*** Rating: PG-13
Draco sat behind his desk, his feet on top of the flat surface, while he leaned back in his chair and read through his Wards, Their Functions and Many Uses in Defence book for the hundredth time. They hadn’t been given their assignment yet, but with all the magic which had been churned up during the last battle, some of which had become more and more unstable, he knew it was important to recall as much as he could.
Across the office, his partner, Harry Potter, also read. Their space was more organised than Draco ever thought it could be when he was first paired with Harry. They’d both gone through the necessary Auror training, most of which had been in place for decades. But during the final year of their three-year course, Kingsley had introduced the new aspects.
“We need more divisions and specialities than ever,” he’d explained. “Bill Weasley and his team will be working with those who’ve shown an inclination for curse removal. And Henri Jacquel, a colleague from France, will be working with a few of you who seem especially strong in warding. Henri is one of the best in warding, and those of you chosen for this speciality will work your arses off.”
The group had laughed, all except Harry and Draco. Draco had known from the beginning that he wanted to work with wards. He wasn’t surprised to see Harry’s interest, either. A number of people had volunteered once they saw Harry put in his name – none of them had lasted. In fact, only five had made it through the gruelling program set forth by Henri. One of them was a Frenchman who had travelled up with Henri to participate and return to France. The others were Harry, Goldstein, Thomas, and Draco.
Draco had assumed Thomas and Harry would end up together, but Henri hadn’t even hesitated. “Potter, Malfoy,” he’d called. When they went up after their final bout of testing, Henri had shaken his head. “You two balance each other exactly,” he’d said. “If you can learn to trust each other, I think you could be the strongest warding team I’ve ever seen. Perhaps the strongest anyone’s ever seen.”
From that moment on, Draco had deliberately set aside his annoyances with Harry. He’d never bothered denying his competitive nature, and if they could be the best, then by Merlin, they would be!
Harry seemed to have made a similar decision, as their partnership began smoothly. Now, almost three years later, they worked together like they’d been born that way. And Draco had learned a lot about Harry, things he never would’ve guessed. One was that Harry had had a shit childhood. Because of that, Harry valued anything given to him with true intentions. He kept his spaces neat and tidy, as space was another thing he’d not had much of as a child. Also, for all that everyone loved their Hero, Harry had very few real friends. He was as much of a loner as Draco. Draco was pretty sure he’d fallen in love the second he realised that.
“Harry!” Girl Weasley’s voice rang out, and Draco put down his book, already sensing the tension in Harry.
She came to their open doorway, ignoring Draco, like she always did. Her whole face lit up at the sight of Harry, even though he didn’t so much as smile. “Gin. What are you doing here?” He didn’t add ‘again’, but Draco heard it.
Girl Weasley sashayed into the room in a manner she probably thought was seductive. “Oh, you know. I had some time, and I thought we could —”
“I’m busy, Gin. Draco and I have a case pending —”
True, Draco knew. But they hadn’t heard it yet, and they’d only been told they’d get the specifics sometime in the next couple of days.
“— and I need to be here for it.”
Draco nodded when Girl Weasley glanced his way, confirming Harry’s story, though he knew it was an exaggeration. If it had been <i>Ron</i> Weasley coming in, Harry would’ve taken a break in a heartbeat.
She pouted. “But Harry, I packed a special picnic for the two of us, and I thought —”
Harry’s loud sigh cut her off. “There is no us,” he said quietly. “I don’t know how many times I have to keep explaining this to you. There will never be an ‘us’ again.”
Her face hardened a bit. “Harry, when are you going to forgive me?” She seemed to have forgotten Draco was there. “This is ridiculous – we belong together, and your stubbornness won’t change that.”
“I don’t know why you want to be with me, anyway,” Harry replied, his voice too still. Draco knew what that tone meant but, apparently, Girl Weasley didn’t.
“Because I love you,” she gushed. “And you love me – we’re perfect together!”
Draco leaned back in his chair, not even bothering to hide his smirk as Harry surged to his feet.
“I don’t love you. And I’m not sure you know what loving me could possibly mean, Ginny. You certainly didn’t seem to know four years ago, when you refused to support anything I wanted.”
She opened her mouth, probably to argue more, but Harry held up his hand.
“And when you spent the night with Dean and told him all your <i>worries</i> about me.”
