In the last chapter: More students had detention with Umbridge and she discovers that the bloodquills were tampered with. Umbridge appoints herself as High Inquisitor of Hogwarts and starts making Educational Decrees. Harry decides to finally start off the investigation of Umbridge, so he sends a letter to his parents, but when it comes back, he realizes there are mail-wards up and spreads the news on how to get around them. Harry starts getting weird/cute gifts from Tom and realizes the clueless man is unintentionally wooing him. They're both hopeless and adorable.

Each day came and went without fail. Short fluctuations between warm and cold weather throughout the course of the following months as summer reluctantly gave in to autumn, and autumn to winter. Students were seen ostentatiously flicking drying and heating spells at their sopping shoes and dripping hems of their trousers. The uniforms changing one by one to thick grey sweaters with the school crest emblazoned on the breast along with wool tights and trousers.

With it, came the sense of longing. Some wished for warmer months, some for the jolly days surrounding Christmas and Yule without lessons and surrounded by family. While Harry also wished to be reunited with his family, he could not deny his yearning of one particular individual.

Every letter, every package, every page of comforting words was not enough to dispel the budding tightness in his chest every time he had a moment alone and allowed his thoughts to run away from him. For nothing would satiate his enamored heart, save the presence of its captive.

Though, the distractions from such things were plentiful at Hogwarts. It was not often that Harry found his mind nor body idle. Umbridge continued to exert her power where ever and whenever she could. Berating and insulting the staff, all the while looking down on the students like they were invalid, vile creatures. Though, as time went on and the school as a whole became more aware of her actions, therein began a collective effort to keep students far from her 'disciplinary sessions' and to not allow her belittling of the staff to hold any weight for the students.

When Dumbledore finally made a reappearance at the school, nothing really changed. There were a few quiet days where Dolores treaded carefully, but when she—along with everyone else—saw how distracted the Headmaster was, it became clear that it didn't matter if he had returned or not. Concerns from the staff went unheard or waved off by the unfocused wizard. And that was when anyone managed to catch Albus outside of his chambers for a few moments.

It wasn't until Harry spoke to Death about it that he found the reason for the man's recent absence.

'What do you mean he was out in the country? Doing what?' Harry's internal voice sounded incredulous as he glowered down at his eggs, shuffling them about with the end of his fork.

'I believe he was poking around the old Gaunt shack, searching for a ring.' His companion answered pointedly.

Harry paused, pursing his lips at this new bit of information. Dumbledore was looking for the ring? That meant that he was aware of the Horcruxes. Enough to be searching for them. Harry turned to look at the man at the head table, who was also picking at his breakfast without really seeing it, pale blue gaze a thousand miles away.

Dumbledore was still adamant that Voldemort lived, and now he's seeking a way to destroy him before yet another wizarding war could begin. Not that Tom had given Harry a definitive answer on what he wished to do with himself now that he could start over, but Harry had a feeling that war and gruesome conquest did not fit into his plans any longer. Harry wasn't particularly concerned at the moment. Dumbledore may continue to think Voldemort is alive, but allies outside of Hogwarts were waning and the longer Voldemort goes without making an appearance, the more everyone will move on.

The Headmaster's behavior had Poppy in a mood for days on end. Harry had to reassure her that when he returned home for winter holiday, he would be taking all of their compiled evidence with him to hand over to investigative unit at the Ministry. Umbridge would be dealt with, with or without Dumbledore's assistance. If the man refused to maintain his duties as headmaster, they would go on without him and he would be ousted from his position if he didn't wise-up soon.

There were several more meetings between Prefects over the term pertaining to different issues with the groups, around the school, or just to catch up and touch base with everyone else. The meetings became more frequent with time and soon enough all of the prefects were pretty familiar with each other and it wasn't surprising to see them drifting around during meals and between classes, moving from house to house and connecting with all sorts.

And where the figure-heads of the houses lead, the student body followed. Students were careful to keep all discussions of the study groups quiet in public, but with a widely held secret in common, it seemed much easier for others to reach out. Under the tyranny of Umbridge, petty house rivalries temporarily dissolved. That didn't mean there was no conflict. As the stress of extra work coming from the study groups, approaching examinations in spring, Dumbledore's absence, Umbridge's decree's and curriculum, and the rising contentions in the Ministry, many students still needed an outlet for the mounting pressure.

That was when Harry felt the weight of his role as a prefect bare down on him the most notably. It seemed every other week or so, he was breaking up a fight or duel and escorting students either to the infirmary or to a trusted member of staff to serve detention. Some of them just couldn't control it, they kept so much locked inside that it exploded after a while.

Harry didn't remain unaffected either.

