirement tomorrow lunch.” he said softly.

“Why can’t you just tell me?”

He picked at the sleeve of his onesie, “Because I want you to be there and I know your curiosity will overcome your stubbornness.”

Draco ignored that statement and attempted to read the book he had opened but his attempt was in vain due to the fact that all (and I mean every last shred) of his attention and willpower was being directed at restraining himself from playing with Harry’s hair or tugging gently on the little ears of his onesie hood.

***

The next day at lunch Draco was determined to prove Harry wrong and so the first session of the DADA club went unattended by him much to McGonagall’s dismay and the only consolation she received was a lesson of patience from Severus.

***

The rest of the week was practically the same; Draco remained indifferent to Harry, he got on with his lessons and he spent most of his spare time in the library. The weekend was the worst part though because Harry rarely left the school grounds anymore without Draco and the latter could never bring himself to committing the day out to Hogsmeade surrounded by people who would refuse to let him abandon them. The past couple of weeks he had cancelled on his friends. He felt awful but being around them was just too exhausting with them all trying to talk to him about what had happened.

By the time it was Wednesday again it was an understatement to suggest that Draco was curious about what went on in the room of requirement but the only reason he was now stood outside the door was because Blaise had come up to him that lunch and told him he was being ridiculous before leaving with Ron to go to the Club.

Hesitantly, Draco opened the door a crack and peeked in. The room was large and full of students from third years up by the looks of it. Harry caught his eye and hurried over to him.

“Finally decided to show up?” Harry teased.

The other just looked at him in disapproval, “Finally decided to tell me what’s going on?”

“This,” Harry smiled and stretched his arm out as if giving a tour, “Is my DADA club for third years and over as per McGonagall’s request.”

Draco raised an eyebrow.

“She asked me to do this because it would help the students who wish to take DADA further and it creates a space for inter-house unity and healthy competitiveness which I think you’ll remember we shared in our earlier years. All those duels.” Harry smirked.

Draco rolled his eyes, “So what do Blaise and Ron do then? They’re eight years they don’t need to attend.”

“Hmm,” he hummed in agreement looking at the pair, “But Blaise doesn’t know how to conjure a Patronus and it’s a valuable spell to know. It’s saved my life plenty a time so Ron’s teaching him.”

Draco frowned, “And they have to do that here because…?”

“Because it’s good to socialise rather than being cooped up in their dorm room or the library all day,” Harry said nonchalantly and it was difficult for Draco not to wince at the obvious dig at him.

They were both quiet as Harry watched the younger years practice their expelliarmus’ and stupefy and the older practice stunning and more aggressive spells.

“Would you teach me?” Draco asked quietly.

Harry turned, “What?”

Draco’s gaze was disturbingly attached to Harry’s arms where he knew those scars were and the memory of needing a spell, a signal, anything to get help for the limp boy in his arms snapped at him.

“Can you teach me the spell?” He asked again, taking his eyes away.

Harry visibly swallowed, “Sure.”

The rest of their lunch was wasted. Draco wasn’t able to produce the Patronus despite all the help he was given and it made him feel like shit. By the end his temper was short and he snapped at Harry.

“You don’t need to get angry at me just because you can’t think of a strong enough memory!”

That was the thing though. Draco could think of a good memory. A perfect memory. Lots of them. But by thinking of Harry it would be admitting to himself that he wanted the boy and despite being selfish all his life he couldn’t be selfish this time. If he used a memory of Harry and it produced a Patronus who knew what would have happened.

“Fuck you!” Draco spat and stormed off just as the bell tolled.

McGonagall was frustrated once again.

***

That night Harry didn’t even ask permission as he rummaged through Draco’s trunk.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Draco yelled but Harry ignored him and retrieved the bottle of apple shower gel that he had used before.

Draco hovered over him but Harry stood his ground and waited for the Slytherin to step back which of course he did when he saw the thin set line of the small boy’s lips. As soon as he had left with the slam of the door, Draco kicked his bed and flung himself on it swearing to high hell at the throbbing pain of his stubbed toe. He tried to put it out of his mind by reading his book and eventually it worked to the point where he was too engrossed in it to notice Harry’s return.

***

Harry stormed off to the prefect’s bathroom with his bear onesie and shampoo in his arms. He turned the many taps of the bath on with anger and hurt coursing through his veins and not even the scent of the apple shower gel could calm him down. The water was scalding hot but it was a pleasant distraction from the mess of a friendship he had with Draco. If you could even call it that. Harry sunk deeper into the bath and let the bubbles cover him up, thank Godric Moaning Murtle wasn’t in the pipes.

As the bubbles started to vanish, Harry became more and more distant; staring at the wall but not looking at it or noticing it. He simply laid there feeling colder by the minute. That’s when the tears started. Harry couldn’t pinpoint exactly why he had started or how he could stop. All he knew was that the tears stung his eyes and his nose became blocked. He hugged his knees for some sort of comfort but that just made everything worse. Eventually, he would have to leave, would have to get up and face Draco. Harry didn’t want to think about him right now so he kept crying and crying until the water was cold and the bubbles were all gone. Then he felt his face turn sharp and cold. Harry dragged himself from the pool of water and immediately dressed in the onesie making sure not to forget anything he had brought with him so that he could finally go to bed.

Though the anger that he had suppressed was explosive and radiating from him and only the smallest of things could break him now.

Draco, sitting reading his book in his cotton pyjamas, being one of those things. The bottle of apple shower gel launched itself at Draco and he didn’t even feel sorry when it hit him hard in the chest and made him jump.

***

Draco almost threw his book, his heart racing and his mouth going dry at the slightly unnerving look on Harry’s face. Obviously, Draco did the most sensible thing he could think of and avoided confrontation by putting both the book and the bottle on his bedside table without breaking eye contact with the boy that was now at the end of his bed.

“I’m fucking pissed with you Draco,” Harry said sharply, his green eyes looking like cut glass amongst his puffy bloodshot eyes.

Draco said nothing.

“You fucking treat me like this.” he said evenly, “I’m not some toy that you can just dump when you get bored of. I tried to be nice. I tried to get you to talk to me. And what did I get?”

“-I-”

“You. Acting as if you don’t want to be around me anymore. Acting as if I’m a waste of space, time and your attention. Well, guess what. You’re not going to treat me like that anymore Draco. I suggest you get thinking of ways- multiple ways- for you to make this up to me because you’ve hurt me for the last time.”

“Harry I-”

“Goodnight Draco.” Harry ended, walking to his bed and yanking the curtains closed with ferocity making Draco flinch.

Well, that told him.

That night Draco found it difficult to sleep. He was too in shock by the way Harry had told him off like some petulant child (which he now realised he was actually being a petulant child) and swore at him. It just reminded that Draco that this was the boy who had survived years of abuse, this was the boy that could be sweet and innocent but would always show his ferocity if someone hadn’t treated him right. Maybe that came from his childhood. Maybe he couldn’t have stood to people back then but this Harry was capable of knowing when he was hurt and this thought made Draco feel even more guilty. No, Draco didn’t get much sleep that night, he was too busy thinking of ways (multiple ways) to make it up to Harry because of course, this wasn’t going to get fixed overnight. Draco wasn’t that naively hopeful.

Chapter Text

Even after giving Draco the lecture that he needed, Harry still felt miserable. The anger that had been a distraction was replaced by the overwhelming emptiness and need to cry. So Harry cried. He was at a point where he felt lonelier than he had during the Summer, during the time when he would sleep around without pleasure and get used. Harry reasoned that it was the fact that he actually knew what he was missing that made it worse whereas in the Summer he hadn’t even understood that getting used by strangers to fill the void your cousin made wasn’t normal. Now he knew of course. Harry fell asleep with the exhaustion of crying and tried to curl in on himself to reduce the looming sense of isolation but nothing helped.

In the morning, Draco woke from the state of being half-asleep that had consumed him last night. He quietly got up and hesitantly pulled back the curtain to Harry’s bed where the boy was curled in a ball asleep. Draco let the curtain fall shut and set about getting Harry’s uniform ready so that when the small boy happened to wake, Draco could start to earn his forgiveness. Right on cue, the sleepy sounds of Harry waking up emerged from the bed and the small groan as he stretched made Draco smile. Putting on a brave face, Draco sat on the edge of Harry’s bed by his feet giving the small boy plenty of space and with a weak smile and a hopeful expression whispered, “morning sleepy head.” Harry merely gave him a raised eyebrow and got out of bed, heading to the bathroom. The Slytherin scrunched his face up half wincing and half cringing at himself. He stood up abruptly and got dressed, the grimace not leaving his face until Harry came back and he tried to smile he really did but he saw himself in a hopeless situation.

 

***

 

Harry was welcomed to the sight of Draco getting dressed when he returned from the bathroom. It was difficult to deny that Draco looked good. Exceptionally good. But his brain snapped at him that he shouldn’t even be looking, that he was disgusting and those thoughts brought whatever remanence of a good mood he had down. Not that he had much of a good mood to begin with. The small boy got dressed quickly even though it felt as if he was moving at a snail's pace. He didn't mention to Draco that he appreciated his clothes being set out because Harry was salty and he wanted Draco to know that he's have to do better than that. Although it was really sweet of him. When he had finally got his school things ready he reached for his advent calendar and searched for the 16th which was a Bertie Botts every flavour bean (a special Christmas edition) he either had a cinnamon swirl one or Crup food. He was lucky enough to have the former.

Draco attempted to make conversation with Harry again but it was clear that the small boy was going to treat Draco just like he had been treated which, in Draco’s opinion, was understandable.

“Harry… would you like my advent treat for today?”

The small boy was chewing slowly on the jelly bean, “Why? Too scared that you'll get vinegar instead of candy cane?” He said nonchalantly.

Draco blushed; he hadn't thought about Harry saying that.

“N-No! I didn't- I wasn't trying to- I just thought-”

All through Draco’s flustered babbling Harry had moved to the door, “Are you coming to breakfast?” he interrupted.

“I- er yeah - er I mean yes.” Draco said unmoving.

Harry rolled his eyes and huffed, “Well come on then!” To which Draco snagged up his bag and followed Harry who was already making his way to the Great Hall.

 

***

 

About half of Hermione's year were at the breakfast table watching in amusement as filch added the last of the decorations. McGonagall had said that there was enough decorations to last a lifetime but somehow, overnight, filch had managed to expand on the festivities with tinsel and wreaths adorning every balcony and staircase. Holly and mistletoe hanging from every archway and even more baubles and magical candles in the Great Hall. The decorations had almost tripled. And to say he'd put it up without magic! Hermione thought it to be some kind of feat. Filch had just finished hanging the last bough of mistletoe and was cautiously stepping down from his extended ladder when Harry entered the Great Hall shortly followed by Draco who was trying to hide the fact that he was speed walking to keep up with the other.

