AN: This was a gift for my friend Kitty after a silly game of word association on New Year's Eve. It ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be. But I really enjoyed writing it. Thank you to Kneazle for betaing for me. Feel better, dear.

I am not a thief. I have lied, I've cheated and I've deceived people, but I've never stolen anything.

Okay, well, remember how I said I've lied? Maybe I did that a bit just now….

The very beginning was the collation of the Eighth Years. We were all invited back to complete a bit of extra schooling. It was only a handful of students who took up the offer, the rest of them deciding to take the free ride of adversity-excused passing marks that were handed out among the entire school body. Some of us weren't really prepared to step out, though. Me included. And apparently, Potter too.

That was something that had surprised me. I thought that the great hero would've jumped right into being an Auror. He and his sidekicks joined the Eighth Year crew, though. Apparently being on the run for the entirety of their Seventh Year left something lacking in their life. At least, that's what I overheard when the Weasel was explaining their reasons to some other Gryffindor nobody.

The Eighth Year students were particularly set apart because we were all taken out of our houses and shoved into one space. There weren't that many of us and the rooms in the dormitories were for the students who were still in the normal span of schooling. So that meant we were no longer divided, instead joined under the impromptu one-time house known as Coronum. If anything, it just set high expectations on a bunch of children who weren't ready to step into the responsibility of adulthood like the rest of the world wanted.

Anyway, we were all forced to put up with and get over one another. It happened rather smoothly, to be honest. I predicted much more upset occurring with pitting old school rivals and house grudges together. At least, I'd thought that I would be subjected to more of that, seeing as how my dorm room was not only shared by my fellow ex-Slytherin Theo, but also the Weasel and none other than the great hero himself.

And that's where the problem began.

After the welcoming feast, Headmistress McGonagall called all the Eight Years up to the staff table, where she informed us that we would be living in Coronum House. There was some indignant protest, mostly from Weasley and that Macmillan numbskull, but everyone else digested the news easily enough and nodded. Me; I didn't have the energy to fight. The prospect was uncomfortable since I would be regaining my bearings among people whom I didn't know. But I was past the point of causing snits when I didn't get my way. No one humored me anymore and I ended up looking like a bitchy little git. I didn't know about the rest of them, but I stayed back another year to learn how to grow up.

Potter didn't protest the arrangement either, even after we had made the journey to the long-deserted wing of the castle and climbed a tall tower only to realize that he would be sharing a room with me. He just gave me this long, silent stare and then shrugged, collapsing under the deep violet hangings of his new bed.

I put off sleeping that first night. Even though I knew we had classes the next day, somehow I couldn't find it in me to sleep in the same room as Harry Potter. I had wandered through the summer in a sort of shock after the war was over. The epilogue to the great event consisted of my family being put on trial for crimes against the wizarding world, most of our assets seized as collateral until the verdict was reached, Potter testifying for our acquittal, my father being sent off for a decade sentence in Azkaban and then my mother and I moving into a small chateau in the countryside to wait it out. It was her wish that we do so, saying she couldn't live in the Mansion while he wasn't there with her. Shortly after all that, Potter sent my wand back to me and I spent the rest of the holiday coming to grips with the fact that nothing was going to be the same anymore.

Even though I managed to understand that I needed to make some serious changes in my own life, I had yet to factor in the inclusion of others in my decisions. Harry Potter was the most difficult one to consider. I didn't know what to do with him. I sat in the common room of Coronum and made lists in my head of how I was going to treat everyone. It was a lovely place, that room. The great spire of the castle we lived in was stone on the outside, but the inside was charmed so that the walls facing outwards were like glass. I gazed out over the reeling stars that entire night, making lists, until the dawn bloomed from behind the mountains and glittered across the surface of the Great Lake.

By that point, I had been stuck on Potter for the past few hours and still had yet to arrive at a decision. I was determined to make sure I never mentioned anything about Granger's blood status again and even resolved to avoid any squabbling with Weasley but I had no idea what I wanted to do with Potter.

At first I figured I would just cordially ignore him. I knew for a fact that I had no desire to go back to our previous rivalry or anything similar to it. I wasn't that person anymore. Even if wanted to be, just thinking about it gave me this nausea that I had no stomach to entertain. At the same time, I knew I couldn't just pretend like Potter didn't exist. The weight of what he had done—not just in the war, but for me and my family personally—had put me in a position of indebtedness, if not so detached an obligation, then gratitude.

So bitterness was out. Indifference wasn't an option. I considered asking to be his friend but then shut the possibility down quickly. I didn't possess the fortitude to withstand rejection at the moment. That, and I felt like I had no right. If not for the fact that I made his life hell for the past seven years, then for my own pride that I wasn't going to crawl for his forgiveness and compassion since I had no one to love me.

I had all these possibilities and I wasn't willing to take any of them. And that was when—as the rising sun reminded me that I hadn't slept and was going to regret it later—someone sat down on the couch next to me.

It was Potter. He was looking at me with a sort of neutral curiosity. Like there was a depth in his gaze reaching back to a reason I couldn't fathom as he focused on my sleepless eyes.

"What do you want?" I asked quietly. There was no annoyance, no anger in my voice. I was too tired. And I knew he wasn't there to cause trouble. What kind of idiot wanted to kick up a fuss at seven in the morning?

"You didn't sleep last night," he said. His voice was low, thick and raspy from sleeping and he cleared his throat after he spoke.

"No, I didn't. Very observant of you." Still, no ire. Just weariness.

"Take this, will you?" Potter held something out to me and I took it, holding it up towards the pinkish light that glowed all about the windows. It was a small phial of pale green potion. I looked back at him with an eyebrow raised. "It's Stasis Solution. It'll keep you going for today."

"Thanks, Potter," I said, shaking my head a bit and moving my hand back towards him, "but I don't—"

"It's from Theo," he interrupted, getting to his feet, obviously not going to take it back. "He wanted you to have it."

I raised my eyebrows. Theo wasn't usually up that early. He was in the habit of sleeping in as long as he could before bursting into class at the last second possible, forgoing breakfast altogether. Potter had walked away before I had time to question him about it, though. So, with a shrug, I popped off the stopper, cast a few charms on the phial to make sure it was what Potter said it was and then downed the whole thing.

Honestly, that was the lowest point of my school year, that night. I felt drained and dead and lost but it got better after that.

I adhered to my list very well and managed to cultivate good working relationships with everyone in my house. Even Weasley got over himself and actually asked me if I could pass him the butter one morning at breakfast. Call it petty, but I felt it was actually quite a nice way of letting me know he didn't think I was a slick git anymore, even if I still found his presence a bit grating at times. At least we weren't flinging hexes at one another.

Granger and I were lab partners in Potions and actually became efficient study companions. It was a slow-growing relationship that began when she was doing research (extracurricular, of course) on Blood Magic and wanted my input on Inherited Charms. So after keying her in to the Malfoy-specific spells that I'd learned, I asked her if she wouldn't mind looking over my Arithmancy charts and giving her opinions sometime. She was very excited about the prospect and after that, we kept trading notes and eventually got to the point where we'd have study sessions on the evenings before tests.

