Um, first of all, I am SO sorry. I do realize that it's been over a month since I've updated. School really snuck up on me. I kept planning to update this fic, and just not getting around to it. Sorry! I totally understand if you've all completely deserted me. Anyway, I have a five-day weekend this week, and I realized that if I didn't update this now, I probably never was going to. Hence the update. This is, as I've promised, the last chapter. I think I've got all the loose ends tied up, and while this isn't my favorite chapter I hope it goes out on a good note. I've had a great time writing this fic, and I hope you've enjoyed reading it. You reviews have been great encouragement!
Chapter Nine: Casanova Malfoy, Romantic Extraordinaire
Draco didn't even have to enter the Common Room before he heard the sounds of Blaise and Pansy getting reacquainted with each other.
"Oh, you poor baby!" Pansy simpered.
Blaise sighed. "He was brutal, Pansy."
"Well, we don't have to worry about him ever again," Pansy said confidently.
Draco pushed the door open and cleared his throat. Might as well let them down easy.
"Hello," he said brightly.
Pansy let her hand flop limply into Blaise's hair.
"Draco?" she said.
"Dammit!" Blaise shrieked.
"Nice to see you," Draco said. "I'm glad you found Blaise, Pansy."
"My god," Blaise marveled. "He's like a cockroach."
"Now, Blaise," Pansy said. "He needs our love and support. Even if he is a total freak who locks people in closets when they annoy him. I know a very nice counselor you can see if you'd like."
"That won't be necessary," Draco said. "But I think Blaise should pay a visit to Madame Pomfrey. He looks a bit peaky."
Blaise stared at him.
"I'm going upstairs now," Draco said.
He had a lot of thinking to do.
First off, there was the fact that he was sort of falling head-over-heels for Harry Potter in the most clichéd way possible. Which had, perhaps, been a long time coming, but was fairly annoying now that it was actually here.
What further complicated the situation was the fact that Potter seemed to be—well, there was a chance, anyway—that he might—
Draco could not even bring himself to think it.
Clearly, he needed to reevaluate his position. Earlier, when he had decided that there might be some possibility of a relationship with Potter, his brain had been addled. He had just been locked in a closet, for Merlin's sake. Out of his right mind.
Whenever Draco honestly, really liked someone, he tended to do one the same thing every time. It wasn't sensible, and never ever worked, and Draco had no intention of changing his ways.
His solution, in essence, was to run away.
This was his favorite solution. It resolved so many problems: his own annoying lack of self-control where romance was involved: the horrible world of dating, fights, and breakups; his mother; and Valentine's Day, among others.
It also accounted for the fact that he was well into his third teenage year and hadn't yet had a steady relationship.
And he was not about to strike up one with Harry Potter, of all people.
There were too many risks involved. Draco liked things to stay simple. For the past five years, he had hated Potter, and Potter had hated him—Draco tended to forget that he had, at least at first, wanted to be Potter's friend. That complicated things.
Things couldn't stay the same, though. That was just as clear. Draco was not about to spend his days mooning over a scar-headed sloppy-haired Gryffindor prat just because his hormones wanted him to.
Everything would work out in the end.
It would have to.
However, skipping his classes in order to avoid Potter was not feasible.
Potions was his first class the next day. Meaning lots of Gryffindor interaction. And, in all likelihood, no Slytherin interaction. Pansy and Blaise hadn't spoken to him since yesterday, and while Crabbe and Goyle weren't about to abandon him, they weren't the people to turn to for philosophical conversation.
He entered the dungeons early. He usually liked making grand, exciting entrances ten minutes into class; but he hadn't got much sleep last night and wasn't exactly eager for people to goggle at the bags under his eyes. Besides, he wasn't exactly welcome back in the Common Room.
But nothing ever worked out the way he planned it.
When Draco arrived, Harry Potter was already there, with Hermione Granger. They were sitting in the back row, muttering furiously. Granger was waving some sort of book around under Potter's nose. Draco vaguely thought he recognized it from somewhere. He'd ask about it, sometime, maybe.
