I. (413 BCE)
The sun beat down oppressively upon the battlefield. Surrounded by bodies both dead and alive, Draco gasped for breath, clutching his shield and adjusting his grip on his sword. Blood made his sandals slippery and dried on his arms. He could feel flecks of it crusting on his cheeks and swallowed the bile that crept up his throat. Through the pounding in his ears, Draco could hear battle cries cut off by gurgles, orders being screamed, the clashing of metal, the thud of a body hitting the earth.
He had lost his horse what seemed like hours ago, had fallen off and watched it run back to the city, back to safety, then rolled onto his feet and charged into battle. Though he had started with his bow, raining arrows upon the Spartan force, he had run out of arrows and switched to his spear. When his spear had broken, he’d pulled out his sword.
A roar sounded behind him and he instantly raised his shield, halting the sword aimed for his neck. Without thinking, he plunged his own weapon toward the crimson tunic above him. The man choked and Draco dove aside, pulling his sword out as he moved, only looking back at the man to ensure that he wasn’t about to stand up and attack him again. Draco refused to look at his face, knowing it would haunt his dreams if he did.
Assuming he survived.
Looking once more around the battlefield, Draco struggled to contain his fear, to shove it all down and remind himself that he was fighting for Athens. For his mother and his friends and his fellow citizens. Though every fiber of his being was screaming at him to run, to take cover and hide until the battle was over, his pride kept him on that field. The gods were watching and if they saw him abandon his men, they would not be kind.
A sword swung toward him, knocking his helmet off his head, and he was thrown to the ground. He caught himself on his elbows, heart in his throat, paralyzed by fear. A Spartan kneeled above him, sword raised to swing down toward Draco.
“Please!” He cried, looking into that helmet, for the man beneath the armor. The metal, once bronze, was stained red. Green eyes and a mouth caught in a snarl shown behind the helmet. “Spare me, please,” Draco begged, dropping his sword. His vision was blurry, his eyelashes were wet, and he could tasted salt in his mouth. He wasn’t sure if it was blood, sweat, or tears. “Please,” he croaked.
Those eyes swept over him and the man’s jaw went slack. He paused, sword caught mid-swing, and he looked at Draco. Really looked at him. This man was a soldier through and through. If what Draco had learned about Spartans was true, this man had known nothing besides combat, he had been raised for war. The Spartan knew a fellow soldier when he saw one and he knew that Draco wasn’t.
Their eyes locked and Draco felt a jolt of electricity rack his entire body. He knew that for as long as he lived, he would never forget the grass green eyes of this Spartan. Green as an olive tree. Draco wondered if Athena sent him.
Then the man let out a battle cry, one that vibrated through each of Draco’s bones, and plunged his sword down. Draco’s mouth flew open, caught in a scream, and his eyes remained locked with the Spartan’s. Though his sword buried into its target, Draco felt nothing. The Spartan leaned in close, as if making sure the job was done, and his hot breath fanned over Draco’s ear and the side of his neck.
“Stay down and close your eyes.” His voice was husky, but not deep—he was likely a young man, like Draco, fresh from adolescence. “Charon will not ferry you across the Styx this day. You are not yet meant to reach the Underworld.”
The Spartan spit onto Draco’s armor, pushed himself up, and threw himself back into battle. As Draco closed his eyes, stunned by the man’s kindness, he saw that the green-eyed man had spit blood onto his chest. To any other Spartan, Draco was a corpse.
When the day’s battle was done and the Spartans and Athenians each called for a truce to retrieve their fallen brothers, Draco stood on shaky legs. In the darkness, he blended in with his fellow soldiers.
Though he lived a great number of years longer, Draco never saw the Spartan again. For all he knew, the Spartan had fallen during that battle. A small part of him, however, whispered that he hadn’t. He had lived.
Harry wiped the sweat and dirt from his face with the corner of his tunic. The fabric scratched against his skin, but the discomfort was worth it—there was nothing that annoyed him more than sweat dripping into his eyes. Hiking his satchel over his shoulder, he made his way out of the fields and toward a nearby orchard. Though his days were long and he went to sleep with aching muscles and a parched throat, he knew that it could be worse. At least out in the country he got to be outside. He wasn’t crammed in a smithy or confined to a kitchen.
