I am so, so sorry times infinity for the delay in chapter. It's been a month and a half or something. Honestly, I'm ashamed at myself. I promise you will have another chapter within a few days!
I think, to be honest, I needed a break from everything. As it is, I haven't been on my tumblr in a while, nor my Drarry rec list, which is just as horrible as not updating. So, I'm starting the wheels back into motion.
Tomorrow I have a super important job interview, so you're lucky I'm updating anyway! But if I hadn't got this chapter up, I would have procrastinated even worse.
I love you all!
"Any plans for Christmas then?"
Harry and Draco were yet again working on their Potions assignment together, this time carefully brewing three different variations of Polyjuice Potion, eager to test their theories. It had been silent in the dark room for the better part of the last hour, and Harry looked up at his partner, his attention diverted. He studied Draco's carefully concentrating face, eyes trained on the potion before him.
Harry shrugged. "Going to the Burrow with Ron, I'll spend Christmas there."
"Not your muggle relatives?" asked Draco, finally looking up innocently.
Draco kept his eyes wide as he noticed Harry's eyes flicker, before a smile crept onto the thin face.
"Nah, I haven't seen Mrs Weasley for a while, and she loves mothering me and feeding me fifth helpings," replied Harry. He changed the subject quickly. "So what are you doing then?"
Draco felt a twinge of annoyance at the subject change, but felt he couldn't bring it back around without arousing suspicion. "I'm going home to the manor, it will be a quiet Christmas with Mother; Father's not yet allowed visitors in Azkaban."
Harry cringed visibly. He'd forgotten Lucius Malfoy was in prison, by Harry's own hand.
Draco saw, and flapped a hand at Harry, almost disdainfully. "Don't you worry about that," he said, "it was his own fault for believing in a lunatic, it had nothing to do with you."
Harry smiled gratefully.
There was a small pop in one of the cauldrons beside Harry, and he realised he'd been neglecting his potion. He glanced over, and noticed suddenly that the potion was a fluorescent green colour, and not looking remotely like Polyjuice.
"Ahh, crap," he murmured, and began waving his wand over the potion, intending to find out what had gone wrong. Harry was sure he had followed the instructions perfectly.
The green substance again popped ominously.
Draco, curious, leant over, then pulled back with a gasp. The potion was now emitting a strong smell of sulphur, and he could feel the tendrils of gas creeping up his nose. Harry coughed, abandoning his wand waving.
Harry whipped around to look at him, and it simply made Draco laugh harder.
The potion gave a large belch, and the smell of sulphur multiplied. Harry had the foresight to cast a protection charm over the remaining two cauldrons before the wave of smell hit him, and he began to laugh as well. He fell forwards a bit, stumbling over to Draco, who was rolling around on the ground, tears streaming from his eyes.
Harry grabbed weakly at the cloth of Draco's robe, but he missed and fell on top of the other boy.
"C'mon, C'mon, we need t' get outta th' room," Harry giggled, the last of his wits still floating in his brain.
Draco let out a shriek and began rubbing his forehead on the cold floor, his arms spread out like wings.
Harry grabbed again for Draco's arm, and succeeded in latching a firm grip around the bicep. He heaved, pulling Draco behind him, even as he was getting stitches from laughing.
"Come on, pretend you're a dolphin," Harry panted to Draco. He had no idea why Draco was more affected than he was, but he suspected it could have been because Draco got a faceful of the gas before it spread around the room.
Draco released a high pitched squeak, and began kicking like a dolphin along the floor, his arm still held by Harry's.
The finally made it door, and Harry wrenched it open, hauled them both out and shut it tightly behind him. They collapsed against the wall just outside, and it was only a matter of minutes before the gas worked its way out of their systems as they inhaled the fresh air.
Harry's hand was still wrapped around Draco's arm, and he released it quickly, only to find it seized by Draco's own. Harry spoke into the silence.
"Well. It turns out that powdered root of hemlot is not a good substitute for crude Antimony."
Draco snorted. "I'd say not."
