AN: Ok, I know I haven't posted in a long time! Has it been about...*cough*...eight months? Work, essays, life...I'm sorry for the delay. I just wanted to say that if you have stayed with Harry and Draco to the bitter end, through the long posting gap and all these long chapters, then you are all amazing and I owe you guys one thousand thank you's. Your reviews have been brilliant and keep pushing me to write more.
This is the penultimate chapter of this story. Enjoy! :)
Chapter 13 – The Lake
I got ready for bed that night literally buzzing with joy.
I was going on a semi-date with Potter. I was going to rock his Gryffindor world with my never-ending potions knowledge. I was going to wear the sexiest clothes I owned and wow him into an appreciative silence before he tore them off my hot and writhing body.
"I know. Now shut up."
I would bedazzle his tiny mind with my charm and wear down his Gryffindor sensibilities with my own Slytherin immoralities. I would –
"Dra-co I get it, alright?" Blaise said sounding both exasperated and disturbed. He pushed me out of the way to spit in the sink. "Now just shut up and brush your teeth. You keep spraying me with toothpaste."
Could I help it if certain thoughts had to be said aloud? And toothpaste wasn't important. Spraying Blaise with paste – which I absolutely had not been doing – while I chattered was even less important. All that was important were the words I chose to bellow next into Blaise's ear.
"Blaise I'm not sure you properly understand what I'm telling you. HARRY POTTER HAS ASKED ME OUT!" I flung my toothbrush haphazardly into the holder. It promptly bounced off and rolled out of sight under the cabinet. But no, not even that was going to bother me.
"If you shout – or spray – one more Potter related thing in my direction Draco, you can count me out of your little plan," Blaise muttered darkly, though ruining it by holding his thumb under the tap to squirt me immaturely with water. He was happy for me – in his weird way.
"After all I did for you today?" I asked, touching my lips and adding a quiver of disgust. "You don't have a choice but to do it."
He looked deflated. Maybe he had been hoping to escape my ultimate punishment. Like that was going to happen. I was taking this for all it was worth.
"Blaise Zabini, you promised me – before you stuck your unwanted tongue into my mouth – to help me woo Potter and to curb my Gryffindor-induced stupidity. To shackle my inner-self from throwing embarrassing stories at him. All this you promised as you groped my arse just to get into Pansy's good books. You promised."
"I did nothing of the sort to your pointy little arse."
You might as well have, I said with my eyes.
I knew my point was secure when Blaise looked heavenwards and mumbled something that sounded like "Impossible...unfair...why God, why me?"
I loved Blaise for putting up with me.
"I hate you sometimes," he said mutinously, after he had finished conversing with the ceiling. "You make my life so difficult."
"I believe the word you were looking for was interesting."
I grinned at him and he glared back.
"No, I really did mean difficult."
"Blaise, are you asleep?"
I knew he wasn't asleep, but courtesy made me ask him a fourth time anyway. Each time I'd whispered it so far, Blaise had let out a huff and a tiny groan and scuffled about irritably with his covers.
It was his own fault really. All he had to do was reply. It was only polite.
I waited a beat, staring at the canopy of my bed. Silence. The soft snores of Vince and Greg filled the room and Theo's watch ticked. Nothing whatsoever to distract me or send me off to sleep.
I was as perky and wide-eyed as if I'd just taken a pepper-up potion. Everything seemed to be wrong. My pillow was too hard, my body was too warm, and the sheets had wrapped themselves in a tangle around my feet and lower legs. Great.
Worst of all was the thing in my mind.
Or, should I say, the person in my mind.
I needed distraction.
"Blaise, are you –"
"Yes, I am bloody well asleep!" The voice was muffled and I imagined he had dragged a pillow over his head. "Leave me alone you evil creature."
"I'm glad you're up," I said contentedly, tucking an arm behind my head, the better to lounge upon. "I'm bored and not tired and I need something to do. Entertain me. Tell me about that time when you locked yourself in the Transfiguration classroom for the weekend and refused to come out. I never tire of hearing that."
I did tire of hearing that. It was one of Pansy's favourite stories, not mine. Still, needs must.
Ah, the warning tone. A friend almost as dear to me as Blaise. If he was angry I would be more than willing to argue. I could no longer depend on Potter for a good argument and everyone else was subpar at best.
"Oops, sorry," I said, deliberately playing into it. "Accidentally locked yourself in and couldn't get out. My interpretation of it has become a little muddled over the years."
He refused to dignify that with an answer, more credit to him. No argument for me tonight. I chose a different tack.
"...Do you fancy a game of chess?"
The curtains around Blaise's bed were yanked open with force. I turned my head to the side and watched as a murderous face appeared between them. I smiled brightly which seemed to irk him further. This time it was an honest mistake – Blaise simply looked funny with a bed-head. So sue me for smiling at that.
Blaise was breathing calmly and deeply through his nose. A good sign. He would be patient. I waited for him to speak.
"Alright Draco." A vein was ticking angrily in his throat. Maybe he wouldn't be as patient as I thought.
"Great, I'll go set up the board –"
"No. I meant that's enough. Whatever you want to say, just say it. Let it out. Be my guest. I'll listen to you and maybe, if I don't want to throttle you by the end, I'll give you some advice. But do not have the audacity to play mind games with me when it's so bloody early."
I blinked, taken aback. Chess wasn't a mind game, it was a board game.
"There's nothing I particularly want to discuss."
A raised eyebrow. "I'm going to ignore that blatant lie and allow you to continue."
"I just want your sparkling company!"
"Your quick wit?"
I gave him a long suffering sigh which hurt my throat. "Ok maybe I was thinking about...him." There was no need to explain 'him'. "That stupid boy has taken over my mind. I'm losing my marbles here Blaise! They're vanishing by the day!"
"I'm not convinced you have ever had the correct amount of marbles. But it's ok to be thinking about Potter a bit. God knows I'm thinking about Pansy almost every second that I'm awake." He gave an elegant shrug. "Its unstoppable."
Unstoppable? As though I would still be seeing Potter's face in my dreams in a year's time? In ten year's time? I wouldn't be one of those people. The sappy ones who mooned around all day because they were all caught up in stupid romance daydreams.
That would not be me.
"That doesn't have to be you," Blaise snapped when I ran this past him. "But to be honest, you're already there mate. Merlin knows you haven't spoken about anything but Potter in weeks."
I dismissed Blaise by wrenching the drapes around my bed closed.
Harry Potter was simultaneously the best and worst dream I could possibly have. I needed to sleep, not to spend all night worrying and fantasising. Images of potion books, the lake, Harry and I, cake – it was on a loop behind my eyes, playing over and over again. I needed to rest – not wank.
I rolled over and hit my pillow a few times, pretending it was Weaselette. In my Potter-addled state, it didn't help very much.
His face – glorious, rugged and shining – made my yearning-for-sleep brain tingle and my very-awake-cock burn like crazy. It was two o'clock in the bloody morning and I was being kept awake by the mere image of someone. Merlin help me.
Blaise was right. I was turning into one of those people.
My hand sneaked its way under the blankets before I could gather some self restraint. Maybe this could be classed as an extreme circumstance. It sure felt like one.
No. I was not going to wank when I was only feet away a probably-still-awake Blaise. It was non-negotiable. I would wait it out for the whole night rather than admit I had let Harry Potter dissolve my self control. I was not a thirteen-year-old boy.
Refusing to go lower than my stomach, I raked my fingers lightly across my lower ribs, imagining Harry's hand instead of my own. The shivers of pleasure made my back arch embarrassingly off the bed. I was also sure I had no lower lip left, I was biting it so hard.
Think about potions, I told myself sternly, gripping the sheets in desperation. Think about brewing...something. Like Amortentia. Or Lust potions. Good old fashioned Stimulants. Damn.
As if I needed any more stimulants than I had right now. The muscles in my lower body were screaming at me. Alright, so potions were a no-go. How about something tamer like...food. Food was a safe subject. After a few seconds of: Sandwiches, Apples, Toast, Roast beef – I let out a sigh of relief. There was nothing sexy about food. Nothing at all.
Pudding. Treacle tart. Harry eating treacle tart. Me feeding Harry treacle tart. Me licking –
Fuck. With the whimper of a broken man, I leapt out of bed. The problem was now so painful, I had to hop rather than run to the bathroom before slamming the door shut. Who really cared if it woke everyone up? This was a national emergency.
A pathetically short amount of time later, I sat on the white stone floor with my legs drawn tightly up to my chest. The only emotion other than sated I was feeling was stunned. I had wanked over Harry only twice since discovering I liked him. Both had been guiltily done in the shower with the assertion of how very wrong it was. Now though...did thinking about licking treacle tart off Harry Potter's naked chest really just give me the best orgasm of my life?
Pansy was always telling me, albeit jokingly, how much of a messed up wizard I was. Maybe she did have gift as a potential seer. If the me from a year ago had seen what I had just done, whispering Harry's name a little frantically at the end, he probably would have AK-ed himself. That was how far I had come this year. I was now not only openly gay but I had a celebrity crush – something I had sworn would never develop – for the Dark Lord's arch nemesis Harry bloody Potter.
A boy who, I was beginning to see, was the only one is the world I wanted to be with, sworn enemy or not.
I almost threw up on myself for thinking that. When had the magical transformation from Pureblood Idol to Ponsy Idiot taken place? After this whole thing was over I would join the Hufflepuffs. I'd fit right in.
We all got up an hour earlier the next morning. And when I say 'we' got up, I mean that Pansy got up. When Pansy is excited, her internal alarm system kicks in and the side effects happen to affect Blaise and I. And Theo, Crabbe and Goyle as well I suppose, as they share the dorm, but mainly us.
And so it was that with a swish of black hair and a continuous hum of excitement, an annoyingly awake Pansy bounded into our room at the ungodly hour of...whatever time it was. Before seven.
I squinted at her with squinty eyes. Even through the darkness of the room I could make out her luminous grin. Too early, much too early...
"Pan-sy," I croaked, my voice hoarse from sleep. "No... Too early...leave...gah!" The feeling of a small body launching itself onto my bed brought me back to full consciousness.
She helped herself to my covers, exposing my feet to the chilly dungeon air. "Bon jure," she purred, mockingly seductive. "Did someone order a wakeup call?" She gave me a slow wink then laughed as I tried hopelessly to kick her off.
"No I bloody didn't," I grumbled, trying to yank the blankets out from under her. "Go away!"
"That's no way to talk to your best friend," she tusked.
"I'm not awake enough to be held accountable for anything I happen to say or do in the next few minutes." Like hexing her. Sending her flying out of the dorm to land on her tiny Slytherin butt in the corridor.
A truly pitiful moan came from Theo's bed. "...What time is it?"
Pansy coughed something that sounded suspiciously like five. When I spluttered at her, ready to transform into the it's-before-ten-o'clock-so-leave-me-the-hell-alone raving lunatic I had been known upon occasion to become, she held up a finger in a placating way. "Not five, Draco – God, who do you think I am? It's only half five. And besides, we need this time to figure out what you're going to wear."
"Today for school?" I said murderously. "I was thinking school uniform. You know, the one I wear every day."
I tried irritably to fall back to sleep, but not before I caught the disparaging glance Pansy shot me. "No," she said, pinching me until I opened my eyes again. "For after school. For your date." On the word 'date' her eyes lit up completely and she leapt off the bed, doing an over-theatrical twirl.
I had been thinking about this long and hard before I finally fell asleep last night. Thinking of our meeting today as a 'date' would only disappoint me in the long run when Potter turned up carrying potions books and not a bunch of roses.
"It's not a date."
"It is too a date. He asked you to teach him Potions which coming from someone like Potter is practically a marriage proposal."
"Pansy," I hissed, slowly losing the will to live. "When Potter asked for Potions lessons he actually meant Potions lessons. Ok? Not sex, not dating, not a commitment, not anything."
She took my face into her warm hands. "Draco," she said kindly, "you are really incredibly stupid."
Seriously, this is the best I can do in the way of friends.
"Will you two shut up?" a pillow came sailing at us from a nearby bed. "I'm trying to sleep." Apart from Blaise, of course, Blaise was great.
After Pansy had wondered over to his bed however, my opinion of him changed. Anyone who yells that loudly should be arrested. "GAHHHH! Pansy – what the hell!"
