Harry's world shattered when he found the green velvet box in the pocket of one of Tom's robes. Being raised in the pureblood customs helped Harry recognize the little box for what it was: an offical courting ring. Even though Tom was a half-blood, much like Harry himself, he held himself like a pureblood so it would make sense for him to follow traditions.
Harry prided himself in knowing everything about his flat-mate. They had been living together since they graduated from Hogwarts two years ago. Both of them decided to stay together since they practically shared a dorm at the castle. During their last year, Harry spent most of his nights over at Tom's private room as Head Boy. They were also the only ones that could put up with the hectic schedule of the other; Harry as an Auror-trainee and Tom working sporadic hours as an assistant to the Undersecretary at the Ministry.
Harry was actually the one to suggest they live together in Diagon Alley since it was close to both of their work offices. With his younger siblings running around the manor, Harry felt that it was too noisy and imposing to stay with his parents after he graduated. He still saw his father every day at the office but he was kept busy as Head Auror. When Harry approached Tom, he was worried that Tom would say no since it was obvious the infatuation Harry had with Tom during their school years.
Harry's friends teased him relentlessly during the last years even going as far to set up dates for him with Tom. Thankfully, either Tom didn't care about his crush or ignored it for the sake of their friendship. Tom would joke around that Harry was the only one who didn't fawn over him like the rest of the school. Harry would always laugh trying to hide the pain he carried. It was the main reason why he never actually made a move on Tom.
Tom's friendship was the first one he made on his own. Harry had escaped the other purebloods on the train and found the compartment Tom occupied on the train. It was Harry's first time on the train and Tom almost shooed the bright eyed child away until Harry had convinced him to stay. Even though Tom was his senior he found the young boy interesting. From there the two were inseparable. They were seen together outside of classes and when Harry surpassed his peers and was promoted to a higher grade, the two sat together in classes.
Hermione and Ron had been trying to pressure Harry into asking Tom out on an 'official' date, or so they called it. They were convinced that both Harry and Tom had been dating in all but name since their fifth year. Harry vehemently denied this since they were just friends and it was normal for friends to go to restaurants and other places together. To shut them up he said by their logic the three of them had been a thruple since they met. Ron made a face at that and Hermione gave up.
However, as Harry stared at the little green box he felt his heart give a painful squeeze. Harry always knew that Tom would eventually get someone in his life but Harry felt that he had a couple more years before he had to move on. Living with Tom didn't help his unrequited crush since seeing Tom everyday made Harry's heart soar. Especially the nights where the two of them watch terrible muggle movies on the tv Harry hotwired to work in their magical apartment. Tom would complain the whole time about how terrible the acting is or the graphics but he would sit there for the whole movie with Harry. Sometimes when Harry fell asleep during one of them he would find that Tom had paused the movie and read a book as to not disturb Harry's sleep.
Harry racked his brain for a name, any name, that Tom had mentioned recently that could help Harry figure out for whom Tom bought the ring. Well Harry thinks it’s a ring at least. It had the Slytherin crest imprinted on the top signifying that the contents were of importance to the family. The little box looked like the box that rested in his trust vault. As the heir to the Potter line Harry had first dibs on the family engagement ring. His parents had created a new ring when they got married instead of using the one passed down through the generations. Something about his mom not liking how chunky the engagement ring was.
The only person that came to mind was Nagini, who as a snake maledictus could understand Tom when he spoke parseltongue, but she was much too old for Tom, in Harry's opinion at least. However, Tom hadn't mentioned meeting Nagini in couple of weeks. Curiosity got the better of Harry and he opened the box. Even though he wasn't the Heir of Slytherin he could open the box and look inside. He just couldn't take the ring out of its holder.
The ring reminded him of the locket that dangled from Tom's neck. The ring had a green diamond on the top that was intertwinned with white gold and silver snakes decorated the edges. The slytherin crest shone through the diamond and shifted as Harry tilted the box around to get a better look at the ring resting inside.
