All the way to the Slytherin dormitory, Harry was practically skipping he was so excited. It was only when he reached the wall that Harry started to get nervous, but by the time he was standing in front of the door into Draco's bedroom, he felt like he might throw up. He shook out his body, inhaled deeply and knocked on the door, only a courtesy because Draco was certain to be at dinner. But then there was a muffled, positive response from within – was Draco skipping meals entirely now? – and Harry walked inside.
Draco was at his wardrobe with his back to him. And he was changing. Bloody perfect.
He coughed. "Hey, Draco."
Draco came up from being bent over, all the muscles in his back tight. "Oh, are you allowed to talk to me now?" Harry winced. He deserved that.
"I—er." Harry considered asking how Draco was or something about the weather, but it all seemed too stupid now. "Ron and I have broken up."
With an open, concerned look on his face, Draco rushed to face him. "Oh, Harry, I'm so—" Draco frowned and then his expression smoothed out, unreadable except for one raised eyebrow. "What did you do?"
"What did I—?"
"Well, he must have broken it off because you never would have. He's your one true love, right?" Draco gave a sharp little smirk and went back to his mirror, unbuttoning a white sweater that hung across the glass.
Harry pushed his glasses up on his nose, pulled down his sleeves, wished there was something else for him to fiddle with. "No, er, actually, I broke up with him."
"You... what are you doing here?" Draco's voice was quiet and annoyed. He pulled the sweater down and the hanger clacked loudly.
"Well, see, I broke up with him cause I realized that I'm not in love with him." Harry swallowed a few times, resisted coughing again. "I'm in love with you." Silence followed. Draco stood perfectly still for a few seconds and then whirled around.
"You're in love with me. So you just come back? Thinking I'll be waiting, just sitting and pining, hoping you'll come rushing through that door in shining armour, here to save me from my abysmal—just disregarding that I'm dating Blaise, disregarding that you were a complete ass, a little pussy that listened to him when we said we couldn't be friends, disregarding—fuck, that we never meant anything to one another to begin with. Or you never meant anything to me. We had good sex. And a good friendship which you fucked up."
Harry's back was against the wall. Although Draco had barely moved, Harry felt as if he'd been thrown across the room. It seemed that he had to say something, but all that could come out was a pitiful, "So—you don't love me?"
Draco smiled. "Is that so hard to believe, boy wonder?"
Shaking his head, closing his eyes against the stinging air, he said, "Well, no, I—I thought—you're not eating, though. Not sleeping and—"
"Blaise does keep me up at night. And you know, I told you. Blaise is in love with Neville. Makes one disinclined to behave normally when the person one loves doesn't love one back. Even when that person isn't you."
"You're in love with Blaise." As shocked as Harry was, he felt like it fit in a way. Little things that were said, Draco's snogging Blaise that night before the holiday, things that Harry must have understood the way he wanted them to be.
"Yes, I'm in love with Blaise." Draco buttoned the sweater and wandered to his dresser, looked through his sock drawer. "Go back to Ron, Harry, I'm sure—hell, you're just obsessed with what you can't have, aren't you? A little love complex." Draco slammed the drawer closed. "Spend your entire life in love with Ron, finally get him and whoops you're in love with Draco. Don't know how to be happy, do you?"
"I guess I don't." He laughed a little.
Draco stared at him, frowning again, then rolled his eyes away. "Well, yes, go back to Ron. I'm sure hell have you and then you can find an unavailable someone else and pine over him."
"God, Draco! I'm not going back to Ron—I'm not in love with Ron! I'm going to... I don't know what I'm going to do. Wish for you for the rest of my life, I suppose. No need to switch obsessions when I still don't have you, right? I'm sorry I bothered you."
Harry reached into his shirt and found the pendent around his neck. For a moment, he thought about tearing off the chain and throwing it at Draco or at least coolly asking if he wanted it back, but he realized that he still didn't want to let it go.
