Well here it is: The last chapter! Notes at the bottom as usual.
And a huge grande-sized thank you to my beta 13thMoonWitch! He's helped me out probably more than he realizes. Thanks so much! .:glomps:
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Chapter 13: Christmas Charm
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"I reckon he just went home," Ron stated with conviction as he, Harry, Hermione and Ginny sat in Ron's room discussing the situation. Hermione was there as she had asked her parents to spend the first week of vacation with the Weasleys.
"But why?" Harry asked softly. "I thought everything was great…but then something happened and it's like he just…closed off."
"Harry," Hermione said as she stood up. "Come with me, I want to talk to you." She walked over and grabbed his hand, leading him from the room. "We'll be back," she threw over her shoulder as she closed the door.
The two friends exited the back of the house and walked in silence for a while, until they reached the wooded area behind the burrow. Harry shoved his hands in his pockets, ducking his head against the chill of the winter wind. "What's up Hermione?" he asked, glancing sideways at her as she crossed her arms under the winter cloak she had grabbed on the way out.
She paused, thinking over her answer before she spoke. "I've been watching Draco lately…"
Harry gave her a strange look. "Watching him?" he raised an eyebrow at her, and Hermione giggled and playfully punched his arm.
"Not like that, Harry. Cute as he may be, I'm not after your boyfriend."
Harry smiled back at her, before it slowly fell. "I don't know…do I even have a boyfriend for you to be after?"
Hermione stopped, causing Harry to stop as well and look back at her curiously. "Harry, do you want to know what I saw in his eyes when he looked at you over the last two weeks?"
When she saw she had Harry's full attention, Hermione continued in an encouraging voice. "I saw fear, first and foremost. Beneath that I always saw regret, tension, but most of all I always saw love."
Harry didn't know what to say for a moment, and he watched a squirrel's progress up a tree as he lost himself in thoughts of the last two weeks. "He looked at you like that?" Harry finally asked.
Hermione laughed. "I think you're missing my point here, Harry. Of course he didn't look at me like that. I saw it when he looked at you."
"But…why would he be scared?" Harry asked, flopping ungracefully onto the ground.
"Because he was afraid of losing you," she answered easily, sitting down cross-legged in front of Harry.
"Losing me? He was the one pushing me away!"
"Think about it Harry," Hermione said slowly. "Draco's always been the self-preserving type, hasn't he? After all, he wasn't put in Slytherin for no reason. Something must have happened to make him think you were going to leave him."
Harry blinked in surprise. "But that's stupid!" he declared.
Hermione smiled indulgently. "Of course it is, Harry; we both know that. But Draco doesn't think the same way you or I do. We all know you've got a bit of Slytherin in you, so put yourself in his shoes for a moment."
There was a moment of silence, and only the sounds of the outdoors surrounded them. Come to think of it, the way Draco had been acting was very unusual. The day it all started, Draco had clung to him as if his life depended on it. It was only after that that he began pushing away, and yet there were times as if he wanted nothing more than to be close. Why hadn't he seen it before?
Suddenly Harry's fists clenched and he stood up, glaring at nothing. "Idiot" he shouted, pacing two steps and then stopping. "After this summer…after everything I-" He stopped and let out his breath in a long huff.
Hermione looked at him concernedly. "Harry?" She stood up as well as he turned to look at her.
"I just can't believe he would doubt me like that."
"Well you're going to set him straight, aren't you?" Hermione asked cheekily.
Harry stopped his resumed pacing and raised an eyebrow. "I have no intention to do any such thing," he replied in the same tone, and Hermione laughed. "I will, however, show him how stupid he's being for just assuming that I'm going to leave him with no indication to prove it whatsoever."
Hermione smiled, and started guiding Harry back towards the house with a light touch on his arm. "And how are you going to do that?"
Harry was silent for a moment, studying the grass as he walked. "Christmas," he answered simply. "I'll give him until Christmas in the manor alone. He can think of it as payback for the last two weeks of frustration he's caused me."
Hermione stopped and raised her eyebrows. Malfoy must be rubbing off on him for such a vengeful plan. She shook her head, and quickly caught up to Harry, who looked quite like he was pouting, and they walked back into the house together.
Much to Ron and Ginny's frustration, Harry and Hermione would not tell them what they discussed in the forest. Ron then accused them of a quick snogging session, to which Harry laughed and Hermione hit him upside the head.
The rest of the week of Hermione's visit was spent amiably, and became increasingly more fun as more of the Weasleys arrived home for the Holidays.
The week after Hermione left, Harry got caught up in the excitement of decorating the house. Even through the excitement though, he found his thoughts constantly straying to Draco, and what the boy was doing.
Although, there was one thing that managed to keep Harry quite a bit distracted from his thoughts. Well, two things, cut from the same mold. It was the day after Hermione left that the two banes of anyone without a sense of humor arrived.
"We're home!" The twins announced with the telltale crack of apparition. Everybody, which included all Weasleys minus Percy, herded to the living room where the two boys had arrived. Molly immediately smothered them in a hug, of course, while Arthur welcomed them home.
Once they were released, Ginny cut in with a teasing voice, "Did you bring me anything back?"
The twins looked at each other and feigned shock. "Our dearest sister!" Fred cried.
"How could we have forgotten?" George answered. Ginny huffed and rolled her eyes. George winked at her, and pulled a box from his robes, enlarging it to a sizeable gift-wrapped box. Ginny reached for it, but George pulled it from her reach. "Uh, uh." He tutted. "Not until Christmas."
"How torturous to have to wait a week to open the perfect gift, straight from France," Fred sighed dramatically.
"France?" Harry cut in suddenly, and both twins' gazes immediately turned to him.
"Harry!" Fred cried, tossing his hands up and making his way over to the only dark-haired one of the bunch. He threw his arm over the shorter boy's shoulder, and guided him towards George.
"Just the guy we wanted to see," George added, placing himself at Harry's other side. They quickly guided Harry through the doorway, causing the rest of the family to exchange curious looks while they asked Harry his ideas on international sales. They spent the rest of the afternoon locked in the twins' bedroom before coming back down to visit with the rest of the family.
Two days before Christmas, Harry told Ron and his family that he would be leaving late the morning of the holiday. There was much protest, but he just shook his head at them. "I need to check up on a certain fox," he replied, and left it at that.
Christmas eve, Harry was lying on his stomach on his bed in Ron's room, idly playing with a small metal object. It glinted in the light, and Harry smirked as the words "Harry J. Potter" flashed into view.
"What do you have there?" Ron asked as he walked into the room.
"A gift, of sorts," Harry responded, tucking the item into his pocket.
Ron rolled his eyes at Harry's secretiveness, and plopped down onto his own bed. "Do you really have to leave so early tomorrow?"
Harry's gaze turned slightly sad as he looked out the window, propping his head up in his hands. "I don't want him to spend Christmas alone, Ron. He only just lost his parents, and I can't stand the thought of him spending the day in that manor all by himself."
Ron raised an eyebrow. "But you've left him alone all this time."
"That's so he'll appreciate me more when I get there," Harry replied, winking at the redhead, who laughed at the boy's reasoning. Then Harry turned over on his side so that he was facing the wall, and let his expression fall. "Now go to bed Ron. Tomorrow is Christmas after all."
Ron was a bit thrown by the sudden change, but shrugged, and went to shower and change into his pajamas. By the time he came back into the room, Harry was asleep, still fully clothed.