Potter was an unexpected one. I never had reached a verdict on what to do about him as it came to my list, but apparently it didn't matter. He would talk to me every day. Not that we had very deep conversations but it wasn't like they were irritatingly superficial either. Sometimes he'd ask about Mother and how she was holding up. There were days when he would join in the study sessions with me and Granger. Every now and then, he'd sit next to me at breakfast and we'd eat together over whatever came up in conversation. Usually Quidditch scores or upcoming classes or sometimes he'd ask me about the things I liked, or childhood memories I had. I usually reflected those questions back to him. Some of his answers surprised me.

I ultimately came to the conclusion that no matter what I had wanted, Harry Potter obviously wanted to be friends. Or at least, wanted to look like we were friends. And for a while, the prospect of his deceit bothered me. So I confronted him about it one evening when it was just the two of us in our dorm room.

He was lying on his bed with his book of Advanced Potion Making on his chest—he'd given up on reading it after a half hour of being distracted watching the first snow flurries twirling about outside the window. The grey of mid-autumn cast a sort of pale glow on him, making the sharp green of his eyes stand out and I sat there staring at him for a while and wondering before I finally spoke up.

"Potter," I said, and he immediately turned from the window to look at me, a small smile on his face. "Why have you been so nice to me?"

The smile widened and he looked like he was holding back a laugh, which made me cross.

"I'm serious. Your agreeable efforts look pretty on the surface, but after spending a lifetime with people who never do anything without personal gain, I'm starting to wonder what it is you're really after."

"You don't trust me, Malfoy?" he asked, sitting up on his bed with that grin still plastered there across his face.

"Do you trust me?" I asked back, knowing the answer was obvious.

"More than you might think I do," he said, which was not the obvious answer that I expected. I only had a moment to wonder about it though as Potter continued. "I reckoned that for all the years that I've known you, I've never actually known much about who you really are." He quirked his grin at me for a second before turning to look out the window once more. "After losing so many friends in the war, I thought it might be nice to gain some new ones. Friends that I hadn't had before."

His gaze slid back towards me, though he still faced the window. "You were at the top of my list."

I didn't know what to say. Though it was true that our interactions had been pleasant enough for the past few months, abruptly facing the fact that Potter wanted to be friends threw me for a loop. I was still mulling over the prospect when I found that he was standing in front of me, by my bed, with his hand outstretched. I looked up at him.

"Let's make it official then," he said as I got to my feet and he took a step back.

I looked down at his hand and then back up at him once again. "You can't be serious," I said, shaking my head. "Potter, after all that's happened—me and my family and what we've done—being friends with me…." I shook my head again, mildly overwhelmed by every thought that occurred to me about what he was doing. "This decision…everyone will say it's wrong." And then I'd get stuck with the flak of 'tainting' the Ministry's Golden Boy, I just knew it.

"I think I can tell what the wrong decisions are for myself, thanks."

I snapped my head up and looked straight into his eyes. The grin he sported came back—tenfold, even—and he winked at me. So stunned was I, so caught in the question of whether that moment was as desperately significant to him as it was to me, that I barely registered my hand reaching out and wrapping around his.

Potter's grip was warm and strong, calloused from Quidditch matches and duels but not unpleasant to hold. I might've lingered in it a bit longer than was appropriate, but he didn't seem to notice. Neither had I really, since I was too busy looking at the sparkle of emerald that filled my vision and breathing in the scent I'd suddenly noticed.

He and I may have lived in close quarters and been near each other often but I never really thought about things like the way people smelled. However, it had popped into my sphere of awareness now that we were alone, standing close and looking at each other while gripping hands.

Potter had this deep, kind of woodsy smell. It was rich and earthy like the smell of the sun-warmed soil that had been freshly turned from my mother's orchid garden but coupled with a sweet spice of aftershave potions and the tinge of musk that any male would have. Behind it all was a hint of some…something. I couldn't put my finger on it. But I reacted to it the same way I did to the smell of freshly baked bread that came out of the oven: my tongue slickened with saliva and I took a deep inhale.

I let his hand go then, wondering how long I'd been holding onto it and felt my cheeks heat up a bit. He grinned, looking more cheerful than I'd seen him since we started the year.

"Can I call you Draco, then?" he asked.

The only thing that really changed after that was the fact that I no longer felt like the other shoe was going to drop and some mad twist of fate was going to render my newfound comfort in the realm of the Golden Trio just some wild fantasy. It was weird. Of course it was weird. These were the people that I'd spent almost a decade harassing. Funny what losing all your friends does for your humility, though. Pansy had transferred to Beuxbatons at the behest of her mother; Blaise had ducked out to take an apprenticeship under a wandmaker in Austria; Goyle, got a grunt job in the ministry to take care of his widowed mother. Theo was the only one of the Slytherins to return and our relationship was kinda like an old married couple who never spoke to each other anymore but still knew every tick and trick to each other's ways. Convenient when you were sleep addled and mildly hungover, saying, 'could you get me that…thing, please' and he knew that by 'thing' you meant 'a Sobriety Potion, a glass of water and something breakable to throw at the nearest Weasley who was making fun of your poor decisions.

Which was the reason why I went to him when things started changing for me.

I pulled him aside during History of Magic (Merlin, I had no idea why we still had to take that pointless class) during a particularly disengaging lecture and made him swear not to tell anyone.

"What are you going on about, Draco?" he said, giving me his characteristic look of incredulity when he thought whatever I was doing was absolutely asinine. Good old, Theo….

"I have this problem," I confessed to him, glancing around a bit to make sure no one was listening in. Especially not Potter. Even when I noticed him nodding off a couple rows away, I still felt my face heat a bit.

"Draco, there's not much I can do about you being a pouf."

"What?" I said it a bit louder than I meant. Luckily, most people just jolted out of their stupor for a moment and then settled back into it; Binns hadn't even broken his drawl. Theo rolled his eyes at me.

"I've already noticed," he told me. "You keep leering at Potter like he's a dish of raspberry sorbet. When did it happen then?"

I bit my lip and swallowed hard, looking down at the desk while I tried to force my ears to revert to their normal color.

"Look, I don't know," I said. "I just…I started noticing how good he smells."

"He does have that Boy-Hero bouquet about him…."

"Sod off, Theo."

"Alright, I'm sorry. Blame it on me being over the moon about you finally blossoming."


"So do you like him then?"

I paused and shook my head. "Well, I like being his friend. It's just getting weird, because now I'm looking at his mouth a lot and wondering how I can get closer to him and get a drag of that scent of his."

"You've got it hard for Potter." I looked up at Theo and he had this great shite-eating grin on his face. I opened my mouth to protest but he cut me off. "Look, a crush is a crush. Don't have a hippogriff. It's not like you're in love with him." Theo leaned back and gave me an amused and affectionate glance. "Draco, your issue is that you think too much about things. Lighten up. Give in to impulse sometimes. It'll be good for you."

"How un-Slytherin of you to suggest so," I commented.

"We're not Slytherin anymore, Draco. Shed the snakeskin and be a phoenix."