It was a slow, numb walk back to Gryffindor, but his emotions exploded once he was back in the common room. He threw himself on to a chair. "He doesn't want me!"
"What happened?" Oh hell, this was sickeningly similar to what used to happen with Draco over Ron. Maybe he was obsessed with what he couldn't have. Maybe this was a kind of emotional self-mutilation because of the scars left from fighting Voldemort. Maybe he was doomed to a life alone desperately wishing for what he couldn't have.
He rubbed his hands over his face. As Harry started to speak, he realized that there was no way to explain what happened without explaining their plan for Harry to nab Ron and suddenly it all spilled out.
"Well, that's—yeah, that's the most screwed up thing I've ever heard."
"I know," Harry groaned. "It was so stupid."
Ran laughed and threw a pillow at him. "Well, obviously he did it because he's in love with you, Harry. He was in love with you from the beginning and he figured that was the only way to be with you."
Sitting up, Harry threw the pillow back. What was wrong with Ron? Obviously Harry was a selfish bastard and had misinterpreted everything and Draco only felt some residual anger towards Harry and fucking love for Blaise.
"No!" he shouted. "I told you, he said he's in love with Blaise." Then suddenly he was sobbing, gasping for breath, coughing, screaming into his arms.
"He only said that because he was mad at you for saying you couldn't be friends." Ron was sitting on the arm rest of Harry's chair now, rubbing his back. He handed him a tissue. Everyone but him had something to wipe your nose with. He blew into it with a disgusting wet nose. Ron took the sopping paper and handed him another. Harry leaned into Ron's knee.
"Which he has every right to be." Harry hiccupped. "I can't believe I listened to you. I'm such a fuck."
"No, Harry, I made it impossible for you to say no."
"That's no excuse. I'm in control of my own actions. If I was just a little more self-actualized, maybe I would have realized I was in love with Draco and said no to you and told him I loved him in the first place. Not that it would have done any good because he's not in love with me." Fresh tears and Harry roughly wiped them away. He held the tissue out to Ron and wrung the next in his hands. "It would have been the same pathetic three months, just with less sex."
"It wasn't even very good sex. Well, I hope." They laughed.
"No, it wasn't. I promise. My heart wasn't really in it, sorry. Fuck, my heart's in him! Why doesn't he love me?"
Ron took him by the shoulders and shook him. "He does!"
"He does not! Stop saying that. He was so angry."
"That's just it! Someone with no feelings for you wouldn't have been so upset that you broke off the friendship like you did."
"That's not true." Harry stood up and moved to another chair, kicking his knee forward. The resulting pain felt sort of good, like a relief from the pain inside. "I would be angry if Hermione told me we couldn't be friends because her boyfriend said so. So would you. He admitted that we had a good friendship. He cared for me like that and that's why he was angry."
"No, Harry. A friend of yours that would go through with that fucked up little scheme just so you could be with me would understand that you would do anything to stay with me."
For a moment, Harry let himself believe that Ron might be right, but images of Draco's cold, angry face pushed that thought away. "I—I'm so confused. Besides, how do you know? It's not like there's a little emotions pocket reference you could check, is there? Anyway, Draco's a very complicated person. The book might not even apply to his—I've really cocked this up completely, haven't I?"
"Yes, you have. You both have."
"What am I going to do?" Harry looked hopefully at Ron, although he didn't know what he could say. Ron seemed to be concentrated, however. Maybe he'd come up with something brilliant.
"Well. Woo him, I say. Even if he isn't in love with you now – which he is, of course – I'm sure he'll fall in love with you if you do your wooing right."
"Yes, Harry. Woo. Courtship." Ron's hands fluttered around his head, a ridiculous attempt to embody romance.
"But how do I woo him?"
"Oh no. Me giving you any more advice is just starting another sick plan. It's not going to happen."
"Right." Harry fell back down on to the chair. The last tissue from Ron was shredded in his hands. "I'll just come up with a brilliant yet straightforward plan all by myself."