The next morning, Harry was the first one up, and he jumped into the shower before anyone else could. He changed into a flattering outfit, and threw on his best robes: a very dark green, outlined in silver, with a decorative silver design on the back. He happily made his way down the stairs after he changed and met up with the rest of the Weasleys, immediately diving into the large breakfast Molly had made. He enjoyed the morning events immensely with his adopted family as he waited for the time to go see his fox.
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Draco found Christmas morning to be a much quieter affair. He hadn't fallen asleep easily the night before; in fact he hadn't fallen asleep easily any night since he had come home. It seemed he missed the warmth of Harry beside him far more than he thought he would. So he spent half the nights missing Harry, and the other half cursing himself for doing so.
'I've got to stop thinking about him!' he thought angrily to himself the next morning as he showered, not even sure why he was bothering. 'He's with a family…that's what Harry needs, a family to love him. I can't give him that…' Draco sighed, and rested his forehead against the tiled wall, letting the warm water cascade over him. He stayed that way for a short while, until he decided that was enough wallowing in self-pity for the moment, and stepped out of the shower.
After dressing somewhat nicely – it was Christmas after all, he might as well have some holiday spirit – Draco walked down the stairs, and into the main living area, where he had set up a very welcoming Christmas tree. He lit a fire in the hearth and stepped into the kitchen for a muffin. He had told the house elves not to cook anything, as he really didn't feel like having a feast by himself. After finishing the muffin, he walked back into the living room, where a small pile of gifts awaited him.
'Of course it would be smaller than usual…' he realized belatedly. 'I've got no family left to send me anything.' He sniffed once, and pressed his hands against his eyes, willing away the tears that threatened to spill. Once the slight sting had disappeared, Draco removed his hands, and looked over the small pile. There were boxes there from Pansy and Blaise, which surprised him, but delighted him nonetheless. At least they hadn't disowned him completely, then. There was one from Snape as well, sitting prominently among the others. Absently reaching up to run his fingers over the collar around his neck, he looked over the rest, and his small smile faded as he realized there was nothing there from Harry, not even a letter. 'But I really shouldn't expect anything…I've been rather rotten lately…I hope he's having fun.'
His train of thought was quickly cut off though as a very small box appeared with a puff of smoke in front of him. Draco jumped back a bit in surprise, and eyed the small box with suspicion. Slowly he pulled out his wand and tapped it, not quite sure what he was expecting it to do. There was no reaction, and Draco slowly approached it. It seemed harmless enough anyway. Carefully, he took the package into his hands, and opened the lid that was adorned with a big red bow. He pulled aside the tissue, and his eyes widened in surprise as he noticed the contents.
There, lying among more tissue paper, was a dog tag with the inscription "Harry J. Potter" written in an elaborate script. Looking around as if expecting the boy to jump out and yell 'boo!', he slowly took the tag from the box. The polished silver glinted in the light of the large windows as Draco turned the object over fingers. The memory of that day they spent lazing on the couch flashed through his mind, and he laughed despite his somewhat depressing morning. Who knew Harry had been serious about that comment about getting him a tag? But…what did it mean?
Dropping the box and wrapping on the floor, Draco stood and walked over to the nearest mirror, clipping the tag onto the collar he still wore. He smiled deprecatingly at himself, and flicked the tag, watching as the light caught both that and the jewels set into the collar. "He's turned me into his damned pet," Draco muttered to himself, though the tone was not as angry as the words indicated. In fact, he sounded somewhat amused.
Shaking his head at himself, Draco walked down the hall into one of the study rooms, and reached into a large cabinet, pulling out a large silver basin with runes etched into the metal. He dragged it into the living room, and set it down with a huff. "Bloody heavy pensieve…" he grumbled, before sitting down cross-legged in front of it. If his Christmas was going to be lonely and unhappy, he might as well spend it immersed in happy memories.
He had just set the tip of his wand against his temple when a loud 'crack' reverberated through the room, and Draco jumped back with a surprised shout, his wand immediately pointed toward the intruder. He was only able to blink stupidly for a moment, as Harry stood perched with one foot on each side of the pensieve, his arms crossed, eyebrow raised, and a smirk on his lips, looking resplendent in the impeccable dress robes.
Draco was speechless for a moment, as he committed this image to memory along with others he had of Harry before at least part of his brain started working again. The first thing it managed was 'Harry! He's here!' The second was "How did you manage that?" He indicated Harry's feet with a nod of his head, and mentally kicked himself for that being the first thing out of his mouth.
Harry blinked and looked down, then laughed at the entire situation. "Sheer dumb luck," he answered as he hopped off the silver basin. He took a couple more steps, unfolding his arms as he did so, and dropped to his knees in front of Draco. "Now I believe we've got a few things to talk about," he said seriously.
Draco swallowed a little nervously, and shifted so that he sat on his knees in front of Harry, mimicking the other boy's position. "Like…what?"
Harry leveled a deadpan stare in his direction, and Draco smiled innocently. Harry sighed and rolled his eyes, before a silver glint at Draco's neck caught his eye, and he smiled. Tentatively, Harry reached forward, and ran his fingers over the tag. "Well that answers that question at least."
"What question?" Draco asked as Harry retracted his hand.
"That the idea of being with me isn't appalling to you."
"Harry…" Draco said in a whisper, while sounding forceful as well. He reached forward and pulled Harry's hands from his lap, holding them tightly in his own. "Of course it isn't!"
"What was I supposed to think then?" he asked, maybe a bit harsher than he had intended. Draco averted his gaze, looking suddenly shamed as his grip tightened. Harry ran his thumbs over the back of Draco's hands, and continued in a softer, more assuring voice. "Draco, to my knowledge I hadn't done anything, and then suddenly you started pulling away from like you'd grown tired of being around me."
"Never…" Draco said so softly that Harry had to strain to hear it. "But Harry this isn't what's best for you!" he suddenly exclaimed, trying to pull his hands back but Harry would have none of it, and Draco soon relented to the iron grip. However he was not deterred from this sudden desire to tell Harry the reasons he had acted the way he did. "You deserve so much more than this…than me. You deserve a loving family, and children, and…and so much more." His voice grew softer at the end, and once again his gaze traveled to the floor.
There was a long, tense moment of silence, and finally Draco looked up into Harry's eyes, only to gasp at what he saw there. The gaze set on him was so intense it was almost uncomfortable, and yet there were tears creating a misty sheen over the beautiful emerald orbs. "Youidiot," Harry muttered, and Draco blinked in surprise. "Is that why you wanted me to go with the Weasleys?"
"Weasley…Ginny…she would be good for you…"
"And since when do you get off judging what's good for me?" Harry growled, and Draco looked up in surprise at the near dangerous tone. It had been a long time since anything remotely hostile had been sent in his direction from Harry. "What in Merlin's name put you on this ridiculous train of thought?" he continued, sounding genuinely baffled within his annoyance.
There was silence again as Harry waited for an answer. "Nott," Draco finally whispered.
"Theodore Nott. He…he reminded me you'd never really had a family. You want one, don't you? You'd make a wonderful father, Harry…but you can't do that if you stay with me. All I can give you is…stuff…bought things…and I know you've never put a huge importance on that."
"Stop," Harry said finally. "Just stop it."
When Draco looked up, there was a spark in Harry's eyes that he couldn't place for the life of him, but he wasn't smiling. Harry pulled his hands away and stood up, walking over to the window, and staring out of it.
