Hi guys! I've been trying to find time to write this story for a long time. I haven't written any H/D in a while, and I think this is a fun one. It's not strictly canonical, but we can bend the rules a bit. Personally, I am pretending it happens after the war, and everybody has come back to Hogwarts to finish up Seventh Year. With things exactly the same between Harry and Malfoy. So...in that case, it works. Yeah. We'll go with that. Besides, it's mostly humor, so I think it's allowed a little wiggle room. Anyway, hope you enjoy!
Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules. Douglas Adams
Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell. Shana Alexander
Harry Potter, as a general rule, did not like Monday mornings. But he knew, from the moment he woke up, that this particular Monday morning was probably not going to be one of his favorites.
He was the last one awake in the dorms. Light was streaming in through the windows, and even Neville was gone. Thatwas how he knew he had probably missed breakfast.
As he entered the Common Room, the buzz of voices stopped, and fifteen pairs of eyes turned to stare at him. Seamus dropped his wand. And it was about then that Harry Potter gave up all hope for the week and considered simply going back to bed.
Ron and Hermione were standing at the bottom of the staircase, peering up anxiously at him. Harry was forcibly remembered of the time in Third Year they had banded together to confront him about Sirius Black. When he neared the bottom of the staircase, Hermione darted forward and grabbed his pajama sleeve.
"Come on, Harry," she said. "We need to talk to you, and we won't be able to get a moment of privacy in here."
Harry tugged his wrist out of her grasp and yawned, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
Hermione tapped her foot and looked as if she was barely stopping herself from rolling her eyes. "Oh, come on, let's—let's just go."
Ron, who had not said a word, nodded grimly. He looked slightly green as he pushed past Seamus, Dean, and Lavender to the portrait hole. Hermione followed, dragging Harry behind her. All eyes in the Common Room turned to follow them, and Harry was suddenly extremely conscious of his socks, gray with holes that his toes poked through.
He jumped through the portrait hole behind Hermione. As the Fat Lady swung shut behind them, Harry heard voices begin to pick up again. He was beginning to feel distinctly out of place.
"I hope Malfoy doesn't see us," he complained aggressively. "I'm sure he'd have a thing or two to say about these pajamas." He gestured at himself; his pajamas were red with tiny gold snitches flitting around the fabric.
Hermione looked exasperated. "Don't worry, Harry," she said. "I'm sure Malfoy won't mind, it's such a small thing. I know he—um, cares."
"Oh, god," moaned Ron, the first sound Harry had heard from him all morning. "Harry—why?"
Harry stared blankly. "What are you two on about?"
Hermione pursed her lips and, once again, grabbed him by the wrist. She dragged him to the nearest classroom and poked her head in before dragging him in behind her. Ron followed meekly after, like a kicked puppy.
"Sit," Hermione ordered sternly. Ron collapsed against the wall, heaving a sigh. She glared at him impatiently. "Not you," she said. "Harry."
Harry, feeling that it was probably best to get whatever-it-was over with, obeyed, sitting atop the nearest desk with his feet dangling just above the floor. Hermione pulled Ron to his feet, and they looked down on him from either side of the desk. Hermione, now that she had everything just-so, looked almost excited. She looked as if she couldn't decide whether to hug him or yell at him. Ron just looked decidedly green.
But when Hermione spoke, her voice was unexpectedly soft. "Harry," she asked. "Harry, why didn't you tell us?"
Harry blinked. "Erm, what?"
Hermione bounced on her toes and grabbed his hand. "I mean, we're your best friends, Harry—you must have known we'd support you. Granted, I probably would have picked someone else—but if you're really committed, then good for you."
A mangled laugh croaked out of Ron's throat. Hermione glared at him menacingly. "Ron agrees with me," she said severely. "Don't you, Ron?"
Ron stared at his feet. He looked as if he wanted to bolt. "I support you," Ron mumbled hastily. "And we'll always be friends, and it really doesn't matter, and I'm not even mad that you didn't tell me." Then he looked up defiantly, and Harry was fairly sure that this was not in the script. "But I still think he's a slimy rat, no matter what you think, Harry."
Hermione slapped his wrist. "Ron!" she cried indignantly, before focusing her attention on Harry. "What Ron's trying to say," she said helpfully, "Is that we still love you, even if your decisions are a bit unorthodox."
"Rat," Ron muttered.
Harry jumped off the desk, feeling vaguely terrified. "Hang on!" he said. "I really don't know what you're talking about."
Hermione flung her arms around his shoulders and hugged him tightly. "Harry, honestly, we know all about it, and we don't care." Had he killed someone recently? "I'm sure he's really a lovely boy once you get to know him." She pulled away and scrutinized him. "Would you like us to call him Draco? Because I'm sure we could, if he agreed to be civil."
"Hermione, stop pretending," Harry begged. "What is it?"
