Harry tentatively knocked on the door to the Headmistress’ office, forcing himself not to shift nervously from one foot to another. His times as a student at Hogwarts had been past for over a decade now, and he still couldn’t help but feel like he was about to get in trouble every time he was called in by Minerva McGonagall.
“Please come in, Harry,” the familiar voice of his former teacher filtered through the wall, and Harry pushed down the handle to open the door.
The room had shed the creative mess it had housed throughout Dumbledore’s years of using it, and now showed the ambience of a well-sorted library. The only never-changing constant were the portraits of the former Headmasters, which were currently pretending to be asleep, though Harry saw some of them peeking at him through their eyelids.
The Headmistress was sitting at her desk, glasses perched up high on her nose as she was scanning the letter in her hand. Harry recognized the disregarded envelope on the tabletop as Ministry stationary. She looked up when Harry entered the room, smiling at him and putting the letter aside.
“Hello, Minerva,” Harry greeted her, his eyes flickering to the letter she had dropped carelessly at his arrival. “Is this a bad time?”
“No, no,” she shook her head quickly, gesturing to the chairs across from her. “Please sit down. There is something I would like to discuss with you.”
Harry nodded, trying not to fidget as he crossed the distance between them and settled down across from her. When he met her eyes, sharp blue orbs were watching him closely from behind square glasses, and Harry felt more like an eleven-year-old boy than ever.
“Harry,” she said quietly. “How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts now?”
Harry frowned, caught off-guard by the question.
“Six years, three months, and I guess about two weeks?,” he answered hesitantly.
“And how much of this time have you spent pining over our Charms professor?,” she continued, eyes flashing dangerously.
Harry flushed, wishing for the metaphorical hole to open up, swallow him and spit him out right into the lake. Maybe he could search exile with the merpeople until he managed to forget that these words ever came out of his former teacher’s mouth. Minerva’s gaze was boring into him, though, and Harry knew he had no choice but to answer truthfully.
“S-six years,” he stammered. “Three months, and I guess about one week?”
“As I thought,” she sighed, wringing her fingers.
“You knew?!,” Harry asked, horrified.
A familiar snort kept her from responding, and Harry looked up to find Severus Snape leaning over the painted desk within his portray, giving him an incredulous look. “Observant as always, Potter. Everyone knows.”
“Everyone?!,” Harry repeated, his voice uncomfortably high-pitched in his panic.
“Everyone!,” various former Headmasters confirmed without even opening their eyes, and Harry felt the heat in his cheeks reach almost feverish dimensions.
“It’s not a secret among the staff,” McGonagall admitted, redirecting his attention back to her. “And from what I heard, the students are talking, too.”
“Oh, Merlin,” Harry whispered, burying his face in his hands. “Does he know?!”
The Headmistress seemed to be choosing her words carefully.
“I wouldn’t underestimate Draco’s intelligence. He hasn’t mentioned anything to me, but I assume there is a pretty good chance that he is aware of it.” Harry moaned in horror. “I wouldn’t be interfering with your love life, Harry,” she pressed on. “But I’ve been watching this for too long, and frankly, it’s breaking my heart. When are you going to make a move, my boy?”
Harry drew in an unsteady breath, trying to find his voice again.
“I… It’s complicated,” Harry murmured, his voice terribly small. “We have a history, and-”
“You have long worked past that,” she rolled her eyes. “We both know if not for the fact that you are hopelessly in love with him, he would give Ronald Weasley a good run for the position of your best friend these days.”
“That’s it, though!” Harry protested. “We are friends! It’s hard to move from there without putting everything in jeopardy!”
“By Merlin, you’re a Gryffindor!,” she pointed out crossly. “Have some courage, will you?!” When Harry didn’t answer, she clicked her tongue impatiently. “It’s Christmas Holidays next week, and I know Ms Granger and Mr Weasley’s wedding is scheduled. I beg you to give yourself a push and invite Draco out for it, for all our sakes. If I receive one more report of a detention given for gambling over the state of your relationship among the students, I will have to put my foot down. This is a school, Harry, not a love comedy on Muggle Television.”
Harry thought the only thing keeping him from spontaneous combustion due to shame was the amused look Albus Dumbledore was shooting him from the portrait directly behind McGonagall.
“That’s all,” she announced, raising her eyebrows. “Consider yourself dismissed.”
“Thank you, Minerva,” he muttered miserably, getting to his feet.
All he could think of as he fled her office was that he needed a drink. The stronger, the better.
When Harry entered the Three Broomsticks, he was relieved to see that it was unusually packed for a Thursday night. That was good, he told himself - with this many customers, Rosmerta would be too busy to pay him much mind. Not that he didn’t enjoy talking to the chattery bartender every now and then, but tonight, he really didn’t feel like listening to her gossip. All he wanted was to sit in a corner and die of shame over his ridiculous crush apparently everyone and their parents was aware of.
His plans were rudely crossed, though, when someone called out for him from the big corner booth on the other side of the pub.
“Potter! Over here!”
Harry winced as he looked up. Blaise Zabini was waving at him far too enthusiastically, considering what a reserved and sarcastic man he usually was, and it earned him a few sharp glares from a sullen looking Pansy Parkinson. It was the third person at the table, though, that made Harry’s stomach turn in a sickening somersault: Draco Malfoy was smiling at him over his mug of butterbeer, grey eyes shining so brightly they nearly looked silver in the half-light of the pub.
Get a grip of yourself, Harry, he admonished himself as he forced his legs to carry him the distance towards their table. You are pathetic.
“Potter! You are just the person I need tonight!,” Blaise called, prompting Pansy to snort derisively. Draco swiftly took a sip of his butterbeer, obviously wishing to be anywhere other than at a table with them. “Tell me everything you know about Parvati Patil!”
“Parvati?,” Harry frowned, sliding onto the bench next to Draco, who immediately signalled for Rosmerta to bring him a drink. “I haven’t seen her in ages.”
“You went to the Yule Ball with her!,” Blaise protested.
“We were fourteen then!,” Harry reminded him.
“She was your housemate! You gotta know something!”
“Um,” Harry said eloquently, nodding at Rosmerta in thanks when she set a mug of butterbeer down in front of him. “Well, she is nice, I suppose. Was pretty shallow when we were teenagers, but then again, I’m a teacher and can say with professional experience that most teenage girls are.”
“Not only the girls,” Draco quipped. “The boys are worse, actually.”
“As if you were any better back then,” Pansy scoffed.
“I was the worst of all of them,” Draco acknowledged, raising his eyebrows as if in challenge, making Harry laugh. “Just say it, we all know it.”
“Yes, yes, we are all well aware that Draco was an arrogant ponce back in school,” Blaise rolled his eyes, waving him off. “That’s beside the point, though. Parvati. Patil.”
“Why are you suddenly so interested in her?,” Harry demanded in confusion, knowing immediately that it was the wrong question to ask when Blaise’s eyes flashed in that all too familiar way.
“I ran across her at the Ministry,” Blaise shrugged. “She is hot.”
“Of course,” Harry sighed, taking a sip of his butterbeer.
“Don’t take that tone with me!,” Blaise warned, pointing his finger at Harry threateningly. “Who knows? It might be serious this time!”
“You said that about Hannah Abbot,” Draco reminded him. “And Lisa Turpin.”
“Well, I might actually not be lying for once!”
Harry’s attention caught on Pansy’s long, claw-like red nails maltreating the drip mat, her expression murderous.
“Whatever. I don’t need your support,” Blaise sniffed, faking hurt as he drowned the last bit of his cider. “I have my charm, and it’s always worked wonders. I’m going to ask her to go to the Granger-Weasley-Wedding with me!”
At those words, Pansy actually tore a piece off the mat, crushing it between her fingers.
“Anyways, I have to take off,” Blaise announced, standing. “Early meeting tomorrow. I require some beauty sleep if I want to sweet-talk the Bole widow into selling her summer residence to me tomorrow. Goodnight to you, folks”
Harry smiled at him in passing, and Draco waved a non-committal wave. Pansy didn’t react, just sitting frozen, her fingers clenched so tightly around the neck of her wine glass that Harry expected it to snap any moment. Only when the door fell closed behind Blaise did she groan in frustration, her eyes wild.
“I cannot believe him!”
“Breathe, Pans,” Draco advised quietly, though the look he gave her was one of clear sympathy.
“It’s bad enough having to listen to stories about his conquests every time we meet, but now I have to watch him chat that Gryffindor slag up all throughout that bloody wedding!”
“Now, now,” Harry said mildly.
“You know, you could just say something,” Draco suggested weakly. “Blaise will never get it until you spell it out for him.”
“Oh, honestly, Draco?!,” she snapped, her eyes flashing. “You really want to have a conversation with me about just confessing your feelings to someone?!”
Harry felt Draco stiffen next to him, and Harry figured it might be best to get her attention off his friend.
“You know he is not serious about her, Pansy,” Harry tried to soothe her. “The only woman he has ever kept around for longer than a week is you.”
Under normal circumstances, this would have earned Harry a tired smile. Tonight, however, Pansy seemed too worked up for his words to have any such effect.
“I have to step up my game,” Pansy murmured, completely ignoring him. “I have to find a date for the wedding.”
“I thought we’d go to the wedding together?!,” Draco called, sounding put out.
“I cannot go with my gay best friend when Blaise is going with the next decorative flower of his bedroom!,” Pansy hissed, pushing her still half-full glass of wine away and getting up in sudden determination. “I have to start searching immediately. It’s only a week until the wedding!”
She pulled her cloak over her shoulders and gave them an absent wave in parting before she rushed out into the snowy streets of Hogsmeade.
Draco let out a huffing breath and took another defiant sip of his butterbeer.
“I have a horrible taste in friends,” Draco mused. Harry would have laughed, but he was too busy battling with himself, and before he could change his mind, he blurted out: “Why don’t we go to the wedding together?”
Draco blinked, looking up at him in surprise.
“Really?,” he asked, his voice slightly breathless. Harry gulped, his fingers clenching around his own mug.
“Sure,” he said lightly. “I mean, as friends, of course. Better than turning up alone, right?”
Draco drew in a slow breath, averting his eyes. Harry noticed that his cheeks were slightly flushed. He looked absolutely gorgeous.
“Yeah, of course,” Draco nodded, taking another sip. “Sounds good to me.”
“Okay,” Harry returned, a small smile spreading over his lips. There. That hadn’t been that hard. “Great.”
He caught Draco staring at him, his own smile reflected on his friend’s lips.
“I’ll be expecting twelve inches on the different uses of the Patronus Charm by Wednesday,” Harry called, hearing long-suffering moans from his students in response. “Class dismissed,” he chuckled, shaking his head at them when they jumped up in lightning speed. The last class before the weekend was always the worst.
There was loud chatter as the students made their way out of the classroom, so Harry did first not register Drac’s presence, until his colleague called after one of the students: “Don’t think I’ve forgotten your detention, Murray! Tomorrow, 4pm, my office!”
Murray groaned, and Harry laughed as Draco grinned at him, finally approaching him at his desk.
“Care to grab dinner in the village?,” he asked cheerfully. “I’ve had enough of these brats for the day.”
“Sure,” Harry snickered. “Shall we ask Nev, too?”
“Nah,” Draco shook his head, leaning over the desk slightly to smile at Harry sheepishly. “I want to go with you.”