Harry arguably had more on his plate than anyone. Being the focal point of the entire system of study groups, complaints from students and staff alike about Umbridge, collecting and holding all the files and reports from her victims, spending his free time delving into the world of healing, maintaining all of the different friendships and alliances he's acquired over time, being a prefect, and so on. Every day it felt like he got a little less sleep the night before and the times he walked away to seclude himself and take a breath became less and less affective.

The problem was . . . Harry was discovering that he didn't quite have the tools to deal with too much stress. He tried to take more time to himself, tried spending more time with his friends, wrote more letters to those away from him, tried to sleep more, listen to music, practice more necromantic spells. Hell, he'd even spent a few hours lazing around in his animagus form. Nothing worked for long, which only aggravated Harry the more aware of it he became.

It was like he'd spent years ignoring his feelings and the whims of his body, and now that it was turning against him, he couldn't figure out what was bloody wrong!

It came to the point where he was only two weeks out from taking the Hogwarts Express back to London with everyone else for hols and yet there he was, sitting in the room of requirement on an exquisite leather couch and glaring into the glowing coals in the fireplace. He was sat with Draco after another one of their prefect's meetings. The room had been transformed into a comfortable space that resembled a common room, save the school colors and instead decorated in neutral browns, blacks, and greys.

Everyone else had left at that point, having long since left for their own common rooms or to start up patrolling duty. It just so happened that both he and Draco were free of duties that night. Draco had been enjoying the warmth and comfort of the near empty room, while Harry had been too caught up in his thoughts to notice it was time to leave. And so, taking the opportunity to spend some time with his rather restrained Ravenclaw friend, Draco had 'required' a strong bottle of something dark from the room and had poured himself and Harry generous portions.

Harry hadn't realized until he took a sip and jolted at the smooth, smoky burn of alcohol when it hit his tongue. He gave his blonde friend a warning glare, but a few moments later he took another larger sip and Draco hid his smirk behind his own glass. Harry wasn't much of a drinker—a few sips here and there at parties, but never really going beyond a small warmth in his stomach—but he tiredly hoped the drink might loosen some of the tension rising inside his chest. He felt like every other exhalation was a sigh, and he felt like if he didn't figure this out soon, he might just explode like the boys and girls he pried apart and do something idiotic.

Unfortunately, his drink only seemed to bring the problem closer to the forefront of his mind and his glower dissolved into a pout. Draco, steadily on his way to being all-out sloshed, took one look at his friend and snorted in a very un-Malfoy-like fashion.

"What's got you so wound, darling?" The blonde mused with a devilish curl of his lips and glassy shine to his eyes as he tugged his tie looser and pulled a few buttons free.

And like the flood gates had come crashing down, Harry flew into a seemingly-endless rant. From things as big as gathering evidence against Umbridge, to the inconsequent fact that someone had eaten all of the roast at dinner before he got there. Everything came rolling out with overexaggerated severity. The only thing he managed to keep back in his slightly buzzed state was anything pertaining to Death and his abilities—which were still a secret very few people knew and would remain that way for quite a while. In the end, Harry deflated and gave his friend a harrowed look.

"It just—it keeps building up. Right here." Harry patted his sternum with a soft thump. "And nothing I do seems to help. Am I just going mad?" Harry ran a rough hand through his hair, catching on a few curls and tugging at his scalp.

The questions had been mostly rhetorical, but the Slytherin seemed to be contemplating his words for a minute. Then, suddenly, Draco's eyes flashed with some sort of understanding and he looked over at Harry—truly looked at him—with what felt like new eyes. A slow grin took hold of his face as he spoke.

"I know we don't really talk about these kinds of things, but . . . by any chance, Harry, are you . . . frustrated?" Draco's voice tilted up, as if on the edge of a laugh. Harry turned and frowned, confused and irritated.

"Yes, Draco. I believe I had made that quite clear, had I not? I am very frustrated, and stressed, and nothing seems to alleviate it." He gritted out, folding his arms over his chest and crossing his legs, turning his ire back on the fire. He caught the other rolling his eyes from his peripheral, but decided to ignore it.

"That's not what I meant. I mean . . . are you perhaps . . . sexually frustrated?" Harry's head whipped around so fast he might have broken his own neck if he was of weaker constitution.

"Where on earth did you get that from what I said?" Harry balked incredulously, wide green eyes boring into the other teen. Draco broke into raucous laughter, but tried to tamper it down when Harry started to turn away again.

"No, I'm being serious, Harry!" He claimed, while forcing down another laugh and grinning hard enough that his cheeks would ache later.

