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The Company We Keep

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He had a chilled butterbeer in hand and a table full of friends, but all Harry could think about was what had passed after his last visit to The Three Broomsticks.

The previous Friday night he’d gone out with the other professors for an end of the school week celebration, as was their custom. Per usual, it had centered around sharing that week’s most ridiculous stories and getting much too pissed for their own good. What was unusual was that upon reaching the castle, Professor Malfoy had walked him to the doors of his rooms and proceeded to kiss him on the forehead.

He’d gently brushed the hair away from Harry’s scar and kissed him there, his lips lingering, before he slowly backed away with a carefree smile gracing his lips and retreated in the direction of his own chambers. Harry had stood transfixed long after he’d seen the last flourish of Malfoy’s robes swing around the corner, a hand pressed to the spot Malfoy’s lips had just vacated.

It was Friday night and they were at the Broomsticks again, but Malfoy was drinking, laughing, and sharing tales like nothing had changed — like Harry’s world hadn’t flipped on its axis. Like he hadn’t been the one to do it. Over the past week, seeing Malfoy so unaffected had been progressively driving Harry mad.

Now basked in faded barlight, Malfoy looked no different than he usually did after their nights out. His hair was jostled out of its usual, neat appearance by jolts of laughter, his abnormally pale cheeks were stained rosy and warm from alcohol…

Harry’s skin prickled uncomfortably and he suddenly wished he were alone with Malfoy so he could finally ask him what it had all been about. He had thought that they had moved past their childish games, but seeing how distinctly unruffled Malfoy was made him second-guess that assertion.

The carefree laughter and happy conversations at his table rattled his brain — he couldn’t remember when he’d last felt this alone. How had Malfoy’s kissing him on the forehead caused him to devolve so much? He’d worked so hard in the years since the war had ended to find himself and loosen depression’s grip on him, but now it felt like he was back in the cupboard under the stairs, that same unlovable freak the Dursley’s had always believed he was.

Before he knew it, he was almost back to his rooms, Malfoy in tow, just as the week before. Harry wanted nothing more than to retreat into the safety of his chambers, free to yell and cry and wallow in self-loathing, but, before he could, he felt Malfoy’s warm, spindly fingers envelop his wrist and turn him around. He complied, but he didn’t look up —  he wouldn’t give Malfoy the satisfaction of meeting his eyes, not when he felt stinging tears prickling in his own.

“Potter, what’s wrong with you?” Malfoy’s voice was quiet, but there was a clear tone of annoyance.

Harry regretted ever wishing he could be alone with Malfoy to talk with him, but he felt his temper rising. “What’s wrong with you?” he spat back, a single tear escaping down his cheek as he looked up to see Malfoy’s shocked expression.

“Potter?”

“What?” Harry asked in a terse whisper.

“What’s going on? You were distant all night — is everything alright?” Malfoy asked, his other hand grasping Harry’s upper arm firmly.

Harry glared at him, clearly he wasn't  alright. “Last week — the kiss — care to explain?”

Malfoy let go of Harry as if he’d been stung. “I shouldn’t have done that… when you didn’t say anything about it, I was hoping you hadn't remembered…”

“Well, I did. So, why did you do it?”

“Because I’m an idiot,” Malfoy said, throwing his hands up in the air, before letting them flop uselessly to his sides. “I’m an idiot who gave into a whim, because you looked so lovely. Lovely and happy . In the moment, it felt like that might be because of me and then I convinced myself it was…” Malfoy looked away. “Look, I’m sorry, truly I am, Potter.”

“You thought I looked lovely?”

“And happy.”

Harry reached out, grabbing Malfoy’s limp hand and tugging on it to get his attention. He wanted Malfoy to look at him. “Why did that matter though?”

“I've spent over half my life watching you, Harry. To see you so carefree… I didn't think it was possible. Then the fact that it might be because of me, I had -- I had hoped for that for so long…”

Harry stepped closer. Malfoy’s eyes widened, but he stood stock still, like he didn't want to chance breaking whatever spell this was. When Harry reached up and tucked an errant strand of Malfoy's hair behind his ear, he heard Malfoy's breathing hitch. Harry let his touch linger, slowly tracing the line of Malfoy's angular jaw and down his neck, over his prominent Adam's apple as it bobbed when Malfoy swallowed thickly. “You called me Harry,” he whispered.

Malfoy blushed, but held Harry's gaze, his eyes bright. “I guess that's just how I think of you.”

“I'm glad to hear that,” Harry said so quietly, it was only audible because Malfoy was holding his breath. Harry stood on tiptoe, placing a soft kiss on Malfoy's heated cheek, earning him a gasp. “You know you can breathe, Draco ,” Harry purred in his ear.

When he drew back, he saw that Draco's cheeks were wet. “You called me Draco,” he said in an awed voice.

“I guess that's just how I've wanted to think of you , too,” Harry said, smiling from the warmth expanding in his chest.

Draco reached up, caressing Harry's cheeks between his cupped hands, “You smiled for me?”

“Well, you made me,” he said, but his smile was answer enough. “Kiss me?” Harry asked.

“Gladly.”