Hermione actually froze at the sight of Draco; a dishevelled mess who hadn't taken the time to comb his hair, school bag only just closing due to the scrolls almost falling out and most of all the fact that he was actually trying to talk to Harry. She kicked Ron under the table to get his attention.

“OW! Hermione why did you-” Ron started but was cut off by Harry making him jump as he dropped into the bench next to him. Draco, flustered, dropped his bag into the bench and sat next to Harry whilst raking a hand through his hair.

Ron and Hermione watched their friend reach for the pumpkin juice only to be beaten by Draco.

“Let me help you with that.” He mumbled self consciously.

Harry turned to look at him with a knowing and pointed gaze making Draco gulp almost audibly and hand the cup of poured juice over. The small boy judged and shook his head but down reject the drink which in Draco’s books was a win. Whilst Harry was drinking his juice, Draco took it upon himself to get some of the cinnamon pancakes and make a smiley face on it with some fresh yoghurt to which he offered the boy next to him with a hopeful smile.

Hermione had to hold back a smirk as she saw this entire display. Harry's mouth opened a little in uncertainty and he almost seemed to be begging Hermione for help but she casually went back to eating so he accepted the plate of food.

Blaise was trying to hide his laughter with Ron at Draco’s weak attempt to get in Harry's good books and they could only wonder why now of all times he had finally decided to grow a pair and make it up to Harry.

 

***

 

Throughout their lessons Draco offered Harry spare quills and parchment as well as getting things from the potions cupboard. Harry had to admit it was a bit overboard but after how Draco had treated him Harry wasn't about to tell him that.

The day continued with Draco trying to get Harry to forgive him but he simply didn't understand that Harry didn't want the quills and the parchment. Or the advent calendars and the sweets. He wanted the closeness and the deep conversations like they used to have. He wanted the hugs and the pet names but most of all he wanted Draco to be his. This realisation of what he actually wanted from Draco made him sulky and bitter which is why he went straight to their dorm after the evening meal and didn't once stop to socialise in the common room.

“I just don't know what to do.” muttered Draco when Harry left for bed.

Pansy came and sat next to him, “Well what did you two do together before I messed everything up?”

She looked at him waiting for him to sneer at her and push her aside like he had become used to doing. Instead he just sighed after holding her gaze which was a burst of hope for their friendship.

“I don't know what you mean.” He sighed again.

“Well… you've been going out of your way to get closer to Harry but before… well before you held his hand and huffed him and- and even kissed his forehead sometimes. Now I'm not suggesting anything and you can say it's all platonic I won't argue with you again but I can't help but notice you aren't opening up to him like you used to and maybe… perhaps you should be focussing less on getting his attention and instead getting his affection. We both know that trying to get his attention has never worked for you in the past.”

Draco took all of this in with a scrunched up face until a dawning realisation came to him. He looked at his friend and held her pinkie; something they had done as children when they wanted to show that the other wasn't alone because of course hugging went against pansy’s nature as a child.

“I was beginning to wonder why I was your friend.” his mumbled with shame.

“I'm sorry for what I said and did. I was wrong and I didn't mean to separate you I meant to bring you closer.”

“I still don't appreciate what you said but I want to make amends. I don’t like not being friends with you.”

Pansy hid the fact that she was about to cry, “Go on then. None of us want to see your ugly mutt. Go get him.”

Draco huffed and made his way upstairs with a grin.

***

The burst of energy Pansy had given him had soon disappeared by the time he had reached the bedroom door. Draco pushed open the door and shut it behind himself quietly. Harry was sat on the window ledge holding something in his hand. He stepped towards him but heard a crunch under his foot which wasn't enough to draw Harry from whatever headspace he had gone to. Looking down, Draco saw tiny diamonds on the floor. He crouched and picked up some of the crystals only to cut his fingertips on them, dropping them upon the realisation that it was glass and not diamonds he stumbled over to Harry.

On the seat a small mirror was smashed and the frame broken with small splatters of blood.

“Harry?” Draco whispered with his tongue choking his throat.

In one of Harry's small hands was a large piece of mirror that he was holding into tight enough to cut into his palm and fingers. Draco carefully took Harry's palm into his hands and tried to pry his fingers from the mirror shard but the small boys grip only tightened on the piece causing a small trickle of blood to weep from the wounds.

Draco tried to breathe and swallow as he held Harry's cheek, “Harry you need to let go.” He said clearly, wiping away a small tear gathering at the crease of Harry's eye. “Harry look at me, baby,” That caught his attention, “You need to let go.”

Harry's bottom lip quivered as he noticed the glass in his hand and quickly let it fall to the floor.

“Good boy,” Draco whispered as he closed his eyes and thanked Salazar that the boy had listened to him.

Leaning into the hand on his cheek, Harry clenched and unclenched his fist watching the small pool of blood smear his hand.

“No, no stop that honey let me clean you up.” Draco efficiently pulled his wand from his robes and cast simple cleaning and healing spells on the tiny hand. Stepping away to retrieve some pyjamas, Harry let out a small noise similar to a whimper, “It's okay. I'm only getting your onesie.”

Draco managed to gather all the pieces of mirror and see them to his desk whilst retrieving the worn out bunny onesie.

“I’m sorry,” Harry whispered as Draco pulled his legs around from the window seat in order to get him out of his uniform.

Draco undid the other’s shoes, “Sorry? There’s nothing to be sorry for.” He reassured, “Can I take your uniform off or do you want to get undressed yourself?”

“No, it’s okay, you can do that.” Harry mumbled as he gazed intently on the pile of glass on Draco’s desk.

Quickly, Draco peeled back layer after layer of uniform until he was only clad in his boxers then he helped the small boy into his onesie, tugging at the ears gently to pull a small smile onto the other’s lips. He tucked Harry into his bed and made sure his glasses were folded and put away on the bedside table before leaving to get his own pyjamas on.

“Draco,” Harry called as the Slytherin was about to get into bed. He paused and looked up at the fluff ball in the bed across from him.

“What is it bunny?”

Harry tugged at his sleeve and chewed it a little before mumbling, “I’m sorry that I broke your promise again. Please don’t be angry with me.”

“Harry.” Draco sighed and sat on the side of his bed to brush away some of the wild mess from his forehead, “I could never be angry at you, Harry. I’m just glad it wasn’t your pretty little wrists this time,” He assured with the deliberate movement of his thumbs brushing the many scars underneath Harry’s sleeve.

“Pretty?”

Draco blushed and cast his eyes downwards, “You aren’t pretty because of them. I’m not romanticising them. But just because you have them doesn’t make you ugly.”

“I could never be-”

“You are pretty. Harry.”

They sat there in silence until Harry had drifted off to sleep.

***

The boy’s lessons the next day had started off boring except for the impromptu lesson from McGonagall that apparently only Hermione had been aware of ahead of time. The year group was all huddled at the edges of the room of requirement which was set up to be larger than the average classroom but smaller than the Great Hall.

“Now,” McGonagall began with a gleam in her eye, “As you all know, this year I have been pushing to promote inter-house unity and so far the school as a whole has become a more accepting and welcome place filled with accepting and welcoming witches and wizards. The hope was to make the wizarding community a better place by starting with the people who matter the most; the students.

“This year the staff have come together with the agreement that as a new tradition the school will hold a Unity Yule Ball every christmas beginning with this year. Which means… you all have an hour with me to brush up on your dancing skills for the ball on Saturday evening and we’ve decided on that day as most of you will be leaving on the Sunday to go back home for the holidays.”

McGonagall explained that this year anyone could be partners as there weren’t any other schools to impress but kept the part secret that she was shipping all the students and had placed many many bets over the years with Poppy, Severus and a few other staff.

“May I have a volunteer?” She asked, “Ah Draco would you mind?”

The blonde was pulled out of his reverie of thoughts about dancing with Harry that he didn’t quite hear McGonagall until Blaise elbowed him in the side, “Er… me professor?”

Harry was trying not to laugh as McGonagall simply replied, “Do we have another Draco in the room? Step forward, I hear your walts is exemplary.”

“Thank you, professor.” he muttered before removing his black robes and rolling his sleeves up to his elbows. (a thing that did wonders to Harry) Stepping into the open space, Ron giggled and said that he was glad it wasn’t him this time.

“Filch play the song. Now this isn’t what you’ll be dancing to but the waltz is clear in this so it’s easier to begin with and there’s a bit of an introduction to allow yourselves the chance to get into position like so.” She too moved into the centre of the room and got into position with Draco. “Show him,” she whispered in his ear as the intro was still playing, “Dance for him.”

“Professor?” he blushed with a quick glance to Harry who was watching him with interest. “What do you-?”

“Shh Draco. You know what I mean. Listen to the music and dance.” She silenced him.

He took in a deep breath then and nodded, “Face to face yes?” He asked making sure they would both be dancing the same style.

“Correct.”

The gramophone played the last of the intro, the harp playing the softest of notes in a perfect harmony that dwindled to silence. Then the violins began as well as the trumpets and the two set off. First into a box step and then turning that into a more fluid movement that had them circling around the room into a full waltz. Draco lead the dance perfectly with enthusiasm and changing dynamics as the song developed. They came to a brief stop as the music lilted slightly and then set of in the other way with the same fluidity that they had been dancing with.

Harry watched the two dance in perfect harmony along with the music and he felt drawn to its beauty or rather to Draco’s beauty and elegance like never before. As the chorus of fuller music played Draco found himself connecting to the music and bending his knees more to really swing each step. During the flute triplets Draco spun McGonagall in a waltz spin that flowed under his arm as he was taller than her by quite a bit. With every turn his head tilted to the side, elbows up, grip in the hand loose but not overly so. He was lost in the music. Utterly and completely lost. Every now and then he saw a glimpse of Harry but he was too into the dance to stop and take the time to look at him properly. He was even more into the dance that he didn’t care about the enrapt audience he had taken hostage with his flowing arms and legs. The music repeated itself and the two waltzed around the room in a large circle as well as twirls and spins on the the flute triplets with ease. Then the music changed slightly and the two found themselves dancing in a box step not moving in too much of a circle so that when the next section f the song came the dance would change with it bringing a fuller dance. The song continued in that way until the crescendo played out on the gramophone and the two stilled in the center of the room panting for breath and with bright smiles. The entire class applauded them and even filch had a half smile.

No matter how hard he tried, Draco couldn’t wipe the smile from his face. Especially when Harry looked at him like that.

He took a well deserved rest with McGonagall at the side as the rest of the class split into pairs which unfortunately left Harry to partner up with someone other than Draco. He was with Neville though who was surprisingly good at dancing so hopefully he would help the poor boy not trip on thin air.

McGonagall must have seen a certain look in his eyes because she patted his leg and said cheerfully, “There’s always the ball.”

He frowned and looked away from the small boy who was having far too much fun with a different blonde, “I hope so.”