I leapt almost a foot off my bed at Blaise's yowling sound, heart about to explode. Why were all my friends such raving lunatics? Couldn't we ever have a nice normal morning? Getting dowsed with water one day, woken at five the next and now this screaming business... If you're getting murdered, you scream. If you're being robbed, you scream. Hell, you can even scream if you want ice-cream. But you do not scream when someone whips off your duvet cover.
Oh. Oh. Who stole Blaise's pyjamas?
I placed a hand over my eyes in horrified annoyance.
"Blaise," I snapped, tapping into my pre-coffee monster. I couldn't hold back the whiney quality to my voice. "I wanted Harry to be the first one I saw naked. Not. You."
"My eyes!" Pansy was shrieking hysterically, running in small circles, as Blaise wrenched his covers back up to his blushing face. "My innocence is corrupted! I'm blind, I'm blind! Draco, where are you, I can't see you –"
I ignored her as I needed a moment to think. I mean, I've seen guys naked before. I do take showers every Tuesday after Quidditch practices and stuff. But as I've been skiving off for the last two weeks to avoid Flint and usually I shower while the rest of the guys are still sleeping –
"I'll never be able to see again! It's burnt onto my retinas, it's scarred my fragile and delicate mind, its –"
– Not as if I minded seeing another guy in the flesh. But this would be the first time seeing it as a gay man – to appreciate what I was seeing. It was all 'AH' to me now – After Harry. And no, I absolutely wasn't looking at Blaise – please, I'm not perverted. I was totally one hundred percent neutral. And maybe a little curious.
...But can't one be neutral and curious?
I snuck a peak around my fingers even as Pansy bounded past me shrieking. Too late. Blaise had whipped on a pair of pants faster than you could say 'Quidditch'. I was annoyed, and then shocked with myself for being annoyed. God, what was I turning into? My hormones were out of control.
" – can't believe you don't wear pants to bed! It's illegal to do that you know – it's illegal!"
"It's not illegal," I grumbled, while personally thinking: it should be.
Pansy pulled a disgusted face. "It should be illegal. Oh the humiliation..."
"For the love of..." it looked like there was no getting around it now. I had to get out of bed. My warm, lovely, finally Pansy-free bed. "I'm over here, corrupted one." I straightened up and pulled Pansy into a headlock. "No need to be afraid of the naked Blaise. He's more afraid of you than you are of...it."
It took a very small amount these days to set the two of us off. Call it high emotions, call it a collection of blond moments, call it whatever you want. We dissolved into laughter with an ease that comes with long practice.
"Please feel free to laugh," Blaise said sarcastically, still a wonderfully bright pink. "Aren't you two up ridiculously early for a reason? Hypnotising Potter with something that I, apparently, know nothing about? What was it called now...'fashion'?"
"Don't be sour," I said cheerily. It's weird how hilarious other people's humiliation can be sometimes. One simple error of not wearing pants to bed and bam! Your girlfriend and gay best friend can barely breathe for laughing at you.
"And by the way," I said to Pansy, sobered up and wiping my eyes delicately, "you catch sight of your boyfriend in his birthday suit – shouldn't you be ogling, not screaming? If I ever saw Potter when he was naked, I..."
In hindsight, I'm quite glad that the real end of that sentence was never formed.
I had trailed off on noticing Pansy's demonic smirk and Blaise's half laughing, half scornful expression.
"...I would have snapped a picture for the Daily Prophet?" I tried hopefully.
"Oh my dear, sweet, naive Draco. The only reason I'm not going to punish you for that lie is that you look pathetically sentimental," Pansy told me kindly.
"Yeah Draco, I'm not sure whether to make fun of that or not," Blaise said with a grin.
I was surprise and touched. Blaise took the piss out of nearly everything anyone did – how nice of him to momentarily exclude me from that. "Because on the one hand," he waved one slowly at me, "your sappy facial expression makes me feel not only mildly compassionate but also unwilling to tease you."
I didn't respond to this, too busy trying to manipulate my 'sappy' face into something more masculine.
"However on the other hand, you have given me really disturbing mental images. I don't need to be thinking about a naked Harry Potter right now. Or ever," he added at Pansy's worried look. "So I'm willing to make as many jokes as I can about it as a suitable penalty."
I suspected I had heard the majority of said jokes before. "Knock yourself out," I said compliantly.
"But you did help me out with Pansy," he said thoughtfully. "And I guess I did promise to help you. Alright, forget what's in my hands." He shook them both as though shaking off old ideas. "A new hand," he said grandly, taking one of Pansy's into his own tan ones. "And the hand says..."
He paused dramatically. I glanced at Pansy, wondering if she had known what she was getting into when she kissed Blaise. She shrugged.
"The hand says it will help you."
I sat for a moment feeling perplexed.
I guess I shouldn't really be surprised by the weirdness of it. Some people would say: 'sure, I'll help you out Draco' or 'no worries Draco, you can count on me.' Blaise? Blaise went for the hand metaphor.
"Right," I said slowly, edging a little further away from them both. "Well...say thanks to the hand from me."
We sat listening to Theo's snores for a few moments.
As I had suspected it would be, it was Pansy who finally broke the silence. "Look, I have no idea what either of you are saying. No – don't tell it again," she said as Blaise held up a hand. "I don't care about that. What I want to know is this: Draco, when can I start dressing you up?"
Within two seconds of me giving her the go-ahead, Pansy was already a blur of activity inside my trunk, hands sifting through my shirts, robes and cloaks.
The day of ultimate agony had begun.
"What would you say is the most embarrassing thing you've ever said to Potter?" Blaise asked professionally. After he had curled back into bed again, a quill and parchment had found their way into his hands. This was roughly the time when Pansy started ordering me to strip off and change clothes. I stood shivering in my underwear and the thin t-shirt she had allowed me.
I wasn't sure I liked Blaise-the-therapist anymore that Pansy-the-manic-stylist.
The most embarrassing thing I'd said to Potter?
"Where to begin?" I muttered, a pink hue working up my neck.
"Blurting out that you liked him was probably the worst move," Pansy suggested as she threw a few more of my clothes onto the bed. "Or kissing him."
"No, when he allowed himself to get trapped into the Potions cupboard alone with Potter. That was just plain stupid."
"Or maybe –"
"Yes, thank you," I said sullenly. I didn't like this game. "Just put down whatever Blaise. There are too many answers to that question."
"Alright, next question. What would you say is the weirdest physical compulsion you've had in Potter's presence?"
I was taken aback by the question even if I shouldn't have been. Maybe Blaise should pursue a job in therapy.
"Licking his fingers, hugging him after the Boggart and then running my fingers through his hair during the hug." I said it all quickly, as Pansy forced a beige shirt I didn't even know that I owed over my head. "Nothing else."
"Well you did kiss him. And when he pinned you to that silly wall you did get –"
"Hey!" We were not discussing that. No way in hell were we discussing that. "Next question."
Pansy sniggered before tossing the beige shirt into the 'no' pile.
"What part of Potter is most...attractive?" He pulled a face as he said it, as if he couldn't imagine how any part of Potter could be seen as eye-catching. I couldn't imagine a part of Potter that wasn't attractive.
"His eyes definitely. No, his cheekbones. No, wait, his mouth. That's my final answer. Or maybe his hair –"
"Ok." Blaise made a note. "His head area."
There was absolutely no need to look at me that way. Potter's 'head area' was the only thing that wasn't covered up with ridiculous and unnecessary clothing. The Potter sans clothes was one I was unfamiliar with. Regrettably.
We had to stop for a while as Pansy insisted she needed my input on the clothes front. What a fun task that was.
"What's wrong with wearing the blue ones?" Pansy barked, shaking the robes at me threateningly. "They're gorgeous and the colour matches your eyes."
I glared at the sapphire robes, quelling the urge to rip them out of her manicured hands.
"My eyes are grey. I'll be wearing the grey ones thanks." The robes I was holding were softer, nicer and more expensive. Why shouldn't I wear them?
"You'd look like a glossy brochure for some cheap holiday resort nobody would ever go to. You'll be wearing the blue ones."
Forget taking it off her, I was ready to strangle her with that robe. I should have known to just accept whatever her judgement decided – but when have I ever?
"The thing you're holding is the most horrible thing I own – he'd want to laugh at me, not shag me. Blaise, you're a guy, tell her."
Blaise was acting as our unofficial umpire, still sprawled on his bed and watching us bicker. The entire contents of my wardrobe was scattered around him and his only contribution thus far had been sniggering, asking more questions and rolling his eyes. In other words: no help at all.
He looked up from his parchment and sighed. "It's just a set of robes."
See what I mean?
"It's not just a set of robes," Pansy trilled, hugging the blue cloak to her chest and doing a slow waltz around the dorm with it. "This is the robe that Potter will soon be ripping off our dear friend's body. This is the shirt that has to sell the product of what's underneath it, make Potter daydream about seeing past the flimsy fabric. These are the trousers that will hug Draco's arse and either make or break Harry and Draco's whole relationship Blaise. That is why it is important." With every declaration she took a slow ominous step forwards until she was standing before him. She threw the shirt, catching him full in the face.
After he had extricated himself, Blaise began a sarcastic applause. "Pansy, you should be on the stage."
She grinned and flicked her hair. "I know. Actually now I think about it, this shirt does suck. Turquoise – I don't know what I was thinking. What else have we got Draco?" She paused. "Um, Draco?"
I guess my eyes must have glazed over or something. There sure felt pretty glazed.
"Stop badgering me! I can't make this decision, it's too difficult." I sank slowly onto the bed next to Blaise, uncaring that I was crinkling half my clothes.
"Not you too," Blaise groaned, giving me a pleading look. "That's one friend, one girlfriend and my sanity that I've lost to fashion this morning. It's just a stupid shirt."
I stared at him. "Did you not just hear the speech? This decides mine and Harry's whole relationship. How could I pick something like this," I crumpled the green shirt into a ball and threw it aside, "when my future happiness hangs on it?"
Pansy nodded sagely. "I'm glad you now understand how important this is. Now, how do you feel about salmon?"
"Pans, stop," Said Blaise firmly. "I love you, but right now you're talking out of your arse. And Draco, how could you possibly think Potter would judge you on what you wear? He's an ignorant Gryffindor, appearances barely register to him."
Pansy and I both spluttered in protest.
"No, listen to me," he insisted, pulling me back onto the bed when I showed signs of getting up. "Harry Potter really isn't going to care what you wear tonight. It's not a black tie occasion and he isn't expecting dress robes – "
"Ooh, dress robes!" Pansy squealed before she could stop herself. Seeing Blaise's less than impressed expression, she made a mime of zipping up her mouth. I noticed privately that she did not throw away the key.
"As I was saying... Draco, you always do this. You get needlessly upset over the little things. Hell, you could wear this and he wouldn't mind." He was holding up my pyjama top.
"Ha bloody ha," I said, blushing hotly and snatching the top out of his hands. It was a white muggle t-shirt sporting a faded dragon on the front. In smoky lettering beneath it read: 'fancy taming my dragon?'
Don't think badly of me, ok? I only have it because...well because it's the most comfortable thing I have ever owned, muggle-made or not. The fabric is like heaven. I'm not stupid enough to wear it at home or on the weekends but at night... Like I said, don't judge me.
Pansy's face once more looked bright as a button. "Hey, Blaise, that's actually a good idea!"
I wondered what I had missed out of the conversation this time. She couldn't be referencing the dragon shirt, she just couldn't be...no Pansy, no...
"Wear that one! The dragon shirt! It combines two of Potter's best qualities – taming dragons and strange muggle clothes!"
We argued about it all the way down to breakfast, swapping barbs about each other's taste and calling on Blaise to assist our opinions.
"Alright, fine," I snarled, all three of us pausing to let the Ravenclaws past. "But I'm only trusting you with this decision because – well I don't know why. I suppose you've annoyed me into submission."
"My good taste is indisputable," she agreed, giving me a graciously delicate hug. "And just between you and me, since you told us about Potter I always had you pegged for the...submissive."
"You – hey!"
She patted me on the face and followed Blaise into the hall, catching his hand up in hers. "Don't worry about it darling. You still have a very manly charm."
And this is how I ended up wearing my old bed shirt to the lake.