"Do you really think that, Draco?"
"What?" Draco asked, still sitting in his spot on the floor.
"You think I would be happy with Ginny because I could have children with her?"
"And what if I don't want children, Draco?" He sighed, and pressed his forehead against the window, staring out at the serene, frosted landscape. "To be honest, the thought of having children of my own scares me to death; I'm too young to be thinking about that anyway." He placed his hand against the window, smiling in mild amusement as his breath clouded the glass around his fingers. "I don't care about that at all, Draco. I want you…and only you. Merlin only knows why you decided to listen to Nott of all people, but I can tell you that he definitely has no idea of who I am and what it is that I want." He turned back around, and walked slowly towards Draco, the beautiful robes swishing gently with each step.
Draco watched him carefully, thinking over what Harry had just said. It wasn't that he had believed Nott, per se…just that the points he brought up were things Draco had thought of subconsciously, but buried in the back of his mind. He wanted to respond to several things in Harry's last statements, but couldn't decide which of them was most important. So while he was debating, Harry had reached him, and sat down in his lap in such a position that his mind was immediately taken back to the moment of their first kiss.
"Now that we've set those thoughts straight, are there any other inane insecurities I should know about? Any more lack of faith in my sincerity you want to share?"
"Harry, I don't lack-" he cut short at the look on Harry's face, and sighed, dropping his head to rest on Harry's shoulder. "Okay. Okay, just say it. I'm a moron, a jerk, an insecure, inconsiderate-" and again he cut off as Harry chuckled, and placed his hands on either side of Draco's face.
Harry pressed his cheek against Draco's hair, inhaling the sweet scent of shampoo – strawberry by Harry's guess –and that which was purely Draco. "I'm not calling you all of that. But I'm not going to lie and say those two weeks didn't hurt."
Draco's breath caught in his throat, and he threw his arms around Harry's waist. "I didn't mean to, I mean…shit, I'm sorry Harry. I was just…"
"Hermione seems to think you were afraid of losing me."
Draco blinked, as he thought that over for a moment. "Insightful girl, isn't she? Can you blame me though? You're probably the most wanted guy in the wizarding world, and you said yourself you hadn't thought about guys until me."
There was a slight pause, and Harry began running his fingers through Draco's hair. "And shouldn't that tell you something, love? What happened to the Draco that was calling me stupid for asking to call you mine?"
Draco laughed humorlessly. "Hey, we're all allowed our moments, right?"
Harry smiled, and pressed a kiss to Draco's temple. "I suppose. But now, this one of yours is over." He said with finality. His hands found Draco's cheeks again, and he pulled his head up, showing Draco with his eyes alone that his doubts were founded on nothing.
Harry leaned forward, keeping contact with Draco's eyes as he moved. Then he closed his own eyes, and playfully bumped Draco's nose with his own. Draco snorted in amusement at the silly gesture, but otherwise said nothing. Harry smiled, and kissed the corner of Draco's mouth, pausing a moment before resting his lips fully atop the other's. Before Draco could respond, he pulled back, and gave him another light kiss. And another, and another, until Draco laughed and placed his hand on the back of Harry's neck to keep him in place.
Harry placed his hands on Draco's upper arms, and pushed him backwards until he was lying fully on the plush carpet, pinning his arms as he did so. He allowed Draco a full, lingering kiss before he pulled back again. He kissed Draco's cheeks, his forehead, nose and eyelids. He didn't really want this to turn into anything more. He wanted to show Draco how much he was loved, and how silly it was for him to have doubted Harry.
When the rain of kisses stopped, Draco slowly opened his eyes, slightly startled at the intense emerald gaze that met his own. Harry raised one hand, and softly traced Draco's features, brushing his bangs back and smoothing over his eyebrows. He stroked his cheeks, and traced his lips, all with a sort of reverent expression that left Draco feeling as if he was being worshipped and caused him to blush. "Harry…?" he asked softly, wondering at the thoughtful expression on his boyfriend's face.
"I love you Draco," Harry suddenly said, looking slightly surprised only for a moment after he said it, before his expression again melted into that loving gaze.
Draco's eyes widened as he let that simple four-word sentence play through his head several times. Then he smiled, and placed his hands on either side of the other teen's face. "I love you too, Harry," He whispered, and if it sounded a little choked, neither boy mentioned it.
Harry sighed, and let his body slump forward, resting his head on Draco's shoulder. He trailed his fingers up and down Draco's side, simply enjoying this moment after a full month without the affection from the blonde he had so come to crave. After a while in contented silence, Harry lifted his head and placed a kiss on Draco's jaw. Merry Christmas, love."
Draco tightened his grip around Harry's waist, trailing circles over the smooth material of Harry's cloak. "Merry Christmas, Harry," he whispered back, and they laid in silence a little bit longer. The fire crackled merrily beside them, creating a cozy atmosphere for the two lovers, and Draco closed his eyes, absorbing every bit of the warmth of the boy on top of him. Harry's hand began petting his hair again, and he sighed happily.
"So you were just going to spend Christmas here alone?" Harry asked in a low voice, as if afraid to disturb the peace of the atmosphere. He felt more than saw Draco's nod, and the barely whispered 'yes'. "Just because you wanted me to be with family?" Again, Draco nodded, and Harry let out an odd sound that might have been a laugh, and shook his head. "I don't know whether I should punch you or kiss you."
"If it helps…" Draco piped up, "I rather like the second option."
Harry chuckled, and kissed under Draco's chin. After a thoughtful pause he said, "I guess I can understand the reasoning for the pensieve…"
Draco shrugged. "Better a semblance of company…I suppose."
"Oh Draco," Harry sighed, burying his face in the boy's neck. "I still can't believe you would do something so…self-sacrificial. You really have been spending too much time with me," he said with a laugh, and Draco reached up, flicking Harry's ear in retaliation. It was such a simple gesture, but one that was so tenderly familiar that Harry lifted his head and smiled at Draco, eyes sparkling in amusement.
"No such thing," Draco said in response to Harry's statement, smiling affectionately in return.
Their lips met in a sweet kiss, expressing apologies and forgiveness in one fluid motion of lips and tongue. When they pulled away, Draco left an innocent kiss on his Gryffindor's cheek, and said, "Thank you for coming, Harry."
Harry shook his head, and rested his forehead against Draco's. "I've fought the urge to come straight over here every day since vacation started. Or at least, since Hermione made me realize why you might have been acting how you were."
Curious, Draco asked, "Why didn't you then?"
"Because one: I suppose I did want to spend a bit of time with the Weasleys, and two: I really had been hurt. I guess I just…wanted to make you feel the sort of alienation I felt from you," he replied, a bit of shamed embarrassment creeping into his voice at the admittance.
Draco raised an eyebrow, hiding the wince of both his own guilt and the sting of Harry's words. "I didn't know vindictive was your style, Harry."
Harry mimicked the expression and said, "It is, when it's a personal offense." Then he touched his nose to Draco's, and smiled softly. "But I'm done now. I'll be your passive, lovable Gryffindor again."
Surprised into laughter, Draco lifted his head the inch between them and kissed his 'lovable Gryffindor.' "I guess we're both a bad influence on each other then, aren't we?" he asked, and Harry chuckled in return.
"Or maybe we're just a good balance," he said, and then sat up, reaching to pull Draco up as well. He took a quick look around before turning back to Draco. "I'm going to take a wild guess and say you didn't have any lunch plans, either."