I eventually decided to follow through on Theo's advice and I did it quite on impulse, appropriately enough. It was the event that set my downfall in motion, though at the time I just saw instant gratification and maybe a bit of guilt-tinged exhilaration. I was by myself in the dorm room. I had been feeling a bit under the weather, which was typical of the approaching winter. I managed to ward off catching a cold by taking small doses of Pepperup Potion but it left me with a meager appetite. So I had ducked out of dinner early.

I had spent ten minutes or so, laying in bed and wondering if I wanted to pick up the book I'd been trying to read and give it another shot (it was dense as the ice over the Great Lake) when something caught my eye. It was Potter's—well, no, I called him Harry by that point—Harry's old Quidditch jumper. Coronum students weren't allowed to play on the house teams so the rest of the students had their fair opportunities. But Harry was rather attached to the red and gold jumper. He wore it often. No one complained, though; regardless of the fact that he wasn't Gryffindor's Golden Boy anymore, he sported their colors in that cable-stitched garment that made him look positively fit.

The jumper was lying on the edge of Harry's bed, one sleeve dangling and the colors popping off the backdrop of his rumpled, violet duvet. I stared at it for a while and then walked across the room to get a better look at it. Harry had worn it that very day and then haphazardly tossed it there before heading down to dinner.

I stopped myself from thinking and just picked up the thing, pressing it to my face and taking a deep inhale. It was wonderful. I might've deluded myself into thinking that it was still warm, but it didn't change the fact that the scent of Harry Potter was lovely.

It was easy to associate aromas with memories. I couldn't help but think of my mother whenever I smelled gardenias and tea olives. The scent of tobacco and wand polish always made me cringe because it reminded me of Father (which is why I would never smoke). And now, the smell of Harry Potter…. Since I hadn't ever noticed it until after we started being civil to one another, Harry's scent just reminded me of being accepted. Of warmth and belonging and safety and…well, love.

I opened my eyes again—the jumper still pressed to my face, the fibers near my mouth turning damp against my lips—and started thinking again.

So, yes, I had a crush on Harry. Enough to snuggle with his clothes, apparently. And I decided right then that I was going to borrow that jumper over the break. I just wanted to have it for a while. No way that I was just going to up and ask if I could take it. That would be a thousand brands of awkward. My plans of subtly sticking close to the man weren't really as effective as I would've liked either. So I would hold on to Harry's jumper for the holiday and then put it back once the new term started up again. It was a great plan.

So with one more huff of the drug, I went right to my trunk, took everything out that I'd already packed, put a Stasis Charm on the jumper so its perfume wouldn't be masked by my own, then folded it up and repacked everything on top of it. By the time I shut my trunk again, my heart was flying through my veins in swift circles.

Harry opened the door then and I probably looked up too quickly, but I gave him my perfect mildly-ill-but-still-friendly smile. He smiled back, none the wiser.

"All packed then?" he asked.

"Just making sure I didn't miss anything," I said, sitting on my bed after putting my trunk back on the floor. "What are you doing for the holidays?"

"Ah, I'll be with the Weasleys," Harry said. "Is it just going to be you and your mum?"

I nodded. "It'll be…," I sighed. "It'll be rough without Father. Especially for Mother. But I'm trying to have hope." Harry smiled at me.

"You know," he said, coming over to sit beside me, slinging an arm over my shoulders, "you continue to surprise me, Draco."

"What's that supposed to mean, Potter?" I said, shoving at him. He laughed.

"What I mean," he continued, "is that you're just a fascinating individual and I'm sorry I didn't take the chance to find that out sooner."

"Of course you are," I said, smirking. "My presence is a gift to humanity."

"Can it, you prat," he laughed again and shoved me back before getting up once again. "So yeah, I was thinking we should meet up sometime during the hols. What do you think? Maybe grab lunch at Diagon Alley before we end up here again?"

"Are you paying?" I waggled my eyebrows at him. He laughed again; making him laugh was my new favorite hobby.

"If that's what it takes to drag you out of your hole, then so be it," Harry said, rolling his eyes. He went off and started piling stuff into his own trunk and I was left glowing with my secret prize and a date with my crush. Happy Christmas to me.

Spending time with Mother wasn't as heartbreaking I thought it was going to be. We had a nice, quiet Christmas with all the trappings and plenty of gifts between us. When we visited Father in Azkaban, there were no emotional breakdowns on either side of the bars. And we didn't linger so long as to make me want to put my head through the bricks, so that was nice.

Best part was having that jumper. I kept it under my pillow during the day and in my arms when I slept. It may have been creepy and made me wonder about my own obsessive tendencies. But it was a small joy of mine and I couldn't find it in myself to regret doing it. After the first week or so, the feel-good magic that existed only as the aroma of Harry Potter was losing its edge. It wasn't that the scent was fading. The Stasis Spell was doing its job well enough. But Potter's scent only did so much without Potter himself. His smile, his laugh…his touch.

Luckily for me, I had the promise that I'd be seeing him soon, which helped me push through that rough realization. Harry owled me on Boxing Day letting me know he was free on the day before New Year's and that he'd meet me at the Leaky for a late lunch at three.

But before I went out, I had a day or two to give myself hard stares in the mirror and try to figure out what was going on in my own head.

Yeah, sure, Theo told me to stop thinking. But the born and bred Slytherin mentality within me refused to take any more steps without completely understanding my own intentions. Crush or not, obviously it was starting to run deeper now that I was nuzzling Potter's clothes to my face on a nightly basis and craving his presence more than some mildly erotic self-gratification. Potter was my friend and steadily becoming the center of my world. That was dangerous. I couldn't risk that becoming the truth. I'd lose myself. And I wasn't willing to give myself up to anyone. I wasn't going to do it for my father, not for the Dark Lord and though Harry wasn't nearly as frightening as either of those people, I wasn't going to surrender myself to him either.

I hadn't had a relationship with anyone. Pansy didn't count; she was just a superficial hookup. And hell, I had never entertained ideas of being with a guy. Not until now. Acknowledging the fact that maybe I wanted to have Potter stick around for a while—or stick to me for a while my brain added—put things in a new perspective. Yet again, I had no idea what to do with him. I couldn't tell him. No way. At least, not anytime soon. I was nursing the possibility of a budding romance; I couldn't let it get crushed before I knew exactly what was happening with it.

Resolved, I decided that I would meet up with Harry for lunch, keep it as friends and when we went back to school, I would return his jumper like I'd planned and just go back to not thinking so much about things. I nodded at myself in the mirror and took a deep breath. Maybe my train of thought went full circle but at least I felt more assured in my sudden nonsense.

Yes, it was absolute nonsense.

I thought the same thing as I sat with Potter in the back corner of the Leaky Cauldron, soaking up soup with a hunk of oil-slathered baguette. Nonsense how much I was enjoying myself. Harry just went on and on about his chaotic holiday and the gifts he'd gotten and how happy he was about them. The way this boy rambled, you would think that no one ever gave him anything in his life. But that was endearing and I couldn't stop smiling.

"Oh, and I got you something too!" he said, pushing a wrapped box across the table after he managed to swallow the last bit of his fish and chips without choking in anticipation. I almost choked, however, out of sheer surprise.