“So,” Seamus called out after Draco was gone from sight, “Bets on what made him act differently, how long it will take for them to make up, how long it will take for them to get together and how long it will be before we all wished we had never egged them on because they’ll be too engrossed in each other to care about us poor suffering souls.”

***

Tired, exhausted, many other synonyms that Draco didn’t have the energy to name couldn’t describe how utterly drained he was after that lively dance. He barely made it to the dining hall and the only reason he did was because Harry was subtly helping him walk on his jelly legs. When they’d all sat down long enough to eat their fill Harry left the table.

“Will I see you before tea?” Harry asked Draco as he packed his bag with a few extra sandwiches.

“No, I don’t think so . Where are you going anyway?” Draco asked with a slight pout which he would refuse to ever doing.

Harry tried to stifle a laugh at the sight of a pouty Draco and stepped away from the bench, “The club. My club. I’ll see you later.”

“Wait I’ll come with you.” Draco said which if the rest of the table hadn’t been listening in already (let’s face it they were all totally eavesdropping) they were now.

Harry stepped back to the table and mumbled to Draco, “You should stay here and eat some more you’re probably really exhausted.” as if he had picked up on the fact that others were listening in. (everyone still heard though)

Scoffing, Draco muttered back, “Wizards and muggles could dance for hours on end in the 17th century and that was barely five minutes! I’ll be fine. I want to come.”

Seamus laughed and coughed an “I bet he does.” to Dean.

“Fiiine.” Harry sighed, “But you better bring yourself some food. You’re not pinching mine.”

“Yes, sir.” Draco saluted and grabbed himself a sausage roll and an apple.

Dean laughed, “More like yes, daddy.”

Seamus brought a finger to his chin, “No I think it would be the other way around. Draco is definitely the daddy and Harry is-”

“Oi. That’s one of my best friends you’re talking about! Please not where I can hear you.” Ron pleaded though went bright red the next minute from something Blaise teasingly said.

***

In the time that Harry had eaten his dinner, the room of requirement had been set up in their regular DADA club room where plenty of eager students were already gathered.

“Hi guys thanks for coming even though I’m sure we’d all like to be playing in the snow.” Harry welcomed everyone. He settled the class, welcoming the students that dripped into the room throughout dinner and told them the spells they would be conjuring. Meanwhile, Draco stood in a corner of the room practicing his patronus by himself unsuccessfully. The memories were there it was just that the hand movement wasn’t quite right and he was sure that he was saying it wrong as the supposed animal appeared only as a slight mist at best.

Harry noticed the faint glow and walked over to Draco, “Need any help?” He offered.

“I’m doing something wrong,” Draco huffed, “I have the memory but it’s not working.”

Harry crossed his arms, “Try again and I’ll tell you where you’re going wrong.”

The Slytherin was painfully aware of Blaise and Ron not to far away watching them with smirks and then he realised that his bottom lip might have been sticking out a bit too much. Since when had Draco become a pouter?

He held out his arm again and attempted the spell but before he could even say anything Harry was already stopping him.

“You’re trying to cast the spell but you’re not letting the memory flourish and grow. Why are you trying to hide it?” Harry said.

Draco frowned, “I’m sure I’m doing the movement wrong or something that’s all it is.”

“I’m not stupid. I can tell that you are struggling with the memory. But you are right.” He took out his wand, “The movement needs to flow a little more like this,” Harry demonstrated the circle he was making which Draco tried but he couldn’t tell the difference between his and Harry’s movements.

“Not quite.” Harry hummed, he moved behind Draco and held his hand over Draco’s and his wand making them both do the movement but also making Draco’s heart speed up to a pulse that was sure to leave him in one of Pomfrey’s hospital beds. Draco felt the warmth of Harry’s hand and missed the feeling when he pulled away and said, “now you try.”

Draco tried to think of one singular memory but all of them were moments of Harry and all of them were woven together that it was nearly impossible to separate one from the bunch and call it the best. He thought about the time he’d given Harry a blow job but that wasn’t the best memory he didn’t think. Harry had been in pain and was scared and that just made Draco feel sad for the small boy in front of him who seemed so innocent but had been through the worst of the worst. Then he thought about the time when he kissed Harry at the Halloween party. How he longed to kiss him again and it had been an amazing weight from his shoulders to just let go and give his love out to the boy with his heart but no, that memory wasn’t the right one either. Harry had been miserable after that kiss and maybe it wasn’t because he had done it in the first place, maybe it was because it had been a dare and it had ended but now he was just reading too much into things. Perhaps it was the time all those years ago when he stumbled on the room with the strange mirror and saw- no he didn’t want to remember what it had felt like to see eleven year old Harry holding his hand and giving him a peck on the cheek reflected back at him. It was a good memory but the pain of realising it wasn’t real was the worst part.

Draco realised he hadn’t attempted the spell again and lifted his wand delicately (as it had fallen a little in his train of thought). He didn’t even think about the memory as he cast the spell but this time felt different; more powerful. His mind raced with images of Harry in a hospital bed, awake and reaching out for him. Him, Draco. Flashes of memories where his small legs had wrapped around his waist and Draco had called him “Bunny” for the first time. His bunny. His baby boy. He felt himself smiling and almost crying happy tears at the memory.

Draco felt hands on his waist, “Open your eyes,” Harry whispered.

And he did. And he saw before him the most beautiful creature; a bluish silver doe making its way around him.

“You have a beautiful doe,” Harry told him then moved away which made the misty animal fizzle out in the air.

Draco wanted to make it come back.

“Why are you crying?” Harry asked once he told the class to continue with their spells.

Draco smiled, “It was a beautiful memory. One I will treasure forever.”

“A beautiful memory for a beautiful doe.”

Draco wiped his face and put his wand away thinking all the while “If only you knew.”

The club came to an end and Harry followed the younger ones out of the room after Draco said that he had a free timetable slot now (which was true) and that Harry could go on without him. Harry had been determined to wait for Draco but the latter had insisted and soon it was just them two in the room. Only when Harry had left the room was the mistletoe that had been gradually lengthening came into Draco’s peripheral vision. Now the plant was right in front of his face like the message couldn’t be any clearer. He tried not to cry as he left the weed hanging from the ceiling with its purpose unfulfilled.

***

They were in their dorm. Draco fixing the broken mirror and Harry finishing the last sentence of an essay that he had left far too late.

“You did really well with that patronus today,” Harry yawned after setting his finished homework aside.

Draco turned, “Thank you. I’m almost finished with the mirror but I don’t know if it will still hold the magic it did before.”

Dressing in his normal pyjamas Harry got under the covers and waited for Draco to finish.

Soon the Slytherin placed the fixed mirror back in the bottom of Harry’s trunk and got into his own pyjamas and into his own bed, dimming the lights as he went.

“Thank you Draco.” Harry whispered into the Dark.

“You don’t need to thank me Harry I was just trying to help because I know these past few weeks I’ve been nothing but cruel to you and I was just trying to prevent my own hurting but I ended up hurting you instead and that isn’t okay.” Draco said into the still air.

There was silence for a couple of seconds then: “What do you mean by trying to stop yourself from hurting? Why would you be hurting? What happened?”

“I was worried that by being friends with you I would end up hurting myself because surely you wouldn’t want to be with someone like me so I wanted to distance myself from you to stop myself from getting hurt.” The partial lie slipped off his tongue like a rehearsed script. It was true in the fact that by staying close to Harry he would have hurt himself from not being able to love him but the real problem was that Draco was more worried of Hurting the smaller boy considering what his past had been like.

Harry seemed to be taking that in, “I’m sorry that I hurt you in the past and that-”

Draco interrupted the other boy only to stop him from taking the blame for a half lie that he didn’t even need to be apologising for, “Harry, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Do you think that my hair getting longer makes me look like my father? Should I cut it?” Draco asked. It was a burning question that had been plaguing his mind for days.

Harry sat straight up and cast a lumos, “Draco. No. stop right there. In no way does your hair make you anything like your father. I like it like that. I like it any length but it suits you like that. Don’t cut it just to get away from him. You aren’t him. Never compare yourself to him please.”

He ran an idle hand through his hair feeling the longest part just above the nape of his neck, “You sure?”

“Never been more positive in my life” Harry finished and turned out the lights.

“Night Harry.”

“Night Draco.”

He needed more than ever to hear to words ‘I love you’ from Harry’s mouth even if it was a lie. Even if they were just sweet words without meaning. He longed for those words now and he absolutely couldn’t live without them.

Chapter Text

Saturday, the day of the Yule Ball, came so fast after that dancing lesson. Many students had gone into Hogsmeade during the day, like Harry, and Draco and had gone back to the dorms at around 4pm to get ready which was where Draco and Harry were now. The former finishing his hair and the latter hopelessly trying to tie his bow tie. Harry was wearing Emerald Green robes that were styled closer to muggle suits with a silver silk bow tie. Draco on the other hand had had a right mare choosing between navy blue robes or grey (in the end the blue had won) both fitted with a satin robe jacket adorned with silver buttons where it met across the stomach. (Harry’s mouth was sure to be permanently drooling as the suit accentuated Draco’s slightly curved figure.)

“Do you need help with your tie?” Draco asked, striding across the room.

The dark haired boy sighed, “Yes please.” And he watched Draco’s careful eyes as he tied the bow neatly and turned his collar down, smiling back up at him when he was satisfied.

“There we go.” Draco whispered with hesitation in his eyes. “You’re looking very handsome. Who’s the lucky person?”

“I-” Harry blushed, “I didn’t ask anyone but um… I want… uh Draco do you erm- do you think we should get going?”

Draco smiled, “Sure. After you Potter.”

 

***

 

The ballroom was beautiful to say the least. White satin curtains fell from the floor length windows around the room making convenient little hiding places for Filch to add more mistletoe. The tiled marble floor sparkled and shined as it reflected the floating candle chandeliers. To the left there was a buffet table of fruity non alcoholic cocktails and other non alcoholic drinks (there were younger ones here after all) as well as various snacks and small treats.

“Would you like a drink?” Draco turned and asked when he and Harry had finally stopped gazing with open mouths at the ballroom and sizeable orchestra situated at the back. The large room was almost full of all the students attending when Draco handed a mango and passionfruit drink to Harry who showed his thanks and grinned as it hit his lips (Seamus had snuck in some firewhiskey especially for eight years which was much appreciated).

McGonagall’s glass made a gentle ringing noise throughout the ballroom silencing everyone until the last few murmured conversations died out. “Good evening students. I’m delighted to say that you all look extravagant. This year has been filled with its ups and downs and I’m proud to stand here tonight and begin the first inter-house yule ball! With that said, let the dancing begin!” And suddenly the quiet ballroom erupted in soft classical music to which Luna and Ginny walked to the centre of the room and started to waltz to thus beginning the first dance.