Draco gave a small smile and shrugged. "Feasting alone would just look pathetic."
Harry chuckled and stood up. "Well good." He ruffled Draco's hair as he walked past, simply to bug the boy, and continued on towards the kitchen, which was just visible from the room they were in.
"Harry…?" Draco questioned, smoothing his hair absently as he watched his boyfriend walk purposefully from the room. "Where are you going?"
"To make lunch, of course!" Harry replied, voice fading as he got farther away.
Now that was something Draco would never get tired of, he thought with a smile. As he heard the distant sound of pots and pans and other things being moved around in the kitchen, his hand reached up to finger the tag attached to his collar again, and he mentally cursed Nott with every hex and word he knew. And then for good measure he cursed himself as well for being goaded by the other Slytherin in the first place.
With a sigh, Draco stood, and made his way to the kitchen. He arrived to the somewhat familiar sight of Harry practically dancing around the kitchen, humming some Christmas tune only slightly off-key. Draco leaned against the doorway with a small, amused smile, and a sudden image struck him forcefully. Harry's behavior immediately made Draco think 'housewife' and the sudden odd image of Harry like this in the kitchen every day and with a child or two, and maybe a dog or cat running around left an interesting impression in his mind. Shaking his head against the sudden and random thought, Draco said, "You do realize that apparating into someone's home without permission is considered breaking and entering, right?"
Harry jumped the smallest bit, and turned from the bowl of ingredients he was mixing, taking a few seconds to catch up with Draco's thoughts. He smirked, finished mixing, and set the spoon down before walking over to Draco, stopping about a foot before him. "I'm not sure it's considered 'breaking' if your wards put up no resistance."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Well of course they didn't; you can apparate through the wards of Hogwarts, so I shouldn't expect mine to be much of a challenge."
Chuckling in response, Harry rested his hand lightly over Draco's heart. "Maybe so, but I didn't have to force through them; in fact I felt rather like I was being welcomed with open arms. And the wards of a home are connected directly to its master, are they not, Master Malfoy?"
Draco blinked, but nodded. Apparently he had given Harry permission, he just didn't know it.
"Besides, I would have forced past them anyway," Harry said with a grin, moving his hand from Draco's chest to his waist, and joining his other hand with it behind Draco's back. Draco raised his brows, and Harry smiled and rested his head against Draco's shoulder. "I was pissed off, and I wanted to see you; if I couldn't apparate I'd have probably just blasted through your door."
Draco snorted in amusement. "How Gryffindor of you."
"And you wouldn't have me any other way."
Again, Draco rolled his eyes, but didn't actually argue the point. He'd be lying if he did. Then suddenly, a thought occurred to Draco, and he tugged a lock of Harry's hair, hard enough to get the boy to pull away and glare at him.
"What was that for?" the raven-haired boy complained, bringing one hand up to rub at the offended spot.
Draco smiled and kissed his forehead. "You keep cooking, love. I've got to go check on something." Harry gave him a curious look, no doubt wondering just what that 'something' was, but Draco just shook his head. He pulled out of Harry's grasp, gave the boy a wink, and sauntered out of the kitchen.
Harry stood a moment, blinking in confusion, before rolling his eyes at his boyfriend's behavior and returning to the incomplete meal before him.
Draco laughed inwardly to himself at the look he'd left on Harry's face, and walked with a purposeful stride as he felt Harry's eyes on him until he was out of sight. He walked through several hallways, twisting and turning and down a flight of stairs until he came to a large door at the end of the hallway. It was a beautiful dark wood with a large 'M' covering almost the entire barrier. He placed his hand over the spot where a handle would be, and there was a resounding click of heavy metal sliding apart as his magical signature was recognized.
The door slid open, and Draco entered the dark, downward spiraling staircase. Torches on each side lit as he went until he reached the bottom, and as he stepped onto the marble floor, a row of torches on each side of the wall flared to life, one by one, until the flames danced off many glittering jewels and treasures. He smiled at the beauty of it, and mused that he should bring Harry down here; it really was a very pretty sight.
Continuing on with his mission, Draco walked to a pedestal near the center of the room, where a single medallion lay on the velvet cushions. The medallion was about an inch and a half in diameter, and solid white gold. There was a serpent carved into the front, and an elaborate rendition of the Malfoy crest on the back. A smile spread across Draco's face as he picked up the necklace, the chain resting comfortably over his palm.
Harry's arrival made him suddenly realize that he had not gotten the boy a gift. What sort of a boyfriend was he? He'd been so caught up in moping around, and thinking about Harry being better off without him, that gifts and Christmas hadn't even crossed his mind. He would make up for that, though.
Not bothering with the rest of the Malfoy treasures and heirlooms, he made his way back up the stairs, the torches going out again with a puff as he passed.
- - - - - - - - -
Harry picked up his tune again as he seasoned the steak before him, and placed it on the grill. The kitchen was equipped with every possible cooking device imaginable, and he smiled slightly as he thought of all the possibilities. He should pick up a cookbook, and make something special every week for Draco and then…
He stopped and blinked as he realized he had just been planning a steady life at the manor with Draco. Blushing profusely, Harry shook his head and went back to his work. The kitchen was suddenly too silent now, and he waved his hand, causing cheery Christmas tunes to play from nowhere and he nodded in satisfaction.
When Draco reappeared, it was with an amused smile at the new entertainment. "Finally realized you can't sing?"
Harry scowled playfully. "Just realized your house needs more cheering than I could possibly accomplish by myself."
"Tell me about it," Draco agreed with a roll of his eyes. "It's not all bad though, I quite like the dark charm of the manor," he said with a wink. "Rather like myself, don't you think?"
Harry laughed and shook his head. "Your charm is in no way dark," he retorted easily.
Draco raised an eyebrow, and his expression turned into something that was almost predatory. He walked purposely forward until he stood just behind Harry, who had only turned his head to talk. He draped his arms over Harry's shoulders, and leaned forward until he was pushing Harry against the counter, and green eyes widened. "Isn't it?" Draco whispered against Harry's ear. "Perhaps I'm losing my touch…I should work on that." He grinned as Harry's breath hitched, and trailed his hands over the smaller boy's chest, before wrapping his arms around his waist and nipping lightly at his ear. He smiled devilishly at Harry's flushed face, and left a wet kiss on his neck before pulling away. "Come into the living room when you're done there, and we'll have a proper Christmas morning," he said, and Harry nodded mutely as Draco left the kitchen again.
It was a full minute before Harry broke from the daze he'd been left in, and he sighed deeply to settle his breathing. Draco had barely done anything to him and yet his heart fluttered and his stomach was doing flips in anticipation. A silly grin spread across his face; no one had ever had this sort of effect on him before and he loved it. So placing the scalloped potatoes in the oven along with the steak, and covering the onions sautéed in wine sauce (he had managed to solicit the help of a few discovered house elves for the ingredients), he stopped himself from skipping into the living room, and instead walked calmly through the doorway.
Draco sat on an armchair near the fire, sprawled comfortably, and smiled at Harry when he came in. Harry smiled back, and walked over to the chair, plopping down in Draco's lap and eliciting a disgruntled 'oof' from his partner. Despite his apparent annoyance, Draco wrapped his arms around Harry's waist easily.
