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hello goodbye ('twas nice to know you)

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The stone wall is damp against his back, the coolness bleeding through his robes, but Draco’s barely paying it any attention because Potter’s got his fist in the front of his shirt and a knee between his legs, breath hot against the dip of his throat, and his brain is spinning a thousand different directions at once.

“Do you have any idea,” Potter growls into his collarbone, “how bloody attractive you are? How I can’t stop looking at you?”

Draco’s hand comes up to grab at Potter’s shoulder, fingers fumbling in his robes to grip, to find something to stabilize himself, because if he doesn’t he’s going to be swept away. Potter mouths at his throat, lips dry against his skin, and Draco keens softly, choking on his air, and it’s everything, it’s perfect, it’s got his heart in his throat and his stomach in knots, and Draco can’t get enough.

He wants to stay here, in the semi-darkness of a dungeon doorway, pressed against the wall forever, because Potter’s against him, pressed against his chest, with his fingers in his clothes and his hair and—

Something heavy thuds into the pit of his stomach and for an instant, Draco can’t breathe. The wall at his back is soft and warm, instead of cool and hard, and there’s familiar, amused laughter somewhere off to his right.

“Fuck off, Blaise,” Draco groans, reaching up and brushing sweaty bangs out of his eyes.

“Love you too, darling, come here and let me help you out of those sticky pajamas…”

Draco flips him off and flings his blankets away, shoving the dream firmly out of his mind. Thankfully, years of practice have made Draco extremely good at pretending he’s not wildly attracted to Harry Potter. He passes Blaise with barely a flicker of a glare and heads for the bathroom.

His reflection in the mirror is pale and irritated as he washes his hands, rolling his sleeves up to the elbows. Black ink catches his eye and he can’t help the little glance downwards he gives his forearms.

One forearm is stained with something that will never move again.

His other forearm hasn’t stopped moving since he made the decision to go back to school for his final year.

Draco shakes his sleeve down over the still, silent Dark Mark, letting the familiar ache of guilt and embarrassment twist his stomach and stifle his breath, and instead focuses on his scrawl.

It’s curled itself down his other forearm, exactly opposite where Voldemort carved the Dark Mark, and his soulmate’s words are a messy, cramped scribble he has to turn his arm horizontal to read properly.

wonder if he’s ok

Draco frowns. His words for years had been insults. Sarcastic little barbs that honestly Draco might have appreciated were they not directed at him, day after day, taunting him from his own skin. Now this – vaguely worried, almost kind words hesitant to pen themselves on his skin.

He’d been convinced his soulmate was a Slytherin for ages, but Draco had managed to systematically weed out every single person in his House over the course of his time at Hogwarts.

He’d been turning his attention to the other Houses – maybe a particularly grumpy Ravenclaw? – before sixth year.

His scrawl hadn’t changed for nearly the entire year he’d spent in Voldemort’s service. He’d sat alone in his room in Malfoy Manor, feeling his head spin and his stomach churn and his left arm sting and stared at his scrawl.

death eater

Two words. Two black, accusatory words that squeezed Draco’s chest and made his eyes sting with unshed regret even as they faded away with every passing day. He’d let everything get so out of hand so quickly that even if he met the invisible hand that sketched its thoughts on his forearm, there was no way they’d want to meet him back.

Then the Snatchers had dragged Harry Potter into his living room.

Then Draco had knelt before a boy that he would have recognized through a thousand stinging hexes and stared straight into his face and lied to his father and his mother and his aunt.

Then Draco had let go of his wand without a fight and watched the last remaining hope of the wizarding world apparate out of his living room.

And Draco’s arm had changed.

One single word –

why

– and Draco’s world had frozen on its axis.

A fist pounding on the bathroom door snaps Draco out of his reverie and he shakes his head, yanking down his sleeve over his scrawl.

“What?” he snaps over his shoulder and checks his reflection in the mirror again.

“Are we going to breakfast or are you going to snog your reflection all day?” Blaise sounds grumpy and Draco realizes he’s been standing there for far longer than usual.