The train ride to King's Cross Station was little more than a week later, and Draco had still not talked properly to Harry. He knew he should, and he knew Granger knew he hadn't, but he simply could never bring himself to do it, telling himself there was never the right time. As it was, he didn't see Harry at all during the train ride, his boyfriend was locked in a compartment with his friends and – to Draco's horror – the Weaselette.
Of course, no one knew about their relationship except their close friends, so it made sense. Unfortunately.
On the smoky platform, Draco managed to bump hurriedly into Harry, and disappeared off towards a secluded alcove on the station.
The Weaselette yelled in outrage, but Harry ignored her, telling Weasley he would be a few minutes, the bathroom, you see, and to tell Mum Weasley to wait.
Draco smirked as he reached the alcove, and turned to see Harry right behind him. "Goodbye kiss?" he asked, a little breathlessly.
Harry smirked back, before reaching for the nape of Draco's neck, drawing him down.
Inwardly, Draco thrilled at the contact, at Harry's confidence to instigate the kisses. He could feel Harry's trust growing stronger each day they were together, and it gave him a feeling he had never felt before, and couldn't even describe to himself.
They pulled apart reluctantly.
"I really should be going," said Harry, licking his lips.
Draco grinned, and ducked his head once more to brush Harry's lips with his own. "Merry Christmas," he whispered. His hand squeezed temporarily on its place on Harry's shoulder, before he drew back, and walked off into the hazy crowd.
Harry hurried off to find the Weasleys, and was at once confronted by a pouting Ginny. He made his excuses, but Ron just looked at him knowingly. It probably didn't help that his lips were puffy and looked thoroughly kissed, Harry thought sparingly.
Mrs Weasley exclaimed upon how thin he seemed to be ("Don't they feed you enough at Hogwarts?"), but he only rolled his eyes, it was practically her customary greeting.
At the Burrow, Ron, Harry and Ginny were automatically sat down at the table, and force fed copious amounts of food, not that Harry was complaining. He loved Mrs Weasley's cooking, it rivalled that of the elves at Hogwarts in Harry's opinion.
"Have a nice 'goodbye'?" asked Ron later that night, as he and Harry settled in his bright orange room. Harry scowled as Ron waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"Would you like the details then?"
Harry smirked as Ron's face rapidly lost all colour. "Nah, I'm good mate," he said hastily.
Harry leant back on his camper bed, arms tucked behind his bed. It felt good, he mused, having no pressure, no constant threat of death that had dominated and loomed over most of his life. He may have been Harry Potter, but now he could be just Harry, boy who once saved the Wizarding World, but now lived a quiet life, finishing school and spending time with his boyfriend and friends.
"So," he asked aloud, staring at the ceiling, "asked Hermione out yet?"
In the bed next to him, Ron sat up with a splutter, literally choking on nothing but air. "What?"
Harry grinned, eyes still skyward.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said Ron snootily, nose in the air in a poor imitation of Draco. His indigo face and even darker ears, however, lost him all credibility of the lie.
Harry snorted. "Oh, come on mate, you've been dancing around each other for years. Isn't it time you stopped pulling each other's pig tails?"
"Our what?" asked Ron, momentarily confused.
"Your – never mind." Harry waved a hand. Purebloods, he thought, mentally shaking his head in mock pity.
"Just ask her out..." he sighed.
Ron mumbled incoherently, and then waved his hand, turning off the lights, triggered by certain movements. Harry loved the adaptations made to usual household appliances for underage wizards. Ron rolled over, still mumbling, effectively finishing the conversation.
Harry shrugged smugly. The wheels were turning now.
He was woken early the next day as a pillow was whacked into his nose.
"Wake up you lazy sod," said a fuzzy figure with a red mop on top.
Harry groaned, squinting at the alarm clock beside his bed. It was barely eight o'clock in the morning.
"Wuzzgoinon?" he moaned into the pillow.
Another pillow whack.
"It's Christmas, git. Presents!"
Harry sat up slowly; Ron could be such a child sometimes. But then again, the small pile at the foot of Harry's camper bed did look rather enticing...
Ron was already ripping into his presents; a large mess of shredded wrapping paper was slowly spreading across the room, adding to the mess and clutter already there.
