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In all reality, Harry knew that his flat would not be nearly as bad if he cleaned a little, opened the curtains, and let people in, but the reality that Harry knew and trusted more was that he wanted to be alone. He wanted to live in this dank flat, alone.
Besides, if he did let people in, they would be able to hear his screams for help at night... His cries of agony as he relived all the times of being put under the Cruciatus.... His screams of anger at Dumbledore for ever telling him of the prophecy.... And most disturbing of all, his screams of ecstasy as he went over the edge in his sleep with an unknown face.
Some people might say that those dreams were not so bad, but Harry knew they were. It was as if somebody was reaching inside of his head, spreading their warm fingers over his body, exploring, caressing, and stroking. The person did not have a face, did not have a name, did not have a gender... All the entity had were hands that could play the body so well it was if they had been practising from birth. They were piano hands made for the body. They were hands that Harry loved and loathed.
The second war had ended two years ago, but it seemed as if it were only yesterday. When Harry, a young man of seventeen, eighteen in two days, had dragged his bloody and bedraggled body into the Headquarters of the Order, announced that Voldemort was indeed dead, a joyful cheer had rung out. But Harry did not notice it. He was tired... tired of it all. The young man had watched the small celebration with a detached sort of happiness. Though if one had been looking at him, really looking as only a few had done in those few moments of Harry's presence, they would have noticed that there were no outward traces of happiness.... There were only signs of weariness that only a boy his age could have held if he had just been through a war.
So, while standing there, watching his friends celebrate their victory, where he noticed with a prick of pain inside that none of them came to him to celebrate their happiness... or even to thank him, Harry came to a decision. It was time for something that had been coming for a long time. Harry caught Dumbledore's eye, who seemed to already know and gave a small, regretful nod his way before returning to Tonks who was changing her hair and nose in rapid succession in her own celebration. Harry scanned his green eyes over the crowd and saw Ron and Hermione dancing to their own music, laughing in joy. The dark-haired boy had tried to smile at them... for them, but nothing came but a grimace. Harry closed his eyes in an attempt to pull himself together and when he opened them again, his gaze caught onto a silver one. They held each other's gaze for a long while before the man with silver eyes moved forward.
"You're going to need some protection when you go out there, Potter."
Harry opened his mouth in protest.... After all, why would he need protection after he had just killed the most evil wizard in wizarding history? But Draco Malfoy only smirked and pulled a tiny object out of his cloak and enlarged an umbrella.
Harry opened his mouth once more to say something, but nothing came so he just took the umbrella with a small nod.
"Make sure you use it at all times, Harry. Never forget it because you always need to be protected from the rain, especially when it hails."
"Then I'll just go inside."
Draco got a fierce look on his face and poked Harry hard in the chest. "Don't you ever hide when things get rough! I know you're leaving, but I also know you'll stay. So, don't you dare hide from anybody or anything." Draco then flattened his hand against Harry's chest and they stood there for a few moments with Draco feeling Harry's suddenly racing heartbeat. "If you walk by me one day," he began softly, staring at his hand. "Don't forget to say hi. You'll always get an answer."
The blond stared at his hand for a few more moments then let his fingertips play gently down to Harry's navel. Without another word, Harry turned and left, feeling a burning sensation trickling down his front.
When Harry returned home at night from work, he would sometimes think of that last meeting with Draco Malfoy. It had been a weird thing, seeing concern directed towards him from a person who had never cared before. But yet, Draco had been there... one out of two people in a room of twenty to notice the inner turmoil inside of his head and heart.
On an early November night, Harry walked through the door to his flat and flipped on his light switch before throwing his coat onto the back of a kitchen chair. A golden hook gleamed in the light right above it, but it did not seem worth the effort to hang up the piece of clothing. Nothing ever did feel worth the effort anymore. He poured himself a cup of cold coffee and sat down next to the telephone, waiting for it to ring... but it never did. Harry had purchased the phone when he had moved in, but he could never remember it ringing more than once a week. When it did ring, it was always a telemarketer asking if he wanted to try their latest product.