"And I'll go fly for a bit. Perhaps accidentally fall off my broom and to my untimely death. Oh, stop pouting please."
Harry wiped at his mouth and did his best to smile. "Thanks for being here, Ron."
"Don't worry about it. You'll make it up to me. Just wait until I meet someone new and I throw all my sad love trials at you."
Ron walked to the door and tossed the tissues into the bin there. It struck Harry that the most intimate thing they'd ever done was Ron holding his gross snotty tissues and throwing them away for him. Well, he figured, even if Draco hated him forever, Harry had his best friend back. But he didn't want Draco to hate him forever! He moaned and fell forward. Ron sent him a sympathetic smile and the portrait closed behind him with a thud.
Harry sat for ten minutes trying to think about courting Draco, but images of grandiose bouquets of roses, red boxes of chocolate, bad poetry read on one knee, embarrassing declarations made in too-public places were all he could come up with. It all seemed too stupid, too affected to be anything meaningful. People started coming into the common room, back from dinner. Soon he was too antsy to sit still and even pacing all the way up and back down the tower was making him feel confined. He was getting hungry now too, so Harry thought a trip to the kitchens might be a good idea.
The halls felt quiet and damp. Harry walked slowly, jumbled thoughts of Draco, kissing Blaise, kissing Harry, laughing, sleeping rushing through his mind. His feelings moving from anguish to elation.
Something broke through his thoughts and Harry stopped walking. It was crying. Someone was crying... just ahead of him. Harry looked around and realized that to his right hung the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy and the crying was coming from their room.
Harry took two frantic steps forward, his first instinct to get to Draco as quickly as possible, but he stopped himself. He couldn't just go barging into the room with his arms open. It wasn't his place anymore. Maybe he could go find Blaise... no, absolutely not. Harry tiptoed to the door and leaned against the wall next to it. He let himself slip down to the floor, pulled his knees to his chest and listened. He couldn't believe he was so pathetic that just being this close to Draco was making him feel more calm and normal than he had in months.
"Why—" he heard hiccupped from the room. "Why now? Blaise—"
Harry pressed his hand against the door, closed his eyes to let his own tears fall.
"I could have loved Blaise. Could have loved someone else if you'd just—"
Harry gasped and covered his mouth with both hands. Draco was crying over him. Draco was... could have loved Blaise... didn't love Blaise. Harry stood up and grabbed the doorknob. No. Even if Draco did love him – Harry grinned almost hysterically – it still wasn't right to rush in and hold him like nothing had happened. Oh, but he sounded so miserable, like he could barely breathe.
How had Harry done this to him? He hated himself. Maybe it would be better for Draco if he just left him alone forever, never hurt him again.
Harry didn't know if he could do that, but he took the first step away from the door and hurried down to the kitchens.
"Harry Potter!" Dobby said the moment Harry walked through the door. "Dobby is so happy to see you!"
"Hello, Dobby," he said. "What was for dinner tonight?"
"Cornish pasties tonight. Harry Potter wants some?"
"And some of those potatoes and a glass of pumpkin juice and a custard tart. Thanks, Dobby."
The house-elf went about filling a plate for him and Harry sat down on a stool to wait. He looked around the kitchens and then a dark, thick pastry caught his eye. "Is that a canelé?" Dobby nodded. "That's Draco's favourite."
"That is Master Draco's favourite dessert," said Dobby.
"Can I have it too? On another plate?"
"Of course Harry Potter can."
"Actually, forget about the potatoes. I'll just grab the pasty." Harry had work to do. He put the pasty in his mouth, took the proffered canelé and plate and hurried out of the kitchens, toward Gryffindor tower.
"Hermione!" he shouted, dashing into the common room. "Do you know anything about the meanings of flowers?"
"Well, no, not—"
"I do, Harry," said Neville.