His legs burned with exertion as he walked toward the orchard. It was a bit out of the way, but there was nowhere else Harry would rather take his lunch. Sitting in the shade, surrounded by the sweet scent of fruit, a faint breeze stirring against his skin, the orchard had quickly become his favorite place in the village. It belonged to Lord Malfoy, the man who owned all the land in that village and the surrounding ones, but Harry had never come across him and didn’t expect to. Lords stayed in their pretty little manors, away from peasants like him.
Once he came to the orchard, he hiked until he came to a trickling stream. There, he dropped his satchel and fell to his knees, gulping down handfuls of water. It was so cool against his body that he swore he could feel it chill the inside of his throat, down into his chest. He splashed the water over his face and poured it down his neck, wiping it over his skin. Though his tunic was now drenched and clinging to his chest, he didn’t care. It felt good after working the fields for hours beneath the oppressive sun.
“Parched, are we?”
His head snapped up toward the sound of that voice and he saw someone standing across the stream, beside a lily-white horse. He looked less like a man and more like an angel—his skin was like ivory, though his cheeks were rosy, and he had hair like cornsilk. His eyes were the grey of the sky before dawn. By his finery, Harry knew that this man was a nobleman.
“It’s been a long day, milord. I apologize if this is your land—”
The man waved him off with a graceful flourish of his hand. “It’s my father’s. Besides, I’m sure he can afford to lose a few jugfuls of water.” Amusement danced across his features as he beheld Harry. “You’re a peasant boy?”
“A peasant man,” Harry said boldly. “Milord,” he quickly added.
Grey eyes raked over him. “Yes, I suppose so.” As his horse drank from the stream, he stroked its mane. “You work on my father’s fields, I assume.”
“You assume correctly, milord.”
“Why have you come here if you work in the fields?”
“I come here to take my lunch, milord. I wasn’t aware I would be intruding.”
He smiled. “You are certainly not. Eat, don’t let me bother you.”
“Thank you, milord.” Harry shifted from his knees to a sitting position on the floor and scooted back until he was leaning against the trunk of a tree. Pulling his satchel toward him, he took out a piece of bread and cheese.
“Call me Draco,” the man said. “Milord sounds much too formal where only nature can bear witness.”
Harry nodded, pleased. “Call me Harry, then, if you’d like to call me anything.”
“Harry,” Draco mused. His name had never sounded more beautiful than on Draco’s tongue. “Do you mind if I sit with you? I’ve just had a long ride back home.”
“Not at all.”
Draco easily leapt over the stream. He removed his cloak from around his shoulders and laid it upon the ground next to Harry before sitting down. Beside him, Harry felt like the thorn beneath a rose. He wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve Draco’s attention. Surely a nobleman had more important things to do.
“If I may, where have you ridden from?”
A tight smile graced Draco’s features. “There is a town due east. I’m betrothed to the daughter of the lord there, so I’m required to visit her every fortnight or so.” Draco looked down at his hands. Unlike Harry’s they were pale and smooth, so smooth and perfect they could have been sculpted.
“You don’t enjoy the ride?” Harry picked up on the displeasure in his tone.
“I love the ride. I’ve always felt more at home on horseback.” Draco glanced at Harry, who was finishing his rations. “It’s the engagement I’m not overly fond of.”
“Ah,” Harry nodded. “You had no say in the matter?”
“None, I’m afraid.”
“I am sorry for that, mi—Draco. I don’t envy you in that respect.”
Draco smirked. “You envy me in others?”
“How could I not?” It was Harry’s turn to smile. “You’ve everything I’ve always wanted. You’re young, handsome, have all this land.” Harry spread his arms to emphasize his point. “All I’ve got are the clothes on my back, a bed of hay in a nice man’s stable, and my job working your father’s fields.”
“I will admit that I was lucky to be born into my life, but I cannot help but envy you your freedom,” Draco countered. “And you call me handsome, yet you must never have seen yourself properly. You have the most brilliant eyes, you know.”