The former Gryffindor drained his coffee and pulled the phone book towards him from across the counter, opened it to the P section, ran his finger down the list and spotted his name.
Potter, Harry J.
It was followed by his address in Notting Hill and his telephone number. So why didn't anybody ever call if he was listed? Did anybody not know how to use a Muggle telephone book? Surely Hermione did.
As the ageing post owl, Hedwig swooped through the only open window in the flat, Harry sighed and closed the book. "Were there any calls today, Hedwig?"
The snowy owl looked up from her perch with doleful eyes and gave a soft hoot.
"No. I didn't think so. There never are, are there? No post either, I suppose?" Hedwig answered by putting her head under her wing, feigning sleep. "Maybe the news will have something good for us then."
As he flipped on the television set, the newsreader's voice filled the room before the picture came on. "That is all coming up later in the weather. Speaking of weather, there have been reports of showers coming out of the blue skies up in southern Scotland. Just yesterday as kids were getting ready for some trick-or-treating on a beautiful Halloween day, rain inexplicably came out of nowhere. The rain lasted until early this morning and several residents are claiming to have small floods in their houses. Needless to say, trick-or-treating has been delayed until tonight. Thankfully, Halloween here in London was perfect for all the trick-or-treaters..." The reporter smirked. "And adults alike. Leona Ingleshore has more."
Harry sighed once more and turned the television off. "I'm going for a walk, Hedwig."
The owl looked outside as it started to rain, looked to Harry and hooted in what seemed to be disapproval. Or maybe Harry was so desperate for somebody or something to take care of him, that he was beginning to see things. Shaking his head, Harry grabbed his jacket and pulled it on. Just as he was leaving his flat, he reached inside of his closet and pulled out the black umbrella that Draco had given to him. It had never been opened since then, and Harry had thought he never would, but his body was urging him to open it up again. A hopeful flutter of anticipation that Harry could not explain swept through his stomach as he stepped out into the cold rain and opened it up.
It really was a dreary evening. The darkened sky was covering the setting sun, making it seem as though there was no sun left for the day. Street lamps began to flicker on and cast their orange glow. Harry walked at a leisurely pace with his shadow as his only friend. It was only then in the pouring rain that Harry fully realised that he wanted... no needed a true friend. Only now it had been so long since he had had one that he did not know if he was capable of it anymore. Who would want him back anyway? He had done his job. He had fulfilled the prophesy and now everybody was living happily ever after in their nice houses with a white picket fence.... maybe even a dog, or in a wizard's case, a crup.
Who needed Harry Potter anymore? Nobody wanted him now that he had fulfilled his purpose in life. He was yesterday's news and tomorrow's garbage.
The rain was coming down in torrents now, making rivers in the streets and puddles on the sidewalk. Harry's shoes were soaked completely through and the water was running up his legs, weighing down his trousers. The wind was coming at him, rendering the umbrella useless as it pounded relentlessly on his face. For a moment, Harry considered reaching into his pocket to mutter the Impervius spell on himself, but he was already wet so it did not really matter.... Just like everything else. A woman parked her car across the street and ran towards Harry with a newspaper over her head and then fumbled with her keys to get into her house. As Harry looked down from her, he noticed a black purse running down the river in the street and hurried to pick it up. The woman was still fumbling with her keys as he approached her with the small handbag.
"Excuse me, miss? I think you may have dropped this in the street."
She turned around in alarm, looked down at the purse and gave a cry of relief.
"Oh, thank you! I never even noticed I had dropped it! It's so kind of you to return it to me."
"It was nothing."
Harry adjusted the umbrella so that it was protecting them both from the rain.