Draco’s brows raised, as her mouth closed with a snap. He hadn’t heard this before. Ginny put her hand on her hip. “We didn’t do anything that night, Harry. He was just listening to me talk. I’m allowed to have friends too, you know – and since you’ve monopolised the rest of my family and Hermione, it’s not like I have many others to turn to.”
“So you chose an old boyfriend – who was still in love with you, I might add,” Harry said, his voice weary now.
“I chose someone I knew would listen and understand,” she snapped.
Big mistake, Draco thought.
Harry’s eyes narrowed. “I’m sure he did understand, Gin,” he said. And this time, for the first time since she’d barged into the office, Girl Weasley seemed to detect the undercurrent, and she took a step back. “I’m sure he understood fine when you were kissing him and telling him all my secrets.”
Draco hid his surprise. That certainly explained why Harry hadn’t argued to be with Thomas.
She paled. “I – I didn’t kiss him.”
“Right. He kissed you.” Harry voice filled with sarcasm.
“I pushed him away. I want you, not him —”
“I notice you don’t deny telling him my secrets,” Harry said, interrupting.
In the silence, Draco swung his legs down to the floor with an audible thump. “Well, this has been titillating,” he drawled, “but Harry and I actually have work to do. We can’t spend all day dealing with your delusions, Weasley, so I suggest you leave.” Draco strolled to the front of his desk and leaned his arse against it. “And this time, maybe you could request an appointment before returning. This play is getting old.”
From the corner of his eye, he saw Harry’s lips twitch, and Draco’s smirk deepened. “Ta-ta,” he added, wiggling his fingers at her.
“I don’t have to —”
With a flick of his wand, Harry had her moving backwards, the door slamming behind her. He tossed his wand on his desk and ran his hands through his hair. Draco looked away, feigning disinterest at the way those thick waves fell back into disarray over Harry’s head. “You’re too nice, you know,” he said. “If you’d be more like me, you wouldn’t have her repeatedly coming in here.”
Harry sighed then chuckled. “Only you would think magically expelling her from our office is too nice.”
“That was perfect,” Draco said. “I meant before that.”
“I wish she’d just give up already,” Harry muttered. “How long is she going to keep this up?”
“You could find someone else,” Draco suggested, almost holding his breath. He’d been offering this idea for the past two and a half years, since the first time he’d witnessed one of these confrontations between the two. Each time, he was terrified that Harry would admit he already had.
Harry snorted. “Not much chance of that,” he said, like he always did – and Draco breathed easier. He shot Draco a Look and said, “I’m going to go and see if Kingsley has our assignment yet – I can’t take much more of this waiting.”
Draco laughed at him a bit, and Harry grinned in return. Draco wished he had the courage to ask what that Look meant, but they knew each other’s weaknesses pretty well by now, and Harry’s impatience was legendary. As was Draco’s cowardice, sadly. Though Draco knew Harry would never say that, Draco still felt it. When the door had closed behind him, Draco put his face in his hands. When was he going to get over this ridiculous crush?
It hadn’t even taken much, he admitted, for the feelings to develop. If he was truly honest with himself, he knew they’d always been there, right under the surface. Throw in a couple of heroic moments – like Harry pulling him from Fiendfyre and then killing Lord Insanity and making sure Draco and his mum were safe from Ministry retribution – and you had full-fledged longing. Now, after almost three years of day-to-day partnership that delved pretty damn close to serious friendship, Draco knew it had gone even further than that.
He straightened. It wouldn’t do any good to dwell on it. Harry seemed to have little use for romance in his life. He’d heard Harry talk enough about clubs and such to know that he must have had some one-offs, but he never mentioned anyone’s name more than once. In fact, he seldom mentioned names. Usually it was stuff like ‘Blue-shirt bloke’ or ‘Bird with sparkly lips’. In the past six months, Draco couldn’t remember hearing about those, even.
Sighing, he picked up his book, hoping they would get an assignment soon. Their world had needed a lot of help since the War. Magic surged in places it never had before and seemed to ebb in others. He and Harry and Goldstein and Thomas were the only ward experts – and between the two teams, they’d covered all the major problems, with Harry and Draco getting the true challenges. Except Hogwarts.