At this point, Ron could take it now longer. He looked up from where he had been standing silent a few feet away, and burst, "Well, you stop pretending. We heard all about it. Everybody in the Common Room was talking about how you're in love with Draco Malfoy."
Everybody in the Slytherin Common Room was talking about it, too.
"Oh, yes," Draco Malfoy said enthusiastically. "We've been dating for about six weeks. He's a bit shy, you know, but I decided it was time to come clean."
Pansy Parkison clasped her hands under her chin. "Are you in love, Draco?" she crooned.
Draco considered the crowd before him solemnly. Blaise and Pansy were sitting on the ground on either side of him, and Crabbe and Goyle were sitting a few feet away. Theodore Nott was in the corner, trying to pretend he wasn't listening. The Seventh Years were eavesdropping overtly as they stared at their NEWTs books without turning the pages.
"You know," Draco said seriously. "They say you can't tell, at least for a while…but, Pansy, I do believe this is the one."
Pansy sighed and fluttered her eyelashes dramatically. "Oh, Draco!" she squealed.
Draco patted her hand sympathetically.
Blaise rolled his eyes and snorted. "Of course you are, Draco."
Draco stared at him blankly. "I know love when I feel it, Blaise," he intoned. Suddenly, his face split into a shockingly wide grin. "Besides—if you don't believe me, it's all around the school. Ask anyone. Even ask a Hufflepuff, but be sure to curse them afterwards."
Blaise turned bright red. "I never said I didn't believe you," he mumbled.
Pansy turned on him viciously. "Shut up, Zabini. This is a difficult time for Draco—"
"No it isn't—" interrupted Draco
"And we should be supportive—"
"Actually, really unnecessary—"
"And try—to—well, try not to kill Potter," Pansy concluded, obviously pleased with herself.
Draco whistled through his teeth. "Thank you, Pansy," he said lightly. "But again, really not needed."
Pansy glared at him. "Shut up, Malfoy."
Blaise appeared to be grinding his teeth. "Hypocrite."
Draco took a deep breath, and looked to be on the verge of taking Serious Action, when Theodore interrupted. "Draco," he asked timidly. "Does this mean you don't want us fighting with Gryffindors anymore?"
Draco considered the matter. "Well, you should probably leave Potter alone," he allowed. "And probably Mudblood and Weasel, too." Theodore and Blaise looked stricken. "What are you two so worried about?" Draco asked irritably. "I'm the one who usually handles that, anyway." A third year girl looked on the verge of tears. "Oh, fine," Draco relented. "Do whatever you want…just—not in front of Potter. I think we can all be happy with that arrangement, hmm?"
"I'm happy," Goyle grunted.
"Good for you," added Crabbe, to the world in general.
Blaise looked slightly happier. "But why did it have to be a Gryffindor, Draco?" he moaned. "Why couldn't you find yourself a nice Slytherin? I'm sure Pansy would be willing to—"
Pansy slapped him.
So much trouble over something that wasn't even real. Well, not yet.
Harry Potter wanted to die.
For real this time. Voldemort who? Chosen One what?
Hermione said that they could still catch breakfast. Harry thought that if he so much looked at food, he would be sick.
He was still protesting as Hermione and Ron frog-marched him down to the Great Hall.
"I swear, you guys," he vowed fervently. "I've never so much as thought about—ah—"
Hermione looked like she felt sorry for him. "Harry, sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of," she told him soothingly as her fingernails dug into his wrist.
He was going to have bruises.
"It's perfectly natural and normal, and you are just as good as any other person. Now move, or we're going to be late for Potions." Ron perked up slightly at this, but Hermione was not done. "And you better not let—erm—Draco—hear you say things like that. I'd imagine that he'd be offended that his boyfriend is claiming he doesn't know him."
"Maybe he'll break up with you," Ron mused.
"Malfoy is not going to break up with me!" Harry said through gritted teeth.
Ron looked triumphant. "Hah! You admitted it!"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Well, naturally he couldn't keep denying it forever," she said matter-of-factly. "The whole school knows. Lavender and Parvati were talking about it even before I was awake." She elbowed Harry in the ribs to get him to walk faster. "You know, Harry; I was a bit hurt you didn't even mention it."
"No!" Harry screamed. "Malfoy can't break up with me because we aren't going out!"
"Oh," Hermione's voice dropped an octave. "Did you two have a fight?"
It probably wouldn't even hurt to Avada Kedavra himself.
"You two are worthless," he said irritably, and that was the last thing any of them said until they reached the Great Hall.
Harry stalled stubbornly outside the Great Hall. "I am not going in there," he declared resolutely. "You'll have to drag me."
"And we will," Hermione said grimly, rolling up her sleeves. "Harry, you'll have to face things sometime. I heard Mal—well, Draco—is holding out very well."
"I never told you to call him that," Harry said. "Please stop." He felt on the verge of hysterics. He did not think he could stand to hear Hermione of all people chanting Malfoy's praises. Hermione looked slightly disappointed. Harry ignored this and pressed on. "You say the whole school knows?"