"I've come up with a cunning plan to not only get Potter into a successful relationship with you but to also avoid humiliation." I kid you not, that was Blaise's announcement. He even looked proud of himself.
I wondered briefly why I was the only one laughing.
"Do you want it or not?" he said, sounding put out. "It's fool-proof."
"Yes, but is it Draco-proof?" Pansy asked, saying aloud what any sensible person would be thinking. "Because just making it fool-proof won't be enough. This boy has a gift," She patted my cheek, "for attracting trouble."
Blaise smirked at us both. "If he follows this, the only one he'll be attracting is Harry Potter."
I couldn't deny that it did sound good.
"Ok Zabini, lay it on me."
"That's what she said." Theo plopped down next to Pansy and grinned sleepily at us. He noticed Pansy glaring at him. "Inappropriate?"
"Just eat your toast Theodore."
I pulled the parchment full of Blaise's scribbles towards me, intending to read/devour anything useful. My eyes ghosted over the page with confusion. There were arrows and crossings out, footnotes and spider diagrams. I tried to follow one of the numerous arrows with my eyes but was still lost within seconds.
Was this what it was like to be inside Blaise's head?
"Give that to me," Blaise instructed, whipping it out of my hands. "Patience is a virtue, Draco."
"Yes and so is good handwriting. What does it say?"
He gave me the one fingered salute but cleared his throat anyway. "First of all," he said, and I wondered when Blaise's voice had become so deep and full of authority. A bit like Harry's, only Harry's was nicer. "You have to stop letting Potter consume your thoughts. Stop with the mental comparisons to Potter – no, shut up, we all know about it – and if your thoughts do slip in that direction, think about something else."
"Why?" I demanded, folding my arms. I hoped the folded arms thing made me look indignant in a manly way and not a childish way. "He's not a mind reader, he won't know and neither will anyone else."
"He will know," Pansy chipped in. "Your nose scrunches up when you're emotional – which you are when you think about Potter – and you blush. Do you really want that to be the lasting impression he has of you?"
Twitchy nose and red faced?
I subtly glanced over at the Gryffindor table, eyes heading for Harry's usual seat, noting he wasn't down to breakfast yet. Did he oversleep? Was he ill? Yes, maybe he was so ill he wouldn't be able to come to our –
Oh, wait. There he was, sitting four seats to the left. Next to...
"That bloody Weaselette." Or, should I say, my new arch rival. Who did she think she was, pawing at him like that? She just couldn't leave him alone to eat his breakfast could she?
"Secondly, you're going to stop glaring at his girlfriend." The piece of breadstick Blaise had thrown at me bounced off my forehead. I'm glad no one saw that. "Don't play into her hands Draco. And Potter's not going to be impressed if you're muttering curses and trying to hit her in corridors –"
"She hit me first!"
" – he'll be more impressed if you take the moral high ground. Gryfindorks love a good moral high ground don't they? This one is yours. No calling her names, making fun of that mangy orange hair or...anything else. Be good."
'Good' flew in the face of everything that I naturally was! I was inherently bad – one of the worst people I knew. Harry was the good one. The light to my dark, so to speak.
"Be honest," Pansy intoned, stealing my bacon. "Relationships are built on honesty and trust. Well, except ours." She grabbed Blaise's hand. I didn't want to think about what she might be doing under the table to give him that expression. Yuk.
"But lie when it benefits you," Blaise said, still making eyes at Pansy. "For example, tell him you like what he's wearing."
"Complement him, but not too much. Don't start drooling because that's pathetic."
"Be polite. Say please, thank you, sorry etc. He won't be expecting it from you because you are fundamentally rude to him."
"Let him make the first move. You've done your fair share of kissing and hugging – now let him come to you."
"But don't be distant – he has to know you want it."
"Make small talk –"
"– without killing the romantic mood."
I sat incredibly still, trying to take it all in. Their suggestions were ludicrous. "So what you're saying," I said slowly, "Is that I need to be honest, but I'm also allowed to lie; complement him without actually saying anything complementary; to be polite without being needy; talk about boring things without being boring and to let him know I want him while still playing hard to get?"
They beamed at me. I felt like hitting them.
Blaise thrust the doodle-filled parchment back into my hands. "You were looking at the wrong side of the page, dumbass," he said affectionately. "The secret way to getting Potter is on the other side."
I flipped the page over hastily, heart beating quickly in my chest. The answer that Blaise had promised came in the form of three scribbled words.
Three useless scribbled words.
"'Just be yourself'?" I asked incredulously, all hope flying out of the proverbial window. "That's the biggest load of –"
"Don't you get it Draco?" Pansy asked me, sounding as if it was blatantly obvious. I still wanted to hit her. "What Blaise and I were trying to tell you is that there is no magic formula. There is no perfect way to woo somebody – it happens through the little things. A lingering touch, a heated look, a sense of humour..."
My face felt frozen, power of speech abruptly gone. They had fucking tricked me into a false sense of security.
"There is no methodical way for you to win Potter over, Draco." She placed a tiny hand on my shoulder. "If he's going to fall in love with you at all, it's going to be with the scatty, neurotic, wonderful person that you are with us," She motioned to herself, Theo and Blaise. "The one he's only just getting to know. The weirdo who sucks his fingers halfway through a fight and laughs at all the wrong moments."
Oh. Of course now I thought about it, to somebody like Pansy it would all be kind of...obvious. The whole 'love can't be planned' thing. I still would have much preferred a formula.
"Alright, I get it," I sighed, fiddling with the table cloth. "I've just got to be myself."
"Exactly!" Pansy gave me a one-armed hug, her other hand still joined to Blaise's. "All the little things you do naturally are what make it happen. I mean, you still managed to fall in love with Potter when he has hair like a birds nest, clothes from a buy-n-fly sale and –"
What? She stopped talking at my terrified look.
I wasn't – I couldn't possibly be – no. No I definitely wasn't in love with him. I wasn't. Because I would have known, right? Somewhere in the transition from enemy to fantasy-boyfriend I would have felt a change. And I hadn't felt any major change. I felt passion and lust and attraction.
Not...the other thing.
"Of course I'm not in love with him!"
Pansy gave me a look of offended dignity while Blaise offered one of sympathy. "Yes you are," she said. "Of course you are. We all know it."
"I'm – you're wrong – not –" The words stuck in my mouth, unable to get out, as my tongue tied itself into knots. Easy Draco, just keep calm. No need to let the lie affect you. I took all the emotion out of my voice.
"I don't have to listen to this." I snatched up a waffle and stood up. I didn't need to sit here and eat my breakfast with liars. Because that's what they were: liars.
They called after me as I sprinted out of the Great Hall. A lot of Draco, wait and Draco, please. Stupid friends, they had no idea. Just because they were in love did that give them the right to force it on me too?
Did they even realise what that one four letter word meant?
Love was – was like surrender.
It meant giving way your heart completely to another person. It allowed that person to see you at your best but also at your most vulnerable. It made you tell them the secrets that no one should ever know except you.
I wasn't going to surrender. Not to anyone.
I took a few long deep breaths through my nose. Despite the momentary panic, everything was going to be ok – because of course I wasn't in love with Harry. Absolutely nothing had changed. I was still meeting with Potter after school. I wanted to know him better and to shag him. Kiss him. Date him. Love had nothing to do with it.
I was muttering this to myself as I entered double charms, though still saving Pansy and Blaise their customary seats. I wasn't mad at them really. They were only looking out for me after all. Pansy had just made a girly mistake – everything in her head was centred on love, makeup and fashion.
In the last few days, she had managed to fit me into every category.
Charms was abysmal. The time went so slowly I was almost weeping – or clawing out my eyes.
I mean, Lengthening charms – really? When would I ever need that?
I scowled at my piece of string, watching it flop off the table as it grew. This wasn't challenging. Staying awake in this pointless lesson, that was challenging.
I guess I might have been feeling the tiniest amount of stress. I couldn't unclench my hands from the desk and my leg was jumping irritably. Maybe I was thinking about Harry a little bit too much. I wondered intently why Harry hadn't taken Charms... if he had the empty seat in front of me would have been filled with a gorgeous dark haired boy instead of air. My thoughts kept playing this tune for the whole of the double period. I guess it didn't help that the corridor outside was the scene of the first major cock up. That kiss.
Is it weird to miss someone you used to hate?
Pansy caught up to me before I made it to Transfiguration. Though we had been seated next to each other for over an hour this morning, we hadn't spoken since breakfast. I got the feeling she was building up her words.
"Draco – "
"I forgive you Pansy."
"I wasn't about to say sorry."
Her arm had somehow linked through mine and she leant comfortably on my shoulder.
"Oh. Well... I retract my forgiveness."
I've figured out now that God enjoys messing with my life. It's simply not nice how many times I manage to get it wrong. Wrong about the Dark Lord, wrong about Potter and now about Pansy too? Surely something has to give.
"No, I'll keep the forgiveness if you don't mind." She had managed to hook her bag over my shoulder effortlessly so I was carrying her things as well as my own. I could concede that it was masterfully done. "And I want a nice long apology for what a moody and unsociable boy you are. And you have to buy me a milkshake in Hogsmeade."
I shook my head disbelievingly. She smiled innocently back. "Too far?"
"Just a little – you know I would never buy you a milkshake." I buy the ice-cream, Blaise buys the chocolate and Pansy gets the milkshakes. "And I am not moody and unsociable. I may be standoffish in the polite way...as a matter of dignity. But I'm not moody."
"He says moodily."
Some days it's just not worth getting out of bed. Like today. Except later today would hopefully be worth everything.
"You're not really angry with me are you?"
Sometimes the naivety of my peers amazed even me. Did I look mad? Was my aura black? Did I have swear words tattooed on my face? We had reached the transfiguration classroom at last, joining in the back of the small scrum waiting outside it.
"Considering that I'm walking with you to our next class, carrying your bag, telling you I forgive you and all the rest of it I'd say...no. Definitely not mad."
"I think that statement is up for negotiation," a sneering voice intoned, stepping out from around Longbottom. It would just have to be Weasley wouldn't it? I couldn't ever have a stress-free day. The idiot hadn't healed his face from our brawl yesterday and so a purple-black cheek and eye greeted me.
Suck it up Draco.
"Negotiation, Weasley? A big word for you." The words fell uncomfortably from my lips.
Weasley stalked closer, face pink, ears red.
"A girl's bag, Malfoy?" He flicked at a tassel on Pansy's purple handbag, still looped over my shoulder. Though I myself looked fondly on new fashions, I had to admit that the purple beaded thing on my arm made me look ten times more camp than I was. "We already know how much you're in touch with your feminine side."
Finnegan snorted with laughter. I kept my face coolly impassive and was surprised when Pansy restrained herself as well. She might as well have been carved from stone.
"Maybe I am. And speaking on behalf of fashionable people everywhere Weasel-bee, orange doesn't suit you."
The insult felt...wrong. Too much effort for something so little. What was up with that?
It was then that I noticed Harry, standing slightly off from Weasley. He was leaning against the wall with Granger, the pair of them eyeing us intently. Granger was whispering.
Weasley blinked at us indignantly but didn't seem to be able to say anything more. Having his taste in fashion insulted was something I was sure he had never experienced before. I am all about fresh material.
Pansy used our still linked arms to pull me gently into classroom.
We passed by Harry and Granger quietly. Or at least, being sensible, I did. Pansy slowed down until we were at a completely stop in front of them. "Oh come off it," I muttered, whether to her or to some higher power, I wasn't sure.
Ignoring the one third of Golden Trio still seething behind us, she replaced the stony look with a much more frightening one. "Hey Gryffindors," she said. "How's it going?" And she was wearing her serious face too. A tiny part of me died.
"Oh, um...good...thanks Parkinson." Granger looked astonished, like a dog had started talking to her. There was a small silence in which none of us spoke and the people outside looked at us, alarmed. Granger seemed not to know how to take this new development. Thankfully, manners won out. "So...How are you?"
I hadn't noticed that Pansy was tensed until I felt her arm relax under mine. "Oh we're fine. Charms was a bitch but then I slept through most of it." I watched Granger flinch a little at the language and then recover herself. "I'll get Draco to catch me up on what I missed. He's oddly proficient at lengthening charms, aren't you?" her elbow caught me in the ribs and made me wince. "Merlin knows you could do with a lengthening charm!"