When the door creaked open on its rusty hinges, they both spun around. Potter's face turned bright red, and, from the warmth rising in his cheeks, Draco suspected that he was just as bad.
"Go on, Harry," urged Granger. She smiled at Draco over Potter's shoulder.
Did she think she was doing him a favor? No good, interfering Mudblood!
Potter stumbled to his feet and glanced nervously between Draco and the floor.
Draco felt his heart lurch painfully. "Not right now, Potter," he said.
Potter stared beseechingly at Granger. She waved her encouragement.
Draco wished she would fall into some very large pit. Preferably a bottomless one.
"Please? Can we go out into the hall and talk?"
Draco stared at the floor. He could feel Potter's eyes boring into the top of his head, and he wanted to look up. But he couldn't.
"I'd rather not," he said.
Potter was quiet. Draco risked a look up.
"Fine, Malfoy," he said.
Draco almost stopped him before he went shuffling back to his desk. Almost. But not quite.
Blaise and Pansy walked in a few minutes later. They glared at him in unison before simultaneously turning away and stalking to the other side of the room.
Draco felt unloved.
Snape's entrance didn't do much for him. The man was clearly in a bad mood, which meant that—really, it just meant that it was no different from almost every other day. But he'd assigned them a Drowsiness Draught, and Draco had absolutely no one to work with.
Generally, he worked with Pansy on this sort of thing. But she had immediately snapped up Blaise, and the two of them were busily powdering scarab wings. Millicent, meanwhile, was chatting avidly with Theodore Nott, who seemed a bit terrified. And Snape, who was apparently in the mood to see a disaster, had assigned Crabbe to work with Goyle.
Draco tried to set up his cauldron without calling any attention to himself. He'd never had to work on his own before, and didn't want to call attention to the fact that he'd started.
A hand tapped him on the shoulder.
Draco, to his shame, felt his heart begin to speed at the thought—hope—that it was Potter.
"I'll work with you, Malfoy," said Hermione Granger.
Draco's shock was enough to stop him from saying anything too rude.
"You?" he said. "Don't you work with Longbottom?"
She glanced over her shoulder. "Neville's sick, and Ron's working with Harry," she said. "I need a partner. So do you. Let's get to work."
Before Draco knew what was happening, a pile of sickish yellow leaves were being pushed at him.
"Here," she said. "Each of these needs to be cut into sixteen equal sized squares. I'll handle the spider legs."
Draco glowered at the knife she offered him.
"What is this, Mudblood? You must have some reason for this."
Granger began to mash the spider legs rather more viciously than was required. "There's no need to use that word," she said. "I'm long over being insulted by you."
Draco shrugged. "Fine, then."
After a few minutes of chopping leaves in relative peace, Granger began to speak.
"If you must know," she said lowly. "Harry's upset with me."
Draco nodded and tossed his leaves into the pot without meeting her eyes. "Is he, now."
"Yes," she said, her voice trembling. "And he's upset with you, too. It was—it was my idea for us to come to Potions early. Not his."
Draco grabbed a handful of scarab wings and crushed a few between his fingers. "Of course," he said. "Potter would never have the guts to do something like that on his own. Well, good for you, Granger. I hope you're proud."
She shook her head wildly, clearly flustered. "No, no," she said. "That's not what I meant."
"Well, spit it out then."
She wrung her hands unhappily. "I mean—well, what is Harry supposed to think? From what he's told me, I don't know what to think. I just know that he was happy last night, and when I asked him why it seemed like—well, for some reason he was happy about you. And he's told me all the things you've said and done, and I think he's right."
Draco glared at her and tossed his scarab wings into the cauldron. "It's none of your business, Granger."
She looked somewhat subdued, but wasn't finished yet. "Look," she said. "Harry's my friend. And I think you're a big prat, but Harry—doesn't. Not anymore. Or at least he didn't before your little performance this morning."