Ron nodded eagerly. "Seamus told me last night before I went to bed, and I was going to say something to you, but you were already asleep. And then this morning, I slept in a bit, and when I woke up everybody was in the Common Room talking about it."
"Maybe it's just the Gryffindors," Harry wondered hopefully.
Hermione shook her head. "Parvati heard it from Padma—I asked her. And Padma's in Ravenclaw."
"I know that."
"I wasn't finished. Padma's in Ravenclaw, so it must be going around there, because Dean heard from Terry Boot. And Neville told me he heard from Hannah Abbot, so the Hufflepuffs know." Hermione frowned. "I don't know why you're so worried, Harry. You would have had to say something eventually, if you really love him. And everyone's always talking about you. I know it's no fun, but you should be used to it by now."
"I don't love him," Harry spat.
Hermione studied him clinically. "It's not just lust, Harry? That's really not healthy."
Ron looked as if he might not mind joining Harry in a suicide pact. "Can we please, please go in now?" he begged.
Hermione stopped lecturing him, and looked almost pitying. "You're going in, Harry, whether with us or alone."
"I want to go in with you," Harry decided.
Hermione smiled and touched his wrist briefly. "It'll all be over in a minute, Harry."
"Yeah, except for the part where he has to hang around with Malfoy," Ron moaned. "Oh, yeah. I forgot. He likes that now."
Harry clenched his teeth, ignored the comment, and pushed open the door.
Classes were scheduled to start in about half-an-hour, so the Hall was emptier than it usually was. Still, there were at least ten students sitting at every House table, and from behind the door, they had heard the hum of voices muted by the thick wood. But as they entered, everyone came to a standstill. All faces turned to Harry Potter, all voices stopped, and Colin Creevey dropped a boiled egg.
"Just keep walking. Just keep walking," Hermione chanted, as she held his and Ron's arms in a death-grip.
Harry was very aware of the sound of his shoes on the hard marble floor.
Finally—finally—they took their seats. And, as though the entire hall was letting out a sigh of relief all at once, the normal buzz of conversation resumed.
"I just want to eat and get out of here," Harry told Ron, as Hermione took his plate and piled it high with bacon and toast.
Ginny jumped into the seat behind him. Her eyes looked wet, and her lip was trembling tragically. "Oh, Harry, tell me it's not true!" she begged.
Harry shrugged. "It's not."
Suddenly, her eyes dried and narrowed. "Don't lie to me, Harry Potter," she hissed.
"I'm not!" Harry protested bewildered.
Ginny jumped to her feet. "Oh, fine!" she cried melodramatically. "Do what ever you want! Lie if you want, because I'm just Ginny Weasley—not one of your real friends." Ginny shook her head as though at a loss for words and fled the hall. Harry, Ron, and Hermione watched her.
"That was a rotten thing to do to Ginny," Ron said mildly.
Harry groaned and put a jar of marmalade on either side of himself to discourage anyone else from sitting down.
He went at his meal with a single-minded intensity. He wasn't particularly hungry, but eating kept him from having to pay attention to the parade of well-wishers who kept filing in from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. He did hear Hermione warding some of them off, though.
"No, Terry, I don't think he'll appreciate any tips on his love life," he heard, and, "Actually, Justin, I'm not too sure what the marmalade is about, either."
Harry thought the eggs were particularly good today.
Luna somehow managed to poke past Hermione and talk to Harry directly. "Would you be interested in doing an interview for the Quibbler?" she asked hopefully. "Ever since that interview, Daddy's been dying to meet you in person. This would be a great story for him."
"No thanks, Luna," Harry choked.
He distantly heard Hermione say, "Harry's eating now, maybe later."
Not "maybe later." Not ever.
Suddenly, the Hall collectively stopped breathing. Even Harry stopped eating and looked up in time to see Draco Malfoy stalking into the Hall. He was utterly alone, his usual entourage had not been seen at all that morning.
Harry turned bright red and swiveled back to his food. Everyone else still gazed at the front of the Great Hall, transfixed.
Honestly, no one had even paid him this much attention when all the Chosen One rumors were floating around.
Obviously, the love lives of two teenagers were far more interesting than, oh, all-encompassing evil.
Hermione poked his arm frantically. "Harry, he's coming over here!" she hissed, with all the subtlety of a stampeding elephant. "Look, Harry, look!"
Ron looked ready to slide under the table. He had barely touched his food.
Suddenly, one of the marmalade jars fell to the floor and cracked. Harry thought it made a rather nice contrast with the marble.
There was a hand on his back…who could it…
Draco Malfoy had knocked off his marmalade. Draco Malfoy was sitting next to him. Draco Malfoy was touching him.
Harry squealed indignantly.
"Hello, Harry," Malfoy purred, pursing his lips. "How are you this fine morning?"
Hermione touched her throat. "Oh, my."
Ron fell off the bench.