Harry snapped the box shut at the front door opened. He jumped dropping the box back onto the pile of robes on the ground. Panic set into Harry and he apparated up to his room out of fear getting caught.
"Harry?" Tom's voice filtered through the flat but Harry could only hear the blood rushing through his ears.
He couldn't let Tom know that he was snooping through his robes like a creep. So when he heard the footsteps get closer to his room he pictured the Potter manor and was gone in a snap.
He landed in a heap on the front stairs of their house in Godric's Hollow. His parents stayed and made modifications to the small house instead of moving to the giant Manor near the top of the country. His dad always said that it was too close to the Malfoy's for his liking. He was still reeling on the stairs when the front door opened. His sister answered the door and Harry watched as her face went from confusion to amusement in seconds. Her short red hair bobbing with every bubble of laughter that escaped her lips.
She reached down and hauled Harry up by his shoulder.
"Who was that?" His mother's voice drifted up from downstairs.
"It's Harry!" His sister, Seraphina, yelled back.
Their mom was up the stairs in a flash. Her long red hair pulled back into a bun. She pulled Harry into a strong hug. The scent of strong herbs wafted from her person. She must've been in the potion's dungeon brewing. Even though Harry was a good head taller than his mom she could still make him feel small. She judged him with a look.
"What brings you home?" As his mother, she could always tell when something was bothering Harry. This time was no different.
"I just needed a change of scenery." 'And be as far away from Tom while I figure out how to put away my feelings.' His mother quirked an eyebrow at that. Harry had never left the flat willingly and not without Tom.
"You and Tom get in a fight?" She squeezed his shoulders trying to convey comfort but it just increased his panic.
"No. It's just the stress of examinations coming up." Harry wasn't wrong that exams were coming up but he wasn't worried about them in the slightest. He was at the top of the class in both spell-work and theory. Hopefully his mother doesn't look too deep into that excuse.
"Your father says that you're a natural at the coursework." Harry internally groans. Of course his father would brag about his talented son. Him and Sirius were the worst at constantly talking about Harry and his deeds. Even when Sirius had his own children they would embarrass Harry at every opportunity. Any gala turned into Harry's worst nightmare as the two men would drag Harry around.
"Can I just stay here for the night?" The suspicion in her eyes faded replaced by worry.
"Of course. Sera has to leave back to Hogwarts tomorrow and I doubt she had completed her coursework." As the prodigy child, Harry was always the designated tutor for his younger siblings and it seems that hasn’t changed. He wondered how his family was faring without their at-home tutor.
It was Harry's turn to laugh as Sera's face darkened to the same shade of red as her hair. He followed Sera to her room missing the flickering of the fireplace indicating a call.
However, Sera noticed it and at the top of the stairs she dragged Harry to crouch beside her. Harry was about to question her but the fireplace announcing who was calling distracted him.
"Tom. What brings you to call?" His mother was still lounging on the couch. Harry shrunk further behind the railing afraid that the fire figure of Tom would be able to see him. Tom had his arms crossed across his chest and if Harry could read his body language (and he could) he looked worried.
"Harry. Have you seen him?" There was something more to his voice but he had never heard Tom through the flames. Sera scoffed next to him but he elbowed her to keep quiet.
"Why?" Harry loved his mother.
"He apparated out of our flat without a word and I'm worried something might've happened."
"Well you have nothing to worry about. Harry is upstairs helping his sister study." The last bit was forced out and the two spying knew that Lily knew they were there. They scrambled to Sera's room before their mom finished the call.
Harry had fallen asleep on Sera's bed while he waited for her to finish the essay on Wringroot and its uses in hair potions. His nap didn't last long as nightmares plagued him. Harry woke up more tired than when he fell asleep. The aroma of dinner floated through the house and Harry dragged himself from the warm bed in favor of food.
However he stopped dead in tracks on the stairs as he stared at the back of Tom's head. He was sitting down on their couch and somehow got a hold of Harry's baby album. He suspected either Sera or his mom but it was his father who came from around the corner. Two cups of tea floated behind him. He spotted Harry frozen on the stairs. He looked like a stag in headlights and his father laughed at the comparison.
