-Aside from OCs and AUs everything is the property of J K Rowling-


-Chapter XXII- Not a Pride Parade-


Harry woke slowly. He could tell it was late by the amount of sunlight managing to force its way past the curtains, but he was still tired damn it, and really fucking comfortable. It was the rapidly returning memory of the night before, though, that was winning the war against sleep. His cock was hard again, and he wondered why he couldn't feel the heat of another body against his.

When he turned his head he could tell immediately that Cedric was awake. He saw his boyfriend's face in profile, eyes open and fixed on the ceiling. Harry didn't want to break the moment, with the dust motes drifting in a sunbeam and Cedric's tanned skin glowing against the white sheets.

Eventually, Cedric turned to him. His expression was blank.

"Good night?" Harry prompted cautiously.

He watched as a slow blush enveloped Cedric's cheeks.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Taking advantage of you. Merlin, I practically assaulted you!" Cedric hissed.

Harry paused, taken aback, before responding.

"No, you didn't. If anything, I should be apologising. You were drunk and I asked you to stay with me. I shouldn't even have got into bed with you." Harry hesitated and felt his own face redden. "Particularly not when you were naked."

Cedric froze, apparently registering he wasn't wearing anything beneath the covers.

"Shit. I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Harry told him. "It's not like you're ugly." He said, smiling slightly.

"That's not the point." Cedric insisted. "Fuck… you're fourteen."

"I was sixteen last night."

Cedric groaned, turning his head back towards the ceiling.

"No you weren't."

Harry frowned, his own satisfaction fading as he absorbed how concerned Cedric actually seemed to be. He wanted to draw closer, to reach out and touch him.

"Do you think about me when you jerk off?" He asked instead.

"What?" Cedric twisted to face him again, eyes wide.

"Do you think about me when you jerk off?" Harry repeated, blushing slightly himself in response to Cedric's suddenly flaming face.

"Umm…" Cedric hesitated. "Kind of?"

"What does that mean?"

"Why do you ask?"

Harry frowned at the attempt to turn the focus onto him, but he supposed he'd asked for it.

"I was just wondering about it last night." He replied, shrugging slightly. "In the shower."

"Fuck." Harry's gaze dropped to Cedric's mouth as his boyfriend bit his lip.

"It was kinda hot." Harry told him, grinning slightly as he watched Cedric squirm. "Thinking about you jerking off thinking about me."

"But I can't…" Cedric objected quietly. "You're fourteen. I'm not a fucking paedophile."

"You're dating me." Harry pointed out, before frowning. "Hang on, are you trying to say you're not attracted to your own boyfriend?"

Cedric groaned.

"Fuck, no. I don't know."

"Well that clears that up." Harry commented. "Look, I'm fourteen, you're sixteen, but seriously? You look at me and see a number? I'm offended that you think you could take advantage of me. I thought we were equals in this, not that you thought of me as some kind of child." He hesitated and looked down briefly, as though to examine his body through the duvet. He'd never really felt insecure before, but now the alien sensation was clawing at his gut. "I'm sorry if I'm not like, physically mature enough for you to find attractive." He continued quietly, averting his eyes. "I don't want to disappoint you."

There were a few beats of heavy silence, and then Harry found his chin caught in a firm grip. He expected Cedric to say something, but instead he forced their mouths together. Harry could feel the desire in the kiss, the sheer plain want as Cedric traced the seam of his lips with his tongue and demanded entry. The toothpaste and alcohol of the night before had been replaced by the bitterness of sleep, but he didn't care. Cedric hungrily mapped his palate with his tongue as he shifted until he was sprawled half on top of Harry, reassuring him with his weight and warmth, with the hands tangled in his hair and the hardness against his hip.

Cedric pulled away eventually, reluctantly. Harry stared, dazed with lust, as Cedric straddled his waist. The covers slipped back as Cedric sat up. They'd made out a dozen times in the past, jerked each other off the night before, but it was the first time Harry had ever seen his boyfriend completely naked. Cedric shone in the morning light. Harry's eyes trailed over the lean, cut muscles of his boyfriend's body and settled on the thick cock currently burning a line of heat against his stomach.