"What's this about, Potter?" I asked as I picked up the package tentatively.

"What do you mean by that, you twit? It's a Christmas present." I looked up at him and he was just beaming. "Go on, open it."

"I don't know," I said, looking down at the shiny silver wrapping, all tied up with a green ribbon. Guilt washed over me. I stole from this bloke and he just kept giving. "Harry…Harry, I didn't get anything for you and that just isn't acceptable."

"Well how about this," he said, leaning forward with his chin in his palm, those green eyes glowing beneath the dark fringe of his tousled locks, "you open that and then if you really want to give me something back, we can go wander the Alley and I'll subtly gesture to everything that catches my eye."

I smirked at him, holding back a chuckle. "Sounds fair." And with that I tore into the paper and uncovered a box. It was stained teak and inside of it was a golden snitch resting on a pillow of burgundy velvet. This snitch wasn't like any I'd seen, though. Its carvings were atypical; they spiraled over an oddly rosy-golden shell like Fabergé tracery. "This is beautiful," I said, though the words came out in a reverent whisper.

I heard Harry chuckle as I picked it up and looked the snitch over. "It was actually designed by a jeweler," he said. "Not meant for actual matches. But it'll work just fine for Seeker's games if you really wanted to use it."

"Trying to buy me off, Potter?" I asked, looking up at him. He could tell I wasn't serious. I might've tried to hide behind a typical mask of stoic appreciation, but my face hurt from smiling so hard.

"Is it working?" He winked at me again before dissolving into a soft hum of chuckling.

"Oh, certainly," I said. "I'll probably be funding your entire life if you get me something so extravagant just for Christmas. I'm afraid of what being your friend will mean when birthdays come around."

"Cheers, Draco," he said, grinning at me.

"Thank you, Harry. I mean it; this is a lovely gift."

"You're welcome."

I spent the moments then looking over my gift. The etchings were so gorgeous and I really loved the slight tinge of red in the gold. Potter apparently had to make it his mission in his life to remind me that he was a Gryffindor nut through and through. I felt myself laughing, though. I certainly would always think of him when I saw this. Too bad it didn't retain scent, though.

When I looked away from my prize and back to Potter, I realized he'd been staring at me the whole time.

"What's with that look?" I said, suddenly self-conscious.

"I'm just relishing the wonderment and gratitude that's so freely flowing from you: legendary Ice Prince of Slytherin."

"I resent that, Potter," I said, tucking the snitch back into its box. "I'm a Coronum now."

"Well, let it be said that the phoenix's fire has melted that chilly heart of yours."

"Shut up before you get yourself in trouble, Scarhead. We're leaving now." I stashed the box in my pocket and went straight for the door. I heard him laughing behind me.

We wandered about Diagon Alley in the gentle drifts of snow while I filled him in on my own holiday experiences. And every now and then, he'd silently gesture to a window we passed and I'd make another note on the new list in my head entitled, 'Gifts to Give Potter Since You're a Prat and Didn't Remember to Get Him Anything for Christmas.'

"Mother has been doing extremely well, actually," I told him, as we neared the end of the Alley and wandered into the Weasley's joke shop. "I think getting out from beneath Father's oppression has helped her blossom. You should see the greenhouse; it's absolutely overflowing."

"Well, I would like to," Harry said. "You reckon I could?"

"Of course," I said, a bit incredulous. "In fact, I insist. But not until summer, because then the berries will be in season."

"Brilliant! I'll look forward to it." He couldn't see me glowing as I looked over a display of Bubble Belching Potions but I could hear the smile in his voice.

That might've been the moment that I was realized I was arse over tit for the bloke. And I couldn't do anything but smile about it. I ended up sneaking out of the shop while Harry had a chat with the Weasley who owned the place. I stole over to Fortescue's and bought a cone of strawberry hot fudge ice cream for him. Double scoop. I met Harry outside the joke shop and pushed the steaming cone into his hands, saying that he could deal with cheap treats for now until I could outshine his trinkets with something of real quality.

He laughed at me and smeared fudge on my nose, which meant I had to throw snowballs at him.

We met up with Granger and Weasley later and Apparated to Hogsmeade to nab some Butterbeers at the Hog's Head. I'd only heard of the place in legends, I suppose, and when I walked in and came face-to-face with another Dumbledore, I almost regurgitated a lung. But the awkwardness was quickly smoothed over and I enjoyed ringing in the New Year with new friends and a bright, new outlook for my future.

But that was actually the last happily sane moment that I would enjoy until my life as an Eighth Year was over.

The first week back went by well enough. I quickly settled back into the routine of classes and studying and still managed to maintain my new friendships without compromising my pristine grade average. I also managed to replace Harry's jumper, folded neatly and unassuming on the chair beside his bed. Weasley actually cemented my plan perfectly by explaining to Harry that he'd probably forgotten to pack it and the House Elves had taken care of it. Though rather repulsed at the thought of being compared to a House Elf, I couldn't have been luckier to have had my arse covered by the unwitting ginger.

So everything was going lovely until midway through January when Potter and Weasley had decided that a rousing game of Quidditch in the snow was just what they needed. They came back to the dorm room, sloshing about the place and getting my parchment damp and making me feel rather cranky since my perfectly constructed essay was now looking dribbly. The soggy Weasel just cast a quick drying spell on himself after tossing his broom onto his bed then dashed off, announcing that he was off to do something with Granger to warm himself—details of which I have no desire to repeat.

Harry just smiled and shuffled into the shower like a normal human being and after a while, there was a steady billow of steam sneaking out from under the bathroom door. I kept to myself, spelling away the water stains on my essay and silently enjoying the slow swell of Potter's scent that filled my space. I was going to have to study in the dorm when he showered more often.

Just as the thought occurred to me and I was punctuating my closing sentence with a smile, the door to the bathroom opened and a heady cloud of warm fog rolled out, heralding the entrance of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter with nothing but a towel around his hips.

Of course, I only registered this fact in my peripheral, a bit too stunned by the sudden intrusion to look up from my paper as he crossed the room and began rummaging around in his wardrobe. When his back was turned—I didn't bother trying to stop myself—I chanced the opportunity for an eyeful. And I got one.

The winter months had taken away that olive tint he'd had from running around the country the year before. So he was there, pale and muscular, with steam curling off his broad shoulders and hot trails of water sliding down the contours of his thighs. Merlin, and he didn't even bat an eye dropping that towel to pull his pants on; I glimpsed something that made my entire head feel like I'd stuck it in a vat of Pepperup Potion.

Time must've skipped or some unknown magic, because suddenly he was standing a few feet from me with his trousers on, asking some question. But whatever he said, I didn't hear very well; my senses shut down in favor of my eyes widening to focus my entire existence on the trail of dark hair that went from his navel down into his denims.

"What was that, I'm sorry?" I recovered quickly, hoping to Salazar that my face had managed to stay an inconspicuous color.

Harry gave me this crooked smile—one that made me suck in a silent gasp—and said, "Did you finish your essay?"

"Oh, yes," I nodded. "Just now, actually."