Harry ordered himself to breathe and nod. He noted that Draco looked very pleased with himself, but decided not to ponder over it.
The walk down the snowy path leading to Hogsmeade was filled with pleasant chatter about their students, and, from Harry’s side, lots of stolen glances at Draco’s face, which was flushed from the cold air. He seemed positively vibrant today, and Harry caught himself staring more often than not.
“I don’t know what to do with Murray and Travers. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to lead a class without them hexing each other,” Harry complained, shaking his head in a weak attempt at clearing his head.
“I’m telling you, they’re shagging!,” Draco insisted.
“Draco!,” Harry spluttered.
“What?! They are.”
“So? Just because you were too busy saving the world-”
“So you’re telling me you had sex with sixteen?!”
“No. However, I was equally as busy, though instead of being the hero, I was trying to lead a suicide mission, as you very well know, but thank you for bringing it up again. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t be sexually active at sixteen. I am telling you, most of them are.”
“Gross! Please stop talking about our students’ possible sex life, will you!” He held in for a moment, considering. “Besides, what makes you think they are involved in any way?! If they’re not taking physical blows against each other, they are throwing insults.”
“It’s called foreplay, Harry.”
“Isn’t it just picture-perfect Gryffindor-Slytherin-rivalry? They actually remind me a little of how we used to be at their age.” When there was no immediate answer, he looked at Draco inquiringly, finding dark, grey eyes already directed at him, sparkling in amusement and something else, something Harry had seen on Draco’s face before, briefly, but before he had been able to place it, it had always disappeared again. “What?,” he prodded, suddenly nervous.
“Exactly,” Draco just returned, grinning.
“Huh?,” Harry blinked, confused, but Draco had already averted his eyes, taking sure strides towards the Three Broomsticks, which had finally come into sight. “Draco!”
“Harry!,” Draco teased, imitating Harry’s tone.
“What do you-”
“I’m hungry!,” Draco announced. “Let’s eat before I starve!”
Harry huffed a frustrated breath and dropped it. He’d never be able to keep up with Draco and the way his Slytherin mind worked. Maybe that was what made him so fascinating to Harry.
“I received a letter from Mother last night,” Draco told him casually around a mouthful of chicken.
Harry nodded, taking some fries off the plate between them - they were on the house, as Rosmerta had informed them with a smug smile, a thank you for coming by her pub two nights in a row. He was munching on them thoughtfully as he asked: ““How is she?”
Draco shrugged, but his face was solemn.
“Mostly lonely, I’d expect. Father’s death left her alone in the big house, and the only member of her family that’s still on speaking terms with her lives across the country.” Harry nodded sympathetically. “She tried writing to Aunt Andromeda again,” Draco continued hesitantly, catching Harry’s eyes. “The letter came back unopened.”
“You want me to talk to her again, don’t you?”
“I just thought, you know, since you’re going to see Teddy this weekend,” Draco muttered. “She might listen to you.”
“It’s not that easy, Draco,” Harry replied, choosing his words carefully as he tried to explain. “Andromeda is… She never got over the deaths of her daughter and husband. It feels like she’s growing more bitter the more time passes.”
“Mother didn’t kill Ted or Nymphadora,” Draco reminded him softly.
“I know,” Harry returned hastily. “I know that! Still, she was involved with the side who did.”
“I’m not trying to defend what we did,” Draco stressed. “You know better than anyone how much I regret the role my family played in the war. But Harry, it’s been ten years, and they are the only ones left of the Black Family line. All Mother wants is a chance. Like you gave one to me all these years ago.”
Harry gulped, meeting Draco’s pleading eyes.
“Fine. I’ll talk to her,” Harry promised. “But don’t get your hopes up! I don’t think she’ll listen!”
“I know,” Draco smiled sadly. “Thanks for trying, though. It means a lot to me.”
For a moment, it seemed as if Draco wanted to reach out to him, his fingers twitching enough to catch Harry’s attention, yet in the end, he just grabbed his glass of juice, drowning it in one go.
“Thank you so much for coming over, Harry,” Andromeda greeted him with a smile as she offered him a glass of water. “I feel bad for keeping you away from Hogwarts so often, it’s just…”
“I understand,” Harry said quickly. He knew how overwhelmed Andromeda got around this time of the year - she had never gotten used to Christmas without her husband and daughter. “And you know I’m always happy to see Teddy!”
“He loves you so much,” Andromeda said softly. “Dora and Remus knew what they were doing when they chose you as godfather.”
“I know what it’s like to grow up without parents,” Harry shrugged, uncomfortable with the subject. “I just want him to have it better than I did, you know?”
Andromeda nodded, leaning back against the kitchen counter. There was a moment of silence between them, before she asked: “How are Hermione and Ron doing? Excited about the wedding, I suppose?”
“Yes,” Harry smiled. “Hermione is basically buzzing. You know her. She wants everything to be perfect.”
“I’m sure it will be,” she grinned, shaking her head fondly. “If only because everyone will be too frightened of her to dare making a mistake.”
Harry chuckled, silently agreeing.
“Are you taking anyone?,” Andromeda asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“Yes,” Harry nodded, hesitating only for a moment before he continued: “Draco.”
“Oh,” she replied softly. “Well that’s a new development.”
“We’re going as friends,” Harry clarified hurriedly.
“And you expect me to believe that?,” she demanded, her tone now one of underlying amusement. “As if I didn’t know you’ve been fancying the boy ever since Teddy was a toddler.”
“I-” Harry spluttered, flushing. “It’s not been that long!”
“If you say so,” she rolled her eyes.
Harry took a sip of his drink, watching her warily.
“Draco mentioned that Narcissa has been writing to you,” he remarked, his tone tentative, noting how her facial features immediately hardened at the mention of her sister. When she didn’t respond, Harry pressed on: “You know, Narcissa has really made amends. Her charity organization for war victims is very successful, and she has been taking clear stands for the rights of Muggleborns.”
“I am reading the Prophet like everyone else, Harry,” she returned dryly.
“I just thought.. you know… after all this time…,” Harry broke off, unsure how to continue.
“I know you are very partial towards her son, Harry,” she said stiffly. “And I don’t blame you. Draco was a child. He didn’t have much of a choice back then, and I would have to be blind to not see the changes in him. Narcissa, though, was no child, and while she might have recognized that pureblood elitism has no place in this society, that doesn’t mean she has put those beliefs completely behind herself.”
“But she has!,” Harry protested. “Merlin, Hermione invited her to her wedding. Hermione! The girl that’s been tortured in Malfoy Manor all those years ago! Narcissa and her grew close throughout all the work they did together at the Ministry. If Hermione trusts her, why can’t you-”
“Enough, Harry,” she interrupted him, her voice indicating the end of this discussion. “You are a part of my family, but I’ll thank you to not interfere with my sister.”
Harry sighed, nodding. At least he could tell Draco that he had tried.
“I have more important things to worry about at the moment,” she muttered, looking out of the window. “Teddy has been miserable, and he won’t talk to me. I was hoping you could find out what’s going on.”
“Miserable?,” Harry repeated, worried now. “Miserable how?”
“He barely eats,” she explained quietly. “He won’t come out of his room. I don’t know what to do.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Harry promised.
“Thank you, Harry,” she sighed, sending him a weak smile.
When Harry peeked into Teddy’s room, the 10-year-old was perched up on the windowsill, staring out over the cloudy sky. His hair was a mousy grey today, matching the darkness outside. Harry leaned against the door frame for a moment, watching him.
“I hate it when people spy on me, Harry,” Teddy complained without looking up, making Harry smile.
“Sorry,” Harry said. “I was just waiting for my hug.”
“I’m turning eleven soon,” Teddy rolled his eyes. “I’m not a baby anymore.”
“Neither am I, that doesn’t mean I don’t want hugs, you know.”
“Do us all a favor then and ask my cousin for one.”
“Edward Remus Lupin!,” Harry hissed, fighting the color crawling over his cheeks in vain. “Don’t be sassy with me! Remember, I’m a teacher, I can make your life at Hogwarts hell if I want to!”
“You wouldn’t,” Teddy snickered, finally looking up at him. “You love me too much.”
“You are lucky that you’re right,” Harry scoffed, finally entering the room and closing the door behind himself. “So, what’s up, Teddy? Your grandma said you haven’t been eating.” Teddy’s face darkened, and he turned to look out of the window again. Harry waited, but when no answer was forthcoming, he continued: “Is it Christmas? Do you miss your Mum and Dad?”
“You can’t miss someone you don’t even remember,” Teddy replied testily. “You of all people should know that.”
“I do,” Harry admitted. “Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t get sad sometimes.”
“It’s got nothing to do with them,” Teddy murmured.
“Then what is it?,” Harry prodded, crossing the distance towards the window and sitting down on the floor, his back against the wall.
Teddy was silent for nearly a whole minute, but Harry was ready to wait him out. He knew that tactic worked best with his godson - at some point, he would crack and talk, and then he would be much more likely to reveal information than he’d be if Harry continued pestering him. Curiously enough, that was a trick he had learned from his friendship with Draco. Perhaps it was a family treat.
“I’m in love,” Teddy burst out at last, stunning Harry.
“Excuse me?,” he asked, blinking.
“I’m in love, Harry!,” Teddy repeated, a whiny tone to his voice now.
“You are ten!,” Harry pointed out incredulously.
“So?!,” Teddy snapped. “I might be young, but my feelings are real. Excruciatingly so.”
“Excruciatingly?,” Harry mirrored, shaking his head. Definitely a relative of Draco’s. “Who is torturing your poor, wounded heart, I beg you to tell me.”
“Victoire,” Teddy confided with some hesitation.
“How many Victoire’s do we know?!”
“Okay, okay!,” Harry conceded, biting his lip hard to keep from grinning. He should not be surprised, he thought. Victoire had taken completely after Fleur, and the 9-year-old had everyone wrapped around her little finger. Apparently, even Teddy. “Have you told her you like her?”
“Please, Harry!,” Teddy groaned, looking at his godfather as if he were the most stupid person on earth. More stupid, even, than Ron. “I can’t just tell her! There’s no way she’d like me back!”
“Why wouldn’t she?,” Harry frowned. “You’re older. Girls like that.”
“I’m that dorky metamorph kid she hangs out with at family gatherings,” Teddy insisted, looking miserable.
“Oh, come on,” Harry protested. “You’re totally cool!” When Teddy just raised a sceptical eyebrow, Harry added: “You’ll see her at the wedding! Ask her to dance! I’m sure she’ll be pleased!”
“Only if you’re asking Draco for a dance, too,” Teddy challenged, seemingly convinced he’d win on this condition. Harry glared at him.
“For your information, Draco is my date for the wedding!”
Now Teddy did look surprised, eyes wide as they mustered him.
“Wow,” he muttered. “Miracles do happen.”
Harry growled and yanked him down from the windowsill and into his arms, treating him to a thorough tickling session. Teddy thrashed and squealed in protest, yet when Harry finally released him, he leant back against his godfather, laughing.
“Fine,” he gave in, slightly breathless. “If you managed to ask your eternal crush out to your best friend’s wedding, I guess I can manage a dance with mine.”
“I’ll be cheering you on,” Harry vowed, grinning. “Now, how about lunch? I saw your grandma preparing some delicious-looking roast.”