Draco was pretty sure that was where they’d be sent next. He knew Harry suspected it, as well. Headmistress McGonagall had reopened Hogwarts six months after the final battle, but things had been tricky, to say the least. They’d already been out numerous times working on the general wards, but each professor needed special wards for his or her classroom and office. Those still needed to be done. And the library – well, that was the biggest mess of all.
Magical books, of course, had inherent magical power within them. Before the final battle, the books in the library had settled in their magic to the point that there were no problems. Now, however, all the different subjects had to be kept separate. If they put a book on Magical Creatures next to one about Potions, they’d repel. Harry said it was similar to Muggle magnets. That wouldn’t be so bad, except the repelling was in direct proportion to the power and depth of the magic mentioned in the book – and Madam Pince had been seriously injured before they realised what was going on, as she was pelted by angry and power-filled books.
They’d been putting it off for a while, as most of the professors had extra classrooms nearby to store their books. Eventually, however, they’d have to deal with it, and Draco suspected the time had come. He began clearing his desk, grabbing his other book on Wards and Magical Objects and shrinking it to fit in his cloak pocket.
Before he’d finished organising the rest, Harry returned, his green eyes flashing in a way which did dangerous things to Draco’s already-tempted libido. “It’s Hogwarts,” he said.
“That’s got you all upset?” Draco asked.
Harry ran his hands through his hair. “No, it’s Gin – still. She didn’t leave. Instead, she hid and ambushed me again. Plus, she heard where Kingsley is sending us, and I’m afraid she’s planning to follow us to Hogwarts too.” He groaned. “I don’t know what to do.” He cradled his head in his hands for a second, then took a loud breath and glanced up. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to be pathetic.”
Draco managed to keep from running over and hugging him. “You’re not. She’s a pain in the arse, no doubt about it.”
Harry snorted. “You need to stop letting Pansy teach you those terms. You’re going to sound exactly like a Muggle, if you aren’t careful.”
“As if,” Draco said, mouth quirking when he saw Harry’s grin. “Besides, Weasley’s much worse than I am.”
“He’s engaged to her. He has to listen.”
“That’ll be the day,” Draco muttered. He was okay with his best friend marrying a Weasley – mostly. The truth was, Ron had shown an amazing capacity for forgiveness – following Harry’s example – when it came to Pans. And Draco couldn’t stand to see Pansy suffer. She’d been stupid to yell out Harry’s name during the battle, but Harry had realised that she was simply desperate. They had all been.
Shaking off the memories, he patted his pockets. “Ready then?”
“As always,” Harry said. He reached for Draco’s arm. “All right?”
Draco nodded, trying to hide the thrill that went through him, not only at the touch, but at the power Harry exhibited. The Ministry definitely frowned on Apparating in and out of the building. In fact, they’d asked Draco and Harry to put up wards which didn’t allow it. They had, but, because their wards recognised Harry’s magical signature, he could move around without restriction. They still hadn’t figured out why Draco couldn’t, as his signature was also present. Draco suspected it was because Harry was simply so much more powerful – his magic infused everything he touched. It wasn’t something Draco shared with anyone. He hadn’t even told Harry how many things in their world now held a hint of Harry’s power.
In a moment, they’d arrived, and Draco stood for a second, letting Harry hold on to him. Although he could Apparate just about anywhere, Harry still seemed to get a bit dizzy, and Draco liked the contact. “Okay?” he asked, when Harry didn’t seem to be shaking it off as quickly as usual.
“Yeah. I should’ve calmed down from Gin first, I think.” He shook his head a bit, then straightened his glasses – which, thankfully, were much more stylish these days. He gave Draco a sheepish smile. “I’m okay.”
“Good.” Draco gestured. “Shall we?” They walked from the gates, although Harry could’ve taken them inside the building. But he knew better than to advertise that.
They went straight up to Headmistress McGonagall’s office, where she was obviously expecting them. “That was quick,” she said, giving Harry a curious look. Draco wondered if she could sense the synchronisation of the wards around Hogwarts with Harry’s magic. “Shacklebolt just finished our Floo call.” Then she smiled. “I’m so glad you’re here, boys. We need to get this done, and from all I know of both of you, I know you’re the best for the job.”
Actually, they were the only ones for the job, as Thomas and Goldstein didn’t have the power needed for something as big as this. But Draco kept his mouth shut and let Harry talk to his former head-of-House, as she handed him a parchment with the locations of all the books.