"Get off me, Malfoy," said Harry.
Malfoy touched his hair. And just as Harry brought his hand up to decisively sweep Malfoy away, there was a flash of white light, and he saw purple spots.
"Good pose, Harry," Colin chirped cheerfully. "Think you two could just look this way and smile?"
Harry blinked the spots from his eyes, and Colin appeared, hair sticking-up and a ridiculous grin on his face. He had just taken a picture of Harry. With Malfoy's hand in his hair. With Harry's hand touching Malfoy's.
"Give me that!" Harry wrenched the camera away from Colin and pried open the back, exposing the film.
Colin took the camera back gingerly. "Hey!" he said indignantly. "Why'd you do that, Harry? Good thing I got a camera upgrade a few weeks ago! This film is virtually indestructible."
Hermione patted Harry's hand comfortingly. "There, there."
Harry tore his gaze away from the food and glared at the Slytherin who was currently straddling the bench beside him. "Malfoy," he said curtly. "I need to talk with you. Come on." He jumped up from the table, and saw Malfoy get up to follow him.
"Do you want me to come, too, Harry?" Ron asked anxiously. "For protection?"
"No, Ron," Harry said through gritted teeth. "Thanks, but that won't be necessary."
As he began marching towards the doors with Malfoy in tow, he saw, out of the corner of his eye, Ron leading towards Hermione. "D'you—d'you think they're going to snog?"
The last thing he heard, before he was out of earshot, was Hermione.
"Well, yes, probably, Ron," she said. "But you didn't have to say it."
The last thing on Harry Potter's mind was being snogged.
Malfoy followed him outside, and Harry sighed with relief as he closed the door to the Great Hall behind them. He leaned against it and closed his eyes momentarily, before snapping back to business.
"Okay, Malfoy," he said. "I know you must be just as bothered by this as I am. That's the only reason why I don't think you're behind this. But I was thinking, and I figured that between us we can convince both our houses that there's nothing behind the rumors, and they'll probably tell Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, and this whole mess will blow over."
Harry was proud of himself. He had thought of his brilliant plan during breakfast, while listening to Hermione shoo away Hufflepuffs. He had never been able to have much effect on the rumors before, but the Slytherins seemed to follow Malfoy like pack animals. And if they were convinced…
"Who says there's nothing to the rumors?"
Harry looked up quickly, startled. "What do you mean?" he asked.
Malfoy took a step closer, looking almost predatory. "Well, everyone thinks we're dating," he said pragmatically. "Why shouldn't we?"
Harry backed into the wall. "Malfoy, are you alright?" he asked. "No one gave you a potion or anything? Because—"
Suddenly a pair of lips was on his, and Harry Potter, the Boy Who Was Ostensibly Heterosexual, found himself being very thoroughly kissed.
He thought, very clearly and distinctly, that Malfoy smelled nice. Sort of a grassy smell, like he'd just been playing Quidditch, and maybe eaten some strawberries afterward.
It took him a few seconds to register what was happening, and in that time there was a hand on his chest and another one on his shoulder pinning him to the wall and Malfoy's hair was falling into his face and this was not what he had planned.
He pushed Malfoy away and hurried a few steps off, slightly dazed. He coughed into his fist and turned to face Malfoy, who was watching him coolly.
"Malfoy," he said hoarsely, "You—can't…"
Malfoy's eyes flashed. "Fine, Potter," he said. "Your choice, isn't it?"
Draco Malfoy did not like having his plans upset. And this one had been so grand, so glorious. He had not expected this. Not at all.
It had started last year, when he had glimpsed Potter playing Quidditch with one of the school brooms. It had been just after Potter's ban from Quidditch, and Draco had gleefully expected several days of Sulking, Sullen Potter. And he had gotten it, nearly.
But when Potter kicked off the ground, and pushed higher and higher into the atmosphere, he had changed. His face grew fierce, wild, determined. His skin flushed red with exertion and shone with sweat, and his hair, a constant irritation, spun out frantically around his face. He was hardly recognizable.
Draco was hooked.
He had trouble concentrating around Potter from that time on. During his OWLs, he had dropped a wine glass he was levitating when Potter only looked at him. His father had not been terribly pleased, but—his father was in Azkaban now.
And so, over the summer, he had dreamed up his brilliant plan.
Potter had been the subject of rumors so many times over the course of their years at Hogwarts that Draco had lost count. In fact, he seemed to be used to it by now. Draco was absolutely assured that Potter was a bit of a get-along guy. He just knew he could convince him to indulge the school for just this once, to let them be right, to make his friends…well, not happy, maybe, but at least right for once.
Maybe, he mused, it would have worked better if he'd gotten to know Potter a bit before implementing his brilliant plan. Or at least talked to him a bit before kissing him.
But that was ridiculous. He always got what he wanted.
And he would this time, too. Even if it required him to be, god-forbid, nice to Potter.