“Yeah, okay,” Teddy shrugged, his hair turning a flaming red as he spoke.
“Harry, mate!,” Neville called as he caught up with Harry in the corridors the following Monday, slinging an arm around his shoulders as various first years scurried past them nervously. “How was your weekend? How is Teddy?”
“Far too smart-mouthed and tall,” Harry complained. “Can we turn back time to when he was still calling me ‘Hanny’ because he couldn’t pronounce the ‘r’?”
“I can call you ‘Hanny’,” Neville offered.
“Aww, thanks,” Harry laughed.
“So, I talked to Draco last night,” Neville announced, lowering his voice a little while raising his eyebrows suggestively. “You’re taking him to the wedding?”
“Oh no,” Harry moaned. “You knew, too?”
“That you’ve been hopelessly pining over him for the past couple of years?,” Neville smirked. “I’m afraid everyone knows that, Hanny.”
“God,” Harry scowled. “If I had known how pathetic I’d grow up to be I wouldn’t have fought Voldemort so hard.”
“Now, now,” Neville scolded him mildly. “Don’t be melodramatic. Draco has enough of that for both of you.” Harry chuckled, silently agreeing. “Anyways, I’m really happy for you two! Jealous, admittedly, but happy.”
“You know I’m just taking him to my best friends’ wedding, and not marrying him myself?,” Harry noted.
“Just a matter of time,” Neville waved him off. “You’re one step ahead of me, anyways. I’m going alone.”
“Pansy is looking for a date, as far as I know,” Harry joked.
“Oh, please,” Neville laughed. “I’m not getting involved in that war she has going with Zabini. I’d rather stay single, thanks.”
“Sounds like the smart thing to do,” Harry agreed.
“Anyways,” Neville said, squeezing his shoulder to make Harry look at him. “No chickening out this time, Harry. If you and Draco still aren’t a couple when you come back to Hogwarts, I’ll have to involve George Weasley.”
“Oh no,” Harry gasped, scandalized. “You wouldn’t.”
“I would, so you’d better man up.”
“I know Travers is a pain in the arse,” Draco declared as he reached his seat on the staff table next to Harry, making him smile around his mouthful of chicken, “but did you really need to take 60 points from Slytherin in a matter of three days? We’re on the same level with Hufflepuff, Harry. You can’t do that to me.”
“Tell your student to stop talking back to me, and I’ll lay off him,” Harry shrugged, smirking at him.
“I’ll tell him to stay away from that Gryffindor brat,” Draco grumbled. “Seriously, screwing around in scarlet bed sheets cannot be worth this.”
“Yeh’re sure, kiddo?,” Hagrid piped up from two seats down Harry’s left, grinning at Draco. Neville almost choked on his drink in between them.
Draco snapped his mouth shut, glowering at both of them, before taking a big gulp of his own drink.
“So, Harry,” Neville asked cheerfully, obviously in a good mood. “You’re taking off to the Burrow tomorrow?”
“Yup,” Harry affirmed. “Christmas Eve and wedding preparations. Molly will have my head if I don’t show.”
“Not ter mention Hermione,” Neville chuckled. “Don’ wan’ ‘em ter start off this marriage in a bloodbath, d’you.”
“I’d prefer not to,” Harry agreed.
“So,” Draco said softly, the tone of his voice slightly different now, making Harry look up from his meal to catch bright, grey eyes. “I’ll see you on the wedding day, then?”
“Yes,” Harry nodded, his throat dry. “I will be rotating back and forth before and throughout the actual ceremony - you know, best man and all - but we’ll get together for the reception, okay?” Harry only noticed the ambiguity of his words when they were already out, though he could not bring himself to correct them when Draco’s eyes sparkled in amusement.
“I’ll be hanging around the dance floor, waiting for you to dance with me,” Draco promised.
“Maybe you can find a mistletoe,” Neville suggested.
“No mistletoes,” Harry remarked absentmindedly. “Luna will be there, and Hermione doesn’t want any talk about Nargles.”
Neville kicked him under the table. Harry frowned at him in confusion.
“Anyways,” Draco sighed, smiling at him. “Have a nice Christmas Eve. Say hello to the Weasel Family.”
“I will,” Harry replied. “Say hello to Narcissa, too.”
“I will,” Draco nodded, finally digging into his food.
“Harry, dear!,” Molly Weasley beamed as she opened the door, pulling him into one of her tight, motherly hugs before hushing him inside. “You look thin, Harry! When will you finally learn to feed yourself properly?”
Harry decided not to resist her fussing - it was no use, anyways - and thankfully, he was saved from answering by Ron turning around the corner, grinning at him.
“There you are, mate!,” he called, yanking him into a hug and whispering, only for Harry to hear: “Help. ‘Mione is losing it. Please get her off my back.”
Harry bit down on a snort as he let Ron and Molly lead him into the kitchen.
The rest of the family had already gathered, Harry realized. Charlie, Bill, Fred and Angelina were calling greetings from the living room; Percy and Arthur were sitting on the far side of the table, so deep in discussion that they failed to look up at Harry’s arrival; Victoire was sitting next to them, obviously bored and dawdling on a piece of paper; Hermione, Fleur and Audrey were sitting bent over what was obviously the seating plan for the wedding, Ginny a little apart from them, watching in clear amusement. She caught Harry’s eyes when he entered the kitchen, smirking.
“Look, the best man arrived,” she announced in a manner that clearly translated as ‘a new victim for you’.
“Hey Gin,” Harry chuckled, and she angled her face in an obvious invitation for him to kiss her cheek, which he did gladly. “Hey everyone!”
“Harry!,” Hermione called, whirling around to look at him with bright eyes. Harry only just refrained from taking an instinctive step backwards. “Are you okay with sitting between my cousin Kathy and Ginny’s boyfriend Nate?”
“I would be,” Harry responded carefully. “But I’m there with Draco, so maybe I should sit with him.”
“You asked Draco for a date?,” Ginny demanded excitedly in the same moment as Hermione shrieked, rather less amused: “You’re bringing someone?! Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Well, seeing that Draco was already invited, I assumed it didn’t matter,” Harry returned in a small voice, looking at Ron, who was making discreet but clear gestures for him to stop talking.
“Of course it matters!,” Hermione hissed. “Now I’ll have to relocate Kathy to make room for Draco at our table!”
“It’s okay, Hermione,” Audrey said soothingly. “Look, in that case, you can just put the Slytherins back at the table with your old classmates.”
“But I can’t leave Narcissa alone with my Aunts and Uncles and Ron’s Great Aunt Muriel!,” she protested. “I need Draco there as a puffer, or it will end in disaster, I just know it!”
“Zen put ‘er wiz ze Weasley’s,” Fleur suggested, quickly adding, as Hermione was already opening her mouth, “Not our table, I know we ‘ave Andromeda. Anozer. Zere are two more.”
As Hermione dove back to consider that possibility, Ginny pulled him down onto the seat next to her.
“So, tell me about you and Draco,” she ordered. “Why do I not know that you finally asked him out?!”
“Because technically, I didn’t,” Harry admitted. “Not really. We are going as friends.”
Ginny snorted. “Please, Harry! No one will believe that, least of all Draco!”
“Hate to say it, mate, but she’s right,” Ron nodded. “Malfoy isn’t stupid.”
“Okay, short question,” Harry interrupted, looking back and forth between them. “Does really everyone know about my feelings for Draco?!”
“Yes,” Ron and Ginny said in one breath.
“Yes,” Hermione, Fleur, Audrey and Victoire echoed, none of them looking up from their tasks.
“I’m afraid so, dear,” Molly smiled apologetically from where she was standing at the stove.
“What are we talking about?,” George called from the other room.
“Harry being in love with Draco Malfoy,” Victoire answered, rolling her eyes for good measure.
“Oh,” George just said, and the four of them picked up their former conversation again without missing a beat.
“Great,” Harry muttered, slumping in his chair. “Glad that’s settled.”
“Well, if you want to give me and Hermione a good wedding present,” Ron smirked, patting his shoulder. “Go ahead and shag the bloke. We are all tired of waiting.”
“Seriously,” Ginny stressed, and Harry privately thought that it was scary to see her and Ron agree on something. “If my teammates heft one more article onto my locker explaining how, according to Witch Weekly, I broke your heart and ruined you for all possible romance, I am going to get myself suspended for the rest of the season by hexing them into the New Year.”
“I’m sorry, Gin,” Harry sighed.
“I don’t want apologies,” she warned, her tone softening. “I just want my favorite ex-boyfriend to finally be happy.”
Harry smiled at her, and she kicked him under the table.
“We all want that, Harry,” Molly said sternly as she put a cup of steaming beverage, which smelled strongly of cinnamon, in front of him.
“I know,” Harry sighed, taking the drink into his hands to warm his fingers on the cup. It was then, that Arthur finally emerged from his conversation with Percy and noticed him.
“Harry!,” he beamed. “How are things at Hogwarts?”
“You know, just because it’s my wedding day tomorrow, doesn’t mean everyone is allowed to slack off on Christmas presents,” Ron complained, frowning at the rather small haunt in front of him.
“Ron, we are 28 years old. I reckon their reason for slacking off is a different one,” Harry pointed out.
“Well, then where is your present?,” he challenged, crossing his arms.
“You’re getting it at the wedding.”
“Did you also get something from Luna?,” Harry asked, frowning at what seemed to be a cross between a dream catcher and the shell of a tortoise.
“Didn’t dare to open it,” Ron returned, eyeing the object in Harry’s hand as if it might explode.
Harry shrugged and picked up the letter that had fallen out of the box, settling more comfortably against the pillows to read.
America is just lovely. I have been traveling from the East to the West Coast in the past five months, and I have learned so much about the nature of the magical fauna here. I’m going to tell you everything when we see each other in a few days.
I will not be returning alone, though - Ginny might have told you already, but I met someone. I’m sure you will like Rolf - you and him are of the same spirit in more than one way.
I’m also thrilled to hear from Neville that you finally seem to have asked Draco out! Good for you, Harry! I’m sure you two will be very happy! To help things along, I have sent you a Jeehwua - it’s Pukwudgie-made and it helps fight off the Jeehpowies, though I heard it helps against Wrackspurts, too, and I know how prone you are to them. Wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of your luck!
Merry Christmas, and see you at the wedding,
“I don’t think it’s dangerous,” Harry declared, putting the letter down with a smile. “It’s supposed to help against-,” Harry checked once more, “Jeehpowies?”
“I’m sure it does,” Ron nodded, carefully levitating his own package towards Harry’s stack. “Take mine, too. Hermione won’t let me take this back to the apartment.”
Harry snorted and picked up the next box. His heart sped up a little as he recognized the neat handwriting on the envelope pinned to the top. He shot a quick glance back at Ron, making sure the other was distracted by his own unwrapping, before freeing the letter and reading it.
Merry Christmas from the Manor! Mother told me to send you lots of love and cookies - don’t look at me, she started baking recently. She’s likely driving the house elves insane. I’m not sure they are actually edible, so consume them carefully, please. We don’t want to give the bride a heart attack because the best man is out at St. Mungo’s.
I found this on my last trip to Diagon Alley, and thought it should belong to you. Perhaps you can wear it at the wedding - I’m sure it will go well with the dress robes.
I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. I was serious about that dance; I will be terribly offended if I don’t get it.
