** Beta: groolover
*** Rating: PG-13
Harry sat back in his favourite chair, sighing. The war had ended over two years ago; he was surrounded by his friends; life was good. Well, mostly good. Okay, kind of good – Harry sat up again, running his hands through his hair. Honestly, life was confusing. He shivered a little, frowning at the roaring fire nearby.
Grimmauld had been greatly improved, but it still had these weird draughts, and during winter, Harry was often too cold. Overhead, a door banged, and Harry heard Ron yelling at someone. Probably Blaise. He cocked his head, listening. When he heard nothing in return, he nodded. Definitely Blaise.
The Golden Trio had seen many changes in the last two and a half years, and this house exemplified most of them. Light steps tripped down the stairs, and Luna came into the room, sitting on the arm of Harry’s chair and smiling at him. “Contemplating the world again, are you?” she asked.
“I suppose,” he admitted.
She shook her head. “It’ll all work out. Ron is learning, you know. It’s just hard since Headmistress McGonagall insisted on all of us taking the Restoration Potion. Ron doesn’t know what to do now that he can’t fall back on his own prejudices and assumptions. That’s all.” She smiled again, her lilting voice echoing a bit in the room. Then she bounced up. “Are you coming to help choose a tree?”
“Erm, no.” Harry had no desire to be in the midst of that argument.
Luna nodded, clearly not surprised. “I don’t blame you. But I’ll go along and try to keep Ron from killing Blaise – or vice versa.”
“Blaise never even raises a hand to Ron,” Harry started.
“Which is the problem, wouldn’t you say? Besides, Draco has insisted on going this year --”
After the atrocity Harry had allowed Ron to choose last year, Harry knew.
“—and I don’t think Pansy’s very comfortable with Ron and Draco being alone together.”
Harry winced, hating having something in common with Pansy.
“But since Pansy has to work, and this was the only other time everyone else could do it, we’ll just have to make it work.”
As if her words summoned them, thunder broke out overhead, and the rest of Harry’s and Luna’s housemates came tumbling down the stairs. Well, Blaise and Draco didn’t tumble, of course – at least, not that they’d admit. Harry enjoyed a covert look at Draco’s flushed face. He was obviously excited about the holidays, though he frowned when he saw Luna and Harry.
Ron, standing just behind Draco, swung a scarf off a peg and wrapped it around Draco’s neck, pulling his attention away. “Don’t forget this. I don’t want to be listening to you whinge all morning.”
Draco snorted. “Malfoys don’t whinge, Weasley.”
Blaise laughed. “You keep telling yourself that, Dray. Maybe we’ll come to believe it in another century or so.”
Draco elbowed him, and looked towards Harry again. “Not joining us, Potter?”
Harry knew he was imagining the hope in Draco’s voice and shook his head. “No thanks. I’ll take the chance for quiet.”
Draco rolled his eyes, and Ron frowned. “Where’s Nev?”
“Hermione and Nev should be home in another hour or so. She’s helping him pick out some more herbs for those potions you were building, Draco,” Harry said.
Draco nudged Ron, who blushed. Harry frowned and looked away, picking at some imaginary lint on his jeans.
“Can we be off then?” Blaise asked, his tone bored. “I realise this is the event of the year, but some of us have lives outside this, you know.”
“Don’t be such a prat, Blaise,” Draco said.
Luna, already bundled up, opened the door and started out. Blaise followed her without hesitation, but Ron looked over at Harry again. “Mate, are you certain --”
“Have fun, Ron,” Harry said, making his tone as calm as possible. He avoided Draco’s eyes, instead giving a general wave to the door. Seconds later, the cold air hit him, even though the door had closed. He sighed into the silence. Yeah, life was definitely confusing, at best.
After the war, Headmistress McGonagall had not only recruited any living and non-jailed 7th years to help rebuild Hogwarts, but she’d also insisted they all return for their final year of education. Even those who’d been in Hogwarts for that horrible year of the Horcrux hunt had not been exempted.
