Harry is spending Saturday night sitting with Ron at one of the tables in the common room when Blaise comes over to them.
"I think you're done with your studies for now." He smiles when he sees Ron and Harry's surprised faces.
"Um, Hermione may eat us alive if we leave these charts unfinished." Harry doesn't seem convinced. "She promised, and not in a good way, to come and check on us later."
"Harry, you faced You-Know-Who, how scary can she be?" Blaise rolls his eyes.
"Are we talking about the same person? Ridiculous discipline, bushy hair and always dragging that one around?" He points at Ron.
Ron splutters and Blaise laughs.
"Honestly, Harry, I need to talk to you. Get your books together and come over here." He turns to Ron. "If it helps you feel better I can admit that I haven't even started on my chart, you can help me figure it out. That way at least one of you goes free from the taskmaster dragon's wrath."
Harry slowly starts to collect his books and mess of parchment. He frowns when he follows Blaise a bit away. "This better be good."
"I don't know if it is good, but I'd say that it's important." Blaise stops and turns to him. "Draco wants to talk to you."
"Um." Harry looks around. "Then why isn't he here?"
"We have made a deal. He is waiting in our room for you, and I'm making sure that you won't get interrupted. I'm ensuring that Ron stays down here, if I so have to chain him to the floor I will, and we will stay away until either you or Draco comes down." He sees Harry throw a glance towards the girls dormitories. "I promise, I'll even keep the dragon out."
"Well, what did he want? Draco, that is." He chews on his lip.
"Something about a nightmare. I take it that you know what that means." He squeezes Harry's arm. "Get up there and talk to him. I guarantee that no one will disturb you, you're on your own until one of you gets back here."
Harry looks thoughtful. "Thank you." He takes his bag and heads for his dormitory. So Draco wants to talk about the dream, at last. Harry has been curious, no denying that. What could Draco have dreamt that affected him that strongly? What could he have dreamt about Harry? What was he thinking when he woke up and stared at him? Well, hopefully he'll get to know soon. When he enters he sees Draco sitting on the bed, composed but pale.
"Can you lock the door please? I do trust Blaise with things like this, but just in case." Draco's voice is shaking slightly, and he looks down in the floor.
"Of course." Harry locks the door, leaves his bag at his own bed and walks over to Draco. "You wanted to talk to me?" He sits down next to him.
"Yes." He keeps his eyes on the floor.
"About your nightmare?" Harry tilts his head a bit, trying to see Draco's face.
"Yes." Still no movement.
"Um, Draco? Don't you think this will work better if you looked at me? Sometimes?"
"And maybe if you said something more than 'Yes'?"
"Yes. I know. This is hard for me, OK?"
"I can see that." Harry puts a hand on Draco's arm. "If it's this hard, are you sure that you really want to tell me?"
Draco looks up at last, meeting Harry's eyes. "Yes, I'm sure. I want to share this with you. I think I need it." He sighs. "It's just... hard."
"Come." Harry climbs up on the bed and reaches out a hand for Draco, who stops breathing and just stares at the hand in something close to panic.
"Please don't..." He takes a few deep breaths and reaches out and takes the hand. Holding Harry's hand hard he closes his eyes for a moment, and then he climbs up on the bed too.
"You look at me as if I'm going to disappear any moment." He gives him a small smile.
"Yes." Draco's voice is almost a whisper. "Please don't." He lets go of Harry's hand and sits down, half turned to face him.
Harry looks confused. "I'm not going anywhere. Blaise promised that we would have all the time we need, you don't have to be afraid that I will leave."
"But you do. Every night." His eyes are pained and he clenches his hands hard.
"Um. No?" He looks even more confused. "I'm not going anywhere at night. I don't really follow you now."
"In my dream."
"You have it every night? The same dream?" Harry looks at him with big eyes.
"Almost every night, and it's always the same." He looks away, and then back to Harry with a calculating expression. "Harry, I've changed my mind. I want to talk about something else first."
"Oh. I guess that's fine. What?" He frowns slightly.
"I..." Draco swallows. "I want us to talk about before the fire."
Harry looks down on the bed, the frown more marked. "That's a pretty sensitive topic, are you sure?That will probably be hard on our... relationship with each other."
"Or it will make it stronger, if we can talk about it and live through it." He's still pale, but his expression is determined.
"Maybe." He looks up, eyes unsure. "Don't you see, this is where I must face that my trust in you were misplaced, that you were lying to me after all."
"What?" The hands get clenched again. "When am I supposed to have lied?"
"You said that you never wanted me any harm, but that day you brought your two friends to find me and capture me, or just kill me." Harry looks really sad and disappointed.
"Did it really seem like that to you? That I was in charge, and the other two did my bidding? That they were doing what I told them?" His voice is low but his eyes intense.
Harry frowns, sitting quiet for some seconds. "Well... no. It wasn't really like you had any control over them."
"Did you see me firing a single spell at you or your friends?"
"Noo..." The frown is deep now.
"Do you remember the three times I acted in some way?"
"I don't know..." A very small ray of hope can be seen in Harry's eyes.
"The first time I tried to stop them from burying the diadem you obviously needed badly. I had to yank him back physically, but it worked." He looks straight into Harry's eyes. "Second time I tried to interfere was when Crabbe started to use Unforgivables. I knew he wouldn't shy away from using the killing curse, and I had to at least try to stop him, try to distract him."