Harry and Draco both stood to the edge of the room along with many other students who hadn’t yet joined in dancing. Nursing his beverage, Harry hummed and swayed his hips softly to the gentle lilts of the first song and then the second as well as the third and fourth by which time his glass was empty. There was a pause in the music as the fifth dance ended and a round of applause filled the air. New dancers joined the floor making way for previous partners to escape to the sides for drinks and a rest or, as one Pansy Parkinson is prone to do, pester Draco Malfoy to start dancing with someone whilst clinging to Hermione and painting her neck with slightly lipstick-tinted kisses. (Harry of course found this endearing and couldn’t stop his gentle smile at the couple.)

“Pansy, you can’t make me dance.”

“Why not you’re good at it and I’m your best friend I can do anything I like.”

Draco looked down at her pointedly with hesitation, “... And who do you suggest I dance with then?”

Pansy rolled her eyes and huffed in exasperation, “Why obviously-”

“-Harry?”

Harry, who had only half been listening to the conversation, turned to face Neville along with everyone else. Mouth hanging open, Pansy turned her full attention (okay she was looking at Draco’s reaction too) to Neville who had been the person in question to say Harry’s name.

“Harry, you’re a good dance partner. Would you care to have the next dance with me?” Neville asked just loud enough for Draco’s jaw to clench with jealousy.

The smaller boy had a very faint blush and side glanced a look at Draco before turning back to the boy in front of him, “Oh… er… well,” Harry hesitated.

“It’s just that Luna and Ginny have been dancing together since the beginning and it hurts to look at them and I just want to dance and I could have been dancing with them but I can’t and I don’t want tonight to be-”

“Nev. Slow down,” Harry held his friend by the shoulders, “I would dance with you but I think someone would get jealous.” He said quietly turning his gaze to Theo who was sat on a bench by the window not too far away. As soon as Neville turned to look at said boy, Theo averted his gaze to the falling snow outside making it all too clear that he had been watching him.

And that was that. The group watched Neville offer his hand like a gentleman and escort Theo to the centre of the ballroom for the next song. Draco had been frozen to the spot first with jealousy and then a bursting heart as his affection for Harry couldn’t be contained anymore. How pure could one boy get? How sweet and caring? Draco’s heart could explode and paint the room with his love-filled blood. It could ribbon through the air and twine itself around Harry pulling him closer to his heart if Draco let it. Which of course is just what he had to do. He couldn’t bare it any longer. His trance like state was broken with a hard elbowing from Pansy and a push in the back from Hermione. And well… everyone knows the physics of momentum. It turns out that shove somehow transformed into a boost of courage and Draco was taking Harry by the wrist, discarding his glass and pulling him through the crowd to the orchestra pit.

“Where’s he going? The floor is that way.” Blaise laughed.

Hermione just smiled and turned to her girlfriend, “Just wait for the next dance is all I can say.”

 

***

 

Draco led Harry through the crowd and when they got to the orchestra pit, Draco searched for McGonagall.

“Headmistress-”

She smiled at him and then Harry, “What can I do for you boys?”

“Headmistress,” He began again hesitantly with a side glance to Harry, “Would it be awfully rude of me to ask a favour?”

“Of course not, Draco.”

His cheeks were tainted the slightest shade of pink as he requested the song he wanted to be played.

She tried to keep a smile from her lips, “Well I’d have to see if the musicians are familiar with the piece but yes I’m sure they can.”

“Thank you,” Draco blushed and turned to Harry.

His look of confusion brought a giggle from Draco’s lips, “What are you planning Draco?”

With a deep breath and a boost of courage that he didn’t know he had within him, Draco took Harry’s hands in his own and led them closer to the open dancing space where they were still part of the crowd of students but in an area that was a little thinned out of people. “Harry… I… you don’t have a dance partner and neither do I so… what I’m trying to say is… Harry may I have the honour of the next dance with you?”

The smaller boy was shocked to silence as a furious blush plastered his cheeks and neck. He wanted to say something like ‘but we’re both boys’ or ‘why me?’ but the words wouldn’t form on his tongue.

Draco stepped closer to him and stroked his hands, “I mean if i’m really that detestable then you don’t have to but I thought I could be your Cinderella for tonight…”

Harry almost choked out a reply when Draco’s words caught up to his ears and brain, “You won’t leave me at midnight will you?”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Draco whispered.

The song currently playing came to its end and Draco saw McGonagall talk to the conductor as couples left the floor. There was a longer pause than the seamless transitions everyone had heard so far that night which had most partners hesitate to take the dance floor or if they did they were staring at the orchestra pit. Draco took his cue and led Harry to the open space. The students parted for them and those who had walked onto the dance floor quickly left. Conversations ended but a buzzing of quiet whispers went around the room and Harry felt severely judged and self-conscious.

He was brought back to the moment when Draco whispered in his ear, “Forget them, I’m here. Just keep your eyes on me.”

Draco smiled and stepped away from Harry ever so slightly to bow and take his hand before placing a delicate kiss on the back of it. The blond closed the gap once more and pulled Harry into him by the small of his back.

“Ready?” And with harry’s small nod the music began.

Draco led them and they swayed back and forth before beginning the actual waltz steps.

“They’re all watching us.” Harry squeaked out.

“Let them.” Draco replied, completely enamoured with Harry.

This dance was so unlike the Yule Ball of the Triwizard Tournament. That had been full of trepidation and nerves. That had been with a partner who he didn’t even care about in any sort of romantic way. That had been with the pressure of life and the constant oppressing threat of death around every corner.

This. This was a different level; a different world. This was filled with passion and hope and adoration. This was filled with an overwhelming sense of calmness because it was Draco. His Draco. This was actually making him smile. A grin burst onto his face and he giggled like a little child. He never wanted this dance to end. He wanted this forever.

Draco felt his heart warm and grow two sizes when he heard that little carefree laugh and saw the smile that came along with it. If anything it made him dance with more encouragement and just… more. They glided around the room in circles and spun with little laughs and wide smiles. Draco could have dragged him from the hall and kissed him thoroughly but he had to be the gentleman and finish the dance. Oh what a fool he had been to not see it before now. Harry was his. He had to be. If he wasn’t already, well, Draco would soon see to that.

“Dance with me forever Harry” Draco pleaded to the other. “Let me be your dance partner forever.”

Harry squeezed Draco’s hand, “Forever,” He promised.

Draco pulled the smaller boy closer to him as they spun and twirled close to the edge of the space and Harry’s breath caught in his throat. The most beautiful blush graced Harry’s cheeks and neck as he squeezed Draco’s hand and held onto his shoulder tighter feeling the muscles move underneath his jacket. The blonde could have confessed his love right then and there had it not been for the adrenaline buzzing in his ears and the lack of oxygen going to his brain (the stupid boy hadn’t been breathing properly from the second Harry hadn’t declined him). Far too soon the song was over and then the crashing wave of self consciousness came over Draco so he pulled the other boy extremely close to him and rested their foreheads together with a massive smile. Once the sound of his blood furiously pumping through their ears had quieted a little, the boys heard the room full of clapping and cheering from student all the way to teachers. Draco raised his eyes and looked around the room as did Harry and for a second he caught McGonagall’s eyes. They gave each other a soft smile with her raising her glass of alcohol and Draco nodding his head to her.

The next song was going to begin so the pair left the dance space as other partners entered and they dodged their friends and other onlookers to leave the hall. Instead they made their way to the courtyard where just before the doors they tripped and held onto each other.

“What the…?”

“Filch.” Harry giggled.

Above them was a spelled mistletoe that had caused their feet to glue to the floor and hence their trip.

“You little giggle monster,” Draco murmured fondly to the other as he cupped his cheek.

Harry leaned into his hand, “I guess we have to kiss or we can’t move” and he giggled some more.

“Believe me,” Draco smiled softly, “I had no intention of us parting tonight without sharing a kiss,”

His other hand came to Harry’s other cheek to hold him still as he brought their lips together. It was so gentle and soft and patient and owwww was that those bloody glasses in his face. Who cared? Harry felt like he couldn’t breathe as he pulled and sucked and kissed more. It felt like the only breath he actually was drawing came from Draco’s lungs. They shared the same air breathing through their noses and not willing to let each other lose the touch of their lips. This was so much better than that dared kiss. This was theirs and theirs alone. Harry pulled his lips away gently only to breathe and tilt his head the other way, pushing his small fingers through Draco’s locks as he did.

By now the Mistletoe spell had definitely worn away but the two were so enamoured with each other that they didn’t care to notice or pay attention.

“I love you.”

Draco pulled back with glistening eyes and stroked his thumbs over Harry’s cheeks and swollen lips, “I love you.” He repeated.

Trying to hold in a sob, Harry pulled on the collar of Draco’s jacket and clung to it like a lifeline, “I’ve wanted to hear those words for so long” He forced his eyes shut and kissed Draco chastely, “I love you too. I love you too, Draco.”

The Slytherin wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist and spun him around in the corridor, “I love you so fucking much.”

Harry let Draco lift his legs up and he wrapped them around the Slytherin’s waist as he spun them gently in a circle, the smaller boy’s arms wrapping around his neck and his face pressed into Draco’s neck. One arm underneath his bum and one rubbing his back and sometimes running into his hair to hold his head closer to his chest as he cuddled the other. Eventually they stopped spinning slowly and walking around a little and just swayed there as Draco almost bounced the smaller boy in his arms and cradled him.

“My baby boy,” Draco whispered and kissed Harry’s forehead. Past the entrance door the snow was still falling and lanterns around the school grounds were faint glowing orbs almost like fireflies.

“Let’s go back to the dorm,” Harry said quietly to Draco and the other compiled, not even putting Harry down or worrying about the many dances that they would miss out on. They had each other now and they weren’t going to miss a moment of it for anything or anyone.

***

The common room felt too quiet. Usually there would be a faint humming of friends talking of the scratching of quills on parchment along with the flip of an old page from one of the library’s many heavy books. Usually the fire would be filling out the background with its tiny crackles and spits, illuminating the room and casting shadows on the walls but the room at present was only filled with the gentle whispers of the flames dancing and the embers of a slowly dying fire.

Harry had held onto Draco for the entire journey and it was probably cruel because of all those stairs but Draco couldn’t find it in him to care and the boy was so small and fragile it didn’t actually take up that much energy to lift him - probably a sign that he wasn’t eating as well as he should be, Draco thought with a concerned look on his face as he walked over to their special armchair and pulled Harry as close as possible to his chest. The Gryffindor curled up to Draco and rested his head on the other’s shoulder whilst his ankles hung over the armchair.

“This is real, right?” Harry asked just above a whisper.

Draco lifted the other’s chin up and stroked his thumb over Harry’s soft cheek, “It’s always been real baby boy.” Which he punctuated with their lips joining. You would have thought their kisses would be more aggressive, more obviously needy for more contact because come on this was Harry and Draco but surprisingly their kiss was gentle and patient and needy and passionate in its own special way. The two didn’t need to rush. Heat and passion could come later but right now all Harry could think about was that if he died kissing Draco like this he would die a happy boy.