Harry leaned back against Draco's chest to enjoy the moment for a few minutes, before suddenly leaping up with a cry of "Presents!" Draco only raised an eyebrow and a bemused smile crossed his lips as Harry grinned and moved to perch on the arm of the chair, summoning one of Draco's presents to him.
Taking the proffered gift, Draco tilted his head curiously. "What about you?"
Harry waved him off with a shrug. "I opened all my gifts at the Weasleys'."
Draco frowned when he realized Harry didn't even seem to expect a present from him. Or at least, he was doing a very good job of hiding it. Either way, it reflected back on him with a surge of guilt he could do without. It also reminded him why there had been times he'd been happy as the insensitive git he was: separating his emotions kept him from feeling that tightening of his chest.
"What did that box do to you?"
Draco looked up in surprise at the sudden question to see Harry watching him with an amused twinkle in his eye. "You were frowning at the gift like it offended you." Harry clarified, and Draco immediately cleared his expression.
"Sorry. Just…thinking," he muttered. He felt Harry's hand brush across his foot, which was pressed against the armrest, as he began unwrapping his gift. Neither said anything else as Draco finished with the small pile of colorful boxes under the tree. Harry watched interestedly as different variations of delight and amusement passed across Draco's face, and when Draco finally looked up with a knowing smile, Harry blushed and averted his gaze to the Christmas tree.
After another small moment of silence, the song 'Greensleeves' began playing on Harry's invisible radio, and Draco smiled. "You haven't gotten all of your gifts yet."
Harry looked up in slight confusion, but seemed pleased all the same. "You got me something?"
"You don't have to sound so surprised," Draco muttered, and Harry chuckled. "Then again, you have every reason to be. I…didn't actually plan it, as I was too caught up in my ridiculous fit of self-pity…but it's something I want to give you all the same."
At Harry's bemusedly interested look, Draco reached into his pocket, and pulled out the medallion, cupping it in his hand. He grabbed one of Harry's hands with his own, and brought it towards himself, laying his other hand over Harry's and clasping them over the necklace.
"This is…a family heirloom, a very special one," he said as he slowly retracted his hand, leaving the shining metal exposed to Harry's eyes. "It's been passed through many generations, and to each one, it represents a promise."
Harry blinked and looked up from his close examination of the necklace. "Promise?" he echoed, absently fingering the chain as he waited for Draco to elaborate.
Draco smiled and stood, walking over to stand beside the armrest Harry was currently perched on. "A promise," he repeated. "It's a promise that, even though I may do stupid things, or seem like I don't care, I still…love you." The term of affection was obviously still foreign on his tongue, and Harry smiled slightly at that. Draco laughed softly and shook his head at his own sappiness. "See what you've turned me into?" he muttered.
Harry laughed, and sent him a charming grin. "Didn't I tell you that you were just a big softy at heart?"
Raising an eyebrow, Draco deigned to correct him. "No, you told me I was a romantic at heart."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Same thing, love."
Draco smirked in response, and moved behind Harry, reaching around him to pluck the necklace from his fingers. "If the receiver allows the necklace to be placed about his neck," Draco whispered into his ear, causing Harry to shiver slightly, "then the medallion stays as a symbol. Sort of a…manifestation, if you will."
"Of what?" Harry whispered, leaning back into the warmth that Draco simply radiated.
"That's never been clearly defined," Draco answered, tilting his head so that his words were spoken into the soft skin of Harry's neck. "It's very ancient magic residing within that necklace, and not all of it has been remembered from one generation to the next."
"That's unfortunate," Harry responded, and Draco wondered how much thought was put into the process of Harry's speech at the moment. The boy was sensitive, and Draco loved it.
"Mm, it is. Will you accept it, Harry?" he whispered, sucking lightly at the junction of Harry's neck and shoulder.
Harry hummed his approval as he tilted his head to the side. "Keep doing that and I'm likely to accept anything," he mumbled, and Draco laughed, sending warm puffs of breath over Harry's skin.
"I'm serious, Harry."
"So am I, Dragon," Harry responded, even as his eyes slid shut. "You think I would be here if I had any intention of letting you go? Because that would have been the opportune time."
Draco stopped for a moment at that realization, and nodded, almost absently, and placed a lingering kiss on Harry's temple. He brought the necklace up, and clasped the chain around Harry's neck, pulling his hair from beneath it. "Your hair's grown a lot…" he noted unnecessarily, running his hands through the dark locks and massaging Harry's scalp as he went.
A warm sensation began spreading simultaneously from both the medallion against his chest, and the fingers in his hair, and traveled all over his body until the dark-haired boy was left with the most delightful languid sensation that left him practically boneless and purring against Draco's chest.
A light rumble from said chest alerted him to Draco's laughter, and Harry tilted his head back, opening one eye in question. "What?"
"Come now, Harry, I know I'm amazing with my hands, but that was a little much."
Harry rolled his eyes and lifted his hand to punch Draco lightly in the shoulder in retaliation. "I think it was the medallion, oh Mr. Magic Fingers." Then he decided he didn't care what it was, and didn't wait for Draco's response before spinning around, and wrapping both arms and legs around Draco's waist, bringing the boy flush against him. He kissed the hollow of Draco's throat, and then underneath his chin, while splaying his palms over the boy's stomach. "Thank you Draco," he said finally. "I love it."
Draco smiled, and brought his lips to Harry's, succumbing to an impassioned kiss. "I wish I had gotten you more…" Draco mumbled against that wondrous mouth, not quite willing to pull away.
Harry shook his head, though a small smile tugged at his lips. "You don't have to get me anything else Draco; you didn't have to get me anything at all." He heard a ding from the kitchen, and smiled up at Draco, wrapping his arms around the taller boy's neck. "I'm happy with just having you back. This is the best Christmas present ever," he said with conviction, and kissed Draco deeply once more, allowing his tongue to map every bit of the boy's mouth before pulling away. "Now then, take me to the kitchen: lunch is ready." He hopped up, and wrapped his arms and legs tighter around his boyfriend so that Draco was supporting his full weight.
Draco stumbled back a couple steps with a grunt of surprise before regaining his balance, and glaring at the grinning Harry. Much to his own chagrin, Harry was forgiven as soon as he placed a happy yet loving peck on Draco's lips, and rested his head on the taller boy's shoulder. So Draco just rolled his eyes, and with an affectionately muttered "Big baby," he took them both to the kitchen. They took the food back to the living room, and had one of the best meals either of them had ever had on the plush rug in front of the fire.
- - - - - - - - -
"And I'm telling you it doesn't work that way."
"How do you know, oh Knower-Of-All-Things?"
"Draco, I lived with muggles. I think I know how a vacuum cleaner works."
"Yeah, well…I still say it does."
Harry rolled his eyes and shook his head, a very slight smile playing at his lips. He wasn't even sure how they had gotten into a conversation on vacuum cleaners of all things, but somehow they had, on their way to King's Cross Station. It was a nice day considering it was mid-January, and they decided to apparate a distance away from the station, simply so they could enjoy a walk there, hands linked between them and swinging lightly. The sun was out but the air was crisp, creating just enough chill to redden their cheeks, while their bodies stayed warm under winter cloaks. Their luggage was shrunk into their pockets and they talked about inconsequential things as they walked, even vacuum cleaners.
It took them about twenty minutes to arrive at the station, and as they passed through the barrier they were met with the usual bustling crowd of students ready to go back to school.