“Fine, fine,” he swipes a hand through his hair and decides that it’s behaving well enough to stay out of the hair gel for today.

They head downstairs and into the Great Hall for breakfast fairly late – most of the other tables have cleared off except for pockets of students here and there, chattering and dragging their feet on their way to the first classes of the day.

Draco’s eyes hit the Gryffindor table almost immediately and he sort of hates himself because Potter’s there, sitting across from Finnigan and Thomas and slathering jam onto a bit of toast.

He’s scratching absentmindedly at his forearm before he realizes what he’s doing and Draco drops his arm so fast that Blaise raises an eyebrow.

“The fuck’s wrong with you, then?” Blaise asks as they settle in next to Theo and Greg. Draco ignores him and lunges for the juice, nearly upsetting the butter in the process.

“Nothing,” he mutters, checking to see if his sleeve dragged through the butter dish.

“Whas’ wrong with who then?” Theo asks, mouth crammed full of toast, and Blaise jerks his head at Draco.

“Draco here woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Shame too, ‘cause his dreams sounded delightful…”

Draco kicks him under the table as his gaze is unwillingly dragged towards the Gryffindor table again. Finnigan is batting Thomas’s hands away from his toast – married, those two. It’s almost sickening.

Potter’s leaning forward, asking them something with that stupid earnest expression on his face. His hair is a disaster, sticking up in crazy tufts like invisible fingers had spent the evening raking their way through it, maybe while some invisible lips mouthed along the curve of his collarbone…

Draco feels heat prickle up the back of his neck and he tips back half his goblet of juice as he tries to drag his thoughts away from late nights and the curve of Potter’s neck.

Pathetic, Malfoy. Pathetic.

Potter is rolling his eyes now, reaching for his collar and bloody hell, yanking down his shirt where—

Draco chokes on his juice. Potter’s scrawl, too far away to see properly, is sketched right over his heart.

Of all the cheesy, cliché, romantic—!

Potter yanks his shirt back up, color flooding his face as Finnigan and Thomas burst out laughing, slapping him on the back and generally being obnoxious.

Draco forces his attention back to the Slytherin table and finds Blaise observing him, lips tilting in a half-smirk.

“Anything interesting over yonder?”

“Piss off, Blaise.”

Draco’s arm prickles and he resists the urge to roll up his sleeve with every fiber of his being. Instead, he very calmly lifts his goblet and drains the entire thing.

Blaise and Theo strike up a conversation about something inane that Draco quickly tunes out, turning his attention instead to achieving the perfect jam-to-toast ratio, and the rest of breakfast passes fairly uneventfully.

Finally, Draco can’t put off going to Charms any longer. He reaches to the side for his bag and his fingers close on empty air.

“My bag!”

Stupid – he knows exactly where it is. Sitting on the floor against his four poster in his bedroom.

In the dungeons.

“Go on, I’ll catch up,” Draco is already halfway to the door, robes billowing behind him as he half walks, half runs towards the dungeons.

It takes forever to get there, it seems, as he fumbles his way up down the steps and through the common room, blood pumping with the drumbeat of his heart, tattooing late late late against his ribcage.

Being late is awful – being late means attention, and attention means whispers, guilty prickles up his arm and that jolt of fear that he would feel it burn again twisting his stomach. Attention means awkward shuffling as students try to spread their books out a little wider, try to make it seem like there isn’t any room nearby. Late means slinking into an empty seat and feeling everyone edge a bit further away.

Draco grabs his bag, pivoting on the ball of his foot and racing back through the common room.

By the time he gets to Charms, he’s out of breath, there’s a stitch in his side, and he’s positive there’s an unattractive flush staining his cheeks but he’s made it, and that’s what’s important.

He slips through the door, still breathing a bit too heavily, and scans the room. Most of the seats are full – students chatting aimlessly, shuffling around in their seats and organizing quills and parchment and Achievements in Charming.

There’s one empty seat.

Draco feels all the blood drain from his face. Of fucking course.

Still, he’s a Malfoy. He tilts his chin proudly and forces himself to walk, casually, to the desk and set his bag down, sliding into the seat next to Harry Potter.