Draco looked at her sharply. "What do you mean?"
She snorted. Very unladylike. "What do you think I mean? People can only take so much, Malfoy."
Draco, against his will, spun around to look at Potter. Potter only glared, before turning back to Weasley and continuing his conversation.
He was beginning to feel like a proper idiot.
"I don't care if you think you're made of ice," she said. "You're easy enough to read. Don't be stupid, Malfoy."
Draco stirred the potion so quickly that it splashed both of their robes.
"Like I said, Granger," he repeated. "None of your business."
But after Potions, Draco waited before leaving the classroom, before impulsively hurrying out just behind Potter and his friends.
"Hey!" he said. "Potter!"
Potter stopped dead in his tracks, but didn't bother to turn and look at him.
"What is it, Malfoy?" he said coldly. Granger's hand came up to rest on Potter's shoulder.
Draco opened his mouth, and lost whatever he had wanted to say. "Nothing," he muttered, and walked away.
The next few days were not Draco's best.
It all sprang, he deduced, from the fact that no one other than Crabbe and Goyle would speak to him. In his desperation, he sought out Millicent Bulstrode to talk to—and discovered that she, along with the other members of SAPHAP—were all mysteriously missing.
Meanwhile, Draco was beginning to notice odd things going around in the castle. More mornings than not, Dumbledore was mysteriously missing from the High Table. "Power to the People!" was scrawled in red paint on all of the doors on the fourth floor, and no one could seem to get it off. Several times, he knew he heard voices coming from behind doors that would not open.
Out of curiosity and boredom, he found Luna Lovegood to ask her about it.
"Oh, that's right," she told him, beaming. "You know about the rebellion."
"I thought that was more of a knives and pitchforks kind of thing," Draco said.
"Yes, well," Luna shrugged. "That's our eventual plan. We'll probably start this Friday. But for now, we're in the planning stages. We have over two hundred students enlisted, and one teacher."
"Hagrid," Luna said confidentially. "He's very excited about the idea of Harry being king. Of course, the way I've planned it it's mainly a symbolic position, but the people aren't ready to be cut completely free."
Draco stared at her uncomprehendingly. "Hagrid," he said dully. "My god, we're all doomed."
Because he was doomed anyway, Draco didn't get very upset when he caught himself staring at Harry Potter—which happened increasingly, that week. Across the Great Hall, classrooms, the dungeons. It became a habit. Draco found himself walking away from lessons with the Gryffindors with no memory of having learned anything, but an enormous grin on his face.
Things were getting out of control.
Draco was starting to think that it had been a mistake, running away from Potter like he had. He wanted to be with Potter, and it didn't seem completely ridiculous that Potter might want to be with him, too. But he didn't know how to take back what he had said, and he was, maybe, a little bit afraid.
Just a little.
That Friday, Draco woke up feeling relieved. The week was over; he had two days to recover, and by then—who knew? Maybe this Harry Potter infatuation would be over and done with.
Then he remembered—it was Friday. Today was the day that Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley planned to overthrow the government. It was also Potter's birthday party. Draco's stomach sank as he considered the horrible possibility that the two were somehow connected.
He went through his classes in a daze. In Ancient Runes, he vaguely registered that Padma seemed happier than usual. And in Care of Magical Creatures, Hagrid's normal insanity was magnified a hundred times over.
And as for Draco? Well, several people looked at him oddly. But he didn't notice. He couldn't take his eyes off of Harry Potter.
There was something in that boy that had drawn Draco's attention, since the day they had met in Madame Malkin's shop all those years ago. He wasn't conventionally attractive, that was for sure, with his knobbly knees and his too-long nose, but he—there was something about him. That was all. Something that made Draco have trouble breathing and made his heart beat too quickly, but something that made him happy.
That night, Draco lay unhappily on the couch in the common room. Millicent had disappeared about an hour after dinner—probably to the Rebellion Birthday Party extravaganza.
Draco sighed loudly.