Once there, they learned why she’d been so insistent. Apparently, during Voldemort’s reign, even while he was supposedly dead in the years between the death of Harry’s parents and Harry’s return to the wizarding world, some truths about wizarding society had been suppressed. Even those who had lived before Voldemort first came to power had had their knowledge fiddled with through some strange spells.
Headmistress McGonagall had explained to the students during their first week back that it was like waking up from a strange dream when Harry had finally defeated Voldemort. All that suppressed knowledge returned to her mind in waves, and it took her a while to sort it out. Now that she knew it, however, she also knew that the wizarding world needed a few reminders.
She’d got the best potion masters in the world to work on it – and by that first Christmas after the war, all the students had taken it. Called the Restoration Potion or RP, it removed false prejudices from the minds of everyone who had been influenced by Voldemort’s ideas. Even those who’d been against him had been affected by the subtle spells he and his followers had spread throughout their society.
Harry shifted in his chair, heaving a dramatic sigh. He knew the Headmistress meant well; he even knew she’d been right to do what she did. But everything was a huge mess now.
It hadn’t been obvious immediately. At first, Harry hadn’t even noticed a difference – but for him and any other Muggle-raised students, the change wasn’t as great. Dean, for example, had no real problems, and he’d adjusted to the ‘new world’ without hesitation. Luna, of course, had taken it all in stride. Harry wasn’t surprised they were together now.
For those like Ron, though, it was huge. Before RP, Ron and all the others had grown up believing that their emotions and desires were instinctive and normal. But that hadn’t been the case.
Voldemort, perhaps because of his own Muggle upbringing, had serious prejudices towards certain types of behaviour. Among these were homosexuality and bisexuality. Another was regarding ambition. With those biases, he’d designed spells and potions to influence everyone in wizarding society – to suppress their <i>natural</i> urges and replace them with his own.
For someone like Ron, that meant that he woke up that first Christmas and realised that he no longer simply desired women. It wasn’t that he was suddenly gay – it was more that he had lost the ability to choose based on gender alone. And that meant that Hermione wasn’t his first choice any more. Without the help that preferring her femininity gave him, he had to be more objective about it. All of them did – and now, they were looking at magical ability, personality blending, and future goals more than simple attraction. Yes, attraction still existed, of course, but it didn’t have the strongest role any more. It was simply one of many.
It wasn’t only Harry’s friends and peers who struggled, either. As RP was eventually required for all witches and wizards in England, their entire world shifted. Now that ambition didn’t rule, more focus was placed on finding each person’s true place in society. It wasn’t simply that wizards lost their desire to be powerful, it was that they no longer would find a profession based on prestige or familial pressure. Now it all came down to ability and talent – and joy.
Harry knew that was good. He knew it, in his head. But watching his friends struggle wasn’t as easy. Hermione had been broken-hearted – and still was – when Ron ended things with her. It seemed, because of her Muggle upbringing, that she’d already chosen someone with her heart and head combined. Ron, however, didn’t feel that he and Hermione were very compatible at all.
Ginny was another whose life had radically changed. She and Harry had got back together again the summer after the War, but after RP, Harry had suggested they take a break and see what they really wanted. Ginny, more stubborn than most, continued to insist it was Harry; while Harry, who had suspected for some time that he wasn’t really into girls, felt nothing but relief.
When Harry’s class left school, most of Ginny’s class still needed another term or more before they would be ready for their NEWTs. Harry and Ron had moved into Grimmauld, mostly because Harry wanted to see it become a house which would reflect the new age, rather than a depressing reminder of all he’d lost.