Harry felt his cheeks warm and his only consolation was that Draco’s seemed rosier. “You think me handsome?” When Draco nodded, Harry couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his lips. “I have never and will never receive a compliment I cherish more.”
Draco’s eyes softened. “Though we have only just met and likely never will again, though I am engaged to be married and I have already kept you long enough, might I ask you a favor?”
“Anything,” Harry quickly promised. Draco’s eyes set his skin aflame.
“May I kiss you? Just once.” His cheeks were flushed and the color crept over his ears and down his neck. “I have never before kissed someone just because I wanted to and I don’t know that I will ever have the chance again. Will you allow me this?”
Before he could even finish his request, Harry was nodding. “Yes. Yes, of course.”
Draco shifted so he was facing Harry, then brought his hand up to caress Harry’s cheek. Harry felt ashamed at that flawless hand touching his dirty skin, but Draco didn’t seem to care in the slightest. Draco leaned in and as his mouth brushed against Harry’s, Harry swore that he was ruined for all others. Draco’s lips were soft, so soft, like the petals of a flower, and he tasted like honey. His breath fanned against Harry’s skin and his fingers traced the contours of Harry’s face as if he were committing it to memory. After what could have been a moment of a millennium, Draco pulled away. His pupils were blown and his eyes were bright.
“What a sweet creature you are,” Draco murmured, looking into Harry’s eyes and brushing his thumb across his cheekbone. “Fate must have brought us together this day. One last moment of pleasure before my imprisonment.”
Once Harry had left the orchard, and Draco with it, after several more kisses, he knew that he would never see him again. They would each go on with their lives as if it had never occurred. Yet it had. For as long as he was alive, Harry could think of Draco and feel the ghost of their kiss on his lips.
It had been months since the Great Pestilence had descended upon London and Draco knew not which powers had kept him safe thus far. He had seen far too many of his countrymen give their lives to the plague and no amount of bloodletting could cure it. Many called it a consequence of the immorality that permeated society. Draco didn’t know what to believe—all he knew for certain was that no man was safe. Death came for everyone and the past few months had proved it. Rich, poor, good, corrupt, Death didn’t discriminate.
As Draco swiftly walked through the streets of the city, he saw bodies piled outside buildings, rotting slowly. He learned to breathe through his mouth, in an effort to avoid the stench of death, but it only helped so much. The pungent scent of decay was impossible to evade. He readjusted the mask over his nose and mouth, a defense against the dirty air that was sure to be the cause of the spreading of the disease.
Nearly each house that Draco walked past had a white cross on the door. He could hear coughing and moaning from inside and said an internal prayer for each family. They were not long for this earth.
Turning a corner, Draco bumped into someone. Instantly, he went on high alert, a sense of dread flooding his mind. The man staggered backward, then righted himself. A wide grin was stretched across his face and he brought a bottle to his lips, chugging the liquid within.
“Apologies,” he slurred.
The man had messy black hair and rosy red cheeks that contrasted against the vibrant green of his eyes. Thick, dark lashes fanned across his cheeks as he blinked against the sunlight, and he shot Draco an easy smile. Drunk and filthy, he was one of the most beautiful things Draco had seen in a while.
“When death’s all around, what else is there to do but drink and enjoy a short remaining life of excess, eh?” He raised his bottle to Draco, then pulled from it again.
“It’s barely noon,” Draco sputtered, shocked by this man.
The man’s eyes flew open. “It’s already noon? Must’ve been in the tavern for longer than I’d thought.” He stepped back and squinted one eye shut, his eyes taking in Draco. “That mask’ll do nothing for you, you know. It’ll get you or it won’t, nothing you can do about it.”
“What a horrid sentiment!”
He smiled at Draco sadly. “We’re dead men walking, you and I. No way around it, I’m afraid.” He took another swig, then offered it to Draco.
“No, thank you.”
“Suit yourself.” He swayed on his feet as he regarded him.
“Why do you resign yourself to such a horrible death?” Draco demanded suddenly, angry that this breathtaking man would engage in such inebriation and merriment when he wasn’t yet doomed. “Have you shown symptoms?”