"I know you don't usually talk about these things, but do you ever, you know, relieve yourself? It's certainly not a fix-all, but if you've tried everything else and still feel 'frustrated' then maybe you're not looking in the right places for the problem. It's absolutely natural! You're a healthy fifteen-year-old boy, and as far as I know, you've never had a girlfriend or boyfriend—nothing wrong with that, but some things need to be attended to, whether you have someone or not. Besides, don't think we haven't noticed your correspondence with your little-someone these past few months, being away from them for so long, I'm sure it's frustrating being apart." Draco sent his friend a sly wink and Harry sputtered.

"It's not—we're not—he's-"

"Come now, Harry. You receive a letter from that beast of an owl nearly every day and practically glow the moment it arrives. You look at your post the way Vincent looks at caldron cakes. It's just fine if you don't want to tell anyone yet, that's your own business. Just be sure to give me a good seat at the wedding," Draco teased and Harry turned absolutely crimson, "My point is, if you're taking an interest in someone, knowing you, you're probably only now going through all the hormone-driven, love-sick woes of puberty all at once! For you, things don't tend to exist unless they're waving right in your face.

"So, a little advice? It might help to stave off the little red monster in your belly if you took a minute to work through your frustrations instead of trying to stamp them into oblivion, mate. I'm not saying to turn your dorm room into your own blasted pleasure den, because Corner and Boot might just throttle you in your sleep if you did, but maybe find some place private, comfortable, where you won't be disturbed, and give it a tug!" Draco finished crudely and Harry sent a vicious wandless stinging hex his way.

The blonde jumped up with a yelp that melted into laughter as he quickly began making his way towards the exit before he found himself on the receiving end of a nastier spell—wouldn't by the first time his cheekiness got him hexed to high-heaven by his friends—it was almost always worth it, though.

As Harry listened to the trickle of laughter fade and cut off with the closing of a door behind him, he settled back against the couch and threw back the rest of his drink with a hard swallow. His belly was buzzing pleasantly and his head swam as the alcohol did its job and made him feel less connected to his thoughts. His eyes slid shut, though he silently kept reminding himself that he couldn't stay. He had class right away in the morning, he couldn't sleep in the room of requirement.

Still, he let his mind and body settle into the quiet. The heat of the fire was just a low brush against his limbs to chase away the harsh chill of the castle mid-winter. After a few minutes of his mind drifting aimlessly, Harry's eyes blinked back open and he thought about Draco's 'advice' if one could call it that. He'd been teasing him, of course, but maybe there was some truth to what he'd said. Harry didn't really . . . indulge his more carnal appetites.

It had just seemed like a waste of time and energy to Harry, to do it needlessly. Harry had thought that if he was going to engage in such activities, it would be when he felt an overwhelming urge to get sexual gratification. He had thought he would be overcome by some need to touch himself and that that was sexual frustration. Not just . . . regular frustration and the call for the release of the pressure in his chest. Though, he supposed that what the other had said made sense.

Looking at it from a completely objective angle, it made sense that with all the stress he was under, and his deepening feelings for Tom, that he would start to exhibit signs of yearning for a partner and the companionship of a relationship.

Looking at it from a personal and subjective angle, this is fucked.

Harry's cheeks burned with a mix of what little alcohol in his system was still making its course and an undercurrent of embarrassment. The more he thought about it, the more his body came alive and fixated on the suggestion of something new and supposedly pleasant. His tongue swiped out to wet his lips as thoughts churned into a tumulus mess and his eyelid drooped to let the dim firelight wash over him.

Maybe . . . maybe just once. As an experiment. . .

Harry's hands lifted to card through his hair and push it away from his forehead before slipping down to his neck. The gentle glide of his fingertips over the sensitive skin of his throat had his chin tiling back and a long breath puffing from his lips as goose bumps broke out over his skin. The infernal heat in his cheeks continued to blaze, dripping down his spine and settling low in his belly. He tugged his tie free and began unwind the buttons of his dress shirt. Leaving his chest bear with only the warm weight of the locket against his sternum.

It seemed that now that he was pouring all of his focus into his body and the sensations, even just the brush of fabric against his stomach and arms and thighs felt like the reverent caresses of another. It had Harry's breath coming faster as he finally opened the last button and trailed his hands all along his chest and stomach. He didn't really know what he was doing, just that each touch felt nice and he hadn't realized just how soft his own skin was and certain areas seemed far more sensitive than others.

His fingertips drew intoxicating circles and stripes against the flesh just above the top of his trousers since it seemed the most responsive part of his skin yet. Harry bit down on his lower lip when a thrum of desire and arousal pulsed through him reminiscent to the more intense rituals he had to perform. Which brought him around to visions surrounding Tom's resurrection and slumping sated in the man's arms as he looked upon his face like seeing the night sky for the very first time in those starlit eyes. And now his thoughts were consumed.