Cupping the back of the smaller boy’s head gave Harry the support he needed so as to not strain his neck when Draco removed his hand from his cheek and lowered it to his back to pull the Gryffindor closer to him.

Everything was slow and sweet.

“You taste sweet.” Draco mumbled against Harry’s lips before sucking his bottom lip and grazing the edge of his teeth against it teasingly.

“That’s the fruit punch,” Harry whispered back and parted his lips more for Draco who leaned back slightly and watched as Harry blinked open his eyes with his full lips still open. “What?” Harry almost pouted that their kiss had stopped.

Draco raked his eyes over the soft head of curls towards Harry’s cute button nose and lingered on his lips as the tip of Harry’s tongue wet them and then Draco focused on the other’s vibrant eyes. Harry’s glasses suddenly seemed too big for his face and it was cute as fuck. Harry actually started to pout given that Draco had stopped kissing him and didn’t seem to be starting any time soon. The Slytherin brought the hand from Harry’s waist up to his cheek again, situating Harry’s head in the crook of his arm so it wouldn’t ache, brushed the pad of his thumb over Harry’s pouty bottom lip and pulled it gently.

“I love you so much,” Draco said sincerely as he pushed the tip of his thumb into Harry’s mouth. Instantaneously, Harry began suckling gently on it (probably without even realising it) and Draco had to curb his thoughts from going to a place that was slightly inappropriate for the current time being. Having said that though, Draco had somehow urged his thumb further in Harry’s warm mouth and the other boy had simply wrapped his lips around Draco’s digit, only to flush a beautiful pink and stop sucking when he realised what he had been doing.

Draco swallowed somehow with his dry throat and mouth and looked up to Harry’s eyes, “It’s okay,” he reassured, “you’re not doing anything wrong.”

A few beats passed and Harry flushed some more as he tentatively began suckling again.

Draco leant forward and pressed a kiss to Harry’s hairline, inhaling the scent of the boy’s hair as he tried harder to curb his thoughts. (Said thoughts that were sending more blood than necessary gradually down south.)

“Baby, lets go to our room and get some pyjamas on and then we can cuddle and kiss and be more comfortable.”

Harry pouted when Draco took his thumb away so he could hook his arm under Harry’s knees and he tapped his bottom lip with a frown. The older of the two promptly kissed that frown away and felt a smile on Harry’s lips. He stood and carried Harry bridal style to their dorm. (though he refused to think of it as such because that was very domestic and made him think of weddings and honeymoons and oh Salazar you set him off)

“I’ll erm… I’ll turn around.” Draco said with a blush as he stripped of his robes and let them hang over the back of his chair whereas Harry found it difficult to actually get into his bear onesie with the view he had been blessed with. Steering his vision from Draco’s perky butt and thighs, Harry quickly dumped his robes on the seat of his chair and wriggled into his fluffy clean onesie and then sat on the edge of his bed with his small fingers laced together.

“Aw baby you’re so cute” Draco cooed when he was in his green boxers with a grey t-shirt on that only just covered the slight curve of his boxer clad ass.

Harry blushed prettily and lifted his legs onto the bed almost in a crouching position so that when Draco finally sat against the headboard he could easily go to take his seat in Draco’s lap.

“Come here baby,” Draco murmured as he patted his lap and Harry immediately curled up into his chest, sighing happily.

Harry’s brain suddenly thought now was the most appropriate time to remember all the things he’d done before now and it just made him cringe. Sensing his anxiety, Draco held him closer and gave him a sweet forehead kiss.

“What’s wrong bunny?” He asked when Harry brought his small hands up to hide his face. The boy had started to pull and tug at his hair and was rubbing his face as if whatever he was thinking of irritated and got under his skin that much.

“I can’t believe I begged you to give me a b-blow job oh my gods I’m so disgusting and desperate I’m so sorry. We weren’t aren’t even together.” Harry whined with disgust layered in his voice.

“What’s brought all this on bunny? You were doing fine after the fact. I was just trying to help you; you said you were in pain and I couldn’t bare to watch. I-I didn’t do anything w-wrong did I baby?” Now Draco was starting to worry about his own behaviour.

“No! You did nothing wrong! It’s me it’s all me!” the ‘I’m disgusting’ was left unspoken.

Draco shifted and sat the other upright in his lap and made him look at the Slytherin, “I want you to listen to me Harry. There is nothing wrong with you. You enjoyed it… I enjoyed it more than I should have considering I was only trying to help ease your pain.”

“But-”

“No buts Harry.”

The Gryffindor seemed to physically struggle at keeping his thoughts under control.

Draco cupped his cheeks and stroked his thumbs close to Harry’s tanned ears, whispering, “Can I kiss you?”

His reply was a gentle nod and then a delicate press of lips. Their tongues didn’t ‘battle for dominance’; that rivalry had ended long ago. Instead, their tongues melted together against one another, going deeper and taking more and touching more and more. Plump lips latched onto each other and created a seal too tight and passionate around their careful tongues only to release their hold every few seconds to catch a short breath and change angles. Draco, whilst still kissing the small boy in his lap, pulled Harry’s glasses off carefully and folded their arms, setting them down gently on the bedside table without even looking. By this point it was a little uncomfortable for Harry to be craning his neck around to meet Draco’s lips so he briefly detached from Draco and raised himself from his lap. The Slytherin took Harry’s hands to help reposition him so he didn’t wobble on the spongy bed and fall.

When Harry sat back down it was with a leg either side of Draco’s hips and his arms around the other’s pale neck. Draco had lifted his knees to make a sort of back support for Harry which brought him all the more closer. Yet it wasn’t enough.

He wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist tight until they were overlapping and he closed the gap in between them. With the way he was holding onto the smaller, Draco’s arms would sometimes slip upwards and unintentionally make their kiss more fierce.

“I love you,” Draco murmured into the kiss, not even letting it stop or pulling away from the contact. “Should’ve said it… ages ago. Should’ve done… Loved you for a long time. Nothing can change that… Want you. Want you so bad. Want your heart… an… and want you to have mine. You have it. You have my heart… “ Harry was a mess or bottled up emotion as he hung off Draco’s neck.

“I feel like my heart could explode. Don’t wanna lose you. Stay with me forever.” Harry whimpered, feeling very selfish, and hugged him tighter, trying with no avail - due to the fact that Draco’s back was against the headboard of the bed - to wrap his legs around Draco’s waist.

The only thing that achieved was bringing Harry’s crotch down to Draco. Hard. Well… Draco’s crotch wasn’t hard, surprisingly, just the pressure had been overwhelmingly intoxicating and they both jolted and leant away from each other slightly.

“I-I’m sorry!” Harry said.

Draco ran his fingers through Harry’s hair and down to the nape of his neck, bringing his thumb around to Harry’s bottom lip, “You don’t have to apologise,” He reassured. And well fuck, now Harry was feeling all tingly and … good… fuck.

His hips twitched downwards and he apologised again because Draco ended up jolting too and exhaling a steady breath.

“Really, it’s fine.”

They both gazed at each other and Harry experimentally pushed downwards again earning a low groan from Draco and a steadily hardening cock that pushed up against his underwear. Even under all that fluff of his onesie, Harry’s smaller length showed.

“Are we doing this?” Draco asked. Harry just bit his lip and ground down a bit harder. “Fuuck.”

Draco couldn’t stop himself. He rutted upwards and sent Harry bouncing slightly in his lap but luckily his knees gave Harry support for his back and he didn’t fall backwards.

“So were doing this. Okay. We staying like this? I’m close already.” Draco mumbled but Harry just chewed his lip harder and Draco was slightly concerned, “Hey come here,” He murmured and brought his hand to cup Harry’s cheek bringing their lips together, “It’s okay. We don’t have to rush. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want.”

“And if I do want?” Harry said quietly with a furious blush. “What if I want this. Just like this?”

Draco tried to stifle a moan as he pulled him into a searing kiss, “Then you get this baby boy.”

He wrapped his arms tightly around Harry again and pulled him closer as well as bringing his knees up higher. Draco peppered chaste kisses over Harry’s lips and jaw right next to his ear before sucking on the smooth skin of his neck and darkening it even more with red splotches. Harry kept making sweet noises and gasps every time Draco sucked harder on parts of his neck and his pointed collar bones turned out to be extremely sensitive.

Draco cradled Harry’s head in his right hand as his left kept their chests close and Harry just relaxed back into the support. All the strength from his neck seemed to vanish as he tipped his head back and displayed the rest of his unmarked skin.

“Fuck.” Draco cursed under his breath at the sight of more territory to claim. His lips moved carefully, gently but swiftly across his collar bones and bobbing Adam's apple over to the juncture between Harry’s neck and shoulder on the other side. Harry wantonly tilted his head and bared the space to Draco who fucking started to nibble there and graze his teeth over the skin as he sucked a fresh patch of red to the surface.

“Please!” Harry cried and whimpered as he tried to conceal the noises he was making.

And then Draco did something despicable. He fucking bit Harry’s neck. The small boy cried out and his relaxed body stiffened with pleasure as he tried helplessly to grind down and find some sort of friction. Harry’s legs twitched open some more and he cried out for Draco.

And being the gentleman that he was, Draco could only provide for his baby boy. He tugged Harry down harder onto his lap, momentarily forgetting about being gentle, and he smoothed his palm over Harry’s back. Up and down until it was more down than up and sat hotly on Harry’s tailbone.

“Baby please can I-”

“Please. Please please please.” Harry was reduced to begging at this point and Draco let Harry’s head fall forward onto his shoulder so he had both his hands free to move lower and palm over his round squishy butt. Draco squeezed and they both rutted against each other, grinding more and more.

“Please… Draco please.”

Draco could tell he was close. He took Harry’s ass more firmly in his hands and brought them impossibly closer together. “Baby…” Draco groaned.

“Oh Baby you’re so good. Perfect baby boy. Perfect bunny. My baby only mine. You’re arse is so perfect baby; so soft and squishy. Gonna hold you forever. Never let you go. My beautiful boy. I love you so much baby.”

That did it. Harry’s hips stuttered and he made a mess of the inside of his onesie, whining and making obscene noises the entire time. And the thought that Draco had done that to him and made him feel good forced him over the edge too and his shirt was painted with his release. His cock had pushed past the waist of his boxers at some point and the tip was just peeking out.

Harry clung to Draco and buried his head in the other’s neck. The Slytherin tried to calm down from his release which was a little bit hard to do when there was a constant onslaught of soft warm huffs of breath against your neck along with little pecks and kisses. Draco held Harry close to him yet again and stroked up and down his back.