Both Granger's and Harry's eyebrows shot up.
My throat appeared to have closed up a little too much for coherency. "I don't need to use – I would never – I don't –"
Pansy, at my stuttering, seemed only then to cotton on to what was going on in their warped little minds. The temperature of my face began pushing a thousand degrees. From the image that she had put there and in everyone else's head too I might just say.
"Not like that!" She insisted. "God, get your mind out of the gutter people, I meant height-wise. He's very obviously vertically challenged. There's nothing wrong with his –"
Ok, so maybe the push I gave her was a little hard, but it was justified. It was either that or stun her.
Granger gave us a hesitant smile, showing she wasn't all as uptight as she pretended. But then, neither was Pansy. It was I who was as tightly coiled as a spring. And Harry was...
I glanced at him hastily, realising that for a few moments all my attention had been focused on the exchange between my friend and his, and not on Potter himself. He was looking at the three of us amusedly. And smiling. Smiling at the weird exchange between one girl and another. Smiling at me.
Was that all it took now, one Hiya Malfoy? I was feeling dizzy. Who even said 'hiya' anymore anyway? Fuck, he had dimples.
"Hi Potter." Yes that's right, said without overt blushing, and not even a shaky voice. I was surprised too. I wished I hadn't noticed those dimples though.
He didn't say anything else and I didn't think I could if I'd tried. I was vaguely aware that people were moving between us and filing into the classroom but bloody hell if those weren't the greenest eyes I had ever seen...
I yelped as Pansy wrenched me towards our seats. Blaise was already sitting down, books out and quill ready. He gave me a look that I didn't like one bit. "I'm not in love with him," Blaise whined in a rubbish imitation of my voice. "My arse you're not."
To my surprise – no scratch that, to my absolute mortification – Pansy and Granger were all over each other for the next hour. Granger had taken a seat next to Pansy, and anytime she wasn't listening to McGonagall speak, her ear was turned in Pansy's direction.
I clung to Blaise for dear life.
"What is she doing?" I said, already highly suspicious of body snatchers, polyjuice and the imperious. "Has she gone completely mental?"
Pansy laughed at something Granger said, making exaggerated hand gestures in her agreement. I cringed back into my seat. Pansy and Granger! In what sort of imaginary universe could that possibly happen?
"I think they're bonding," said Blaise, tongue between teeth as he tried to transfigure his matchstick into a needle. The match set itself spitefully on fire for the forth time.
"Bonding?" I asked worriedly, nudging my own work with the tip of my wand. The lesson had been on transfiguring metals and each of us had a different task. The small scrap of paper sitting sadly in front of me was supposed to be turning into a coin. So far it had crumpled itself into a ball and turned brown.
"Yeah. You know the 'my friend fancies your friend so why don't we be mates' kind of thing that girls do. Hey, reckon I should have a go with Weasley?"
I snorted. Weasley was sitting with Harry and Granger but as far as possible from Pansy. Harry was talking to him occasionally and I found myself wondering why he bothered. I was as fond of Pansy and Blaise as much as anyone could be and even I knew when to leave them alone. Weasley was at the peak of his sulking and the sensible thing to do would be to hit him with a tranquiliser dart.
"What about Potter, can I bond with him?"
I shook my head, smiling slightly, until Harry looked round at us both. "Did someone say my name?"
I jerked my head around so fast it audibly clicked and I had to seize hold of it with both hands. Holy mother of Merlin I was now surely crippled for life. I glared up at Potter furiously until I saw the amused glance had melted into a concerned one.
"You alright?" I hastily stopped massaging my neck and dropped both hands back to the desk.
"Oh yeah. You know, just working on...this." I tried not to wince too much as I turned my head to pick up the brown ball of paper. It now had several scorch marks in it from further failed attempts.
"And your neck?"
"It's fine, how's yours?"
Yep, there was the grin. White teeth, pale pink lips and those bloody perfect dimples. I was so screwed.
"Look, you want to switch seats Potter? I wouldn't mind sitting next to my girlfriend." Couldn't Blaise just go away? Just for a little while? What if Harry blanched and said no? What if he said yes and then ridiculed my crappy attempts at transfiguring the paper? Surely he wouldn't believe that was the real reason why Blaise wanted to swap and then –
"Sure, just give me a second."
Or not. Within two minutes, Blaise was shifting out of his seat with a wink and a 'don't mess up'. Harry moved into the empty chair inelegantly, shoving his bag under the table with a clumsiness that wasn't endearing. While he was slinging his robe over the back of his chair, his wand rolled slowly off the table and hit the floor with a shower of sparks.
He blushed and bent to retrieve it. My hand shot out and beat him to the finish. See, why couldn't it make as much effort with the snitch?
Having Potter's wand in my hand was odd. It was discoloured from dust so much that you could make out individual fingerprints on the handle. It was almost humming with magic as I twirled it between my fingers, warm and strong, like it's owner.
The urge to try a spell with it was becoming more pronounced the longer I held it and I glanced at Harry to see if he objected. His eyes were riveted on my hand and I realised I had been absent-mindedly stroking my thumb over the base. I stopped quickly.
I murmured a childish spell under my breath, pointing the wand tip at the table. A little smoke creature emerged from the tip and flew two laps around the desk. It reared its head at Harry and then dissipated in a handful of sparks. Pretty unimpressive.
Harry's eyes were shifting between the small scorch mark on the desk where the spell had been and my hand still wrapped around his wand.
He caught it with one hand as I threw it back to him and looked down at the wood with a strange expression on his face. He pushed up his sleeves distractedly and cleared his throat. Out of sheer awkwardness more than a desire to work, I began trying to change my paper to metal again.
"Chalybs," I said clearly, giving the annoyingly brown ball of parchment a jab. The thing let out a noise like teeth grinding and threw itself off the desk.
This time it was Harry who reached down to pick it up, his eyes brighter than ever. He set it down on my desk with a smirk which I all at once loathed and cherished.
"Let's see your attempt then Potter."
I didn't mean to put as much emphasis on the name as what I did, but I had been one millisecond away from calling him Harry. It came out of my lips sounding challenging and confident instead and I hastily raised an eyebrow to match.
Harry had – in my opinion – a much easier task than me. Turning string into steel wire? Please, I could have done that with my eyes closed. Probably. Ok, maybe not. It was still easier than mine though.
"Chalybs," he whispered and I crossed my fingers under the desk that he wouldn't get it right and make me look like an idiot. He didn't. "It did go grey though," he said defensively, showing me the string. "And it feels a bit harder than before."
The hardness I could vouch for, though not in connection with the string.
My next spell tore the parchment in half. Potter's string managed to tie itself in a knot that he had to spend several minutes unpicking. I couldn't help sniggering as his next attempt yielded the same result with a tighter knot.
"Aha," I said triumphantly after my seventh attempt, forgetting momentarily who I was with and nudging Harry in the ribs. "I've done it. Yes! I finally beat you to something Potter!" This would have been the perfect place for a victory dance. Absolutely perfect.
"That's a coin?" Harry asked sceptically, eyeing my masterpiece dubiously.
I held the creation to my chest, almost offended. If it hadn't been Harry and if his incredulous expression wasn't as handsome as any other...I might have given him a piece of my mind.
I handed over my coin, dropping it into the palm of him hand. And if you're wondering why I didn't use this opportunity to have a little skin on skin contact here there are two very simple answers. One, I am not that desperate for attention that I need to paw at him pathetically. If that was the case, I wouldn't mess about trying the gaze our fingers together. I would just grab his hand and shove it down my pants. But, like I said, I'm not that pathetic. The second reason is that touching Harry makes all the blood leave my head. And it goes...well you know where it goes.
"It's got creases in it," Harry said, as if this proved some sort of point.
I grabbed his string and held it between my thumb and forefinger. A little while ago Harry had managed to make it almost stiffen into real wire before subsequently undoing all his work by not concentrating.
"It's better that yours though."
"It is not! I actually managed to do it before."
"Yeah, exactly, before. Mine is a coin now."
"If 'coin' is the right word for it."
The bell rang. As though the sudden sound broke the tension between us, we both grinned at each other a little sheepishly and exchanged our work back without saying anything. I tucked the coin into my pocket and Harry chucked the string in his bag.
"Until five o'clock, Malfoy."
"Don't forget your books Potter."
"Pansy...are you sure about this?"
"Ask me one more time and you'll be walking to your date with Potter on broken legs." When my gaze was unrelenting she gripped my shoulders and gave me a small shake. "You look wonderful, gorgeous, and incredible. You're the hottest best friend I've ever had. Now is that all? Are we good?"
"I still don't think..." I tugged at the bottom of the muggle shirt, the bed shirt, the top that was never supposed to be worn in public. Ever.
"You were fine about this earlier Draco." She sighed at the look I gave her. "Ok not fine, but you did say yes."
"I didn't think I would be as nervous." Yes, ok, I said it. I was nervous. Actually, what was one beyond nervous? Because whatever that was, I was that. "I look like an idiot and my hair is a bloody nightmare and at this moment in time I couldn't tell you a single Potions formula."
"But you look gorgeous!"
"I look muggle."
Pansy steered me over to the mirror and wrapped her arms around me from behind.
"You're hair looks great." She lightly touched the hair she had been working on furiously for the past hour, ruffled into a look that (according to Pansy) said I've-just-been-shagged-now-who's-up-for-round-two?
It was more 'crazy bed head' than 'well-groomed and sophisticated' like I had been planning but as I didn't really want to die at Pansy's hands by saying so, I kept stum.
"And those trousers really hug your arse."
"Pansy I hate denim. Can't I wear –"
"No you can't. Potter will love you in those jeans! They really accentuate your legs –"
"Making me look even shorter than I am!"
"– And actually, after you're done with them can Blaise borrow them? He would look so –"
I covered my ears and watched her lips form words I really didn't need to think about in connection with my best friend. After a few seconds she batted them away from my head with a roll of the eyes and a murmured 'idiot'.
"Right let me see you then," she said, handing me my school bag full of potions books and forcing me backwards a few steps. Her eyes raked over me critically, taking in the things that only girls can see, like say, a missed belt loop. "Now turn around. Slowly."
I turned, feeling ridiculous. I chuckled to myself as I wondered if Harry was getting ready for our not-a-date date with as much care and precision as I was. The thought of Granger helping him pick out his clothes was ludicrous.
"Pansy – what?" Her eyes were actually welling up.
She caught me in a breath-restricting hug, careful not to touch my hair. "You just look so...happy," she sniffed, giving my shoulder a pat.
If happy can be roughly translated to agonisingly nervous then yeah, I was happy. "Um, yeah, I am. Listen thanks for the makeover – " Or maybe it should be make-under as I was now more casually dressed than I had been in the last decade " – I'm heading off now."
She rubbed her eyes embarrassedly and then beamed at me.
"When you get back I want every little detail, you hear?" I gave her a salute and then marched out of the door. She still managed to smack me on the arse and giggle before I had quite made it out.
"Be calm," I told myself for the millionth time since I had arrived. "He is still coming." My hands were clenching and unclenching quickly and I had to literally force myself to stop. "Worrying about it won't change anything."
The thought that Harry might have stood me up was utterly terrifying.
It was five o'clock and I was by the lake, just like we had planned. Well, not exactly five o'clock, more like ten minutes to. There was still time. It wasn't Harry's fault that I had arrived early, was it? I knew I should have taken Pansy's advice and arrived fashionably late but, well, I had been excited. Excited enough to come down here at 4:30.
My stomach was full of fairies. This was our first unofficial its-not-a-date date. Anything could happen from here on in, from violent rejection to passionate sex!
Something in me lurched and I laughed nervously to cover up the beginnings of fear. Potter hadn't even shown up yet and I was worried we might end up having sex? I always was jittery about stuff like that. Never mind the fact that he just wanted help with his potions work, and was interested in girls, and apart from a brief holding of hands there was sufficient evidence that he didn't like me?
I fiddled with the strap on my bag and tried to think of anything other than sex. Now it was in my head I just couldn't get it out again. Sex. Sexsexsexsex. This was crazy – I would be lucky if I got so much as a kiss from the Golden Boy, let alone anything like...that.
Stop thinking about sex.