One of his hands moved back up to keep trailing over his skin while the other undid his trousers and scooted them down past his knees to fall around his ankles to the floor. His hand brushed over the hardening flesh in his pants when he reached for his thigh and found a whole new threshold of sensitivity on the untouched alabaster skin there. He hadn't meant to, but his feverish mind latched onto Tom and his eyes slid closed as it supplied instances both real and constructed.

The rumble of a low baritone voice in his ear, soft lips tasting wherever his hands ventured, a strong grip finding its way to his thigh just below his groin and squeezing just as his own hand did, pulling a soft breathy sound from his chest and making his legs pull together a moment before he made them move apart to make room once more.

The more he lost himself to the sensations, the more his mind supplied imagined events, ones involving plenty of bared forms, sinful vocalizations, and acts made his toes curl just imagining. He delved deeper into as it he finally slid his hand into his briefs grabbed his dick, pulling it out with a loose stroke. A few strokes had his spine curving off of the couch slightly with a low moan.

His brows tugged down and his mouth fell open as hot licks of pleasure rolled through him with every push and pull of his hand. He was panting between moans and his body moving restlessly even as he fed the pulsing beast in his gut demanding more. He imagined soft sheets against his back and a heavy, warm body pressing into him. He felt the phantom puffs of breath against his collar bone as his arms wrapped tightly around the man above him.

Harry swiped his thumb over the sensitive head of his cock and keened. it was a slow build, something the was nudged up with ever pull or squeeze of his hand, but each one was worth it as it brought him nothing but more pleasure.

And in the blurry fantasy filtering through his head, Harry imagined his beloved pushing up into him slow and true, matching the pace of their heavy shared breaths. He imagined intimacy and carnal connection and something so delicate it could be crushed between their bodies with each thrust. Harry picked up the pace of his hand between his legs as something swelled in his belly and the heat surrounding him seemed almost unbearable, sweat misting his body and leaving everything a little slicker and more infernally delicious.

Harry thrust up in to his hand as pants and tight moans spilled from his lips, chasing after the little bunny in his gut offering release. The tension in his body was so taut as he edged ever closer to climax, that he gave an involuntary tired whimper as his abdominal muscles fluttered in fatigue but he was so close to something indescribable that he wouldn't stop if the walls came tumbling down in that moment. When he finally caught it, his thighs squeezed together tight, his back arched, and his other hand pawed and grasped at the leather for something to hold onto as his release swept through him.

"Tom." Harry gasped desperately as he shot to the peek and had a moment of unimaginable bliss, his breath stuck in his chest and his body curling and stretching as it basked in the tidal wave of pleasure. And then, too soon, he started to come down.

It was like his brain shut down for a minute, leaving him slumped and panting hard against the couch as he slowly rebooted himself. As he came back to himself, still breathing pretty hard, Harry wandlessly vanished the mess cooling across his stomach and the next thing he did was laugh airily as he continued to ride the euphoric haze thrumming through his body.

He was still totally drained, but there was a renewed energy inside his chest that left him feeling like he could float away any second. Once his heart calmed inside his chest again and he felt like he could manage proper thought, he took stock of himself and what he'd just experienced. Most notably, he could no longer feel a weight on his chest from all of his stress.

Reluctantly, Harry admitted to himself that perhaps Draco was right about what was troubling him. Not that he'd ever let him know he was right. Malfoys were prone to self-inflating egos.

As he came down from his high, recalling all of the very intimate and intense details of his fantasies and who had taken up their focus made him groan and flush in embarrassment. Harry hid his face in his hands as the heat reignited in his cheeks. He had never thought about more than what it might be like to kiss Tom, but that . . . how on earth was Harry going to get those images out of his mind and think of anything else?! Harry groaned louder and slumped further down the couch.

Tom grunted harshly and shot up in bed. He was panting as vivid images of a dark room, soft sheets, and even softer skin underneath him faded away. He rubbed the fog of sleep from his eyes until his mind seemed to finally catch up with his dream and he straightened in his bed.


The tone of Harry's voice imbedded itself deep within his long-term memories and sent shivers down his spine. He'd never heard it like that before.

And his dream! Tom's cheeks flooded with a rosy flush in the darkness as his mind turned over every explicit detail from his dream of him and Harry together. He . . . he'd never dreamt anything like that before—honestly, he hardly dreamed at all, much less something that had been so clear and felt so real. He could still taste Harry's small moans on the back of his tongue and he swallowed heavily.

And then a second realization hit him as he felt the spots of warmth in his lap he hadn't noticed before slowly cool. Ripping the thick duvet from his legs, Tom stared incredulously down at himself. Wide-eyed, he concluded that for the first time in Tom's long life, he'd just had a . . . a wet dream.

He clamped his hands over his blazing cheeks and fell back against his bed. He stayed like that for another hour before eventually slipping back into sleep—secretly hoping that he would not go unaccompanied into his dreams.