"Yes, I remember. He tried to Crucio me, and you yelled at him not to kill me, that you needed me alive." The frown is still there, but his face is unsure, and there's definitely a ray of hope.
"And then all hell broke loose. Your friends were there and there were spells flying everywhere. I had lost my wand and was totally useless. And then I saw how both Crabbe and Goyle were aiming for you, and I was so sickeningly afraid..." He moves a hand over his eyes.
"...and you yelled. You yelled so loudly the roof almost came down. You yelled for them not to kill me. And that bought me the extra second I needed to disarm Goyle." A smile dawns on Harry's face, and he leans over and takes Draco's hand. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" He looks tired and haunted.
"For doubting you. You helped me again, I just didn't see it." He strokes Draco's hand with his thumb. "I can't believe you didn't tell me this before."
"I don't like talking about the fire." He looks down, poking at the cover.
"Is it because of Crabbe's death?"
Draco snorts. "You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, so I'll just keep my mouth shut."
"Oh." Harry blinks, then a knowing expression comes over his face. "Oh, I see. This is where the dream comes in."
"Want to tell me where it begins?" He squeezes Draco's hand. "I'll be with you all the time."
"That's what I'm afraid of. And yes, I want to tell you." He swallows. "I just want to tell you that this is very hard for me, and I might... well..." He squirms and looks down, and the pale face gets tinted in pink on the cheeks.
"Just start at the beginning, and I'm sure that we'll make it, one way or another. Where does it start?" His thumb rubs the back of Draco's hand, slow and soothing.
"It starts in the fire. When the fire was there, all around us." He takes a shaking breath. "I'm back there, but Goyle isn't there, I'm completely alone." His eyes are wide when they looks up at Harry. "When I am there the loneliness is the most painful thing ever. It... it just..." His voice breaks, and he takes a deep breath. "You have no idea how it was. The heat coming closer, the panic and the powerlessness. I was more or less already dying. In my dream I'm sitting there, just knowing that it all is over. I'm facing my own death alone, unloved and outcast. It's just so..." He presses his free hand to his mouth and looks down.
"At least you're not alone now. I know that it might not help that much against the dream, but right now I'm here with you." Harry squeezes his hand gently. "And I don't believe that you are unloved, there are those who love you."
"Whatever." His eyes are still on the cover, and his voice shakes slightly.
Harry strokes his arm. "Do you want to continue? We've done the start, what happens after that?"
"After that... That's when I see you." A sob shakes his body, he yanks back his hand and turns away. "I can't do this."
"It's all up to you, but I think you can. I know that there are things that are terrible to face, but I also know that it gets better if you manage to do it." He reaches out for Draco's arm. "I understand that this is hard for you, and I'm not judging. I'm listening."
"You're coming on your broom, through the flames..." There's another sob, and he keeps turned away from Harry. "Back then, in the fire, I couldn't believe it. I didn't dare to believe that maybe I wouldn't die after all, maybe you would help me. And you did."
"Of course I did. I heard you, and I just couldn't leave you there." Harry carefully tugs at his arm. "Come, sit here with me. There's nothing to be ashamed of, I assure you that I know how it is when memories overwhelm you."
"But you... you were such an idiot!" Draco turns around and looks at him with blank eyes and an upset face.
"Sometimes I get to hear that, but I must admit that I don't understand why this time."
"You came to save me. You should have hurried to safety, but instead you turned and saved me." A single tear trickle its way down his cheek.
"I couldn't do it any other way. I just couldn't." A hand reaches out and dries away the tear.
"But you could have died!" This time the tears are more. "You had a whole world to save out there, and you turned anyway. You risked it all for me. I don't know what you were thinking."
"I was thinking that you were sat there, waiting for your death. And there were no way in hell that I could have left you there." He strokes his hand up and down Draco's arm. "What happens in your dream? I was there on my broom."
"Yes, you are. And I see you reach out your hand for me..." There's another sob and more tears fall. "You reach out your hand, and I start to reach mine out too. It's such a wonder, my head is whooshing in relieve, joy, thankfulness. I'm not going to die, I'll survive and get a second chance at life, and I can't believe that it's actually you. And then..." The sobs gets more frequent and he hides his face in his hands.
"I'm here. You're not alone." He moves closer, tugging one of Draco's hands down and laces their fingers together. "And then?"
Draco dries his face on his sleeve and takes a deep breath. "Then I see it. Everything goes so slowly, so slowly. There's a big wave of fire, and you don't see it. And it... it rages in over you, consuming you. Excruciatingly slowly it happens, and I have to watch. All I can do is to see you die in front of my eyes, knowing that it's all because of me." With a big sigh he gives up, hiding his face in Harry's shoulder and lets the tears fall.
Harry lifts his free hand and starts stroking Draco's hair. "It's OK, I'm not dead, I'm here with you."
"But you could have died." Draco looks up with a teary face. "And it would all have been my fault." He sobs. "I see you die every night, and it rips my heart out to watch it."
"Draco, listen to me. Yes, I took a risk turning back for you, but it was my decision, not yours. If we should have been so unlucky that I died in the fire it would have been my fault." He strokes Draco's hair again. "But we weren't. It all went well, I was able to save you. You didn't have to die."