The man shook his head. “No, but I expect I will. Give it a fortnight or two. We’ll all join the corpses at the plague pit, just you wait.”
Draco frowned. “What is your name?”
“Harry.” He took another swig. “What’s it to you?”
The words left him before he realized what he was offering—it was as if he were possessed. “I intend to leave the city and travel to safety.” He squared his jaw. “There is a place for you if you wish.”
Harry’s eyes widened and he blinked at Draco. “You don’t even know me.”
“No,” Draco agreed. “But it seems wrong to abandon you to this fate. If you are well, why live in this wretched city for a day longer? I offer you an escape.”
Drunk as he was, Harry stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. He gulped and wiped his mouth across the back of his hand, wet his lips, then locked his gaze with Draco’s. His eyes were green, so green, the most color Draco had seen in ages.
“If God existed, I would believe you to be heaven-sent,” Harry murmured. He reached forward and pulled Draco’s mask down, then studied Draco’s face. A small smile graced his lips, then he righted Draco’s mask. “My friends are all dead and buried. Even if I survived, I would have nothing. You’re a good man, but you’re offering life to a man who’s already engaged to death.” Harry drank from his bottle. “Get to safety and forget about London. I don’t pray these days, but I’ll pray for you.”
Then Harry was stumbling around Draco, bottle dangling from his fingers, humming to himself. Draco watched him go, walking toward another tavern, and he felt his heart sink. He didn’t know the man, but his heart broke for him.
“Lemarque is dead!”
Since the first cry had sounded, Paris had been in chaos. The mob overran Paris and barricades were erected throughout the city on either side of the Seine. Shouts and screams echoed in the streets and bullets flew through the barricades, smoke filling the air until no one knew at whom they were firing. Rifle clutched to his chest, heart pounding with adrenaline, Harry took cover behind the barricade.
His entire body throbbed with excitement—this was the revolution he had been waiting for. The funeral procession had given way to chaos and now the monarchy would pay. Whenever Harry found himself questioning whether bloodshed could be right in any situation, he recalled his father dying whilst serving hard labor, could remember his mother starving to death before his eyes. He had only to look around him to see the pain of survival on the faces of each person around him. It was about damn time the revolution had begun. He only hoped it would last.
The people were finally singing and it was about time that someone listened.
Army officers fired at he and the other revolters and Harry held his rifle in a white-knuckled grip before climbing up the barricade and firing back. Once he was out of gunpowder, he dashed into the tavern guarded by the barricade.
“How many officers are there?” A blond man took Harry’s gun and handed him a fresh one. He was dressed in fine clothes—a member of the aristocracy. Harry wondered what he was doing there, but dared not ask questions. He would accept and appreciate all the help they could get.
“Too many.” He adjusted the grip of the rifle in his hands. “I’m Harry.”
“Draco.” The man shot him a tight smile. “If we make it to nightfall, Harry, let’s meet in here for a drink.”
They both ran back out onto the street, side by side, and scaled the barricade, ducking for cover. Harry wasn’t sure how long he remained fighting, shouting at the soldiers and demanding reform, how many people he had to pull to safety, how many eyelids he had to shut. By the time the sun fell from the sky, his voice was hoarse and he was weary. Nonetheless, he dragged himself into the tavern, wondering if Draco had survived.
There he was, sitting at a table in the corner, nursing a cup of what Harry guessed to be wine. Upon hearing Harry’s footsteps, his eyes flew upward and a relieved smile graced his features when he recognized Harry. He poured Harry a glass of wine from the bottle resting on the table and held it out to him.
“To freedom,” Draco toasted.
Harry collapsed into the chair across from him and took the glass. “To freedom.” They clinked the rims, then each drank deeply. “I must say I haven’t been so relieved to see someone in a very long while.”
Even in the dim candlelight, Harry could tell that Draco was beautiful. His skin was smudged with dirt and there were spots of blood sprayed across his chest, but his eyes were molten silver and his hair could have been woven of starlight.
“You’re the best thing I’ve seen all day,” Harry admitted. If there were any time to be brave, he figured that was it. If he died, at least he would die without regret.
