When Draco is seventeen, he protects Potter from the Dark Lord. From his aunt. From his father. From his own friends.
He doesn’t know why he does it (you do, you do); he only knows that the world is not the way he was taught it was. It is not comprised of us and them, at least not the way he’s been told. Rather, it divides into the darkest and the less dark, and Potter—for some reason Draco has never been able to discern—has the fewest shadows of all of them.
Draco has been living in shadows for nearly two years. He never thought he’d long for the light.
But there comes a moment when he is forced to kneel in front of a boy (no, no, don’t let it be his eyes are green you would know him anywhere) and point a finger. And Draco knows that if Potter were to perish, he’ll never be allowed to see the sun again.
He is Crucioed after Potter escapes. For hours, his body twists under the magic, the vindictive whip of his aunt’s wand. But for the first time, he fears something more than failure, more than pain. He clamps his jaws tight and takes it.
Later, Draco is surprised when Potter comes back to him, though he knows he oughtn’t be. As the world spills orange and red and his lungs fill with acrid smoke, that same bright, defiant gaze he’s memorised for years comes into view and a grimy, slick hand reaches for his. It’s different (than how you’d imagined holding his hand would feel) to cling to Potter, to accept his aid. His fear falls away like a cloak against the hot sweep of Fiendfyre licking his heels; his chest pressed tight to Potter’s narrow back.
And he can feel the wild staccato of Potter’s heart under his hands.
They drink and talk until the pale blue slivers of sunrise begin creeping across the sky. Potter is in Greece for a month, the same as Draco, although Potter’s got just three weeks left. He’s needed a break, apparently, and though Draco has learned enough about him to know that he doesn’t court the press the way he’d once thought (looking at Potter’s pictures in the paper in fifth year, embarrassed when you caught yourself tracing the shape of his smile with your fingertip) he is surprised at the lengths to which Potter will go, to leave it all behind.
Stumbling back to Draco’s room seems like the normal progression of events after no sleep and massive amounts of alcohol. Potter’s obviously never given a blowjob before, but his enthusiasm cancels out any lack of skill, and Draco stares down at him in confusion as Potter sucks eagerly on his cock with loud slurping noises and small moans. Draco places a tentative hand on his head (this is what happens when you’re brave), his drink-loose limbs beginning to tense, and when Potter doesn’t shove it away, Draco takes a gulp of air and tangles his fingers in the strands.
Potter reaches up; laces their fingers together in his hair. His bobbing head causes the reaction it’s supposed to, and Draco is left gasping, shocks thrumming through his body, as Potter crawls up the bed and kisses him. He wanks Potter slowly, too (afraid that this is a dream) numb to offer anything else, to break eye contact. But Potter just leans into it, rolling his hips into the touch of Draco’s hand with a sigh.
He and Ginny Weasley are taking some time apart, he explains, when Draco asks in the morning (so stunned to find Potter still curled around you when you wake up, his skin warm and alive as you prod him to make sure he’s real); they’re exploring options.
Well, I could help you with that, Draco says, kissing him and slotting himself between Potter’s thighs. And Potter laughs and nods, sliding his tongue into Draco’s mouth before pulling back breathlessly and murmuring, It’s a shame a I paid for a whole ‘nother room.
It’s not an I’d like to see you when we get back but it’s not not one, either, and Draco continues to wake up with Potter beside him after nights in which they leave the sheets sticky and oily and twisted around themselves. He wakes up with Potter beside him after working him open with three fingers, after sinking inside his body. He wakes up with Potter after coming on a sweet, euphoric rush when he shows Potter how to push into his. He wakes up with Potter, after his hands have mapped out Potter’s body so thoroughly that they feel (unlike your own) empty when not touching some part of him.
He wakes up with Potter until the days run out, and then one morning, he wakes up alone.
Astoria is pleasant and funny, and Draco likes (you could never love her) her quite a bit. When she confides in him that she wants only one child, and is hoping to get that out of the way quickly, Draco laughs and touches her hair lightly and admits (that you’ve always wanted someone else, no, never that) that his appetites lie elsewhere, too. The wedding plans proceed quickly after that, tripping along with the ease of the traditional year-long engagement of pureblood families.