"I don't care if I die or not, it's not of any importance. All I can see is you, and it's more painful than anything I've ever experienced. Whatever I could do to save you, I would do it. Anything." His voice starts to shake. "But I can't do anything at all, just stand there and stare in terror as the only one who means anything goes under."
"Draco..." Harry looks down on their clutched hands, then away, and then back to Draco. He bites his lip and seems to hesitate. "You said that you don't do that hero worshipping thing."
"No, I don't." He starts to dry the tears from his face.
"Then..." There is more hesitation, and he chews his lip forcefully. "Then why is it so significant that it's just me in that dream? If it isn't because of my reputation."
Draco dries the last of his tears, and suddenly he just haven't got energy to pretend any more. With a sigh of defeat and a half-smile he looks at Harry. "There are so many other reasons to love you."
With big eyes Harry reaches out a hand and strokes Draco's cheek. Then he let his finger trace the cheekbones, the eyebrows and eyelids, and with a small smile down the nose. After that he moves to follow the jawline, and when he start to trace the lips there is a small gasp from Draco. When Harry leaves the lips he lets his hand fall, and watches Draco with an unsure expression.
"Harry?" The voice is shaky, and he slowly reaches out for Harry. Draco's hand cups his face for a moment, then he moves it, letting his fingers stroke through his hair. "Can I kiss you?"
"Finally! That was about time!" Blaise walks across the room, heading for Draco's bed.
A confused Harry blinks a couple of times as he lifts his face from the back of Draco's neck, where he seems to have been sleeping. "Huh? What? What time is it?" He tries to untangle his arm from Draco's firm grip, to be able to turn and look at Blaise properly.
"Do you know how long I've waited to find you two in the same bed?" He grins broadly.
Slowly Harry's brain starts to process the situation. He's in Draco's bed, and next to him lies Draco himself, with his back against him. Harry still has his arm around him after some unsuccessful tries to get it free, and he's fast asleep. With a determined effort and a slight blush he manages to extract his arm and turn around to face Blaise. A dissatisfied sound can be heard from behind him, there's the sound of someone moving, and then a possessive arm gets thrown around him.
"Well, aren't you a sight for sore eyes?" Blaise flutters his eyelashes. "Oh my, so cute."
Harry groans. "Is it morning or what?"
"Yes it is. Some of us wake up together in a soft bed, some of us wakes up on a sofa in the common room." He sits down on his own bed, still smiling.
"Um. Yeah, thanks for that." He rubs his eyes.
"No problem. I hoped that this would be the reason that you never came down." He leans back, propping himself up on his elbows. "And sorry for coming up here, by the way, but if you were in the same bed I thought that there was a possibility that you wanted to be woken up."
"What?" Harry blinks.
"I don't know how public you are going to be, and even though Ron is sleeping with the dragon, he's bound to come back some time. And I wanted to give you the chance to decide whether or not he finds you in the same bed."
"Oh. I don't know, we haven't talked about that." Slowly he manages to prop himself up on an elbow. "Thanks, though."
"No, I imagine you had other things to do than talk yesterday." He winks.
"Well, we managed to keep ourselves busy." A blush rises on Harry's cheeks.
"I'll take it this was more enjoyable than your earlier attempts at two people keeping each other busy?" The grin is back.
"How about that the two of you just shut it?" An irritated voice can be heard from behind Harry. "Some of us are trying to sleep." The owner of the voice starts to tug at Harry. "Come back here, I'm not done with you yet."
"I think that that's my cue." Blaise stands up, still grinning, and nods at Harry. "Remember what I said about Ron. If I were to make a guess I'd say that you have an hour or so." He leaves the room and closes the door behind him.
Harry turns back to Draco and is pulled down unceremoniously for a frustrated kiss. He manages to get some words in. "Did you hear what Blaise said?"
"I highly doubt that Blaise could ever interest me less than he does right now. Well, maybe except for the part about keeping you busy." He firmly pulls Harry in for another kiss.
"You know, we could have company any second."
"And you talk too much."
"Right now it feels like a really bad idea, but we actually have to talk. Soon."
Draco pouts. "You're no fun." He gives Harry an estimative look.
"Draco, please." Harry groans. "Ron is going to walk in through that door pretty soon, and by then we need to have decided if he should be allowed to see us like this or not." He sits up and looks at Draco with a worried frown.
"Right, right, I'll be nice." Looking sulky he sits up next to Harry. "So, do we want to hide or not?"
"It seems like you already have your opinion clear."
"I'm not saying that it's a bad idea to hide, but face it, that would be what we'd be doing." He tries to brush some of the hair away from Harry's forehead. "What do you think?"
Harry squirms a bit. "Honestly, if I'm going to tell my best friend that I have a boyfriend, I'd rather not do it by sitting in said boyfriends bed on public display."
"No, maybe not the best way to break it to him." He kisses Harry on the cheek and sighs a bit. "Get dressed and make your bed look slept in, and then we can continue this discussion in a more proper way until Weasley comes back. Does that sound good to you?"
