Chapter 16: Harry's Girlfriend
It was over breakfast the very next morning that the announcement was made. A ball, much like the Yule Ball, was to be held at Hogwarts following the coming holidays. The Great Hall was in an uproar instantaneously, filled with a mixture of groans and cheers as the students considered just what the dance meant for each of them. Ron was one of the groaners, of course. Although he had Hermione to take this year, saving him from the embarrassment of searching for a date and the possibility of making himself look like a fool as he had done with Fleur, he couldn't help but remember those pitiful, ancient dress robes. There was no escaping embarrassment for Ronald Weasley it seemed.
"It is especially important in dark times such as these," McGonagall was saying, "to truly appreciate and enjoy not only the holiday season but each other – for together we are a force with which to be reckoned. It is in that spirit that the first ever Annual Hogwarts Unity Ball will be held this year."
Ron groaned even louder as he dropped roughly to the table like an ostrich trying to bury its head in the sand, but Hermione looked absolutely excited by the prospect. After all, she'd been looking for something romantic she could do with Ron, and a dance was perfect. Harry, however, may as well have cast a silencing charm on himself for his utter lack of enthusiasm. He stared forlornly into space. The last thing he needed right now was a dance! He could just picture his Drake spinning that rotten Pansy Parkinson around the ballroom floor, her greedy little hands all over him as she cooed sweet nothings in his ear. It wasn't that Harry was particularly jealous: he knew Draco couldn't be less interested in the girl, after all. Yet, maybe he was just a little jealous. She could have something with Draco that he couldn't, and somehow all of the secrets and lies prevented the relationship from feeling truly solid and real.
Harry glanced across the massive room to the Slytherin table, trying to gauge Draco's response to the announcement, but the Slytherin had vanished. Pansy looked positively scandalized as she pouted where she sat. What happened? Harry was determined to find out, but Ron had other plans.
"Harry, mate!" he whined loudly in his friend's ear. "You've got to help me out this year! I need to borrow some of your robes for this Unity thing…"
"Won't your mum be sending you some this year?" he asked impatiently, wanting to chase down his Slytherin at once.
"But that's the problem, Harry! You remember the Yule Ball, don't you? I can't go through that again! Everyone was staring!" the redhead insisted.
"Ron, I hardly care what robes you wear to the dance," Hermione assured her boyfriend as she grabbed his hand. "I'm just glad that we actually have a chance to go as a couple this year."
"But they looked like a dress!"
"I'll see what I can do, Ron," Harry told him sincerely. "I'd hate for you to have to wear a dress again, after all. Anyway, I have to do something before class. I'll see you later."
"You're going after Ginny, right?" Ron asked.
"Ginny. She walked off a few minutes ago. Not sure where she went. She's been kind of flakey lately. I don't know what she's up to," Ron informed, ever the protective big brother…in his own unique way.
"Right. Yeah. I was just going to make sure she's okay," Harry stammered before rushing out of the Great Hall at a rather impressive speed.
"Come to think of it, he's been rather flakey too," Ron mumbled as he took a sip of milk. Hermione stared after their friend with wide eyes that were easy enough for the redhead to decipher. "Okay, so you've figured something out?"
"Ron," she said slowly, "was it just me or did Harry seem a bit nervous when you mentioned Ginny?"
"Yeah, like I said, flakey."
"Okay, but he did chase after her pretty quickly," the young witch reminded him.
"What are you getting at Hermione?" Ron asked, perplexed. "I already talked to Harry about Ginny. He said she's not his secret girlfriend." The smart witch just rolled her eyes at her boyfriend's naiveté.
"He says that, Ronald, but the thing about a secret girlfriend is that it's a secret. Besides, haven't you noticed how much time they've been spending together lately? Always whispering about something or other? And you were right about Ginny. Something weird is definitely going on with her. She wasn't in the dorm all night! Why, she didn't get in until nearly 3:00 in the morning!" exclaimed Hermione. Now it was Ron's turn to look wide-eyed.
"She was out until 3:00 in the morning?" he asked, and Hermione nodded. "Hermione, Harry got in not long before that."
"So they were out together all night," Hermione stated factually. "Come to think of it, every time Harry has disappeared, which has been a lot lately, Ginny has been missing too!"
"But why lie about it?" Ron asked as he scratched his chin and stirred his scrambled eggs about his plate. "I already said I'd be okay with it… Oh, Merlin! What do you suppose they're doing!? I mean, until 3:00 in the morning! We don't even do that, 'Mione! And this is my little sister we're talking about!"
"Now, Ronald," Hermione attempted to comfort the fuming boy to no avail. "Look, we shouldn't jump to conclusions." But if Hermione thought something was up, and Hermione always knew everything, then Ron was absolutely positive of it – and he had a pretty good idea just what it was, too!
"I'm going to kill him!"
Harry found Draco just outside of the castle seated at a round, stone table. The chill in the air was unmistakable now, and the rain that pelted the castle grounds only hours before had turned to sleek ice. The sky was a monotonous grey that never seemed to end and now snow had begun to fall thickly from those same clouds. Harry need not worry about other students coming out in this inclement weather and finding him with the Slytherin.
Harry was surprised to see Ginny there as well, shivering from her spot on the table while she seemed to be comforting the hot-tempered blond. Draco was absolutely seething.
"Drake?" the Gryffindor called cautiously, not wanting to startle his distracted Slytherin. Draco looked up squarely, somehow even paler than usual.
"He says he won't go to it," Ginny offered when the Slytherin made no move to speak.
"To the Unity Ball? Is that what that was about with Parkinson? She looked right upset," said Harry.
"No sooner were the words out of McGonagall's mouth than Pansy was throwing herself at me like a bloody bludger," Draco explained sourly. "She thinks I have some Gryffindor girlfriend, and she knows bloody well I can't be seen in public with a Gryffindor so she's taking advantage of the situation. You know how much I hate to be manipulated, Harry! When the hell did I lose control over my life!?"
"And I suppose that's my fault?" Harry asked heatedly, taking offense to the blond's anger.
"Yes!" the Slytherin shrieked like it should have been obvious. "I mean no. Maybe. I don't know. Look, this isn't about you, Harry. This is about me."
"Of course. What isn't?" Now Harry just sounded annoyed.
"Would you two just stop fighting for a minute!?" Ginny bellowed, shooting them a look worthy of Mrs. Weasley herself. "You've already told her no, Draco. And made quite the show at the Slytherin table at that. How suspicious do you suppose that is? It's just one dance. You couldn't put up with her for one night?"
"You have no idea what she's like!" Draco shot back, and Harry looked sick at the very idea of his boyfriend showing up at the ball with that snake.
"Okay," the red-haired girl conceded, "so no one is keen on that idea. Why don't you just get it over with and go together?"
"No!" they both screamed at once.
"Do you know what kind of fallout there would be?" Harry asked in disbelief that the girl would even bring it up.
"I'd get hexed by the whole damn school before we made it down the stairs!" Draco exclaimed in vehement annoyance.
"I don't know what to tell you then," Ginny said with a sigh. "But if you need someone to go with, Harry, you and I could always go as friends. You know I won't get the wrong idea."
"Everyone else would," Harry told her, and she had to agree with him. Ron, especially, would jump to all sorts of conclusions if she showed up at the dance with Harry.
"I don't like it anyway," Draco stated at last. "We can't keep going on like this. Just think about it. I go to the dance with some girl, even if it isn't Pansy, just to hide our relationship. Then I go on a few dates with her, again, to hide our relationship. A few years later I wind up married to her just to hide the relationship and we're still sneaking around. I hate it."
"So what do you want to do about it?" Harry asked seriously.
"Nothing," Draco said flatly. "I'm not going."
"Well, I guess that settles it then," Harry agreed easily. "I'm not going, either. Maybe we can 'not go' together. We can do something special. Just the two of us."
"Really? You promise?" the blond asked slowly.
"That's actually not a bad idea. With everyone at the ball, we'll have the run of the castle," Draco stated with a seductive smirk. Maybe this ball wasn't such a bad thing after all. Harry smirked in return.
"Oh, Merlin!" Ginny griped. "I don't even want to know what's running through your minds!"
Harry pulled the blond boy swiftly through the halls. It was well after curfew and the castle was dark and silent, but Harry was especially cautious this time. Tucked safely under his invisibility cloak, the two boys rushed along. They were huddled so close together that Harry could feel his Slytherin's breath on his neck, and although it was warm, he couldn't help but shiver at the intimate feel of it.
"Where are we going?" Draco asked as he tried to keep pace with his overzealous boyfriend.
"I have a surprise for you."
Draco quirked an eyebrow, but remained silent as he allowed himself to be led along. It didn't take long for him to realize that Harry was taking him to the Great Hall and he wondered what mischief the other boy was out to cause now. Harry was always getting him into some sort of trouble, but the Slytherin had to admit that there was something exciting in those narrow escapes.
Harry gripped his hand in anticipation as he pushed the heavy doors open and finally removed the cloak. He quickly closed the doors behind him and marched up the rows of tables until he reached an open space where he laid the cloak down like a blanket and motioned for his boyfriend to take a seat beside him.
"I don't get it. What is this?" the blond wondered out loud.
"Just lay back for a minute," Harry said as he tugged at the Slytherin's sleeve until the two were resting securely in each other's arms.
That's when Draco finally discerned what Harry was getting at. Stretched out high above them was the enchanted ceiling, the perfect image of the night sky displayed immaculately as if there were no ceiling at all. No barrier to the heavens. The stars were like he'd never seen them, large and luminescent in a way that was surreal, shooting across the great expanse in preparation for a thousand wishes that Draco didn't need to make; he had everything he could ever want right there in that moment.
"I thought so too," Harry admitted with a blush. "I wanted to make up for last night. I just…I really appreciated it. The tandem flight through the stars. I know you're going to say it's cliché, but…"
"I wasn't going to say that," Draco interrupted warmly. "I was going to say it's magnificent. Some clichés really shouldn't be messed with."
"I think so too." Harry turned to look at the other boy, whose silver eyes sat transfixed on the extraordinary scene above them. But the blond could feel the Gryffindor's eyes on him, so he turned his head to look sharply at him.
"This isn't where you ruin the moment with some cheesy line about how my eyes are more beautiful than the stars, is it?" he questioned. "Because I can feel it coming, and that is one cliché I can actually do without."
"I wasn't going to say that," Harry told him with a grin.
"But I was thinking it."
"Merlin, Harry! You're such a sap!" Draco grumbled, but his voice lacked the usual edge. Sometimes he hated how difficult it was not to love Harry. Every infuriating opinion Draco had ever had about the boy was completely true, and Draco couldn't get enough of it.
"But I was also thinking…maybe we could get back to where we left off last night." There was that mischievous side to the boy again, but now wasn't the time for such contemplation.
"I could be on board with that," Draco responded simply.
The kiss that followed wasn't hasty or greedy. It wasn't rushed or hard or demanding. It was soft, gentle, slow, and giving. It was everything that Harry wanted to say to Draco, everything he had to give. It was a kiss that said more than the words "I love you" could ever hope to say because a moment that tender could never be faked, never be a lie. And Draco was saying it back in a way that made Harry wonder how he'd ever thought of this boy as cold or distant.
"I really do love you," Harry said as he broke away to stare intently into those open eyes. It was still important to say it, after all. He was desperate for Draco to truly believe it.
"I love you too. And hopefully Filch won't show up this time."
"If he does," Harry added, "he's in for quite the show."
Then he began undoing the blond's robes, reveling in each hitch of breath as he removed them with deliberate slowness. Draco almost wanted to rip them off himself, but he was unable to move as warm hands finally found the bare skin of his chest. They moved gently up and across his shoulder blades and caressed his delicate neck as the dark-haired boy pulled him in for yet another deep kiss. Draco returned it enthusiastically, but ever the multi-tasker, he simultaneously peeled the layers of clothing off the other boy (albeit much more urgently).
Once both boys were properly undressed, Harry grasped firmly at Draco's slender waist and allowed his kisses to wander down his neck and torso. He was still nervous to take it too far, but Draco didn't seem to notice as he shivered contentedly under the soft pressure like a purring house cat.
Suddenly, the blond pulled him back up until their lips met once more. Draco, definitely the feistier of the two, took command of the kiss. Grabbing Harry by the arms, he used his weight to flip them over so that he was on top. Once satisfied, he dug his long fingers into the messy locks of hair until they were completely buried there and continued the kiss.
Harry could easily see where this was heading. As soon as he had a moment to breathe, he yanked his glasses off and tossed them carelessly out of the way. Draco had him pretty well pinned, but by entwining their legs just so Harry was able to outmaneuver the eager blond and use the leverage to flip them once again.
Back on top, Harry's caresses escalated in ferocity until he was bold enough to slide those strong hands just far enough south to make the other boy whimper with anticipation. The blond's head tilted back in a way that made his neck seem longer than was possible, and Harry was so entranced by it that he had to kiss that beautiful, pale skin. As he nibbled at Draco's lean neck, his hands continued their explorations below. Draco found himself in such ecstasy that he almost couldn't bring himself to move. But he couldn't let Harry get the upper hand on him so easily.
As soon as Harry finished his handiwork (hey, who was Draco to interrupt him when he was busy?) the blond took him by complete surprise and whipped him back down on the cloak before climbing back on top.
"Hey!" Harry protested as he banged his elbow hard on the solid floor. Yet, he couldn't help but laugh at the situation. "We really do turn everything into a competition, don't we?"
"I'll show you competition," Draco growled as he nipped at the other boy's neck and then trailed down his chest and stomach until he reached his final destination.
"Oh Merlin!" Harry screamed. Draco wanted to chastise the fool boy for making so much noise, but he couldn't stop what he was doing when Harry seemed to be enjoying it so much. And Harry certainly was enjoying it if his squirming and erratic breathing were anything to go by. The boy's body was absolutely on fire, and so was Draco's if he was honest with himself.
"That's brilliant!" Harry was screaming breathlessly as Draco continued. He was nothing but feeling as he fixed his eyes on the ceiling above, the last clear image that of a star exploding into a glorious supernova.
After that, they just lay in each other's arms with their robes pulled haphazardly across them like a makeshift blanket until they both drifted off to sleep.
"Harry," the voice whispered harshly again. "Harry? Draco?"
"Hmm," the golden boy mumbled unintelligibly, willing the intruder away with his hazy mind.
"Wha – Ginny!" Abruptly, Harry shot up and pulled the loose robes more securely over him and his naked boyfriend. The blood had completely drained from his face as he clutched tightly at them, unable to speak.
Slowly, Draco pried his own eyes open and groaned loudly with displeasure.
"Bloody wonderful. The Weaselette has seen me naked…" he mumbled in a course voice that wasn't lost on the redhead.
Regaining her composure she replied, "I'd be embarrassed. If there was anything to see."
"Hey! You take that back, She-weasel!"
"Hello, Harry." She turned her attention to the other boy with a wink that made Draco tense even more.
"Um…Ginny…do you really think this is appropriate?" Harry questioned with a blush as he reached for his glasses. She grabbed them instead and handed them over.
"Merlin, no! I'm going to have nightmares for life!" she screamed in distaste. "But I didn't have a choice! I've been looking for you all morning. You never came back to the dorms last night, Harry. People are going to notice!"
"We'll face the music later," Draco replied in annoyance as he pulled Harry closer to him. "Leave us alone."
