Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his world are the inestimable creation of J.K. Rowling. I am a trespasser, playing for my amusement (and hopefully yours).



Note: Anyone who dislikes the slash can skip the first part of this chapter. Read the first paragraph, for orientation, then use your browser's "Find" function to search for the first instance of "Dumbledore" and start again from that paragraph.

Of Separate Houses


A few weeks later, Harry was waiting for Draco by the corner of one of the more ornamental greenhouses. Draco was living in Professor Snape's rooms, theoretically for the rest of the year, with the idea he would be back in the dormitories the next year. He appeared to be re-establishing himself in Slytherin, although not with the same classmates, except for Blaise. He and Snape were re-establishing a far older relationship, which seemed amicable, but structured along the lines of parent and child. Harry had noticed that Snape's subtle affection was coupled with a distinct decrease in the latitude he permitted Draco in class. Under the circumstances, Draco didn't dare sneak out at night. He and Harry made the most of their free daylight hours, frequently studying out by the lake. Hermione sat with them sometimes, and the few times she had Ron with her, he was friendly to Harry and civil to Draco.

Harry and Draco had decided they were seeing each other romantically, but since Draco was still unsure of his mother's reaction, they tried not to display this in public. Harry doubted he hid the change in his feelings as well as Draco did -- he could easily forbear from touching the blond, but he frequently found his gaze lingering longer than was appropriate. Sometimes, like now, they arranged to meet someplace private, to talk, and inevitably kiss. They had not done much more than that, yet, though over the last few days, Draco's hands had started to wander in ways Harry definitely liked, seeking out his nipples through his robe, or resting controllingly on his hips. Harry had to remind himself that he was the one who had set firm limits on their physical activities.

While Harry was reflecting on this, he saw Draco walking down from Hogwarts Castle. Harry moved around the corner, entered the greenhouse, and quickly checked that it was still otherwise unoccupied. That settled, he leaned against the wall on the far side of a large, but harmless vine, and waited for Draco.

When Draco entered, he looked around for a moment, then started walking along the path through the greenhouse. Harry let him draw even with his own position before stepping casually forward. Draco jumped impressively, nearly knocking over some potted succulents on the other side of the path.

"Harry!" he fumed. "Can't you ever just say 'hello?'"

"Hello," Harry said mischievously.

"Well!" Draco said, crossing his arms over his chest, "perhaps I won't tell you anything."

"Don't be cross, Dragon," Harry coaxed. "I made certain I wasn't across from anything that bit."

Draco laughed. "Kind of you, I'm sure," he commented. Harry pulled him back behind the vine, where they were shielded from the sight of anyone entering, and kissed him.

"So, what's your news?" he asked, a few minutes later.

"Oh..." Draco smirked. "I was talking about you with Mother.... a repeat of last week's discussion of how did I expect to survive this. Except this time I told her we were involved."

"And?"

"Well, she asked if I would still marry, and I said 'of course, mother,' at which she relaxed and asked me if I would like her to make up a new list of acceptable daughters of families 'favoring the opposition' and I quite gratefully accepted. Mother loves a challenge, especially one that involves social visits. By the end of the floo, she was in a flurry of plans and happy as a niffler at a carnival. She seems to have decided, quite on her own, that if I am in love with a man, I will be too preoccupied with him to interfere with her influences on my wife and children."

"Whereas you have told me this is strictly temporary." Harry could not restrain a scowl.

"Harry, I must have heirs." Draco looked haughtily determined. "And whatever Mother may think, when I have children at home, they will have my attention, and their mother will, as well."

"I've got to respect that, I suppose."

"You should do the same. You are the only living Potter, and you should have at least one son, to carry on the name, and at least one other child, to maintain the wizarding population."

"With a pureblood girl," Harry said mockingly.

"That would be best, but Hermione would be better than nothing."

Harry began to kiss him again. It was, he reflected, the easiest way to shut him up. Draco's hands slipped slowly down to his hips, then pulled him tightly close into his own body, his hips shifting slowly while he held Harry's still. Harry broke the kiss, gasping.

"Come on, now," Draco purred. "Rubbing isn't on your list."

Harry panted. "No, but..." When Harry had decreed they would not have sex that year, Draco had flustered him by demanding a complete list of all activities that qualified. Harry had eventually settled on "penetration, anywhere, and anything that brings one of us to orgasm." He was aware this left a large number of things they had not yet done. Certainly rubbing against each other, with their robes still on, yet, was well within this, he just hadn't expected it to be so....