Potter drops his quill in surprise, and Draco very calmly begins removing things from his bag.

“Malfoy,” Potter’s voice is quiet, faintly surprised, but without a trace of the disgust Draco’s come to expect.

“Potter,” Draco murmurs back, eyes on his bag.

Anything else they might say is interrupted by Professor Flitwick, who begins the lesson with a quick history of the spell they’re to practice that turns out to be not quite as quick as promised.

The spell is a silly blindfold charm that takes a lot more underlying control than originally appears – one wrong wand flick, and you could blind your partner. Apparently, it used to cause more than a little chaos.

Draco glances at Harry’s parchment – Potter’s notes have faded into doodles, little snitches up and down the margins of his page.

The handwriting is clear and unmistakable. As if he had any doubt.

Draco scratches at his arm as his stomach tightens, guilt sitting heavy in his throat like he’s swallowed a lump of coal.

Harry Potter’s thoughts are inscribing themselves on his arm.

Logically, that should mean that the smudge Draco had glimpsed over Harry’s heart in the Great Hall should be his own perfect cursive.

Draco’s fingers clench his quill as Flitwick drones on up front about feeling the charm in your soul or something. It’s stupid – he knows it is. Just because Potter’s mind is unwittingly writing his thoughts on Draco’s arm doesn’t mean that it goes both ways.

The scrawl is magic – and like most magic, it’s fickle. Unpredictable. And not always perfect.

Besides, imagine the media nightmare if the Boy Who Lived Twice suddenly started snogging a former Death Eater.

Snatches of feelings, of rough stone at his back and warm heat pressed all along his front and Draco remembers his dream, and it’s a sudden bittersweet ache that starts in the pit of his stomach and steadily rises until it’s practically choking him.

“Ok!” Flitwick squeaks and Draco feels Harry jerk in surprise next to him. It seems Potter wasn’t exactly paying attention either. “Now you all try! Go on and give it a go!”

Oh. Well, shit.

Draco glances at Harry, who is pulling his wand from his bag. Potter turns to him and looks him full in the face – he’s one of the few that still will.

“Want to go first then?” he asks, getting to his feet, and Draco’s eyes drop to Potter’s chest.

“You’re going to let me point a wand at you?” he asks in return, shoving his chair back and Potter snorts. Actually snorts, the git.

“Well, you’re not exactly going to jinx me, are you?” Potter’s tone is light, and if Draco didn’t know any better, he’d almost swear he was being teased.

“Not until your back is turned,” Draco’s response is automatic, a joke, and he realizes a split second too late how that sounds. He winces, but Potter is laughing, a surprised bright kind of noise that makes Draco’s mouth want to tug upwards at the corners.

“Stand still,” he orders and Potter obediently stands there, a grin still lingering on his face.

Draco points his wand and focuses, thinking of the motions, the language, the intent.

“Obscuro!”

Potter gasps, hands flying to his eyes as a green silk blindfold binds itself neatly around his eyes. “Did it work?”

“Of course it worked.” Draco scoffs and Potter snickers.

“You sound so offended.”

“Well, you’re doubting my charming ability. That’s just cause for offense.”

“Oh,” and Potter’s grinning now, almost lazy in his stance, even with the blindfold wound around his eyes, “I’ve never doubted your charm, Malfoy.”

Draco is momentarily stunned into silence. Was… did Potter just flirt with him?

Harry’s grin flickers into something a little smaller and a lot more awkward, and after a moment he reaches up to fumble at the blindfold. It’s tight, apparently, and he’s having trouble getting it undone.

Draco watches him work for a moment, heart roaring in his ears, before he snaps himself out of it and steps forward.

“You moron, you’re making it worse. Hold on—”

Draco puts his hands on Potter’s without thinking and Harry freezes. For an achingly long moment, they stand as still as a muggle photograph, fingers brushed together, barely touching.

“Did… did you just call me a moron?” Harry asks, voice low, and Draco yanks his hands back so fast he knocks his elbow into the desk behind him.