It was easier said than done. I pressed the palm of my hand firmly onto my groin, trying to stave off any feelings of that nature. I fixated on the water of the lake, lapping gently against the bank with wet sloshing noises. Wet and...sensual noises. Almost like...kissing. I will strenuously deny this if asked but yes I was finding the noises oddly...sexy.
I know, I know, I'm a freak! But in my defence I was already turned on by thoughts of Harry, so technically...
Fuck, this was so bloody stupid! I didn't even want to have sex with the specky git. It was an altogether terrifying idea. Things would have to go in places they were definitely not meant for and that would be...horrible. I thought about what Pansy had said at breakfast. Just between you and me, I always had you pegged for the...submissive.
But that didn't matter, I told myself firmly, because we wouldn't be having...we wouldn't be doing...THAT.
Potter probably wouldn't want to anyway, even if he was gay and liked me of allpeople. Be deflowered by his former Slytherin rival by the lake when anyone could see us? No.
But...just in case anything did happen – which it wouldn't – there was no harm in being prepared was there?
I spent a while trying (and without a doubt failing) to find a seductive pose. Laying on my side with a leg slightly bent and hand propping up my head seemed like a good idea until I realised how girly it would make me seem. As straight as Harry undoubtedly was, I wanted him attracted to me for me, not because I reminded him of his girlfriend. Knees bent up to chest with head thrown back didn't seem to work either, as my neck still hurt from transfiguration.
Flat on my back was uncomfortable. Leaning against a tree with one leg on a branch was too weird, even for me. On my hands and knees with legs a little parted... It was as I was mentally assessing this last pose that the sensible and dormant part of my brain came back to life. Its first question was, quite simply, what the fuck do you think you are doing?
Trying to find the best position to have sex with Harry Potter. Had I gone insane?
I spent the next five minutes arranging and then rearranging my textbooks into alphabetical piles, all the while chiding myself for thinking such illicit and stupid thoughts. I changed my mind about the text books and scattered them all out in 'casual' disarray. I was confident there was nothing Harry could throw at me – potions wise at least – that I wouldn't be ready for. I had skived off lunch in the Great Hall to cram my head full of ingredients and stirring patterns and everything I could find that he might think to ask me.
The only thing that was missing was the one thing that really needed to be here. Harry.
Where on earth was he? It was two minutes past five now – he was definitely late.
I stood up and stretched, tugging my stupid muggle top down when it rode up to reveal a sliver of pale stomach. That was something I wasn't about to show when Harry got here.
If he got here.
I let loose a frustrated sigh and walked down to the water's edge. It was calm down here, with only that stupid lapping noise disturbing the dark water. It was annoying. I picked up a smooth flat stone and ran it between my fingers, contemplating smashing it into the lake. It was almost completely round, I noted, much like Harry's glasses.
I looked down at my watch and saw with a stab of shock and sadness that it was now ten past five.
So he really wasn't coming then. I wondered what good excuse he would have lined up for me tomorrow. Trapped in a cupboard somewhere on the fifth floor with no hope of escape? Kidnapped by Filch for an innocent crime he didn't commit? I swallowed as I thought of the very worst excuse of all and praying it did not ring true. What if he had forgotten?
"What a bastard." I skimmed the stone away from me, and watched it skip seven long jumps before sinking. "What an absolute bastard!"
"Are you talking about the stone or me?"
I almost fell in the lake. I spun around, dizzy with relief that he was here, actually here.
Don't do anything stupid, my brain warned me, as I felt a hug reflex kick in. Do not say anything stupid. Just say Hello.
"Potter," I said, obvious relief in my voice. That was not Hello! I could feel a desire to state the obvious bubbling up inside me, getting stronger and stronger as I looked at him. "You're –" Do not say 'here', do not say 'here' " – late."
There was a moment of mutual ogling going on from what I could tell. I for one was looking appreciatively at Potter's clothes. Pansy had been right after all then about the muggle look being a hit with Potter. He was wearing a black jacket that was cut flatteringly instead of loose fitting and unlike anything I had ever seen him in before. The top of a t-shirt peeked out from under it and made me feel slightly better about the one I was wearing. His trousers were not jeans like I had on but black slacks which met with brightly coloured trainers.
It seemed I wasn't the only one who had dressed to impress for which I was glad. It wasn't like I'd hated his clothes before or anything but...these were nice. Even so, Potter seemed completely at ease in clothes that put me out of my element. I was scuffing the toe of my own trainers (Pansy had forbidden me from wearing my dragon hide boots) against the floor in apprehension.
Harry seemed to be struggling just as much as I was.
"You...you look..." he coughed and then looked directly into my eyes. "Really good. You look really good Malfoy."
My heart felt a little warmer all of a sudden, like a tiny fire had been kindled in my chest. "Thanks Potter. You don't look overly hideous either." Why? Why did I have to say something like that to him?
Harry cracked a smile and seemed to relax a little. "Same as always," he said contentedly. I couldn't tell if he meant himself or me. I kind of hoped he didn't mean me. I had done of lot of changing recently.
"Why were you late?" I asked, because it was my turn to say something, not because I was still a little stung from the waiting. Not at all.
"Have you been here long?" His lip caught in between pale pink lips and he looked suddenly aggrieved. "I'm really sorry about that. It's just something came up – with Ginny. I had to tell her..."
I flushed an angry scarlet at the Weaselette's name and Potter seemed to sense the mood shift.
"Can we please not talk about her?"
Merlin why did he have to bring her up?
I was mollified by the fact that Potter seemed even more embarrassed than I was by this slip. Maybe even in his Gryffindor brain he knew that discussing his girlfriend with the boy who kept trying to kiss him was pretty insensitive.
"Right, sorry. So, um, here's a crazy thought...could you teach me how to skim stones? That one you just did was pretty impressive. I've always been rubbish at it myself. Ron tried to teach me but got fed up quite quick, said I was a hopeless case. That's me – a hopeless case! Hopeless..."
He looked at me and then blushed darkly, seeming unable to stop the torrent of words coming out of his mouth.
And I, in all honesty...I was a little turned on. Harry Potter was babbling. Talking nonsense, waffling, he had foot-in-mouth disease – whatever you wanted to call it, Harry was blathering. Because of me, he didn't know what to say.
That was what gave me the confidence to smile.
"No wonder you suck at Potions Potter if you can't even skim a stone. Maybe we'll take it from here."
Harry looked relieved, his shoulders relaxing out of their hunched position. He even shot me a smile back which in turn went straight to my head.
"Great! I mean, um, fine. If you want to...?"
I don't think my smile could get any wider if it tried. Oh Merlin what had I done to deserve a moment like this? Oh wait, I know. Only been ridiculed and embarrassed by the whole school since my awful 'coming out'. This was justice well served.
"Not that one," I said quickly, as Harry reached for a heavy grey stone by his feet. It was sleek and beautiful and overall sickeningly perfect, as far as stones went. "That's the wrong stone."
"I didn't know there was a 'right' stone."
"Well then, that's where you've been going wrong, isn't it?" I said, putting a note of exasperation into my voice. "You're obviously not good at choosing things." Like stones.
"Think of the stones as being like potion ingredients," I said suddenly, trying to make him understand. "You wouldn't just pick up an ingredient at random and chuck it in would you?"
I had meant the question to be rhetorical, but Harry still shrugged.
"Well which one would you choose?" He brushed hair out of his eyes – I doubted his hair even knew what a comb was – and looked at me with a hint of challenge, if truth be known. "They all look the same! And there's not exactly a recipe of this sort of thing you know."
"That's like saying all ingredients look the same."
"Well they do! It's all just powdered this and chopped root of that. Choose me a stone Malfoy."
I believed I was beginning to understand Harry's low marks in Potions.
Other than his complete abuse of my potions metaphor, I could definitely get used to this. Our banter, which had before quickly led to wands drawn and punches thrown, had somehow mutated into this. This easy, sarcastic friendly stuff. I wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought it would be.
I dropped a stone into his hand and brushed my fingers over his palm, holding my breath. We may be alright talking, but small physical touches might be pushing the boundaries of our temporary camaraderie.
He shivered and whipped his hand back, clutching at the stone, flushing a minute amount. This was more than great, this was amazing. How had this even happened?
There is no perfect way to woo somebody – it happens through the little things. A lingering touch, a heated look, a sense of humour...Pansy was a fucking genius. Who knew that all this 'just be you' stuff actually worked?
"Right so now..." he weighed the stone in his hand and then made a quick motion as if to throw it. He even held his other hand up to his eyes and whistled, pretending to watch his imaginary master throw. He then turned to me and grinned, hiding the stone behind his back. "Did you see that? Nine skips at least!" He gave me the thumbs up and went back to tossing the stone between his two hands.
I could not stop the feelings of delight that were consuming me. Harry was weird and funny and yet miraculously still sexy. Who else except Potter would be able to string the three of those together? If I had had any doubt before about wanting him, they were blown into extinction.
"Yeah," I said, my voice wobbling a little. "That was really beautiful."
He looked up at me again from under long dark lashes.
I wondered if Harry noticed that I was standing on a slightly raised bit of bank, a good few inches above his own, so we were eye to eye. If he did he was tactful enough not to mention it.
"Now will you show me yours?" He asked politely, motioning towards the lake.
"Huh?" Look, I couldn't help my lack of manners ok? My mind was a mess of innuendos and fluff. "Show you my what?"
He laughed lightly, a sound that touched both his eyes and my groin. "Your skimming prowess. But I'd be delighted to see anything else," he looked me boldly up and down, "you have to show me."
My facial muscles froze into a look of stunned surprise.
Was Potter...flirting...with me?
I held his gaze for as long as I could bear before coughing and looking away. "Alright Potter. I'll show you my..." Another cough, slightly more embarrassed this time. "I'll show you."
Yes, I could have jumped him. Maybe I should have done. When he demanded what the hell I thought I was doing I could say he was leading me on with the seductive tone and that look. But I wouldn't of course, because people don't do that to the people they...
I picked up a stone and weighed it in my hand. Anxiously. It was time to either sink or skim.
To my surprise, it was a perfect throw, at least ten jumps before disappearing below the surface. I let out a breath and smiled before I could help it. I turned to Potter, fully intending to flaunt my stone throwing victory...
...Only to find him smiling just as heartily as I was, with those dimples of his on full display. Damn.
"That was a really good throw Malfoy." Not even a hint of sarcasm or a sneer in his voice, just plain and unambiguous openness. His voice was doing funny things to my insides. "Teach me?"
I didn't move, just looked at him. "Teach you. Right."
His grin stretched a little wider. "Yep. Much more useful than Potions is ever going to be, I'm sure. So...you coming down from the bank now?"
I wasn't sure if I was more offended by the disparaging remark about Potions or the fact that he knew of my ledge. Huffing, I hopped down onto the lower bank where Harry stood. I scowled as the height difference immediately reasserted itself, which meant I had to tilt my head up slightly to look him in the eyes. Why did the balance always tilt in his favour?
I gave him a flat white stone brusquely, making sure not to touch him this time. I wasn't sure I liked the way things were panning out now. Harry was looking so happy and self-assured that it made me feel uneasy and inadequate.
"You throw it in the water." Idiot.
Harry raised his right arm as if to throw a quaffle at someone.
"Not over arm Potter, Merlin."
Harry gave me a raised eyebrow. It wasn't the sardonic gesture that I often used, but more of a questioning 'so-why-are-you-still-standing-there' way. A way that expected some active participation on my end.
I crept up behind him, half reverent, half terrified. I leant close enough to his back to reach his hand, but not near enough for my pelvis to touch his back. It was awkward but not nearly as awkward as the alternative situation would have been.
"You just..." I brought his hand back to the right angle and couldn't help rubbing my thumb along his knuckles. "You just have to make sure the angle is right, that's all."
I swung our hands around hard, sending the small grey stone sailing into the water. It jumped three times before sinking, which wasn't too bad for a two person skim.
"See?" I said, whipping my hand back as soon as possible and tucking it safely into the pocket of my jeans. "It's easy."
Even I could see that his next throw, without my assisting arm, was awful. It sunk on contact with the water and was whipped out of sight immediately. Harry huffed when he caught sight of my small smirk. "That was a perfect shot before you say anything. It was just the stone. It was a bad stone."
I poured all my disbelief into a cough. "Maybe you just can't get by without me."