Pansy opened the door gingerly. "Are you alright, Draco?" she asked softly. "Class starts in five minutes, and no one's seen you since you left to go to the Great Hall."
He smiled tightly and hugged her. "I'm fine," he drawled. "Got to see Potter. That was nice."
She smiled uncertainly. "Did you have a fight?"
He shook his head. Well, technically, they hadn't had time to fight before Potter had run away.
"I've got all your stuff ready for Potions," she said.
He touched her shoulder. Pansy was a good friend, even if she was a bit irritating at times. "Thank you," he said. "I'll be out in a minute."
Her eyes looked wet, and for a second, he was afraid that she would start bawling. "You know, Draco," she said. "I was really worried when you told us about Potter yesterday. Are you sure this is what you want?"
He stared at her for a moment. She was his friend, and he did not relish lying to her. "It's what I want," he echoed simply.
She laughed. "Well, then, I'm glad you have it," she said. "You deserve something, Draco. I know this year's been hard on you."
He was silent for a minute. "Yeah, it has," he admitted finally. She stared at him for a moment, then threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He patted her back soothingly a few times.
"I have to go," she said tremulously. "I'm going to be late for Ancient Runes."
He squeezed her one more time, then released her. "Bye, Pansy."
She touched his hand. "Bye, Draco," she said. "I'll talk to you later. And—be careful." She closed the door gently behind her as she left, and Draco stared at its hard wood surface for a minute before shaking himself out of a stupor. He was going to be late to Potions.
When he entered the dungeon, Potter was already there with his friends, the three of them squeezed around a desk meant for two.
Slughorn beamed at him as he entered. "Ah, Mr. Malfoy!" he boomed. "Of course, we've all about your latest—exploits!" He chuckled, and Draco pretended to look shy. He thought he should win an award for this performance.
He saw Potter, at his desk, bright red and utterly humiliated. He almost felt guilty.
"And of course, we must have the two lovebirds paired together," Slughorn said blusteringly. "Mr. Malfoy, you take a seat right here," he said, indicating an empty desk. "And Harry, you come right on up."
Potter looked as if he was going to be sick. He stood up on wobbly knees, and the Mudblood said something in his ear. He looked slightly more confident, and marched towards Malfoy, leaving his book on his desk.
"Don't worry," Malfoy said brightly. "You can share my book."
Potter said nothing.
"Today," Slughorn said. "We will be brewing amortentia. Now, as this is a highly dangerous potion, I will be adding the last two ingredients myself. But aside from that, I know you are all highly competent potion makers—" here he paused to wink at Potter "—and I am confident you will all enjoy this."
All eyes were on Draco and Potter as the class set to work, and the two of them prepared their ingredients silently. But Draco noticed that Potter's hands were shaking as he worked, and that he was sitting as far away from Draco as possible without falling our of his chair.
Draco leaned towards him. "Nervous, Potter?"
Potter jumped out of his seat and accidentally sliced the frog's heart he was meant to be dissecting cleanly in two. "Not on your life," he said, but his voice was shaky.
Their potion was not perfect, and as Slughorn came by to add the remaining two ingredients, he clucked disapprovingly. Nevertheless, it was better than the other potions in class, and managed to hold onto a dullish mother-of-pearl sheen.
Slughorn came by to inspect again. "Good, boys, good," he said. "Though I must say, Harry, not quite what I expected from you." He took a ladleful and held it up to Harry's nose. "Now, Harry, tell us what you smell."
Potter shot a terrified glance at Malfoy before he answered. "Um—broom polish," he said. "And cider. And—grass, and strawberries. Excuse me, Professor, I don't feel well." And without so much as a word in explanation, he darted out of the room.
"Well," said Professor Slughorn.
Harry did not attend the rest of his classes that day, and now, though it was almost one in the morning, he couldn't sleep.
He was thinking about Draco Malfoy.
His behavior today had been…bizarre to say the least. He hadn't been outright nasty, but there had been a bit of an edge to his behavior, all the same.
And then there had been the kiss.
And that, to his complete shame, was the part that Harry could not stop replaying in his mind.
The feeling of Malfoy's lips on his—the warm pressure of his palm—Malfoy's hair brushing his forehead.
He wondered what it would have been like if he had not pushed Malfoy away—had kissed him back, had opened his mouth a little, had inhaled more deeply that strange strawberry smell.
This was ridiculous. Before this morning, he had never even considered anything like this. He liked girls! He had had a crush on Cho for two years, he—
All things considered, Draco Malfoy was rather attractive.
Harry moaned in frustration, and jumped out of bed. He grabbed his invisibility cloak, and stalked out of the portrait hole.
He had no clear idea where he was going, only that he needed to stop thinking. The castle was cool at night, but he was sweaty and hot. His hands were clenched into fists, and his knees hardly bent as he prowled down the corridors.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was outside the Slytherin dungeons, a place where he had only been once before. He stared at the door, wild, half-formed thoughts chasing each other through his head.