"I just hate the rain sometimes," the woman began. "I'm having the hardest time with my keys right now. They just keep slipping through my fingers. I need to put on some tea when I get in to warm myself." She began to fumble with her keys again, so Harry gently took them from her.
"Which one is it?"
"Oh... the gold one."
Harry deftly picked it out as if it were a snitch, stuck it in the lock, opened the door and returned the keys. "There you go. Have a nice night."
He began to turn away but she called after him. "Won't you come in and warm up a bit? It's such a dreadful night out."
"Oh, I really couldn't intrude. Besides, I'm so wet already, I wouldn't want to get your home all wet."
The woman's blue eyes sparkled. "I don't think that'll be a problem considering who my house guest is. I insist. Do come in and I'll make you a nice cup of tea."
Harry paused for a moment, but the human contact was nearly enough to either send him into raving fits of laughter or tears. It had been so long since he had had personal, intimate contact with a person other than at the coffee shop that he worked at.
He nodded his dark, sodden head slowly. "That would be nice. Thank you."
She stepped inside with a small smile and let him in. "My name is Lorelei, by the way," she said as she offered her hand.
"It's nice to meet you. Do you live around here?"
"Yes. I live a few streets away."
"And you have been walking tonight?"
Harry shrugged guiltily with a small smile as he closed the umbrella. "It's a habit I can't break... even when it's raining."
"Well, I'd say walking was good for your health, but considering that you're probably going to catch a cold because of it, I won't say it. Stay right here for a few moments while I go get some towels. Take off your shoes and socks while you wait."
With those words, she darted up the stairs to the left and down a hallway where Harry heard her banging some doors around as she searched her rooms and cupboards. As he waited, her voice drifted down the stairs, followed by a more distinct male voice. The man upstairs laughed softly and began to move around as if looking for something. When Lorelei returned, she was holding a stack of towels, a pair of men's dark green, silk pyjamas and a black bath robe.
"These towels have been warmed courtesy of my very charming cousin. I would have done it for you, but well..." here she grimaced slightly. "I sort of broke mine, so..."
Harry raised an eyebrow but took a towel and began to rub down his wet head. "There's a bathroom just down the hall here... third door on the right. You may go in there and change into these pyjamas. I'll take your clothes and dry them for you. Meanwhile, I will put on some tea. Now on with you before you get really sick."
She shooed him down the hallway and into the bathroom. Harry slowly undressed, thinking that he could have just dried his clothes with his wand, cast Impervius on himself and leave... but he could feel that something was making him stay. He dried his boxers with his wand and then slid on the other man's pyjama bottoms. As he brought the top up, something made him bring it to his nose and inhale the scent that lay upon it. It smelled of spice and lemons... it was something distinctly familiar, but Harry couldn't put his finger on it. With one last sniff, Harry wrapped it around his small frame and buttoned the front. As he wrapped the robe around himself, he looked at his reflection in the mirror.
His once handsome face had sunken in with neglect, his eyes had dark bags underneath, the green had faded, and a sadness had mixed in with the haunted look that had come with war. The look was even more pronounced since he had bought contacts. His eyes were open for everybody and he did not think people would like what was there. Even his normally messy hair had become even more so. After running his fingers through it, he neatly folded his clothes and left the bathroom.
Lorelei was just coming down the hall toward him and smiled brightly. "Ah, just in time! I'll bring your clothes upstairs for drying. You can go in the kitchen and help yourself to some biscuits. The tea will be ready in a few minutes."
"Thank you," Harry said quietly.
He could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed by all the attention he was getting. Never, in all his life could he remember getting so much positive attention from anybody. Mrs. Weasley had always been nice and very motherly, but she had always been there when Harry was being particularly neglected by the Dursley's after a few months. Now, this strange woman was taking him in after two years of self-neglect and loneliness and in doing so, giving him exactly what he needed. As he sat down at a bar stool in the kitchen, a lone tear escaped his eye but he hastily wiped it away.