It is March when he spills the coffee all over his thigh, scalding himself (less than you did when you let Potter rest his cheek there), then spending too much time cleaning up so his eyes won’t seek out the newspaper again. Won’t see those headlines that claim that Harry Potter and Ginevra Weasley have broken their own engagement.
They plan to remain friends, the article states, and hold no ill-will toward each other. Buried in the middle of the of the statement is a section detailing their dating histories, and there is a (holyfuckingshit) surprising mention that Potter has dated men as well as women.
Draco wonders idly (you can’t think of anything else) if Potter will be vacationing in Greece that year to escape the press again.
A week later he is staring at the invitations—heavy, cream-coloured things, with a border of silver and gold threading and their engraved family crests combined, charmed to emit the scent of winter roses—when Draco feels that same surge of bewildering courage in his belly that he’s only felt a few times before. He looks up at his mother and says, I can’t.
She never pretends not to know what he’s saying; he’s always appreciated that about her. But she does give him a narrow look, as if she knows (all of your secrets, all of your heart) what might have precipitated his announcement.
Are you sure, darling? she asks, and to her credit, she merely sounds curious. When Draco nods she tells him she will handle his father, but that it is his responsibility to inform Astoria. He Apparates immediately to her flat, and finds her laughing in bed with a brown-eyed woman with a Parisian accent.
She is, unsurprisingly, less than displeased.
He shakes hands and smiles widely, and allows the cameras to photograph him talking to the Minister of Magic. But his eyes are always searching; searching for (raven hair, so much softer than it looks, that brilliant emerald gaze obscured by perpetually smudged glasses) something, the new thing he can do to make things better, the right person to meet who will tell him what he can do to make up for his host of sins.
One night at a function for war orphans, he hears a laugh that makes him shudder even before his brain processes it. He turns to see Potter striding by with the Keeper for Puddlemere United on his arm. Draco sips his drink and watches them mingle, Potter’s smile bright and charming as he chats with the fundraisers. The Quidditch player looks bored (not nearly good enough for him but, of course, you aren’t either) and at first Potter seems to make the attempt to include him, but as evidenced by the tick in his jaw and the way his smile grows strained, gives up relatively quickly. It’s only when the man—Whitney? Wilson?—drags Potter to the dance floor that Potter relaxes with him again, and Draco appraises Potter’s box-step as he swallows the last of his champagne. It’s not bad.
Draco is about to leave when Potter’s gaze (burningintelligentfierce with everything you never know how to feel) lands on him. He expects shock or dismissal, but not the smirk that twists Potter’s mouth; not the small nod, his eyes steady and challenging. Draco stands frozen, one foot caught in the direction of the door, until Potter’s date turns him on a spin and they break eye contact. And then somehow he is on the dance floor, tapping the man on the shoulder and asking to cut in.
Wilber-whatever begins to sneer, but Potter lifts a single, dark eyebrow at him and steps fluidly into Draco’s arms. Draco smiles at Potter’s fuming, abandoned date as the cameras flash around them while they spin.
I thought I would seen you at one of these things while ago, Potter admits, too low for anyone to overhear. I’ve been wanting to apologise.
Don’t, Draco tells him evenly. His heart is suddenly racing (you won’t be able to stand it if he apologises for those weeks of sun and sweat and happy-wild-broken laughter, of drinks and kisses and rolling around until your whole body ached, tender and deliciously spent, no no no he can’t be sorry please, it’s all you have), but he continues to smile pleasantly, and sweeps Potter into a loose, easy twirl. Potter huffs a laugh, presses his stubbled cheek against Draco’s.
For not having stayed longer. For not saying goodbye, not even leaving a note, Potter whispers, and Draco wonders at how Potter can see through him. At how he’s always been able to. Draco’s practiced smile falls and his shoulders tense with disbelief as he grapples with how to respond. Then Potter murmurs, But it’s been a long time. I shouldn’t assume you might still—
Draco swallows, then mutters his Floo address before stopping mid-dance and striding off the floor. His cock his half-hard and damp beneath his robes and if he stays another moment (wait until you’re under him, he still wants you, even if it’s just for the night) he’ll spend himself like an untried virgin, and in front of hundreds of witnesses.