Ron jumped right on board, and soon Neville moved in too, desperate to find his own path away from his grandmother. Luna, the first in her year to complete her NEWTs, had joined them in September after completing a special summer term. She encouraged Harry to invite Hermione, despite the bad feelings between Hermione and Ron. By October, Hermione moved in. Then Ron and Draco had been paired in Auror training, and their training master insisted they live together for a few months as part of it all, so Draco moved in too. He wanted some of his friends around him, which brought Blaise and Pansy. Ginny was never invited, and when she realised the exclusion, she left for Romania. She hadn’t been back for more than a brief visit since.
Last Christmas had been their first holiday with a full house, and it hadn’t gone all that well. Harry hoped this year would be better, though it was definitely more complicated. Pansy was deeply in love with Draco, believing he’d asked her to live with them because of his own feelings for her. Everyone else seemed to realise that wasn’t the case, but Pansy was stubborn too.
And then there were Harry’s feelings. Without realising it, he’d fallen fast and hard for Draco, himself. He didn’t know if it was because Draco had always captured his attention, but once they were in a house together, Harry couldn’t stop the growing belief that Draco was the only one for him. Of course, no one knew about that apart from Hermione and Neville. And probably Luna, who seemed to know all kinds of things. Still, Harry didn’t want to join Pansy in the ‘crazy person in love with Draco’ role. And he didn’t see any evidence that Draco thought of him any differently than he did anyone else.
Hermione still wanted Ron, but she was trying to look at other options. Ron was a mystery, but Harry was terrified he was also falling for Draco. The two spent so much time together now that they were official Auror partners. It seemed like he never saw one without the other.
Neville claimed he was open to anything or anyone, which mainly meant he didn’t want to share his deepest feelings yet. Harry respected that, and since Neville spent most of his time with him and Hermione, Neville seemed content enough. Neville had changed a lot, but he still kept his feelings close to his chest.
Blaise seemed above it all. Just as quiet about anything personal as Harry or Neville, he watched everything with a façade of amusement and not much else. Harry couldn’t tell what Draco thought, either, except that he obviously enjoyed Ron. They played chess together almost daily; they had inside jokes; they covered each other’s backs during work and at home.
Harry frowned, thinking about it. He sometimes felt like he’d lost his best friend – plus, his attachment to Draco seemed to grow every day, and that looked hopeless too.
Another rush of cold air snapped him out of his depression, and he looked up as Neville and Hermione came in, stamping with the cold, their breath clouding around their heads for a second.
“I can’t believe how cold it is today. And it’s still not snowing. I want some snow!” Hermione hung up her scarf, hat, and heavy cloak before coming over and plopping down on Harry’s lap, rubbing her cold nose against his cheek. “You’re not sitting here moping, are you?”
Harry gave a weak smile, knowing she’d see right through it. “No?”
Neville joined them, sitting on the sofa across from Harry’s chair. “The others getting the tree?”
“Except Pansy. She’s still at work.”
“Why aren’t you at work then?” Hermione asked.
“My own schedule, remember?” Harry grinned for real, this time. One of the benefits of the whole RP thing was his job. He’d decided he wanted to be a photographer after the Creeveys had given him Colin’s camera. He spent the entire summer learning how to use light to build a composition, rather than just pointing and shooting. Once RP had been given, no one blinked twice when he decided to make that his profession, and he’d quickly found work. Luna, of course, had him working for The Quibbler.
However, even The Prophet had got on board as his ability with portraiture, especially, became more well known. “I’ve already got the ideas for Dean’s art show next week. I’ll go out tomorrow and start work. Today’s my planning day,” he said, stretching a bit. He didn’t mention the picture he was already working on, one he’d taken a few weeks before – the one of Draco. He knew Hermione would want to see it, and Harry wasn’t ready for that yet. Only Luna had seen it, and that was because it stayed at the little office he had at The Quibbler. He moved again, trying to get Hermione’s weight off his crotch.
She got the hint and stood up. “We got the plants.”
Harry grinned at Neville. “Good on you. I’m sure Draco will be pleased.”