There's no need for this, he thought angrily. You did this to yourself!
At the end of this thought, Lorelei walked cheerily back in as the teapot whistled. In a few minutes, Harry had a steaming cup warming his hands. The blonde woman sat next to him and studied him for a few moments.
"I don't mean to be nosy or anything, but what exactly happens to make a man gain the habit of walking every night, no matter the weather?"
Harry shrugged half-heartedly. "A lot of things really."
Harry hesitated, but found that he needed to say something and get it off his chest before he exploded from the pent up emotion from not being able to speak to anybody. "Well... I suppose I've lost a lot of people... like my parents, my godfather, my parent's good friend, a professor I was particularly fond of, a professor I wasn't so fond of, but respected all the same, my only blood relatives..." Harry gave a dry laugh. "Do you want me to continue with that list, or have I thoroughly depressed you already?"
"Oh, I've heard and seen more than you know. I could probably take more than that, but you don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
Harry hesitated as he took a long drink from his cup. ".... I suppose I walk because I've been alone for so long," Harry finally admitted aloud. "To tell you the truth, I haven't seen any of my friends or Dr.... or anybody in two years."
Lorelei creased her eyebrows. "So... I'm the first person you have seen in all this time?"
"Oh... no! I work in a coffee shop just around the corner, but I just haven't spoken to anybody I care about in all that time."
"It may sound silly but it just feels like... I've lived out my purpose in life already. When everything really horrible in my life ended a couple years ago, I saw everybody celebrating together... but nobody approached me to celebrate. I was alone as I've always been. I didn't have any real family left and my friends were finding each other while I was finding that nobody really wanted me other than to rid them of what had been plaguing them for so long. Since I had done that... nobody needed me anymore, so I left."
Harry smiled without emotion and took another long drink of his tea.
"How can you be so sure that nobody at all wanted you around? Surely there was somebody who wanted you, who loved you."
Harry had a brief memory of the piano hands in his dreams. Then silver eyes flashed, and before he knew what had happened, Lorelei was there in front of him, a curious look on her face. "There must have been somebody," she continued, unaware of what Harry was seeing.
"If there was," Harry said quietly. "I never knew."
"I remember," came Lorelei's house guest's voice from behind Harry, "borrowing this umbrella to a friend a couple years ago. I've been wondering if he lost it, or just lost his way back home, because apparently, he lived with his best friend before he went out on a walk, but never went back."
Harry stiffened slightly in his seat, but did not turn. He turned his head to the opposite side as the man laid the umbrella next to him. The three adults sat in silence for a few moments until Harry turned his head, only to find that Draco Malfoy was staring down at him with an eyebrow raised in expectation. Harry was about to ask what he was staring at, but then remembered his last words.
"If you walk by me one day, don't forget to say hi. You'll always get an answer."
Harry swallowed thickly as he stared back. "Hi," he whispered.
Draco's mouth quirked at the corners and he pushed Lorelei to another seat so that he could sit next to Harry. "Hey. You did quite a number on your clothes out there in the rain. I thought I told you to take this umbrella for protection, not to just carry it because it looks pretty."
Despite himself, Harry chuckled a little. "Believe me, the last thing I was worried about is looking pretty."
The blond nodded. "I can see that," he replied as he gave Harry a once over with his eyes.
Harry blushed crimson and looked away. "Seriously, Harry. You don't look so well. Are you sick?"
"No, of course not. I have nobody to impress, so why should I bother?"
"To make yourself feel good? What happened to your glasses?"
"Contacts. I needed a change."
"Well, at least that part looks good."
"Honestly, Draco!" Lorelei admonished. "You really are terrible!"
Once again, Harry shrugged. "I'm used to it, really. He's never been any different towards me. In fact, I would say this is downright friendly."
"Okay... I'm confused," she began, looking between them. "How do you know each other?"