Harry just stood there, watching me. His fingers were tucked into the sleeves of his jacket like he was cold or...awkward. But that was a stupid thought. I was the one out of my depth here, not perfect Potter.
"So, no hiccups today then?" He asked uncomfortably, an obvious subject change. He still attempted a smile though, like this was a private joke we shared.
"What? I don't – oh." I had had hiccups yesterday right after the crazy bit of hand holding and date arranging. Because far be it from Harry to forget any of my more embarrassing traits. "No, I'm all hiccupped out."
Hiccupped out? Hiccupped out? My inner Pansy despaired.
"Good to see." He grinned. "Oh and I brought you something."
Something in my expression must have tipped him off to how confused I was. Confused and hopeful.
"Nothing to get excited about!" He said hurriedly, eyes widening slightly. "It's not...well, it's only silly. You'll probably laugh."
Suddenly, I didn't care if it was silly. I didn't care if Potter's idea of a nice gift was a piece of driftwood or an elaborate poem. Just that he had thought of me, of something I might appreciate or like or...whatever. It made me feel...like I wanted to shag him.
The alarm bells went crazy in my head. Do not think about things like that, ever. He held your hand but that's not a green light to thinking about things like that.
I remembered before he got here and the nervous-embarrassed poses I had tried out. It wasn't so impossible that we wouldn't...and the lake was such a romantic place to...maybe if I played my cards right, we might...
"What is it?" I asked, pushing the illicit thoughts back and a dazzling smile forwards. It was only when Harry looked slightly blind sighted that I realised I had never smiled so widely at him. Go slowly Draco. "I mean...can I see?"
Harry gave me a shy look and then led us both up the bank to where our bags lay. A white cardboard box had been placed carefully next to Harry's things. He gave me a small wave to open it.
My fingers trembled slightly as I opened the lid and peered inside.
Harry's defensive side suddenly reared after a few moments of silence. "Oh God, do you not remember? If you don't this is going to make me look so weird –" He pushed fingers through his hair, making it look even messier than usual. "Yesterday when we were arranging where to meet and you said 'cake' instead of 'lake' by accident? And you looked so cute and embarrassed and I just thought – as we'd be working for a few hours on Potions and all and I saw you missed dinner –"
He saw I'd missed dinner?
"Forget it, I'll get rid of it, I just –"
"No, I want –"
"Let go, I'm going to chuck it –"
"Potter! I want the damn cake alright?" That shut him up. "I remember the conversation. And...this is really nice. Thank you."
Now he really did look shocked.
I clenched my hands together. "Oh don't go all Gryffindor on me," I said, trying to restore a bit of normality to proceedings. "Its good that we're friends enough to do stuff like this. It's Christmas soon you know."
Harry suddenly looked like I'd splashed him with water.
"Friends," he repeated, giving me a quick smile. "Yes friends give gifts." A muscle in his cheek was twitching a little too now I thought about it. He looked put out but before the emotion could stick, it was replaced by one of...panic? Nervous about something. His hand was sneaking into the cake box.
"Hey!" I batted his hand away and he froze with only his fingers inside the rim. "I thought this was for me?" I smiled into his hesitant face. It's not every day the guy you're crushing on brings you chocolate cake just because he can. My smile slipped when he looked genuinely alarmed. "Relax Potter, I'm joking. You got a fork?"
To my surprise, he pulled one out of his bag, looking sheepish. "Thought you might want one."
"Your generosity knows no bounds does it Potter?"
As I leaned over the box, about to get a good look at what I was plunging my fork into, Harry's eyes grew huge and he threw up a finger to point at something behind me. "Oh – er-look, what's that?"
Feeling self conscious with Harry's eyes trained on whatever was behind me, I turned around slowly.
There was nothing there.
"What am I meant to be looking at Potter?" I made to turn back towards him but he made a noise of protest.
"Just look! Don't you see it?" He was either trying to make me look like an idiot or he was insane.
There was a rustling behind me, like paper being folded and I span back round to look at Harry. He had both hands behind his back and smiling like an angel. The cake box had moved a few inches. Harry was an entirely too innocent to be an angel.
"There was...there was a...wait, have you ever seen anyone die?"
This was the weirdest first unofficial date the world had ever seen.
"Well no, but what does –"
"It was a Thestral," said Harry confidently. "Just a Thestral. Nothing to worry about."
"Right." Except now I was worrying. Not because I was afraid of Thestrals, but because I had just remembered the time when uncle Filius died in his food four Christmases ago. So I could see Thestrals. And there were definitely no Thestrals to see.
"Are you sure you saw a – mmph!"
Potter had quickly placed a forkful of cake into my mouth. Merlin help me, I was head over heels for an absolute basket case of a person.
"This isn't drugged is it?" I mumbled, holding a hand up to my mouth so he wouldn't see me eating and talking.
The look I got in return of the question was answer enough. "Is it good?" He asked levelly.
"Yeah," I said, because it was. "Try some," I blurted, holding the fork out. He accepted it readily, taking a bite and handing it back to me. I watched him chew, feeling a little happier. Wait until Pansy heard of the fork sharing, cake eating, thing we had going on! I'd leave out the imaginary Thestral part of course.
I had to say it, as it was all I could think of. "You're so much weirder than I thought Potter."
He swallowed the cake and looked at me with an expression I couldn't place. "Everyone needs a weird friend though right?" Did he place a bitter inflection on 'friend'? Maybe my ears were playing me up.
I snorted at his actual words. If only he actually knew Pansy and Blaise like I did! "I've got enough of those to last me a lifetime. But it's ok Har-Potter. I wasn't saying you were weird in a bad way, just..." In an absolutely good way. So interestingly flawed – and the very person I just so happened to fancy the pants off.
"Well anyway. Shall we start some potions?" I asked politely, watching as his expression plummeted down again from the cake-induced-bliss it had been at a few moments ago. "Come on, get out your stuff."
He did, as slowly and reluctantly as I had ever seen anyone do.
"Right then." I sat cross legged while Harry sprawled next to me, the books a nice little barrier between us. "Let's begin."
Harry's expression said quite clearly 'do we have to?'
As delighted as I was that Harry Potter would rather sit around skimming stones, eating cake and making me look at things that weren't there with me than anything else, I sobered myself up.
"Alright. What level would you say you are in Potions at the moment Potter?"
He looked at me confusedly, and I had to bite my tongue harshly. No distractions Draco, keep focused.
"You mean on a scale of one to ten?"
I rolled my eyes, a heartbeat away from laughing. "As in, what grades are you getting in our assignments? Acceptable? Poor?" There was a mumbled response that I had to ask for again. "What?"
"I said D. Dreadful. I am Dreadful at Potions." He looked up at me from where he had been tearing out shoots of grass. "I'm probably the worst Potion maker you'll ever meet."
"I think I'll be the judge of that thanks. You're in safe hands Potter, I'm an awesome teacher. And do you think part of it's because Sev doesn't like you?"
"Merlin please don't call him that. And Snape hating me doesn't help matters I guess but..." he shrugged. "I just don't get any of it."
"Alright then." Message received: Potter really was as hopeless at Potions as I had feared. "Let's start from the beginning shall we?" The look of relief that crossed Harry's face made me cringe. Had he really expected me to tease him? After everything that had happened between us recently?
"Without looking in the book, tell me the three most common ingredients used in advanced potion making."
Harry looked caught off guard. "Well there's rats tails...right? Oh and we use monkwood a lot..." I nodded encouragingly, even though rat tails was a wrong answer. "And Venomous Tentacula leaves?"
I contemplated smacking myself on the forehead. But hey, nobody said this would be an easy task. Harry had probably felt the same way when teaching me defence.
"Here's how this is going to work Potter," I said, enjoying the way he perked up now the questioning had stopped. "You are going to listen to everything I say with rapt attention, not the half daydreaming expression you usually wear in class. I'm going to test you on basic Potions knowledge first then we'll move on to stirring patterns and the different equipment used when brewing. Next we'll begin doing NEWT practise papers and finish by brewing something for real."
I enlarged the practise cauldron I had brought out with me to its full size and then picked up the nearest Potions book. Harry's eyes were huge.
"If you do well, there'll be a reward."
"And if I don't?"
I reached across and patted his hand encouragingly. "Then you will feel the brunt of my rage." I thought of all the ways that I could punish the gorgeous Gryffindor boy. "I'm sure I'll think of something."
"And if you add all the separate components together in a different order to the original book recipe – like we just did a moment ago Potter – you can see that you have the base for a blood replenishing potion and not a blood clotting one."
"Yes but why?" Harry's brow was furrowed and two fingers were massaging his temples. "It says here that you shouldn't change any of the amounts."
I wasn't exactly sure which of us had moved or when, but at some point we had shifted closer together. Harry's thigh was gently touching my own from butt to knee, my dark jeans to his light ones. I leant across him briefly to grab his text book.
Sighing, I inked a huge line through one of the paragraphs. "This," I said stiffly, "is wrong. It's put in there to confuse you."
"Got it." Gently pulling the book onto his own lap, Harry wrote BULLSHIT along the margin. "Anything else?"
I spent a while highlighting and crossing out sentences of his book, adding a few annotations. There was something glorious about leaving my mark on Harry's things, knowing that his knowledge was a reflection of my knowledge.
"Why do they make it so bloody confusing?" Harry asked suddenly, laying down and tucking his hands behind his head. "It's like they want me to fail. You should be a teacher, Malfoy. You're really good at explaining stuff."
"Am I?" It didn't matter if my expression was sardonic because he couldn't see it.
"Yeah," he chuckled, and I saw his legs cross contentedly. "With you there's just no bullshit, you know? You tell it how it is, not how you think it should be."
To be honest I was much more interested in the strong clear lines of his legs in those trousers than I was on Potions – something I could not often say. My eyes kept flicking of their own accord to any part of Harry I could see; at the moment, his ankle, lower leg and knee. Maybe that was the reason he had lain back, to stop me ogling his eyelids, his ears, and chin. What was worse, I couldn't shift my position to look again without it being completely obvious.
"Your...your annotations are atrocious," I said gruffly, tearing my eyes from his badly tied shoelaces. "What does 'AH' stand for anyway? Add Hog liver?"
Harry sniggered, and the one hand I could see in my peripheral vision began picking at the grass. "It means 'Ask Hermione.'"
To my amusement, I noticed it was next to almost everything.
"And HWR? Surely that should be HWC, Handle With Care Potter." It apparently meant Handle Without Ron – Weasley being the main ingredient of Harry's bad potion-making skills.
Settling down into a more comfortable sitting position, I flipped idly through Harry's book, decoding the terrible handwriting. 'Turn down heat(?)' took at least ten minutes, and after snapping at me that there was no need to turn it upside down, the hand picking grass stopped and Harry lay quietly.
I crossed out most of what I found, including the stupid 'I hate Snape' scribbles and unintelligible notes such as 'Add red stuff with gold bits. No water. Maybe stir. Blue? Spiders. AH!' I loaded up the quill and wrote in my neatest script, Add in the red Gillywing feathers (with green flecks, not gold you idiot) and stir eight times clockwise, twice anti-clockwise until a light turquoise. Add in the crushed spiders, three at a time until potion simmers.
On the hiccupping solution, I crossed out the useless scribble 'This potion preventing hiccups' so hard that the page almost tore. Harry may be friendly, sexy and heroic, but one word that couldn't be used with him was concise.
I turned onto the Muscle Strengthening Elixir, the topic of our last lesson together, planning to write in a few suggestions. To my surprise, the entire page was filled with Harry's small scruffy lettering, almost covering the recipe. Sneaking a glance at Potter (who now had his eyes shut and was breathing deeply) I began to read.
He's sitting with Neville! Looks a bit tired and edgy. Wonder – has he a hangover? Neville just made him laugh. He looks good laughing, like he's younger or something. Wonder what they're saying.
My breath caught. Ok, Harry was really bad at writing but – most importantly – he was writing about me. Me and Longbottom apparently. My fingers curled instinctively around the book.
Wish I was better at Potions. Wish Snape would stop glaring. Can't stop yawning! Keep remembering last night. Can still see the heart round his eye...Looks cute. Malfoy, not Snape.
Something was, very slowly and horribly, clicking into place.
