Chapter Twenty-Three: No Longer Fighting It
Draco sat in the Slytherin section of the Quidditch stands, wondering what he was doing. And he didn't just mean being at the game that he'd said he wouldn't be attending.
Harry flew past, shooting Draco a quick grin as he did, and Draco smiled faintly in return. No one would be able to tell he was fighting with himself about his feelings for Harry and that he wished his father was alive to tell him that everything would be all right. But if Lucius had not died, Draco wouldn't be in any sort of relationship with Harry. It had taken changed circumstances and a lot of time for him and Harry to even somewhat like each other. The progression of their relationship from rivals to close partners to something more had happened slowly, and Draco wasn't certain he was ready for love, with all the hearts and flowers and nauseating sentimentality that went hand-in-hand with it.
It was his own fault, though. He had been the one to initiate the change in his and Harry's relationship. In front of Harry's friends, no less. Dean Thomas had been giggling like a loon, Longbottom had stared with his usual dumbfounded expression, and the Weasel had been purple with anger, when Draco had pulled away from Harry after kissing him. Draco hadn't the time to be concerned at the audience, because Harry had fisted his hand in Draco's hair and returned the kiss with an intensity that had scattered Draco's worried thoughts to the wind. He hadn't panicked or questioned his sanity until much later that night, when he had been alone with his kiss-swollen lips and Harry-shaped fingerprint bruises.
Draco didn't know what the heck he was doing. He was barely sixteen and hadn't ever been in a relationship that went beyond the mores of friendship. Plus, he had been devastated when Harry had died a month ago and Draco had barely liked him then, so how would he survive with the other 'L'-word involved? No, Draco may have stopped lying to himself, but he was still fighting falling in love.
"Is this seat taken?"
Draco turned from watching Harry to see Dumbledore standing nearby. "Not at all, Headmaster," he answered, moving his Firebolt off the bench.
Dumbledore lifted his colorful robes and sat beside Draco. He smiled jovially. "I understand that there's been a new development in your relationship with Mr. Potter."
Draco made a non-committal sound and pretended to focus on the game. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dumbledore's amused expression.
"I shall take that as a yes," Dumbledore said. "I also shall not pry, however, if you have any questions or concerns..." He left the statement dangling.
"Actually, I do have a question." Draco turned to Dumbledore. "What are Potter and I going to do now that Voldemort is dead? And for that matter, why was it so easy to kill him? I thought he was supposed to be one of the best wizards in the world?"
"He was, Draco. He was," Dumbledore said. "Those that had gone to fight Voldemort directly sadly ended up being killed within moments of facing him, like Harry." Dumbledore nodded towards the Gryffindor seeker, who hovered in the air above the field, nearby. "Duels with Voldemort were never drawn out. He was simply too powerful. It took your intelligence and cunning, and a bit of luck that Voldemort chose to attempt a spell he'd never heard of, to defeat him.
"As for what Mr. Potter and yourself are going to do next, I would hope that you both would continue striving to be the finest wizarding partners this world has ever seen." Dumbledore leaned closer, sharing a confidence, his eyes twinkling. "Have no fear, Draco. A romance is no different than what you two already have, only with kissing."
Draco felt a blush crawl up his neck to stain his cheeks. Maybe if he begged again, Blaise would kill him.
"Ah, it looks like Harry has caught the snitch." Dumbledore clapped politely before rising and bidding Draco farewell. "Have a pleasant day, Mr. Malfoy."
"Thank you, sir," Draco said.
The spell-heated stands were slow to clear and Draco's section was still fairly full as yet when Harry flew overhead, still wearing his Quidditch uniform.
"Hey, Malfoy," Harry called to him, "are we playing?"
Draco glanced at his fellow Slytherins, who were staring and whispering not very quietly about him and Harry. He'd have to put up with this sort of thing all the time if he chose to pursue Harry. Was Harry worth it?
Harry lay prone on his Firebolt, like a large cat draped on a tree branch. He grinned challengingly at Draco. "Or are you too out of practice to take me on?"
"Ha!" Draco was standing on the bench, his own Firebolt in hand, in an instant. "You wish." The question about Harry's worth was rhetorical anyway.
Draco took flight, meeting Harry in the middle of the Quidditch field. Other students and professors were still in the stands around them and would be witness to a game of midnight Quidditch played during the afternoon. Harry and Draco ignored them as Harry took the enchanted snitch from his pocket and activated it. It shot straight up into the air and out of sight.
"Are we going to pick up our lessons again, too?" Draco searched the sky for the snitch. "Dumbledore implied that he hopes we do."
"I'd like that," Harry said. "I'm sorry I stopped them."
"It's your prerogative; you're the teacher." Draco looked over at Harry. "You know, I asked once what you got out of teaching me and you never answered."
"Life." Harry gazed off in the distance, the tattoo spider crawling over the double lightning bolt scar on his forehead. "Teaching you gave me a reason to keep living, if only to see you surpass me." He looked over at Draco. "I was going to go after Voldemort by myself at the end of last summer. I think Dumbledore figured that out and that's why he sent you to me instead of to your mother."
"Ah. Smart man, that Dumbledore, for a complete nutter," Draco said. He caught sight of a fleck of greenish gold on the far side of the field. "I suppose this is where I tell you that I'm glad he sent me to you and all that rubbish, but I think I'll catch the snitch instead."
Harry's laughter followed Draco as he shot after the snitch. Draco smiled genuinely at the sound.
Harry caught up to Draco in a flash. "By the way, Malfoy," he said conversationally. "I never actually believed that you dyed your hair."
With that, Harry smiled one of his famous smiles, flipped around, and went after the snitch as it suddenly changed direction.
Draco Malfoy gave up fighting it. Harry Potter had the heart of a Slytherin, after all -- his.
I hope you have enjoyed this alternate fifth year story. There is no sequel planned, so you'll just have to use your imagination as to what happens next. If you have any further questions, please email me and I'll be happy to answer you. I hope you'll take a chance on my other stories. Thank you for reading.