"Lorelei," Draco sighed in a long suffering voice. "Sometimes, I wish you'd screw in your brain in the morning. Do you not recognise who this man is? He's only the person I used to complain about the most during Hogwarts." Draco then adopted a good impression of his whiny voice of fourteen. "The Golden Boy gets away with everything just because he has that stupid scar on his forehead."
A slow dawning comprehension flitted across the woman's face. "Oh... you're Harry Potter?"
"The one and only," Harry sighed as he looked away again.
"People have been looking for you this whole time!" she exclaimed.
"If they really wanted to find me, they would have already. I live in bloody Notting Hill, and I'm listed in the phone book. It wouldn't be that hard because I'm not in hiding," Harry said fiercely.
Harry stood from his seat as he felt his throat clench and his heart twist painfully in his chest. "Thank you for the tea and letting me warm up. If you don't mind, I think I'll go home. Could I have my clothes, please?"
"Now wait just a bloody minute, Potter!" Draco exclaimed as he stood up. "You're not going anywhere now that I've seen you again. For your information, I'm staying with Lorelei because I found you. I found you ages ago but I've been waiting for you and it was just lucky chance that you helped her out tonight and came in to warm up. You're not going anywhere!"
"Accio clothes," Harry said calmly and his clothes came flying at him moments later. With another flick of his wand, his clothes had been exchanged for the pyjamas and they flew neatly onto the counter. "Impervius. Thank you again, Lorelei. It was nice meeting you."
Without another word, Harry turned and walked towards the door, but before he could open it, Draco spun him around, looking positively livid. "You're not going home, Potter. You're staying here where I can keep an eye on you."
"No. I'm going home, Malfoy. Let go of my arm."
They stared each other down for a few moments before Draco relented. "Fine. Go home then. But take the umbrella."
"Thank you, but no. I'm covered. Thank you for letting me borrow it. It's come in handy the past couple years," Harry lied.
They stared at each other for a few seconds before Harry turned to leave again. His progress was arrested once more however when Draco laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Please," Draco whispered. "Please don't leave again, Harry."
Harry slowly turned to face the other man. Draco ran his hands down Harry's arms as if playing the piano, before snaking an arm around his thin waist and pulling their bodies impossibly close. Draco's right hand played back up Harry's arm to his neck before resting on his chin. Harry held in a soft moan as the blonde's other hand played the small of his back as if he had done so millions of times in his life.
"Stay," Draco whispered as he brought his lips closer to Harry's.
Harry's eyes fluttered shut as he moved his head backward. "I don't.... I don't know how to do what you're asking me," Harry whispered shakily. "You're asking so much of me."
Draco brought his hand up to Harry's damp hair and ran his fingers through it. "I'll teach you. I'll be there for everything you don't know. Just please... stay. We'll go through everything together."
Harry untangled his body from the other man's grasp and stumbled backward into the door. "I can't," he shook his head. "I can't. I'm sorry."
Without looking back, Harry tore the door open and ran out into the rain. That night, he woke up two times crying out a name that he could never remember as he came.
Two more months passed in a monotonous rhythm. Harry woke after a night of dreaming of piano hands countless times, went to work, came home, ate dinner instead of cold coffee, watched the news, and where he would have taken a walk, he pulled food of all kinds in front of him and ate until he fell asleep on the couch. After a couple weeks, his boss had even mentioned that he was looking like he was getting healthier by putting some meat on his body. On a Saturday in late January, Harry left his flat to get some more food - something that he was doing at least twice a week now. He bundled up as best as he could and walked to the local grocery.
As he was picking up his milk, two familiar voices reached his ear.
"I'm so glad we listened to Draco," said the girl's voice. "This really is a nice place to live, and this store is so close to home."
"I don't trust it," the man grunted. "Why would that blond bugger care where we live anyway? There's probably something wrong with our house."
"Honestly, Ronald. He has been trying to make amends with you for years now. Just give the man a chance."