"Mind giving mine a once-over?" he asked, moving back towards his bed to pull a shirt on. "I'd go to Hermione but…well, I reckon she's preoccupied at the moment."

I scoffed at the idea, rolling my eyes. "Give it here, then."

So I looked over his essay, making it look like I was being very thorough when in fact I had to reread paragraphs several times since I kept returning to flashed images of shadowy flesh and sweeping lines of muscle. Eventually, I finished my job and gave it back to him and Harry went off to get an early start on lunch.

As soon as the door closed behind him, I concentrated all my efforts on not bursting into a hyperventilating mess. Sweet Salazar…. My obsession with Potter had just been ratcheted up a few notches. Apparently, it had never occurred to me in my (innocent?) mind that the bloke was sex on legs. But he was, as I'd just realized. And I suddenly needed to make sure my mouth was snapped closed so I wasn't drooling all over myself.

I crashed backwards on my bed and put my hands over my eyes, going in endless circles through the memories of the past several minutes. Over and over it replayed. When the image of that towel falling had been so ingrained into my thoughts that I could've painted it, then the Harry in my mind turned to face me and he had that crooked smile on his lips.

My breath stuttered in my chest, eyes closed as I pictured it. That time skip would happen again, only this go-around, he wouldn't have those vexing trousers on and I'd be able to follow that dark line all the way to where it ended. And then his hands—I pressed my own palm down against the growing bulge in my trousers—would lift and he'd hold my face. That glowing green would shock right through me right before he'd lean in and kiss my mouth with soft, wet lips.

I shuddered. With the same breath, I spelled the curtains closed and put Silencing Charms around myself. A sharp tug: I yanked my trousers down around my thighs and wrapped a hand around my cock, drowning in the fantasy.

I didn't get that good a look at it, but I pictured Harry's deliciously proportioned erection rutting against my own and like some pubescent schoolboy, I came in less than three minutes. The muscles in my stomach clenched so tightly; I tried to keep myself silent, but the effort just ended up making my moan choke out in this strangled whimper.

Reality crashed back around me and I let out a great sigh, smearing come between my fingers before muttering a cleaning spell. I opened my eyes again and stared at the canopy of my bed.

While the mirage dissolved from my mind, the part of my sanity that was still intact informed me that I had crossed a line. That's what I got for not thinking. But then I had to remind myself that just because I was learning to give into impulse sometimes, it didn't mean I could completely forfeit my self-control.

I pulled my trousers back up and ducked out of bed. And right when I was about to tell myself that I wasn't too far gone—that I could go back to my more or less innocent crush and never stray over that line again—I saw Harry's pants lying there on the floor.

They were definitely his: left a few steps from the bathroom door where there had most assuredly not been anything previously. He must've dropped them when moving his clothes from the shower.

And, of course, so immersed in the habit of not thinking, I snatched them up.

Black. A bit damp. Rather soft. I clenched my fingers around the scrap of fabric and felt my pulse launch through the top of my head. I was holding Potter's underpants in my hands. That bit of cloth had pressed against him in places that I'd only just dreamed about.

I had to have them.

It was easy to argue and convince myself that since I nursed an innocent crush in secret, I could easily continue keeping it secret even though it had boiled into a lusting desire. I mean, maybe I was a straight-up pervert for doing something like coveting Harry Potter's dirty pants. But, hell, it kept me from having to bring my suddenly lust-charged attraction to anyone's attention. I could get away with being and underwear thief.

Clutching Harry's pants in my fist, I Transfigured a nearby handkerchief into an identical pair and then dropped them in the same spot. The real pair went inside my pillowcase for safekeeping. The evil whispers of possibilities lurked around my thoughts as I left the dormitory to go eat. Though maybe at first I might've halted them, thinking what in the world was I going to do now that I had stolen Potter's pants? But I had too many suggestions just blooming out of a subconscious deviant that I was apparently suppressing.

I'd come up with so many ideas of what exactly to do with those pants that by the time I sat down for lunch, Granger was leaning over and asking if I was feeling well, what with my face as scarlet as a Weasley head and my eyes shining feverishly.

That evening, I had another wank, only that time with Harry's pants between my teeth and the faint musk of him filling my head.

I incorrectly assumed that things would become simpler after that. I had my prize, a trophy that crowned me the Lord of Homosexual Idolatry. It was just the beginning of a steady decline of my principles and personal dignity.

Harry's pants stayed tucked between the underside of my pillow and the dark purple case around it, only to be retrieved every evening before bed to bolster my masturbatory habits. But then, near the beginning of February, I noticed the oh-so-familiar fragrance that had once lingered in the fabric had faded away. I'd somehow forgotten the Stasis Spell. Easily explained; I was too wrapped up in my mental sexual indulgences to think twice about it. It was far more important to rub one out than make sure my source wouldn't lose potency.

I could've taken that time to return them. But I didn't. I didn't want to. They were mine. Not really, but I had them and I wasn't willing to surrender them. I guess I was fond of them.

My simple solution was to acquire a replacement. So I concocted a clever plan to divest Potter of another pair right from under his nose. One dreary Sunday when the rain couldn't decide whether it wanted to drizzle lazily across the world or belt down on it like a howling wraith, I approached Potter at lunch with a grin on my face and my broom in hand.

"Fancy a Seeker's Game?" I asked him, holding up my lovely Christmas gift—the one he'd given me—to see.

"In this mess?" he asked, gesturing towards the ceiling, which was a muddy grey color, enchanted rain dissolving just a few metres above our heads. "You're a loon."

"Right," I said, "I forgot you were a sensitive little ponce and couldn't bear to risk your knickers wet. I'll just ask that new Gryffindor seeker; I bet he's got the bollocks to take up my challenge." The look on incredulity on his face just augmented my sneer. Good thing he looked less murderous and more amused at my jesting.

"Hold it right there, Malfoy," Weasley jumped in to, once again, make my plans go as smoothly as possible. "Harry wasn't turning you down. Merely remarking on the interesting terms you set." Harry himself rolled his eyes and chuckled.

"I'll see you on the pitch in ten," he said to me, getting up from the table and moving to exit the hall.

"Care to watch, Weasley?" I offered. The ginger buffoon opened his mouth to say something but was promptly tugged down by Granger.

"No you don't; you have a Charms project you've yet to finish." She turned to me and gave me a sweet smile. "Sorry, Draco, but you'll just have to let us know how it went."

I nodded and gave them a wave. "Enjoy yourselves." And with that, I made my way to the Quidditch pitch.

The game itself was nothing too special (he won), other than the fact that I could get very used to the idea of a rain-soaked Potter peeling muddy, soaked clothes off of himself like he had in the locker room after we were done. I deliberately didn't look at him, but peripheral vision was a blessing in that time. I showered as quickly as I could and then set the last phase of my plan into motion.

I dug through Harry's sodden clothes until I found his underwear and then pulled them out, taking another of my handkerchiefs and Transfiguring it to match the pair of dark green boxer-briefs that I'd retrieved. I tucked the real pair in my pocket and the fake one back where I'd found the original and went right back to the bench where I'd laid my things.

"Good game?" Harry said as he came out from the now silent shower stall, mussing his hair with a towel. I had to remind myself not to look.