“Seems like baby boy likes being told how good he is,” He murmured with a smirk half to himself and to the boy he was currently cuddling. Harry just wined and nodded into Draco’s neck. “Poor baby, I bet nobody’s told you nice things before hmm?” Harry whined again and nuzzled into Draco’s neck giving him a little nip with his teeth, “Well don’t you worry bunny, I’m gonna make sure you always know how good you are, how perfect you are. I’m gonna make sure you never forget and never give yourself a chance to think about anything other than how perfect you are.”

After cleaning them both up with a charm or two, Draco scooted down the bed and pulled the covers over them. Harry smiled up at him and he still seemed to be in a haze of bliss. Draco kissed him tenderly and held onto him. The two laid there in blissful silence with only the noises of their sweet kisses to be heard.

Harry eventually began to pout into the kiss, “Everyone goes home for Christmas tomorrow.” he muttered as if the knowledge had just become apparent to him. Rather the sudden realisation that he would be spending two weeks away from Draco hit him too fast for his little heart to manage especially after their newly professed love.

Draco sighed, “I know bunny. I wish I could stay here with you, trust me, there’s nothing I could want more but my mother is expecting me back at the manor and I have a bad feeling that my father will be there too.”

“What?” Harry stiffened, “He’s in Azkaban though. Right?”

Draco furrowed his brow and his jaw twitched, “maybe not for long.” The lull in the conversation was not coincidental, “Where will you go at Christmas? Will you stay here or..?”

The small boy settled in further to the crook or Draco’s neck and rested his hand on the blonde’s chest, “I’m going to Grimmauld place first - I want to clean it up a bit and make it more like a home - but I’ll be going to Ron’s for the actual day. I always do.”

They both laid there is peaceful silence with their fingers intertwined.

“I guess I should actually officially ask you to be my boyfriend.” Draco stated.

Harry giggled after finding the ability to breathe again, “Yes you probably; should.” He grinned.

“Will you be my boyfriend you adorable, gorgeous, handsome, amazing, the list goes on, human being.”

And now the wave of giggles and bushed up cheeks were unrelenting from Harry, “of course you prat I’m not letting you escape. You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into!”

Draco made a noncommittal noise between a grunt of amusement and a hum of approval, “mmm but I think it will be something I’ll love all the same.”

Chapter Text

A layer of sweat had built up underneath Harry’s onesie. He felt gross and sticky with sweat as the dampness from his back and underarms spread to the fabric. With the ache of a good night’s sleep in his joints, Harry threw the bed covers off himself and left the room for a good shower.  Unknowingly to him, the lack of warmth under the covers and the loss of a weight on the other end of the mattress woke Draco up too.

 

On the way to the bathroom Harry had the strangest feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Something had happened and for the life of him he couldn’t remember. Surely he hadn't had that much alcohol last night. His gaze caught in the mirror and he froze. His feet wouldn’t move and his hands wouldn’t stop shaking as he touched the blemished skin of his shoulders and neck. For more than a second Harry began to wonder how the marks of his beatings had resurfaced on his skin; he wondered how they had come back to haunt him. But eventually he separated those harsh marks of his childhood from these marks that were distinctly different. The image of purple bruises kissing his collarbone and wrapping all around the column of his throat made him weak and flushed. These weren’t marks of anger of disgust and hatred or abuse, no, these were marks of affection and adoration and dare he say it- love. The realisation had him close his eyes and blink back tears. He was loved. He was cherished and wanted. He was important to someone. An aching pain hit his heart as he realised he had been without this feeling all his life and here it was hugging him and smothering him just from a portrait of purple kisses. With shaking hands, Harry reached up and brushed his fingers over the bruises only to then curl in on himself slightly as he tried to control his thudding heart.

 

“Harry? Harry, you okay?” Draco asked, making his way up to him and hesitantly put his hand on Harry’s back; the touch so gentle that it affected Harry more than it should have done as his teary green eyes looked up to Draco’s in the mirror. Somehow Draco seemed to understand what was going on in Harry’s mind and tentatively hugged him from behind, burying his nose in Harry’s soft messy curls and murmuring reassuringly, “It’s okay. You’re okay.” He watched Harry in the mirror and wrapped his fingers gently and loosely around Harry’s neck, caressing the deep bruises. Draco caught Harry’s eyes and saw his flushed cheeks which only made the blonde stifle a laugh in Harry’s hair. He kissed the top of Harry’s head and mumbled into his ear, keeping eye contact with him all the while, “Want me to give you another one?” Which, to Draco’s amusement, only made Harry blush more.

 

Draco lowered his head to suck on his neck again and it was like Harry could finally breathe. It wasn't a dream. That realisation alone overwhelmed him and his heart hurt with so much joy and also grief at the thought of the possibility of even losing Draco. The gut wrenching sob that followed had Draco soothing the new bruise with a small peck before turning Harry around and giving him the tightest and most comforting hug in the world. Draco let the smaller boy cry into his chest and on his shoulder and he tried soothing him by running his fingers through Harry's curly hair and rubbing circles into his back gently as he kissed the top of his head.

 

A garbled up sob of “ I love you” spilled out of Harry's mouth only to be met halfway by Draco’s reassuring kisses and declarations of love.

 

“Come on,” Draco took Harry's hand, “Let's take a shower and then get ready to pack our bags.” Harry could only nod numbly and follow his boyfriend in a slight state of shock.

 

The water heated up quickly whilst the boys undressed.

 

“I meant what I said.” Draco murmured to Harry once they were in the shower, face to face and arms around each other, letting the water fall over them.

 

“So did I.” Harry whispered back.

 

Draco wanted to kiss him badly. His arms wrapped tighter around Harry’s waist as his hand made its way up and down Harry’s back edging close to the base of his spine.

 

“Please,” someone gasped.

 

Draco moved his hand lower to cup Harry’s soft cheek ever so gently which caused Harry to screw his eyes shut.

 

This wasn’t Dudley. This was safe. This was nice. It’s okay.

 

“It’s okay,” Draco said, “I’m not him.”

 

Harry nodded, “I know you’re not.” and pulled Draco closer for that desperate kiss.

 

Draco moved both his hands to Harry’s thighs and lifted him up to his waist with Harry’s back to the shower wall. The move was effortless with Harry’s worryingly low weight and it drew a startled gasp from the smaller boy which parted their kiss. Harry smoothed his hands over Draco’s scarred chest until he felt something prodding his belly. With his small hand, Harry tentatively held Draco’s cock and squeezed. This was uncharted territory right here. He squeezed again and Draco moved closer.

 

“Yours too.” He directed.

 

So Harry took both their cocks in his hand and dragged his hand up to their tips. Panting, he sunk his hand back down and whined into Draco’s mouth.

 

“Good boy. Just like that. So good. Making us feel good.”

 

Harry’s grip tightened as he pumped his fist up and down with little moans disjointing his breathing.

 

“I love you.” Harry Whimpered right as he came, twitching with overstimulation.

 

“I love you too.” Draco replied as he set Harry back down on his feet before taking his own still hard cock in his hands.

 

Kissing Draco, Harry ran his fingers through the Blonde’s hair and pulled at the wet strands every now and then, scratching his scalp until, with a desperate moan, Draco came with Harry’s name on his tongue. They stood there, wrapped in each other’s arms with gentle kisses and touches as they washed each other.

 

Draco turned off the water and pulled a towel over the wall to wrap around Harry’s shoulders which he then proceeded to rub up and down to keep him warm. The smaller boy’s little fingers clutched onto the towel where it joined in front of his chest. With one last kiss on Harry’s forehead, Draco retrieved his own towel and wrapped it around his waist so as to leave his hands free and ready to usher his boyfriend out of the bathroom and down the corridor into their bedroom. His boyfriend. That caught him off guard a little. He had a boyfriend now and it was the only person he ever wanted to be with for the rest of his life.

 

***

 

Harry was sat next to Draco, ankles touching and fingers intertwined under the table. Most of the hall had proud smiles and exasperated faces as the two had finally got together but Harry was oblivious to all this as he ate his breakfast - a bowl of porridge and some banana slices that Draco had kindly cut up for him.

 

Across from them sat Pansy and Blaise with their respective lovers to either side of them. The two Slytherins were observing Draco, noticing how smitten he looked with an obnoxious smile plastered on his face, torn between staring at him like a stranger for how he was behaving as if to say “who are you and what have you done with Draco?” and simultaneously not even being surprised at his behaviour with an indifferent “I’m not surprised. This crush of yours has made you soft since day one.” To further emphasise this, Draco took their joined hands from under the table and kissed Harry’s knuckles. The grin that was on his face was blinding. Draco wasn’t even eating anything! Too absorbed with cooing over his now boyfriend. Blaise raised an eyebrow and nudged Ron who choked on his pumpkin juice as he watched Draco whisper something to Harry and then promptly kiss his cheek.

 

Draco felt a sort of mourning deep within him that he had almost lost Harry and he closed his eyes to will away any unnecessary tears - Harry was alive after all. They had a lot to work through but in the end it would be worth it.

 

***

 

The train ride home was awkward and filled with the knowledge that they wouldn’t actually see each other for two weeks. Draco had helped Harry with his luggage and secured them a compartment which their friends quickly settled into too. Sadness was the only thing that could describe how the boys felt as they wrapped themselves in each others arms and shared gentle subtle kisses. It was sat like this that made the boys forget where they were and they startled in disbelief when the train finally stopped at King’s Cross. Molly and Arthur were there to pick up Ron and Ginny and they couldn’t help but notice how Harry clung to Draco.

 

“I’ve missed you so much.” Molly exclaimed as she hugged the living daylights out of her two youngest. Harry broke away from Draco to wrap his arms around Molly and then Arthur who gave him two loving pats on the back. “Oh Harry, I’ve missed you so much. I wish you would just come straight home with us and not just christmas day.”

 

Harry smiled at them, “I know but I’m going to clear up Grimmauld first so I can leave there. The order will probably start to use it anyway and it’s not the best place to live.” He stepped back towards Draco and took his hand. “I actually wanted to tell you that um… Draco’s my boyfriend and it’s really weird to say that out loud but I wanted you to know because you’re my family and I want Draco to be a part of the family I’ve chosen for myself and I-”

 

“Oh Merlin!” Molly ran to hug them both tight much to Draco’s horror, “Harry I’m so happy for you,” she pulled back to hug them at arm's length, “Look at you both! Oh you look wonderful together. You need to tell me about it. Wait! Does this mean you’re joining us for Christmas?” She gasped and asked Draco.

 

“You would - would want me to be there?”

 

“Of course dear,” She said and stroked his cheek.

 

Draco seemed to struggle for words until Harry spoke up for him, “I wish he would but he’s already promised to visit his mother.”

 

“Oh- Well that’s a shame dear. But there’s always next christmas.” Molly smiled at them both.

 

“Yes there is!” Harry smiled, “And I plan on dragging you to the burrow if I have to.”

 

Draco just raised an eyebrow, “You will do no dragging of the sort you heathen.”