“Headmistress,” Harry said, “we’ll be building one section of the wards at a time. After that, we have a special portkey we’ll use to move the correct books into each section. We’ll take it slow and let the books settle their magic again before moving to the next set of wards.”
McGonagall nodded, curiosity sparking in her eyes. “How will you portkey them? Do you need a helper?”
“No,” Draco explained. “It’s a portkey with a trigger.”
“George and Hermione developed it,” Harry added, his eyes warming like they always did when he talked about his friends. “Hermione came up with the idea, and George was able to put it together.”
“They do make a good team,” McGonagall said softly. “I admit, I often thought she and Ronald Weasley would make a go of it, but from all I’ve heard and seen, she fits well with George.”
Harry swallowed, and Draco knew he was thinking of Fred. “It changed him,” he said simply. McGonagall nodded again, putting a gentle hand on Harry’s arm. “But Hermione needed some fun in her life, and she helped George move on.”
Then he cleared his throat. “Anyway, if there’s nothing else, we’ll go and place the portkeys and get started.”
“Thank you,” she said, smiling at both of them. “And Mr. Potter, when you’re finished, Professor Longbottom would like you to come and visit him in Greenhouse Three.”
“Will do,” Harry said. Then, after a slight hesitation, he leaned forward and hugged the Headmistress, murmuring something in her ear that Draco couldn’t hear. She nodded, but Draco thought he saw a hint of tears in her eyes.
Outside the office, as they rode the staircase down, Draco waited for Harry to explain, but he remained silent, that Look on his face again. Draco decided to let it go, since they had work to do. They quickly dropped off the portkeys and made their way to the library, which seemed much larger than it used to be. Part of that was in the rebuilding, when they did expand the walls a bit. But most of it came from the resounding empty feeling. Draco shivered. “Ready?” he asked.
Harry nodded. “Yeah. What combination did you come up with?”
Draco began to mentally run through his plan, pulling his book from his pocket and un-shrinking it. After a few moments, he nodded. “Yes, this will work. Just like Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, you’ll use the wards we used for the places they touched, but you’ll also use the object wards we devised last week, and meld them together with the standard wards we’ve already set in place here.”
Harry nodded, like it was no big deal. Draco knew better, of course. Until six months ago, they’d both been the ward-setters. That ended the day they first attempted to build the wards around Knockturn Alley.
They’d been working like usual, back to back. Draco would build wards in one direction, while Harry worked in the opposite. Where their backs touched, their magic surged a bit, providing more power for Draco. But in that case, it hadn’t been enough. The wards he built spasmed — or at least, that’s what it felt like. They snapped back against him and tossed him aside like a limp noodle. He’d been slammed into the nearby brick wall, breaking his shoulder, his clavicle, a few ribs, and fracturing his hip. On top of that, one of his ribs punctured his lung.
The worst of it, however, had been what happened to his magic. The Healer explained later that it had been similar to a Muggle anaphylactic reaction: because Draco had been in contact with so much Dark Magic during the War, the wards had pushed against his magical core and caused something similar to an allergic response.
Of course, Draco didn’t remember any of his eight-day stay at St. Mungo’s. He dreamt that Harry was beside him, face pale, with tears streaming, begging Draco to live. But when he woke, almost completely healed, he’d been alone. A Healer had come within seconds, Harry following on his heels. Despite a flicker of obvious relief combined with something else Draco couldn’t identify, Harry had seemed pretty calm. And adamant. Draco was never doing that again, he’d claimed.
They went back to the drawing board, and Draco had finally come up with ideas for building wards which changed their roles a bit. Now, Harry built them himself. He didn’t really need Draco’s help with that part, anyway. Draco was the one who devised the types of wards; Harry was the power behind them. While Harry worked, Draco put up a special shield, to keep the wards from reacting to either of them in any way.
They’d perfected this method over the past six months and, as it had worked on everything, including their second attempt with Knockturn Alley, Draco was fairly certain they’d work here, as well.
Harry held up his wand, his hand steady. He closed his eyes for a moment and, when he opened them, Draco could see the focus. “Are you ready for the shield?” he asked quietly.