Harry starts to laugh, the noise low and helpless and Draco gapes at him, bewildered.

“Draco, no one has called me a moron in ages,” Harry is grinning and it’s all Draco needs to step forward and hook a finger under the blindfold, tugging it up and off Potter’s face.

Harry blinks several times, adjusting to the light, and Draco is standing far too close, hand against Potter’s head in almost a caress, the blindfold dangling from his fingertips.

Potter’s grin fades a bit and it’s only then that Draco realizes that Harry had used his first name.

“Mr. Finnigan! Mr. Thomas!”

Just like that the moment shatters, and Draco steps swiftly backwards. Harry clears his throat and both turn to look as Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas crawl out from under their desk, looking disheveled and distinctly pleased with themselves.

“Sorry, there, professor,” Finnigan says, his grin wide and his eyes bright, “just doin’ a bit of reading, we were.”

They’re holding hands and beaming and it hits Draco what must have happened. The class explodes into noise and next to him, Potter snorts.

“Fucking finally.”

Thomas is watching the side of Finnigan’s head like it’s the only thing worth seeing and as Draco watches, he says something. Finnigan looks up at him and then they’re kissing, soft and sweet and fleeting.

He can’t help himself – he glances at Harry.

Harry is watching the proceedings, a fond smile playing on his lips. His hand is absentmindedly scratching at his chest, just above his heart.

Draco looks away, quickly, as Flitwick starts squeaking for order and students start to settle back into practicing their charms.

Finnigan and Thomas are grinning like fools, heads close together, wands and spell practice abandoned all together. Not that Draco can really blame them.

“My turn.”

Potter is standing in the same place, wand loose in his fingers, watching him carefully and Draco steps back and puts his wand on the desk.

“Don’t blind me, Potter,” he warns, though there’s little heat in his voice. Potter’s lips tug upwards and he lifts his wand.

Obscuro.”

The world goes black. For a moment, Draco feels completely and utterly alone.

It’s not a good feeling – it reminds him too much of the too recent past and he feels his throat begin to close. The air feels thick, too thick to breathe, impossibly thick as it crawls down his throat towards his lungs, and has his windpipe always been this sticky, this tight, has breathing always been so bloody difficult

Then hands are gripping his shoulders, squeezing once, and Draco thinks he hears someone talking but the words sound muffled against the roaring of his blood in his ears. The hands are gone and it takes all Draco’s self-control not to make a noise, to ask the hands to come back, when suddenly there they are again, this time at the back of his head.

He can smell faint musk and sweat and something sweet, like jam, feel the heat of a body close to his, before the blindfold suddenly falls away and the world fills with light again.

It’s like someone has turned the volume up on the classroom, and Draco can hear the cacophony of voices around him practicing the spell and laughing and talking. Harry Potter’s face, pulled tight with concern, swims into focus and Draco takes a sharp step backwards, leg colliding with the chair, sending it tipping to the floor with a clatter.

“Are you ok?” Potter asks and Draco scoffs, reaching desperately for the tattered threads of his dignity and wrapping it tight around himself like a cloak.

“Of course, Potter,” he sneers, heart thrumming painfully, and Harry purses his lips, the blindfold limp in his fingers.

“You sure didn’t look alright,” Potter begins and Draco interrupts him, loudly, turning to his textbook.

“Thought your blindfold was supposed to be silk, Potter. Or don’t you know what silk feels like?”

He’s determinedly not looking at him, staring down at the page in his book and for a moment, the silence stretches, taut and tense as a strung wire, before Potter sighs and gives up.

The rest of Charms is highly uncomfortable – the easy, almost flirtatious banter is gone, replaced instead with an awkward silence as they practice the wand motions of the spell, side by side.

The lesson ends and Draco grabs his things and rushes from the room, almost first out the door. He can’t bear another minute there, with Potter close enough to brush his elbow and his arm tingling every time a thought drifts through Harry’s mind.

He doesn’t notice until he’s back in the Slytherin dormitories after dinner, sitting on his bed in a room alive with the strange light of the setting sun slanted through the Black Lake that he’d forgotten to grab the notes he’d taken.