And I’m supposed to know you’re not okay with this after you bloody firecall me at one in the morning for a month? Potter shouts when Draco accuses him of moving in without asking. Draco sneers (stop it stop it stop) and says that just because Potter’s cock his good enough to get him tired enough to sleep doesn’t mean they need to be sleeping together.
Potter punches a hole in the wall, then points his wand at Draco, who flinches. When Potter’s face goes white, Draco tries to take it back (the words the flinch the fear you always feel that he will leave you) but his tongue is thick and clumsy and his throat has gone tight. They stare at each other for a moment in silence, and then Potter’s face twists, eyes glittering with moisture, and he Apparates away.
The thing is, they’ve never talked about it, not once. Sometimes they go out together, but Potter is circumspect in public, the way he is with most people. His arm doesn’t slide around Draco’s shoulders; his palm doesn’t press against Draco’s own. But when they are alone, Draco gets to be the man who throws Potter’s legs over his shoulders as he grunts and plows into him on one long stroke; gets to be the man Potter opens up with his deft, earnest tongue as Draco shudders and cries out and begs for Potter’s fingers, his prick, his hand around Draco’s cock. He gets to be the man that Potter (could never love) fucks but doesn’t acknowledge as anything in particular and, for almost a year, Draco has waited for the morning he wakes up with no Potter and no note.
Draco drinks like he hasn’t in years, maybe never. Drinks simply to get numb and avoid the question he should have asked, the declarations he might have made if not for the clutch of fear that Potter would leave before he was ready to let him go. He was going to (see what you really are again) leave eventually but maybe it’s better this way, Draco thinks. At least now he can stop waiting.
Only, in the morning when he wakes up, Potter is stretched out beside him on the bed. His glasses are askew on his face, his dirty t-shirt untucked from his denims and revealing a golden strip of skin under his belly-button. Draco swallows against the sour taste in his mouth, a strange new fear like he’s never known (it’s joy, you fool, this is joy) rising in his chest, foreign and unwieldy and too large to be tolerated alone.
Potter blinks when Draco reaches over to pull off his glasses; his hand comes up to Draco’s wrist to catch it. He opens his mouth and closes it promptly, then pins Draco with a (he won’t, he doesn’t, he couldn’t, no) look.
I’m sorry. I know what you were trying to ask. I know what I should have told— He breaks off, hesitates just long enough for Draco to begin to believe he’s saying something of significance. I won’t leave again.
I love you.
And Draco’s spinning on the words as the world bends like it had as he’d contorted under Aunt Bella’s wand; like when Potter’s pounding heart had rested under his palm. Like when Potter kissed him, laughing and fearless as they rolled together, the sun pouring in through their hotel room; like when he said Dance with me over the shoulder of his date without saying anything at all.
And the same words, stuck in his throat (you can’t tell him, don’t—!) rise the way that feeling does whenever Potter is around, as hot as the curse that gave him his famous scar. They fall off his tongue like a prayer, whispered against Potter’s lips.
I love you too.
Draco’s wrist flares with sensation as the glowing strands wind around their handclasp. The blood in his veins warms as it travels from his pulse-point to his heart, which is heavy and burning with love and longing; heavier than love should feel, Draco thinks, except he knows what the spell does, knows that the extra weight is something Harry is feeling too—it’s the weight of another heart, being linked to his own.
It burns like Harry does, like his gaze on Monday mornings before he takes Draco’s tea away and plucks at the buttons of his waistcoat. Like his kisses on rainy evenings before he spreads Draco out on the rug in their parlour and slowly takes him apart. It’s heavier than the boneless mass of Harry’s leanly muscled body resting atop him, breathless and sweaty, before he slips out of Draco and holds him close.
It is all that he has always been afraid to want from this man who is everyone’s something. But now Draco is Harry’s everything (you are, you are) and he is, finally, unafraid.
The flash of heat and strange tug settle inside his heart in a way he will learn to get used to over the next hundred years, reminding him with every beat that he gave it freely, and that he needs to care for another’s. Harry smiles, slow and promising, and pulls him into a kiss before the Justice deems them wed. Draco hears the bark of delighted laughter, hears applause and the Justice’s formal intonation as Harry’s tongue slips into his mouth, curling around his own. And then they are pressed tight, kissing—kissing—and Draco hears nothing but their heartbeats, beating in time with one another.