Shoving his glasses onto his nose, Harry reached for the closest gift. It was from Hermione, and, unsurprisingly, it was a book.
"Hilfigger's Healing for Halfwits, by Horace Hilfigger," he read aloud, shrugging. It actually sounded like a decent and interesting read, unlike some of the other things Hermione had previously gifted him with, like the disastrous homework planner that was buried at the bottom of his trunk, its pages carefully ripped out.
Ron had given him the semi-tradition of a large box of Honeydukes chocolates, and there was a Weasley jumper and home-made fudge from Mrs Weasley.
"Wicked! Thanks, Harry!" Ron exclaimed from across the room, hand already in his own box of fudge, as he unwrapped the Keepers' Gloves from Harry.
Harry grinned back as he made his way to a present labelled: "To Master, from Kreacher."
"Do you reckon it's safe?" he asked dubiously.
"I forgot you inherited him," said Ron wonderingly. "Never know 'til you open it," he added, before ripping into another present.
It was small and roundish, and Harry had no idea what it could be. He tried to unwrap it slowly and cautiously, but it seemed Kreacher had deliberately covered it with spellotape, leaving no choice for Harry but to rip it open.
He let out a yell as a fountain of maggots spewed from the package with the force of his ripping.
Ron shouted in laughter, doubling up in his maroon jumper.
Harry frantically picked at the maggots on his bed, his hair, wherever else they landed, before chucking them at Ron. Ron's laughter quickly changed to horror, and they were both soon searching for the last of the maggots.
Eventually, the maggots were carefully wrapped back inside their container, and Harry only had a few presents left. There was a customary amount of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, a penknife from Remus, some more sweets from his dormmates.
Unfortunately, Ginny had also gotten him something. Harry felt guilty as he unwrapped it; he hadn't gotten her anything. Was he supposed to?
The guilt didn't last long, as a handmade Christmas card began singing.
A lion is nary as brave as he,
He who stopped the Dark Lord's spree,
He's really divine,
I wish he were mine,
He who set the Wizarding World free.
Ron snorted. "Sounds like a poem of worship. Who sent it? I thought your fanmail couldn't get in here."
Harry gave him a look. "Your sister."
The present itself wasn't much better. It was a Harry Potter action figure. Harry looked in revulsion as it paced the length of his hand and back, casually brushing aside his fringe every now and again, flashing the surroundings the famous scar, along with a dazzling smile. Its black cloak swished seductively in its wake, and Harry couldn't help but think it made him look stuck up and cocky.
He quickly stuffed it back into the box, vowing never to open it again.
"You'll have to tell her soon," said Ron.
"I know," said Harry glumly. "I'll do it before we go back."
"Good," said Ron, seemingly satisfied. "Now open your last one. I'm hungry."
"You always are," Harry rolled his eyes, but nonetheless moved towards the final package.
Harry knew, instantly, that it was from Draco, especially from the deliberately silver and green wrapping paper. It was small and square-like, roughly about the size of his fist, it didn't rattle or make any sort of noise.
"Hurry up," Ron moaned.
Harry delicately pulled at the corners of the paper. Eventually he revealed a neat box, like one used for jewellery. His eyes narrowed.
Inside, however, was a beautiful necklace, accompanied by Draco's note.
This is a Praesidio Necklace. The very fabric of the silver is interwoven with protective enchantments, and it can repel up to medium hexes, curses and jinxes. It can detect most poisons, and it warms when used. It can even repel minor natural illnesses and heal minor wounds, if given enough leeway. It is also a portkey, however only to be used in dire situations. Simply press a strand of your hair to the plate to activate its recognition code.
Harry stared at the necklace in wonderment. Looking at it, the silver did not actually look silver. It glistened and gleamed, its surface a pattern of swirling spells in a pearlescent sheen. It had a thick chain, not a dainty, tiny chain used commonly on a girl's pendant necklace. At the centre, where Harry presumed it would rest on his chest, was a large silver plate about the size of the first knuckle on his thumb. It seemed to shine with the interwoven spells and was warm to the touch.
Curiously, Harry plucked a hair and placed it on the plate, watching as it sunk into the surface and disappeared.
"What is it?"