 

Further from the Weasleys, Harry and Draco said their last goodbyes. They were fine. Christmas holidays were only two weeks and they could survive two weeks without the other in close proximity just fine.

 

“You’ll write to me won’t you?” Harry asked self-consciously as if to question whether he was worthy of the time it took to write a letter.

 

“You shouldn’t even have to ask” Draco reassured him softly and kissed him sweetly on the forehead.

 

Harry only looked down at their linked hands, “I hope you’re planning on giving me a better goodbye kiss than that.” He joked.

 

With a scoff and a swift movement Draco sealed his lips to Harry’s, capturing his breath. “Two weeks will go bye so fast you won’t even notice.”

 

The other didn’t look so sure.

 

***

 

For Harry, life in Grimmauld Place was, well, grim. It was grim, bleak and disgustingly reminiscent of the summer just gone; one of hangovers, unpleasant and - now that he looks back on it- unwanted sex even if he was the instigator, and not to mention total isolation.

 

Good times.

 

But he had Draco now and there was no excuse to let himself get into that state again. Instead he would dedicate this christmas to cleaning the house a little and setting aside anything that he wanted to keep - he was, after all, going to find a more suitable place to live. A place where Draco would want to stay with him. He was definitely not going to wallow in sadness over his distance to Draco.

 

There was always a way to close the distance.

 

Harry set about writing a letter. (Draco had suggested not floo-calling each other because he didn’t want his mother listening in or catching glimpses of a conversation and besides- letters felt more significant than a brief floo-call.)

 

When he went to his therapist on the third day of the holidays she expressed how far he had come and how proud of himself he should feel.

 

Yet he couldn’t feel proud. Not when every step he took forward ended up being two steps backwards. He wasn’t dealing with this very well at all despite what he’d said that first day. Isolating himself… wallowing in sadness… at least he hadn’t resorted back to the alcohol.

 

Draco hadn’t replied to his letter either.

 

***

 

When Draco stepped gracefully through the fireplace at Malfoy Manor he was met by nobody.

 

The place was as morbid and cold as ever and Draco couldn’t wait to be out of it but he had promised his mother he would stay and he would keep that promise.

 

Speaking of, his mother appeared from the corridor looking like death.

 

“Draco!” she smiled weakly and hurried over to give him a hug. She must have really been lonely to have reacted like that; Malfoy’s never hug each other.

 

She was shaking as he awkwardly bent to put his things on the floor whilst still embracing his mother.

 

Why was she shaking so much?

 

Draco hugged her back in an attempt to comfort her but the reassurance of the hug for his mother soon turned into an anchor to ground himself as he saw cold blue eyes staring at him from the doorway.

 

Over his mother’s shoulder, Draco saw the bedraggled visage of his father.

 

Frozen, Draco could only eye the other man, scrutinising his dirtied and broken hair, his sallow skin, his thin lips pulled taught so sharply one move could cut like a knife, his skeletal hands so-

 

“Draco.”

 

That voice. How he had pushed all recollection of that voice away. It was so- so - it made him recoil behind his mother.

 

Severus had been right. That man was stood at the other end of this room and not in Azkaban. Not where he should be. How could they have let this happen. He could never deserve to be set free; not even for something as arbitrary as a family reunion at christmas.

 

“It’s good to see you, Draco.”

 

That was his mother’s voice, comforting him in a gentle murmur by his ear as if to reassure him that he wasn’t alone in the room with that monster.

 

“It is good to see you, son.” Lucius spoke again in that cold voice.

 

Draco had yet to say anything to him. How could he when years of suffering from the Dark lord had been his own father’s fault. How could he forgive years of emotional abuse. How could he- how- how was he out of Azkaban?

 

Draco needed… air, space, answers… Harry.

 

This was all a little too much.

 

“You’re just in time for dinner,” His mother said and led him by the elbow with a hand on his back to the door where his father stood as if he was injured or ill or returned from war with a limp and PTSD.

 

He couldn’t process much. Perhaps he did have PTSD. Or emotional trauma. Something that some muggles would diagnose.

 

He felt a little fucked up in the head with how slow everything seemed to be moving yet how quickly he was stood in front of his father who gave him a tight smile and wrapped his cold arms around him with his fingers in his hair.

 

Breathe.

 

Take deep breaths.

 

“It’s good having all the Malfoy’s together again,” Lucius says to him, “the manor is sure to feel complete with its heir present within its walls.”

 

Heir.

 

That cursed word.

 

One minute he’s heard the word heir and the next he is in his old room with a house elf by the name of Freida putting his belongings away. Did he seriously block out all of dinner?

 

Sleep didn’t come to him that night as he sat in bed writing a letter to Harry.

 

“Freida?” Draco spoke to his empty room only for her to appear the next second, “could you get an owl to deliver this for me please?”

 

“Yes, master Draco.”

 

Then he was left alone to the sound of his own breathing in the dark room.

 

***

 

Pop.

 

“Master,” the elf said hesitantly.

 

“What.”

 

Lucius turned from the window to see what he was being disturbed for.

 

“Master Draco wishes to send this letter.”

 

Lucius raised an eyebrow, “so soon.” He extended his palm to retrieve the letter which was placed in his hand before the elf vanished.

 

Inspecting the address he sneered in disgust at the receiver's name.

 

“Harry Potter.” He said with a snarl.

 

Sitting before his desk and taking out his paper knife he opened the letter and to his horror read the delusions of his abhorrent, repugnant son.

 

Dear Harry,

 

I’ve been gone for the shortest time ever and I feel like it’s been ages. I miss you so much. He’s here Harry. I don’t know what to do. That man is back here and I’m scared.

 

After everything that he did in the war, that he did to my mother and I, how can they even consider setting him free?

 

I feel out of touch in this place. Like I can’t see or think clearly. I wish you were here just to pull me back to reality but I could never do that to you. I could never ask to bring you to this place again. This place isn’t a home.

 

I don’t know why mother couldn’t ask to stay in our cottage in France.

 

These two weeks will feel like forever without you, even more so with that man here.

 

I hope you’re doing better than I am. I miss you so much. I love you.

 

All my love,

 

Draco.

 

The letter was a twisted serenade to Potter.

 

His son would not be an abomination of nature under his roof. He would be a respectable heir with good connections to women that had good dowries and genes.

 

If Draco knew what was good for him he would forget all this “I miss you, I love you Harry.” The vile words alone were enough to put a bad taste on Lucius’ tongue.

 

The only redeemable quality about the letter was the outstanding vulnerability that Draco had unknowingly shared with him. He would be sure to beat that out of him, nip it in the bud as it were right away. No self-respecting, self-preserving Malfoy would express this kind of emotion openly.

 

Just then a small owl that looked quite disgusting and clumsy flew into the window. Lucius opened the latch in agitation and snatched the letter from its foot before closing the window on it again; not caring if the glass hit its beak.

 

It was addressed to Draco Malfoy.

 

Without a second thought, he opened the letter and began to read.

 

Draco,

 

I know I’m bad at writing letters so get your laughs out of it now. I’m probably breaking so many ‘rules’ about writing letters but, if it’s true that you can’t read my “chicken-scratch”  writing, you won’t be able to tell anyway.

 

This is harder than I thought it would be. Not just writing a damn letter but being back here and without you.

 

I’m lonely. I miss you.

 

How’s your mother? Did she explain why she hasn’t been writing to you all this time yet?

 

I wish you would let me floo-call you. It doesn’t matter if your mum hears.

 

Please write back quickly. I need to hear from you, to have something of you with me.

 

I love you.

 

From Harry xxx

 

With a repulsed sneer he shoved the letters back into their envelopes and locked them in the bottom drawer of his desk where they would never be read again.

 

***

 

Harry wondered if the owl had even made it to the right place.

 

It had been two days since he had sent his letter and he had at least hoped to hear something from Draco. The house was starting to look a little cleaner as he had turned to the mess for a distraction. Now all of the rubbish had been thrown away and he was sorting through the endless piles of junk. He had started with the things in storage which meant hours of sifting through boxes in the attic.

 

He found a rew relics of the Black family and had waded through the disposables when he suddenly came across a box of vinyl records. Harry must have sat there for at least an hour trying to get the record player- which had been in a box in the other side of the attic and a nightmare to find- working. Once he had figured out how to set it up though with the help of a little magic he took out Bruce Springsteen's Album and played it. The record was a little scratchy and had some warped notes but overall the music was good. Harry sat back on a discarded armchair and let the bittersweet song flow over him.

 

He missed Draco so much.

 

His boyfriend still hadn’t replied to him.

 

Harry imagined Sirius and Remus putting this record on and dancing around the kitchen whilst Harry, still a baby and not even one years old, was sat laughing and eating his food.

 

It wasn’t even a memory; babies couldn’t have memories that young. It felt so real though.

 

Harry closed his eyes to fully immerse himself in his own torture.

 

He imagined what would have happened if Sirius and Remus had been able to adopt him after the murder of his parents. He imagined a life filled with magic from the start and a safe house and loving arms to be carried in. A life without abuse and childhood rape. If his Uncle knew what his own son had been doing to little Harry what would he have done? Would he have punished Dudley? Abused his own son for taking part in homosexual behaviour and not even cared that it was rape? Brushed it under the carpet? Joined in?

 

He curled up in the beaten up chair and let his thoughts carry him away to sleep as the vinyl played on.

 

In his sleep he didn’t hear the floo sound from the bottom floor and missed Draco’s floo-call.

 

***

 

“So have you thought about future wives?” Lucius asked over lunch.

 

Draco choked on his water and almost spat it everywhere, coughing and spluttering as he put his glass back down.

 

“I see Hogwarts hasn’t kept you in line with etiquette and manners. Disappointing.”

 

“You know that women aren’t really on my horizons.” Draco replied.

 

“What do you mean. Of course they are.” Lucious took another forkful.

 

Draco watched his father in astonishment, “You know what I mean because when I told you and mother you threw a vase at me and refused to feed me for three days. Then you blamed me for the broken vase and-”

 

“Now now Draco, it’s rude to lie about other people but even more so to lie right to somebody’s face.” He took a sip from his goblet of wine, “I suggest Draco that you think carefully about your next choice of words. You are going to find a wife here of I will finalise the details for you betrothal to a fine young pureblood girl in France and I will take you far away from England, your friends and your abhorrent distractions.”

 

“Abhorrent distractions?” Draco blinked and questioned, refusing to let his hurt show, “What is that supposed to mean?”

 

Lucius took another sip of his wine and swallowed it thoughtfully before setting it back down on the table, running his finger around the rim, “You know what I mean,” He uttered and threw Draco’s words back at him.

 

Draco was frozen, watching the man who had raised him until the sight was too much to bare. He turned back to his meal and suddenly felt all his appetite vanish.

 

“You’re a disappointment Draco. Everyone knows it,” Lucius continued as if the previous conversation hadn’t just ended in tense silence. “The Dark Lord knew it, Bellatrix knew it, I knew it and I don’t doubt that your mother sees it.”

