AN: Oh this took forever to write. Really really sorry it took so long. Don't forget to leave me a review after the chapter; they motivate me to write faster! Though I do promise the next one won't take so long.

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Chapter 8, "Breathe"

"Oh Harry, I didn't know you'd be coming by!" Hermione was sitting on the couch with a glass of wine, reading the Prophet.

"Yeah sorry, I would have used the front door but it's pouring outside."

She was playing music in the CD player Harry had bought her and Ron as a moving present. The song was soft and elegant. Very Hermione.

"It's no problem; you know you're always welcome to drop by. Ron's not in I'm afraid, he's gone with George to the shop actually."

Harry noticed the newspaper. "You're still reading the Prophet are you? I gave up on that months ago."

"There's no harm in keeping up to date."

"Anything noteworthy?"

"Not really. Same old sugar coated 'acts of bravery' as always."

"Figured."

Harry made his way across the room to look out the window, at the gentle rain and the way the sun managed to peak through it at times.

Hermione sat back down on the couch and was picking up the paper again. "Everything okay, Harry?"

"Yeah. Yeah it's okay. It's just strange, you know? How beautiful something as simple as rain can be." He stared out, past his reflection looking back at him. He looked over his shoulder at Hermione and she was looking at him strangely. "Sorry, I've just been noticing these things lately."

"What else?"

"I don't know…everything. I think…I think I know why I never saw it before."

"Saw what?"

"How beautiful the world is."

There was a long pause when neither of them said anything. Then Hermione spoke again. "And why do you see it now?"

Harry stared out the window for a while longer before deciding he wasn't going to answer her. Instead he turned back and made his way over to the couch. "You didn't have some Auror's visiting, did you?"

She furrowed her brow. "No, why?"

Harry sighed. "Because I had to use your name when trying to explain to them why I had breakfast set for two."

She still looked confused. "Harry, what are you talking about?"

"Someone saw me with Draco a few months ago. They recognized me, they recognized him. They told the Auror's and now they have been searching for him at my house."

Her eyes went wide. "Did they find anything?"

"No but they might come snooping around again. They might even contact you, so be on the lookout."

She searched his face for a long time but he couldn't look her in the eye. He could tell she was holding back from saying what she wanted to.

"So how is Draco?"

Harry did look at her then. "Fine."

She sighed. "I meant…how are you and Draco."

Harry's eyes flitted away from her then. "Uh, I…good. We're good. We're…I don't know what we are."

"What do you mean?"

He took a deep breath. "Well some stuff happened."

He looked at her but she was just waiting for him to continue.

"Okay…uh we, we had a fight, and then we kissed." He watched as she raised her eyebrows. "And that led to… stuff."

"Still so articulate you are."

Harry laughed a little. And she awkwardly smiled.

"So are you two together?"

Harry thought for a moment. "I honestly don't know where we stand…but whatever I had been feeling these past few months seem to be mutual for the most part. He's still a complete asshole at times though."

"He'll probably always be an asshole. It's in his blood. But that doesn't mean you can't like him. There are things about Ron I can't stand, but you learn to live with them. You have to adapt yourself accordingly in order to meet each other's needs."

Harry nodded and then suddenly dropped his head to his hands. "Oh god…"

"What?"

"I just can't believe I'm trying to work out a relationship with Draco Malfoy. I don't think that fact will ever sink in."

She stared at him for a long time, apparently deep in thought.

He watched as her face lit up into a smile and she got to her feet, pulling Harry with her. "Dance with me."

"What…Why?"

"Because I feel like it. And I've just noticed that we need to dance more."

Harry shrugged and they easily fell into a gentle sway with the soft music.

"Look at us. So respectively domestic. Who would have guessed?"

Harry smiled.

"You know," She continued. "There was a time when I thought it would be you and I together in the end."

Harry looked at her in shock. "Really?" She just smiled back. "When?"