"Nice of you to rejoin the living." Tom turned on the couch and his eyes softened at the sight of Harry. Harry felt his stomach flip at the small smile that graced his features.
"What time is it?" The light that was filtering through the window was artificial so the sun must've set. He didn't mean to sleep that long but trying to teach Sera anything not quidditch related was trying to make a square peg fit into a circular hole. It was frustrating. That plus the emotional exhaustion it didn't take Harry long to pass out.
"Around 7 o'clock. You missed dinner." Even though the smells coming from the kitchen were tempting he actually wasn't hungry.
"That's fine. Not actually hungry." The pit in his stomach grew when he caught sight of the lordship ring on his father's finger and was reminded of why he ran away today.
"So what are you doing here?" He didn't mean for the words to sound callous but the pain in his heart felt vindicated at the hurt that flickered on Tom's face.
"Your mother invited me for dinner."
Harry hummed as he plopped down onto the couch. His mind more preoccupied on how to get his flat-mate to open up about his upcoming engagement. Harry could read confusion in the placement of Tom's brows.
"Sorry for snapping. It's just stress. Don't you have plans?" 'Like the girl you're apparently woo-ing.' Harry thought bitterly.
Tom's brows dropped to shadow his eyes, a sign that he suspected something and Hary only hoped that the jealously didn't creep into his voice.
"Not particularly. I thought something happened to you when I heard two apparation cracks echo through the flat."
Harry pressed himself further into the couch and was starting to think that his family was purposefully leaving him alone with Tom. His father hadn't stayed long in the living area and even his sister, Sera, was nowhere to be seen. Now more than ever he hoped that dinner didn't consist of his family ratting him out to his crush. While it was no secret that Harry had feelings for Tom, Harry never actually told his family about his unrequited feelings.
"Nah. I was getting my things together." It wasn't too far outside the realm of possibility for Harry to apparate around the flat. There was one time he toppled Tom over when he apparated to the kitchen from his room just for a glass of milk. Harry had promised that he could only apparate in the flat when he was the only one home. Tom rolled his eyes and Harry could physically see the worry leave his person.
"Why the sudden trip home?"
"I was hoping that dad could give me some pointers on the exams!" Harry raised his voice hoping his dad could hear him.
"I will not!" His father responded from across the house. Harry smiled.
"It was worth a shot." He shrugged and Tom laughed. Both of them knowing that Harry didn't really need to cheat in order to pass with flying colors.
"Are you staying the night?" The sudden shift in tone had Harry staring into Tom's eyes. Back was the worry and Harry caved.
"Not anymore. I forgot that I'm the tutor sibling." Harry bemoaned. Harry himself was pants at trying to teach others since it came naturally to him. Tom, on the other hand, was gifted in teaching and leading others. It was a big reason he wanted to become the youngest Minister of Magic in a millennia.
Harry stood up stretching out his arms feeling the sleep leave his body.
"I'll go inform my parents and we can go home."
The next couple weeks had Harry investigating Tom's life trying to find the witch he was interested in. Nothing had changed in Tom's work schedule but he did spend more time with his Knights. Even if he always dragged Harry to the meetings. Harry himself spent the time discussing with Rigel, Regulus's son, about the newest defense techniques. Harry had even tried to pry the information from Draco but he made a face like he had sucked on a lemon at the question. Besides Harry himself, Tom didn't really talk about himself to anyone.
By the end of the third week, Harry realized that Tom wasn't going to tell him himself so Harry started doing research for Tom. If Harry couldn't marry Tom himself then he would make sure his best friend had the best damn wedding of the century. He was flipping through a wedding catalogue when he was startled by his name being shouted. He fumbled with the papers almost dropping the catalogue as he whipped around at the caller.
It was Luna Lovegood, Neville's fiance, who had yelled his name. Harry should've recognized her voice from anywhere. She became a permanent fixture in his life after they bonded over taking care of the thestrals in the forest during Harry's fifth year. It was the year after he saw Cedric die at the hands of a wizard in the alleys of Hogsmeade. She helped through the mourning process and he was proud to help Neville get together with this brilliant witch.