Wish he would stop ignoring me. Look over here Malfoy! LOOK OVER HERE. I thought he was supposed to like me - shouldn't he be looking?
Oh. My. Merlin.
Wish I hadn't gone to bed at stupid-o'clock now. Was worth it though. Slytherins are fun drunks.
And there it was, that horrible realisation.
The drinking, the lipstick, and the uncontrollable giggling. Me kissing Blaise, me admitting how much I liked Harry Potter. Oh my God. Bloody Merlin! HE WAS THERE. LISTENING! Something painful seemed to lodge in my throat. It was all coming together in my mind now.
Harry had an invisibility cloak. The door had opened. There had been noises –
He had been there for the duration of my overly emotional stint. Had he seen me cry? Please God let him have come after that little episode! This was the end of my life.
And yet...he hadn't said a word about it to anyone. If he had, the whole school would be buzzing with it by now. So he had just...what? Kept it to himself?
Not being sure if I could speak, I tried anyway.
"Are you awake...Potter?"
There were no signs of life, except a twitching eyelid. Harry wasn't listening.
How could he look like that while he slept? His hair fanned out like a dark halo and the way his arms folded behind his head only emphasised his biceps. But none of that mattered as I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about what a cunning little bastard he was. Sneaking into other people's dorm rooms? Who does that?
"And if we take Brillo's anti-clockwise theory to be true..." I tried experimentally. Usually when Harry found something dull his nostrils would flare. I took the non-flare to mean he was asleep. To be honest I could barely concentrate on what I was saying, no wonder Harry couldn't. I felt an unpleasant jolt go through me. Had he gone to sleep because I was boring him? Or because he'd been busy spying on someone else last night?
"And if I wanted to make a potion to improve concentration, I would take off all my clothes and dance in a circle."
No movement. Not even a quiver.
"After stirring in the sheep's heart I would cover myself in leaves and chocolate and take the virtue of a handsome young man."
Still. Bloody. Sleeping.
How was this even happening? I had thought that any Gryffindor would want to keep an eye on me when around potion ingredients. Stupid spying Gryffindors.
"Are you really asleep?" I asked sharply, giving him an annoyed look. Maybe the reason Harry hadn't been asking obvious questions and mumbling was that he was actually dead or something. I poked his leg with the end of my quill.
He didn't say anything, which I took rather personally.
"Potter! Wake up right now or I'm going to..." What, tickle him? This wasn't Pansy or Blaise I was dealing with here. "Well, you're not going to like it, whatever it is."
He was awake now, I knew it. His eyelids flickered but remained shut and pink lips had curved upwards with the dimples that appeared for my own private viewing. He gave a very unconvincing snore.
I let out a laugh before I could quite clamp down on it. This was the boy who broke into Slytherin, remember? Inner-Draco insisted. Why are you forgiving him so easily?
I paused to consider, even as Harry continued to fake-snore.
Maybe I was forgiving him because, deep down, I knew he wouldn't have done it for any cruel reason. Anyone who could lay by the lake with his ex-enemy, eating cake and pretending to snore couldn't be that bad. Even if I didn't know why he'd watched me, neither of us could change the fact that he had.
But, knowing him, it was probably for some kind of obscene moral Gryffindor thing. Maybe one day, I would make him tell me. But not right now.
Silently, I marvelled at myself. Forgiveness already? Harry was such a good influence on me.
I allowed a small smile to light my face as I considered the boy before me. He was an absolute nutcase. Helpfully, I happen to like nuts.
The snoring picked up a notch and my heart warmed. "You are an idiot, you know that right? This is your last chance."
Another smile, slightly wider than the last. Followed by a challenging snore.
Well, what else could I do? It was fully justified. I lifted up his shirt and pressed both of my ice cold palms to his stomach.
It was worth it for the wide eyed yelp of alarm it got.
"Ha! Awake now?"
Now would be a good time to remove my hands. Yes, now...now. Except it's kind of hard to think about anything when your breath has been taken away in excitement. And mine was. There was utterly no air in my lungs at all.
"Your – your hands are so cold," he said quickly, offering a hearty grin. He didn't move away from said cold hands though, just lay there, propped on his elbows with his t-shirt now scrunched up around his ribs. He looked so beautiful.
"Yeah, people keep telling me that." Of course by 'people' I meant Potter. I had not put my hands on anyone else in a very long time. I didn't think I'd ever want to touch anyone else's skin again anyway – Harry's was like a drug.
"Mmm?" I muttered, my eyes wandering leisurely over his perfect face. I was wrapped in the desire to reach out a little further and run my lips along his cheek, kiss the tip of his nose, lick his –
"Your hands are, um, still there."
Not only were my hands still there, but sliding higher and higher to bump over each of his individual ribs with the pads of my fingers.
"Sorry!" I pulled my hands back as if burnt, cradling them to my chest. I was such a pervert! Feeling up Harry Potter's stomach? Who did that?
"No!" he grabbed at one of my hands before quickly letting go again, blushing. "I don't mind them being there! It's just...they really were very cold Draco."
I didn't look at him, instead looking at my own hands in disbelief.
Maybe it was the mention of my first name on his tongue, maybe it was the admission that he didn't mind me groping his midsection. Whatever it was, it had caused my heart to doubled in size. My throat was dry, my fingers tingling, emotions wobbling.
I managed a curt nod before getting a hold of myself. "By the way, you're not a very good actor Potter."
He looked relieved, pleased, and just like...Harry. My weirdly inflated heart did a tap-dance even as he stuck his tongue out. "You're the one who asked if I was asleep! And I wasn't by the way. I was just listening with my eyes closed. The sound of your quill scratching is very..." He picked at the corners of his sleeves and left the end of his sentence hanging.
Was very what? Hypnotising? Beautiful? Erotic?
"Yes?" I said, hopefully.
He blushed. "I can't think of a metaphor for it."
"Oh." Well, having just seen firsthand evidence that Harry's talent for words and writing were at a shocking standard, I wasn't offended.
"But I was listening to all that stuff about the Mandrake leaves," he said earnestly. "Seriously, I was. You put it across so much better than Snape does. I think I might have understood about a third of everything you said." I glared at him. "Alright, call it half."
I squeezed my hands together tightly to disguise how much I really wanted to put them back to Harry's chest.
"Did you get the part about the vapours?"
"You can tell how toxic a potion is by the size of the steam...or something." He nudged his glasses up his nose and pulled an adorably confused expression.
"And the rules about temperature?"
"Never add any crushed, mashed or ground ingredients to a potion exceeding 90 degrees because it will explode – like last week. Honestly, if Snape had just told us this, there would be a lot less catastrophes happening from Ron's and mine side of the classroom."
I rolled my eyes at him. "He expects us all to know by now Potter. This is NEWT level, you should be studying about an hour a night anyway." Instead of spending your nights spying on Slytherin drinking sessions.
"I do work an hour a night!"
"Not last minute homework, I mean revision. An hour of potions every day would see you right." His expression told me I was crazy. "Ok, well maybe just half an hour for you Potter."
"Yeah, and that would last for about, what, a day? The only reason I'm studying now is because you're here with me."
I swallowed, taking a gamble. "Well maybe we should do it together in the library." What had possessed me to ask...if we should 'Do it'? Do it in the library. Such a shameless innuendo. "I meant –"
"Like a date?"
I took a moment to look at his face. It was utterly calm, though there was a hidden emotion betrayed through his eyes. Merlin I loved those eyes.
What would happen if I said yes? One of two things. He would (in an ideal world) grin, pull me into a kiss and take it from there. Our own happily ever after. But the other option was a slap, no more Harry, the assertion that he had been joking and of course it wasn't a date.
Why was my neck always on the line with this perilous relationship?
"Of course not," I asserted, shoving my own damned regret back into its tiny box. "I don't think Weaselette would like that very much would she? No, I meant as friends."
What a heart-breaking word it was.
"Friends. Right." Harry seemed to think so too, with his eyes downcast again. How did I keep managing to upset him? I wasn't even aware of what I'd done this time. I was ruining my not-a-date date without even realising it.
"You ok Potter?"
He looked up with a small reassuring smile. "Yep, I'm fine."
I decided to take a risk. Praying that Pansy would forgive me if this went wrong, I leant forwards and settled for a puzzled expression. "You don't look fine to me. I'm not convinced."
A sideways glance and a little sniff. "I can't help it if you don't believe me." But – no – I didn't want him thinking I didn't trust him! Harry brought me out of this panic with his next words. "How am I supposed to prove it?" Because there he was, there was the Potter I knew and lo–
It was the Potter who was always up for a challenge, always ready to prove himself. Of course that also sounded a lot like me, but...
"Use your initiative Potter." I said it even though I don't think that I knew what I was hoping for now. What, that he would do a cartwheel? Sing a song? But there was a spark of challenge in his eyes that I couldn't resist. A little bit of 'I'll show you'.
"Ok Malfoy. Watch this." He leant towards me...And kept leaning.
We were...getting a bit...close.
And then I couldn't watch because when exactly did my eyes close?
"Malfoy," he said lightly and I made a little affirmative noise in my throat. Any second now and he would say – "Can I borrow that spoon?"
"Mmm yes – what?" The 'what' that came out was rather quiet in comparison to the one in my head. Mental Draco actually said WHAT? WHY DO YOU WANT A SPOON? Unless it was for some strange illicit activity, then –
"You'll see. Give it over."
I did, but with mental Draco grumbling the whole time. Was he cracking up? Was I?
Harry rubbed the end of the small cake spoon on the bottom of my jacket, trying to clean it. That got a raised eyebrow from me and the silent question of 'what the hell?' Looking at me with a look that in some countries must be illegal, he breathed hard on the spoon. My eyes dilated. They became even wider when he proceeded to the rub the spoon hard on his nose. To hell with the Pureblood decorum, I was goggling at him. He repeated the breath, rub, breath and rub a few more times.
Finally, with a significant look in my direction, he took both hands off the spoon and left it there, hanging on the tip of his perfect nose, waiting. For my own reaction or the world to implode, whichever came first.
Before I could stop myself, my face seemed to break down the middle and I threw a cuff over my mouth in embarrassment. My brain had somehow translated 'weird muggle spoon trick' into 'funniest thing I've ever seen'. After a moment of panic, I realised that there was no stopping the laugh. It seemed that Harry scribbled wish He should laugh more, was coming true. It was just unfortunate that I was laughing the weirdest laugh the world had ever seen. It was a gasping, open mouth, lean forwards laugh which I might just die of.
Where was this even coming from? I never laughed like that and yet now I was crying with it, my eyes wet and dribbling down my cheeks.
"Are you ok?" was the half worried, half amused question from Harry. He had reached out a hand to me, like I was in some serious trouble. No, what was I saying, I was in serious trouble. And while the sensible, Pureblood, Malfoy version of me fought to say yes, I'm fine Potter the stupid immature I'm-crushing-on-Harry-Potter part noticed that the spoon wobbled when he asked the question.
And then I was snorting like only Pansy knew I was capable of and the shame was making my entire body go red, not just my face.
I tried to speak but I couldn't. All that came out was a gasping "Oh...Merlin."
It occurred to me, even as I tried to muffle as much of the sound as possible with my hands, that somewhere along the line Harry had started to laugh too.
And even if I didn't know why this was the funniest moment of my life somehow it was, and the spoon had fallen off his nose and we were leaning against each other like idiots and I was jealous of Harry's nice normal laugh and –
He had manoeuvred our weird sitting position that somehow our knees were jammed together. I liked up-close-laughing Harry more than any other version I had encountered. And I did like the Harry that leaned on me too.
His hair, as soft as I remembered it being from the defence lesson, was on my neck. His shoulders, as broad as I remember feeling them in our hug, were juxtaposition to my own smaller ones. The laughter was fading out now but he hadn't moved away – even if he had I probably would have dragged him back. This was surely the nicest seating arrangement in the world.
We were close. As close as we'd been in the Charms corridor when I'd kissed him, as close as we'd been in the Potions cupboard when he'd been right behind me, as solid and present and there as he had been in our defence lesson.
He was so close, I noticed a moment later, that I could feel his breath against my face. It was warm and sweet and Harry. My eyes flicked down to his lips and then quickly up again because he was watching me. I blushed, letting the colour slowly fill up my face.