Draco smiled, his gaze dropping down to the wine in his hand. “That’s quite bold of you to say.” His eyes met Harry’s. “I must admit, however, that you are too. You looked like an avenging angel out there.”
“Were you watching me?”
“How could I not?” Draco grinned. Suddenly, the amusement drained from his face. “We’re the last barricade, you know,” he said quietly. “We’re the only ones left.”
Harry took a long gulp of wine. “I know,” he whispered. “One of the boys told me.”
“We won’t make it past the morning.”
“I know.” Harry watched him. “Why do you think I was so bold?”
Draco’s mouth quirked. “Perhaps my beauty inspires courage.”
Harry laughed. “It does.” They were silent for a long while. Finally, Harry spoke. “I thought…I truly did believe this would be it. The revolution had begun. I thought this was our chance, that a moment of bravery would be enough for the people of France to rise with us. What other hope does our country have?”
“I believe it in my soul that the revolution will happen,” Draco declared. He took a sip of his wine and slouched a bit in his seat. “Just not today, it seems.”
“Was this all for nothing, then?” Harry fought the tears burning his eyes. He thought of the people who had died for the cause, who had stood beside him and now slept forevermore. “What are we dying for?”
“For the revolution,” Draco said firmly. He stood and came around the table to kneel in front of Harry. He took Harry’s face in his hands and his eyes roamed over Harry’s face. “We were the first, but we won’t be the last. We will die for what is right.”
Hearing the conviction in Draco’s words, the absolute faith he had in his country, Harry could do nothing else but lean forward and capture his lips in a fierce kiss. He cupped Draco’s jaw and kissed him with all that he had left in his body, pouring all his happiness and all his life into this shining beacon of light that shone before him. Draco kissed him back just as forcefully and it wasn’t just a kiss—it was a promise, it was an introduction, it was a goodbye, it was hope. Not for them, no, they both knew that they were soon to be gone. It was hope for the future. It felt like coming home.
Harry fell to his knees before Draco and pressed their bodies together, clutching Draco so tightly that he couldn’t tell where he ended and Draco began. He lost himself in the other man, this man whom he didn’t know, whom he would never get the chance to know, and a small part of him allowed himself to mourn what could have been. Hands explored, moans were swallowed, and when they laid together on the floor of the tavern, limbs tangled, gazes locked, Harry allowed himself to shed a tear for Draco.
“Are you afraid?” Draco asked, his voice trembling. His finger rose to catch Harry’s tear as it slid down his cheek.
Draco nodded. “More than I’ve ever been.”
Harry leaned forward and kissed him. Dawn broke.
Outside, behind the barricade, army officers were shouting for their surrender. On shaky legs, Harry rose, then helped Draco up. He held Draco one last time, pulling him into an embrace.
“For France,” Harry murmured. Draco echoed him.
Draco had lost his rifle the previous night, but Harry picked up his. There were only a few left fighting and Harry made eye contact with each one. Each person knew their fate. Though Draco had no rifle, he bent down and tugged free something that had been buried in the barricade. He held it tightly in his hands and kissed Harry one last time. Together, they climbed the barricade. They could hear the soldiers counting down.
At the top of the barricade, Draco held up the French flag. As it billowed in the wind, Harry aimed his rifle.
The apartment door shut and Draco looked up to see Harry, sweat-drenched and weary. He pulled his cap from his head and wiped his forehead with his sleeve, which was rolled up to his elbow. One of his suspenders was starting to fall off his shoulder and he walked over to where Draco was sitting at their kitchen table, taking the seat next to him.
They shared an apartment—if one could call it that—and had ever since Draco’s parents had died. Harry’s had died when he was young and he had lived on the streets of New York City through the Depression, refusing Draco’s help until he could find a job to pay him back. They had been friends since childhood—them against the world.
“How was work?” Draco asked, standing to pour Harry a glass of water.
“The docks were the docks.” Harry gulped it down and smiled gratefully. “You?”
Draco shrugged. “Fine.”
