Everything seemed peaceful. Harry Potter had finally defeated Lord Voldemort and had basically recovered from his physical injuries, though the emotional ones were another matter altogether. The NEWTs were over, as were the OWLs, and there were still two weeks left of school. Two weeks to lounge around, talk and just generally have fun while the first years worried about their first ever set of exams. It was summer and most teachers, excepting, of course, Professor Snape, were holding their classes outside by the lake. There wasn't anything left to teach, so they weren't really classes. More like supervised relaxation. But that suited everyone. No one suspected that the lulling calm was about to be shattered. Well, no one except Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.
Breakfast on Friday morning started off as every breakfast had for the last week since the NEWTs ended: with everyone sleeping in and arriving late, after the first and second years had scuttled off for some last minute study – their exams were still going. But gradually the Seventh Years trickled in. The Gryffindor table was soon a raucous jumble of happy voices. Even Hermione was talking and laughing. She'd finally relaxed, after seven years, though she still at times relapsed into her old tense self when the discussion turned to careers or NEWTs results. Only Harry Potter remained silent. This in itself was not unusual. Ever since Sirius' death, he'd become increasingly withdrawn, and he'd barely spoken since he'd defeated Voldemort three weeks ago. But his silence that morning wasn't his usual glum 'I am reliving all my pain and suffering – keep away' silence. It was more of an anxious, nervy distracted one. He kept glancing towards the door, as though he was waiting for someone, and Hermione was worried.
"Harry, are you all right?"
"What? Oh! yes! Fine."
She looked at him suspiciously.
"Really," he insisted. "I just…couldn't sleep last night."
"Oh no, Harry, not more nightmares?"
Harry nearly snorted at the striking contrast between last night's fantastic rendez-vous with Draco, and Hermione's assumption of nightmares. But he just shrugged.
"No. Nothing like that. Just…you know."
She sighed, not believing a word he said. For nearly two years he'd been leaving his dorm at all hours of the night, according to Ron. She'd once brought it up with Harry, and he'd exploded, so she'd never broached the subject again. At first, she and Ron had wondered if Harry was dating someone, but two years on that didn't seem so likely. Besides, why wouldn't he have told them? Hermione knew nightmares were plaguing him and while she wished he'd tell them about his dreams, sure that talking about them would bring relief, she knew better than to push for it. They hardly saw Harry as it was – he was always going off on his own. Little did Hermione know that Harry was rarely alone and that his long walks always led to one place: the Room of Requirement, where he and Draco would meet. But she was about to find all this out, because Harry and Draco were about to reveal themselves and their relationship to the world. And Harry was scared as hell.
The hall was full now. All the seventh years, except Draco, were there. The Slytherin table was just as rowdy as the Gryffindor one, and Pansy Parkinson was flirting obscenely with Goyle, in much the same way that Ron and Hermione were still dancing around each other.
"I wonder where Malfoy is," Hermione mused.
"Maybe he died," Ron suggested, sounding scarily hopeful. And of course, at that moment, Draco Malfoy appeared in the doorway. For a moment, he paused. He looked from the Slytherin table, where Pansy was smiling at him and Blaise was beckoning, to the hostile Gryffindor stares. And then he met Harry's eyes, and he smiled, and both their doubts were dispelled.
Harry smiled encouragingly at Draco, ignoring Hermione's surprised look, and Draco sauntered coolly over.
"What are you doing over in this neck of the woods, Malfoy?" Harry asked genially.
The whole hall went silent.
"Just coming to check up on you, Potter," Draco answered without rancour.
"Someone needs to keep you out of trouble, after all," he added and Harry smiled.
"You think you're the one to do it?"
"You better believe it."
And with that, Draco leant down and planted a firm kiss on Harry's lips.
The silence was deadly.
"Morning to you too, sleepyhead."
"Don't suppose you could squeeze another one in here, could you?"
Harry laughed – he'd made sure there was a place for Draco when he'd first got to breakfast. But he made a great show of shoving over, just as Draco then made a great show of pressing up against Harry as if there was hardly any room. And Harry had no problems with that.