"Yes, it does. Soon." He leans in and kisses Draco thoroughly. "Sorry. Sometimes you just have to." He nods knowingly and walks over to his own bed, messes it up and gets dressed. Looking as if he just woke up he walks over to Draco and watches him arrange his hair to perfection.
"I don't know if I like your hairstyle." Harry looks at Draco in the mirror with a frown.
Draco freezes. "What? Why not?"
"Because it prevents me from running my fingers through your hair like I want to. If I do anyway I just mess it up, which leads to two things. One, you get mad at me for ruining your hairdo, two, everyone sees what we've been up to." He grins. "But except from that I think it makes you look beautiful."
"Don't do that to me." He rolls his eyes.
"It's nice now, come and sit down." Harry tugs at his arm until he get him over to the bed. "So, nothing strange with us sitting next to each other talking, right?"
Draco gives a sigh. "So. What's your opinion?"
"I... I really don't know. One part of me says that it's no big deal, I have got a boyfriend, so what? Why should that be something to hide? But on the other side I know that it won't be that easy, there will be a whole lot of talking and general fussing. And I'm sorry to say, but honestly, people will react to it being you and me, for one reason or another. There will be a lot of unpleasantness. And looking at it that way, why does anyone else need to know? This really just concerns you and me. But then again, it would be really annoying to have to hide it all the time. I mean, I would like to show openly how I feel about you, and it would be really nice to be able to sleep with you at night. And it wouldn't feel nice to lie to my friends about it." He sighs deeply. "I have no idea."
"Well, but I have one." He leans in and kisses the corner of Harry's mouth. "What about making it to two different groups. One group that is everyone out there, and the other one a small group with people we trust. My suggestion is our closest friends only. Then we can tell them now, and wait to go public with it. That way you don't have to lie to your friends, and when we're in our dormitory we don't have to hide, we can sleep together if we like to."
"But what about you? What do you think about it?" A bit distracted Harry takes his hand.
"Honestly, it doesn't matter to me. If we hide we can't show our feelings openly, if we tell, then probably some people will be mean to me. I mean, they will react to a Malfoy with their Saviour, and I understand completely if you're ashamed to be seen with me – "
"What? No! No way!" He grabs Draco's shoulders firmly. "I'm not ashamed of you, never! I thought I told you that I don't care what others think about you, I prefer to form my own opinion. If that's what you think, that I want to hide because I'm ashamed of you, then I'll announce it in the Great Hall at lunch."
"Easy, easy." He lifts Harry's hands down from his shoulders, but keeps holding them. He smiles a weak smile. "I believe you. Thank you." He leans in and gives him a quick kiss. "Well, as I said, to me it doesn't really matter, so what do you think of my suggestion?"
"I think it's a good one. For now at least. Should we tell Ron immediately?"
"I don't know, who are the ones we want to tell? Blaise already knows and I suppose you want to tell both Weasley and Granger?" He looks at the door, and then lets go of Harry's hands with a sigh.
Harry tilts his head. "Yes. Thinking about it it's not that many. I don't think the rest of the class need to know."
"Don't forget Pansy. She's non-negotiable."
"Well, it's our dormitory, Hermione and Parkinson then. Should we get them here and tell them all at once?" He scratches his chin.
"Why not. That way Blaise and Pansy can protect us if your friends can't take it. Since those two already know." He leans in and presses his face into Harry's neck and inhales deeply. After that he kisses the spot and sits up again. "Sorry. Sometimes you just have to."
"Does Parkinson know? How?" Harry looks confused.
"She doesn't know now, but she will understand what it is about when she gets summoned here and sees my happy face." He smiles.
Harry smiles back, but then the smile falters. "Ginny."
"What about her?" Draco narrows his eyes, regarding him in suspicion.
"I need to tell her too. I owe her that."
"I don't know if I like that your ex has that kind of claim on you." He looks displeased. "It's not your fault that you are gay, you don't owe her anything. Especially not when it's things that concerns me too."
"Yes I do, I treated her like shit, and I know it's something she'd really like to know. Please don't ask me to choose between you." He looks dejected.
"She marched up to me unprovoked and hit me in the face, sorry for not being her biggest fan."
"In her opinion you had stolen her boyfriend." Harry makes a sad little smile.
"No way. You were mine all the time, you just didn't know." He tilts his head. "So actually, she was just borrowing you from me for some time." A radiant smile suddenly wakes up on Draco's face, and before Harry can react he's pulled into a enthusiastic kiss. When it ends, Draco is grinning broadly. "Sure, let's tell her too. I'm looking forward to making it clear that you're mine, and that she's not allowed to even look at you the wrong way any more."
"Um, maybe I should do it on my own." He looks a bit hesitant.
"Not a chance. This is my thing to tell too, I want to be there. And I don't trust her the slightest not to try and guilt trip you for it, hopefully she'll play nicer if I'm there." He looks thoughtful for a moment. "And if she hits me again, this time I will hit her back."
Harry groans. "Draco, she's not the enemy you know. She's a nice and funny girl, and she's not going to... well, she might make a scene. But only a small one. And I actually like her very much."
Draco closes his eyes for a moment. "I'm going to explain something to you." He assumes a very patient expression. "This girl is your ex. A pretty new ex in addition to that. Until recently she was one of the things most central to your life. For all that's holy, you were going to get married! You don't get much more committed than that." He sighs. "Is it very hard to understand that I might be a bit... protective of you around her?" There's a twitching in the corner of his mouth. "And... telling me how much you still like your ex... that's not really nicely done."