"Hermione," Ron whinged. "Stop defending him. He's the devil incarnate."
"Hush, Ron. He was really quite nice to mention Notting Hill to us."
"Still... you have to wonder why he did though, right?"
"Because he thought it would be nice for us to live here. Just drop it already and get the eggs."
As their bickering stopped, Harry slowly turned his head and saw his two best friends for the first time in over two years. He swore to himself right then and there that he would kill Draco for this. Tucking his milk, beer, and pretzels under his arm, Harry turned in the opposite direction and ran. He flew through the aisles, and tore around corners, intent on getting to the front of the store. But as he flew around his third corner, he ran smack into another person and went flying to the floor. The bottles of alcohol smashed loudly on the floor, the cap came off the jug of milk, causing it to spill and the pretzels were smashed underneath Harry's bottom.
"Bloody fucking hell!" he screamed in frustration. "Watch where I'm going, you idiot!"
His collision buddy only laughed and picked the angered man off the floor. "Calm down, Harry."
Harry looked up angrily, and his anger was peaked even more when he saw that it was Draco again. "Bloody hell! You great sod! You're always in my way! And where the hell do you get off, telling people where to live?"
"Oh. So you spoke with Weasley and Grang... Weasley and Weasley I see?"
Harry stopped in shock for a moment, feeling something inside of him twist with the worst kind of pain he had ever felt. He clenched his jaw. "No. I saw and heard them speaking. Now get out of my way you sodding piece of--"
"Come now," Draco replied idly as he turned to face Ron who had just come around the corner to see what the racket was. "You just ruined his rant. I believe he was going to call me something quite nasty. Go on, Harry. Let's hear it."
"Stop calling me Harry, you stupid piece of--"
Harry let out a frustrated growl at Hermione who had joined Ron.
"Now, we'll never get anywhere if you two keep interrupting what he has to say to me," Draco said, amusement clear on his face.
"I have nothing to say to you, Malfoy. And the name is Potter to you."
Harry waved his wand and banished the mess around them before the Muggles could see. He did not feel much like paying for his damaged goods.
"What's broken?" asked the manager as he ran to them.
"Nothing," Harry growled out and began to sweep past his school mates.
"But Harry!" Hermione called after him.
Harry spun around and glared. "What Hermio... or should I say Mrs. Weasley?" Harry felt something twist in his chest again as he said it. "Thanks for the invitation."
"But you ran away!" Ron cried out. "We didn't know where you were!"
"I've lived in bloody Notting Hill. Hermione, you know how to use a phone book! I'm listed under P because my name is Potter if you remember. P-O-T-T-E-R. If you had wanted to find me, you would have found me ages ago..." Harry looked at Draco. As they met eyes, a jolt ran through Harry's body and he shivered in unexpected pleasure. "Just like Draco."
Draco offered him a small smile and wink. Harry held back a smile as best he could, but one escaped at the last moment, so he turned back to Ron and Hermione. His scowl was back in place in an instant. "I don't care if we are neighbors now, just as long as you keep out of my way."
"But... Harry," Hermione whispered desperately. "You're our best friend. We have wanted to find you ever since you left! You have no idea what we felt like. I'm sorry we never thought of looking you up! Sometimes the most obvious place to look is the last place you look.... just please forgive us, Harry. We do love you, and we do miss you dearly. Please... Harry, you look sick. Please let us take care of you."
Harry felt something inside of him crack. Hermione had no idea how those words had affected him. He did want somebody to take care of him. He could not remember a time when he was truly taken care of by anybody to get better except by Madam Pomfrey, but that just was not the same. He wanted somebody who loved him. He wanted somebody who truly cared for him. He wanted a warm body to hug. He wanted a person to call his own. He wanted somebody that he could love back.
