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Mental

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"Well it's a deviation of Legilimency, so it requires the same skills and basic principles but it's meant to be not as invasive…hang on, why are you asking me? Why don't you just ask Harry? He's the one that had the link."

Harry looked up from his book with a grin at Hermione, swinging his chair back on two legs, feeling the sunlight that was pouring in through the window warm on his back. "Yeah, a broken and illegal link," he laughed, leaning forwards and peering over at what Ron was attempting to revise and recognising a familiar text. "Why're you looking at that anyway? Think it'll come up on the exams?"

Hermione answered for him, tutting and rolling her eyes, pushing her hair back from her face. "The point of revising is checking you know everything because we don't know what'll come up on the exams. I think occlumency might though, after looking at the exams papers from last year."

"I don't care," Ron said mournfully, leaning forwards and resting his forehead on the Mindworks book in front of him. "It's too hot to revise."

"I second that," Harry said hopefully.

"Motion not passed," Hermione said firmly. "One more hour and then we can go outside."

Ron made a noise that was suspiciously like a whine, shoulders sagging. Harry stifled a laugh; Ron's face was pink from the heat and the colouring combined with the pose made it look as if he were melting.

Harry didn't mind about the heat. The window behind him was wide open and every so often a soft breeze would waft over the back of his neck, keeping him from overheating. It wasn't exactly comfortable to be inside revising whilst the glorious weather shone down on the grounds, but he only had an hour left to go and then he could go outside and lie down in the grass and snooze, hopefully with a certain someone by his side.

He carried on reading, his mind half on the practical application of defensive wand movement. He and Draco had formed a pact to each earn at least one outstanding NEWT, and he figured his best bet would be in Defence. Draco was flittering between Potions and Charms, although Harry had pointed out that most of his best charms work wasn't exactly per the syllabus. Seamus had helpfully categorized it as 'barely legal.'

As he went to turn the page, his attention was caught by movement just to his side; he smiled and looked up to watch as a delicately folded paper hummingbird flittered gracefully across the table and landed on the edge of his book, wings still gently fluttering.

It was a mark of how regular an occurrence this was that Ron and Hermione didn't even look up as the bird flew across the table. Harry carefully rested the book on the edge of the table, freeing one hand to reach out and pick up the missive which automatically unfolded at his touch.

Finished my potions work, on the way.

Beneath the seven hurriedly scribbled words was a scrawled love heart in lieu of a signature. It made Harry smile to see it; Draco wouldn't say that he loved Harry out loud yet, but he still managed to get the message across regardless.

Harry tucked the note in his pocket and turned his attention back to his book, spirits lifted. Hermione only banned Draco from revision sessions when he was being 'a distraction,' and Harry was looking forwards to his company for the last hour of work.

"Draco's on the way," he said casually, and Hermione nodded without stopping writing for even a second. Ron looked up, running his fingers through his hair and making it stick up.

"Reckon he'll help us with this?"

Harry shook his head. "Tomorrow, maybe."

Ron nodded and Harry was thankful for the concession. Draco would always refuse to help them when first asked, and then he'd start chipping in telling them where they'd gone wrong, and then start pointing out the right answers. Most of the time he wouldn't even notice that he'd ended up going from being a nuisance to helping, and Harry and Ron weren't daft enough to point it out.

It was a long process though, and sometimes the bickering and heated debates followed them out of their study sessions. This afternoon Harry didn't want an argument over who was right or wrong, he just wanted to lie down in the sun and have a break. Maybe persuade Draco to give him a back rub, he thought as he rolled his head on his shoulders, trying to dispel the ache in his neck that had grown from looking down at books for too long.

"Call this revising? Pitiful."

Harry reached out with one hand and automatically pulled his bag off of the chair next to him, a fraction of a second before Draco flopped down into it. He finished his paragraph and turned to look at Draco, snorting with laughter as he did. Draco had his sleeves rolled up and the top two buttons of his shirt undone, his tie pulled loose. His hair was sticking up every which way and his cheeks were stained pink.

"That laugh better not be directed at me," he said, picking up Harry's sheaf of notes and wafting them like a fan, trying to get some air onto his overheated face.

"Course not," Harry grinned. "Bit hot?"

"Sod off," Draco scowled at him. "The library's like an oven."

"Can you two go flirt elsewhere?" Hermione asked, glancing up from her work and flicking her quill impatiently back and forth between her fingers. "I want to get this done so we can have lunch outside."

Ron perked up at the mention of lunch, and Harry laughed. "I suppose," he said, closing his book with a snap and nudging Draco with his elbow, who obediently leant over to pick up his bag for him, dropping it onto Harry's lap so he could pack his books away.

"Lunch?" he said, passing Harry his notes back.

Harry nodded. "Outside."

Draco huffed, standing up. "Do you like me complaining about being sunburnt?"

"Yep," Harry said seriously, picking up his bag and swinging it over his shoulder. "My day wouldn't be complete without you ranting at me about something or other."

He laughed and grabbed Draco's wrist as Draco drew his wand, expression threatening. "No more stinging hexes. My arse is still sore."

"Please just go," Ron interjected, flapping his hands in their direction in protest. "You know the rule."

"No discussing anyone's arses whilst in company?" Draco offered, putting his wand away, his expression innocent.

Ron turned to Hermione, expression disbelieving and almost beseeching, as if she could help. "See, they know the rule. So why do they insist on breaking it?"

"Because they like seeing you flap around like this," Hermione said and waved her hands around exactly as Ron was prone to do when Harry and Draco made him uncomfortable.

Draco and Harry laughed and Ron scowled, picking up a book and hiding behind the pages. "Do not flap around like that," he muttered. Hermione sent him an exasperated glance and then mouthed 'go away' at Draco and Harry, holding back a smile.