Harry bit his lip, trying hard to keep from smiling too stupidly, but judging from Ron’s suspicious glances, he wasn’t quite successful. He opened the box curiously, ignoring the plastic-wrapped cookies in favor of another, tinier box. It was coated with black velvet, and the gold letters forming the name of a renowned magical antiquarian stood out against it. Harry shook his head. Draco had a tendency of giving expensive gifts to people he cared about. Harry had a feeling that deep within Draco, he still carried a part of his eleven-year-old self; the insecure boy who thought that money and the giving of nice things would assure the loyalty of his friends.
He lifted the lid, his eyes widening when they took in the intricately adorned coat link within. Harry picked it up and mustered it, soon finding the engraved crest of the wizarding family it had originated from.
“That looks expensive,” Ron raised his eyebrows.
“It’s an heirloom from the Peverell family,” Harry whispered.
“I’m not! Look, it’s their crest!”
Ron threw back his blanket and and sat next to Harry on the mattress, taking a closer look.
“Bloody hell, this must have cost a fortune!,” Ron breathed. “How did he know your family emanated from the Peverells?!”
“I told him,” Harry murmured.
“Of course you did,” Ron scoffed distractedly, tracing the delicate design. “Well, if that isn’t a declaration of love, I don’t know what is!”
“Shut up, Ron,” Harry hissed, flushing.
“Harry, your Christmas present is worth more than I make in an entire year!,” Ron rolled his eyes. “I’d assume it’s safe to say he cares!”
When Harry didn’t answer, Ron sighed in exasperation and got up, continuing to tear his way through his own presents, muttering to himself as he did so. Harry kept staring at the coat link in a daze, thinking that his own tickets for the next Falcon’s match had been a terribly uncreative gift.
Harry was exhausted before the wedding had even started. He knew that weddings were a big ordeal from all the Weasley ones he had attended, yet being the best man seemed to increase the stress-level tenfold.
It didn’t help that Ron was basically just sitting in the kitchen, stealing food and laughing at Harry whenever he was called for.
“You are way too relaxed for being the groom,” Harry accused, slapping his best friend’s hand when he reached for the confectionary again. “Stop that! Your Mum will have my head!”
“Breathe, Harry,” Ron snorted, patting his shoulder. “It’s all gonna turn out great. You’ll see.”
“I should be saying this to you!,” he snapped, glaring at him. “Can’t you have a breakdown or two? Second thoughts?”
“Nah,” Ron grimaced. “I’m not suicidal, you know. ‘Mione would find out.”
Harry rolled his eyes, but couldn’t stop the fond smile that spread over his lips.
“And you, stop losing your head,” Ron raised his eyebrows. “Everyone knows you’ll be going home with Draco tonight. George is not even taking bets because no one is as stupid to bet against it.”
“I’m not nervous because of Draco!,” Harry groaned, flushing. Before their bickering could continue, however, Ginny peeked into the kitchen.
“Harry,” she hissed, glaring daggers at him. “Your turn. I’ve handled her for a whole hour!”
“You are the maid of honor!,” Harry protested. “Maid of honor gets the bride, best man gets the groom! I thought the rules were clear!”
“Harry James Potter,” Ginny spat. “If you don’t cooperate with me, I promise to make a speech on your own wedding day, and I will spill so many embarrassing secrets that Draco will be able to tease you until your death day!”
“I hate you,” Harry huffed, not bothering to comment on the fact that she had just naturally assumed he would end up marrying Draco. Instead, he obediently made his way over to the door.
“I love you too, sweetheart,” Ginny chimed pleasantly, claiming the chair next to Ron and reaching for the chocolate.
Hermione had taken temporary residence in Ginny’s old bedroom. Harry took a deep, calming breath before knocking on the door.
“Come in!,” Hermione called, her voice sounding slightly breathless.
Harry pushed the door open and looked inside wariy. Hermione was pacing impatiently, her cheeks flushed and her carefully styled hair swaying with her movements, Great-Aunt Muriel’s goblin-made tiara seemingly the only thing holding it in place. She was already dressed, too, the seam of her snow-white wedding dress dragging behind her. Harry smiled at the sight of her.
“Harry,” she blinked, momentarily halting in her pacing. “Where is Ginny?”
“Downstairs with Ron,” he replied, finally stepping fully into the room and closing the door behind himself. “You look stunning.”
“Thanks,” Hermione beamed, her whole face lighting up. “It’s not too much, is it? All the sparkles, and the tiara, but Ginny and Molly insisted-”
“It’s perfect,” Harry interrupted her. And it was. The hundreds of tiny rhinestones that were worked into the fabric of her dress gave Hermione’s appearance a nearly royal touch. “Ron will stutter out his vows once he gets to sees you.”
“Oh, I hope he will,” she said darkly, but she sent him a tiny, sheepish smile. “So, how is he doing? Is he okay?”
“Perfect,” Harry assured her. “Don’t you worry, he’s not about to bunk off.”
“Okay,” she nodded, wringing her hands. “Okay.”
“Do I have to give you the talk about second thoughts?,” Harry checked. “I have one prepared, and I didn’t get to use it on Ron.”
“No,” Hermione laughed. “I’m sorry for being ridiculous.”
“It’s okay,” Harry grinned. “I was told I’m rather jumpy myself today.”
“Draco?,” she raised her eyebrows knowingly. “There’s nothing to be nervous about, Harry. We all know he likes you.”
“Can we not talk about me and Draco?!,” Harry sighed. “This is your big day.”
“Oh, believe me, I am aware,” Hermione rolled her eyes. “Nevertheless, focusing on your relationship drama makes me forget that I’m going to jump out of my skin for at least five seconds.”
Harry chuckled and walked over to her before she could start pacing again, taking her hand.
“I mean it. Stop worrying,” he said softly. “You know why Ron is not nervous? Because he knows that you are perfect for each other, and that no matter what catastrophes are waiting to happen at this wedding today, it will not keep you two from having a perfectly happy marriage. Nothing can, and we all know it.”
Hermione smiled at him with slightly glistening eyes and squeezed his hand in response.
“Oh Harry,” she muttered. “You’re doing a better job as maid of honor than Ginny. She never says such lovely things.”
“I have the unfair advantage of knowing you longer,” Harry smirked. “But I’m sure Ginny will do just fine if you stop snapping at her. Plus, she looks better in the dress.”
Hermione laughs, pulling him into a brief hug.
“Alright, go and tell Ginny I’m ready to be civil again. And make sure my future husband doesn’t ruin his stomach before the wedding even starts.”
“At your service,” Harry snorted, and with a wave, he retreated out of the room.
When Harry returned to the kitchen, a third party had joined the munching of Molly’s chocolate. Harry’s heart did a little somersault as he admired the elegant figure Draco made in his dress robes, blond hair artfully falling into his face when he spotted Harry across the room.
“There you are,” he smiled, innocently dropping his hand from the bowl of sweets. “I was looking for you.”
“And got distracted by the food,” Harry snickered.
“No,” Draco protested indignantly. “Ginny warned me not to go up into the dragon’s nest and leave the Queen of the Heavens to our Golden Boy, since he has so much experience in fighting them.”
“Slytherin through and through, I see,” Harry chuckled, glancing at Ginny. “Hermione is expecting you.”
“Bugger,” Ginny grimaced, plopping another chocolate into her mouth before getting to her feet. “If you don’t see me for the rest of the night, alert Kingsley!”
When his eyes settled back on Draco, he caught his friend staring at him, a soft smile on his lips.
“What?,” Harry asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“It suits you well,” Draco declared, nodding towards the coat link Harry was wearing with his dress robes.
“Oh,” Harry mumbled, flushing. “You really shouldn’t have. I can’t imagine what a Peverell heirloom must have cost, what with all the talk about the Deathly Hallows…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Draco waved him off. “I had a favor to call in with the owner of the store, and besides, it’s not like I have to worry about money. Not to mention that I carry the firm belief that family heirlooms should be owned by family members,” he grinned. “Pureblood thing.”
“Ponce,” Harry chuckled.
“Ignorant Halfblood,” Draco shot back fondly, reaching out to straighten his dress robes, one finger tenderly tracing the metal of the coat link. “Anyways, I’d better get out there. Can’t leave Mother alone with Pansy and Blaise for too long. She might become a casualty of their war.”
“We can’t let that happen,” Harry agreed with a smile. “I’ll see you at the reception, then.”
“Don’t forget my dance,” Draco reminded him, and with one last tug at his robes, he brushed past Harry. “Good luck, Weasel!,” he called over his shoulder at Ron.
“Thanks, Ferret!,” Ron grinned, waving at him. When he was gone, he glanced up at Harry, both eyebrows raised in a suggestive manner. Harry held up his hand.
“Don’t say anything!,” he warned.
Ron just snorted, shaking his head.
“Okay,” Ron muttered under his breath, looking out over the mass of wedding guests uncomfortably. “You know what? Now I’m nervous.”
“You want the speech?,” Harry enquired distractedly, his eyes on Draco, who was conversing with his mother. At his side, Blaise had an arm thrown over Parvati, and she was laughing loud enough for Harry to hear it. At Narcissa’s side, Pansy was ignoring her date completely, glaring daggers at Blaise as if Draco and Narcissa were invisible between them.
“No,” Ron sighed. “But it would be brilliant if you could ask everyone to turn around, please.”
“They won’t be looking at you once Hermione makes her entrance,” Harry assured him. “Trust me on that.”
That seemed to catch Ron’s attention, and Harry smirked as his best friend’s eyes flew to his face.
“She looks that good?,” he asked, eyes widening.
“Every man in this room will be jealous of you,” Harry promised. “Or well, at least everyone other than Draco and me.”
“You’d better be jealous of her,” Ron teased, and Harry snorted, making Ron step on his foot.
As predicted, no one was looking at Ron as soon as Hermione entered the room - that was, no one but Harry, who marveled at the utter adoration in his best friend’s eyes. Ron had been right, Harry thought secretly - he was jealous of Hermione, though not because he envied her Ron. What he wanted was to see the same devotion reflected in stormy grey orbs, and have it directed at him.
He shot a furtive glance to where Draco was sitting, only to realize that Draco wasn’t looking at Hermione, either. Their eyes met, and Harry was unable to break away until Hermione was almost at the altar. When he finally did, though, his cheeks were burning.
Harry’s favorite part of every wedding was the taking of the vows - only watching it felt, in lack of a better word, magical. This time, though, it felt even more special to Harry, because the people swearing their eternal love to each other today were two so very dear to him. He could feel their emotions radiating from them - all the happiness, the dedication to each other, the deep attachment… All of it seemed to fill Harry’s chest and ended up making him unusually emotional.
Ginny met his eyes from her position one step behind Hermione, and he knew from the amusement in her eyes that she could read him like an open book. She had always had this strange talent. Sometimes Harry wished she didn’t. He blinked, battling for composure, sending her an indignant glare. She stuck out her tongue in retaliation, and Harry bit his lip to keep from making a sound. Her antics seemed to help, though, because when the Ministry Employee presiding over the ceremony waved his wand above their friends’ heads, letting tiny, golden stars rain over them as they were kissing, he did not cry, and he was very thankful for that.
The first time Harry could finally steal himself away from the buzzing around the newlyweds was when everyone had moved over to the reception, and Ron and Hermione were too busy receiving their congratulations to pay him much mind.