Harry closed his eyes tightly as his breathing became erratic with the effort to keep back tears of sorrow. Two tears leaked out unchecked down his cheeks and fell to the floor. "No," he shook his head. "I... I... I don't need anybody," he whispered brokenly. He silently cursed himself as he lied. Why was he lying? Hermione was offering him everything he had wanted and needed so desperately since before he left. But then the memory of the celebration entered his head and his face hardened. "You don't care. All anybody wanted me for was for...." Without caring that there were probably Muggles around, Harry Disapparated with a small pop back into his flat.
"I don't need anybody!" he yelled, making Hedwig hoot indignantly at being woken up and fly out of the window.
Harry fell to his knees as he buried his face in his hands and cried for the first time that he could remember since his fourth year.
That night as he fell asleep on the couch, he dreamed of piano hands. Only this time, their mission was to comfort.
Harry did not go into work the next day. He called in sick, claiming to have the flu. The truth was, was that he just wanted to sleep all day. If he wanted, he could quit his job anyway. There was plenty of money in his Gringott's vault. Much to the former Gryffindor's dismay, his plans for the day were rudely dashed when his doorbell rang repeatedly.
Slowly, in the hopes that his visitor would get the point and go away, Harry stood from his place on the couch and went to the door. But the person was still ringing his bell by the time he got there.
"Would you stop!" he exclaimed as he opened the door.
Draco was standing on his threshold, smiling like he had not a care in the world. He stepped past Harry into the darkened flat. The blond surveyed his surroundings for a few moments before going to every window and opening all the curtains and windows, letting a cold breeze blow through.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked indignantly. "I have the heat on and that's going to waste my money!"
"Bollocks. You have all the money in the world and this place needs to be aired out and cleaned. Don't you ever do housework?"
"This coming from a man who grew up in a mansion with house elves as servants?"
"Maybe, but I do my fair share of it now. Lorelei is quite the bitch when she wants to be. She has too many Muggle friends you see... doesn't want to explain a house elf."
Harry stepped toward Draco as silence descended upon them. "What are you doing here?" he finally asked.
"To see you."
"Why do you care?"
Draco smirked. "I don't know. There's just something about you that screams 'love me! Take care of me!' Is it so wrong to want to be the one to do it?"
"After everything we've been through together? You're right. I should care as much as I care about a pig's arse. I should continue despising you as I've always done... but I don't and there's nothing for it. Frankly, I don't want to do anything about it... except of course, be here with you."
Harry let out a strangled breath. "But I... I don't need anybody," he choked out. "I'm fine..."
"Oh yes, that's right," Draco replied as he sat gracefully on the couch, stretched his long legs out and crossed them at the ankles. "That's why you get all emotional every time something about being alone or taken care of is mentioned. You don't need anybody at all."
"I don't!" Harry said forcefully. "Why would I need anybody in my life who only wanted me around when I was good for something? When I was only kept around because of the prophecy... when I was the one who had to kill Voldemort? Nobody ever really cared about me, and they still don't! Why should I need anybody? I've been alone my entire life... I don't." His protest ended weakly and by the end of it, Draco was on his feet again, moving towards him.
"That's just the thing, Harry. You do need somebody because you've been alone your entire life. If not Weasley and Granger, why not me? I want to take care of you. I want to clean your flat up, get you some real food, get you into the sun to get some life back into you.... I want you, Harry. If you haven't noticed, I've wanted you for a long time." When Harry was still silent, Draco continued. "If you don't want me, just tell me what you want and I'll give it to you."
"What I want isn't real."
"What is it?"
"I want.... I want piano hands."
"I'm sorry.... what?"
"Piano hands.... The hands in my dreams! I want them to have a body, I want to feel them on me while I'm awake."
Draco's face remained impassive as he moved to Harry and wrapped his arms around his waist. "If you want your piano hands, you need to be willing to close your eyes when a person touches you.."
"I..." Harry crinkled his brow. "What?"
"Chances are, Harry, are that these piano hands that you speak of are not going to found. If these piano hands are the only things that can keep you happy, you'll need to walk into a relationship with your eyes closed. And I can honestly say that that is not the best way to start a relationship."