Harry rumbles a laugh, widening his legs a bit more. “You were not! You would’ve told me that already.”
“Well,” Draco tells him imperiously, taking a nip of flesh. “I certainly wanked to you, at least.”
“Liar,” Harry tells him affectionately. Draco had been so startled in Greece that first night ten years prior, leaning away from Harry every time he’d gotten closer in the booth, jerking his hands back when their fingers brushed. It was the first time Harry had let himself look at Draco in a way that lingered, that let him appreciate the fact that his cutting smile came with an equally sharp sense of humour. He’s said so many times that he’d never considered being with Harry before.
Draco’s breath is warm against Harry’s burgeoning erection but he doesn’t touch it, not yet. Harry rolls his hips in subtle invitation and Draco smirks, licking at the crease of his groin.
“When I was fourteen I considered asking you to the Yule Ball,” Draco mumbles against his skin, then flicks his tongue out over Harry’s balls. His cock jerks; rising heavy away from his body.
“This is an awful birthday blowjob if you can’t stop fucking with me long enough to suck me off,” Harry complains, but his smile doesn’t falter even a little. "You were better at it this morning."
Draco lifts his head. His lips are shiny, his grey eyes soft and serious. Harry feels a real surge of desire, beyond the lazy game they’ve been playing.
“Is that what you thought you were getting tonight?” Draco asks, raising one flaxen eyebrow. “Maybe I’m going to eat you open and fuck you into incoherence. Maybe I bought a host of new toys for us to try. Or maybe I just loosened myself up in the shower and am already dripping for your cock,” he says with a wicked grin. “You’ll have to wait to find out; that’s why they call it a birthday surprise, Harry.”
Harry shifts his legs restlessly. He takes a deep breath and allows his mind to wander, to better focus on the thread that binds their hearts. Draco’s desire undulates between them, filled with a warmth that delights Harry to his marrow when it spills through him, pushed by the force of Draco’s love.
He settles back against the pillows. “Go on, then,” he says roughly.
Draco nods, lips twitching, then resumes his slow exploration of the lower half of Harry’s body. His hand curls, loosely, around the base of Harry’s cock, and he rubs his cheek against it, eyes sparkling mischievously.
“You’re such a dick,” Harry laughs, and Draco’s fist tightens a bit as he snickers.
“I wanted to be your best friend when I was eleven,” Draco continues when their laughter dies down. He finally—finally!—skates his lips over the leaking tip of Harry’s prick with hot, open-mouthed kisses. His tongue darts out again, and he swipes away the gathered pearl of moisture with it, then uses his hand to drag Harry’s foreskin down over the head, then back again.
Harry groans. “Oh, really? And you’ve managed not to tell me for the last six years?” he manages. “I bet you had a Harry Potter doll when you were seven, too.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you’ve met my father,” Draco says immediately, then flattens his tongue and licks the vein that runs along the underside of Harry’s cock. Harry flexes up, brow creasing in frustration when Draco moves his head away. “But Theo’s father wasn’t a supporter, and he used to tell stories about The Boy Who Lived. I used to beg him whenever I came over. That was when I was seven.”
Then Draco takes him in, methodically lowering his mouth over Harry’s shaft. Harry bunches the sheets in his fists, wildly hoping that Draco wasn’t lying about the shower thing, because he can’t think of anything he wants more right now than to sink deep into Draco’s—anywhere.
“Okay, I get it,” he chokes, pumping up into the sweetness of Draco’s attentive mouth. “You’ve been in love with me your whole life.”
Draco draws off him teasingly, letting his cock pop free with a noisy slurp. He climbs up the length of Harry’s shivering body and straddles his hips, pressing his hands flat against Harry’s stomach as he leans forward and catches his mouth in a deep, dirty kiss.
“My whole life,” he murmurs into the kiss, his hips moving a slow grind. Harry can feel the oily slide of lube between Draco’s legs, and his breath quickens as Draco looks down at him with lust-blown eyes. “The last ten years, and my whole life.”
Harry’s lashes flutter shut of their own accord as Draco pulls him into another kiss. He lets his mind wander.
And his heart can’t find the lie.