"A Praesidio Necklace," Harry murmured, awestruck.
"Merlin," Ron whispered. "Those are really rare."
Harry hummed in agreement, too lost for words.
"What did you give him then? Harry?" prodded Ron when Harry didn't answer.
"A tie pin inlaid with protective enchantments..."
Ron snorted. "You would think alike."
Harry reached up and did the clasp of the necklace behind his head. He was pleased to note that the chain seemed to melt in the dark recesses of his shirt, blending in as if deliberately not standing out.
They headed down the stairs, following the wafting smell of a Weasley breakfast. Ginny was waiting for them at the bottom the stairs, wearing a tight singlet and short, short pyjama shorts.
"Hey Harry," said Ginny, her lashes lowered as a smile curved her lips. "Did you like my present?"
Harry's grin was a little strained. "Er, yeah. Yeah, I especially liked the poem. Oh, is that..." he trailed off as he searched for an excuse, then quickly ducked around her to get to the table laden with food.
Lunch that day was a small affair, and to Harry, it was perfect, excluding the absence of a certain blonde haired boyfriend. Bill was there, with his fiancée, Fleur Delacour, to Harry's surprise.
"Ahh, 'Arry!" she exclaimed, brushing her lips on either side of Harry's face. " 'Ow long eet 'as been!"
"Er, yeah," muttered Harry, uncomfortably aware of holes being drilled into the back of his head.
"I was just saying to Bill ze uzzer day, eet 'as been almost two years since ze Triwizard Tournament! And 'ow you 'ave grown!"
She pinched his cheek in a familiar manner, and Harry couldn't help the scowl that formed.
Percy wasn't there, but he sent his regards, which, Harry supposed, was much better than the previous Christmas.
Fred and George arrived later in the day, apologising loudly and profusely, but were still served large helpings of their mum's delicious roasted turkey. Harry thought he could understand why they were late. If he narrowed his eyes, it looked like George had a hunchback. He spent much of the afternoon turning his head this way and that, squinting his eyes, but the hunchback seemed to fade out of focus every time he looked directly at it.
Fred, George, Ron, Ginny and Harry were seated in the lounge room, finishing off the last of the mince pies, while the adults were talking in the kitchen. Sick of trying so hard to not look at George's back, Harry finally asked.
"Oh," said George, looking embarrassed, "You're not supposed to see that."
"What is it?" asked Ron curiously.
"Our experiment went wrong," said Fred quite cheerfully, obviously thankful it was not he with the hunchback.
"What were you trying to do?" asked Harry.
"Grow wings," George grumbled. "Only – "
"He grew a hunchback instead, and we've been trying to get rid of it for a week," finished Fred, grinning.
"How come I could see it then?" said Harry, narrowing his eyes at George's shoulders.
George sighed. "We glamoured it, you're not supposed to be able to see through it. How can you see it then?"
Harry shrugged. "I can really only see it if I squint, or turn my head, or not look directly at it."
"Now, you're really not supposed to be able to do that," said Fred seriously. "It's a third grade glamour, hides the biggest bumps to the smallest dots."
Harry scowled. "Who says?"
"And you trust the Ministry because..."
"Just because you get plastered across the papers every other day and spent a year being slandered for telling the truth doesn't mean they can't classify spells properly," said George, nodding his head in a final manner.
"Whatever..." said Harry, opting to end the conversation. He fiddled with his new necklace, the chain always warm against his chest. Unfortunately, he drew attention.
"What's that then?" asked Fred.
"A gift?" said George.
"From a friend?"
"Neither!" snapped Harry, letting the chain fall back beneath his collar.
"Oh Gred, I think we hit a sore spot!" crowed George.
"I think we did, Forgey!"
"Who's it from then? Girlfriend? Boyfriend?"
"Piss off," muttered Harry. Yet again, he was acutely aware of Ginny staring at him. He didn't want to see her expression.
"Lay off him," Ron yawned.
George pounced. "Ahh, so Ickle Ronniekins knows, does he?"
"Tell us, Ron, tell us!"
"Yeah, tell us, Ron, pwetty pwease?" George simpered, fluttering his eyelashes obscenely.