"I don't mind," he said aloud. "It was just a little intense, that's all."

"I think we should get a bit more intense," Draco returned. "Since we only have a year."

Harry couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't sound resentful, so he kept quiet.

"If we still want," Draco said wistfully, "we could get back together when our youngest leave for school."

"It won't happen," Harry said. "Not if I marry. I wouldn't marry someone I didn't want to stay with."

Draco snorted. "Nothing like limiting your options!"

While Harry was wondering how to respond to that, he heard the greenhouse door open. They froze. Slowly, Draco eased away, and Harry peered between the huge, heart-shaped leaves of the vine. To his surprise, the person at the door was Professor Dumbledore. The headmaster's bright purple robes contrasted violently with the vivid green of the plants behind him. Harry stayed still. He had not spoken at length to the headmaster since confessing his experiments in Dark Arts, and he found himself feeling uneasy.

"Good afternoon, Draco," Dumbledore called brightly. Draco had stepped out into the pathway. "Might Harry be with you?"

Reluctantly, Harry stepped out as well.

"Pardon the interruption," the headmaster continued, "but I have matters to discuss with each of you, and another best discussed with both of you together." He waved his wand at a small, square, paved area among the plants, and a small wrought-iron cafe table appeared there, surrounded by three matching chairs and laden with a sumptuous afternoon tea. "Please sit."

With one apprehensive glance at each other, Harry and Draco sat. Dumbledore took the remaining chair. Harry could not help noticing that the bushes behind him bore flowers that exactly matched the color of Dumbledore's robes. If Dumbledore had sat first, he would have sworn the headmaster had planned it that way. If I were paranoid, I might even think that he planned interrupting us. Even after he leaves, I'm not going to be able to do anything with Draco, here, now.

"A lovely place," Dumbledore remarked. "I really should spend more time in Hogwarts' many gardens. Tea, Harry?"

Harry, remembering when last Dumbledore had offered him tea, had to work to repress a knee-jerk refusal. "Thank you," he said politely.

"One sugar, I recall," Dumbledore said blandly. He not only dropped that in, but added milk. The result looked right. Harry stirred the tea and took a cautious sip. He was mildly annoyed to find it perfect. That man is unreal! Sometimes I can't even get it perfect! he fumed silently, while the process was repeated with Draco, who seemed to accept a perfect cup of tea with considerably more aplomb.

When the matter of tea had been settled, the headmaster picked up a crumpet, spread it with a large quantity of jam, set it on his plate, and pushed all of it slightly to the side.

"Unpleasant matters first?" he suggested. Harry nodded. Draco shrugged.

"Very well. Lucius Malfoy's trial is finally scheduled. He will first be brought before the Council of Magical Law on July 14. Draco, I know you have been discussing various matters with both a solicitor and several of your relatives. If you need to have any face-to-face meetings while at Hogwarts, I can put a room -- or a floo-connected fire -- at your disposal. I think that would be better than continuing to use Professor Snape's rooms for this purpose. Professor Snape has also offered to host you for the summer. I suggest you stay at least until the trial, for your protection."

"Thank you, professor," Draco said. "I agree that would be best."

"You're quite welcome. I know you are in a difficult position on several fronts. Harry, I suggest you also attend the trial, as you may be called as a witness." Dumbledore smiled slightly at Harry, and his eyes shifted briefly to indicate Draco. "Even if you are not required, your presence will be welcome."

So I can calm down Draco, Harry thought, or keep him focused, anyway. Harry thought of asking if he could receive some sort of official summons, in order to frighten Uncle Vernon into allowing him to go, but decided he could forge one, if necessary.

"Where do I go?" he asked.

"The Leaky Cauldron, no earlier than the twelfth. There are places closer to the council hall, but I trust Tom. I will have him hold a warded room for you. Owl him to let him know when you plan to arrive."

Harry could not repress a smile. For once, he would get to see other wizards and witches only half-way through July. "It will probably be the highlight of my summer -- sorry, Draco."

Draco shrugged. Harry knew he understood.

Dumbledore took a small bite from the jam-laden crumpet. Harry sipped his tea and waited. Eventually, the headmaster continued.

"While considering how to convey this news to Draco, or, rather, how to find Draco that I might convey this news to him, I recalled a discussion we had the night before the Easter holidays."