"Shut up, Potter, you're only saying that because you won." I went about the business of hanging up my leathers so I could cast Drying Spells on them. He laughed from behind me.

"It wasn't as if you let me," he protested, "I'm going to be black and blue in the morning."

"That's what you get for luring me into a Wronski Feint," I said. There was a moment of quiet. Then I heard footsteps and he came up behind me and cuffed me lightly on the back of the head.

"And that's what you get for calling me a ponce earlier. Do it again and I'll bruise you where the sun doesn't shine." He walked past me towards the exit and I felt a grin tugging at the corners of my mouth as I followed after him.

"And that doesn't sound like it was poncey at all," I teased him. Not that I had room to talk.

When night fell and I could hear the steady breathing of everyone in the dorm, I pulled my newest prize from where I'd tucked it beneath my pillow. I'd cast a Drying Charm on them earlier, hoping that the scent wouldn't have been washed away in the rain that had soaked through. And before I did anything else, I put barriers around my drawn hangings and a Silencing Spell filled the space.

No one was going to find out. They'd hear nothing from me.

"Argentum Lumen," I muttered. A silver bubble swelled from the tip of my wand and broke away, coming to hover a few centimeters from my head. It cast a soft glow of almost ephemeral light. I relaxed against my pillow and pulled my pyjama bottoms down, gripping the waistband of Harry's pants in my teeth.

I'd gotten into the habit of not wearing underwear to bed. They just got in the way when it came to me trying to get my business over and done with. First night, I'd considered wearing the pants that I stole, but then decided against it. I didn't want my stink erasing the fragrance of Harry that I loved so much.

So, with my pyjamas around my ankles and one hand slicked with a whispered lubrication spell wrapped around my cock, I nuzzled my nose against the soft, musky fabric in my other hand and let out a shuddering exhale.

This time, when Harry was done stripping his sodden clothes off that gorgeously toned body, he walked right into my shower stall and pushed me against the cold tiles, diving right in to suck one of my earlobes into his mouth. The steaming water poured down on us as I wrapped my arms around his broad shoulders and slowly rocked my hips against his.

Harry's hands slipped over my shoulders and down my back, reaching down to grip my arse in some wild possessive way. I could almost feel the pinching stretch of my tender skin at his grip. He kissed across my neck and down my collarbone until his lips wrapped around one of my nipples. A hot tongue wickedly lashed out against the nub right as one of his calloused fingers pushed shallowly into my arsehole and with a low groan, I came into my hand. A few more sloppy strokes, just as I was feeling my muscles contract around the tip of my own digit, and I bit harder into the elastic.

I cast a quick cleaning spell after I caught my breath, then folded the pair of pants up and put them next to the first inside my pillow case. I had a Potions test the next day and needed the sleep for it.

I would've liked to say that my days of thievery were over with the dark green pair, but that wouldn't be true at all. Whether it was an honest mistake or deliberate neglect didn't really matter because I still didn't cast that Stasis Spell on my most recent conquest. I instead convinced myself that since the pair was rain-damaged in the first place that they weren't good enough for me, which led to my acquiring of a third pair. I went straight to the hamper he used for his dirty clothes and plucked them out. These were red, and I decided that with this addition, I'd have to move my collection to a safer spot.

I chose to keep them in the wooden box that Harry had given me, under the pillow where the jeweled snitch rested. And apparently, my subsequent relocating gave way to the perfect logic that since I had found a brilliant hiding place, I should just take more.

So I did.

Four more pairs of Harry Potter's pants were snatched into my possession. Grey that I took right out his underwear drawer; a normal pair of white briefs which I managed to get my hands on when his laundry hamper 'accidentally' fell over and I helped spell all his clothes back into it; and then another black pair with this odd silver circle with an 'X' shape in it and writing that denoted that he attended some school for 'gifted youngsters' that I'd never heard of. I got daring with those and actually performed a Switching Spell on him while he was sleeping one night. I came three times that night on adrenaline-fueled deviance. By mid-March, I had six pairs of Harry's pants and I gave up a bit of sanity with each of the Transfigured handkerchiefs I left in their places.

Every day I looked at my collection and I was just overcome with raging emotions. The strongest of which was a sort of demented triumph over the fact that I kept stealing Harry's underwear. It made me feel like laughing aloud, the same feeling coupled with a shameful retrospection, pitying myself for how far I had fallen. The anxiety of the possibility of being caught always had me on edge, and then some undertone of despair and disgust at how pathetic I was…a reminder that my addiction to this thievery was just pushing me further into the darkness of obsession.

I was at a personal low. My grades were starting to slip and Granger was looking more worried day by day when I couldn't come up with answers with my typical mental agility during our study sessions. Her recommendation was an extra hour of fact-drilling with some supplementary reading. Merlin bless that girl because even I couldn't pull one over on her, despite the fact that I couldn't look Harry in the eyes anymore and he still didn't suspect anything.

"You're hiding something, Draco," Granger stated one evening when it was just the two of us in the common room.

"What? No! Not at all!" Overreacting? Yes, definitely. I winced when I realized how harshly I'd protested and then personally reprimanded myself for forgetting my Slytherin tactics. I quickly slipped back into them and let the mask cover myself. "Sorry, Granger, I'm just not sleeping well."

"Well, I already knew that," she said, shaking her head imperiously with a roll of her eyes. I couldn't help but chuckle. It was one of my own mannerisms that had rubbed off on her. "You've been so out of sorts, lately. There's no trouble with your parents, is there?"

"No, no, everything's fine," I assured her. Inside, my heart was galloping. I had to throw her off; give her a tragedy that would placate her and let her sympathize while I kept my secret safe. It occurred to me then that maybe I could just give her a half-truth, and that would be enough. After all, bookish overachiever or not, Granger was still a girl. Nothing girls loved more than romantic drama.

"Truth is," I said, leaning over conspiratorially after checking to make sure we really were alone in the fire-and-starlit common room, "I have a serious crush on someone."

Granger's eyebrows practically vanished into her hairline, they rose so high. I bit my lips to keep from laughing, playing it off as a nervous gesture to anticipating her reaction.

"Honestly?" And I nodded, honestly. "Who is it?"

"Come now, Granger," I scolded her. "I've got to keep some of my secrets. Humor me."

"Oh, yes, that's alright," she nodded. "Well, it must be serious if you've been so stressed out."

"You've no idea." I rubbed at my temples and sighed, leaning back in my chair again.

"You haven't told this person you like them."

"I knew there was a reason they called you the brightest."

"You should."

I shook my head. "I'm too far gone. That and there's absolutely no way that I'd get anything out of telling them other than a laugh in a face and maybe a restraining order and lifetime of humiliation."

"You over-think things too much, Draco," Granger said. I laughed.

"I've heard that before."

"And maybe you should actually listen." She leaned towards me and put a hand on my knee. I stared at that hand for a while and then looked her in the eyes. They were big and brown and full of worry and an affection that I never dreamed of seeing there before. Something inside of me melted; I bit my lip again. "True love has a funny way of working out no matter what you do. But, you know, if you don't give it the opportunity, then you'll be left with only a list of regrets."