Pansy pulled her head away from Blaise, who she was snogging on the couch. "Stop moaning, Draco," she ordered, before regluing her lips to Blaise's.
Draco sighed again.
Spending his evening hibernating on the couch was not his idea of a good time. Especially when he knew that somewhere in the castle, Harry Potter was busy celebrating his birthday party—probably drinking firewhisky, maybe getting a little tipsy. Maybe he would find someone else. Like Granger had said—people could only take so much.
Draco sat up quickly and glanced around the Common Room.
"I'm leaving," he announced loudly. "In case anyone's looking for me."
But no one would look for him. Draco knew that much. No one even said goodbye.
Draco was only ten steps from the dungeons when he realized that he had no idea where Harry Potter's birthday was.
His first thought was the room where SAPHAP meetings had been held. But when he got there, it was completely empty. Even the walls were bare of the posters that had covered them last time he was there, and a dusty film seemed to have settled over the floor.
So. Not there.
He tried the Great Hall next. He'd never heard of any sort of party in there before, but Dumbledore adored Potter enough to make an exception for him. When Draco opened the door, he saw a room that was empty except for a few House-elves busily scrubbing away at the floor in the back.
Not there, either.
Draco was beginning to panic. He felt that this, somehow, was his last real chance. He had to find Potter tonight and do something—he wasn't quite sure what, or how—or it wouldn't matter what he did anymore.
Then he remembered something.
Some room on the seventh floor—Draco didn't remember what it was called—Hermione Granger had told him about it. Some room that would give you anything you wanted, as easy as wishing.
Draco sprinted up all seven flights of stairs, and ran through several deserted halls before he finally came across a door that he was almost positive had not been there the day before.
It was only then that he hesitated. He was not at all sure that he was going to be welcomed, and even if he wasn't immediately thrown out there was nothing to say for sure that Potter would even be willing to look at him. It would very likely end in unhappiness and humiliation—and he thought it was worth the risk. Just the thought that Potter might smile at him that way, or kiss him or say his name was enough for Draco to gamble his pride.
It was terrifying, having so little control over himself. It was something Draco had been trying to avoid for years, and now that he was caught up in it he found he rather liked it.
He brushed his hair back, pushed open the door, and went inside.
It was so crowded that at first no one seemed to notice him. It looked like every Gryffindor in the school had been invited, and Draco noticed three or four terrified looking First Years huddling close together. A good number of Hufflepuffs were mingling, as well, and five or six Ravenclaws. And then there was Millicent, and himself.
Draco felt horribly out of place.
He didn't even see Potter.
The first person to say hello to him was Ginny Weasley. She bounced up to him with a glass of punch in her hands and abnormally red cheeks, waving cheerfully. "Hello, Draco," she said cheerfully. "Glad you could make it."
Draco nodded and looked over her shoulder.
"Have you seen Potter?"
"Harry? No. I was actually looking for him a bit. The coronation is going to start soon, and, well, obviously, we can't start without him…" she trailed off, gesturing vaguely to a gaudy, diamond encrusted golden throne that was propped up in a corner.
"That's nice," Draco said loudly. "I'm going to find Potter now."
It took him a good ten minutes before he actually did find him. The room was bigger than Draco would have thought possible. He knew it backed up to a Charms classroom, but it went back for ages and ages. And the decorations were distracting, too. There were presents piled in corners, and posters and signs tacked to the wall. There was one spot where gold and scarlet confetti rained from the ceiling, and Draco almost slipped trying to walk through a three inch layer of the stuff.
Finally, he spotted Potter—far in the back with Colin Creevey. He was being shown some sort of collage, and Draco distantly remembered the Saphaprodites discussing some sort of dedication to Potter's life being made, but all the same he didn't exactly care for the adoring way Colin was gazing up at Harry. His heart racing, Draco sped up until he was close enough to hear what was going on.
"This is very nice, Colin," Potter was saying diplomatically. "And I appreciate it. I really do. But—er, where exactly did you get the pictures of me in the shower?"