"Oh, Neville!" Harry said. "Is there a flower that means... love or... devotion or—"
Neville took him by the shoulders and pressed him down into a chair. "You need to take a deep breath and finish your dinner before you choke on it." Harry growled at him, but Neville only laughed. "Forget-me-nots mean true love." Harry made an appreciative noise. "And hyacinths are the flower of apology, if that sounds good too."
Blushing furiously, Harry asked, "Do they grow here?" through a bite of food.
"They're both out by the greenhouse. Come on, I'll help you find them." Harry led the way in a run and then Neville picked a handful of forget-me-nots and one stock of hyacinths. As Harry started to arrange the flowers around the canelé, Neville said, "This is a really good idea, Harry. I'm sure Draco will love it."
Harry grinned and bounced a few times. "And I think forget-me-nots and hyacinths smell really nice together."
Neville left and once Harry had the flowers the way he wanted them, he walked back up to their room. A few feet from the room, he whispered a heating charm over the pastry and then pushed the door open as quietly as possible.
The sun was setting. Pale pink and orange light flooded the room. Draco was asleep, curled up on one of the chairs. Harry set the plate on the table next to the couch, then went to a little table with a few sheets of parchment, a broken quill, and a well of purple ink. He wrote the first thing that came to mind (figured you might be hungry) and watched Draco for a few minutes, his hands aching to touch his hair, to kiss him, to hold him.
"I love you," he whispered and felt a kind of warmth rush through him. It was so wonderful to say it. "I love you. And I'm going to make you really happy."
Harry bent and kissed Draco's hand and then slipped out of the room before he totally woke up.
Writing his potions essay went quickly and accurately and he slept well all through the night.
When he opened his eyes in the morning, there was a rose on his pillow. He gasped. "Neville! Are you awake?"
A groan. "What? Yes, I guess. It's Saturday, Harry, why—"
"What does a pink rose mean?" Harry ran his fingers up and down the stem, dropped it on to his chest when he remembered roses came with thorns, and then picked up again delightedly because the thorns were enchanted into rubber.
"What colour pink?"
"Light pink! Oh, it's perfect. The most perfect rose." Harry stoked the petals, brought the flower to his nose.
Neville pulled open his curtains and smiled at him. "A light pink rose stands for appreciation. And happiness."
Giggles burst out from inside him and he wiggled in his blankets. "I'm going to make him so happy!" he shrieked.
Draco was leaning next to the Fat Lady when Harry left his dormitory for breakfast. He jerked forward to touch him, but he stopped himself and ended up standing too close and tugging on his shirt. It was made out of some kind of stretchy fabric and it clung to his body, short enough that an inch of Harry's tummy was exposed. Harry was really uncomfortable wearing it, but Draco had been really excited about it when they'd seen it in the store; that's why he'd bought it and that's why he was wearing it now.
"Hi, Draco," he said.
"You look good," Draco breathed, standing up straight. Harry grinned. Draco looked good too, in a white cotton shirt, soft if it was the one Harry thought it was, unbuttoned past his pecs and a long silver chain around his neck. Draco coughed. "Er. But you've made us very late to breakfast. Might as well skip it and find something to eat at Hogsmeade."
"We're going to Hogsmeade together?" Harry was bouncing again and his body was making a great effort to touch Draco again.
"If you want to." Harry nodded empathetically and Draco gave a little smile. "But, Harry, look it, I—I don't want you to think I'm just taking you back the moment you're available again. I... I'd like us to take it a little bit slow, a little bit... old fashioned. The food and flowers was incredibly sweet and it—it rather won me over, obviously. I'm quite easy. But there's more to—to a real—relationship and I just want to see how you handle it. How we both handle it. I'm all new to this, too."
"What's happened to Blaise?"
"I broke up with him. He was relieved, I think. Do you—do you supposed Neville might be interested in him at all?"
"He's never said anything. But I doubt very much Nev would turn down a date."
"Yes, well, I suppose not every relationship can start with deep, everlasting love."