Their apartment was bare, as it was difficult to scrape up money. There were a few bits of clutter—clothes strewn across the floor, pieces of paper left on the kitchen counter—but the most notable pieces of furniture in the studio were the kitchen table and the mattress on the floor, which they shared. Though it was almost unbearable to sleep next to one another during the summer, it was the only way in which they could survive the winter. Their apartment was drafty and old and no amount of rags shoved into cracks in the wall and windows would help.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” Draco said.
Harry looked up at that, putting his glass down at the table. Beneath his shirt, Draco could see his muscles tense—he’d been so lanky before he’d gotten his job down at the docks. A small part of Draco missed the gazelle of a boy that Harry had been.
“What’ve you gotta use that tone for, you punk? You’re worrying me.”
Draco laughed humorlessly. “Yeah, well.” He swallowed the sting in his throat. “I got drafted. Thought I’d get lucky, but I guess not.”
Harry froze. He was quiet for a very long time. They both knew that there was a very high possibility of at least one of them being drafted—they were young men and they were both physically fit.
“Jesus Christ,” Harry finally muttered. His brows were drawn together and he stared at Draco with an unreadable look in his eyes.
“I’m glad it’s me and not you.”
“Shut up,” Harry scowled. “You know it could be me next. That’s bullshit.” He shook his head, then buried his face in his hands. Eventually, he looked up. “You gotta run. We gotta run, Draco.”
Draco coughed out a laugh. “Oh yeah? Where? Where’re we gonna go?”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re not shipping out, you hear me? I’m not fucking losing you.”
“Language,” Draco chided, more out of habit than anything.
“Fuck off,” Harry shot back. “Fuck you.”
Then Harry burst out of his seat and strode over to the window. It overlooked an alley and they hung their clothes on the line outside—not much of a view. Nonetheless, he stood there, hands crossed over his chest, breathing heavily. Draco gave him a moment before standing and walking to him, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“It’s gonna be all right, pal.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Harry whispered. “We both know you’re not a fighter. You’ve got the brains, but if they put you out there with a gun and tell you to run into battle, we both know…” he trailed off, his throat getting choked up. Harry sniffled, wiping a furious hand over his eyes. “It should be me going out there, not you.”
“This isn’t your chance to be a hero, Potter.” Draco’s eyes traced Harry’s profile—his nose, crooked from fighting; his mouth, chapped and red; his strong jawline. “C’mon, it’ll be quick. The war’ll be over soon and we’ll be back here, bickering over who gets to buy groceries, all right?”
“I told you not to lie.” Harry spun around to look at Draco. He was angry, undeniably, but there was terror behind that anger.
“I’m lying to myself, all right?” Draco’s voice rose as he spoke. “You think this is easy for me? You think I wanna ship out and leave you here, not getting to talk to you everyday, having to send letters and hoping they get to you and yours get to me? You think I wanna do that? Of course I fucking don’t, but I don’t have a choice, all right? I got drafted and that’s it. I’m not gonna be a coward, as much as I want to. I don’t wanna die.”
Harry grabbed Draco and pulled him into a hug, burying his face in Draco’s shoulder. “Let me go in your place. Run away or let me go for you. Don’t go, Draco.”
Draco hugged him back just as tightly as Harry was holding him, shoving his face into the side of Harry’s head, inhaling the smell of his hair. So utterly Harry. “I’ve gotta, Harry. You know I do.”
Then Harry pulled back and his face was set. “Then I’m going with you.”
Draco’s eyes widened as he looked at those bright green eyes blazing up at him. “Don’t be stupid. No you’re not.”
“Yeah, I am. If you die out there, there’s nothing for me here anyway. I’m going with you and we’re gonna fight for our country and we’re both gonna make it back home or we’ll die out there together, you hear me? You’re not going alone.”
Harry, determined as Draco had ever seen him, nodded, more to himself than to Draco, then left the apartment without a word.
When they shipped out to the war, they went together. And when they fell, they did that together too.
Harry had never been one to study much. He had gotten through most of high school on sheer luck and last-minute cramming. He’d gotten through the first few semesters of college that way too. Until he met him. His unofficial study buddy.