Colin laughed. "Oh—oh, those pictures? Glad you asked. I took them myself, actually. How nice of you to ask."
"That's not exactly what I meant," Potter said slowly. "I mean…"
Draco coughed loudly, and Potter spun around to stare at him.
"You," said Potter accusingly.
"Hello, Draco!" Colin said happily.
"I want you out of here," Harry said, completely ignoring Colin.
"I need to talk to you," Draco said feverishly. "Just for a few minutes. Please."
"I'm glad you made it," Colin plowed on obliviously.
"Are you bonkers, Malfoy?" He turned away and began to examine Colin's collage.
Draco reached out and grabbed his shoulder. Potter flinched, and froze in place. Colin observed them with wide-eyed wonder.
"If you really think," Potter said quietly. "That after everything you've done I have the slightest wish to—"
Draco grabbed his other shoulder and spun him around. "Look," he said. "I'm sorry, okay?"
And with that, he kissed Harry Potter full on the mouth.
It was brief. But it was enough for Draco to know that this was exactly what he wanted—Potter's lips on his, and Potter's hand inexplicably to come up to brush the side of his face, and the softness of Potter's hair—this.
Before he knew it, Potter was pushing him away—but not angrily. Thoughtfully, gently even.
"Okay, Malfoy," he said. "Let's talk.
As Draco followed Potter to the door, he noticed a few people pointing and muttering. It barely registered. He was still numb—with disbelief—with delight—and it hardly seemed to matter if the entire school knew.
Behind them, Colin Creevey burst into tears.
Potter nearly slammed the door behind them when they entered the hall.
"Okay, Malfoy," he said, crossing his arms. "I'm giving you one chance to say whatever it is you have to say. Which is more than you deserve, anyway."
Draco took a deep, shuddering breath, and found that he was not able to meet Potter's eyes. He was not used to making apologies, and, for a moment, he considered lying and saying it was nothing.
But he wanted this, and it was worth the risk.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly, and then again, more firmly. "I'm sorry. I've been—I haven't been very nice the past week. Or month. Or so."
Potter snorted. "Oh, please, Malfoy. You haven't been 'very nice' the past five years. If that was the only problem it wouldn't even matter at this point."
Draco winced. It was perfectly true, and he hated hearing it said aloud. "That's right," he said. "And I'm sorry if I've been—confusing, or—if anything I've said has messed you up at all. In the past while." Potter was silent. Draco dared to glance up at him, and found that Potter was—almost smiling. "It hasn't been on purpose," Draco continued. "It's just that it's hard. I mean, going from enemies to—to whatever you are now. I haven't known what to think."
There was a hand on his shoulder—Potter. Draco inhaled deeply, and looked up to see Potter nearly beaming at him.
The boy had no restraint. Honestly. Damn good thing he wasn't in Slytherin, Draco thought.
Draco took a deep breath. He had no idea what he was going to say, but this felt like an Important Moment, and he felt he ought to say something. But Potter beat him to it.
"Listen," he said. "I have some stuff to apologize for, too."
"Like the fact that you were generally at least as confusing as I was over the past few weeks?"
Potter blinked. "Well, no. I mean, that too. But. This is actually a bit more embarrassing. I mean—okay, to be perfectly honest—when I asked you to Hogsmeade the first time, that wasn't entirely my idea."
Draco's mind immediately leapt to Hermione Granger, and he mentally noted that she either deserved a good slap or a thank you.
"This is—my god," Potter said. "I can't believe I'm actually saying this. Okay. Here goes. For the past three months or so, I've kind of been involved in…a Draco Malfoy fan club."
The world flipped over beneath Draco's feet.
"What?" he breathed.
Potter cringed. "Yeah, I know. They made me join, though, once I found out about them. It was mainly your friend Parkinson running the whole thing, with Crabbe and Goyle and Parvati Patil. And Zacharias Smith came to one or two. And Mandy Brocklehurst."