"Oh." A smile tugs on Harry's lips. "You're jealous."
There's a snort, and Draco pulls Harry close, hiding his face in Harry's neck. "Maybe a little."
"Draco, I'm gay, and she's a girl. I've never been in love with her. I don't want her. I certainly don't need her, not for anything. You're perfectly safe from her." He strokes his hair. "Two more things. Firstly, I'm sorry if I said things that hurt you, I never meant to. Secondly, however much I like to hold you, Ron will soon be back, and it will kind of crash our plan if he sees us like this."
"I like the first one but not the second one." He sits up and moves away from almost sitting in Harry's lap. "So, what about the plan?"
"Well, we can ask Ron to get the girls, he's well-known over there, and one of us – "
The door opens and Ron enters. When he sees them sitting on Draco's bed his eyes narrow. "Aren't you two done talking yet? Blaise was totally insane yesterday night, I had to sleep with Hermione, and it was not popular with all of the girls." He glares at Draco.
"Actually Ron..." Harry stands up and walks over to him. "I was wondering if you could do me a favour."
"No way. I'm not getting kicked out again."
"No, it's actually the other way around." He bites his lip.
Ron looks at him in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"I would be very happy if you could go back to the girls and bring back Hermione here." He hears Draco clear his throat. "And Parkinson. Both of them."
"You want me to go get Hermione and Parkinson and take them back here? Now?" Ron puts down the sweater he was holding.
"Yes please." Harry smiles at him.
"Well, OK. I hope you have a good reason." He leaves the room again.
Draco stands up and walks over to the door. "I'm going to get Blaise too. I have a suspicion that he'll be sulking for days if he miss this."
"Good idea." Harry sits down on his own bed, thinking about what to say. How do you tell your best friends that the person they spent most of their adolescence hating is now your boyfriend? Should he explain how long he had wanted Draco, or would Ron get furious for Ginny's sake? Would Draco's best friend stop looking at him in fear as soon as he comes close now? He must admit that that would be nice, it's not really fun to be treated like some kind of monster. What would Hermione say? Or has she already figured it out? It wouldn't surprise him. He looks up as Draco and Blaise walks in. Draco sits down next to Harry and gives him a quick kiss.
Blaise rolls his eyes. "If you're going to be that cute all the time the rest of us will have to flee, again. And I don't even have a girlfriend to sleep with."
"Don't worry, at night we just close the curtains and cast a silencing spell, you won't even know that we're there, even less what we do." He grins at Blaise while Harry blushes slightly beside him.
"Thanks you very much, I just got mental images I don't want to have of two of my closest friends." He puts a hand over his eyes.
"What can I say, I'm always here to make your day." He gives him a satisfied smile.
"Well, I really hope I'm here because you'll going to make my day too." Pansy walks in through the door, Ron and Hermione behind her, the latest looking suspiciously at them.
"Maybe, maybe not." Draco turns the smile to her, and she gives a small squeal, looking as if she's going to clap her hands.
Hermione gives her a disdainful glare and turns to Harry. "Would you care to tell us why all the Slytherins in this room all looks like someone told them that they're not the pariahs of the school?" She and Ron sit down on the latter's bed.
"Irking you to be left out? To not know what's going on?" Pansy winks slowly at Hermione.
"Shut up, both of you." Draco gives both girls an irritated glare. He looks at Harry who has put a hand over his eyes. "If you can keep quiet for a minute Harry has something to tell you."
"I have?" Harry looks stressed.
"It's your friends over there looking totally bewildered. My friends over there looking delighted. I'd say that it's you who'll be doing the talking." Draco gives him an amused smirk.
"Oh. Well. Um." He looks from Hermione's impatient face to Ron's confused. "So, as you probably is totally aware of, I and Draco talked a bit yesterday."
"That's an understatement. Whole evening and half night is more correct." Ron sounds irritated. "You could have told us that it would be that late." He shakes his head. "No offence, but it's Malfoy after all, what could you two have to talk about for so long?" A stifled laughter can be heard from Blaise.
"Um, you see..." Harry squirms. "We started to talk about one thing, and then started to talk about something else, and the time just..." He glares at the snickering Blaise.
"How about coming to the point? Right now you're just babbling really meaningless stuff." Hermione frowns at him.
"Yeah. The point. I'm a bit unsure what you will say about this, but it seemed like a good idea to tell you." He bites his lip and looks at them with a worried expression.
"You really are useless at this." Blaise shakes his head. "Draco, give him some help, or we'll be here for the rest of the day."
Draco smiles, turns to Harry and puts a hand on his leg. "Harry?"
"Yes?" He looks nervous.
"Just shut up." With that he places a hand behind Harry's neck, leans in and kisses him.
Pansy is almost bouncing in excitement, Blaise is wearing a happy grin, Ron looks like someone has thrown a bucket of cold water over his head, and Hermione looks from Draco to Pansy and back to Draco again.
"But... but you two..." She blinks.
"I hate to say I told you so." Pansy grins at her, and doesn't seem to hate it at all.
"But Harry..." Hermione looks worried. "Isn't this a bit sudden?" She regards Draco in open suspicion.