Neville’s smile had a little too much knowing in it for Harry’s taste, and he jumped up too. “Hot cocoa?”
In the end, all three of them migrated to the kitchen. Kreacher, still willing to do anything Harry asked, served up their favourite cocoa. For a while, they sipped in silence. Then Hermione set down her cup. “I’ve made a decision,” she said.
“About what?” Harry asked. From the way Neville kept drinking, Harry suspected he already knew.
“I’m going back to Australia.”
“No, Harry. I should’ve gone back ages ago, really. I just kept hoping – but we know that isn’t getting me anywhere. It’s time. I’ve already written to my parents. I’m leaving in two days so I’ll be there to help with Christmas and take classes down there for the new year.”
Harry felt tears prick his eyes, but he didn’t argue with her. Instead, he took her hand, squeezing it. “I’ll miss you,” he whispered. “But I understand.”
“You can always join me,” she said, swiping at a few tears.
“Maybe. I guess it’s good to have options.” The thought of leaving England depressed Harry even more. Yes, he was frustrated watching Draco and Ron grow closer while he stayed on the outside. But could he really leave everything he’d ever known? He didn’t think so. Not yet, at least.
Neville got up and put his mug in the sink. “Enough depressing talk,” he said. “We should be celebrating. After all, Hermione’s going on the adventure of her life, no?”
The three of them left a note for the others and went to dinner at Hermione’s favourite restaurant. Harry got pleasantly drunk, and when they came home that night, stumbling and giggling, he stopped her outside the house and hugged her. “Be happy, Mione,” he mumbled. “For me.”
“I love you, Harry.” She tried to hug him but instead fell into him, knocking him down a step. When Neville tried to help them up, she pulled him down too. “I love you too, Nev. You’re my best friends.”
They managed to get themselves inside, but Harry didn’t notice much. “They go’tree,” he slurred as he went past the parlour.
“Pretty tree,” Hermione simpered, giggling. Harry couldn’t tell if it was pretty. It wasn’t decorated yet, and it just looked like a tree to him. Neville pushed the two of them up the stairs. Hermione slept on the first floor, but Harry had to go up two more. Neville managed to get him all the way to his room.
“Stay,” Harry said, when Nev started to leave. “I don’ wanna sleep alone tonight.”
Neville hesitated then nodded. “Of course, Harry.” They undressed down to their underwear, and then Harry pulled Neville into bed and snuggled up against him, holding him tight. “I don’ know wha’ I’d do wi’out you,” he murmured, before passing out.
The next day was horrible. Hermione spent the day packing and dealing with a million questions from Ron, who wasn’t handling her leaving well. “I don’t know why you care, anyway,” Hermione finally yelled, tears in her eyes. “You’re the one who left me!”
Harry couldn’t seem to help, and it only made him feel even worse when Draco was the one who got Ron to leave Hermione alone. Of course, Ron wasn’t too happy with Harry, either. He’d burst into Harry’s room far too early, all excited about the tree. When he saw Neville in Harry’s bed, he froze and gave Harry a look of betrayal. “You could’ve told me, Harry,” he’d said, before slamming the door.
Harry’s throbbing head almost exploded at that, and he whimpered until Neville found a hangover potion and poured it down his throat. “What was that all about?” Harry asked when he could think again.
Neville shrugged. “Maybe he thinks we’re together, and he’s wondering why you didn’t tell him you preferred blokes?”
Harry stared. “But we’re not together – I mean --”
Neville smiled, clearly amused. “It’s okay, Harry. I didn’t think you had an interest like that in me.”
Relieved, Harry nodded. Though he tried not to act too relieved. “You think I need to tell him I prefer blokes? I mean, I thought it was obvious after the whole RP mess.” After all, according to McGonagall, most witches and wizards were actually bisexual, in that they didn’t make their marriage or bonding choices based on gender but rather on other qualifications.
Neville shrugged again. “You only prefer blokes though, no? Maybe that’s what you need to tell him.”