Draco felt himself breaking into a wide grin. "That has done wonders for my self-esteem," he said.
"You mean your ego?"
"Shut up, Potter," Draco said—and instead of getting angry, like he would have a few months ago, Potter laughed, and smiled, and Draco's stomach lurched in a way that was utterly good and pleasant.
"Well," Potter said, sighing contentedly. "That's good. I thought that if—if we stopped fighting, somehow—I thought you would be upset. I guess it's kind of dishonest, after all. And—well, I don't mean to hurt your ego—er—self-esteem, that is—but I guess you should probably know that the club has formally disbanded."
Draco was outraged. "Why in the world would they do that?"
Potter shrugged. "I guess they just didn't care enough," he said nonchalantly.
Well. Draco could fix that. He had no reason to be angry with Pansy or Blaise; and he was happy, and he didn't think there was anything he couldn't do.
"So," Potter said breathlessly. With another happy leap of his stomach, Draco realized exactly where this was heading. He took a step forward, breathless with anticipation, balanced himself on Potter's shoulder, and closed his eyes as they both leaned in.
It was the first kiss they had shared where they both been expecting it—completely sober, willing, and ready, and it was better for it. Draco's face was so close to Potter's that he could feel heat radiating off of it, and for once there was no worry that he was about to be pushed away, or pressure to pull away himself. This was allowed—this was right.
Draco had barely slipped into the rhythm of the kiss when he felt Potter's tongue at his lips, and opened his mouth—and that felt good, too; and so did Potter's hands on his back and hips and the way their noses touched and the enormous relief that came from finally, finally being allowed to be in love with Harry Potter.
Finally, he pulled away—for the first time, not because he was angry or unhappy, but because he was happy, and dazed, and needed to think. But Potter's hands stayed on his shoulders, and Draco allowed himself to run a hand through Potter's hair, and he had to laugh at the absurdity of it all. And when his hand dropped to where Potter's was, Potter caught it, and held it.
Draco was happy.
But there was still one more thing Draco was curious about.
"Hey, Potter," he said.
"Hmm?" Potter breathed, very near to Draco's face.
"What was that book I've seen you with the past week or so? That one Granger was waving around before Potions earlier?"
Potter blushed bright red and pushed away. "You don't want to know," he said. "Really."
Draco took his hand and smiled his most winning smile. "Yes," he said confidently. "Yes, I do."
Potter took a deep breath. "Okay," he said. "But don't say I didn't warn you. And Hermione gave it to me anyway. It's not like I picked it out for myself or anything. Because I didn't. And I didn't even read it. Maybe I glanced at it a bit, but—"
"Potter," Draco interrupted, caressing the side of Potter's cheek. "What was it?"
Potter blushed even redder, and leaned into Draco's touch. "It was…it was Gay Love for the Teenage Wizard."
Draco blinked at him.
"I would not have expected that from you," he said blankly.
Potter nodded fervently. "Hermione!" he reminded Draco. "All Hermione."
Draco nodded, and, thoughtfully, leaned in to kiss him again. When he pulled away, Potter had calmed down slightly.
"So," Potter said. "Should we head back into the party, then?"
Draco grinned wickedly. "Not at all," he said. "I want to see that book, Potter. And I want to know exactly what you got out of it."
Potter stared at him in disbelief for a moment before, laughing, he pressed his lips to Draco's one more time.
"We'll see about that," he whispered.
Draco was rather looking forward to it.
Thanks for bearing with me, guys! I would love to hear your thoughts; on the entire fic or this chapter in particular. I'm considering an epilogue focusing more on Luna and Ginny's rebellion if anyone's interested. I just didn't have time to write it all out like I planned. Anyway. A lot of you were right on the whole Draco Malfoy Fanclub plot. Congrats on that! I don't know if anyone guessed about the book...but then, that hasn't been a big focus like the DMF was. Anyway, thanks again! I would love to hear from any of you guys who have this on your alerts list but haven't reviewed yet--you now who you are ;-P