"Hey," Cedric said, "my eyes are up here."

Harry grinned and blushed as he looked up. He found his boyfriend wearing an almost identical expression. Cedric leant in, his hair shadowing his face has he propped himself up on his hands.

"Never doubt that I want you."

Harry swallowed at the naked arousal in his blown pupils.

"I don't think of you as a child, how could I? Fuck, you're more of an adult than I am with your plots and your politics and Merlin knows what else you're up to. I barely even remember you're fourteen, and when I do I panic." Cedric admitted. "But I panic because I think I'm supposed to, not because of anything to do with you." He hesitated. "And I won't try to lie and tell you it's your mind I'm attracted to and your body doesn't matter, because I want your body so much it hurts. And yeah, I'll admit that seeing you like you were last night, older, drove me fucking insane. I'll admit that I think you're even hotter at sixteen than you are right now, but that doesn't mean I don't think you're the best looking guy in the school already." He lowered himself until his lips were an inch away from Harry's. "Because I do."

His lips were unbearably soft, the kiss he pressed with them so earnest that Harry could hardly meet his eyes when he pulled away.

"I'm sorry about getting drunk last night. I didn't really mean to. I saw you in the entrance hall and I wanted to be the one with you. I saw you older, grown up and with someone else, and it hurt." He paused, searching for the words. "It was like seeing a future I wasn't a part of."

Harry's mouth was dry.

"And you want to be part of that future?"

Cedric returned his gaze steadily.

"Yeah, I think I do."

It was hardly a declaration of undying love, but Harry couldn't help but feel that some kind of understanding passed between them in that moment.

"I'm sorry I wasn't with you last night." He said eventually. "And I feel the same, I mean, I know we've only been together for a couple of months but… watching you and Cho. I don't want to do that again."

"So…" Cedric hesitated. "We're both serious about this then. We don't like seeing each other with other people, even if it means nothing." He steeled himself visibly. "I don't want to hide. This—" he continued, gesturing between Harry and himself as though tracing an invisible bond, "whatever it is, I'm sick of pretending. It's going to be shit, revealing our relationship, but the truth is I don't care. I want to be with you."

Harry didn't know what to say. The pit of his stomach clenched involuntarily with Cedric's words. He couldn't even think about what the response to their coming out would be, not with Cedric's bright, determined stare meeting his as he sat above him, a naked angel with the promise of a future on his lips.


"Morning." Harry began, smiling weakly.

"Afternoon." Daphne corrected, stepping back to allow him into her rooms.

"Yeah, sorry about that." Harry said uncomfortably. "Just we finished pretty late last night and…" I didn't want to leave Cedric, he added in his head, not sure how that would go down.

"You had other things on your mind." She finished, gesturing him to a seat. "I'm aware." Her expression tightened. "I received an owl from my father about Rooksbane this morning."

Harry blinked. However he'd expected Daphne to start their conversation, it hadn't been with that. The feather was still upstairs in the pocket of his discarded robes. He hadn't had a chance to give it much thought.

"Regarding?"

"I think you know." She murmured.

"Rooksbane told me his family have declared themselves my enemies." Harry said, willing Daphne to look at him. He couldn't read her. "He gave me a black feather, and fucked off."

That second revelation, at least, caused a slight crack in the marble facade.

"It is as my father feared, then." Daphne said. "Do you know the particular significance of that feather?"

"No."

"For the Rooksbanes it is the mark of a blood debt, and an announcement that they intend to collect it."

Harry stiffened. He'd thought the declaration of enmity had been a formal thing, not entirely toothless, but little more than an announcement that the Rooksbanes were opposed to his ambitions. A blood debt, though…

"How powerful are they?"

Daphne tilted her head.

"Not members of the Twenty, of course, largely politically uninvolved, and considered extreme in their views by most of the Dark families." She smiled thinly. "And more dangerous because of all of that."

Harry could feel his wrist twitching towards the gesture that would spring his wand from its holster into his hand. He held himself as Daphne continued.