"Oh, a few times. When we first met I had a mad crush on you." Her cheeks were turning red but she was laughing. Harry just stared in amazement. "Oh, and that other time in third year."

Harry thought back to look for any signs of this but he just drew blanks. "You hid it well."

She nodded and then she spoke again softly. "And when Ron left. In the forest." She threw her head back in the air and giggled. "I thought 'Well, that's it then. I'm stuck with Harry forever!'"

"Always nice to know I was somebody's plan B." Harry laughed.

She smiled. "Yes, I ended up with my plan A and you ended up with your what? Plan Z?"

"Oh trust me; he was never part of the plan."

She got quiet again. "And what about your plan A? Have you abandoned it?" She gave him a meaningful look. "Do you think if Draco never came along, you would still be with her?"

"Ginny?" He thought carefully about that for a moment. "Possibly…Maybe after a few months had passed. We probably would have gotten together again."

"Did you love her?"

"I'll always love her. If Draco and I… if he hadn't come along…" He paused to think. "I can see myself with Ginny. I can see us getting married and having lots of kids and growing old. But all that's changed now. He wasn't part of the plan."

She paused for a moment, clearly thinking whether or not to ask the next question. "Do you love him?"

Harry looked at her and she looked back. He knew what to say. It was right on the tip of his tongue and it was going to spill out whether he wanted it to or not.

"Yes." He blinked. Not surprised in the least but still breathless.

She nodded. Also not surprised. "Do you see a future with him too?"

"I see…I know what I want to see. I want to see him having some trial and being found innocent. I want to see us staying together for…a long long time. I want to see us raising Teddy…" Tears started to well in his eyes.

"It could happen you know? Let's say…Let's say he is captured. Let's say they find him and they do have a trial. We could fight it! With Harry Potter on our side, that's bound to count for something."

Harry smiled wanly. "Maybe you're right. I just don't know."

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"Draco?" Harry called out from where he apparated into his den, only to be answered by silence.

He found him sitting on the floor in the drawing room, leaning on the wall and staring at the family tapestry. Bottle of firewhiskey half empty in his grasp.

Draco looked up at him and didn't say anything.

"You've found the stash of firewhiskey I see."

Draco still didn't say anything, just looked away.

"Why are you drinking?" Harry waited but got no reply. He waited for a long time but Draco just took another sip. "And where's Teddy?"

"He's…He's with his grandmother." Draco stated indignantly.

"Did she come by to get him? Why?" Harry took a step further but Draco glared at him.

"I don't know." He took another sip. "Maybe she was lonely. Or maybe she didn't want a fucking Death Eater around her grandson."

Harry's eyes flickered to the exposed Dark Mark on Draco's forearm. The one he worked hard to cover up, even sometimes in Harry's presence. "I'm sure she just wanted to have him for a few nights…Don't you think you've had enough?"

"Fuck you Potter, of course I haven't." He said while looking Harry dead in the eyes and taking another swig.

"Uh, okay Malfoy. Come on. Let's get you to bed." Harry approached Draco, holding out his hand. Reluctantly, the other man took it and sighed heavily. Draco was drunker than he looked, because he could barely walk. Harry wrapped an arm around his waist so Draco could lean most of his weight on Harry and they began to walk upstairs.

"Why are you helping me?" Draco slurred so low Harry could barely hear it.

Because you're sad. Because you're in a mess you don't know how to get out of. Because I found you in front of your own family tree, drinking in order to forget the very people who put you in this mess.

"Maybe because you're piss drunk and probably wouldn't stop drinking without my divine intervention." Harry smiled.

"Oh ha-ha, are you always this funny, Potter." Draco dead-panned.

"Only when it annoys you."

Either Draco was ignoring him or he simply forgot to reply. They reached the bedroom successfully and Harry began to let Draco go so that he could grab the man some pyjamas before Draco grabbed his shirt, pulling him back.

"Whoa, where are you going, handsome?"

"To…get you some clothes…" Harry swallowed, feeling slightly nervous.