 

***

 

When Draco was next in his bedroom he floo-called harry. He didn’t answer.

 

Draco took out his quill and wrote another letter to Harry before asking Freida to owl it for him.

 

He needed to get out of this place.

 

***

 

Harry woke up with a start after a horrific nightmare. He was sweating and panting at what was not only a bad dream but a memory.

 

The woods near the park.

 

Running.

 

Falling.

 

The clink of a belt buckle.

 

“Harry!” he snapped out of his reverie and ran down the stair to the kitchen where Ron was, “Oh there you are. You look like shit.”

 

“Thanks.” Harry sighed and went to put the kettle on.

 

“So how has your holiday been so far?” Ron asked.

 

“Better than last christmas.” Harry replied curtly.

 

“Mate, anything is better than last christmas.”

 

The two stood in the kitchen with bated breath as Harry messed around putting tea bags in cups an getting the milk out.

 

“Have you even left this place since you got here?”

 

Harry ignored him.

 

“Harry.”

 

“I got some food from the shop.”

 

“Mate that’s not leaving the house.”

 

“I think it is Ron. I opened the door, left and then came back. That is called leaving the house.”

 

Ron sighed and accepted his drink, “Harry… you’ve been ignoring everyone. Mum’s really worried.”

 

“Well tell her she has nothing to worry about.”

 

“Do you want to go out somewhere. Just us. We could go to the Leaky or get something to eat. It’s getting dark so maybe we could go get something to drink?”

 

Harry glared at his tea, “You know I don’t do well with alcohol anymore.”

 

“Well you can get an orange juice. We don’t have to have alcohol we just need to have fun. You can’t stay cooped up in here any longer or you’ll go mad and then mum really will have something to worry about.”

 

Rubbing his hands into his eye sockets and heaving a sigh, Harry nodded, “you’re right.”

 

“I know I’m right.” Ron tried to smile. “How about we find somewhere and go dancing or you know just sit and watch others make a fool of themselves.”

 

Harry tried to put on a smile for his friend as he weakly said, “sounds like a plan.”

 

***

 

The bar brought back memories of the summer gone by.

 

Harry didn’t dance and neither did Ron but everyone else seemed to have a whale of a time being graceless in their movements.

 

The music rumbled through to Harry’s bones and he remembered how many nights he’d spent in bars like this, forgetting about headlines in the Daily Prophet and drinking away memories of Rita Skeeter’s latest gossip.

 

These sort of bars had become his home but now he felt like an outsider.

 

Drifting through these thoughts, Harry gazed off into space only to focus once he saw someone familiar.

 

“Draco?”

 

He was sat at another table.

 

Harry strode over and put his hand on the guy’s- Draco’s- shoulder. “Draco what are you doing here? Why aren’t you at -”

 

The man turned, eyed him with his brown eyes appreciatively up and down and raised a questioning eyebrow, “To what do I owe the pleasure?” The blonde man started.

 

Ron had caught up to them - merlin Harry could walk fast - “Harry let’s go.”

 

The blonde man gained an expression of realisation, “Oh I see how it is.”

 

“And how exactly is that?” Ron shot back.

 

“If you want a threesome you just need to ask.” He smirked.

 

“Fuck no!” Ron replied and started pulling Harry away who was still confused about the Draco-almost-lookalike.

“Well fuck you too.” The man snapped and grabbed Harry’s waist, “But it seems like loverboy over here does want it so how about you let us be on our way.”

 

Confused, Harry looked between both of them, “Wait what?” he asked weakly but was easily drowned out by both them and the music.

 

“Get your filthy hands off him.” Ron pushed the other man and took Harry’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go.”

 

“I need the toilet. I’m gonna be sick.” Harry told him.

 

“Can’t it wait until we apparate home?”

 

“No I’m gonna-” Harry covered his mouth and ran to the toilet.

 

Ron left to get a bottle of water from the bar.

 

The blonde man was pissed of. He went into the mens toilet in search of the other man.

 

Harry was washing his hands when the toilet door slammed open, making him jump and recoil back.

 

It was the blonde man from earlier.

 

He was walking towards Harry and when he was within reach, pushed him back against the wall causing his head to smack against the tiles.

 

“I’m not happy about what your little friend pulled back there. That stunt won't wash over with me.”

 

Terrified, Harry asked him to let go. “I’m sorry I thought you were someone else.”

 

The man shoved him into a cubicle and let him go with one hand to reach for his zipper.

 

“What are you doing!” Harry demanded.

 

The man didn’t answer and pure fear ran through Harry’s blood. As soon as the man reached out for him again he fought back until the hum of his magic turned to a buzz and threw the other off and away from him.

 

Ron came in just as it happened and watched the blonde man try to sit up.

 

“Harry?” Ron called out.

 

The smaller boy peered out from behind the cubicle, “Let’s go home.”

 

Ron was buried in guilt, “Yeah. Let’s go home.”

 

***

 

“Did you like the chocolate truffles I sent?” Narcissa asked when they were in the library together.

 

Draco turned from the window, confused.

 

“You didn’t say anything about them. I even made some extra for your friends.” She continued.

 

“Mother, are you feeling alright? I worry about your health, your memory. If you don’t feel well then we should go to Saint Mungo’s and I’m sure they could find out what’s wrong.”

 

“What’s all this about? I only asked about the chocolates. There’s nothing to worry about. I may look older and worn but you’re not putting me in some care home in France anytime soon I can guarantee you that! If anything you should be worrying about yourself. Did you not like the truffles is that it?”

 

Draco didn’t know how to break it to her, “Mother please. You haven’t sent me anything this past half term. If anything why would you send me truffles if you didn’t even send me letters? I sent you so many letters asking why you had stopped and if you were okay and you never replied. Maybe you don’t think you’re ill but you are mother.”

 

“What are you talking about Draco?” His mother asked with a suddenly stern tone.

 

“I’m talking about why you stopped writing to me.” He replied.

 

“I never stopped writing, Draco. I probably started writing to you more when your Father came back home.” She told him.

 

She was obviously confused.

 

“But mother, I never received anything. It’s not like the owl is going to have a nibble or two on the truffles on the fly over.”

 

“And you say you wrote me.”

 

“Yes.” He said in frustration.

 

“ I never received anything either.”

 

“That can’t be right. I sent you so many letters.”

 

His mother looked confused.

 

“What was the last letter you received of mine?” Draco asked.

 

“Your drunk rambling of how much you love Harry Potter and how you didn’t care if we disowned you, which I would never do Draco, and how you didn’t care if you weren’t the heir anymore.”

 

Draco sighed, “Of course that would be the last one you recieved.”

 

“So you’re telling me there were others sent after that one?” Narcissa checked.

 

“Yes.”

 

Narcissa sat back on the library sofa, “I wouldn’t break a promise to write to you Draco.” She murmured, “Freida!”

 

Pop.

 

“Mistress?” The small elf asked looking at both people in the room.

 

“When a letter is given to you to deliver which owl do you give it to? If there is an unreliable owl we must know.” Narcissa asked.

 

The elf frowned, “I didn’t give it to an owl Mistress.”

 

Draco was baffled. If you were to send a letter you gave it to an owl. What was this elf doing?

 

“Then where do you take the letters, Freida?” Draco’s mother leant forward on the sofa.

 

“Master Malfoy has requested that any letters are given to him so that he can personally owl them himself, Mistress. Did you not know? Master Malfoy has been sending the letters not Freida. Freida was just doing what she was told.” She wrung the fabric of her overalls in her hands anxiously.

 

“How long has he been doing this?”

 

Freida thought for a while, “Well, I’d say shortly after Master came home.”

 

“That bastard.” Narcissa declared.

 

Draco couldn’t help but agree.

 

They both left the library leaving Freida a little confused but she soon continued with her work. Lucius’ study was locked but Narcissa had no trouble getting inside and beginning her hunt for the letters. She checked every surface on his desk first and opened every draw until she came to the last that conveniently didn’t open. With a quick spell from her wand the drawer clicked open to reveal an endless pile of opened letters. Some addressed to Narcissa, some to Draco and the last two from Draco to Harry.

 

Draco found the familiar chicken-scratch writing of his boyfriend and a deep anger swelled inside of him at the thought of his father reading private letters. Harry had sent him three letters since he’d been there and he couldn’t shake off the guilt of not having replied even though it wasn’t his fault.

 

Harry had even asked if he would write and he had shrugged off that worry with nocholancy.

 

He was so angry.

 

Whoever deemed it acceptable to let Lucius out of Azkaban needed a new job because they were clearly fucking up.

 

“This place isn’t a home.” His mother said suddenly, “No privacy. No love. No warmth. No good memories. I shouldn’t have asked you to come back here. I shouldn’t have brought you back to this mess.”

 

Draco hugged her, “It wasn’t your fault. I said I would come.”

 

“You need to leave here, Draco. Go to Harry and enjoy your christmas. I’m not staying here. They can move my house arrest to the cottage in France.”

 

“But mother-”

 

“No buts. Pack your bags. You’re leaving tonight.”

 

***

 

Harry and Ron apparated back to Grimmauld Place.

 

“Pack your things. You can’t stay here by yourself and there’s no harm in coming to the Burrow a day early.”

 

Harry didn’t argue and didn’t move.

 

“I just wanted to get you out the house,” Ron murmured, “I’m so sorry this happened.”

 

“Could have been worse,” Harry choked out with a half-sob as if he were trying to restrain himself.

 

“I’m going to pack your things quickly and then we’ll go okay?” Ron asked.

 

“Yeah. I’ll come with you. I’ve got presents in my room somewhere.”

 

With everything packed they apparated smoothly to the burrow.

 

“Harry!” Molly ran to give him a hug, “My dear I’m so happy to have you here. I was worried sick about you all stuck up in a big place as bleak as that.”

 

“I missed you too. You don’t mind if I sleep here do you?”

 

“Silly boy you shouldn’t have to ask that. You’ve always got a home here sweetie. Ron will show you where you can sleep.”

 

***

 

Everything seems to move too fast. The world in a constant state of rush hour. One minute your in the comfort of the know and the next you’re thrust into the void of possibility. Some possibilities are better than others but you won't know until they happen.

 

Maybe the fact that time moves so slowly is what makes you numb to everything around you.

 

***

 

Harry is too busy thinking about what just happened that the apparition pop outside startles him. He rushes to look out of the window but whoever has arrived has already come inside.

 

“Harry!” Molly shouts.

 

He runs downstairs and almost trips over himself.

 

“Draco?”

 

His boyfriend is here. In the Burrow. In front of him. Here.

 

“Draco?” He says again just to confirm what he’s seeing. After almost a week of silence his boyfriend is here.

 

Draco just steps forward and hugs him tightly, fingers intertwined in his hair and kisses pressed to his temple.