"What brings you here?" Her breathy voice always seemed to hold a deeper meaning no matter the words she spoke.
"I’m helping Tom." Harry could never lie to Luna who had been his confidant for many years besides Tom.
"Why would Tom need venues?"
"I think he's going to ask someone to marry him soon." They walked through the stacks of catalogue until they came upon a table.
Luna waved him to sit down and explain. And that’s what Harry did. He poured out his heart to the platinum blonde who only sat there staring at him like he was an interesting magical creature. He had started on how he knew that it was a courting ring when she raised her hand to stop him.
"I am engaged to Neville, Harry." Harry felt the heat rise in his cheeks. Even if Neville wasn't big on tradition his grandmother was.
"Why don't you speak to Tom about this?" Harry pursed his lips. He was very much against revealing to Tom that he had been snooping through the laundry. Even though he was just trying to find the shirt he lent to Tom a week ago.
"I'd rather he tell me." Despite the jealous feelings he harbored over Tom's supposed crush, Harry also felt betrayed that he didn't talk to Harry about this matter. So the childish need to harbor anger over this slight in their friendship was strong.
Luna giggled and they continued talking only this time the conversation centered around Luna's planning and her upcoming wedding. Her and Neville were going to wait until Neville finished his Herbology mastery, which would take another two years. However, Luna didn't mind since the Quibbler had grown in number now that it reached countries outside of England. The Americas really enjoyed the newspaper and Luna was helping her father set up offices in those countries.
It was hours before the two parted ways. Luna leaving to meet Neville at the apparation point. Harry left the shop with his heart lighter and his mind determined. He was going to help Tom woo this witch if it was the last thing he did.
Speak of the devil and he shall appear was the muggle saying that Lily Potter always said. Harry found himself holding back laughter as he saw the familiar green robes leave the Ministry. Harry watched as he weaved through the post-work crowd. He felt a smile form on his face as he watched Tom get closer. He wondered why he was walking home instead of apparating. Harry ducked behind a couple walking spying on his flat mate. He was walking towards a café and Harry was never more glad to have the invisibility cloak than in that moment.
He pulled it on and began his journey of stalking his flat mate. Tom strode forward and Harry had to walk fast just to keep up with his long legs. Tom took the long way to Diagon Alley and when he arrived he went straight to the ice cream shoppe. Harry had to take a step back. Tom wasn't a fan of sweet things so why was he going there.
Harry's answer was soon revealed when Rigel Black stepped forward to greet Tom.
"How goes things?" Harry inched forward trying to keep his nosey self satisfied but not to be breathing down the two wizards necks.
"Not well. I can't seem to bring it up to him."
"Tom it's been weeks." Rigel chastised Tom. Harry was shocked. Tom abhorred when people looked down on him and he never did like discipline.
"I know. I just can't risk losing Harry." Tom's shoulders sagged and he looked much older than 22 years old in that moment. Harry was frozen to the spot. His blood was rushing through his ears and Harry had to take deep breathes in order to stop himself from fainting.
"You won't lose him."
"But I can't take that risk. I thought he found out last month but things have gone back to normal now."
'Were they talking about the engagement ring? Why would Tom think that him getting engaged would ruin our friendship?'
"You can't keep this from him forever. I'm amazed you've lasted this long."
Harry had to shift in order to avoid not getting hit by the other patrons of the shop. He missed a bit of conversation.
"I just love him so much." Tom whispered the confession and Harry was trying to figure out if they were still talking about him or Tom's mystery crush. Who was a wizard by the sound of it.
"Then just ask him. Before someone else does." So Tom's wizard was also being pursued by someone else. Harry racked his brain for who that could be. Most of Tom's acquaintances were either engaged or already married. The pureblood customs demanding that their children be engaged by their coming of age ceremony.
"I don't have to worry about that." Tom said so confidently that Harry almost felt sorry for the bastard that ended up with him. Tom had a streak of possessiveness that had only gotten worse with age.