During a rare moment of productivity, Harry had dragged himself to the library to study for an upcoming exam. It had been crowded and the only open seat had been at a shared table. It was two desks pushed together, one chair on either side, and there was a boy sitting at one end, bent over a notebook. All Harry could see was pale blond hair, almost white, and he didn’t pay the boy much attention as he put down his bag and slid into his seat. Once he pulled out his notebook and laptop, he looked up and his jaw nearly hit the floor.
The guy was attractive. So attractive. It made Harry’s knees weak and his brain hurt. It seemed excruciatingly unfair how handsome he was. His eyes were light grey, framed beneath arched brows, and he had high cheekbones and a mouth that was naturally upturned at the corners. He could’ve been a model. The guy looked up at him, probably realizing that he was being stared at, and Harry quickly opened his notebook and flipped to a random page, ashamed at being caught.
Except the guy had stared back. For a solid two minutes. Finally, he had cleared his throat and gotten back to work, but when Harry chanced another peek at him, his cheeks were flushed.
Though they’d never spoken a single word to one another, Harry continued sitting across from him. And he continued working at the exact same desk.
Harry’s grades had never been so good.
It had been almost a month and Harry’d had enough of Ron and Hermione making fun of him for refusing to talk to the guy. Today was the day, Harry had decided. It was the day he would finally speak to the guy. He took a deep breath before walking into the library, hiked his backpack higher onto his shoulders, then stepped through the doors, as if preparing to go into battle. When he reached their table, however, the guy wasn’t there.
Shaken, Harry checked the time—it was their usual time. Where was he? Nonetheless, Harry settled down at his side of the desk and took out his notebook. Pulling his pen from behind his ear, Harry attempted to get some work done, trying not to think about where he was. Maybe he had no idea Harry even existed, maybe he had a boyfriend or a girlfriend that he was with, maybe he wanted to study alone, maybe he—
Harry shook the thoughts from his head. He’d never even talked to him. He was being ridiculous. If the guy showed up, Harry would try to make conversation. If he didn’t, Harry would move on and go back to hanging out in Ron’s room instead of the library. He wouldn’t look back.
Maybe he’d go the next day just to make sure…
Footsteps thudded through the library and Harry looked up, then did a double take. The guy was rushing toward their table, hair windblown, cheeks flushed, his books nearly falling out of his arms, a coffee and his phone balanced precariously in one hand. He dumped his things on the table, catching his breath, nearly knocking his coffee over in the process, and Harry gaped up at him, dumbfounded.
“I’m so sorry I’m late, I got locked out of my dorm room, then my friend needed me to bring her a coffee, then I accidentally dropped my phone in an elevator and had to wait for it to come back down, and—” the guy gulped, then froze. “Not that this was like a prearranged date or anything, I mean, I know it wasn’t, we just happen to sit next to each other, not that it would be so wildly out of the question if it were, at least on my behalf, I don’t mean to speak for you, I don’t even know your name, but—”
Harry felt his cheeks hurt and realized he was smiling. He leaned across the table and held out his hand. “I’m Harry. I think it would be great if this were a prearranged date. You’re really cute.”
The guy shook Harry’s hand, a blush burning his cheeks, and grinned. “I’m Draco. You’re also really cute. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for the past few weeks, but you’re really intimidating.”
Harry’s eyes widened and he pushed up his glasses. “Intimidating?”
Draco nodded. “You always look so into what you’re doing and I don’t want to bother you, but also you’re, like, disgustingly attractive.”
Harry’s jaw dropped. “Have you seen yourself? You look like a supermodel!”
Laughing, Draco leaned forward. “Are you doing anything right now?” He glanced down at Harry’s open notebook. “I mean, obviously you’re studying, but—”
“Nothing at all,” Harry quickly interrupted, slamming his notebook shut and shoving it into his backpack. He glanced at Draco’s coffee.
Draco followed his line of vision, then smiled sheepishly. “It’s empty, I knocked it over on my way here. Would you maybe want to go get a cup together?”
Harry grinned. “I would love that.”
One coffee date turned into two, which turned into dinner, which eventually turned into moving in together. Three years later, Harry brought Draco back to the library and proposed to him right at that desk. Draco said yes, of course, yes, knocking his coffee and Harry over in the process.
And they lived happily ever after.