Harry nodded and, like he’d done for every job since the day Draco had been injured, that Look came over his face for just a second. Draco had no idea what it was, but it involved whatever he’d seen mixed with the relief at St. Mungo’s when he’d awakened. “Ready,” Harry said.
And they began. Harry started with the easiest section, that for Charms. Charms magic was soft and fluid, and it tended to react favourably with most other magics. When Harry was done, Draco pressed his portkey trigger for that group of books, and they appeared, already in the proper order and settling themselves on the shelves in the newly-warded area.
Harry gave Draco a half-grin. “Here we go,” he said, turning to the next section. He waited for Draco to put up the shield, and then his wand moved in the intricate patterns of the next ward, similar to the Charms’ wards, but slightly different. When he’d finished, they looked at each other. “Ready?”
Draco took a deep breath. “As I ever will be.” He pressed the trigger, and they waited. But the books simply appeared and arranged themselves. Draco could hear the hum of their magic settling, and he noticed a little vibration in the Charms’ section. “Everything okay over there?” he asked Harry, whose magic was more sensitive.
Harry quickly waved his wand in a diagnostic pattern. His eyebrows rose in surprise, and he gave Draco a full-out smile. “Better than – you’re brilliant, you are!” He clapped Draco on the shoulder. “They’re blending their magics at the edge there, kind of like bricks settling in a building.”
Draco smiled back, his heart singing at Harry’s praise. At the same time, he gave a mental sigh of relief. He researched all his wards carefully; his greatest fear was that the Knockturn Alley incident would repeat, with Harry as the victim. Still, knowing that he’d done well always relieved some tension.
“I guess we continue then,” Draco said.
“I guess we do,” Harry replied. His smile disappeared as he stared at Draco for a second, that Look back in his green eyes. Then he swallowed and held up his wand, refocusing his attention. “Shield?”
They repeated it until the library was once again filled with books, and the humming made Draco’s blood vibrate nicely. “How long do you suppose that will last?” he asked.
Harry shrugged. “You’re the expert. What’s your guess?”
Draco blinked, surprised at Harry’s words. He never felt like the expert – after all, he didn’t even build wards any more unless they were fairly simple and had no proximity to Dark Magic or its objects. Did Harry really see him as the expert? A feeling of warmth spread through him. “Um —” Focus. The answer came to him as soon as he let it. “Probably a few hours. We should have McGonagall keep the library closed until it stops, just to be on the safe side. We wouldn’t want some student to mess it up.”
Harry grinned. “I doubt they could. Hey, want to see Nev with me? He might have some good Blaise gossip.”
Draco rolled his eyes but fell into step with Harry, knowing he’d never turn down more time with him, even though it felt hopeless that Harry might care for him that way. Besides, he did like hearing about Blaise. Ever since Blaise and Neville had moved into Neville’s quarters here at Hogwarts together, Blaise had stopped coming round with the usual group as much. He claimed he had too much work to do, as he and Neville were attempting to create some new potions together using Neville’s expertise at Herbology and Blaise’s skill in Potions.
Harry was clearly pleased with their long afternoon’s work, and he whistled as they stepped out in the evening sunshine. Draco couldn’t help grinning, feeling Harry’s pleasure like a soft blanket against his skin. Before they got too far beyond the castle, however, a voice cut through the balmy air. “Harry! Harry, I need you!”
“What the – that’s Gin!” Harry’s good mood dropped away, and he scowled, looking around to find her.
Draco did, as well, wishing they could find a way to keep that annoyance away from Harry. Then he saw a flash of ginger from the corner of his eye – and he gasped.
Harry followed his shaking finger, his own jaw dropping. “What the hell?”
Ginny stood up near the top of the Astronomy Tower, her long hair blowing in the gentle breeze which was clearly a bit stronger up there. She was leaning out, looking for Harry’s attention. As soon as she seemed to think she had it, she jumped. “I trust you,” she yelled as she fell.
Harry began to run, waving his wand as he did so. Ginny stopped well before hitting the ground, coming down with a gentle bump. She immediately threw herself into Harry’s arms. “See, I trust you completely, Harry. Just like I keep saying —”
“Ginny!” He shoved her away from him. “You don’t listen. I never said I didn’t think you trusted me. I said I didn’t trust you. And that hasn’t changed. And that won’t change. Please, just stay away from me. Every time you do this, you’re making it impossible for us to even be friends.” His voice was hoarse, and Draco could feel Harry’s magic starting to buzz.