"No. But they can lead to that." Harry watched as the most radiant smile he'd ever seen lit up Draco's face. "Is it going too fast to kiss you right now?"
Draco stepped forward and for some strange reason, Harry stepped back until he was pressed between the wall and Draco's body. Ah—Harry felt Draco's cock, hard and hot against his thigh—maybe that was the reason. Draco ran the tip of his nose down Harry's and across his cheek. Harry licked the skin closest to his mouth until his tongue reached Draco's lips. Then Draco's mouth was open on Harry's and it was wet sweetness perfection. Draco eventually pulled away gasping, "No, this isn't too fast."
"You taste like caramel."
"I've been ravenous ever since that canelé. I almost finished off Mum's last care package getting ready this morning." Harry's entire focus suddenly went to Draco's mouth and he ran his tongue across Draco's bottom lip. Draco whimpered. So did Harry.
"Well, good. You're too skinny." They smiled, Draco so close and so warm and so content and Harry felt the sting of tears. He wrapped his arms around Draco's neck and squeezed him. "I missed you so much. I'm so sorry I hurt us."
Draco pressed kisses into his neck. "I stared at my ceiling at night, berating myself for starting it and then I'd feel awful because you were happy and that was the point. I felt mad because we were never meant to end up together, no mater how much I'd wanted it—"
Pulling back a little to look Draco in the eye, Harry whispered, "Did you... want it from the start?"
"Wanted you, yes, and for more than some footsie in the Prefect's bathroom, but I didn't have any idea of—what I want now." Draco looked down and bit his lip.
"What do you want now?" Harry tried to angle his face so Draco would look at him again. "Do you want to know what I want? I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want us to buy a house and have a garden and drink wine in the grass and have a dog. A black lab."
A slow smile spread across Draco's face. "Do you know Mum kept black labs for the longest time. They were gone when I came home after fifth year. I'd like to have a dog again. I want us to grow jasmine."
"I want poppies." Another kiss.
"I want tall ceilings." Another and Draco stepped a little away from Harry and took both his hands in his. "We should go to breakfast anyway and invite Neville and Blaise to go to Hogsmeade with us."
Harry agreed and they went to the Great Hall to find the other boys. Neville stared at him blankly in response, then flushed and looked away. "No. No, I can't, Harry. I'd be too embarrassed."
"Why would be embarrassed?"
A half eaten scone was crumbled into little pieces in Neville's hands. "There was a rumour floating around that Blaise, er—liked me. Do you know what I mean by—yes, I'm sure you do. And so I smiled at him a bit in the halls and tried to sit closer to him during History than usual, just little things, and suddenly he never looks at me and he starts dating Malfoy! It was awful. I couldn't believe I'd gotten it so wrong. No, I can't just go to Hogsmeade with him as if nothing happened."
Harry laughed. "But he does like you, Nev!"
Neville's face lit up, but then he frowned and shook his head. "That's perfectly ridiculous."
"Why? How is that ridiculous at all?"
"Harry! He—look at him. He's beautiful and I—yeah, I've done the best with what I have, but—"
"That's ridiculous. You're very sexy."
"And you're a good friend, but—"
"I am not! I mean, I—thank you, but you're still an attractive guy. I'm sure his odd behaviour was just because he does like you so much. Just come to Hogsmeade, will you? I promise a good time."
An incredible scoff came from Neville. "You say that now but one look at Draco's ears getting pink and you're going to forget all about me and I'll have to stand there with Blaise pretending it's not awkward that you two are making out in the middle of the road."
Across the room, Draco was sitting on the table talking to Blaise and Harry smiled. Draco's ears did get pink when it was chilly and there had been three days of grey, snow-expectant sky. The air would smell fresh today. Draco's mouth would be especially warm.
"I don't get distracted by Draco all that much, Neville."
"Hah! You're stupid."
Harry kicked Neville at the shin. "Shut up. Come to Hogsmeade."
