Harry jolted in bed and sat up swiftly just as the broom in his dream tipped over and dumped him onto the ground. He blinked to get rid of the sleep in his eyes. Then pain struck him with wild vengeance. He let out a whimper and fell back onto the pillows, faint and feverish.
"You will get no pity from us, Harry."
He turned his head to the side uselessly and pouted at his best friends who were sitting on straight-backed chairs beside the hospital bed. His right arm was in a cast and his forehead was bandaged up securely. Upon shifting his legs, he realized that his right ankle was immobilized as well.
It was all thanks to Draco Malfoy, of course.
Ron melted immediately and hurried out of his seat to help his friend sit up. Hermione remained as she was, tight-lipped and stubborn. "I told you nothing good would come of this," she muttered. She flicked her eyes away and Harry noticed her nostrils flaring, which could only mean one thing. A lecture was imminent.
The thing is, the Golden Boy had somehow fallen for the Ice Prince.
The only two people who knew were Ron and Hermione. Well, no one had known but Ron and Hermione. Now, after this incident, it would be a wonder if all of London didn't know already.
He had taken a tumble for Malfoy, after all.
"Who told you to jump in front of that idiot, huh?" she snapped.
"He would have broken his neck!" Harry exclaimed. "You can't be chastising me for saving a life!"
Class had ended for the day and students had been milling down the stairs with the usual organized chaos. Peeves had thought it incredibly funny to pull his pranks at that time of day. Amidst the confusion of it, there were a few noticeable moments.
Firstly, Ron had used Hermione as a shield from the spray of the foulest slime ever smelt.
Secondly, the screams of all those Third and Fourth Year Hufflepuffs were enough to send the portraits scurrying to another room.
Thirdly, Peeves had never fled the scene faster and Bloody Baron had never looked so menacing.
Fourthly, Draco Malfoy had somehow ended up toppling against the banister with Harry Potter's arms around him.
And lastly, Harry Potter had gone over the banister and landed on the level below with a sickening thud.
"Malfoy would have fallen ten steps, Harry," Ron faltered. "You fell four meters."
"Whatever," Harry huffed.
Hermione stood up angrily with a disparaging sound to accompany her twitching mouth. She made a beeline for the door without waiting for her boyfriend.
"You are in so much trouble," Ron sighed.
Harry merely slumped into his pillows and looked quite sorry. To be honest, he hadn't thought that his impulsive gesture would cause so much trouble. But then he thought back to that fleeting moment when he had seen Malfoy's bewildered expression and felt warmth against his arms. He started blushing from his neck up.
Ron narrowed his eyes in disgust and shook his head. He knew exactly what that look meant. Sometimes he wished he could just shake some sense into his friend. "Want anything to eat?" he grumbled.
"Hmm," Harry hummed vaguely.
"You suck," Ron murmured. It wasn't long before Harry was left alone to ponder his thoughts and daydream.
Turns out he had managed to sprain his leg, cut his head open and fracture his hand after that ordeal. It was wonder that he hadn't fared much worse. Being a young wizard leads to a quite resilient body. He was ordered to rest in bed for two days and he had no qualms. So far, no one else had confronted him about the incident. He had received a ton of chocolates. He had also had countless visits from well-wishers and friends.
After a couple days, he was hobbling down the halls in the wake of sympathetic looks and curious smiles.
He was more than sick of those looks. He had had enough because he had been privy to those looks for many years now. Whenever he got hurt, he was treated like a porcelain doll. He had his pride, damn it!
His arm was still in a sling but Madam Pomfrey had told him that he should be able to take it off by the end of the week. His ankle was being difficult so he had to do some exercises every night, but it was expected to be better in a few days. His head wasn't as tightly bandaged. All he had was a large piece of gauze that covered his scar as well as his almost healed wound. He made sure to cover it up with his hair, but the stark white merely stood out against his skin.
All in all, he looked pretty pathetic. He just wished he could chuck his bandages out the window and be done with it.
However, when Draco Malfoy held the door open for him, he retracted that thought faster than a Snitch escaping his antsy fingers.
For most people, there isn't a single defining moment when they realize their attraction for another person. Harry, on the other hand, could pinpoint the exact second he started to notice Malfoy.
It was the second month of his seventh year at Hogwarts and he was on his way to owl a letter to Sirius. Upon reaching the landing of the Olwery, he heard the sounds of another, soft footsteps and all. He barely stifled a sigh when he saw who it was after peeking in. Malfoy was the bane of his existence and could fall off the tower for all he cared. He trudged in unhappily while making sure his back was turned to the Slytherin. Malfoy didn't try to make snide conversation either. They tended to their own owls.
In spite of arriving at the tower second, Harry was done first. He allowed Hedwig to fly out after feeding her a treat and petting her fondly. Then he turned around without thinking and stopped short when he remembered that his rival was standing across from him.
Malfoy's back was turned and his head was bowed. In his hands sat his owl but Harry couldn't see it. He could hear its happy chirps, however.
Everything changed at that moment.
He found himself staring at Malfoy in class. He snuck glances during meals. He took note of what the Slytherin wore and what he talked about. He decided that he didn't particularly like Malfoy's character. He was rude and cold and arrogant and altogether vexing. But his pale skin and slender built was something Harry found interesting.