Ginny opened her mouth, but before she could speak, another voice cut in. “Do as he says, Gin. It’s time to leave.”
Draco turned to see Neville standing nearby, a serious look on his face. Ginny scowled. “You’re not the boss of me —” she started.
Neville held up his hand, and Draco was reminded of the boy he’d seen in their seventh year – the one who’d stood up to the Carrows repeatedly, no matter how they tried to torture him into compliance. “Leave,” he said, his voice like steel.
She scowled but, to Draco’s surprise, she whirled and stomped toward the gates. As soon as she was out of sight, Harry sighed, dropping his head into his hands. “Thanks, Nev,” he mumbled.
Trying to break the tension, Draco said, “Tell me again why you don’t just find someone else?” Even as the words exited his mouth, he knew it was the wrong thing to say.
Harry’s head jerked up, his eyes blazing. “Maybe it’s because I have found someone else, but that someone else is a huge slag! Maybe I’m in love with him anyway, and I can’t let go —”
He broke off, a tortured look on his face. Then he turned and Apparated on the spot.
“Shit!” Draco yelled, his heart breaking. He was such an idiot – he should have known Harry’d found someone.
“He means you, by the way,” Neville said after a couple seconds of strained silence. He touched Draco’s shoulder. “And yeah, he meant it completely.”
Draco blinked, reeling. Two things hit him at once – Neville thought Harry was in love with him, and Harry thought he was a slag? “How – what – bloody hell,” he muttered, rubbing his hands over his face. Surely Neville was mistaken.
“Erm, the slag part. That might be Blaise’s fault.”
“What?” Draco dropped his hands and stared at Neville. “What are you talking about?”
Neville shrugged, a rosy flush moving over his fair features. “Well, you know. Fifth and sixth years. When you and Blaise were, erm —”
“We were shagging, Neville. We weren’t some great romance.”
Neville’s brows rose. “Well, to you. Maybe it was something different to him.” As Draco’s jaw dropped, Neville went on. “Anyway, it’s possible he’s told Harry that you still do that. You know, sleep around a bit.”
“But – I haven’t even had a drink with anyone for over a year!” Draco screeched. “How the hell could I be sleeping around?”
Neville winced. “I didn’t say you were. I said Blaise might have implied you were.”
Draco slumped. “And Harry believed him.”
“Yep. But he still fell for you.” He started to walk off, then turned and looked at Draco, hesitating. “When you were hurt – it almost killed him. I’ve never seen him like that, not even during the Battle here. Not even when Sirius died. He told George and me he’d quit and break up the whole department before he’d ever let you face that kind of danger again. He didn’t leave your side for one second, not until the Healer told him you were healed and just sleeping.” Then Neville calmly strolled off.
Draco stood where he was, trying not to hyper-ventilate. His dream – had it been real? Had Harry really sat by his bed, weeping… over him? Draco began to run. “Longbottom, wait!” He caught up to Neville near the Greenhouse. “What do I do? How can I possibly convince him?”
Neville grinned. “Oh, come now, Draco. I’ve heard enough true stories about you to know that you’ll figure something out. After all, you probably know Harry better than all of us.” And he pushed open the door and slipped inside.
Draco stared at the door, his mind swirling. Neville was right – he did know Harry well. Extremely well. But he had no idea how to convince him that Blaise was lying.
Sighing, he made his way back to the gates. Once there, he wavered. Should he Apparate to Harry’s place or just go home? He suspected he’d do better to wait until he'd had a night of rest before dealing with Harry’s false ideas, but the thought of letting even one more second go by without clarifying things made him twitch. Could Harry really be in love with him? God, he could kill Blaise!
Why couldn’t it have been someone like George Weasley he’d spurned? Everyone knew that George exaggerated and made up stories. He’d even had to go to the extreme to convince Hermione he loved her because of all the pranks he and his twin had played over the years, wearing a shirt – and nothing else – that read ‘I belong to Hermione Granger’ –
Draco gasped. That was it. He thought of that thing he’d bought the day he realized he was in love with Harry – it had been something of a joke to himself, except that he took it out far too often for it to be funny. No one else had ever seen it, but suddenly, he knew exactly what to do. Closing his eyes and raising his wand, he turned on the spot.