He was still smiling. "Well, the secret is out now isn't it?" he said, nudging me playfully with a shoulder. I looked at him nonplussed. "Mr Big Bad Slytherin snorts when he laughs." He didn't look mean as he said it which was probably the only thing that kept me from hitting him.
"That wasn't me," I tried pointlessly. "I think that was you."
He laughed and the motion shook me as well. "Nice try."
"Look, it's not all the time," I defended, feeling the burning need to justify myself. "It almost never happens – it was just that stupid spoon. It got to me."
"The spoon, was it?"
"Yes. I just find spoons really...amusing." I frowned at myself after I said it. What was worse, having Harry think I liked spoons or I liked him?
Regretfully, Harry started laughing again and moved out of our side-to-side position in favour of sitting cross legged in front of me. I wished he wouldn't. My face was much too expressive for comfort.
"God you make me laugh." He was looking at me like I'd just given him permission to smile after years of telling him to be miserable. Actually, that pretty much was how our relationship had panned out.
But I made him laugh? I had never been especially funny that I knew of. Witty perhaps, in a dry and sarcastic way, but this was surely a good thing? He looked good when he laughed. Unless it was at me instead of with me, then everything once again sucked. The way he said it however made me take it as a compliment.
"I'm glad," I told him sincerely. "You should laugh more. It suits you."
Before I could comprehend what was happening (though it happened quite slowly), a calloused hand had slid into my own pale one. I had to physically stop myself from shutting my eyes – Merlin knew I wanted to see where this was going.
"Draco Malfoy," he said, with a voice like one would use with...someone they cared about. A lover, my mind instantly replied. No, don't think like that. He's just a friend. A friend who's touching your hand. Right.
"You are so...odd."
It was probably obvious from my pained facial expression because the hand that had been gently cradling my own now gripped tightly. Well, if he had no problem with pawing my hand, I didn't see why I should feel awkward. Hesitantly I let my other hand fall upon his knee. And left it there until he got the hint and held that one too.
"I meant what I just said," he said warmly, slowly running his thumb down my knuckles. "You make me laugh like I can't remember laughing in a long time. And you're smart, and beautiful."
He stopped and I realised that yes; that weird strangling sound was coming from my throat. Shut up! I begged myself. I want to hear the rest!
"Keep going," I managed to say, though my voice came out horribly croaky. This was surreal. Potter thought I was funny? And intelligent? And good-looking? When, in between the fighting and the denial and the whole school hating me, had that happened?
"You're a good person," he said, and the finger stroking seemed to turn up a gear into a definitely 'real' feeling. "Though you pretend not be. Why is that?"
Despite the fact that the answer was one of the most obvious I've ever heard, I humoured him. Taking one of the conjoined hands that was still resting on his knees – his knees! – I used it to gesture to myself pointedly. "Slytherin." That one whispered word seemed to encompass everything that needed saying.
"And I'm a naive and sentimental Gryffindor I suppose?"
I swallowed once. Swallowed twice. The lump in my throat wasn't going away anytime soon.
"Potter. I can't think straight."
"Is that a euphemism?"
Because I wasn't straight. Ha ha. "No but it's just a little hard to think right now."
He did move his hand at last from its clinging position of my hand to a slightly softer stroking position on my knuckles. "I think I'm getting a similar thing myself." He was? "But thinking's overrated."
"What are you saying?" I said, probably breaking any type of mood we had going on between us. But it didn't matter because I just couldn't stand the ambiguity anymore. No more double meanings or mysterious touches, I wanted to know and know for sure.
"I'm saying what you think I'm saying. I think." He looked excited. And nervous. About to burst.
"Which is what?" I pressed.
There was a heated pause, and before I had a chance to say 'what' again with irritation, he had pulled me towards him using our joined hands. I went stumbling into his chest and –
On the mouth.
And it was definitely not an accidental brushing of lips. This was the real deal – holding hands, eyes shut, heavy breathing... He kissed me!
Even as my brain melted out through my ears at the sheer unexpectedness of it, all my body seemed capable of was blinking and breathing heavily through my nose. Harry's eyes were clamped shut, I noted, as was his mouth. Warm chapped lips that were utterly soft and dry. And pressing against mine.
Move your lips! Inner Draco implored me. Open your mouth! DO SOMETHING.
Harry's eyes were fluttering open, displaying an unhealthy amount of fear in their green depths. His hands were slackening on mine and I could almost predict the runner he was undoubtedly planning.
And then the lips I had been craving for weeks left mine. Moved away. "Fuck I'm Sorry Mal-"
It was hearing the first syllable of my surname that spurred me into action. Which, thank fuck, is when all the self preservation fell right back into place. Grabbing the Gryffindor idiot by the back of the neck I all but threw myself at him, inadvertently smacking our heads together. But it was ok because he could say anything more that "Fucking ow-!" I'd found his lips and they were slick with his own saliva and now mine.
If this was my only chance to kiss Harry Potter, I might as well do it right. See, if you think about it like that then it totally made sense that I clambered into his lap and wrapped my legs around his waist. Oh, and snogged the life out of him. It may have looked a little desperate, but hey, I'm not one for labels.
I nibbled his bottom lip, stroked all his teeth with my tongue, placed soft biting kisses all along his jaw and drew patterns across his cheeks with the tip of my nose.
And even though I was squeezing the life out of him with a bear-like grip, I wanted to be closer to him. Inside him a tiny voice in my brain supplied. I choked on the thought, the idea of it similar to a mental slap. But somehow 'inside him' didn't look as impossible as it once had if the way Harry was responding was any indication.
My hands couldn't resist fisting in his hair, tracing the curve of his ears, his neck, his shoulders. Harry's hands seemed to have the opposite idea and were ghosting over my calves, knees, and – I swallowed back the fear – my thighs which were still secured around his waist.
Harry gasped as my tongue stroked his, dancing over it lazily, crazily, touching every part of him. After an eternity of frantic kissing, practical and verbal Draco resurfaced.
"Do you really – Potter – Is this really –"
"Keep kissing me," Harry panted, rubbing circles into my inner thigh, making it burn with desire. "No more talking, just kissing –" Harry Potter wanted more of my kisses. That is my defence for having no thoughts.
I let go of his hair for favour of clutching at his face a little desperately, trying to get more heat, more wetness, more Harry. He was the best thing I had ever tasted, the warmest, loveliest, and most gorgeous person I had ever kissed.
I wanted to smile and laugh and cry with the greatness of it all. "I've wanted...forever," I managed to pant between gasps for breath.
In between sucking on my lips and planting soft biting kisses all around my mouth, I heard a whispered "Fuck. This is so –" His lips couldn't seem to draw back from mine for more than an instant. I was glad. There was enough warmth in his mouth to last me the rest of my life.
"Amazing?" I mumbled into his mouth, which helpfully took the gasp out of the words. "Sexy? So brilliant that we should have started ages ago?"
"Ages ago?" He panted, nibbling my lip until it was almost painful. "– when?" Merlin, where had he learnt to do that?
I almost said 'the first time I met you' before remembering that we would both have been eleven, and therefore disgustingly little. "Years...ago." God that tongue. It must be dipped in truth serum. "You must know...that you've been a handsome fucker...since you were – oh – fifteen!" See?
Harry drew back unexpectedly, drawing form me an involuntary whimper. "You...wanted...in fifth year?"
Did I honestly want Potter in fifth year? I spluttered for a moment. "It's irrelevant. Less talking, more kissing Potter."
I allowed my eyes to flutter shut by themselves as Harry grinned into the kiss. Everything I'd wanted from him, was suddenly happening. I didn't want to question it but...nothing in my life had ever been this easy. Fuck, there was too much emotion in me. Kissing Harry was the best thing I had ever felt in my life and he liked it – liked me. Wanted me.
Bypassing good manners, I threw my arms around him, wrapping him in a fierce hug. My legs had already moved to sit in his lap and there was no time to be embarrassed about it. He was mine, finally mine! I buried my face in his shoulder.
"Draco," he murmured, and he was so close that the word made me shiver. I'm sure that one word was the most beautiful thing to have ever left his mouth. It was as if all his thoughts poured out into that word, filling it up until it couldn't take any more.
I closed my eyes. My breathing was too harsh, too quick, and unstoppably sappy. He had called me Draco. Like he meant it, like he wanted to say it again and again until he couldn't say it anymore.
Something had changed and snapped between us, leaving everything open and burning and raw. "Hey...Draco?"
I had never felt anything like it. "Yes Harry?" My heart was surely about to crush all my other organs, it felt so heavy.
"I broke up with Ginny."
I wrenched my face away from his neck and sat back on his lap, hands on his shoulders. "You –"
"Broke up with her, yes." He had wrapped his own arms around my back and swaying us side to side with enthusiasm. I could feel his smile now.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The Ginger Shrew, Weaselette, the little Weasley bint...was gone? Gone from Harry's life and, somehow, gone from mine?
"When?" I whispered.
"Last night. Sort of around the time that I realised you were the one in all my dreams, not her."
Oh my God.
"How did she take it?" I asked, biting my lip.
"Ah, not too well if I'm honest," Harry admitted. "I think she thought we were soul mates – or some other rubbish." He smiled and brushed a stray hair out of my eyes. "After we were done arguing and I was about to leave, she even rugby tackled me and started yelling 'Marry me Harry!'"
She did WHAT.
He had been mine for only five minutes and already I was up against a marriage proposal?
"Well that's just tacky," I said petulantly. Weaselette had proposed to him? Why the fuck would she do that? The fact that I wasn't proposing suddenly made me look very uncommitted.
"Um, Potter? You're not expecting a marriage proposal from me too are you? Because as much as I like you – " I stopped talking abruptly. "Hey stop laughing! It's not that stupid –"
"Sorry," he muttered, and pecked me on the lips. It was still weird to think that he could do something like that. "But right now things have never been better. I like you as my friend, my potions tutor and, especially, as a kissing partner. I happen to fancy the pants off you. I don't need a ring on my finger."
"Ok," I said, wondering how I had bagged such a good guy. "No ring." We sunk into another heavenly kiss. I ended it abruptly as an idea sprang into my head. "What about this then!" I scrambled off his lap and emptied out the contents of my school bag. Potions books, Herbology books, quills, ink bottles –
"Aha!" I held the tiny item aloft.
Harry gave it, and me, a look that warmed me from the inside.
"Wow...are you sure? Draco, it's too precious. That took you – what? A whole lesson to make?"
"Definitely. But it's of a very high standard."
I flipped the coin in the air and he caught it. The coin that had once been a ball of paper. He brought it briefly to his lips and winked at me, before sliding it into the breast-pocket of his shirt.
"I'm sure it is. Well then, it seems only right that you should get something too." He fished in his pocket and then proceeded to tie the stiff steel wool around my wrist. It was as Harry's fingers brushed softly over my pulse point and he made a little 'hmmm' of approval that something enormous slotted right into place.
Harry Potter, saviour of the world, the most handsome boy I had ever known, the funny, smart and strange Harry Potter...liked me.
He liked me.
"You like me," I said softly, feeling the press of desire and warmth wrap around me like a blanket.
"Yep," he confirmed, and Merlin, those dimples were making their star performance on slightly red cheeks. "Though goodness knows why." He held up the spoon I had completely forgotten about. I blushed.
"I like you too," I muttered, suddenly feeling embarrassed.
He was grinning, and though it was the best thing I had ever seen, I was self-conscious. "What?" With the hand that wasn't wrapped in Harry's, I touched my hair nervously.
"I kind of got that you liked me... what with the kissing and the touching...and this." He glanced down and my eyes followed his.
Ah, there was the inevitable embarrassment that I had been waiting for. No moment with Harry could follow without it. I was just too clumsy. I was obviously rock hard beneath the stupid fabric of the jeans, my crotch pushing into Harry's stomach. Why was I sitting on him again?
I pushed a bolder version of myself forward with a terrible effort. What did I really have to lose now anyway? He had told me the unbelievable truth that he liked me. Embarrassing things could happen without me worrying as much.
"Well what are you going to do about it Potter?"
He looked taken aback for a second, then surprised, then determined.
"I'll show you," he said. And he did.
AN: Thanks for reading everybody – just one more chapter to go! I'd be interested to know what you think Harry was doing when he's talking about the non-existent Thestral... Thank you for all the reviews too, you make all the writing worth my time