"Harry!" called an excited voice over the crowd, and Harry turned to find Hermione waving at him, hopping slightly to be seen over the other people. She was standing with the Weasleys, the ones returning to school, anyway. Harry smiled and started to make his way over. Draco turned to follow him out of reflex, but turned around again when he caught sight of Ron.
Harry laughed and grabbed his sleeve, dragging his disgruntled boyfriend along with him.
"I see you two got things sorted out," Hermione said when they neared.
With a smile, Harry released his grip on Draco's arm to drag him into an exaggeratedly enthusiastic bear hug, giving him a gentle noogie just to top it off. "Yup!" he chirped. Draco couldn't respond as the air had been squeezed from his lungs.
"Harry…let…go!" he finally managed, causing Harry to smile sheepishly and release him, running his hands over Draco's robes as if to remove wrinkles or lent.
Draco rolled his eyes, and flicked Harry's ear, causing Harry to laugh and stop his fussing. Draco smirked back, and slung an arm over the boy's shoulders, tilting his head to rest against Harry's and turning his gaze coolly over the platform. His eyes landed on Pansy and Blaise a small distance away, and the conversation Harry and his friends were having faded into the background as he locked eyes with Pansy.
Nothing passed between them for a moment, before she lowered her eyes in a sign of apology. Draco smiled almost unnoticeably, and made a move to step towards them, but Pansy quickly shook her head. She nodded towards Nott, who was not far from them, and Draco scowled.
Harry, feeling the sudden tension in the arm around his shoulders, turned and gave Draco a curious look. "You okay?" he asked. Draco tore his eyes from his old group to look at Harry.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine." His tone wasn't very convincing, but Harry decided to let it slide for now, and just pressed himself closer into Draco's side.
"Oh yeah!" Harry said suddenly, and turned towards Ron. "I believe you owe someone an apology."
Ron blinked in surprise, and looked to his left, and right, before pointing to himself questioningly.
Rolling his eyes, Harry said, "Yes, you Ron."
Ron stuck his lower lip out into a pout. "What do I have to apologize for?"
Harry sighed irritably. "How about wrongly accusing someone of evil intent? Verbally assaulting someone who had made no move to provoke you into doing so? Or being the first to start a pointless argument that only ended up with pain on both sides?"
Ron grunted in acknowledgment, and mumbled under his breath so that it was barely audible, "Sorry."
Draco hesitated for a moment, then dipped his chin once, in a sort of jerky movement that showed the acceptance was about as sincere as the apology. Of course Draco had no illusions that he would be skipping around in sunny fields with the trio anytime soon. No, Harry was the only one he really cared about. For his sake, he would tolerate Ron. But he had no plans to really forgive the redhead for his words before winter break until the boy could see him for who he was now, and he didn't see that happening any time soon.
Harry pulled from Draco's hold, and walked up to Ron, placing his hands on each of the taller boy's shoulders. "Ronald Weasley, you always have been, and always will be my best friend. But sometimes you can be just a little bit hard-headed. Then again, so can Draco." He stopped and glanced at Draco, blinking as he thought about that, and suddenly turned to Hermione. "Remind me, why am I with these two again?"
Hermione giggled in response, and answered simply, "Because you're just as hard-headed as they are, Harry."
"Ah yes," he responded in a way that reminded the two Gryffindors rather forcefully of Dumbledore. "Right then, as I was saying, and I said it before break as well: if you can't get along, just ignore each other. But I won't tolerate such insults of each other anymore."
Ron looked somewhat like his favorite toy had been snatched away from him, but he reluctantly conceded.
"Besides," Harry continued, "I thought you had accepted it before."
Ron shrugged, and looked up at Harry with a shy grin. "I said I accepted the relationship. I never said anything about liking it…or him."
Harry smiled and shook his head, realizing the good intention buried beneath Ron's thoughtless words. "Just give it time, Ron. Now come on everyone, let's board the train before it leaves us behind."
The ride back to Hogwarts was mostly uneventful. There was a moment of surprise when Ron and Draco both ordered the same thing from the snack trolley, and Harry smiled before turning his head back towards the window, his palm resting lightly over Draco's.
- - - - - - - - -
Draco looked up in surprise as his name was called as he made his way towards the Gryffindor tower with Harry and the others. "Yes, Professor?" he asked as McGonagall strode quickly in his direction.
"I need to speak with you about your sleeping arrangements." There was almost no one else in this section of hallway, so McGonagall didn't deem it necessary to drag the boy all the way to her office for what was likely to be a very short conversation.
Draco's eyebrows rose in surprise. "My sleeping arrangements? What about them?" he asked curiously.
McGonagall cleared her throat, and looked as if she was vaguely uncomfortable with her next words. "Well, it has come to my attention that you have been…sharing a bed with Mr. Potter, here."
Harry blushed, and the rest of the small group snickered.
"Yes, well," McGonagall continued, "There is a reason the stairs will not allow a boy into the girls' dorms, but it seems as if your situation was overlooked." Draco's gaze turned slightly cold in defensiveness, and McGonagall hurried her next words. "No matter the gender, or orientation, it is still inappropriate for students to be sharing a bed. And, as I know, you may not be fully welcomed back into Slytherin, and we cannot allow more beds into the Gryffindor rooms–"
"Why not, Professor?" Ron cut in suddenly, causing McGonagall to stumble mid-sentence and glance over at him.
"Because, Mr. Weasley, Hogwarts works in a curious way: once the students have all been sorted, no more or no less beds will be placed into each house than what is necessary for all its members," she answered smoothly before turning to Draco again. "As I was saying, since no more beds are allowed, I suggest one of Hogwarts' guest rooms until the end of the year."
Draco immediately looked interested. "You mean I'd get my own room?"
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy, that is what I mean."
"Well then, I've no complaints," he answered easily.
McGonagall nodded. "Very well then, I will have your stuff moved, and send a house elf to you soon to show you where you will be staying. Now I must get back to my office. Good day to all of you." And then she was gone as quick as she came, leaving Draco grinning like the Cheshire cat as they made their way back to the Gryffindor tower.
Harry folded his arms over his chest, and grumbled lowly so that only Draco could hear, "You sure were quick to accept that one." Hermione, Ron and Ginny were walking in front of them, leading the way to the portrait.
Draco chuckled, and stepped up behind Harry, wrapping his arms around the shorter boy's shoulders. "My own room, Harry. You have an invisibility cloak, a very handy map, and more power than you'll ever know what to do with." He lowered his mouth so that his breath ghosted across Harry's ear, and said, "Make use of them."
Harry's eyes widened as he realized Draco's intent, and blushed heavily, while resisting the urge to smack himself for being so dense. He lifted his arms and wrapped them around Draco's neck, tilting his head for a somewhat awkward, but no less pleasant, kiss until finally the other three noticed they weren't following, and turned back around.
"My eyes!" Ron cried, and turned around and started walking again.
The girls giggled, and shared a grin with each other. "I think it's cute," Hermione commented.
"And hot," Ginny agreed. Both girls laughed again, and turned to follow Ron to the Gryffindor common room, leaving Harry and Draco to their moment of privacy in the public hallway.
- - - - - - - - -
When Harry awoke the next morning, he had no desire to get up. The bed he lay on was very comfortable, and the body next to him was warm, and he buried his face in Draco's neck, inhaling the sweet scent that was both a lovely – if not somewhat girly, he thought with amused affection – lavender body wash, and Draco's own.