"Well..." Harry looks from Draco to Blaise to Ron, where he takes a deep breath and turns back to Hermione again. "It took me very long to understand, but... I'd say that I'll been in love with him the last two and a half years or so, so no, I think it's about time."
"Oh." She blinks. "I suppose that it could explain some things in sixth year. I never thought though..." She stares at Draco.
Seeming unaffected, Draco addresses her. "If you need to know I've waited for Harry even longer than that, so this is certainly not something sudden."
Harry picks up Draco's hand from his leg and laces their fingers together. "If I couldn't accept that I wanted boys, how could I have seen that it was Draco I wanted all along?"
"Whoa, wait a minute now." Ron seems to have woken up. "What about Ginny?"
"What about her?" Harry bites his lip nervously.
"So you've been in love with him for years, and you just lied to Ginny about your feelings for her?" He frowns.
"Um, most of the time I actually thought that I was in love with her." He looks down on their hands.
"Most of the time? And the rest? Did you spend that time with him?" The frown is definitely angry now.
"Calm down, Ron. This is all new, remember? It all happened yesterday."
"Yeah, sure. Nice try." Ron glares at Draco before turning back to Harry. "Everyone with eyes in their head has seen how you two have been looking at each other all the time." He stands up. "You've been seeing him behind her back, admit it!"
"Ron, easy." Blaise steps up and puts a hand on his shoulder. "There's no need to get all worked up."
"Then I want him to look me in the eyes and tell me that he never cheated on her with that detestable being over there."
Harry gets pale and stares at Ron, unable to say a word.
"I knew it! Let go of me, I-"
"Stop it Weasley." Draco glares at him. "Try to use the brain you've been given, of course he didn't cheat on her. The reason he's all frozen up is because of the time when I kissed him, but he can't really be blamed for that. He just pushed me away and left, what else could he have done?"
Ron's eyes narrow, but he stops fighting Blaise. "So you dared to kiss him? Even thought you knew he was happy with my sister? Why?"
"Because I thought he wanted me too. Kind of a nasty surprise when I was wrong." A pained sound can be heard from Harry, and Draco moves his hand to put his arm around Harry's waist instead, leaning in and whispering something in his ear. When Harry looks a bit happier he turns back to Ron. "And I honestly doubt that they were fully happy. Take a thoroughly gay man and force him to satisfy a love-sick girl, and I would spell that disaster."
"Harry never said anything to me. Don't you think he would have talked to his best friend if he had any problems?" The glare he gives Draco is filled with loathing.
Draco stares at him in disbelief. "And what was he supposed to say? 'Hi, just so you know, I'm not man enough to fuck your baby sister.'? I can't see any way it would have worked for any of you."
"That was uncalled for." Hermione frowns at Draco. "He's obviously supposed to be your boyfriend, it's not nice to emasculate him like that."
"Oh, I think you misunderstood me." Draco arcs an amused eyebrow at her. "I was talking about a gay man trapped with a girl, I'm entirely confident that he's more than man enough to fuck me."
Two blushes rise simultaneously in Harry and Ron's faces, Hermione looks scandalized, Pansy and Blaise try hard not to laugh, and Draco looks unaffected as if he was talking about the weather.
"For the sake of preserving everyone's mental balance, let's leave your actions in bed out of the discussion." Blaise still looks very amused. "I've said it before, there are mental pictures I don't need to have of my friends."
"Yes please." Harry tries to fight back the blush. "I'm sure there are a lot of topics that I would feel much more comfortable with."
"I don't want to be a killjoy here, but Harry, are you really sure about this? About him? If he was in love with you like he said, why did he break your nose on the train? Why did he attack you in the bathroom?" Hermione looks unsure and worried.
"That is between me and Harry." Draco's carefree face is gone, replaced with a hard expression.
"Why?" Ron gives Draco a dark look.
Harry sighs. "Because there are things that aren't made for sharing. Draco and I have been talking a good deal since last summer, and we have straightened out a lot of things. You just have to believe me when I say that he's not the bad person I often thought he was." He looks down at their hands and then up at Draco. "I think I've known that in the past years, I just didn't want to see it."
"Come on, Harry." Ron shakes his head. "You might, I say might, be in love, but this is starting to get stupid. Are you telling us that the creep who tried to scare you off your broom with the dementor trick actually is a good person? Have you forgotten the Diggory badges?"
"People grow up. Especially if they to go through a war."
"So you're just forgetting it all and going on like it never happened?" An irritated frown takes place on Ron's face.
"I remember a boy who abandoned his best friend when the Triwizard Tournament began." Draco's voice is like frozen steel. "There were a lot of rumours about how he even left Harry when Harry most needed support, would you care to enlighten us about which of them was true?" He regards Ron coldly. "But being a thoroughly good person who never makes mistakes, I'll take it that you had a very good reason."
There's silence in the room; all eyes are on Ron who slowly turns an increasingly red colour. It's Harry who starts talking at last. "What about stopping the reminders of who did what? Can't we just admit that we all did stupid things as kids, and that we have grown up a lot since then?"
"But what about the things when we weren't kids?" Ron looks sulky. "How can you ignore all he did during the war?"