They took pity on Ron and the hint from Hermione and left the room, cheerfully calling goodbyes as they went. Harry waited until they were outside in the corridor and then reached for Draco's hand, loosely linking their fingers together. Draco didn't object and they wandered down towards the hall hand in hand and in silence, meeting few students along the way. The hall was just as deserted as the corridors; most students were taking advantage of the glorious weather and were studying or relaxing outside.

After snagging several sandwiches and some fruit from the end of the Ravenclaw table, Harry led the way outside down towards the lake. Draco didn't complain and followed Harry without question; obviously the day was too hot for making a fuss. They didn't say anything at all to each other as they wandered out of the castle but Harry didn't mind; he knew they both appreciated just being in each other's company every now and again, without constantly having to talk.

They bypassed the expanse of lawn that led down to the lake; it was teeming with groups of students also having impromptu picnics, laughing and chattering in the sun. They walked a little further around to the Eastern shore of the lake where the trees were more numerous and the students fewer in number. Harry wandered idly across the grass until he found a spot to his liking, dropping his bag and lying down on his back, taking off his glasses and setting them aside before pillowing his hands behind his head.

He listened to the sounds of Draco carefully setting down their lunch and kicking his shoes off, and then Draco lay down next to him. He rested his cheek on Harry's stomach, his shoulder pressing against his hip and Harry felt him exhale and relax, nuzzling down into Harry's shirt before pulling it up so he could rest his face against Harry's skin.

"Okay?" Harry murmured, pulling one hand out from behind his hand and threading it into Draco's hair, gently stroking his fingers through the short strands. He felt Draco shrug, a press of his shoulder into Harry's side, but no words followed.

Harry didn't press him. He just lay there in the sun, quietly stroking Draco's hair and enjoying the quiet and the warmth. He'd almost dozed off when he felt Draco stir, pressing a kiss to his stomach before rolling onto his back.

"Got any parchment?" he asked quietly, face turned up towards the cloudless blue sky.

"Only my notes," Harry replied, reaching out to pick his glasses back up. Before he could locate them, warm fingers wrapped around his wrist and then Draco rolled again so he was lying on his front, propping himself up on his elbows next to Harry's chest. Harry let Draco have his hand so he couldn't reach for his glasses; it was Draco's latest bizarre habit to take Harry's glasses off when he wanted to talk about something that made him nervous or uncomfortable. Maybe he thought Harry couldn't see him if he took the glasses away, but in truth Harry could see him fine when he was this close. Maybe it helped him with feeling vulnerable if Harry were vulnerable in a way too. Either way, it helped him get the words out so Harry didn't care.

"You're going red already," Harry said, lifting his fingers to brush along Draco's chin, blinking repeatedly to keep him in focus. Draco didn't reply and Harry realised that if he weren't making a fuss over potential sunburn, there was something big that Draco wanted to say.

Draco was quiet for a few minutes, holding Harry's fingers close to his face. Harry watched him in silence, wondering what it was troubling him. Eventually Draco turned his head away, looking out over the lake.

"I want to live with you," he said, the words coming out in a rush. "When school's over. I want to move out of the manor and I don't care where I go, but I want you to be there so deal with it."

Harry's face broke into an exasperated and amused smile. He reached up and pulled Draco back around, making him look at him. When Draco finally obliged he looked cross; irritation and worry fighting for supremacy over his face.

"You complete plank. I thought you'd never ask," Harry said and Draco's expression transformed seamlessly into one of surprise, and then a grin.

"Yeah?"

"Course," Harry said and pulled Draco down so he could kiss him. "Where else would I want to go?"

"Off saving the world?" Draco suggested and Harry laughed softly.

"I think I'm done on that count," he murmured, rubbing their noses together. "So I suppose I could spend some time running around after you."

"Submitting to my every whim?" Draco asked. "Being at my beck and call? Meeting all of my needs every hour of every day-"

"You know, some people might call you demanding," Harry said seriously, and Draco laughed, leaning back a little and looking down on Harry.

"I think most people just call me mental," he said, an eyebrow raised.

"Mental Malfoy," Harry said, lips curving in a lazy smile.

"I've had worse nicknames," Draco said with a shake of his head. "As long as it's not ferret I don't care."

"Alright mental ferret, whatever you say," Harry said, laughing as Draco pinched him indignantly before settling back down with a huff, lying on his back with his head on Harry's stomach once more, reaching up to link his fingers through Harry's.

Harry couldn't help but smile. Now he'd had time to think about it, having the link removed was probably the best thing that could have happened for him and Draco. Sometimes it would undoubtedly be easier to have it back, but he appreciated that easy wasn't always the best option. Besides that, they were managing to make it work. Whether it was using notes, stealing glasses or only speaking at night when they were tangled up together in Harry's bedsheets, safe in the darkness, it didn't matter. The words were coming slowly but surely and that was what was important.

And now they weren't linked, Harry could be one hundred percent sure that all their feelings for each other were real and genuine. It wasn't biased by the link, they weren't being influenced by things they could see and feel from each other, and no-one could say they were only together because of the link. And Harry definitely liked being able to daydream again, without Draco knowing everything that he was thinking about. He was in control of himself again, and it felt good.

He sighed contentedly, feeling the sun warm on his face, the grass tickling his skin, the comforting weight of Draco's head pillowed on his stomach and the familiar feel of their entwined fingers. He let his thoughts wander, idly daydreaming about the end of exams and life with a mental ferret.

Having his mind to himself really was a welcome state of affairs, he thought as he reached down to trace his fingers over Draco's brow. Sharing everything else though, heart and house included, that was just fine by him, thankyouverymuch.