"You sure? I heard my uncle talking about the Potter's putting together Harry's assets. Uncle Siri thinks that they're putting together a marriage contract." If Harry wasn't leaning against a pillar he was sure he would've fallen onto the ground.
Both him and Tom were thrown by the news. He hadn't heard of his parents doing such a thing. Especially about the assets. He knew that they were only accounted for when engagements were settled. Harry couldn't hear any more before he sprinted past the two needing answers. In his haste he bumped shoulders with someone but he paid it no mind as he got out of the ward's area.
Harry was on the street when he ripped off the cloak and apparated at the same time. Unbeknownst to him, Tom was shocked to see Harry suddenly appear on the not so crowded street. When someone invisible ran into his shoulder he was sure it was a pickpocket.
Harry landed in their backyard far from his aim of the front stairs but this would have to do. His shoulder but Harry ignored it. Adrenaline coursing through his veins and he threw open the back door. Luckily it was during the week so only his mom was home.
"Mom!" Harry's voice took on a screechy quality but he was livid. How dare they set up an engagement for him. They were against it when his grandparents tried to set his father up during his school years.
"Harry?" She appeared from the living room.
"How dare you!" Harry ran forward crowding her space. Her face was painted in worry and shock. She reached towards Harry arm but he jerked it away. His shoulder throbbed again this time a hint of pain followed.
"You hypocrites! You talk about how you don't want to force us into the 'stuffy pureblood traditions' yet I hear you're setting up an engagement for me!" Harry tried to wave his arms to prove his point but he found that his left arm wasn't responding to him.
He glanced down at his arm and found his robes to be soaked with blood. The adrenaline left his system as quickly as it came.
"Harry. There is no engagement." She placed a hand on his face dragging his eyes away from his mistake. Both pain and relief flooded his system. His mind running in circles as his body started to shut down. He spared a glance at his shoulder once more and promptly fainted.
Harry's mouth felt like it was filled with cotton when he emerged from the black. He opened his eyes to the plain ceiling of St. Mungo's. Harry scrunched his face wondering why he was at the hospital. The last thing he remembered was talking to Luna and he left there in perfect health. He sat up to find everything in working order. His left shoulder felt a little tight but other than that he had all of his limbs. He propped himself up to find that he was alone in the room.
'That’s weird.' Anytime he got even remotely injured during his time at Hogwarts had either one or both of his parents waiting by his bedside.
Harry got up from the bed and he was even more confused when he was still wearing his robes from earlier. He got to the door when he figured out why no one had come in since he awoke. He reached for the door knob only for his hand to pass through it. Harry whipped around to stare at the not so empty bed. His body was resting on the plain white sheets and Harry was glad to see his own chest rise and fall. Harry had always seen himself via mirror but it was truly disorienting to see himself how everyone else did.
He was in the thin hospital robes with his shoulder wrapped up in bandages. Harry touched his own shoulder only to find it free of any type of healing item. Harry was staring at his own body when the door opened. A multitude of voices flooded the room.
"We don't know why he won't wake up. We administered an Awakening a few hours ago." The mediwizard stepped through the doors first shortly followed by his parents. They looked worse for wear but the figure behind them looked ragged.
Tom was wearing his normal green robes but his skin had a sickly pallor to it. Harry's siblings weren't there so it must be the same day as his accident.
"We will check on him in a couple more hours but the splinching injury has been fully healed."
'Splinching? I haven't done that since I first started apparating.' Harry moved forward. His robes passing through the edge of the bed.
Tom moved to stand by Harry's head. His parents were a few feet away huddled together. His father was clinging to his mother and they stared blankly at the unmoving body. Tom placed a hand on Harry's cheek. Harry felt the warmth radiate against his skin and he touched his cheek.
"How did this happen?" Tom whispered pulling up a chair. It was quiet before his mother spoke. Her voice soft as if Harry were just sleeping.
"I'm not sure. He came flying through the house accusing us of setting up an engagement."