Harry leapt up from his chair. "Time to go Ron, yeah? Go do that thing... with stuff... your room?"
Ron stretched lazily, his long limbs overflowing the small armchair. "Sure mate," and he lumbered after his friend.
In Ron's room, Harry resolutely opened the book on Healing from Hermione. The first section contained detailed descriptions of spells to heal or manner of ailments, with wand movements, incantations, and uses of the spell. The second section described the ingredients and processes to making potions and creams to be used for the common cold to broken bones and bruises.
"Nothing from the Dursleys then?" asked Ron into the silence.
"Nope," Harry replied after a moment, "not even a tissue or a coat hanger. Real letdown, that is."
They spent the rest of break relaxing, putting off their homework, or playing Quidditch in the secluded field out back, if the weather permitted. Out at the Burrow, it was easy to pretend that this was the life, no drama, no pressure, no fanmail, and Harry didn't read The Prophet, so it was easy to pretend he was normal. Though he did miss Draco.
He was also aware of Ginny constantly trailing after he and Ron, and that the end of the break was fast approaching. When he asked Ron for advice, he was simply told to "grow a pair. You defeated You Know Who and you can't even tell a girl you're gay. Grow a pair, mate."
So, grow a pair Harry did. He found her one day, her back to him, de-gnoming the garden in between snowstorms, the sun out for once.
"Ginny," he started.
She turned around to him, a wide smile splitting her face. "Harry," she said warmly.
Harry suppressed a shudder. Since the start of holidays, Ginny had taken to wearing as little clothes as possible, tight, low-cut, anything to get Harry's attention. Even now, he was surprised she wasn't getting frostbite on certain extremities.
He sat down on a tree stump, clearing it of snow. She knelt down next to him, a hand on his knee.
"Ginny," he said again.
She smiled encouragingly, obviously believing she was about to hear her childhood dream come true.
"I've er, well I've noticed how much attention you've been giving me lately..."
Her smile widened.
"And, and I appreciate it loads and all, but... Ginny I'm gay," he said in a rush.
Her smile dropped off. "Are you sure?" she asked, frowning.
"What? Yeah of course I'm sure. I've got a boyfriend, actually... he's, he's definitely something!"
Her eyes met his, wide and swimming with unshed tears. "You're gay?" she finally whispered.
Harry shrugged uncomfortably.
Ginny removed her hand from his knee. "You – how could you – why..."
She stood up abruptly. "I made such a fool of myself!"
He shrugged again, and was therefore unprepared as a palm swung towards him.
Ginny's slap reverberated around the quiet yard, and Harry froze.
"You bloody worthless piece of male scumbag!"
She stormed back into the house, but Harry didn't notice, the sting in his cheek seeping into his subconscious like black, poisonous tar.
Worthless... piece of shit! ... nasty queer...
The stump was where Ron found him a little while later, shivering from the cold.
Harry jumped, forced out of memories, as he turned to his friend.
"Ron," he said, wetting his lips.
"How'd it go then?" asked Ron cautiously, sitting down on the snowy ground.
"She slapped me," said Harry. He tried to smile wryly, but he didn't think Ron fell for it.
Ron cursed. "Always for the dramatics, she is."
Harry laughed weakly. "She called me a worthless piece of male scumbag. I think I'm lucky I didn't get hexed!"
"True," said Ron, nodding. "Wanna come inside then? You look frozen..."
"Frozen. Yeah." Harry bobbed his head rapidly, still trying to keep up with the conversation.
Ron stood, wiping the melting snow from his bottom. He offered a hand to Harry, and pulled up his friend by his thin, numb wrist. He fumed. Of all the things he had expected his sister to do, it was not a slapping. Of all the things Harry needed right now, it was not a slapping. Ron would have a sound talking to her, despite her not knowing anything about Harry's home life. Or really, anything about him at all. He would just have to word it carefully.
A/N: Praesidio, roughly translated, means protect in Latin. Just so you know.
Also, just because I didn't have Sirius' will anywhere in my story, doesn't mean it didn't happen. I started my story with the term, remember, not the summer holidays. Seriously, Harry not inherit from Sirius? Are you insane?
Please read and review!