Draco moved so that his face was very close to Harry's. He could smell the firewhiskey on his breath. "And what could we possibly need clothes for?"

Harry laughed a little. "Sleeping."

"Come on Potter, I want…I need to…" He tried to finish but he was having trouble keeping his balance, and his train of thought. So he settled for groping Harry instead, wherever his hands could reach.

"Draco." Harry sighed while grabbing the other man's wrists. "Not tonight, okay? You're drunk."

"So? Come on, it's okay." Draco went to kiss Harry again but missed, so he just ran his lips down Harry's cheek and neck.

"No…if we were either both drunk, or both sober that would be a different story."

"Don't be so fucking chivalrous for once in your life." Draco pulled away, trying desperately to pull Harry to bed. "Just…come into bed."

Harry followed, fully intending to just sleep. But once they were underneath the covers, Draco was still persisting. He ran his hands sloppily all over Harry again. Pressing his body up desperately against him. Harry couldn't stop himself from laughing.

"Why are you laughing?" Draco looked wounded.

"Because you're so cute." Harry smiled.

"Fuck you, I'm trying to be sexy." Draco dropped his head exasperatedly to Harry's shoulder.

"You're always fucking sexy." Harry said, nudging Draco's face with his nose.

"Then why don't you want to have sex with me?"

Harry cupped his hand on Draco's face. "Of course I do, just not tonight okay? It's late, and you're wasted, and I'm not."

Draco removed himself from Harry, lying down on his back. "You just don't want me. And why would you? Merlin knows I'm horrible for you."

"Draco, shut up, you know that's not true."

"Maybe I don't. Maybe I need to be reminded."

Harry could feel himself being manipulated by this man. He was surprised to find himself more than willing to play along.

"This is me reminding you. I want you." Harry whispered.

"Then fuck me. Right now." Quickly, he was back on top of Harry again, whispering in his ear. "Fuck me, Potter. Or are you too scared?"

Oh, he did not like the sound of that challenge. Harry nearly growled as he grabbed the man by his waist, reversing their positions so that Harry was on top. They kissed roughly for a long time, grinding their bodies.

Draco let out a deep moan as Harry pressed their hard cocks together. He adjusted their position so that he could hear that moan again. Even through the material of their pants it seemed both of them wouldn't need any more than this for release.

They continued, grinding hard, kissing harder.

"Tell me you want me, Potter." Draco moaned between kisses.

Harry didn't reply, going mad with this sudden desire.

Draco grabbed his face between his hands, suddenly seeming very sober. "Tell me." He pleaded. And Harry thought with a start that maybe this wasn't a mind-game. Maybe Draco really was insecure, scared. Maybe he was completely lost without some sort of reassurance.

Draco still held Harry's face tightly, searching his eyes, and Harry was in no mood to deny him anything. "I fucking want you Malfoy." He groaned out and Draco's grip only tightened as he let out a final cry, with Harry soon to follow.

They stayed there for a while, sweaty. Just looking at each other before Draco broke out into smile and said, "Good." And then his head hit the pillow and he was nearly asleep. Harry smiled and watched as the eyes behind their lids flickered gently.

Harry, not wanting either of them to be uncomfortable, stripped Draco of his clothes and then himself before curling around Draco to lean his head on the other man's bare chest.

For a while he just stayed like that, feeling the rise and fall of his chest, the slow beating of his heart.

His eyes rose to the exposed forearm with the symbol he had learned to hate so desperately.

How poetically ironic is it, that it should be emblazoned on the arm of a man he had grown to love.

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Days passed and then weeks. Life remained much the same as it had. Quiet, worried. Filled with tension and sweet release. Andromeda took Teddy more often which was both a blessing and burden, as it was nice to have the free time but also made Harry miss having him around.

When September came Harry, as well as many others, grew restless. It felt strange not going back to Hogwarts. Shopping for supplies in Diagon Alley. But he was used to restlessness by now and carried on.