Memories came rushing back to him. He staggered as they assaulted him. Harry tried to catch himself on the bed but he fell right through. Once his spiritual body connected with his own he sunk in unable to pull himself free. The more he struggled the more his body started to move. Taking a leap Harry dove into his unmoving body hoping that it would do what he hoped.
Harry opened his eyes again to find Tom leaning over him but nothing had changed. He cursed knowing that it didn't work. Harry let himself feel the warmth from Tom's hand and tried to brush the hair out of Tom's face. Harry noticed that his form was transparent against the real form of Tom. His parents had shifted to the couch that rested against the back wall.
He sunk back into his body hoping that he could tell Tom how he felt. When Tom's hand moved to Harry's own, Harry sneaked a glance to the wizard.
However, this time was different. As soon as Harry opened his eyes the occupants of the room shifted. Harry scrunched his eyes at the blinding lights beaming down at him.
"Wha-" Speaking was difficult and Harry could hardly hear himself.
The hands encircling his own shifted to cradle his face before Tom's face was in front of his own. He couldn't resist asking the question that had been burning in his mind.
"Who is the ring for?"
"For someone so brilliant you are so dense."
Before Harry could ask what he meant by that the medi-wizard was stepping through the door.
Once Harry was discharged from the hospital, his family hovered around him until he shooed them away. The doctor's still didn't know what caused the mini-coma but Harry just wanted to go home. It had been a long day and he had training the next day. When he expressed this to his father, he gave him the day off.
"But-" Tom cut of Harry's protest with a look. Harry was still being propped up and the only reason he was even walking was due to his help.
"Fine but I think I will be fine with my mother hen of a flatmate." Harry patted Tom on the arm. He hadn't left Harry's side and if Tom pressed Harry any closer they would be one person. His parents agreed on the chance that Harry would visit them tomorrow so they can talk about what caused him to splinch himself in the first place.
They walked the short distance to their flat since the medi-wizard recommended that Harry allow himself some time to recuperate. But, if Harry was being honest, apparating didn't make him scared. He would just have to be more careful from now on.
Once they crossed the threshold Harry made his way to the couch. He let go of Tom and used the things on the way to further his way to their very comfortable sofa. Harry crashed down on it. Tom wasn't far behind. Harry watched as Tom summoned a blanket from upstairs. Whoever Tom was going to propose to would be so lucky.
"What?" Tom froze and in doing so the blanket hit him in the face. Harry realized that he must've said that out loud and color drained from his face.
"I..uh..found the ring?"
"I figured you did." Tom sighed sitting down by Harry's feet.
"So who is it?"
"Quit being obtuse. The person you're thinking of proposing to."
"I'm not planning on proposing for a while."
"What? Why do you have the ring then?"
"I have the ring because I wanted to see it. Anyways I'd have to be dating someone to propose to them."
Tom lifted Harry's legs placing them on his lap. Harry snuggled further into the pillows on the couch. Glad to know that they can still have their small moments.
"And why aren't you? Dating them I mean."
"Because I'm afraid." The words were soft and Harry almost didn't catch them.
"Afraid of what? Them rejecting you?" Harry scoffed at the absurd notion. "Everyone at Hogwarts was vying for your attention. Hell, I'm sure you have people turning their heads at work now."
A small smile pulled at Tom's lips and Harry sat himself forward. His face serious.
"Plus they would be stupid to not love you." Harry trailed off as they stared at each other. Harry felt exposed and stripped down to nothing from Tom's stare. His dark eyes searching for something, an answer maybe.
Harry's breath hitched as Tom reached forward. It happened so fast that Harry hardly had any time to react. Tom's lips were pressed against his own. Needy but not pushing the boundaries. When Harry's eyes shuttered closed and he pressed into the kiss, Tom wrapped his arms around Harry pulling him closer. It was awkward with Harry's legs being in the way but Harry couldn't have thought of a better first kiss with Tom.
Tom pulled away and Harry had to stop himself from whining like a child. He pressed their foreheads together and a breathy laugh ghosted over Harry's lips.
"Was that okay?"
"More than okay."