Author's Note: Originally written for hp-intoxicated fest over on LJ. The prompt was for an 8th-year fic in which Harry and Draco bonded over a munchies-induced trip to the kitchens. I hadn't intended for it to be so long. But it is what it is.

Please, read and review!

"You want me to tickle your what?" Draco asked, scandalized. Surely he'd misheard.

Harry stared at the other boy in confusion for a few seconds before his mind finally caught up and he burst out laughing. "The pear, Malfoy. Not my pear," he corrected once the hearty guffaws that shook his frame faded to mirthful chuckles. "Honestly, in all your years at Hogwarts, you've never sneaked into the kitchens?"

"I never needed to," Draco sniffed with as much dignity as a man tickling a painting of a fruit bowl could muster. "That's what minions are for, Potter. That's what Crabbe and Goy—" Draco stopped abruptly, letting the unfinished sentence fade on his lips. He was suddenly wracked with a deep and intangible feeling of despair. It settled in the bottom of his stomach and felt as though it was weighing down his entire body.

Sensing Malfoy's quick shift in mood, Harry's chuckles died in his throat. He was finding it difficult to concentrate, but he needed to. His brows furrowed as he attempted to make his face look as serious as he felt. He needed to take this moment to say something that he should have said long before. "I'm sorry, Malfoy," he said quietly, shifting on his feet, "about Crabbe."

Draco rested his head against the painting and closed his eyes, taking in a steadying breath. His mind was swimming and his legs felt shaky. He was in no state to be having this conversation, especially not with Potter. "Me too," he whispered absently to the pear. After a moment he seemed to remember where he was and who he was with."Let's not get sentimental, Potter. It doesn't suit either of us," he said in a strained voice. Harry nodded, but said nothing. "Especially not when we've got this illness," Draco continued with a flourish of his hands.

Harry laughed again, feeling the tension fade away. "It's not an illness, Malfoy. We're perfectly healthy," he shrugged. "We've just got the munchies is all."

xx xxx xx

Five hours earlier...

"But I don't want to go!" Draco cried, trying to yank his arm free of Pansy's surprisingly strong grip.

"I don't care what you want, Draco," Pansy said sharply, tugging his arm again. "You spent all summer whining about wanting to restore the Malfoy name. Hiding in the dungeons all year is not the way to do that."

"I was thinking more about making a few strategic donations—not making merry with some sodding Hufflepuffs!" Draco snapped, finally yanking his arm free and hugging it to his chest. "I think you've bruised me," he pouted.

Pansy rolled her eyes, but refused to be distracted by Draco's dramatics. She rounded on him, her squashed face set in a hard glare, her hands balled into fists set on her hips. Lesser men were known to fold under her imperious gaze. "You're being a coward," she accused coolly.

"Am not!" Draco cried in defense, ignoring the stinging lash of truth to her words.

"Yes, you are," she pressed on matter-of-factly. "This has nothing to do with silly house rivalry and you know it. You don't want to go to the party because you're afraid of how other people will treat you."

Draco hated her in that moment, hated how she always saw through his defenses. Her ability to know him better than he knew himself and to provide unwavering support was the only thing that had kept him sane during his ill-fated sixth year. But that didn't mean he couldn't resent her for it sometimes.

"So? What's wrong with that?" he asked petulantly, knowing he was on losing ground. "I know I've never been popular with the other houses, but now I'm officially persona non grata. As are you," he added pointedly. "Why would you want to open yourself to that kind of hostility? It's not hiding, it's called regrouping," he pointed out sagely.

Pansy sighed and took his hand, gently this time. She steered him towards the sofa by the fireplace. Although the summer was hardly over, the Slytherin common room was always cold.

"Draco, the war is over," she began slowly, stroking the edge of his palm with her thumb. "People are tired of the fighting, they're tired of the hatred. They want to forget, they want to forgive. But you need to make an effort too."

"Some things are unforgivable," Draco said quietly, the fingers of his free hand absentmindedly moving to touch the inside of his forearm, the spot where his deepest shame would mark him forever.