A glint of brightness appeared out of the darkness on his left side. It was Draco Malfoy's blonde head of hair.
"Hello, Potter," he drawled. "Surprised to see you out this late."
Harry was momentarily stunned. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
Malfoy stepped closer, and his features became clearer. "Getting a snack from the kitchens," he said. "And now I'm going to bed. This is my Common Room, you may be aware. Slytherin, remember."
"Yeah," Harry said, feeling put slightly off-balance by Malfoy's proximity. "Hey, Malfoy," he said. "Are you—do you like boys?"
Malfoy let out a sharp, startled laugh. "Er, did I not make that clear enough for you, Potter?"
"Yes, well," Harry said. He felt feverish, nearly. And before he knew what he was doing, before his brain had time to remember that this was a bad idea and Draco Malfoy! he took another step closer and grabbed the back of Malfoy's neck and kissed him.
Malfoy made a small, startled noise, but did not resist. Harry found his hand in Malfoy's hair, and then he was backing up in the dark. Suddenly he hit a wall, and he was pressed firmly between the rough stone wall and the warm lines of Malfoy's body. Malfoy's hand was running along his cheekbone, and his shoulder, and his hips, and—oh. Malfoy's mouth opened against his, and Harry found his own jaw loosening, and he had never imagined that tongues could do such pleasant things.
With Cho, it had only been wet because she was crying.
He should not have been doing this.
For the second time that day, he pushed Malfoy away, more gently this time. "Please leave me alone tomorrow," he said faintly.
"Well," said Draco Malfoy.
Harry fled, his Invisibility Cloak left forgotten on the cold stone floor.
To Harry's complete surprise, Malfoy seemed to be complying with his request.
The next day, Malfoy did not try to talk to him at all. Harry glanced anxiously around corners, and warned Hermione and Ron to keep an eye out for him. But Malfoy was nowhere to be found. Harry was not sure why he did not feel more relieved, because obviously being left alone was a good thing. He could get over this—insanity—in peace, and he could let things go back to normal.
But the gossip, if anything, intensified. People speculated endlessly on the fate of the one-day-old 'couple.' The Hall vibrated with conversation as Malfoy left the room just as Harry entered. People were endlessly inventive in their 'breakup theories.' Harry heard a first year Hufflepuff telling his friend with complete confidence that the couple had ended because Harry was actually secretly a House Elf. "They don't have anything down there, you know," he said pompously.
Zacharias Smith was the first one to corner him about it. "What happened with you and your little boyfriend, Potter?" he asked snidely. "Lover's tiff?"
Harry stiffened instantly, and Hermione clenched his shoulder.
"Shove off, Smith," Ron said shortly.
Zacharias held his hands up defensively. "Just checking in," he said. "I didn't see you two together at breakfast. And I'm sure no one wants to see our precious Chosen One engulfed in boy troubles." He shrugged, and turned to walk away. Ron roared with anger, and leapt on him.
The four of them walked away ten minutes later. Ron and Harry, who had leapt into the fight on Ron's side, both had black eyes, and Zacharias had a split lip and bright red ears. And they all had detentions, courtesy of Snape.
"That really wasn't necessary," Hermione told them severely.
Ron shrugged. "Yes, but it felt so good. I've been waiting for a chance to beat up Smith."
Harry rolled his eyes.
Maybe Malfoy was nice enough to avoid him in the hall, but that didn't stop them from seeing each other in classes. Flitwick, who seemed not to have heard the new gossip, assigned them to work with each other on Euphoria Enchantments. They were forced to sit together during the lecture, and Harry stared determinedly at his desk.
He was surprised when Malfoy tried to be civil. "What happened to your eye?" he asked in undertones, glancing up to make sure Flitwick was not listening.
"Fight," Harry grunted, aware that most everyone in the class was staring at them.
"You should go to the Hospital Wing," Malfoy suggested.
"For a black eye?" Harry asked, exasperated. "Listen, Malfoy—muffliato."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "I would go," he pressed. "It really is not terribly attractive."
"You can talk normally now," Harry interrupted him. "That's what the spell does. They can't hear us now."
Malfoy smiled wildly and practically cackled. "Oh, that is a good one, Potter. 'Muffliato,' is it? I'll have to remember that one."
Harry, against his own will, smiled. "Why are you being so—pleasant?" he asked.
Malfoy looked confused. "Would you rather I was unpleasant?"
Harry shook his head and snorted. "No. I mean, I just want to know why."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "I think you'll agree with me that our relationship has become something other than that of hated rivals since yesterday," he said delicately. Harry blushed hotly and saw Hermione staring at him, looking annoyed that she could not hear.
"Yes, well," Harry fumbled.
"I can be polite," Draco informed him severely, sounding frighteningly like Hermione. "And as I recall, it was you who refused my offer of friendship."
A brief image of a small, pale boy with his hand extended flashed before Harry's eye. "I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself, thanks."