"I don't want to start anything with my eyes closed," Harry declared firmly.
"Good. Close your eyes."
"I'm sorry... what?" Harry asked again.
"Close your eyes," Draco repeated.
"Close your eyes and remember the hands in your dreams. Remember what they looked like, remember how they moved over your body. As you remember that, put the first face you can to the hands."
Harry stared incredulously at Draco's serious face for a moment but slowly complied with the strange request. A darkness shrouded his vision as he remembered the dreams. The only thing that he could see were a pair of bodiless hands descending down to his body as they did every night in his dreams. They smoothed over Harry's face, tickled the back of his neck, played with his nipples and moved down to the nether regions of Harry's unexplored body. Harry closed his eyes in the dream as the pleasure mounted. A kiss was planted in the nape of Harry's neck, and he opened his eyes to the darkness once more, only to be faced with a smiling Draco Malfoy with an odd light casting off of him. Harry did not think twice about it but threw his head back in abandonment as Draco's piano hands continued their work.
With the escaped words, Harry snapped back to reality, realising that he was not in fact, dreaming, but was standing in front of the real Draco Malfoy, who was looking pleasantly curious.
"Piano hands now has a name, I see," he commented dryly. "And he seems to give you immense pleasure."
"Shut up," Harry muttered, turning away as his face coloured. "That's not the only thing they do. They comfort me when I need it."
"So... do you know another man by the name of Draco, or do I have reason to be hopeful now?"
"I don't know," Harry answered, turning back to him. "I saw you... but I've never considered myself to be--"
"Gay? Does the word really mean anything? Love doesn't know age or gender."
"You love me?" Harry breathed out.
Draco held Harry's eyes without flinching or shying away. "I suppose now is as good a time to tell you as any. Yes, I do. Don't bloody ask me how it happened, but it did, and now I just don't care that I love you as I once did. I just want you and that's all that matters."
"You ask stupid questions, Harry."
Harry turned away and bit his lip. "Why should I be with you, Draco?"
Draco rolled his eyes as inconspicuously as he could and turned away sighing. "Because Harry... I will give you want you need. I will be the thing that you need. All that mushy stuff... I'll be it for you, all right? Is that answer enough?"
"You don't know what I need though."
"We've been through this, I think. I know you better than you know and I know exactly what you need, Harry. You need a person to take care of you. You need a person who will love you and that you can love back unconditionally. You need to feel needed, wanted. You need a proper family. You need people... plain and simple. Oh and let's not forget piano hands." Draco waggled his hand in front of Harry's face with an arrogant smirk on his face. "Can't live without these, can you?"
When Harry looked to the floor, Draco ran his hand gently down Harry's face and cupped his chin. "You need me," Draco whispered.
Draco could feel Harry's body trembling under his touch, could feel the resolve faltering, and could feel the need for a person to care for him begin to break through. In one, quick motion, Harry fell into Draco's body, wrapping his arms around the blonde's neck as if it were a lifeline.
"I want you to love me," Harry whispered desperately. "I don't want anybody but you."
"I do love you," Draco soothed. "One day though, I'm going to make you go out there and let other people love you like they do." Harry tensed in Draco's arms. "Don't worry... I'll be with you." Harry relaxed and kissed Draco's neck. "For now though, we'll sit on this couch together and I'll play the role of comfort piano hands."
Draco guided Harry to the couch and they fell unceremoniously onto it with Harry's legs draped over the former Slytherin's legs and head cradled in Draco's neck. "I'll play something smooth and mellow for you now... but later," Draco smirked, "I'll take you into the bedroom and play you some Mozart."
Harry smiled against his neck and even laughed a little as Draco's hands played in his hair and small of his back.
"My pianist," Harry murmured as he drifted off, listening and feeling the music being played on his body and heart.