I lifted an eyebrow.

"That sounds rehearsed. Where'd you read that? The Gryffindor Manual of Maudlin Love Advice?" She smacked my leg and I laughed quietly at her.

"Think what you like," Granger said as she started gathering up her notes, "but you can either make something happen for yourself or sit in a puddle of your own emotional mess and watch your life pass you by. It's time to grow up, Draco. Be a true Coronum and become a phoenix." She got up, leaned forward to kiss my head and then went back to her dorm room, leaving me to stare out at the darkened vista of the school grounds and ponder my next move.

I decided to just stop. I stopped stealing Potter's pants and using them as wanking enhancements and refocused on studying. I really did want to leave this place with good marks. I would've loved to leave the place with Potter on my arm, too. But that was less realistic, and I'd come to grips with that. My resolution was to go back to my quiet crush and then just let it die at graduation. I'd take a year-long tour of the world in the name of researching new potion ingredients. That would give me enough time to smother all embers of this delusion of romance I'd been clinging to. I could return to England and still have the friends I made without things being complicated.

It was a good plan; I was proud of myself. I felt sad when I thought about it, for whatever reason.

I still had to come up with a way to switch all of Harry's real pants with the Transfigured handkerchiefs I'd left. And I was still working on how to make that happen with Potter himself came up to me in the common room with this mildly puzzled look on his face.

"Draco?" he asked, interrupting the game of Wizard's chess I was playing with Weasley. "Could you come with me for a mo?"

"Right now?" I asked, looking back at the board quickly. "I'm in the middle of something."

"The game can wait," Weasley said, waving a hand dismissively. "Go on, I'll take a snog break." And proceeded to skip on over to Granger who had her nose buried in a book. I snorted in disgust and then got up, following Harry up the stairs to our dormitory. After we entered, he locked the door and turned around, giving me this look like my face was steadily turning green.

"Out with it, Potter," I said, folding my arms and leaning against a bedpost. "Keep it in like that and your brains will ignite." He relaxed a little and huffed a soft laugh before unclenching a fist and holding it out in front of himself. Hanging from his fingers was a white handkerchief, with my initials monogrammed in silver at the lowest corner.

Everything inside of me died. My heart became a rock and every vein in my body turned to ice-cold barbed wire.

"Any reason for you manhandling my personal belongings, then?" I asked, casually with an eyebrow raised. With every rattling pulse I prayed to every deity that had ever existed in myth or legend that I could pull this off.

"Funny that, Draco," Potter said, his head tilting as his eyes narrowed. "I found this in my underwear drawer along with five others, all with your initials on them."

I made a noncommittal hum and took a moment to look thoughtful.

"Odd, I've never known for House Elves to get things mixed up like that," I commented.

"Same here," he said, taking a step closer. "Which is why I went ahead and cast spells to see if they had been charmed for some reason. Perhaps as some odd threat or a trap. Turns out that they'd been previously Transfigured. Now..." Harry stood only a foot from me, his green eyes drilling into straight into my soul. "Care to tell me where my pants are?"

I scoffed, letting a smirk slide across my lips.

"Hell if I know what you do with your undergarments, Potter. As far as I can venture, maybe one of your fangirls lifted them as a souvenir." I shrugged and moved around him, heading casually towards my bed as I slipped my hand towards my wand. I'd Oblivate him, switch the handkerchiefs with the underwear and everything would be fine.


I didn't factor in the possibility of Potter wielding his favorite spell and my wand went flying into his hand not half as second after I pulled it from my pocket. I turned around and stared at him in unmasked horror. No way could I play it off now. Just by pulling out my wand, I'd keyed him into the fact that I was hiding something. Harry marched right over to me and grabbed my arm, squeezing to the point of pain.

"Or a fanboy, perhaps?" he muttered darkly. His eyes positively sparkled with anger and I felt a chill licking down my back. "What's the matter with you? Why did you lie to me?"

I blinked a couple times, running the questions over in my head and trying to steady myself. "Because I didn't want you to find out, obviously," I snapped at him, regaining some of my spine. "I'd like to see you in my shoes, see what you'd say." I wrenched my arm out of his grip and stomped over to my wardrobe, retrieving the box and taking my shameful collection from it, tossing the lot at him. "There, that's all of them. Now leave me my wand and let me hate myself for the rest of eternity."

I couldn't look at him. My eyes were stinging with shame and the steady realization that I had fucked everything up. I was going to lose everything I'd gained this year in a crashing mess. All because I couldn't keep my hands to myself. My teeth were clenching so hard down on my bottom lip that I felt the skin break. And just as I was squeezing my eyes shut, about to yell at him to get the fuck out, I heard him laughing.

And it wasn't the mirthless chuckle of irony over how a friendship could end so stupidly, or the evil cackle of someone who had just gotten his hands on the best blackmail material of all time. Potter was laughing with the sort of joy that I always detected when he was teasing me or listening to a joke Weasley told him. The laugh that I adored.

I dared to look over at him, and there he stood, with his hand over his mouth, covering his slightly pinked cheeks and I was left wondering what the hell had broken in his brain.

"Potter?" I chanced delicately.

"Why did you steal my pants, Draco?" he asked. He sat down on my bed and smiled gently up at me.

"Because I wanted to," I blurted. Well, hell, if I'd already confessed to the crime, I might as well humor him for the motive. Not like it could get any worse. Plus, he seemed rather well-humored about the whole thing.

"You wanted to have my underwear?" He raised an eyebrow and that lopsided grin of his came out.

"Yes. What of it?"

"Draco, that's stupid."

I boiled over.

"I'm aware of that, Potter. Now will you please get out of here so I can wallow in my idiocy and then quickly overcome it in order to make sure I can save face when you go to the press with this?"

"You twit." He shook his head and stood up, crowding my space again. Only this time, his gaze was less furious. "There's no reason for you to steal my pants when you've stolen my heart to begin with."

Apparently my snappy Slytherin comebacks worked faster than my brain, because I found myself saying something like, "Apparently you can't be a Gryffindor without spouting a bunch of sappy lines," only to be cut off by his kiss.

In that moment, I realized that Potter had just confessed that we had mutual feelings for one another. And then the next, I felt his tongue flicking along my bottom lip, so I just let the epiphany wash over me as I opened my mouth to let him in.

His hands were at my back, large and warm and holding me there against his equally warm chest. I could feel the wind-chapped scrape of his lips against mine and his tongue was so hot and wet as it stroked against my own. I took a deep inhale through my nose, tangling my fingers in his hair and I was breathing in that scent that I had become irreversibly addicted to. Only it was ten million times better, warmed by his body heat and just had that essence of being alive and near and oh, Merlin, I could feel my trousers tightening.

I'm not sure how long we actually stood there snogging, but I do know that when he pulled away, I was instantly mourning the loss of contact. I gripped his shoulders and just kept kissing his face. I felt his chuckles hum against my skin as I kissed his cheeks, his brow, the tip of his nose, his jaw line, his scar...

Eventually, Harry put his hands on my face and guided me away.

"Draco, you're crying," he whispered.

"I resent that," I choked out and he laughed and leaned in, kissing my face in turn.