Life with Draco proved to be, if nothing else, difficult. As was hiding their relationship from others. They both knew it would have to come out eventually. Draco, for one, thought it should be sooner rather than later. But then again, it wasn't Draco's family they would have to deal with. The Weasley's were the best and only long-term support system Harry had ever known. He didn't know what they would think. Especially Ron and Ginny. He was ashamed of himself for being so terrified.

"What are you so afraid of?" Draco asked one night over dinner.

"I don't know…That they'll kill me?"

"Bullshit. It's not like the fear of death has stopped you before."

Harry sighed. "Okay, I'm afraid they'll stop loving me. Or that they'll look at me differently. Like I won't be Harry to them anymore."

"Granger doesn't look at you differently, and she knows."

"Whatever happened to you trying to use first names?"

"Don't deflect, I see right through it." Draco looked into his eyes and Harry shrugged. "Listen, you've been through hell and back for these people. I think they can forgive you for being gay." Harry still wouldn't look him in the eyes. "You already broke up with the Weaslette- sorry-Ginny, and she still talks to you. Obviously if she can get past that, she can get past anything."

"I don't know…what about Ron? What about his parents…"

"Harry. They will be surprised. Hell, they'll be shocked. And probably a little angry that it just so happens you went gay for me. But they won't stop loving you. If they do, then they probably never truly loved you in the first place." He said before pausing for a moment. "And if you don't suck it up and stop sulking, sooner or later I will have to kill you myself." He drawled.

Harry smiled but he knew he wouldn't be able to do it yet. There was a time for this, and it was not anytime soon. At least that's what he told himself. He found that Draco wouldn't bring it up if he didn't so they continued to remain a secret.

It was only when they would have visitors. Like Hermione and Ron, or Andromeda. When they had to pretend like they were still living together simply for convenience and nothing more. That it would become hard.

Even harder still when the rest of the Weasley's managed to find out that Draco was staying with Harry. It was mid-September when Molly had come popping in with Ginny soon to follow, only to find a Malfoy sitting on Harry's couch, reading a book.

Harry, for the first time in his life, got the enjoyment of seeing Molly Weasley speechless.

"It's okay, don't worry, I invited him here." He hurriedly explained that he'd reluctantly befriended Draco and was hiding him here. Ginny remained silent and Molly looked sceptical.

But after Harry's explanation and insistence that Draco was an innocent man who was merely a victim of circumstance, she seemed to relax.

Draco was on his feet, looking incredibly uncomfortable around Molly's strong demeanour. Harry noticed with great surprise when Ginny caught Draco's eyes and he had to look away almost immediately, before seeking out Harry's. Harry wanted to proclaim "Look whose scared now?" But he felt the timing slightly inappropriate.

Naturally it was only a matter of time before the whole Weasley family knew of Draco's residence in Harry's house. Not one of them liked the idea, but they knew how to keep a secret within its confines.

And so it was. September passed and the summer was over. With October came a cold breeze and an even colder realization. Draco and Harry spent as much time together as they could. Both somehow knowing, feeling that their time could be cut short at any moment.

It was late one evening, as the sun was setting and Harry found Draco sitting on the back balcony, shivering as he watched the orange sky. Harry brought out a blanket and wrapped it around Draco's shoulders before turning to go back inside.

"Harry, wait. Where are you going?"

"Inside, I thought you might want to be alone for a while."

Draco smiled. "There's plenty of time for that later. Come sit with me, what else have you got to do? Fix that ridiculous haircut of yours?"

Harry gave Draco a little shove as he sat down. "My hair is not ridiculous. You try dealing with it."

"Hmm, don't have to." He pointed a finger to his own face. "Already perfect."

"Were you always so vain, or is this some attempt to be charming?"

"Depends." Draco fake yawned and put an arm around Harry's shoulders. "Is it working?"

Harry sighed and let his head drop to Draco's shoulder. "Obviously." He admitted.

He closed his eyes before looking out to the sunset. He took in a breath and for once in his life, let himself do just that. Breathe.

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