Draco chuckled as the exhale of Harry's breath tickled his throat. He had been lying awake for a few minutes, enjoying the moment before they were forced to get up and go to class. Unfortunately, that moment was now, and he reached over to poke Harry in the ribs. "Come on sleepy-head, we've got classes."
Harry groaned and pulled the covers over his head, consequently lifting them to Draco's chin. Draco laughed again, and pushed the covers back down, before grinning evilly and shoving Harry over the side of the bed.
The Gryffindor fell with a shout of surprise, and glared up at Draco. "Fine, fine, I'm up, git," he mumbled, before gathering his dignity and stalking towards the bathroom to take a shower.
Still smiling slightly in amusement, Draco stood and stretched, silently thanking McGonagall for the private room. This was much better than sharing the bed in the Gryffindor dorms! The boys hadn't even done anything last night; just the fact that they could if they so chose made Draco grin, and he wondered if McGonagall was even aware of the opportunities she had inadvertently provided.
After he and Harry had gotten ready for the day, they headed off to their first class, mourning the loss of winter break. Harry's hand, in an absent movement, reached up to clutch the pendant around his neck, a habit garnered since he received the gift for Christmas. Draco smiled sideways at him, but otherwise did not comment. He was glad to know the gift was appreciated.
The day passed by rather uneventfully, as everyone readjusted to the rhythm of a typical school day. It was on they boys' way back to Draco's room after class for a bit of down time that something worth noting happened.
When Harry wasn't paying attention, someone bumped against his shoulder roughly. He stopped and turned around, sending an annoyed glare at the offender, before he realized who it was. "Nott!" he shouted, and the dark-haired Slytherin turned around.
"What?" Nott answered with a sneer.
Harry frowned at the tone, and crossed his arms. "Don't act clueless, it doesn't become a Slytherin," he said, sparing barely a glance for a few passers-by that were stopping to see the confrontation already on the first day back.
Nott's gaze flicked to Harry's chest, where the necklace lay proudly next to his heart. "Oh yes, and you would know all about Slytherins wouldn't you, considering you're dating the house whore!"
Harry was at Nott's throat before anyone even saw him move. "Don't you ever call him that again," Harry hissed dangerously, tightening his grip around the boy's throat as he leaned in threateningly, eyes practically burning into Nott's own in their intensity. Draco shivered as he took in Harry's form, and decided then it was very nice having that voice defending him. He was distracted though as Nott spoke again.
Nott's eyes slid to meet Draco's over Harry's shoulder. "And we can all see who the girl in this relationship is." The word 'relationship' was spat as if it left a foul taste on his tongue.
"And we can all see what a bigot you are," Harry replied just as coldly before he landed a heavy punch on the other boy's face. Nott crashed against the wall behind him, and looked upin surprise. He clutched his jaw, staring in shocked amazement that the exalted 'savior' just punched him. There was a moment of silence before chaos erupted in the hallway. A Gryffindor, of all people, and one that Harry didn't know, jumped on his back, pulling him to the side and dragging them both to the ground.
"Harry!" Draco shouted in surprise, and pulled out his wand.
"Stay out of it, traitorous fag!" shouted a sixth year Slytherin, drawing his wand and shooting a curse at Draco. The blonde rolled to the side and drew his own wand.
Harry managed to throw his attacker off and scrambled quickly to his feet, turning around fast enough to throw up a shield to protect himself from a spell from behind. It rebounded and hit another student standing off to the side. The girl hit – a Ravenclaw – fell to her knees, and a few others around her knelt to check on her. That spurred a few other Ravenclaws to join the fight, and somehow a small bit of hate transformed into the worst inter-house fight Hogwarts had ever seen. The irony of it was that some house members were fighting their own, and not all of the insults and accusations were based on one's house.
Punches, hexes and words alike flew with equal intent to hurt, and it was a full ten minutes later that a small group of younger Hufflepuffs arrived with McGonagall and Snape in tow. Snape was there because he'd been speaking with McGonagall when the students arrived in a panic to tell her about the fight.
"What is going on here?" McGonagall shouted, sounding appalled and surprised at once. A few people noticed and backed out of the fight, but most were too involved to pay attention to anything outside the ring of chaos.
Snape decided a bit of intervention was necessary. "CEASE THIS INSTANT!" he roared over the students, and the effect was instantaneous. Everybody stopped at once, and slowly backed away, leaving Harry and Draco in the middle, and they backed against each other for support before looking over to the Headmistress and former professor.
Lifting his hand to rub at the bridge of his nose, Snape sighed deeply. "Potter…I should have known you would be at the center of something like this."
Neither Harry nor Draco had the energy to point out that Harry wasn't the only one. Snape wouldn't have cared, anyway. They both looked a little worse for wear, as the two boys were the main targets for those who found the guts to stand up to them after Nott's public declaration of his hatred.
"I am ashamed of you all!" McGonagall started, crossing her arms and looking every bit the stern parent with a misbehaving child. "Will someone tell me what in Merlin's name started this?"
"Harry punched a Slytherin!" a random younger year piped up helpfully. Harry only managed half a glare in their direction.
McGonagall's eyebrows rose in surprise, and she turned her gaze to Harry. "Is this true, Mr. Potter?" she asked, her lips pursing into a fine line.
Harry frowned, and took a moment to stand up straight, putting a bit of pride into his stance. "I didn't punch him because he is a Slytherin, professor. Nott is determined to hurt Draco. Did hurt him, in fact…and me."
Draco leaned over a little closer to Harry. "You could at least act remorseful," he muttered into the shorter boy's ear. "Are you trying to get yourself into trouble?"
"I don't care," Harry growled back. "He has joined my top ten least favorite people list, and he deserved every hit."
Snape stepped forward, and looked coolly down his nose at Harry. "And I'm sure you think being the Dark Lord's defeater gives you the right to use the excuse of retaliation for anything?"
Harry raised an eyebrow in return, not willing to show weakness to this man, no matter his side, or relation to Draco. "I'm not making excuses, sir. I know it was wrong. I still don't like people making those I'm close to thinking I don't love them," he replied easily, reaching for Draco's hand and clasping it in his own without even thinking about it.
Snape observed the action from his peripheral vision with the slightest bit of annoyed revulsion. "That doesn't explain how you managed to get every house of Hogwarts involved in this fight, and on the first day back, no less."
Harry shrugged, sweeping his eyes over the crowd. Some of them looked ashamed, some still looked angry and ready for round two, while others looked to be more scared of the pending punishment than anything. "That's an easy one. Nott's a homophobe, I attacked him, other homophobes defended him, and those more open minded defended us. Apparently this school is very opinionated about such things."
"Insolent brat," Snape muttered, more to himself than anything.
McGonagall decided to make her presence known again at that point. "Personal views on such matters are to be kept as just that: personal views. And I thought house prejudices were bad! All extra-curricular activities are hereby banned for the next two months, and there will be no Hogsmeade trips for the rest of the year."
Immediately the students broke out into complaints, groaning and whining about how that was 'unfair'. McGonagall held up her hand. "If you're all going to act like children, then you shall be treated as such. I am especially disappointed that most of the participants were upper years. And Mr. Potter, you will have detention with me for a month, for starting this fight."
Harry's jaw dropped. "Me! But I didn't start it, Nott-"
"It does not matter what Mr. Nott said. You are the one who threw the punch. Now if we're all quite finished here, anybody in serious need of medical attention go to the infirmary and the rest of you are to go back to your dorms, or whatever you were doing before. Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, you two are to come with me."