After fifth year, neither had spoken to each other. They had already said all that was to be said. They had gotten tired of their banter and wanted a break from it, so they chose to ignore everything. Each of them had decided to ignore the other completely.
Harry didn't look up at Malfoy as he walked through the door that was held open for him. His heart was betraying him though. It was pattering away without his consent and causing his cheeks to turn bright red. He quickly limped over to his seat and plopped down beside Neville. Draco Malfoy had just walked him into class. Sort of. Well, not really. Whatever. Close enough. He fumbled to get his things out with his left hand.
"Here," Neville smiled kindly as he reached forward and grabbed the bag from Harry's lap. "Don't strain yourself."
"I'm fine," Harry mumbled.
"Can you write your notes?"
"I'll lend you a copy," Neville said.
"Thanks," Harry sighed. "It's such a pain."
"Hey, maybe you can learn how to write with your left hand. It's a good opportunity," Neville told him with a serious nod. "Don't feel down about this."
Oh, he had nothing to feel down about. He spent History class with his chin on his hands that lay lazily on the desk while his eyes wandered to the side and rested on Malfoy's marvelous profile. He smiled with relish. This was nice.
He jumped when he was swatted over the head from behind. He whipped around and glared at Hermione. Ron kept his eyes on his notes and busily ignored everything going on around him. Hermione proceeded to seethe silently until Harry was quelled into submission. He turned back around and stared through Professor Binns for a few minutes.
Just for a few minutes, though. It wasn't long before he returned his chin on his hands after that and stared at Malfoy once again.
An hour later, individual study was underway in Potions. So, on top of Snape breathing down his neck, Harry had to figure out how to use a knife with his left hand. It didn't help to hear the professor mutter, "Those spells don't seem so useless now, do they?"
Harry exhaled his exasperation and pushed the cutting board away. He hadn't bothered to learn the spells that allowed him to use his wand to cut his ingredients and now he was paying for it. He hated it when his teachers were proven right. In any case, he wasn't good at using his left hand for spells.
Ron slid over a plate of chopped stems as inconspicuously as possible. Harry smiled at him in relief. After dumping the green shoots into the cauldron, he turned the ladle an appropriate number of times while taking care not to lose count. Then he glanced down at the book for his next ingredient. Five drops of moondew. He had forgotten to grab it.
Upon reaching the large cabinet, however, he realized to his dismay that the last few bottles were on the very top shelf. He couldn't put pressure on his feet so he couldn't stand on his toes. He couldn't reach up without standing on his toes. And he couldn't use Accio because he was sure he would end up pulling the whole wall down if he tried to cast a spell with his left hand.
He jumped when he heard a frustrated sigh behind him. Then a long arm came into view above his head. He could recognize that arm anywhere. He felt himself blushing yet again as those slender fingers wrapped around a vial delicately and picked it off the shelf.
"Useless," Draco muttered under his breath as he pushed the vial into Potter's palm. Then he grabbed a dried stalk of aconite for himself before stalking away.
Harry practically floated back to his desk. He was useless! He squirmed in delight.
Then there was Herbology. Harry angrily stabbed at the soil in the pot while trying to find a tuber that was hiding from him. He was so passionate in his endeavors that his makeshift stabbing stick flew from his hand and landed on the other side of the greenhouse. Everyone tittered privately while Harry scowled at this and that. He slowly made his way around the crowded benches to get to his stick.
He stopped short when, right as he was five steps away, Malfoy bent down to pick up the dirty twig with his thumb and pointer. His nose was scrunched up in a disgusted expression and his mouth was pursed as though he had bit into something sour.
Harry all but melted.
"Seriously, Potter?" Malfoy sneered while holding out the stick as though it were dirty underwear.
Harry frowned appropriately and gestured at his right arm that lay in a sling. Malfoy exhaled in defeat and glanced away. Harry grabbed the stick from his hand and walked back. He felt so happy with himself for getting hurt. Malfoy had actually spoken to him.
"You have no right looking so pleased," Hermione grumbled once dinner was done and everyone was in their dorms, readying themselves for bed.
"Why not?" Harry asked, tilting his chin up in defiance. "I am quite pleased."
Ron tugged Harry down. "People are starting to talk," he whispered.
"So let them talk," Harry whispered back. He jerked his shirt out of his friend's hand and shook his head deliberately. "You two are my best friends. What am I supposed to do if I don't have your support?"
"Our support to do what?" Hermione all but screeched.
Harry left Ron to calm her down. He had to go down to the infirmary for a check-up, as per the nurse's order.
On his way up, he was trying to figure out his strange feelings. He had never thought of himself as being gay. Perverted? Maybe. Masochistic? Almost certainly. Gay? He probably was. His deal with Ginny never panned out. He wasn't really a lady's man in that sense. Everyone liked him and idolized him, obviously. But he was always more comfortable with guys than girls.
But he had never been comfortable with Malfoy. So why was he so attracted to the Ice Prince?