He found Draco hovering at the table most of their former Hogwarts friends were seated at, leaning with his forearms against the back of Pansy’s chair and talking animatedly to Luna.
It was Seamus who spotted him first.
“Harry, mate!,” he called, waving. “Good to see you! It’s been ages!”
“It has!,” Harry agreed, grinning. “How’ve you been?”
“Same old,” Seamus shrugged. “Robards is being a pain in the arse, but I’m sure you hear enough about that from Ron!”
“I do,” Harry conceded, glancing around the table to take inventory of everyone present. Dean was placed at Seamus’ left side, right next to Parvati and Blaise. Pansy was glowering at him from the side, and Harry noted Draco had started gently massaging her shoulders in a calming gesture. Her date was staring off into space, looking bored. Next to him sat what appeared to be Luna’s date, judging from how brightly Luna smiled up at him before responding to one of Draco’s questions. And finally, between Luna and Seamus, he spotted Hannah and Neville, who seemed to not have noticed his arrival, too deep in their own conversation.
Harry’s attention was caught once more by Draco, who instantly sensed Harry’s eyes on him and caught his gaze, smiling. That seemed to alert Luna of Harry’s presence, making her jump up to pull Harry into a hug.
“Good to have you back in Britain, Luna,” Harry grinned, squeezing her affectionately.
“It’s good to be back,” she smiled, releasing him. “I missed you all terribly.”
“Really?,” Draco quipped, a teasing smile on his lips. “I was under the impression that you kept yourself entertained over there…” His eyes landed on Luna’s date, who seemed to shrink a little back into his seat at Draco’s attention.
“Harry, this is Rolf,” Luna beamed, taking the poor bloke’s hand and successfully saving him from Draco’s scrutiny by pulling him to his feet.
“Rolf Scamander,” he introduced himself, reaching out to shake Harry’s hand. He seemed shy, his strawberry-blond hair falling into his blue eyes as he met Harry’s hesitantly.
“Nice to meet you, Rolf,” Harry smiled. “I’m-”
“Harry Potter,” he acknowledged, grinning in embarassment. “I know. I mean, of course I know, it’s just… Luna has talked a lot about you, that’s all.”
“Surely not as much as she talked about you in her letters,” Draco commented, raising his eyebrows.
“Don’t worry,” Harry told Rolf, loud enough for Draco to hear. “He only barks, he doesn’t bite.”
“Very funny, Potter,” Draco sneered in a way reminiscent of their school days.
“Shut up and stop scaring him away,” Harry mock-glared at him. “Seriously, Slytherins. Can’t take you anywhere.”
“Now, now,” Blaise laughed. “You know you love us. We are charming creatures.”
“That you are,” Harry admitted, his eyes landing once more on Draco, who was now smirking at him openly, before he turned back to Rolf and Luna. “Anyways, ‘Scamander’... You’re related to Newt Scamander, the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?”
“Hey everyone!,” Ginny called, joining their little group after about half an hour. In answer to Seamus’ catcalls, she twirled once, showing off her bridesmaid dress, making all of them laugh. “Sorry to interrupt the chatter, but I have instructions to collect the best man. It’s time to start dinner.”
“Finally! I’m starving,” Harry murmured, catching Draco’s eyes. “Ready?,” he prompted.
“Sorry, guys,” Draco grinned at everyone, patting Pansy’s shoulder before straightening up. “Can’t sit with you. I’m VIP tonight.”
“Harry’s personal VIP, no doubt,” Dean shot back, making Seamus and Neville burst into, in Harry’s opinion, unnecessarily loud laughter.
Draco just rolled his eyes and followed Harry and Ginny over to the center table at which the bride and the groom would join them any moment. Molly, Arthur and Hermione’s parents were already seated and in deep conversation with each other. The only other person present was Ginny’s boyfriend, who was incidentally Keeper of the Falcon’s, the currently strongest rival of Ginny’s own team, the Harpies. Harry had met him once in the Leaky after a match, and they had gotten along quite well.
“Nate,” he greeted him with a smile. “Long time no see!”
“Hey Harry!,” Nate returned the smile before reaching out to shake Draco’s hand. “Nate Dawson, nice to meet you. You must be Harry’s boyfriend, Draco?”
Draco’s eyes widened almost comically at his words.
“No, Nate!,” Harry cut in quickly, a deep flush on his own face. “We are colleagues, and friends.”
“Great. Thanks, Ginny,” Nate groaned, scowling at his self-satisfied looking girlfriend.
“Let me have some fun,” she shrugged.
“You are incorrigible,” he sighed, shooting Draco an apologetic look.
Draco just smiled and, before any awkward silence could come up, changed the topic towards Quidditch.
Harry glowered at Ginny from across the table. She just winked at him, obviously feeling no regrets.
Dinner went quite smoothly after that. Harry spent most of the time discussing the current Quidditch season with Ginny, Nate and Draco, flashing grins at Ron when he looked over to their side of the table longingly every now and then, stuck in conversation with the family.
But as much as Harry would have loved to, the best man couldn’t stay in the background forever, and soon Ginny reminded him that it was time for their speeches.
“Oh dear,” Harry groaned, taking a huge swig of champagne.
“It’s fascinating how much a public figure like you hates giving speeches,” Draco shook his head, a small smile on his lips. “One would think you’d be used to it after all these years.”
“And one would think that after all these years of friendship, you’d have finally realized that the arrogant Golden Boy who enjoys the spotlight is just a figment of your very vivid adolescent imagination,” he shot back, making Draco laugh.
“Oh, I did, alright,” Draco admitted. “I still find it amusing. One might even say adorable.”
It took a moment for Harry to register Draco’s words, but when he had, Ginny had already brought the attention of the whole room towards them, making Harry fumble for words.
Thankfully, Ginny helped him out for the most part of the speech, obviously taking pity on him, and being who she was, she soon had their audience wrapped around her little finger, making them laugh with easy jokes (most at her brother’s expense) and teasing.
“I remember, back when you two started dating, and Harry kept whining at me that he felt like the fifth wheel-”
“I did not,” Harry protested, laughing.
“Yes, you did,” she waved him off. “That was the real reason we broke up, I’ll let you know.”
“Very funny,” Harry snorted, glancing over at Ron and Hermione. They were holding hands under the table, he noted, and the happiness reflected in their eyes. “Okay, I might have jokingly complained at the beginning,” Harry admitted. “Even though it had been a long time coming, it was a change in our group dynamics, and first, I did not know what to do with it. You two were the closest to me, and suddenly, you were each other’s persons, and I didn’t really know what my role in that was. But I quickly realized that, apart from constantly walking in on you two snogging - which I could have done without, admittedly - the only thing that had changed was that you two were completely happy and content for the first time since I had known you, and seeing you happy made me happy, in return.”
Harry could see tears glistening in Hermione’s eyes at his words, and he hurriedly pressed on, uncomfortable with the emotional topic.
“And I’m glad to know that, from now on, you two will always be there to watch out for each other. Because no one else would have been good enough.”
He shot a short look at Ginny, searching for words, but she just smirked, leaving him to his own devices.
“I’m not good at this,” he shrugged, laughing. “Nothing I can say can quite express what I’m feeling today, but I just want you to know how honestly happy I am for you two. Maybe, if I’m ever as lucky to find someone who loves me as much as you two love each other, you’ll understand all the things I’m not eloquent enough to put into words.”
With another pleading look at Ginny, she held up a little box and an envelope for everyone to see.
“And to help start off your very happy life together,” she pronounced. “Harry, me, George, Percy, Bill and Charlie all have joined forces for a little present. Though I have to say that it was Harry’s idea and he contributed by far the most to it.”
Harry made a hushing sound at her, which she ignored and handed over the box to Ron, and the envelope to Hermione, both of them looking intrigued as they opened them.
“That’s… a set of keys?,” Ron asked in confusion, raising their eyebrows. “Um… thank you?”
“Ron,” Hermione whispered, her eyes wide. “Ron, they bought us a house!”
“What?!,” Ron spluttered, letting the keys drop and looking over her shoulder, his eyes widening as he read the purchase contract in Hermione’s hands. “Blimey, have you lost your minds?!”
“And that’s why I needed to point out it was Harry’s idea,” Ginny stressed, making Harry elbow her into the ribs.
“But-” Hermione murmured, shaking her head. “We can’t - It’s too much! It’s-”
“Not too much for me,” Harry shook his head, smiling. “Not when it comes to you, at least.”
Those words seemed to finally do it - in a matter of seconds, Harry had an armful of sobbing bride, while Ron still stared at the contract as if it would burst into flames any moment.
A little helplessly, he caught Draco’s eyes, only to see the other smiling at him in a way he had never seen before, and could not quite place, either. The moment was broken by Ginny holding up her glass and toasting to the happy couple, a look of complete satisfaction on her face.
Hermione and Ron had their first dance as husband and wife to a slow, romantic tune that without a doubt Hermione had chosen, but Ron did not seem to mind. His eyes were gleaming as they swayed, and Harry was only distracted from the perfect picture they made when Draco leaned into him.
“That was sweet of you,” he whispered, and Harry shivered when Draco’s breath hit his sensitive ear. “The house, I mean.”
“I wanted to help their life together along, so to say,” Harry shrugged, keeping his eyes on the dance floor, though he didn’t really see it. He was hyper aware of Draco’s proximity. “Maybe it’s also my way of being a part of their life together.”
“Really, Potter? Buying your place in? How Slytherin of you!,” Draco chuckled, and Harry elbowed him lightly, but he was smiling.
“Money had nothing to do with it!,” he protested.
“No need to tell me,” Draco smirked, finally meeting his eyes. “It’s the intention, and emotion, behind a present that counts, not the price of it.”
Harry felt his cheeks heat as he remembered the coat link he was wearing.
“So…,” Draco said, drawing out the vocal as he held up his palm for Harry to take. “May I?”
Harry looked around. People had started joining Ron and Hermione on the dance floor. He could spot Molly and Arthur, along with Bill and Fleur, and Percy and Audrey. Before he could take Draco’s hand, though, Pansy had snatched it viciously, pulling Draco after her into the crowd in a violent manner. Harry could hear Draco’s protests as he looked after them, but they seemed futile against Pansy’s determination.
“What the heck?!,” Ginny demanded, appearing next to him, looking frustrated. “Just when it was getting good! I’ll have a word with her later!”
“It’s probably a Blaise emergency,” Harry sighed.
“Whatever,” Ginny scoffed, hooking her arm through Harry’s. “His loss, my gain. May I have this dance, Mr Potter?”
Harry just grinned at her in response.
Pansy and Draco passed them by on the dance floor, and Draco mouthed an apology at him. He nodded over to Pansy’s table, and Harry followed Draco’s gesturing, spotting Pansy’s date glaring at the dance floor, his eyes flashing nastily. Harry caught Draco’s eyes again, catching him make subtle pushing gestures with the hand that wasn’t holding Pansy’s.
“I suspect he wants to say her date is a little too pushy,” Ginny pointed out helpfully, raising her eyebrows.
“That’s what happens when she snatches the first willing guy to make Blaise jealous,” Harry rolled his eyes. “I hope she is not planning on clinging to Draco all evening.”
“Draco is a Slytherin,” Ginny reminded him. “I’m sure he’ll come up with something to get rid of her.”