Her tone brooked no argument, and the two boys gave each other a slightly fearful glance before following, while Snape was left with the rest of the students. He may not be a teacher anymore, but even now, he could instill fear within the students as easily as any dark lord.
When they arrived at the office, Dumbledore looked up from a book curiously as he sat in his chair within his portrait. Harry looked away, feeling that the man would be able to read him completely if he simply looked at him, and McGonagall walked around behind her desk. "Now tell me, Mr. Potter," she started, gesturing for the two boys to sit in chairs placed across the desk, "Why did you do this?" Her tone sounded disappointed, and Harry dropped his eyes to the floor. He hated disappointing those who had acted as his guardians, and he sighed before answering.
"Because I won't have people like him treating Draco or our relationship like it's a worthless, meaningless, and bad thing," he answered as his hands clenched into fists as they rested on his thighs. "I wanted Nott to know that stunts like the one he pulled before break will not be tolerated." His lips curled to a frown and his brow furrowed as his anger for the Slytherin resurfaced. "And with all due respect, Professor, I would do it again, too. Hermione likes to call it my 'hero complex'. I don't care what it's called, but you know I won't stand for people hurting the ones I care for. That isn't going to change any time soon."
Draco looked sideways at Harry's set posture, and smiled slightly. Harry was in hero mode, which meant he'd be stubborn as a mule until people were able to see his point.
Harry stopped and looked over curiously, noting that Draco was being unusually quiet, considering this entire situation revolved around him just as much as it did Harry. When he caught Draco looking at him, the blond just smiled and shrugged, before turning back to McGonagall, and Harry shook his head. Leave it to Draco to sit back and let someone else take care of a problem.
"What's happened here, then?" Dumbledore asked suddenly, looking very interested in the conversation.
McGonagall sighed, and removed her glasses, dropping her head into her hand to massage her temples. "Mr. Potter here somehow managed to incite a civil war within the school."
Dumbledore's eyebrows rose in surprise, and his eyes sparkled with amusement. "I thought you were past house prejudices Harry," he said with an interested look between the two boys.
Harry smiled sheepishly, and gave a small shrug. "I am; it just happened to be a Slytherin that insulted us. But it was a Gryffindor that attacked me, and then everybody jumped in and I'm not even sure now who was on which side."
"That is most unfortunate, especially after all you boys have done and been through. But as you know, people will be as they are, and you know you won't be able to change that, Harry. Though I must say it's an interesting break when house members start fighting their own. You always do invite trouble, don't you Harry," Dumbledore said with a laugh.
Harry pouted, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Wasn't my fault…" he grumbled, though it was with no real conviction, as he knew he was the one that threw the first punch.
McGonagall's lips twitched as if she wanted to smile. "The punishment still stands, Mr. Potter: you will serve detention with me every weekday after your classes for a month."
Resigned to his fate, Harry sighed and nodded, before looking up at McGonagall again. "May we go now, Professor?"
She looked as if she might want to object, or say something more, but Dumbledore suddenly announced that he wished to speak with her about something important, and smiled at the boys as the headmistress dismissed them both.
"Shouldn't we make a stop at the infirmary?" Draco asked, eyeing Harry's wounds and tallying his own aches mentally.
Harry shook his head in an immediate answer. "Nott and a bunch of others had to…I'd rather just avoid the mess and go take a nap or something."
Draco quietly agreed that that sounded good too, and led the rest of the way to his room. When they got there, Draco collapsed on the couch, and Harry headed towards the bathroom to splash some cool water on his face, sighing as it relieved a tiny bit of the soreness from the bruises forming. He walked back into the living room, and saw Draco absently massaging his own shoulder as he stared into the fire, rolling it occasionally and grimacing.
Suddenly Harry wondered if they really should have gone to the hospital wing, and approached Draco slowly. "You okay?" he asked, coming to a stop just in front of the blond where he sat on the couch, so that their knees were touching.
Slowly, Draco lifted his head and gave a half smile. "I'm fine, just tired." When he saw Harry's gaze directed to his hand on his shoulder, he shrugged – with a slight wince – and removed his hand. "Guess my shoulder is sore, too," he admitted.
Harry brought his own hands to Draco's shoulders and began massaging gently, focusing his magic into his hands the same way he'd done the very first time he realized his new abilities. He looked down in surprise when a faint glow seemed to emanate from his chest, and saw the medallion glowing the same soft blue as his hands. He felt that soothing warmth it had put off when he first received it on Christmas, and goose bumps appeared on his arms as it mingled with his own energy. Maybe he would ask Draco about it later, after they had both rested.
Draco moaned as the warmth of the magic flowed over sore and bruising muscle, and he slumped forward until his head rested against Harry's stomach. Harry smiled and continued the ministrations, roaming over Draco's arms, face, chest and back, banishing all wounds with the tingling touch of healing magic. When he was finished, he draped his arms lightly over Draco's shoulders, and ran one hand through the soft strands of hair resting against him. "Better?" he murmured.
Draco made a noise of assent, and nodded. They stayed like that for several moments longer before Draco spoke. "That's not going to happen again, is it?"
"What, the fight?" Draco nodded, and Harry chuckled. "I should hope not. Then again, I'm no seer, and people obviously aren't as accepting as I thought they were. I wonder why they were more outspoken about it now, anyway?"
Draco wrapped his arms around the back of Harry's legs, and pulled until the smaller boy collapsed into his lap. He leaned back and closed his eyes, clasping his hands loosely behind Harry's back. "Because now the shock of the Dark-… of Voldemort's death has worn off. You know how this school is when it comes to the gossip mill, and now the next biggest thing to focus on seems to be us. And I'm sure some were fed opinions by pureblood parents who value continuation of a bloodline more than anything.
Harry gave Draco a curiously suspicious look. "What about you then? Haven't you always been proud of the Malfoy line...?" he asked, suddenly hit by a bit of irrational fear that Draco's excuse about Harry wanting children before had really been for himself.
But Draco only opened one eye, and said easily, "Don't you worry about that, Harry. I couldn't care less. The only family I need is right here in my arms."
A sort of humbled shock flowed through him with the implications of that statement, and Harry blushed as a slow grin spread across his face as he rested his head against Draco's shoulder. "You couldn't handle any more than me, anyway," Harry said somewhat on reflex, hoping that a bit of banter would calm the feelings sparked by Draco referring to him as family.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Brat," he muttered affectionately, flicking Harry's ear. His hand fell back to join his other one, and Draco was soon nodding off to sleep, while Harry grinned against his neck, tightening his grip around the body beneath him and sighing contentedly. He felt his own magic begin to heal him as he drifted into the world of dreams, and decided that no matter what the rest of the students, or the wizarding world, brought against him, he would be fine as long as Draco was right there with him.FIN
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A/N: And there you have it. I'm not even sure if it was a good place to end, but if I didn't stop it there I'm not sure the story would ever be done with!
Which would be unfortunate, because I think I've finally decided to do a sequel to this. You can thank my beta for the core idea of that too. (He somehow came up with the idea from one random sentence a couple chapters ago…go figure) All I ask is that you give me some time to organize my thoughts on it, and start writing it. For now, though, I thank you all for your support through this story. And my god the reviews! .:faints:
Hehe, anyway, be on the lookout for the sequel, where there is a child (yes that's vague on purpose), some relationships, and more intended plot than this one. :smiles: