"Is this some kind of joke?"
"No, no, no, this is very serious," he said matter-of-factly, writing something down on his clipboard. Harry desperately wanted to know what sort of notes Dr. Bruff was taking today but knew he was allowed to ask, much less read them.
Harry Potter had been seeing a therapist since he recovered from his Post-War injuries. He tried to uphold his dignity and claim that he didn't need to talk about his feelings or his childhood with some stranger, but he was argued into it by Hermione. He would never admit it but he actually enjoyed therapy. Dr. Nathaniel Bruff didn't care what came out of his mouth most of the time and didn't demand that he talk about things if Harry wasn't in the mood or didn't feel ready. It was a pleasant no-pressure hour three times of a week when he could express himself freely without fear of judgment or criticism.
He'd labeled his therapy sessions a 'safe zone', one of the few he had left. Hermione, Ron, and nearly all of his other friends and acquaintances cornered him whenever possible to pressure him into getting a job, dating/marrying someone, and moving out of Grimmauld Place. Hermione especially disliked his living at Grimmauld. She claimed it was a poisonous influence on his emotional well-being and kept him from getting closure about Sirius' death. This was ridiculous but arguing with Hermione was like arguing with a brick wall. There was no point to it.
That 'safe zone' categorization had been called into question today. He asked Dr. Bruff every month what conclusions he'd drawn about his mental state, and normally found the gentle suggestions to either socialize more or less, or perhaps become involved in orphan charity to alleviate some of his pain about the way he'd been raised helpful. Not so this time. This time around Dr. Bruff had coolly informed him that he should confess his feelings to Draco Malfoy.
Of course Harry was sure that Dr. Bruff had started taking the wrong crazy pills. He had little to no feelings for Malfoy whatsoever. There had been a fair amount of hatred and annoyance in school and for a short while after during the start of what was now referred to as The Greater War. But… love? Affection? Longing? None of these were applicable in his opinion.
Dr. Bruff went on while Harry's head spun.
"Have you and Mr. Malfoy ever…engaged in intimacy together?"
That question so shocked him that he burst out with perhaps more vehemence than the situation called for, "No! God no! Of course not! Jesus."
"I was merely asking..."
Something else was written down on the infernal clipboard. Harry itched with curiosity.
"Why do you think I'm in love with Malfoy?"
Dr. Bruff looked up from his notes with his eyebrows raised, "Love? No one said anything about love. I merely meant that it would be beneficial for you to explore your attraction to him. However, now that you have introduced the word 'love' to this conversation entirely on your own we cannot, of course, ignore it. Do you believe yourself to be in love with Draco?"
"I…" Harry was at a loss for words.
Dr. Bruff's eyes flicked to his expensive watch and he let out a disappointed sigh, "Our time is up for today, Harry, unless you would like to continue…? I am very interested in exploring this suppressed desire. I think that it could be a big breakthrough for you towards becoming a more complete person."
Harry shook his head, "I can't. I have to meet Neville for lunch in half an hour on the other side of town and he's always early."
"Well, I'll see you in a few days. We'll discuss it then. I do request that you not reject this; at least think about it until we talk about it again."
Harry nodded, feeling numb. It was just too strange.
Neville noticed that he was acting funny when Harry ordered a whiskey with lunch and tactfully asked him if everything was alright. Harry gave up all attempts at holding it together and laid his head down on the table. Neville patted his shoulder and awkwardly told him that everything would turn out okay.
"You don't understand," Harry's wail was thankfully muffled by his folded arms and the table. He lifted his head, "My therapist thinks I'm in love with Draco Malfoy, and I think he might be right!"
Neville was understandably surprised by this. He didn't say anything at first, choosing instead to take a bite and chew very slowly.
Finally he swallowed and said, "Look, I'm not going to give you any advice about this because I don't think I'm qualified, but I will say that no matter what this leads to, I will always be your friend. I might not understand this but I don't understand a lot of things that happen to you, so…"
"Yeah. Thanks Neville."
"You're welcome," Neville smiled and stole a sip of his whiskey.
Harry went to therapy feeling a lot more confident about his latest subconscious revelation and ended up getting manipulated by Dr. Bruff into telling Malfoy that he wanted to spend time with him, getting to know him, like they never had a chance to before the war. Harry was reluctant but he saw the logic of the suggestion. It was far more subtle this way that simply surprising Malfoy in the elevator or at the bank with a sudden out-of-the-blue love confession.
Come Monday morning he had a cup of hot, sweet coffee to steady his nerves and then headed for the Department of Foreign Governments where he knew Draco worked as Chief of Staff.
Because even the best-laid plans cannot protect us from one's behavior under the influence of alcohol or panic, Harry, upon finding himself face-to-face with the object of his secret fantasies, promptly poured out everything he felt. There was a moment of horrified silence when he realized what he'd done and that everyone in the open offices was watching them with rapt attention. Draco looked shell-shocked.
Harry fled like a rabbit.
He didn't slow until he made it to the elevator. Pressing the button for the lobby 6 or 7 times, desperate for the doors to close, he didn't notice Draco sprinting down the hall. He slipped inside just before the doors closed and the elevator whisked them downwards. Harry stared at Draco and then looked away. There was no way he could possibly explain what happened back there without looking like a mad person.
Something touched his cheek and he realized it was a hand. He slowly let it lead his head up and to the side. There was a funny little smile hovering around Draco's mouth.
"Hi," Harry's response sounded a little strangled. He was still waiting for the moment when he would be hexed into a very small pile of ash.
"Are you free this weekend? I was thinking we could have dinner."
Harry began to smile when no evil cackling followed that invitation.
"Of course I'm free!"
He wasn't, but he would be. Hermione could bloody well wait.
"Good. Because I fancy you too and I think it would be cool if we could get to know each other properly."
The lift opened onto the lobby and a group of tourists excitedly awaiting their guided tour of the Ministry got an eyeful of the Boy Who Loved snogging the daylights out of Magical Britain's International Representative, who wasn't complaining in the slightest.
End Earnest Confessions
FLUFF! You know you like it.