"Why are you crying?"

"I am not!" I insisted. Emotional eruption was my excuse for being petty.

"Alright," he humored me. "If you were crying, why would you be?"

"Maybe because I didn't think this would ever happen." I took a deep breath. "And you smell so good." He laughed. I couldn't get enough of it. I was drunk on his laughter.

"Bet you didn't think you'd ever get punished for this either." He just stood there, smiling that smug, tilted grin at me and I didn't know what was happening behind those emerald eyes.

"Harry, what—"

"You didn't think you could get away with stealing my underwear and then lying to me about it, did you?" He kept moving forward, forcing me backwards until I felt my calves hit the bed and I fell onto it.

Harry climbed over top of me, his knees on either side of my hips. For just a moment, I looked up, staring at the slight flutter of his eyelashes, the gentle flush on his cheeks and the light slick of saliva on his bottom lip. And then he we were kissing again.

My eyes closed and I sank into the sensation, thinking that if this was how I was going to be punished, I could stand to give into my depraved impulses more often. Eventually, he settled against me, nudging our shoes off and pushing them to the floor with his feet. His weight on me was heavy, but comfortable. Warm and lovely like I had been lacking him all my life, ironically enough.

Harry lapped at the inside of my mouth like he was drinking cream from my lips. Each stroke of his tongue rolled through me to a spot in my stomach where knots were steadily winding up. He shifted once and I felt the firm press of his erection against my hip; he could probably feel mine too. Harry moaned into my mouth and then retreated with a sharp suckle to my tongue, whispering, "Let's take care of that, shall we?"

Hands dove beneath my shirt. The same strong, hot hands that had cradled my shoulders so gently. They came up and brushed against my nipples before sliding back down to hold my hips. I started trembling violently; you would've thought I was sitting naked in the snow. Where his hands touched me, my muscles tightened so harshly, I was in pain. A pained noise must've escaped my lips because he suddenly froze.

"Draco?" Harry murmured, his eyes full of concern as he withdrew his hands. "Are you okay?"

"No," managed to get out, shaking my head back and forth. "No, it hurts…."

"You're too tense," he said, rolling over so he could lie next to me. "Come on, you know I wasn't really going to hurt you, right?"

"I know," I said, squeezing my eyes shut and hating myself. "I ruin everything by thinking too much."

"So don't think. Just for this moment." His hand came up and held my face, a thumb sliding back and forth across my cheek. "Just be happy." I looked up into his eyes. He was smiling at me, that sweet crooked grin and it made his eyes sparkle. "Because I'm so happy right now."

I huffed out a strained laugh, giving in. "Fine." I managed a small smile and tried to focus on keeping my bones from rattling. Harry kept his gaze on my face, and leaned in close, touching his forehead to mine.

"Don't think," he whispered. "Just be."

I didn't look away from him, even as his other hand slid down between us and started fiddling with the button to my trousers. I pressed my nose to his neck and breathed in.

"Harry," I said, my lips touching his throat when I spoke, "Harry, I love the way you smell."

"Oh yeah?" The low hum of his voice…I could taste it against my tongue. "Will you tell me why?" His hand pushed my trousers and pants away from my erection and I closed my eyes, kissing the throbbing vein beneath his flesh.

"You smell like love, to me."

He stilled for a moment and then an arm wrapped around my shoulders and tightened me against his chest. Harry's fingertips nudged against my cock and I lost all the breath in my lungs. I lowered my own hand, undoing the zip of his trousers because there was no way—even if I was losing my mind—that I was going to pass up this moment when I could make it wonderful for both of us.

I smeared my thumb over the head of his cock and with my fingers slick with precome. Slowly, I ran my hand along his perfect length; it burned in my cold fingers. I still wasn't looking at anything, already on a sensory overload. But he touched me the same way I touched him.

Steadily, with hot skin, sticky with sweat as we pressed together, our strokes became faster and faster. The same way there was a tight buildup coiling in my stomach and at the base of my spine, my head went hazy and hot, like my mind was floating right out of my body. After only a few moments, he knocked my hand away from him and pressed his erection against mine, rutting up against me like I'd fantasized so long ago. My teeth clamped down on his neck and his hand gripped my arse, pulling me closer. I came then, moaning desperately into his neck. Harry following not a second afterward.

We laid there, breathing and being gross, covered in come and sweat and saliva. But it was the best moment of my life as far as I could say. I was so happy. So happy just to be there with him and our mess.

"Now's the part where you agree to be my boyfriend," I said to him as I pulled back and smiled at his similarly smiling eyes.


Summer, near the end of July, I rolled out of bed, tugging the sheets from around my hips as I stumbled over to the wide-open French doors that lead out to my balcony. The evening breezes gusted into the room and cooled my sweat-dampened skin, making me break out in goosebumps. There was the odd taste of sleep-smothered berries at the back of my throat. I sighed, staring out over the wide rolling hills of the English countryside. It had already been a lovely day. The night was going to be glorious too, I just knew it.

I turned around and looked back inside my room. I liked it a lot more than my room at the mansion. This one was warm and open. The light colored walls gave way to high, vaulted ceilings that cast deep shadows when the afternoon sun spilled through. The furnishings weren't harsh and overcrowding like they were at the mansion; I had enough space to breathe and feel like I wasn't a prisoner here. My bed wasn't far from the balcony where I stood and for a moment, I faced it, letting a smile creep across my lips.

The white bed hangings billowed from the bedposts as the summer breezes pushed through. And still sleeping, tangled in the sheets, was Harry. He had come to the chateau for the last week in July so we could celebrate his birthday together. It would be in a couple of days and I had a mountain of presents for him. Everything that he'd pointed out in Diagon Alley that day all wrapped up. I knew it was going to make him mad to get all those things at once. He never thought he was worthy. But I didn't mind deliberately riling him up. If I was lucky, I could goad him into some angry sex to make up for it.

Honestly, though, I didn't think that I could give him enough to balance out the fact that he'd given himself to me. And I didn't even have to come up with some clever plan to get him. Not that my previous plans had been all that clever anyway. Speaking of which….

I reached down and picked up the nearby pair of pants that had been tossed aside before our lovemaking just a few hours before. I tugged them on and then slipped over to the bed, crawling up and over to Harry, straddling the back of his hips. I leaned forward and pressed my chest to his shoulders, kissing his neck. When I felt him stir beneath me, I couldn't help the smile that stretched across my lips. All this grinning was starting to hurt my face. I didn't mind it so much, though.

One of his arms came up and wrapped around my waist to hold me as he rolled over so we were chest to chest.

"Good morning," he said sleepily, kissing my face.

"It's almost eight," I told him.

"Who cares?" His hands smoothed down my spine and he kissed me. Harry gripped my arse in that possessive way that I adored. But then he abruptly stopped kissing me and pulled away, looking down at my hips. A smirk popped up with the hushed chuckle he gave.

"You're wearing my pants again."

"I claim them as my own," I said, giving him a tap on the nose. "All your pants are mine now. As is everything that goes in them."

Harry laughed. And I was happy. No thief had ever been more successful than I. I may be a liar, but that is the truth.