Harry only hummed, distracted when he spotted Blaise and Parvati dancing not far from them.
“You know what,” he said, blinking. “I think I have my own idea, and I need your help.”
“May I cut in?,” Harry asked with a bright smile, holding out his hand for Parvati to take. “If I remember correctly, I still owe you a dance from the Yule Ball.”
Parvati laughed at that, while Blaise glowered at him. Before he could protest, though, Ginny had already grabbed his arm and pulled him off the dance floor in a manner that was reminiscent of Pansy earlier.
“Why, Harry,” Parvati chuckled, taking his hand. “I had no idea you had it in you!”
Harry laughed, watching how Ginny explained the situation to Blaise out of the corner of his eyes. He saw Blaise’s face turn sober, before he started glaring at Pansy’s date in a dangerous way.
Harry congratulated himself as Blaise shrugged off Ginny to approach the other man. Ginny sent him a thumbs up, winking before finally taking off to find Nate.
When Dean cut in to dance with Parvati, Blaise had disappeared outside with Pansy’s date, and Harry knew only one of them would come back when they were done. He hoped Blaise wouldn’t hex the guy too badly. He didn’t want Ron to have to go on duty at his own wedding.
He scanned the room absentmindedly until his eyes finally landed on Teddy. His godson was slumped in the chair next to Andromeda, eyes following Victoire’s every move as the younger girl tried to talk Bill into letting her taste his Dragon Barrel Brandy. With a smile, Harry strolled over to them and took up the free chair on his other side, catching his attention.
“You know, unless you learned Legilimency without my knowledge, I suspect you can’t ask her to dance just by staring at her,” Harry quipped. He caught Andromeda hiding a grin before she subtly turned away, pretending not to hear their conversation. Teddy, on the other hand, glowered at him.
“I don’t see you dancing with Draco,” Teddy noted.
“I tiny technicality caused by Pansy’s bad choice of date,” Harry shrugged. “Once Blaise sorted it out, I will have my dance. It’s you we need to worry about, mate.”
“Shut up and leave me alone,” he whined. “I’m not going to humiliate myself.”
“Suit yourself,” Harry sniffed, getting to his feet. “Looks like I’ll have to dance with the poor girl, then.”
“What?!,” Teddy demanded sharply, looking at him as though he’d grown about as many heads as Fluffy. “But you can’t - Harry!!” Harry, however, was plainly ignoring him, turning his back on him and walking over to where Victoire was now outright pulling at her father’s dress robes in something approaching a full-blown tantrum.
“Hello, Sweetie,” Harry cooed swiftly, snatching one of the girl’s bronze locks between his fingers and pulling at it to get her attention.
She blinked up at him before her face broke into a blinding smile. Harry could sympathize with his godson. She was Fleur’s daughter through and through.
“Harry!,” she called, letting go of her father’s robes and attaching herself to Harry’s arm instead.
“You look bored,” Harry announced with a laugh, making her pout in what Harry had learned was agreement. “You wanna go dance?”
“Can I stand on your feet?!,” she asked excitedly, and Harry grinned as Bill shot him a thoroughly worshipping look for entertaining the girl.
“Of course,” he promised, holding out his hand in an overly romantic gesture. Victoire giggled.
“This is so much fun!,” Victoire declared as Harry spun her around on the dance floor. “Dance with me all night.”
“Sadly, I can’t, darling,” Harry chuckled. “I promised Draco a dance, too,” Victoire scowled at him in response, so he added hurriedly: “You could just dance with Teddy, you know.”
Her face fell at the mention of Teddy, surprising Harry.
“Teddy isn’t talking to me,” she admitted quietly.
“What do you mean?,” Harry blinked at her.
“Whenever I’m around, he stops talking,” she frowned. “I don’t know what I’ve done. I think he hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you!,” Harry protested, fumbling for words. “Teddy’s just… Boys that age are stupid, you know. But he’ll come around!,” he promised. Victoire didn’t look convinced.
They continued dancing in uncomfortable silence. Harry desperately tried to come up with something to say, when a small voice interrupted them.
“Um… Can I… um… you know… take… over?”
Both of them looked up to find Teddy standing a feet away from them, nervously shifting from one foot to another. His face was flushed darkly, and even his hair had turned a red more luminous than any Weasley color to match his embarrassment.
“Of course,” Harry smiled, winking at his godson. If anything, Teddy seemed even more embarrassed.
Harry looked back at Victoire just in time to see her surprised expression shift into relief and happiness.
“So you don’t hate me!,” she called out.
“Um,” Teddy stammered, looking alarmed. “N-No?”
Victoire’s only response was to wrap him into a tight, enthusiastic hug, and Harry had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Teddy looked about ready to implode.
“I’ll leave you to it, then,” Harry announced, stepping out of the dancing masses to scan the room.
He soon found Pansy, still on the dance floor, though her partner was not anymore slim, pale and blond. Instead, Blaise’s arms were protectively wrapped around her waist. Pansy’s face was resting against his shoulder, and Harry could make out her soft smile and dreamy expression.
“That was very Slytherin of you,” A familiar voice whispered into his ear, making Harry shiver. “I taught you well.”
“Thanks for the praise, Professor,” Harry chuckled, turning to face a grinning Draco. “It almost looked like I’d require the use Stinging Hexes to ensure the attention of Hogwarts’ Most Handsome Teacher.”
“I thought that title went to you,” Draco enquired, raising an eyebrow in question. His grey eyes were sparkling.
“Nah,” Harry shook his head. “I have it on good authority from various written conversations of teenage girls that I had to confiscate in class.”
“Well, you can’t argue with teenage girls,” Draco agreed solemnly.
“Exactly,” Harry nodded, laughing.
They just looked at each other for a moment, a strange tension between them. But when Draco opened his mouth to say something, he was cut off by the arm of his mother slinging through his.
“Darling, please save me from the Weasley entourage,” she begged softly. “They are starting to talk the war and I am afraid soon someone might chase the garden gnomes after me.” With a look at Harry, she added: “No offense, Mr. Potter.”
“None taken,” Harry shrugged. “Ron’s extended family can be a little difficult.”
“That’s an understatement,” Narcissa noted. “I am beginning to wish Hermione had seated me with her Muggle relatives.”
“Why don’t you go talk to Aunt Andromeda?,” Draco suggested gently.
Narcissa face darkened.
“You know she won’t talk to me, darling.”
“I could go over and-” Harry began, but Narcissa interrupted him with one of her polite smiles and a firm shake of her head.
“That’s very kind of you, Mr. Potter, but I’d really rather you don’t. I don’t wish to impose myself on my sister.”
Harry exchanged a brief glance with Draco, who seemed troubled at her words. Narcissa, though, apparently misunderstood their silent exchange, asking tentatively: “Or am I intruding? If yes, I apologize. I will just go find someone else to talk to.”
“No, Mother,” Draco assured her. “It’s fine, really.”
“Yes, I was just going to check up with Ginny,” Harry added. “Um. Best man tasks, you know.”
“I see,” Narcissa smiled. “This wedding must be pretty busy for you.”
“Busier than I expected,” Harry returned truthfully. Draco sent him a sad smile.
“Harry,” Ginny nearly growled his name when Harry approached her and Hermione. “Why are you here with us and not out there with Draco?! I had Blaise kill off Pansy’s date and this is how you thank me?!”
“It’s not for lack of trying,” Harry sighed, snatching a glass of champagne from a floating tray and drowning its contents in one go. “Weasley Table Three descended into a political debate and Narcissa had to search exile with her son.”
“Oh no,” Hermione perked up, looking guilty. “I’m so sorry, Harry! I’ll fix it, just let me-”
“You don’t worry about it,” Harry silenced her with a firm look. “This is your wedding, and you are no backstage staff of ‘Harry Potter and his Pathetic Attempt at Dancing with his Date’’. I’ll just catch him later. Narcissa won’t cling to him all evening.”
“Why does everything have to be so difficult with you?,” Ginny demanded.
“You know,” Harry muttered darkly. “I’ve been asking myself the same question all my life.”
Harry was on his third glass of champagne - in lieu of firewhiskey, which was not served on Hermione’s insistence - and still without a dance partner. He sighed to himself as he longingly caught sight of all the couples in the room. Hermione was leaning against Ron’s chest, his arms around her waist as they were silently talking among themselves, looking completely content with the world. Luna was on the dance floor with Rolf, showing him a dance that looked like a cross between the chicken dance and the Macarena. Not far from them, Neville and Hannah were entwined in each other, and Harry was gobsmacked at how they were able to go from zero to hundred in a couple of hours when Harry hadn’t even managed a dance with Draco in the last six years. Even Victoire and Teddy were snuggled up in a corner, sharing a hot chocolate and giggling to themselves, huge smiles on their faces.
Harry really wondered what he was doing wrong.
“Harry Potter!,” a terribly familiar voice boomed, and Harry suppressed a groan. He hadn’t had nearly enough alcohol for this.
“Muriel,” he forced a smile, turning to face Ron’s aged great-aunt. She was sitting with another aunt of his, Tessy, and those two in combination were everyone’s nightmare come true. “Tessy”
“We haven’t seen you in a long time,” Muriel noted, raising an eyebrow. “You look old. Must be all the children at Hogwarts. You should have gone into the Ministry, after all.”
Harry grit his teeth, trying hard to reign his temper in.
“I see you’re here with that good-for-nothing Malfoy brat,” Tessy threw in. “Time you thought about finding a nice girl and settling down. You can have fun when you’re young, but you’re soon to be thirty, my boy.”
“I still think you should finally ask Ginevra to marry you,” Muriel announced, scowling at him menacingly.
“Ginny is in a relationship,” Harry pointed out tightly.
“Oh please, that’s nothing proper,” Muriel scoffed.
“Once his Quidditch career is over he will be out on the streets,” Tessy agreed.
“No, you’d be much better suited for each other,” Muriel nodded.
“Is that so,” Harry murmured, praying for a hole to open and swallow him. Thankfully, salvation came in form of an overgrown friend.
“Let the boy breathe, yeh ol’ hags,” Hagrid growled irritably, patting Harry’s shoulder with enough force to make Harry sway. Before they could return anything, Hagrid was already leading Harry away, making the two women stare after them with murderous expressions.
“Thank you, Hagrid,” Harry said under his breath, but Hagrid just snorted.
“Don’ thank me, Harry,” he retorted. “Jus’ get outta here an’ find yer date, will yeh. Saw ‘im fleein’ ter the garden no’ a minute ago. Looked pretty upse’ if yeh ask me. Shouldn’ leave ‘im to ‘imself, don’ yeh think?”
Harry’s heart fell, and he nodded, immediately taking off towards the exit. He had no idea why Draco would be upset when he had looked fine not a minute ago as Harry had caught sight of him across the room, but with all those Weasley relatives out on the loose, you never knew what catastrophes happened out of earshot.
He found Draco leaning against a tree outside, staring off into space. He only looked up when Harry had come to a halt right in front of him, giving him a weak smile.
“Are you okay?,” Harry checked tentatively, scanning his face.
Draco hesitated for a moment before finally meeting Harry’s eyes dead-on.
“What are we doing, Harry?,” he whispered, as if he didn’t dare speak any louder.
“What do you mean?,” Harry asked in confusion.