They must still be in the classroom, he reasons, digging through his bag fruitlessly, sitting on the desk. He’d been in such a hurry to get out of there he hadn’t even thought to grab them.

Well, damn. Flitwick assigned eighteen inches on that damn obscuro charm and its history with blindness – Draco’d already begun sketching out his essay during lecture and now his entire outline was gone. He’d have to start all over.

Draco snarls at his pillow in frustration but it just sits there, unsympathetic, and he realizes he’s going to have to go to the library. There’s no way his notes survived the House Elves and their purging of the classrooms at the end of lessons each day.

The idea of leaving his room feels like an incredible chore but he really wants to get this stupid essay at least started. With a groan he pushes himself off of his bed, shoving Achievements in Charming, some parchment, and a few extra quills into his bag and slinging it over his shoulder. He considers his robes for a second before deciding against it. It’s hot in the castle for this time of year, and he’s not looking forward to the thought of perspiring all over his essay under layers of black fabric. His tie will have to do. It’s not like he’s really planning on seeing anyone tonight anyway.

The corridors are mercifully empty as he trudges up towards the library. Madame Pince is sorting through a stack of books, floating them into piles in midair and he nods to her as he heads for the back corner under the biggest window.

She nods back distractedly, eyes on her work, and Draco settles at a large empty table. He can see the sunset out the window, the dying golden light flickering over the water of the lake, and he adjusts the chairs a bit so he’s facing the view.

Now to find some books. He vaguely remembers seeing a history of charming book somewhere – he can picture the spine in his head – and sets off to find it, leaving his things guarding his little pool of sunset.

Turns out, there are several fat green books with gold inlay in the charms section, and when Draco finally emerges from the stacks, book in hand, he’s not surprised to find someone else has claimed the other end of his table.

But of course. Of fucking course it had to be Harry fucking Potter.

The Boy Who Lived Twice hasn’t noticed him yet, too enraptured in whatever he’s scribbling, and Draco takes a moment – just a single, aching, guilty moment – to look at him. To just take in the way the sunlight is ringing his hair with orange, the way the tip of his tongue is just peeking out between his lips as he concentrates, the way his glasses slide down towards the tip of his nose.

He’s rumpled and clumsy and brilliant and fierce, and Draco just can’t help but love him.

As though he’s heard Draco’s thoughts, Potter looks up and their eyes meet.

“Malfoy,” Potter sounds surprised. “Is… did I steal your spot?”

It’s not at all the question Draco expects and he shrugs, striding forward to his chair. “Not like I own this corner of the library, Potter.”

Harry snorts, looking back down at his parchment, and Draco sits. They’re not quite opposite each other, but the table’s not that big either, and with all their parchment and books, they’re essentially taking up all of the space.

Draco’s arm itches.

He’s not sure how he’s supposed to get any work done now, but he can’t just up and leave either, not when he’s clearly set up his things with plans to work, so Draco decides to just bloody get on with it and ignore Potter the best he can.

Which, turns out, is not very well. Every scratch of Potter’s quill sounds impossibly loud and the words in his history of charming book are complicated and slippery, difficult to focus on for more than seconds at a time.

Finally he yanks his parchment towards himself, determined to get something written for this essay, damn it, and jabs his quill in his inkpot.

He’s got maybe a sentence and a half down – The stereotype of the blind sorcerer can be dated back to the early 1300s, when Yanic the Deranged attempted to… – when Potter’s quill snaps.

Draco looks up and finds Harry staring sideways at him – or rather, down at his parchment. Draco looks down at the essay and then back up at Harry, who has closed his fingers so tightly on his broken quill his knuckles are white.

“What’s wrong with you, then?” Draco asks suspiciously, and Potter’s head jerks up like he’s forgotten Draco was even there.

“You—” Potter appears to have forgotten how to talk. Draco scratches at his arm absentmindedly when Potter suddenly snaps forward, snatching his parchment from under his nose.

“Oi!” Draco grabs for it but Harry’s leaned out of reach. “Write your own bloody essay, Potter!”