"My father caught wind of their intentions and wrote to warn me. He suggests that, if they have indeed called in a blood debt with your family, I keep my distance. The Rooksbanes obey few rules of engagement and those around you will be considered legitimate targets."

"I'm sorry." Harry said, guilt surging.

Daphne continued as though he hadn't spoken.

"And then, of course, there's Cedric."

Harry hadn't thought it possible to feel any more tense.

"I saw you last night. The two of you are… intimate." She hesitated over the word and coloured. "Before I continue, can I ask what your intentions are?"

Entirely dishonourable. Harry's brain answered.

"Serious." He admitted, before meeting her stare with a challenging one of his own. "We're going to come out."

Daphne took a breath and briefly closed her eyes.

"Reveal yourselves as…" She hesitated again. "Gay?"

"Yes."

Her lips twisted, the same expression he'd seen her wear the night before. He still couldn't tell what it meant.

"You're determined to make my position impossible."

Harry hoped there was a distant note of amusement in her voice.

"Do you understand what the reaction to your announcement is likely to look like?"

Harry shrugged.

"Bad, in the short term." He acknowledged. "But I can't hide this part of myself forever, and the sooner people know the sooner they can get over it."

"It will be worse than bad, and many won't get over it." Daphne predicted. "Being… gay. It's just not done."

It's just not done. The words echoed as each one stamped itself in thick black ink over the roughly formed plans in Harry's head.

"Never?" He found himself asking.

Daphne shook her head.

"There are gay people, of course, even couples, but they're not respectable. If they're public about it, then society punishes them for it. They don't get jobs, or if they do their employer comes under suspicion. They can't get married, naturally, or adopt children. It's not like you'd be imprisoned or anything; I'm sure you'd be well aware of it if that was the case, but they're second class citizens, like werewolves or something. As far as I know there's no case of a member of the aristocracy revealing their, ah, preferences, well, ever."

Harry sat there, mind in turmoil. The glow he'd carried down to Daphne's rooms with him had been extinguished. He'd arrived full of resolve, the commitment he'd made with Cedric burning within him, giving him the fire he needed to face Daphne, to face Fleur, to face everything, really. Daphne was making him uncomfortably aware, however, just how naive he might have been.

He'd known that wizarding Britain wasn't exactly a pride parade, but he'd checked the statute books and there was nothing against homosexuality. Remus hadn't really said anything on the matter either, though Harry now wondered how well a fellow second class citizen could assess the situation in a society he'd lived on the fringes of. If the gay thing 'wasn't done' then perhaps Remus had just been oblivious… perhaps the first openly gay person he'd ever come across had been Harry, raised a muggle by an aunt who couldn't care less about his sexuality.

Sirius, though, Sirius knew. Hell, he'd even claimed to have messed around with other guys in his youth, though Harry wondered just how much truth there'd been to the boast. But he was an aristocrat, brought up in the most incestuous and puritanical of all the Dark families. No matter how much he'd rebelled against it, he wasn't fucking stupid. He mightn't have cared about where Harry put his cock, but he sure as hell should have told him that the rest of wizarding Britain would.

And Dorea? What about his grandmother? She hadn't seemed outraged or anything. Sure, she'd warned him against starting anything with Cedric, but that had been because she'd thought Amos Diggory wouldn't approve, not because she didn't. She hadn't really said anything about his sexuality. Perhaps she was an outlier, perhaps she didn't care. Still, she hadn't warned him either. Did she assume he knew what Daphne had told him? Or was Daphne exaggerating, or biased? Did the Light families like anal more than the Dark ones?

And Cedric. Harry didn't know what to think there, either. His boyfriend wasn't naive. His boyfriend was fucking brilliant, the only person even close to his own age who could truly, really keep up with him, match him. He was an heir to one of the Twenty, he'd spent his whole life in wizarding Britain, and he wanted to come out. Wanted to come out with Harry. Had lust blinded him to the danger? He had a turbulent relationship with his father, was this some act of rebellion, however unlikely it seemed?

Daphne hadn't said anything. Harry had no idea how long they'd sat there in silence as he wrestled in his head. She was still, outlined against the window, eyes politely averted from his struggle.

"Do you mind if I ask a few questions?"

"Of course not. I'll do my best to answer."

"Do the Dark families and the Light families share a position on this?"

She quirked a slightly amused eyebrow.

"You mean, am I giving you a biased perspective?"

She smiled faintly at his nod.

"Perhaps, a little. Certainly, the powerful Dark families will be loud and united in their opposition." She held up a hand before he could say anything. "That is not to say that the Light families will be any less against you, only that they tend to shout their prejudices a little more quietly."

"Prejudices?" Harry leapt on the word, hoping Daphne meant what it suggested.

"Prejudices." Daphne repeated. "Yes, that is my view of the issue. I have thought about it a little since last night, and I do not personally have anything against you."

The emphasis rang all too clearly to Harry, but it didn't completely dispel the slight warmth.

"I'm grateful." He said quietly.

"My acceptance isn't really such a gift." She told him. "I am constrained by my position, by my family's partnerships. My own feelings are of little importance."

Harry knew that what she'd said was true.

"They are to me." He disagreed anyway. "I might have lost you as an ally, but it would hurt me more to lose you as a friend."

"And that is what makes this situation impossible for me. I'd hoped to work with you, and I believed you hoped to work with me. Perhaps more than that." She admitted. "We could have been the centre of an alliance, neither fully Light nor fully Dark. You and I… we could have had everything. Fleur I could have handled, Fleur I could have beaten. But I cannot compete at a game I do not have the equipment to play."

The words were delivered calmly, as though Daphne had resolved to reveal herself and practised her words in the mirror. Harry sat there, trying to navigate past the layers of ice and irony.

"I don't know what to say." He admitted eventually. "I wish…" He trailed off. Things could have been different, he'd almost said. But he didn't, because it wasn't true. Because as things were he had himself, knew himself, liked himself. Because as things were he had Cedric.

"As my father would say; the world is as it is, and it has no place for wishful thinking."

"I am truly sorry for putting you in the position you're in."

Daphne's lips twisted, again.

"With regard to Rooksbane, or Cedric?" She asked, "Or are there any other things I should be aware of?"

"Voldemort isn't dead." The words fell into the space between them, and they both froze. Harry cursed internally. He hadn't meant to say that, not really. What kind of power did Daphne possess, to make his usually guarded, clever tongue slip?

When he focused on her he found her looking back solemnly, almost sadly.

"You knew." It wasn't a guess.

"Of course. It isn't such a secret, really. The Dark families don't know what state their master is in, but that he survived that night they have always been aware."

"How?" He asked, heart releasing its clench and pounding in his chest. If the Dark families knew about the horcruxes… if they had the horcruxes, well, they had a Dark Lord in a bottle, ready to release at will.

Daphne seemed oblivious to his turmoil as she stretched across the table between them to grasp his left wrist. Harry stiffened as she pushed up the sleeve of his robe and the shirt beneath. Her finger let a trail of goosebumps in its wake as it traced its way down the bare skin of his forearm.

"There is a mark." She began. "Given by the Dark Lord to his most loyal followers."

"The Dark Mark."

"No." Daphne smiled grimly. "Or at least not quite. The Dark Mark was a chain, a slave brand the Dark Lord burned into the flesh of his soldiers. The power he could wield over them through it is well-documented, but it is not the mark I mean. There were those whose loyalty was beyond question, or whose pride and power made them too great to submit to such a simple shackle."

She paused.

"My mother was one."

Harry had no idea how to respond. He'd met Daphne's mother, briefly. As far as he was aware the Greengrasses had been fairly neutral in the war. No doubt they'd quietly paid their dues to Voldemort, but they hadn't been on the frontline of any battles that he was aware of.

"My mother wasn't always a Greengrass. She was born an Elfwick, an old but undistinguished Dark family. She was ambitious, talented. She didn't really believe in the Dark Lord's project." Daphne frowned a little. "Or at least she claims she didn't, but through him she saw a path to power and influence."

Daphne looked straight at Harry.

"I must ask you not to reveal any of this."

Mutely, he nodded.