Harry sighed. He didn’t want to talk to Ron about that, because he didn’t want Ron returning the favour and telling him, once and for all, that he was in love with Draco. Or worse, that Draco was in love with him too.
At lunch, Pansy was all over Draco, and Harry felt his worst yet. Draco seemed to take it okay, but he was clearly not interested – and he kept turning to Ron for distraction, though his gaze slipped between Harry and Neville a few times too. When it got to the point where Ron actually took Draco’s hand and pulled him away from the table – without letting go – Harry couldn’t take any more. He pushed his plate away and stalked to the door.
Luna met him there. “It’s not what it looks like, Harry,” she said.
“Sure,” he replied, just wanting to get away. “I have work to do.” He managed a weak smile. “Tell Hermione I’ll be back for her good-bye supper.” He slipped away, camera in hand.
Once outside, he looked up at the leaden sky and sighed. Life was going from confusing to downright miserable. At least he loved taking pictures. Rather than go to his office and work on Draco’s piece, he went to Diagon Alley. He needed something which could be the main piece for the art show, and although he knew his picture of Draco could work, he wasn’t sure he’d have the courage.
In Diagon Alley, he found a corner where he could sit and watch. It didn’t take long, and although the light wasn’t great, he knew that if he got the close-ups he wanted, he’d be able to play with them enough to make them work. He’d been there almost an hour when it started to snow. At first, the snow was too light – almost like white rain – and he wondered if he’d have to give up. But then, the temperature rose a little and the flakes began to grow. Soon, he had more than he could’ve hoped for, and he snapped away, capturing not only the fluffy flakes but the wonder on many children’s faces as they wandered through the shops, delighted with the falling snow.
Harry spent hours there, losing himself and his misery as the snow slowly frosted the world.
When his hands were too cramped with cold to work and the light began to fade to the point of dimness, he knew it was time to return to reality. Hermione was leaving in the morning, and Harry would be more alone than ever in a house filled with people.
Back at the house, Harry took a hot shower and dressed in a soft, forest green jumper and black jeans. Hermione had picked out the jumper for him last Christmas, and when her eyes lit up at the sight of him, he knew it was the right choice. He joined with the others at the table, filled with more food than Harry thought they’d ever eat.
They’d managed to get the word out – or rather, Luna had, Harry knew – and the house was bustling. George came and sat with Harry after a bit, watching the others. Fred’s death had quietened George, and he and Harry got on better than ever before. Fred floated over, as well. His ghost seemed to be tethered to his twin, which surprised no one, and he talked more than ever. Harry wondered if it was to make up for George’s increasing silence.
Fred crossed his legs and drifted right above Harry’s chair, like he was sitting on Harry’s lap. “What do you want for Christmas, Harry? And have you been a good boy?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
Fred laughed, his whole form shaking and going lighter and darker. “Oh, that’s a good one, Harry, it really is.” He glanced at George, who sat without talking, and some of the laughter left his face. Harry wished he could help, but he knew this was something the twins would have to work out themselves. The thing was, George had to find his own way – without Fred. Harry suspected Fred would move on once George did.
Around the room, the others were busy with their own pursuits. Ron and Draco were talking over a chess game, as always, and Pansy had convinced Blaise to clear a spot for dancing. Hermione, the guest of honour, stood with a few girls from Gryffindor, smiling and looking happier than Harry’d seen in a while. Then the music started, and everyone began dancing. They’d used spells to make the room larger, and the room quickly heated up. Fred flitted amongst the dancing partners, cutting in anywhere and everywhere.
Soon, Harry and George were the only two not dancing. Harry tried not to stare at Draco and Ron, who were laughing as they moved together. The music was fast and loud, so it wasn’t like it was romantic; still, Harry didn’t like it. His stomach clenched and he swallowed hard.
“I guess I’ll have to move out there too,” George said suddenly.
“What?” Harry looked at him. “Move where?”