"So, sleep well?" Draco asked as he reached across the table for some chipolatas, seemingly unaware of the stunned Gryffindors.
"Once I got away from some evil devil who shall remain unnamed, but whose sole aim seems to be to keep me up."
"But you must admit I'm very good at it."
"No complaints here. Hermione, could you pass the tomato sauce?"
She didn't seem to hear him. She was still staring at Draco and Harry in shock.
"You know," Draco said, "I think you'd better get these housemates of yours checked out. Are you sure they're not part guppyfish?"
"Are you sure yours aren't part troll?" Harry's description of the Slytherins seemed accurate. They'd recovered the fastest, and now looked fit to kill, though whether their ideal victim was Harry or Draco, no one, possibly not even the Slytherins themselves, knew. Draco shrugged.
"I was never sure about some of them," he said coolly, meeting Pansy's accusing glare with a challenging gaze of his own.
"Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy! What is this disgraceful display you are putting on?" Professor Snape was standing behind them. He was becoming increasingly batlike, Harry thought. Neither of them had noticed him glide up.
"Display, professor?" Harry asked, swivelling to face Snape. Unfortunately, Draco also chose to turn around at that time and they bumped heads.
"Ow!" and "Potter!" they yelped, rubbing their heads. They looked at each other and laughed. Professor Snape was scandalized. The expression on his face quelled the whispering that had broken out all over the hall. There was complete silence, except for Harry and Draco's laughter.
"Is Harry in pain? Does he need Draco to kiss it better?" Draco put on a baby voice, but it wasn't his usual mocking tone. It was just friendly banter. Many people were terrified.
"Shut it, Malfoy!" Harry said, but it was without any trace of annoyance in his voice. He slung his arm around Draco's shoulders and pulled him impossibly closer, so that Draco was practically in Harry's lap and his head was on Harry's shoulder. They looked up at Professor Snape, still chuckling to each other.
"Sorry, sir," Draco said in his usual Malfoy way which had, up to now, been a password with Snape. But this time it wasn't going to work. Now, at least in Severus Snape's mind, things had changed.
"What is going on?" he spat at them. Harry and Draco sobered up quickly.
"We're eating breakfast, sir," Harry offered.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for being impudent, Potter!"
"Now, Severus…" Professor Dumbledore reasoned. Snape didn't seem to hear him.
"WHAT is the meaning of this…disgusting behaviour?!!" Snape demanded. Harry started to look a bit annoyed.
"What disgusting behaviour would that be, exactly?" Harry said coldly.
"You will use titles of respect when you address me, Potter. I am your teacher! However little you or I may like it."
"I'll address you however I want!" Harry snapped.
"Harry…" Draco warned.
"Fifty points from Gryffindor!" Snape declared.
"For what?" Draco demanded angrily. There was a titter around the hall. Snape didn't answer him.
"What is going on?" he demanded instead.
"I don't see that this classifies as anything 'going on'," Draco remarked. "I've simply chosen to eat breakfast with my boyfriend."
"Boyfriend?" Professor Snape looked as though he was about to faint. Harry smirked in a manner scarily reminiscent of Draco, as Draco answered with a light-hearted smile.
"Harry and I are dating. Have been for a while, actually. What is it now, Harry? A year and a half?"
"Closer to two, I'd say."
"Yeah well, I woke up this morning, and I suddenly thought to myself: I've been seeing Harry for two years, and I've never once eaten breakfast with him. Not even after waking up with him!"
"Draco!" Harry protested half-heartedly as there were titters around the hall. Draco smiled, but gave no other sign that he'd registered Harry's protest.
"So I thought what with the Dark Lord gone, and my Dad in Azkaban, and leaving school in a few weeks, now would be the time," he paused. "Professor? Are you all right? You're looking a bit green."
There was a thump. Professor Snape had fainted dead away on the floor. Harry and Draco looked at each other, and burst out laughing again. Then they shrugged, and turned back to their food.
"Granger? Would you pass that tomato sauce?"
Still no response from Hermione. She was staring at them in horror. Ron Weasley, however, had begun to recover. Or, more accurately, he'd gained enough leave of his senses to vocalise his outrage.