"I don't. I know that he saved my life, more than once. I know he did some bad stuff, but I also know why. I know that he didn't want to fight at the Death Eaters' side. Even Voldemort knew that." Harry finds Draco's hand and squeezes it when the latter gasps and pales.
"You can't know that." Hermione wears a slightly patronizing expression.
"Yes, I can. I heard him talking to Lucius during the battle. He wondered if Draco had stayed behind to befriend me. And I don't have to remind you that Voldemort was a highly skilled Legilimens, it wouldn't have been hard for him to get through Draco's defences and find out his wishes."
Five pair of eyes are locked at Draco, all serious and slightly scared. Imagining being the person Voldemort knew was silently rebelling against him is a unpleasant thought. Suddenly the silence is broken by an unexpected sound – Hermione is laughing.
"Oh Harry, this is so typical you." She walks over and gives him a hard hug. "We all know how your life has been, but when you finally get some peace, what do you do? You start by ditching the person everyone thinks is the girl of your dreams, just to surpass yourself by coming out as gay. Obviously you can't stop there, naturally you have to get yourself a boyfriend." With a small laugh she looks at Harry very tenderly. "And of course you have to choose the most controversial guy you can find." She sits back on Ron's bed. "I can't say that I'm totally comfortable with this, I can't say that I'm not worried. But you seem to trust him, and that has to count for something. This is your choice to make, and if Draco Malfoy is the one you have chosen..." She throws her arms in the air. "Well, I suppose I'll have to reluctantly accept it." She turns to Draco. "I'm sorry, but I don't like you. On the other hand, I don't know you either. I will try to keep an open mind."
Draco blinks. "Thank you. I think."
"Hermione, you've got to be kidding." Ron groans. "Am I the only one who still has a working brain? It is Malfoy we're talking about. He's been an ass as long as I have known him, and last time I checked he was a sentenced criminal, convicted for his actions in the war."
"He's been a good and loyal friend as long as I've known him." Pansy looks irritated. "I know that he sometimes may have been a mean kid, but I also know that it takes two to make a quarrel." She throws an almost scared glance at Harry. "And if Harry Potter can accept him, isn't it time to start reappraise your opinion?"
"You're mental, all of you." With an annoyed snort he stands up and starts walking for the door.
"Ron." Harry sounds pleading. "If you're not going to accept this, at least please don't tell on us."
Ron gives a jerky nod, and then he leaves the room.
"He'll come around, just give him some time." Hermione looks a bit irritated.
"I don't think it's that bad." Blaise leans against Ron's bed. "We've been living together all this time, and he has accepted Draco just fine. He's probably just surprised."
"I think you're right" Harry sighs. "And leaves us with one thing left." He looks around with a thoughtful expression. "I know that Blaise is totally fine with all of this. It seems like Hermione is reluctantly accepting it, and is willing to give Draco a chance at least. That leaves one person." All of them looks at Pansy, who looks plain scared. "Parkinson, I'm going to be honest with you. I don't like it when people say that they want me dead, and I tend to take it personally. On the other hand you seem to be pretty close to Draco, who I care for and plan to spend a good amount of time with. If I promise not to kill you in your sleep, will you please stop looking at me as if I was Voldemort incarnated?"
There's a snort from Hermione. "Don't you get that it would probably be something positive for her? You are to her what Voldemort was to us. The uttermost enemy and the ultimate terror of her dreams."
"No." Pansy's voice is thin and her face pale. "I don't see him as an enemy. You might call me turncoat, I call myself survivalist. This is the world I'm set to live in now, I adapt. However..." She swallows and looks intently down in the floor. "I do see him as one of the absolutely greatest wizards of our time, and he has more reason than anyone to curse me so badly that I won't know up from down. At least."
Harry groans. "Draco, could you please tell your friend that I'm not a monster? That I'm not Voldemort. I don't use Cruciatus routinely to punish those who have displeased me. I don't enjoy causing other people pain. And I certainly don't run around cursing school-girls before breakfast just for fun." He rubs his face. "Parkinson, look at me." When Pansy's big, scared eyes meet his he continues. "You're not on the top ten list of people I like, but if Hermione can I guess that I can too. I don't hold you in especially high regard, but you seem to be important to Draco, so I'll admit that I don't know you, and I'll try to keep an open mind."
Both girls stare at Harry, one in total incredulity, the other in something close to horror. Draco snickers and exchanges an amused look with Blaise.
"Oh, yeah, that reminds me." Harry's face grows hard. "You and you..." He points first at Hermione and then at Pansy. "...will from now on make an intense effort to get along, and that's not a suggestion. I'm so totally fed up with your constant arguments. I expect a change in attitude from both of you, starting now." Then he stands up and holds out a hand to Draco. "How about breakfast?"
"We're late." A small frown shows itself on Draco's face.
"Take it easy, it's just lunch." Harry gives him a warm smile. "And I'm pretty satisfied with the reason for us being late. If Blaise had been there he would have informed us that kissing is serious business."
"If Pansy had been there she would have showed us how it's possible to have both feet on the ground while you're jumping up and down for joy." A smile tugs at his mouth. "And then Blaise would have dragged her out of there, talking about 'mental images'."
Harry laughs. "Probably. Why do you care if we're late?"
"Because when most of the people are seated, everyone will look at the doors every time they open, and it feels like it's written all over us how we have used this day so far."