George gave a grim smile. “Australia.”
Harry gaped at him as a couple of things clicked into place. “Why didn’t you tell her?” he said finally.
George raised his brows. “Really, mate? That’s what you come up with? You?”
Harry scowled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
George nodded his head towards Draco. “You haven’t exactly been forthcoming, either, now have you?”
Harry’s face heated up and he winced. “You know?”
“I’m not as blind as some people, no. And Fred notices everything,” he admitted. Then George put his arm around Harry and squeezed. “I’m not trying to tease you. Neither of us is happy, and neither of us has done anything about it. Hermione’s the only one going after what she wants – but I’m tired of watching the world go by.” He turned back to the dancers, watching as Luna and Parvati twirled Hermione between them, all three of them laughing. “I waited long enough for her to get over my brother.”
Harry saw his eyes move across to Fred’s ghost, and he swallowed against the sadness. “Will he go with you?” he asked in a low voice.
George shook his head. “He says no. The rest of the family need him here.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah. I can see that.” His eyes found Ron and Draco again. “How can I go after what I want when it could hurt your brother too?” Harry blurted. Then he hung his head. “Not that it would matter. Draco clearly likes him too.”
George nudged him. “Watch for a sec, mate. Just watch.”
Harry picked at his cuffs, but he did as George suggested. Draco and Ron were mimicking Hermione, except Draco was the one being twirled. He was laughing, his blond hair surrounding his head like a silky halo. Harry caught his breath at the sight. “He’s beautiful,” he murmured.
George smiled. “And you can’t keep your eyes off? But did you notice, Ron’s eyes aren’t on Malfoy at all. They never are, really. Don’t you think he’d be just as caught up as you are?” Then he got up, taking a deep breath. “I’m not letting her go without at least one dance, either. I’d suggest you do the same.”
Harry watched as George wove through the crowd and found Hermione, leaning down to whisper something in her ear. She gave him a surprised look, but to Harry’s eyes, she was pleased. Fred, now moving with Dean and Luna, winked at Harry. Harry glanced over at Draco again – could George be right? It was true that Ron wasn’t looking anywhere near Draco, not really. And Draco was looking –right at Harry!
Harry gulped and ducked his head. Then, as the music changed to something slower, he gathered his courage. Surely, he could do this. He got up and started towards Draco, who was watching him with a strange, intense expression on his face. Before Harry reached him, though, Ron stepped between them and started talking to Draco in a low voice.
Frozen to the spot, ignoring the people moving around him and bumping into him, Harry watched as Draco put his hands on Ron’s shoulders, as the two began moving together to the music, still in the midst of what appeared to be an intense conversation.
After a couple of seconds, Harry finally got his legs to work again. He went to the kitchen and sat, his head in his hands. If it wasn’t for Hermione, he’d leave – but he couldn’t do that to her. Fred floated in a few minutes later. “You won’t get his attention in here, mate,” he said.
Harry shrugged. “He’s well taken care of, I’d say.”
Fred tried convincing him, through cajoling and teasing, but Harry refused. Finally, Fred returned to the party.
It continued for another couple of hours, and Harry spent it in the kitchen. Even after the dancing seemed to slow and then stop, and bits of conversation drifted into the dim space, Harry didn’t move. He couldn’t keep doing this. Like Hermione, it was time to take his life into his own hands, he realised. He knew leaving the country wasn’t for him, but he could leave this house – find his own space. For someone supposedly so courageous, he’d been a horrible coward.
After a while, he realised that he wasn’t alone. Luna sat beside him, her eyes gentle. “It’ll be okay, Harry,” she said softly.
“I know,” he said, though he didn’t really believe it. She took his hand, and he let her. They could hear people leaving, and then the housemates slowly trickled into the kitchen. Draco came in and frowned when he saw Harry and Luna sitting there.