"But boys…breakfast starts in an hour."
Ginny could take a cue; completely red, she left the Great Hall to allow the two boys to get dressed. As soon as she was gone, both boys were frantic as they pulled on their garments in sheer panic.
"I can't believe you let me fall asleep!" Draco spat.
"I let you fall asleep? What happened to 'let's face the music later'?" Harry asked sharply as he started doing up his tie.
"I'll have you know, that was after you let me fall asleep. And I am not a morning person," the blond drawled.
"I can see that," Harry teased as he ran his hand through the tangled blond hair before pulling him in for a heated kiss.
"Harry…" the Slytherin interrupted.
"I know! There isn't time for that!" The Gryffindor started hurriedly putting himself back together again.
"And I'm sorry for snapping at you."
"You're wearing my tie," the Slytherin said smoothly with an amused smirk. Harry looked down immediately, finding that he was indeed wearing the Slytherin's tie.
"Oh," he muttered with a blush.
"You would have looked damn good in Slytherin," the blond remarked as he pulled Harry in close with that same tie and continued Harry's kiss.
"Boys!" Ginny was in the room again, tapping her foot in a way that annoyed even Harry. Fine then. There really wasn't time.
"Here's your tie then," Harry said as he yanked it off and returned it to the Slytherin, letting his hand brush ever so softly against Draco's and lingering there for just a moment. "I'll see you later."
It was only a few minutes later that Harry and Ginny charged into the Gryffindor lounge, hand in hand and completely out of breath. But it was just their luck that the common room was already full of Gryffindors. Suddenly, dozens of sets of eyes were on the pair and the room was dead silent.
"Are you two just getting in now?" Seamus asked seriously.
"I…" Harry didn't know what to say.
"So, what's this then?" Dean wondered out loud.
"That's what I want to know!" Ron bellowed as he shoved past the bombardment of Gryffindors. He was fuming as his fists continually clenched and unclenched and his fury-distorted face went from red to near-purple. "I trusted you, Harry!"
"Ron!" Hermione warned as she tugged at his arm to no avail.
"I can't believe you'd do this to my sister!"
"What!" Harry shrieked as clarity dawned on him. Did Ron think that…that he and Ginny? "It's not like that, Ron!"
"She's my sister, Harry!" the redhead shouted menacingly as he took a step forward and Harry a step back.
"You've got it all wrong," Harry reasoned.
"Do I?" But it wasn't a question. It was an accusation.
Fortunately, Ginny Weasley had her own fair share of the Weasley temper, and she was not going to have her reputation dragged through the mud.
"How dare you even insinuate that, Ron!" she screamed shrilly, striding angrily toward him. "What kind of girl do you think I am!?" Ron was completely taken off guard by the outburst.
"I know what you thought! And how dare you think that about me! And Harry too! Your best mate!" she continued heatedly. "For Merlin's sake, Ron! We just fell asleep! It was an accident! Nothing happened!"
Harry was suddenly very self-conscious as he ran his hands over his robes, trying to disguise his rumpled state.
"Is that the truth, Harry?" Ron asked slowly.
Not exactly, no. "Yes."
The redhead looked suddenly relieved as he heaved out a long breath. The other Gryffindors, while still tense and uneasy, leaned in closer anyway. This was good stuff!
"Good," Ron finally said. "Otherwise, I was going to have to kick your arse."
"Well…you don't have to," Harry assured his friend weakly.
"So then," the redhead continued, "you and Gin, huh? You know, you didn't have to lie about it. I told you it was okay for you to date my sister, Harry."
"Oh, well…that was my fault," Ginny cut in. "I was shy about it."
"You were shy?" her brother interrogated in disbelief.
"I can be shy, Ron!"
"So, then, you two will be going to the dance together?" Hermione interrupted, trying to change the subject. If only the smart witch knew just how much trouble she was about to cause…
"What? Oh, um…" Harry stammered nervously, all eyes watching him expectantly. "Of course."