“This. Us,” Draco murmured, gesticulating between the two of them. “I’ve been trying to move us forward for a while now, but I feel like I’m held back by a Devil’s Snare! I can’t even manage to tie you down for five minutes to dance with me!”
Harry stood, frozen, his heart pounding. Draco’s eyes looked bright silver in the moonlight, as if they were a source of light themselves.
“I know I’m just a ‘good-for-nothing Malfoy’,” Draco continued bitterly, and Harry flinched at the jab. So Draco had overheard his conversation with Muriel and Tessy, or at least part of it. “But I felt like there is something between us, Harry. Was I wrong?”
Harry took a deep breath, trying to find his voice again.
“No,” he confirmed softly. “You weren’t.”
They just stared at each other in silence, and the tension between them was tangible in the night air, feeling like a magic much more powerful than any he had ever seen produced. Even though Harry’s fingers were shaking, he reached out to gently brush them against Draco’s cheek. The skin of his face was warm and soft, and a small smile spread over Draco’s lips at the touch.
“I want my dance now,” Draco declared.
“Yes,” Harry nodded, smiling back. He dropped his hand from Draco’s cheek, holding it out, palm up, for him to take. Draco’s smile grew as he took it, and he looked more vibrant than ever.
Dancing with Draco was more intimate than Harry could have ever imagined. Draco was a very skilled dancer, allowing Harry to just follow his lead instead of leaving him to his usual clumsy fumbling. Both his hands on his hips and his gaze on Harry, however, felt warm and gentle. He couldn’t have taken his eyes off Draco’s if he’d tried. It felt like everything in Harry’s life had led up to this very moment, and now it was all he could do not to come undone under its intensity. Absentmindedly, Harry ran his thumb over the soft hair at the base of Draco’s neck, and Draco shivered.
“I’ve been wanting this for a very long time,” Draco whispered. “Do you know that?”
“I didn’t,” Harry admitted, his voice equally as soft, as if the moment might break if they spoke only slightly louder. “If I’d known, I might have made a move sooner. I guess I’m not as courageous when it comes to my own feelings.”
“I only tried to give you, like, a hundred little winks over the last week alone,” Draco smiled, teasing now. “How could you have missed them?!”
“I have been told that I can be extremely stupid,” Harry sighed. “And I’m starting to agree.”
“Careful,” Draco chuckled. “That’s my boyfriend you’re insulting there.”
Harry’s heart jumped almost into his throat at those words, and it must have shown on his face because Draco’s smile widened.
“Is that so?,” Harry enquired, clearing his throat.
“Yes,” Draco insisted, leaning in.
Harry closed his eyes when Draco’s lips met his. The touch was tender and soft, and Harry felt gentle warmth spread over his skin from everywhere they were touching. For one moment, everything was perfect.
And then, hell broke loose.
The first thing Harry could hear were catcalls from Seamus and George, making both of them freeze in their movements. Then, loud laughter and stray cheers filtered in, finally resulting in a loud applause.
Harry opened his eyes tentatively, only to see that all movement in the room had halted, and every pair of eyes was directed to them.
“Finally!,” he heard Ginny say loudly from somewhere in the masses. “I thought it would never happen.”
“Tell me about it,” Blaise called, and Harry spotted them just in time to see them clinking glasses.
Finally, Harry caught Draco’s eyes. The other’s pale skin was flushed brightly, the expression on his face an adorable cross between humiliated and confused.
“How many people exactly knew about our feelings for each other?!,” he demanded, his voice small.
“Everyone, I was told,” Harry informed him, suppressing laughter.
Draco whined and hid his face in Harry’s neck. Harry ran his fingers through his hair soothingly, for once, not minding the attention all that much.
Sometime later - Harry couldn’t for his life define how long they had been out on the dance floor, sharing gentle touches and soft kisses as they swayed with the music - they stumbled out into the gardens once more, letting the noises of the crowd fall away.
Draco giggled, and Harry thought he had never heard a more delightful sound.
“That was slightly more public than I had in mind,” Draco admitted, seeming giddy with happiness.
“You should get used to it,” Harry noted, amused. “Nothing ever stays private with me. At least not for long.”
“I’ll live with it,” Draco laughed, entwining their fingers. When Harry caught his eyes, they were sparkling with mischief.
Before Harry could say anything, Draco was backing him up against the same tree he had found Draco leaning against earlier. The wood was cold and hard against his back, yet Harry couldn’t have cared less when Draco cupped the back of his neck and kissed him deeply. He wrapped his arms around Draco’s waist, leaving the lead to him, just letting himself fall into it.
He had always imagined Draco to be a good kisser, but by Godric, the reality of it made his knees grow weak. The tongue in Harry’s mouth was smooth and skilled, stealing his breath from his lungs one teasing caress at a time. Draco tasted of cake and champagne, and something else, something Harry was instantly growing addicted to. He leaned into Draco without conscious thought, searching more of that heat, and-
Both of their movements halted when they heard a low moan. Draco broke the kiss, frowning at him in confusion. That noise had definitely come from neither of them - it had been produced by a female voice.
When a distinctly male groan followed, along with some shuffling, Harry and Draco both leaned to the side, trying to peek around the tree trunk - only to make out the dark figures of Neville and Hannah in the shadows.
When Harry looked back at Draco, the other’s eyes were wide as galleons, his lips pressed together firmly to prevent any noise from slipping past them. Harry still put his palm over his mouth, for good measure. With a firm nod towards the tent, they tip-toed back inside.
Back under the cover of the music and chatter, Draco cracked up.
“Salazar,” he laughed, “that was more of Neville Longbottom than I ever wanted to see. Merlin’s pants!”
“Shush,” Harry chuckled, and Draco leaned into him to stifle his laughter. “Be happy you have something to throw back into his face once he starts poking fun at how long it took us to own up to our feelings.”
“I love your reasoning,” Draco brought out between chuckles. “You really spent too much time with me. I completely buggered you up.”
“Not yet,” Harry returned swiftly. “Although I’m looking forward to when you do.”
That sent Draco into another flash of laughter, and Harry fanned him some air with his hand to keep him from suffocating.
“Well, someone’s having fun,” a dry voice noted, making them look up.
Andromeda and Narcissa were sitting at the table closest to them, both mustering them with amused smiles.
“I haven’t heard my son giggle like this since he was five years old,” Narcissa mused, taking a sip of her drink. “I would tell you to cut down on the champagne, darling, but I doubt it’s the alcohol.”
“It’s another kind of drunk, I’d suspect,” Andromeda agreed, grinning at Harry.
“I’m not giggling,” Draco spluttered indignantly. “But forget about us for a moment,” he frowned, looking back and forth between them. “You are talking, and no wands appear to be drawn. Have we stumbled into an alternate universe? Should we watch out for flying Kneezles?”
“Very amusing,” Narcissa rolled her eyes, nevertheless, she seemed more relaxed than Harry had ever seen her.
“I figured that, now the godfather of my grandson seems to be romantically involved with my nephew,” Andromeda drawled, in a voice that immediately reminded Harry of Draco. “Perhaps I’d better make an effort to get along with my sister again. Looks like we’ll have lots of shared family events from now on.”
“One would assume so, yes,” Draco answered brightly. The smile on his face made Harry sling a tight arm around him.
Across the room, he found Teddy and Victoire staring over at them, whispering among themselves. When Harry caught his godson’s eyes, he received a thumbs up. Harry grinned, feeling like this summarized the turn of the evening pretty well.
Harry had never realized how truly beautiful weddings could be. Likely it was the fact that he felt uncomfortable in huge crowds that had always made him think of them as exhausting. However, as he took a look around the room, he found that tonight, love was truly everywhere. All kinds of love, too, strewn all over the place, and if you just took the time to pay attention, you could find it in every corner.
It was in Ron and Hermione’s eyes as they swayed on the dance floor, focused solely on each other, as if nothing else but them existed in the world. He could see the complete devotion; the kind of love that made you go through hell and back for each other, because no matter what happened, at the end of the day, this was the person you wanted to spend your life with.
He could also see it in Molly Weasley’s smile from where she stood between her husband and daughter, one arm around Ginny’s waist, eyes on her freshly married son. It was the love of a mother, condition- and borderless. The happiness that radiated from her was caused only by the happiness of her children, and it made her smile shine the brightest of all.
Then there were Teddy and Victoire, who had just come back from a trip to the gardens, their faces flushed from the cold and their own excitement. In them, Harry could see hope and a pureness no one else in the room could have rivaled.
Luna was chatting with Hagrid, and Rolf was at her side, completely enthralled by every word from her mouth, and in them, Harry saw acceptance. The kind of love that liberated you and allowed you to be whoever you wanted to be, no limits, no judgement.
Not far from them, Narcissa and Andromeda were clinking glasses, and he could see it in them, too, the sisterly kind of love that overcame even the most cruel differences.
It was also there in the soft smile Blaise was giving Pansy as she stole a bite from his plate. Theirs was the freshly blooming kind of love that came from a place you didn’t even know existed until it hit you right in the face. Blaise had completely abandoned Parvati, yet she didn’t seem to mind, seeing as she was laughing loudly on the other side of the table and hitting Dean with a paper towel. And possibly, Harry could even see love there, a tentative, playful love born out of the moment.
And then there was Neville, arms tightly wrapped around Hannah’s waist as they danced, and in them, he saw fire, an all-consuming passion that took control of you completely.
Yes, love was truly all around, Harry thought to himself, and for once, he didn’t feel the urge to look away.
He smiled when he felt Draco wrap strong arms around his waist, aligning his chest with Harry’s back and resting his chin on Harry’s shoulder.
“What’s going on in your head?,” he whispered, mustering him from underneath golden eyelashes. “You had the most peculiar expression on your face.”
“I was just thinking,” Harry shrugged.
“No wonder I didn’t recognize it, seeing as it happens only once every decade,” Draco teased, nudging his cheek with his nose. “Careful, don’t break anything.”
“Very funny,” Harry grinned, raising a hand to run gentle fingers through soft, blond hair. Draco closed his eyes in obvious contentment, and Harry chuckled. “I wonder under which category we fall?,” Harry murmured, more to himself than to Draco, but the other still perked up.
“Hm?,” he asked curiously.
“Us,” he said simply, and when Draco just raised a confused eyebrow, he just laughed. “Forget it. I was just thinking out loud.”
Draco was silent for a moment, and Harry focused on the steady rising and falling of his chest against his back, letting himself relax against him.
“We’re fated,” Draco stated softly, making Harry look up at him in surprise. “That’s what we are.”
Harry had no idea how Draco had even understood what was going on in his hand, still somehow, his reply made sense to him. He leaned in to press a soft kiss to Draco’s lips, smiling at him.
“Say,” Draco murmured. “How do these things usually work: Will the best man be beheaded if he leaves the wedding prematurely, or will the bride and groom forgive him for being abducted by his date?”
“That probably depends on the intention behind the abduction,” Harry joked.
“The intention is shameless shagging away from the prying eyes of family and friends,” Draco returned, straight-faced, and Harry’s mouth went dry as the words sank in. He cleared his throat, but his voice was still scratchy when he admitted: “That’s a very good intention. It might score with Ginny if you give me a moment to speak to her.”
Draco sighed deeply as if he considered it a huge sacrifice, and relented his hold on Harry reluctantly.