“Feeling more anti-social than normal, then?” he asked. For a second, Harry thought he was looking at their joined hands, but then, when that cool gaze met his, he decided he was imagining it.
“Just a little overwhelmed,” Harry said. “As you know, I’ve never been much of a dancer.”
“Nev would’ve danced with you,” Hermione said, still moving like she heard music. “So would’ve I.”
Harry managed a smile. “I didn’t want to put either of you out. I don’t need to dance – the party was for you. Did you have fun?” he added.
She beamed. “I really did! It almost makes me wonder if I should truly go --”
“You don’t have to on any of our accounts,” Ron said, pulling out a chair next to Draco.
Hermione swallowed. “I’m not. I’m doing it for me.”
Harry shook his head as tension crept up. Then Pansy came in, Blaise right on her heels. She plopped down on Draco’s other side, putting her head on his shoulder. “Take me to bed, Draco darling. I’m beat.”
Draco looked uncomfortable, and Harry opened his mouth. Before he could speak, though, Ron said, “I’m taking Draco to bed, Pans. You’ll have to find someone else.”
“I’ll do it,” Luna said, squeezing Harry’s hand before she let go. “Come on then.” Pansy didn’t look happy, but Harry knew she wouldn’t make a scene. There’d been too many scenes in the past year, and they were all tired.
Luna hugged Hermione on her way out. “Be happy, Hermione,” she said. “I do think it will come to you.” She winked at Harry, and he swallowed a laugh. Did Luna know George’s plans too?
When their steps had faded, Harry took a deep breath. “I have an announcement too,” he said, hardening his resolve. “I think I’m going to be finding my own place after the hols.”
Everyone stared at him. Then Blaise shook his head. “Never thought I’d see the Saviour running away.”
Harry’s jaw dropped.
Ron scowled. “Hey. Harry’s not running – maybe he just wants some peace and quiet.” Then he turned to Harry. “But you shouldn’t have to leave your home, mate. We could all go --”
“No!” Harry took a deep breath, trying to get his feelings under control. “I want you to stay – all of you. I’ll come back for visits, I just --” Just a glimpse of Draco’s wide gaze had Harry choking on feelings he could never express.
Neville, who’d been standing against a counter, came and leaned on Harry’s shoulders. Draco dropped his eyes and stared at the table. Neville rubbed Harry’s nape and said, “I think that’s a good idea. Especially if you do come back and stay here regularly. Maybe you could find a place which would double as a studio.”
Harry pushed back into Neville’s hands, relieved and encouraged at his support. “Yes, that would be nice. I do need a studio.”
With a look that was a little too knowing, Hermione nodded. “I think that’s a great idea, Harry. You don’t even have to move out – you could find a space which would work as a studio that you could also stay in overnight from time to time. It’ll give you some time away from it all when you need it.”
Harry gave a weak smile at Hermione, thankful for her support, as well. He was going to miss her horribly, he knew, but he couldn’t begrudge her this chance. And he hoped that George’s appearance in a few weeks would be a good thing for both of them.
The silence started to get uncomfortable, though Harry wasn’t sure why. Draco kept staring at the table, and Harry desperately wanted to know what he thought. Would he miss Harry at all? Or was he relieved that Harry would no longer be there to take any of Ron’s time or attention – not that Harry’d got much of that from Ron lately, anyway.
“Well, I’m off to bed,” Harry said when no one else talked. “Mione, I’ll be here to take you to the airport,” he said, hugging her as he went past. Neville said good night too, following Harry up the stairs. His room was on the second floor, but he went up to Harry’s floor.
“Need company?” he asked.
Harry hesitated then nodded. “Sure.” They undressed and brushed their teeth in silence. When Harry slipped into bed, Neville joined him without a word, curling up behind Harry. Harry closed his eyes, absorbing Neville’s friendship. Even that couldn’t stop the tears which wet the pillow, however. But when the sobs rose, Neville held him close, staying still, letting him mourn.