But Potter’s leaning backwards in his chair, letting the parchment fall to the table, and he’s laughing, low and helpless and Draco feels like he’s missed something incredibly important.

“What the fuck—” he begins, but Potter interrupts him.

“Draco Malfoy.”

And that’s all, just his name. He’s heard his name a thousand times, but never said like this, not on Potter’s lips, spoken in such a low murmur as though it’s spun of gold.

What the blinking fuck is going on here?

Potter’s index finger is tapping the parchment, over where Draco’s calligraphy had curled around the name Yanic, and in a rush Draco suddenly gets it.

Potter wasn’t trying to steal his essay.

Potter was looking at his handwriting.

Draco swallows, hard, and chances a glance at Potter’s face.

Harry is looking back at him and for a long moment they just sit there, examining each other, both poised on the edge of a conversation that’s been years in the making.

“That day,” Harry says, breaking the silence, “back at the Manor. You lied. You knew it was me.”

Draco’s heart throbs once in his throat and he wonders if it’s too late to flee.

“Obviously,” he croaks and Harry takes a breath.

“Why?”

And Draco pictures his arm and the little black letters that, months before, had asked him the very same question as he sat alone in his room, staring at his arms and feeling like the world was collapsing in on him.

He wonders now if his answer then was the same as his answer is now.

Very slowly, he reaches for his sleeve and rolls it up.

Harry gasps, softly, like he can’t help himself and the Dark Mark stares up from between them, permanently motionless on Draco’s pale forearm.

“This froze months ago,” Draco whispers. Slowly, Harry reaches forward and touches the Mark with the tips of his fingers and a shiver shoots up Draco’s spine. He’s shaking, he realizes, and he jerks his arm out from under Harry’s fingers, before he can talk himself out of what he’s about to do.

He turns his other arm over and slowly begins to work his other sleeve up towards his elbow.

It takes a second, once his arm is bare, to screw up the courage to look down.

its him i knew it its him its him its him

Harry lets out a long breath and Draco laughs, more of a half-hearted wheeze than an actual noise. “This started moving,” he says, quiet, almost reverent, “the moment I lied to my father about who you were.”

Fingers rough with callouses close around his wrist, and the words on his forearm melt away, shimmering and re-forming –

I hoped it was you

Then again—

ever since the manor

Faster now—

not a killer

could tell you were scared

wanted to help

didn’t know how

so glad

think i love you

Draco chokes on his air and Harry’s fingers tightened around his wrist, gripping almost painfully hard, and when Draco looks up, Harry Potter is looking at him like he’s the only thing worth looking at and, well, there’s really only one thing to do when the Savior of the Wizarding World looks at you like you’re something unbearably precious.

So Draco screws up some Slytherin courage (and isn’t that just very Gryffindor of him) and leans across the table. Harry meets him halfway, hand coming up to caress his cheek and as their lips meet and Draco’s heart melts into a puddle of disgustingly Hufflepuff goo right there in his ribcage, he thinks fleetingly of the confused, guilty, terrified boy alone in a house filled with his family and wishes, impossibly, that he’d known back then.

He wonders if he had known, the moment he knelt in front of Harry Potter and told his father that he couldn’t be sure, even before he’d seen the Scrawl on his arm had changed.

He thinks he might have.

They break apart after several moments, stretched sweet as molasses, and Draco feels a kind of twisting pride smother his chest at Harry’s dazed look, eyes wide behind his crooked glasses.

Slowly, fingers clumsy, Harry reaches for his shirt collar, tugging it down as far as it would go to reveal pale skin covered in familiar, crisp calligraphy.

think ive always loved you

Draco feels his face burn scarlet – it’s not like it’s wrong, but how incredibly sappy. But when Harry looks up, having finally deciphered the upside down words, there’s a shy, pleased smile on his face that makes every ounce of embarrassment worthwhile.

“The Prophet’s going to have a field day with this, you know,” Draco says, voice hoarse, and Harry laughs.

“I don’t give a damn,” Harry Potter says easily, and leans forward to kiss him again.