Harry had to keep this going for quite some time until Neville finally shrieked his consent, flinging his hands in the air and scone crumbs everywhere. Neville pushed his chair away from the table with a great squeak. "I have to wash my hands."
"Meet you by the door!" Harry called after him.
Harry went over to Draco who was still on the table, picking at the potatoes on the plate in front of Blaise's empty chair. He smiled when Harry came near and used his feet to pull Harry between his legs, hooking his ankles on top of Harry's arse. He accepted a piece of potato from Draco, licking his fingertips, and laid his head on Draco's chest. "Thank you for taking me back."
Fingers ran through his hair and massaged his neck. "Thank you for wanting me back."
"Thank you for letting me be with Ron if I wanted that."
There was an explosion of disgusting wet coughing. Harry turned and looked and there was Pansy Parkinson, glaring from behind her hand. "Oy! Eating, you know. Breakfast: eggs, marmalade. You might go into a cupboard like normal people."
Astoria Greengrass elbowed Pansy very forcefully in the arm. "Don't listen to her. She's just jealous. It's so nice, your being back together."
Looking around the Great Hall, it seemed that almost everyone was looking towards them, smiling and nodding. Oh, this obsession the whole school had with them was a lot weirder now than it had been when Harry didn't know he was in love with Draco. Draco's body came closer to him and Harry realized he was tightening his embrace. Draco laughed and kissed his cheek. "Let's go wait by the door."
It seemed that the trip to Hogsmeade would be a disaster.
Well. Not a disaster. Harry still got to spend the day with Draco in the cold air and fresh flowers, but their plan to get Blaise and Neville together wasn't working at all. As they walked to the village, Neville stayed obstinately to Harry's left, Blaise to Draco's right. A few times he and Draco tried slowing down or speeding up unexpectedly, but the other boys just shuffled right back into their previous positions.
At the Three Broomsticks for supper, they got a table for four and very awkwardly forced Neville and Blaise to sit next to one another. Before even ordering drinks, though, Harry thought perhaps this was a bad idea. In these positions, they didn't have to look at one another and could each very easily monopolize the poor bloke sitting in front of him instead of letting newly-back together couples enjoy some time together. They should have gone to Madame Puddifoot's, pink confetti and all – at least they would have been sitting two-and-two.
And then, as it was wont to do, tea saved the day.
They ordered a pot at the end of the meal and Blaise offered to pour for everyone. He was distracted, arguing with Draco about Quidditch and, apparently instinctually, fixed Neville's glass with enough milk to make the drink cold, Harry was sure, and five spoonfuls of sugar.
"You do like me!" Neville gasped and Blaise stopped mid-sentence to look at him.
"You know how I take my tea."
Blaise busied himself fixing his own teacup. "Yes, well—it's not exactly a weird way to take tea, is it?"
Except it was. "Yes, it is. I've given up loads of sweets, but I can't help myself with tea—and you know that."
Looking up at Neville from under his eyelashes, Blaise smiled. Harry's breath caught. "I suppose I do."
"You like me."
"I—yes. Do—er, that is—do you like—" But Neville didn't let him finish, just bent down and swooped in, kissing Blaise, quick and open-mouthed.
Draco leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms over his chest, and smiled. "Finally. I imagine they're both very pink."
"Yes!" Harry wouldn't let the question slip away from him again. "What does that mean?"
"It means in love. And content." This went straight to Harry's cock. He fixed his head in the curve of Draco's neck and kissed him on the collarbone.
"And are you pink right now?"
"I'm sure I am, thank god. I didn't know how I was going to explain my parents at spring holidays. I must have been horribly gray."
"I think I'm pink, too. Because I'm in love with you. And you make me very—content." Harry rubbed Draco's thigh, as close to his gorgeous, big cock that he hadn't seen in months as public decency would allow him.
"Is that a euphemism, Harry Potter?"
"Maybe—want to go be content in the bathroom?"
And they did.