Harry listened attentively. He had never dared ask Draco what he had discussed with Dumbledore, and Draco had never brought up the matter.

"He talked about how difficult it was to be friends with someone from another house. Harry, do you have any thoughts on the matter?

Harry looked curiously at Draco, then back at the headmaster.

"Well," he said, "it's easier now that the weather is good, but the time we can spend together is limited by that. We could meet in the library, but we can't really socialize there. We can't sit together at meals. We're in few classes together. We can meet in the early evening in the library only -- not a social space -- and not at all after that, unless we sneak out. We've gotten around a bit of it by picking up two special projects, but the professors can't do that for everybody."

"Draco?" Professor Dumbledore prompted.

"Doing it properly," Draco drawled, "which, just now, we are not, involves breaking school rules on a regular basis." He shrugged. "Once you are sneaking out to meet someone, somewhere you are not supposed to be, there is little incentive to obey any other rules."

"Do you agree, Harry?" Dumbledore asked lightly.

Harry thought about it. Malfoy, he remembered taunting, we're not supposed to be out of our dormitories at night. Partially, he had been trying to impress Draco with his bold disobedience, but his words had still been true. "I guess," he said. "Certain kinds of rules, anyway. Especially if you've found a place where you won't be caught."

"You can drink all night," Draco said, raising his eyebrows at Harry.

"And you can show me Dark curses," Harry returned, his mind full of the memory of scattered bones burning brilliant blue. He was belatedly startled by the almost lustful intensity of his own voice.

The headmaster cleared his throat. "I see."

Harry heated with embarrassment, but Dumbledore looked merely thoughtful.

"So," he asked. "Do you see any way to remedy this, short of allowing House visitors? That, I am sure, would cause a revolt among much of the staff and many parents."

Harry and Draco looked at each other.

"The Uncommon Room," Draco said.

"Yes," Harry agreed, and explained. "An interhouse common room. A social space, with the same evening hours as the library, maybe more, that anyone can use."

"Who would supervise this space?"

"The common rooms aren't always supervised," Harry objected.

"But the chances of a fight -- at least a bad one -- are higher in interhouse space," Draco countered.

"That's another reason for this," Harry returned. "We have too much animosity between houses. Everything we do is house against house. It makes people try harder, which is good, but it carries over to times we should cooperate, and then it's not productive." He frowned. "Could it be a rotating duty among the Prefects?"

"I don't believe they have time," Dumbledore objected. He looked suddenly mischievous. "Unless each house were to gain a third prefect."

"Not me!" Harry exclaimed.

Dumbledore laughed. "You are in no danger, Harry. I do not believe you qualify, either by academic standing or disciplinary record."

"Good."

"It might work," Dumbledore conceded. "There is an unused room near the library that would suit this purpose well." He looked at them. "Interhouse social space. Any other ideas?"

Again, Harry and Draco looked at each other.

"Pick up Quidditch," Harry said.

"Pardon?"

"Quidditch games for fun -- for people who may not be on house teams."

"Quidditch is rather dangerous, Harry. That would require even more supervision, and Madame Hooch does not have the time."

"She could train people from the house teams to supervise, and they could pick time slots. I would qualify for that."

"The person supervising could not play."

"At that time, yes."

"You do intend to be busy, next year, don't you, Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore said lightly. "Very well." He pointed to each of them in turn. "Gryffindor, Slytherin. You will be your house's representatives for planning the interhouse common room, and informal Quidditch games. I shall be responsible for breaking the bad news to Madams Hooch and Pomfrey. Who shall we have for planning each from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff?"

Harry was delighted. They set to the food in earnest as they discussed the few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs who might be interested in helping to plan such ventures.

While Draco rewrote and organized their list, and Dumbledore playfully tossed crumbs to a plant with rather active (and hungry) red flowers, Harry leaned back and reflected on the enormity of this little activity. Not only was he likely to have an unusually interesting summer, and a very full seventh year, but he could make Hogwarts, his real home, an even better place to be.






Note: I didn't want to continue this story too much past the climax, but there is some additional soap opera between chapter 44 and this chapter, and I'm doing some of out in an companion piece. (See storyid=1422477.)

I also have plans for a seventh-year sequel called Teamwork, but my current primary project is a Severitus Challenge piece called Blood Magic, so I don't know when Teamwork will happen.