And, speak of the devil…
He glanced up when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Malfoy was absently reading the parchment in his hand, obviously not noticing anything around him. Harry kept his head down as he made his way up the stairs.
Just as they were about to move past each other, the stairs started to shake. "Perfect," Draco muttered angrily as he reached out to grab the railing.
Harry tried to do the same, forgetting about the fact that his arm was in a sling. He hissed in pain and then yelped as the staircase started to move, causing him to lose his balance. He flailed helplessly in horror when he felt himself falling backward.
Malfoy pulled him forward by the shoulder. Harry knocked into him and they tumbled onto the steps. Harry gasped as his arm jostled and his sprained ankle twisted into an awkward position upon falling.
Once the flight of stairs groaned to a halt, there was echoing silence. Harry was attempting to figure out if he had broken anything and he hadn't even noticed his position. He was pressed against Malfoy who was splayed over the steps in shock.
"Bloody stairs," Harry mumbled shakily.
Malfoy sat up at that point, but Harry didn't seem to notice. They moved in unison until Draco was sitting upright with an uncomfortable arm around the injured student. Harry had his cheek pressed against Draco's chest and his fist bunched the Slytherin's tie in an attempt to keep his pain in check.
Only when he heard an uncertain cough was he brought back to the present.
He blinked in confusion and stilled. He had been stunned for a moment but now he was very aware. He smelt expensive cologne and his heart thrilled. "I-I'm fine," he said, making sure his voice was impressively shaky. "Just give me a second?"
"Yeah," Malfoy mumbled.
Harry barely resisted the urge to nuzzle. This was so warm and awesome. So what if he was cuddling up to the vilest student in Hogwarts? Harry could care less. He was the Boy-Who-Lived. He could like anyone he wanted. He counted to ten very slowly and then sat back while taking care to look pained.
Malfoy stood up suddenly and stepped to the side, away from Harry. The Gryffindor held in a lovesick sigh and stopped himself from staring after Draco. He tried to pick himself up gingerly after a moment. He was sure to have bruised a shin here and a rib there from the fall, but he was aching all over. Even his head was itching. He tried to use his left hand to push himself off the stone stairs. He ended up stumbling up a couple steps before kneeling down heavily. He wasn't going anywhere until his ankle decided to cooperate with him. He groaned in dismay as he turned around and sat down on his behind.
His eyes widened when he found himself staring directly at Malfoy who was leaning against the banister at the landing.
"So, on a scale of one to ten, how embarrassing is this for you?" the Slytherin drawled while inspecting his nails.
It wasn't embarrassing at all. Harry was practically rocking with delight. He had to suppress his smile though. He threw an unimpressed glare at Draco instead and pulled a face. "What do you want?"
Malfoy smirked. "I simply enjoy seeing you like this," he murmured. Then he pushed off lazily and strolled away with his hands in his pockets.
Harry leaned back as he watched the object of his affection disappear down the stairs. Everything was turning out better than expected.
"Oh, I'll be right back!"
Before the other Gryffindors could answer, Harry was out of the common room in a flash despite his bummed ankle.
Draco had just finished up in the library and was on his way down to his dorm when he struck Potter head on.
Harry fell onto the stone floor with some exaggerated flailing and stumbling while Draco righted himself with one step. Then they stared at each other menacingly. "Watch where you're going," the Gryffindor grumbled.
"Ugh," Malfoy muttered under his breath while massaging his temple tiredly. Harry remained on the ground with his arms crossed against his chest and his lips pursed in an irritated manner. "What do you want me to do?" the Slytherin snapped.
"Help me up," Harry scowled. Then he held out an eager hand.
Draco contemplated just letting Harry sit there and sulk for a few minutes but he knew that that would only cause problems in the future. So he huffed angrily as he wrapped his fingers around Potter's wrist and tugged him up.
"It's your fault that I'm hurt," Harry added as he balanced himself on one foot.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake," Draco growled. "You know what your problem is, Potter?"
"I saved you from breaking your neck?"
Draco blinked in confusion while Harry puffed out his chest and gloated silently.
"No. I wasn't going to break my neck," Malfoy said slowly. "Your problem is that you think I owe you."
"You do owe me," Harry corrected him. "I got hurt and you didn't."
"So you expect me to be grateful?"
Draco closed his eyes and took in a slow breath to calm himself. This was no time to lose his cool. He gritted his teeth but then quickly shook his head to get rid of his frustration. Lately Potter had become quite ridiculous and it was rather taxing to endure. He was always in the way nowadays. Maybe he needed to be more-
He was pulled down by the tie and, just as his eyes flew open, he was being kissed.
Potter let go a second later, but that was still a second after an actual lip-to-lip smooch.
He beamed up at Draco innocently. "You can't hit me because, if you do, you'll get detention."
"Oh my gosh!" Hermione gasped when Harry limped into the common room with an icepack on his cheek. "What happened?"
"Oh, nothing," Harry grinned. "It was filled with love."
Ron choked on his spit and Hermione paled considerably while everyone else was confused. Harry hummed quietly as he traipsed over to the couch and plopped down. Malfoy had shouted his ear off and then hit him a couple times before storming off. But it was all worth it. Getting hurt was definitely worth it.