"I don't think you need to worry. All they will see is two eighth-years coming to have lunch, and I can assure you that you're looking just as correct as always." His eyes travel over Draco's body, and he shows a satisfied smile.
"Seeing anything you like?" Draco lifts an amused eyebrow.
"Definitely." He grins. "Skipping lunch starts to sound tempting."
At that moment they turn around a corner, just to find a person that stands up from leaning against the wall and walks towards them. Ron's face is hard and determined, and he doesn't even acknowledge that Draco is there.
"Harry, there is some things you have to know." He folds his arms. "First, I think you're an idiot. Mental. Out of your mind." He unfolds his arms again and sighs. "You've made your decision, but I honestly don't have to like it. What I do want you to know though is that whatever stupid choice you make I am still your friend." He presses his lips together and shoots Draco the shortest of loathsome glances. "Nothing can come between us and change that."
"Thanks." A happy smile wakes on Harry's face. "That's nice to know." He shoots a smile at Draco before he turns back. "We're on our way to lunch, want to join us?"
Ron sends Draco another acidic glance. "No, sorry. I'd love to, but I don't really appreciate the company." He puts a hand on Harry's shoulder. "But remember, I'm always there if you need me." He passes them and disappears behind the corner.
"Well, if I was Pansy I would say that it was a step in the right direction." A small amount of hurt can be seen under Draco's unaffected expression.
"Don't let him get to you." For a short moment Harry puts a hand on Draco's arm. "He might not be going to become your best friend, but he will get used to the idea and start acting like a normal person in a while."
"Sometimes you're so naïve." Draco shakes his head. "Don't you see, that is how normal people will react when they get to know."
"Yeah. I suppose that's true." Harry sighs. "And I hate it. Well, honestly, I think that's the only reason that I want us to keep this a secret, I can't stand seeing you being treated like that. I don't care the slightest for what they might say about me."
"You care for me." His voice is totally emotionless and his face wary.
"Yes, of course. Why shouldn't I?" Surprise and confusion flows over Harry's face.
"It's strange." Draco seems to choose his words carefully. "I'm not that kind of person. The kind that anyone cares about." He pauses for a moment. "It's a bit scary."
"I'm pretty sure that Parkinson cares for you."
"That's not the same. She's special. Our relation is... different. It doesn't count, it has been there for so long." He chews on his lip and looks a bit frustrated.
"Special. Should I be jealous?" Harry winks at him.
"No. And maybe yes." The look he gives Harry is uncertain and a bit nervous. "I'm not in love with her, and I will never be. But she has been standing by my side when all others had nothing but loathing and hate for me. I will never leave her, however much you dislike her."
"I see. She's a part of the package, if I want you I'm stuck with her too." A glimpse of a laugh in his eyes takes away the seriousness from his words. "Honestly, I can live with that. She's not my favourite pal, and I doubt that she will ever be, but if she only stops treating me like I'm a nightmare come true I think I could accept to have her around."
Draco's eyes are big and filled with emotions, and when he speaks it is with a low voice. "Do you have any idea how much I'd like to kiss you right now?"
"Um, since we're in a corridor in the middle of the school... Why do I always have to be the responsible one?" He sighs. "Come on, let's go to lunch before we do something we'll regret."
"Well, the faster we get to lunch, the faster we can go back to the dormitory and start on our Potions essays. Or something."
"If Blaise and Ron don't want to be there too." He looks displeased at the thought.
"That's what you have curtains for." He gives Harry a satisfied smirk.
When they reach the doors to the Great Hall, Draco puts a hand on Harry's arm to stop him. "Harry, you said that you don't care what people say about me, right?" He bites his lip and looks a bit unsure.
"Yes. I don't care a bit. I care about what I know about you, in my opinion you're a sometimes strange person with a lot of hidden qualities, and I like that person. Pretty much actually. And no, my feelings for you won't change because of what people say, it just doesn't matters." Harry smiles at him. "I promise."
Draco takes a deep breath. "In that case, screw the world outside."
"What do you mean?" A confused frown forms on his face.
"I don't want us to hide. If it doesn't matter to you what people say, then it doesn't matter to me either."
"You mean... you want to go public with it? With us?"
"Yes. You said that I'm the reason that you want it to be a secret, and I say that it's fine with me. I don't want to be scared to silence, forced to hide something that is perfectly normal. I'm not ashamed of us, and I don't want to act as if I am." Draco's face gets unsure. "Or do you still want us to hide?"
"I must admit that it's probably easier to hide, but I really don't like to be forced to do things either." He gives Draco a thoughtful look. "Are you really sure of this? You know how Ron reacted."
"As long as their behaviour doesn't make you leave me, I couldn't care less." He squirms under Harry's firm gaze. "Well, it might sting a bit sometimes, but I'm perfectly sure that it's worth it."
"I'm pretty sure that I told you some time ago that if you were my boyfriend, I would fight for you. That still stands." He reaches out and takes Draco's hand hard in his. "Are you ready to face the world?" When Draco nods he opens the doors, and hand in hand they walk into the Great Hall.
Where one plot ends, another starts. But that's a different story.
Here is where we leave our boys for now. Thank you all very much for reading, you've made my day over and over again.