"Yes, well," repeated Harry, feeling remarkably like a broken record. "You've been an utter bastard since then.
Malfoy shrugged. "I don't handle rejection well," he said blandly. "But I'm willing to consider a truce, Potter. If you're interested."
"Just a truce?" spilled out of Harry's mouth before he could stop it.
Malfoy cocked his eyebrow again. Stupid show-offy-gray-eyed- arrogant-blond-bastard. "Go on," he said, waving his hand invitingly.
"Er, nothing," Harry mumbled. "Just—nothing."
Suddenly, the pairs around them were standing up and going to the edges of the room. Harry lifted the spell, and he and Malfoy followed. They were supposed to be casting Euphoria Enchantments on each other. Unluckily, they had both missed the lecture. They went to separate ends of the classroom and stood hesitantly with their wands pointed at each other. Harry eavesdropped desperately, but everyone had improved dramatically on non-verbal spells since they had started, and even Neville managed not to say the words.
Tiny Professor Flitwick came and stood in between them. "Having a bit of trouble, boys?" he asked. Harry laughed nervously. "The spell is Felicitum Maximum," he added in an undertone.
Harry grinned. "Thanks, Professor," he said gratefully.
Flitwick smiled. "And Harry," he added. "Please do not use that spell in my classroom in the future." Harry looked stunned. "I am a Charms professor," Flitwick reminded him gently. Hermione, a few feet away, smiled smugly.
Malfoy cackled gleefully. "Got caught by a teacher, Potter? Amateur. Felicitum Maximum."
As the spell hit Harry, he suddenly felt a little light-headed. The lights were suddenly bright…and everything was so perfect. He had called a truce with Malfoy, and everyone thought they were broken up, and he loved the world. Malfoy looked especially perfect; his collar bone was showing just above the neckline of his shirt, and the tint of his skin, rather than looking sickly-white, looked like fragile porcelain. He took a few steps closer.
"Finite incantatem!" shouted Draco. Harry blinked and backed up to his original position hastily. "Wow," said Malfoy. "That really works."
Before Malfoy could get any bad ideas, Harry pointed his wand at him. Felicitum Maximum, he thought, and suddenly Malfoy was tottering dazedly towards him, an enormous grin on his face. Harry quickly pulled the spell off of him. Happiness in such strong doses was dangerous.
"What were you talking with Malfoy about, Harry?" Hermione demanded as they left the clasroom. "Are you two back together?"
"Please, Hermione," Harry said tiredly. "Not right now."
Hermione squealed and hugged him. "Oh, you are back together, aren't you!"
Well. That would give the thirty other people in the corridor something to amuse themselves with.
It had already been a long day.
And there were still five more classes to go through.
Draco could not think of a suitable excuse to get to Potter again until after dinner, at about eight-thirty. And even then, it took another hour to actually find him.
Of course, he would not be in the most likely place. Draco had gone to knock on the Gryffindor portrait hole as soon as he started searching. Ron Weasley had opened it, and looked ready to leap through the hole and pound his face in. He took a few steps back and loudly requested Granger.
"She, at least, has some sense," he informed Weasley, whose ears were glowing an almost radioactive red.
Granger appeared, looking vaguely startled to see him. He wasn't sure why; it wasn't as if they were especially well hidden up here. He had known the locations of all four Houses before he'd even come to school.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" she asked, polite if curt.
"Potter," he said. "I have something of his," he added, patting the bag he was carrying.
"I don't know where he is," Granger admitted, wringing her hands. "He said he needed to think about an hour ago, and walked off. I thought he might be going to…visit—you."
Draco scowled sullenly. "Do you have any idea where I might find him pottering around?" he asked. He was not able to keep a straight face, and burst into explosive laughter.
Granger grinned reluctantly. "That's a horrible pun," she scolded.
"I know," Draco said solemnly.
"What does 'pottering' mean?" asked Weasley.
Granger chimed in quickly to prevent Draco from saying anything. "I really don't know," she replied to Draco's question. "Sometimes he just sulks around the corridors—but I'm sure you already know that. Sorry I can't help more."
Draco shrugged. He didn't think it would take too long to find Potter.
He had not taken into account that they were living in a castle.
He had scoured up and down almost every corridor before he had thought to go outside. And that, of course, was where Potter was. On a broomstick.
"Oy, Potter!" shouted Draco, cupping his hands around his mouth and waving his arms. "Get down here!"
Potter paused in his graceful flight, and saw Draco below. Abruptly, he turned into a dive—heading straight for Draco. Draco screamed and threw his hands over his face. Paralyzed with shock, he did not even think to duck.
And then he felt a whoosh of air as Potter swooped directly over him, and a thump as he jumped off and landed.
"You scream like a girl, Malfoy," Potter noted. "I could really do you some damage by starting rumors about that."
Ah, rumors. Draco loved them.
"I'm sure you could, Potter," he said indulgently. "Now, look, I have something of yours." He opened his bag with a flourish, and pulled out the Invisibility Cloak.