A little over an hour later, he stood before Harry’s door, tension humming in his body. He felt Harry’s magic and knew he was home. If he could just get Harry to let him in, he knew he could prove himself. He knocked, knowing that Harry’s wards would recognise him and that Harry would have to choose to open the door, in the first place.
“Come on, come on,” he pleaded. “Please, please, please.”
Three bouts of knocking and twenty minutes later, Draco drooped, tears stinging his eyes. “Fine,” he whispered. Then he raised his voice. “All right. I’ll leave. But you need to know that Blaise doesn’t know me, Harry. He doesn’t know what I do or how I live these days. He hasn’t known me in years.”
He didn’t think Harry was even listening, and he started walking away before he could make more of a fool of himself.
“What do you mean?” Harry’s voice called.
Draco froze. Then he slowly turned around. Harry stood in his doorway, his face still but his eyes – oh, his eyes. They had that same Look, the one he’d seen over and over for the last six months. And for the first time, Draco thought he knew what it was – longing. The same longing he felt every second of every day.
“Can I come in?” he asked quietly. “If you’ll just give me a couple of minutes, I can prove it to you.”
Draco opened his mouth then shook his head. “No. I need to show you.”
Harry frowned, and Draco’s heart pounded so hard he was sure Harry could feel his body shaking. Then he stepped back, making way for Draco to enter.
Draco slipped past him, trembling for a different reason now. As Harry closed the door, Draco let his cloak fall to the floor. He wanted to ask Harry if he’d meant it, if Neville was correct in saying it was Draco – if any of it was true. But if he really wanted to show Harry what he needed to show him, all that would have to wait.
When Harry turned around, Draco was ready. Harry gasped, freezing as he saw Draco.
Draco, on his knees, lifted his head and his hands. “You know me,” he said, his voice shaking a bit. “You’ve known me for over half my lifetime. You’ve seen the absolute worst. And I hope you’ve seen the best, as well.” Slowly, slowly, he let his hands drift down to rest on his thighs and lowered his head so Harry could see.
Harry gasped again, though it almost sounded like a sob. “Draco?”
“Read it,” Draco whispered.
Harry’s voice definitely shook. “P-property of H-Harry. For his service.” Draco felt it when Harry ran a finger along the leather collar, stroking it. “Oh, Draco,” he breathed. “You didn’t have to —”
Draco lifted his head and tugged on Harry’s outstretched arm until Harry also knelt. He cupped Harry’s cheek. “Yeah. I did. Blaise wasn’t wrong about what I was like at Hogwarts,” he said, putting up his other hand to hold Harry in place when he tried to pull away. That Look was back, so strong that Draco thought he might shiver apart at its intensity. “But he knows nothing about me now. I’ve been in love with you for a long time, Harry. I never loved Blaise, not like that, not like this. I’ve never loved anyone like this,” he added in a whisper, starting to get nervous again at Harry’s silence.
Then Harry’s eyes closed, and Harry’s lips met his. Draco opened his mouth immediately, and when their tongues touched, both of them shuddered – and Harry moaned. “Draco, Draco, Draco,” he murmured, planting kisses all over Draco’s face. “I never thought – I’ve wanted this, you, for so long.”
“Me too, Harry. Me too.” And then he pulled Harry’s mouth to his again as he manoeuvred himself back onto the floor, Harry on top of him. “Touch me. Feel me. Be with me.”
“Yes. Yes,” Harry said, and then there was nothing but friction and movement and stroking and heat. Draco didn’t get his clothes off – or Harry’s, either – but it didn’t matter. What mattered was the two of them, lying on the rug in disarray, their pants open and sticky, their bodies sated, their hearts pounding in tandem.
“Bed?” Harry asked, turning only his head to look into Draco’s eyes.
Draco smiled and reached over to touch Harry’s lips. “Oh, yes.”
Harry helped him up then touched the collar shyly. “Leave this on?”
Draco grinned. “I knew you’d like it.”
Blushing, Harry ducked his head. Then he met Draco’s eyes as he walked backwards towards the bedroom, towing Draco with him. “Only because it’s you.” And the Look changed and morphed into one of Longing, Hope, Wonder, Trust… Love.