“I’ll be waiting,” he smiled suggestively, and Harry had to force his eyes away from his face to search out Ginny.
Thankfully, he found the youngest Weasley seated next to Nate and away from her mother’s side. It would have been difficult to communicate his request in front of Molly Weasley, of all people.
“Gin,” he whispered, leaning close to her to keep the conversation private. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how angry do you reckon Hermione will be if I take off a little early?” He didn’t bother asking about Ron. He knew his best friend wouldn’t mind in the slightest.
“That depends,” Ginny shrugged, smiling.
“On what?,” Harry prodded, raising his eyebrows.
“On your company and the degree of details we get afterwards, I would suppose,” she teased, sticking her tongue out at him in a childish manner when Harry scowled. “Oh for Merlin’s sake, leave, Harry! You waited years for this, no one wants you to wait any longer! I’ll explain to Ron and Hermione!”
“Thank you,” Harry breathed, kissing her cheek for good measure before straightening up and catching Draco’s eyes.
One nod towards the door was all it took.
Seeing that Harry lived at Hogwarts throughout most of the year and had spent Christmas at the Burrow, it had been a while since he had been to his own apartment in Greenwich. He knew it would be in a flawless condition - after Kreacher’s demise a couple of years ago, other Hogwarts House Elves had basically fought over the opportunity to help clean ‘the great Harry Potter Sir’s’ flat in his absence, ensuring that he had nothing to worry about. He was thankful for that now, for he was way too busy snogging the life out of Draco to banish any possible chaos. And Draco might be satisfactory engaged in their activities, but he had learned that Draco’s sense for order was not to be underestimated. He would push Harry away and make him clean, if he felt like it.
In the few seconds it took Harry to unlock the door, and then for them to kick off their shoes between fumbling kisses, Draco’s wandering eyes did not seem to find anything offensive, though, so he was allowed to pull him hurriedly towards the bedroom. He kicked the door shut behind them.
“I have to admit,” Draco smirked as he pulled away to seductively unbutton his own dress robes, bright eyes never leaving Harry’s. Harry had not bothered turning on the lamps, which meant that the only source of light were the street lamps from outside, and Draco’s skin and hair looked almost ethereal illuminated by them. “This is exactly how I imagined entering your bedroom for the first time.”
“One thing off your wish list,” Harry commented, following the movements of Draco’s fingers. “Do you have any other requests for tonight?”
Draco shrugged off his dress robes, approaching Harry in fast strides and pinning him against the wooden door.
“Funny you should mention it,” he whispered, eyes sparkling dangerously. “I have quite a few.”
Draco’s creativity had mostly been fear-inducing in the past, but here, on his knees and elbows in his own bed as Draco took his sweet time licking him open, Harry thanked Merlin for his partner’s vivid imagination. Harry was desperately fisting the sheets underneath them, needing something to hold onto as his control and his sanity slowly slipped away from him with each movement of Draco’s tongue within him.
“If you continue this,” Harry brought out, doing his very best to hold onto one thought for longer than two seconds. “I am not - ohhh - I’m not… Draco!”
“Eloquent as always, I see,” Draco murmured against his skin, voice dripping of smugness.
“If you actually want to get to the buggering part,” Harry breathed, finding it much easier to talk when Draco didn’t have his mouth on him. “You should speed this up, because I am not going to last.”
“Don’t worry,” Draco said easily, caressing the sensitive ring of muscles he had just been devouring with teasing fingertips. “We have all night, and I intend to make the most of it. Just indulge me.”
Harry whimpered at those words, and Draco seemed to take that as an initiative to go back to work.
Harry had heard people joking about ‘shagging your brains out’, though he had never experienced how literal this term could feel with the right partner. Draco had not been joking when he had announced to take his time. He had taken foreplay to a new level, had driven Harry to oblivion and back, had reeled him up a second time with deep kisses and soft touches and the admittedly best blow job of his life - not that Harry would ever tell Draco that; the Slytherin’s ego did not require any more help tonight - until he was begging for Draco to just take him. Which, of course, was exactly what Draco had wanted.
“You want to kill me,” Harry moaned, his voice close to a sob. “I should have known. This is revenge for all those years of annoying you.”
Draco snorted, pulling him into another breathtaking kiss.
“I rather like you alive,” he gasped when they came up for air again. “If you were dead, you couldn’t make all those stimulating noises. I’m rather enjoying them.”
Harry groaned, as if to prove Draco’s point, and thrust up against the other’s hips, rubbing their hard shafts together. He felt a little victorious when Draco’s breathing halted sharply.
“Then just. Get. On. With. It. Now!,” Harry whined, pulling at Draco’s hair for emphasis.
“Bossy,” Draco breathed, a smile on his face. “Yet there are some other things on my list that I’d really like to-”
“No!,” Harry interrupted him, and with unexpected strength which was doubtlessly fueled by pure frustration, he rolled them around, straddling a stunned Draco. He saw him open his mouth to protest, but Harry wordlessly summoned his wand and directed it at him.
“Silencio!,” he called, effectively shutting the Slytherin up. Draco only blinked, a strange cross between indignant and intrigued.
Harry lost no time, progressing to conjure lube and slicking up Draco’s erection before sliding onto him in one swift movement. He was so loose from Draco’s probing tongue and fingers that all he felt was bliss, and he moaned loudly at the glorious feeling of being filled.
He opened his eyes to look down at Draco, whose eyes were heavy-lidded from pleasure.
“No more games,” Harry demanded shakily, moving his hips in teasing circles, biting his lip when he felt Draco’s shaft move inside of him. Draco closed his eyes briefly, lips curving around a silent moan. “Behave and fuck me, Malfoy, or you’ll be very sorry!”
Draco nodded shakily, and Harry ended the spell, letting his wand drop. It rolled to the floor noisily, and Harry paid it no mind.
“I want to complain,” Draco remarked breathlessly, a smile on his lips as he thrust up into Harry, making him nearly lose balance. “But Salazar, that was hot!”
Harry laughed, though he was promptly cut off when Draco turned their positions once more, pinning him to the mattress. For a moment, Harry thought he was going to tease again, but then, Draco started thrusting into him deep and fast, and it was all Harry could do to cling to his shoulders.
When Harry reached his climax for the second time that night as Draco thrust into him at a frantic pace, the experience was more emotional than physical. He held onto Draco desperately, deciding then and there that he was never going to let go of him ever again.
This was it. This was what he had been craving for all this time. This feeling.
When Draco tensed in his arms and pulsed inside of him, grey eyes falling shut in ultimate pleasure, he squeezed him a little tighter, literally and figuratively catching him as he stumbled over the edge.
Harry woke up at some point throughout the night - he couldn’t have guessed the time; it was still too dark to be anywhere near morning. To look at the clock on his nightstand, though, he would have needed to move, and Harry refused to do that with Draco sleeping peacefully against his shoulder.
The light from outside was enough to illuminate Draco’s face, and he took one moment to admire his relaxed expression. Draco seemed a little fragile like this, unaware in his embrace, and Harry felt strangely protective looking at him. Very gently, he leaned close enough to place a soft kiss against the warm skin of his forehead.
“I love you,” Harry whispered, smiling.
Draco stirred, and for a moment, Harry thought he had woken him, but he just snuggled further into Harry and slept on.
When he woke the next time, the sun was shining on his face and he was alone in bed. Disoriented, he searched the room, smiling when the bathroom door opened and Draco emerged, a towel wrapped around his hips and blond hair fluffed up from recently used drying charms.
“Look who’s awake,” Draco drawled as his eyes fell on him, smile spreading over his face. “I was beginning to think I’d actually killed you last night.”
“You came close,” Harry chuckled, stretching out in the bed. “Come back here.”
“No,” Draco refused, but he crossed the distance towards the bed in slow steps anyways. “I’m hungry, so I am going to raid your kitchen. You can join me if you’d like.”
Harry mumbled some incoherent protests, and Draco smiled, leaning in to kiss his lips. In the last moment, though, he changed his mind, pressing his lips to Harry’s cheek instead.
“Brush your teeth, though,” he noted, wrinkling his nose. Harry retaliated by kicking him.
“You know,” Harry pouted. “Cuddling in bed on a lazy Boxing Day morning with my boyfriend was on my list for Christmas, you prat.”
Draco grinned at the term, running fingers through Harry’s unruly hair in a futile attempt to reign them in.
“How about a compromise,” he suggested. “You go shower, and I’ll prepare breakfast for us to take in bed?”
Harry grinned. “That sounds acceptable,” he conceded.
“Good,” Draco chuckled, kissing his forehead once more.
The first day after the holidays was always the worst, seeing as the students were still virtually on vacation, and the fact that his last class of the day had had Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures preceding his lesson didn’t help in the slightest.
“Any more questions?,” Harry asked, eager on closing up and fleeing the curious looks, whispering and giggling of teenage girls.
“Yes,” Travers piped up, his grin way too wide for Harry to expect a serious question in the first place. “Is it true what Professor Longbottom said? That you and Professor Malfoy have finally done us all a favor and hooked up?”
Harry stared at him hard, trying to remember that he was a teacher and that it would do no good to blush like a darned first year, regardless of how amused these kids seemed to be on his behalf.
“10 points from Slytherin for asking inappropriate questions,” he announced authoritatively. “Now off you go, before I double up your homework.”
The students were still laughing, but at least no more jabs were thrown and they started packing up. When they filtered out, though, Draco pushed into the room, glaring at all of their smug faces. He pointed a threatening finger at Murray, who had just opened his mouth.
“One word, and it will be 50 points from Gryffindor,” he snapped.
“I wasn’t saying anything!,” Murray laughed. He still walked a little faster at Draco’s words.
“Don’t forget your detention at seven!,” Draco shouted after him. “You too, Travers!”
“They’ve been back a day!,” Harry laughed when Draco shut the door behind himself. “How did they end up in detention already?”
That brought a smile back to his boyfriend’s face. Harry raised his eyebrows.
“I found them snogging in my classroom,” he reported smugly.
“No!,” Harry gasped, gaping at him.
“Yes,” Draco grinned. “Right after lunch time. I don’t want to say ‘I told you so’, but-”
“Oh, come on,” Harry laughed. “I know how much you enjoy being right!”
Draco shrugged, smile still in place as he walked over to where Harry was still standing behind his desk.
“You know,” he said casually. “I’ve always wanted to fuck you right against that very table.” Harry snorted, yet he couldn’t keep the color off his face. “No, really!,” Draco insisted. “I even fantasized about it during our own school years. You were really fucking annoying in Defense against the Dark Arts, you know that?”
“Which means I was good,” Harry translated, not stopping Draco from crowding him against the desk.
“Annoying,” Draco insisted. “Infuriating even. And handsome while being so.”
“One would think you’d had other worries during our school years,” Harry pointed out, his tone light.
“You were always my biggest worry, Harry Potter,” Draco clarified, his voice having lost all fake malice. The smile on his face was bright and honest. “And I’m pretty sure that’s never going to change.”
Harry debated answering. Instead, he just opted for pulling his once-nemesis-turned-friend-turned-boyfriend into a kiss, admitting silently to himself that, while maybe not always his biggest worry, Draco had always been central to his life, too, and as much as the gossiping students (and staff, and friends, and family) embarrassed him, he was glad he didn’t have to hide that fact any longer.