"She became a diplomat for him; the charming, pretty face of an unpalatable regime. She won wavering families over to the cause. She was good at it, and trusted by the Dark Lord."

"And the mark?" Harry prompted eventually.

"Was her reward." Daphne answered. "A direct connection forged in blood, a gift from the Dark Lord to his most trusted—a gift that allowed them to share in his strength, and him to draw on theirs. A mark so powerful it burned itself into the soul of its bearers." She hesitated.

"And?"

"And if Voldemort was dead, my mother would be too."

It was the first time Daphne had said his name.

"I don't suppose it cuts the other way?"

Daphne smirked.

"You mean, can you kill the Dark Lord by murdering my mother? No. Several of the Dark Lord's most trusted died during the war, and he seemed to suffer no ill-effect."

"I suppose it was too much to hope for."

"At least I get to keep my mother."

"Thank you for telling me. I know it puts you at risk."

"You would have found out eventually."

"You knew that Voldemort survived… and yet still wanted to ally with me?"

"It was a risk I would have borne, for the glory of the future it promised. He might not have returned for decades, and by then you and I could have taken the oxygen from his movement. How he has survived, I know not, but the fact that he has not returned in thirteen years suggests he is little more than a shade, at most."

"You planned everything out?"

"Loosely. The Dark Lord was not popular amongst the Dark families, but he was the only response they had to Dumbledore. With you and I as an alternative… we could have choked off his support before he ever had a chance to rise again."

"And now?"

"And now that's impossible." Daphne admitted. "You're gay, in a relationship with a very shiny Light wizard, and the Dark families are beginning to turn against you more rapidly than I had anticipated."

"I'm sorry." Harry repeated, cursing how little the words did to bridge the gulf between them. He'd ruined Daphne's plans, put her in an impossible situation, and was still quietly, selfishly, hoping their friendship would keep her on his side.

"I don't know what to do."

That admission, more than anything, chilled Harry. He couldn't really think of a response. No doubt Daphne had been plotting all morning while he was in bed with Cedric, basking and oblivious. If she hadn't come up with a solution, what hope did he have to plot a course for her out of an impossible corner? Particularly a course that didn't involve her becoming, however reluctantly, one of his enemies.

"Will you return to Slytherin?"

She shook her head.

"No. It would look too much like weakness to turn back now. I can claim any number of reasons to want to stay in Blackleprickle."

"You can claim to be spying on me."

She tilted her head in acknowledgement.

"Nothing need change too much for the moment, I hope. You should take precautions against the Rooksbanes, and warn the others."

"And you?"

"Will be safe, I suspect. My father has suggested I keep my distance, but in truth even the Rooksbanes would not be foolish enough to to do harm to me and earn his enmity."


Authors's note: So, it's been a while (I should probably just begin all my notes with that by this point). I have no intention of abandoning this story, and have quite a bit more sketched out, so whilst I apologise for my ridiculous slowness, I absolutely promise there will be more, and that I have massive love for every follow/favourite, and huge gratitude for every comment. You're all awesome.

Couple things to pick out in comments:

I don't think I intend to make it a polyamorous relationship between Harry/Cedric/Liram (though it's certainly something I've considered, particularly before Cedric was introduced to the story and Liram was being hot).

I maybe have vague images of characters in my head, but I also kind of think people should be allowed to imagine them for themselves? (so I wouldn't volunteer images and make them in any way 'canon' unless everyone wanted it.)

Also - sorry if the early bits are slow/clumsy in some places. I started writing this when I was 14 (I think), and a little less disciplined than I (hopefully) am now. Equally, I don't think there should be much in the way of glaring grammatical errors (so please point anything out so I can put it on the 'to revise' list).

Yes - Harry is gay. I'm not sure he's particularly 'sexually attracted' to Fleur and Mrs Zabini; but I'm also gay and even I sometimes have a physical response to the proximity of a super-attractive female. It happens.

Yes - I admit, Blackleprickle needs a little more explanation (there is some!), but I need to work out whether to write it into a future chapter, where everyone will read it, or insert it into a previous one, where it probably belongs more logically.

Anyway, thanks you all so much for comments! I appreciate each and every one.