Potter accepted it with a look of disbelief. "Where did you find this?" he asked accusingly.
"You left it outside my Common Room last night," Draco said primly. "You left in rather a hurry."
Even in the fading evening light, Draco saw Potter's bright blush. "Yes, well—I mean, thank you for bringing back my cloak. I wouldn't have thought you would."
Draco shrugged. Perhaps, with honest, naïve Potter, telling the truth would help. "I wanted to see you again," he said.
Potter laughed. "This is getting ridiculous," he said. "First all those rumors about us started going around, and then it turns out that you're…and I'm…I'm…"
Draco's heart was beating hopefully. "You're what?"
Potter groaned. "I don't know," he said. "I mean—I kissed…"
His voice faded away, and Draco touched the side of his face. "Me?" Draco finished softly, and then gave in to impulse and leaned forward to kiss Harry. This time, he was not pushed away.
It was an odd feeling, kissing in the middle of a wide, empty field. The sun was setting behind Potter's head, and Draco saw a pinkish light through his closed eyelids. He felt, for the second time, Potter's hands in his hair—not rough and unthinking as they had been last night, but slow and cautious. Potter was perfectly aware of what he was doing.
But Draco wanted to be sure. Reluctantly, he pulled away.
"Are you going to run away on me again?" he demanded.
Potter hesitated. "You've been…pleasant, today, Malfoy," he said. "Nice, even. Could you—could you always be like that?"
"Well, not always," Draco said, as if such a thing should be obvious. "You know, you're extremely obnoxious at times. You're stubborn and thick-headed and too noble for your own good."
Potter looked extremely offended. Draco hurried on in his speech.
"And…I think I could be nice to you, Potter," he finished.
Potter ran a head through his messy black head of hair. "Okay," he said simply.
Draco was shocked. "Okay?" he asked. "Just like that?"
Potter shrugged. "Yes," he said. "I mean, everybody already thinks we're going out anyway," he said. "So it's not like it would be a shock to anybody. Also, please stop calling me 'Potter.' It's kind of weird, now that we've kissed twice."
"Three times," Draco corrected. "Harry."
"The first time was all you," Harry said. "Not my idea at all. I wonder who started all those rumors, anyway."
"Oh, probably some well-wisher," Draco said, speaking quickly in an effort to hide his guilt. "You know, this really is just a blessing in disguise, isn't it? I mean, I'm happy, you're happy, and everybody has something to talk about. Problems solved!"
"I guess," Harry said mildly. "But if I ever found out who it was, I'll hex them into next week."
Draco gave a high-pitched laugh. "That's lovely, P—Harry," he said. "Now, why don't you direct those violent tendencies towards kissing me, and you'll never have to see whoever it is again."
A few feet away, neither of them noticed Colin Creevey taking pictures, or the odd-looking beetle perched on his shoulder.
The Quibbler, November 12th
The Boy Who Loved: Harry Potter Treated for Nymphomania!
By Rita Skeeter
Photos by Colin Creevey
Harry Potter became a hero at age three, when his parents were tragically killed in a car accident; leaving only baby Harry behind. However, many experts think the accident may have had more lasting effects on Potter than previously assumed. Potter—long known for his longtime emotional problems, frequent psychotic episodes, and uncontrollable and violent delusions, may have even deeper and more sinister problems. We talked to expert, former Doctor Stellan Laurence, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
"Ever since I lost my license," said Laurence, who continues to operate a small office in London, "I've been doing a lot of thinking on the Potter case. It is my belief that Harry Potter suffers from a tragic sex addiction."
And that, dear readers, is the unhappy truth. Irreversibly damaged by the trauma of his car accident, from which it was previously believed he earned nothing but a spiral shaped scar, Potter has recently sank into a psychotic episode of nymphomania from which he will, perhaps, never recover.
"Yeah, we all know Potter's pretty much doomed," said a friend, Zacharias Smith. "We all figure he just wants to go out kicking."
Kicking, biting, scratching, and clawing? Reports have surfaced that that Potter's violent waking manner is carried with him to bed. His name has been linked, in the past, to Parvati Patil, Cho Chang, and England's favorite wild child, best friend Hermione Granger, also a frequent news interest.
Now, however, it is said that Potter has found true love in the unlikeliest of places: Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin boy he is said to have a heated rivalry with. However, they are now turning their energy towards…other pursuits. They have been photographed riding brooms, talking on the Hogwarts lawn, and walking through Hogsmead together. When asked for comment, Potter said only, "Shove off." He was accompanied by a number of obscenities from young Mister Malfoy.
One can only hope their love lasts, and Potter's heart is not broken once again.
Luna folded the magazine and shook her head.
"Brilliant," she whispered, awed.
Well? What did you think? I'd love to hear any comments, good or bad! I'm currently baking a batch of fresh cookies, and you can all have one straight out of the oven if you review (hint hint).