"Harry!" he hissed. "What is he doing here?"
"I would have thought that was perfectly clear by now, Ron," Harry answered mildly.
"Why is he at the Gryffindor table?!!"
Harry sighed. "Because he's my boyfriend, Ron. You know. Boyfriend. Dating."
Ron Weasley was temporarily stunned. Harry shook his head at the stupidity of his housemates and turned back to his food.
"You know, Harry," Draco mused, "I sometimes wonder how you survive in
Gryfindor, surrounded by such stubborn idiots."
"Maybe because I'm one of them?" Harry suggested.
"I won't argue with that."
And Ron had recovered, partly due to the indignity of being called a stubborn idiot.
"But Harry," Ron said, speaking as if to a two year old, "he – is – in – SLYTHERIN!"
There was a slight pause as Harry chewed, a slightly puzzled expression on his face. He looked up at Ron.
The entire Gryffindor table groaned in collective frustration. Harry looked at them all, bemused.
"I don't see what the problem is. I mean, when Hermione was dating that Ravenclaw," Ron growled threateningly and Harry realised that maybe he hadn't chosen the best example, "he ate here all the time."
"But he was - "
" - a Ravenclaw!"
" – nice!"
" – straight!" burst from several mouths around the table. Harry's eyes hardened slightly.
"I see," was all he said.
"Harry!" Ron tried one last time. "Malfoy's father was a Death Eater!"
But Harry just looked at him, confused.
Another collective groan passed around the table. Draco decided to take things in hand.
"Look, I know you're all worried that I - ," more than fifty poisonous glares focused on his face, " – I'll shut up now."
"Guys, why don't you tell me what the problem is?" Harry reasoned. "Then I'll try and fix it. Is it that he's in Slytherin? That he's Draco Malfoy? That he's a guy? Or that Professor Snape is lying unconscious behind the table?"
"All of those!" Ron Weasley raged. "And more besides! Harry, please tell me, please tell all of us that this is some kind of sick joke! Malfoy can't be…he can't seriously be your b – bo – b … your - "
"Boyfriend?" Draco offered. Again, fifty poisonous stares.
"Meep!" Draco said.
"You know, Draco," Harry said, as if he hadn't noticed the silent glares of loathing being directed towards him and Draco from all over the room, "I've never really liked that word."
"Boyfriend. It has such a…I don't know, teenage girl sound to it."
"I couldn't agree more. How about…soulmate?" Harry gave an expressive shudder.
"The One?" Draco offered with a sardonic smile.
"Urgh! What? Am I going to go round introducing you as Draco Malfoy, The One?"
"It has a certain Sci-fi ring to it."
Harry groaned. "I should never have introduced you to those Muggle movies!"
"Companion?" Draco suggested.
"We're not eighty!"
"Are we married, then?"
"What, you feel you need to advertise to the entire world that you have a sex life?"
"How about partner?"
"Better. Very urban gay sounding though."
"Harry, we are urban gays."
"He has a point."
"What about Life Partner?"
Harry paused. "Life Partner," he said, feeling it on his tongue. He nodded. "Yes. I could go with that."
There was another thump. Ron Weasley was out cold on the floor.
"Ouch!" Draco commented. "That stone floor looks hard."
Harry shrugged. "He'll recover."
"That's one Slytherin and one Gryffindor," Draco commented. "Who d'you reckon'll be next?"
Harry pointed to the Slytherin table. "Parkinson's looking white."
Draco chuckled. "Look at McGonagall!" Her mouth was the thinnest line Harry had ever seen.
"Or it could be Granger." Draco gestured towards the girl sitting opposite them, still speechless with shock.
"You reckon a Gryffindor then?"
"Slytherins are tougher," Draco declared.
But as it happened, they were both wrong. At that moment, there was another thump. Hannah Abbott had fainted.
Draco smiled happily. "I told you she never got over that crush on you!"
Harry just rolled his eyes.
"Hermione?" he tried again. "Tomato sauce?"
Still no response. Harry sighed and reached across the table to get it for himself.