"Some people may think like that, yes," Pansy responded diplomatically. "But those are the people who don't really know what happened—how it felt—who sat at home and read news of the war in the Prophet. They can make swift and unbending judgments because they don't understand what war does to people. But Draco, that's a luxury that most of the people here don't have."

They passed a full minute in silence, the only sound to interrupt their thoughts was the crackling of the fire.

"It's too hard," Draco said finally in a shaky voice. His mouth felt unnaturally dry. "Don't make me go, Pans."

Pansy sighed and lifted their intertwined fingers to her face, placing a light kiss on each of Draco's knuckles. It was a calming technique she'd been using on him ever since third year, when the hippogriff attack had landed him in hospital. It wasn't always easy being the best friend of the youngest Death Eater in history, who had seen and felt the weight of true evil before he could legally apparate. But the two of them had been nearly inseparable since the age of three and she wasn't about to give up on him now, not when everyone else already had.

"You know I can't force you to go unless I put you under Imperius. And even you aren't worth going to Azkaban for," she smiled, trying to lighten the mood. When she saw her attempt had failed, she sighed again and shifted tactics. "Draco, maybe if you saw that other people are willing to forgive you, you'd be able to forgive yourself."

Draco turned and looked at her for the first time. "And you Pans, have you forgiven yourself?"

Pansy straightened in her seat, looking a bit put out."Yes, Draco, I have. I tried to turn Potter over to the Dark Lord—which is something even you didn't do." She added pointedly, referencing the time at the Manor that Draco's refusal to identify Potter had given him and his friends the opportunity to escape Voldemort's capture. Draco had never told her about it, but she knew. She somehow knew everything that had happened. "I was scared, I panicked, I made a mistake. But I recognize this and I apologized."

"You what?" Draco gasped, instinctively pulling his hand away in shock. "To Potter?"

"No, I apologized to the statue of Gregory the Smarmy," Pansy said dully. "Of course I apologized to Potter. And you know what he did? He shrugged, Draco. Potter just shrugged. He said he understood. He's really not as dense—or self-righteous—as we thought him to be."

"I can't believe it," Draco groaned, bracing his elbows on his knees and cradling his head in his hands. "Pansy Parkinson, my Pansy Parkinson, apologizing to Harry bloody Potter. The world has gone mad."

"Oh, get over it," Pansy said irritably."In case you didn't notice, the world did go mad. But it's getting back to normal now and you have the opportunity to make sure you end up on the right side of it this time. Please Draco, for once in your life, don't be a prat."

"I am not a prat," he grumbled, his voice muffled by his hands.

"You know very well that you are," Pansy said with a hint of a smile, nudging his hunched shoulders with her own. "Come on, Drakeypoo," she said playfully, teasing him with his most hated childhood nickname, courtesy of his own traitorous mother. "Please come to the party. If not for yourself, then for me."

Draco sighed heavily and leaned back against the sofa. He rubbed his tired eyes with the palms of his hands. "You're perfectly capable of making a drunken arse of yourself without me. Why does it matter if I come with you or not? " Maybe if he annoyed Pansy enough, she'd give up and storm off without him. She'd be mad for a few days, probably hex him a couple times, but she'd come around. She always did.

"Because," Pansy began slowly, as if she were explaining something very simple to someone very stupid, "I, for one, want to reenter wizarding society. And I can't very well do that if my best mate is a social pariah!" She took his hands again, her tone changing from one of annoyance to one of pleading. "Please, Draco. This party means a lot to me. Blaise has already refused to come—you know how he is."

Draco turned and looked at Pansy. Her blue eyes were wide and doleful, her plump bottom lip pushed out in an exaggerated pout. He let out a slight growl, cut with the tiniest chuckle. He pushed her away by the shoulders. "Stop it, you know I can't say no to you when you pull that face."

Pansy smiled and smoothed the skirt of her uniform. "I know," she chirped happily, taking that as his concession. "No one can. Now, go get ready. And for Merlin's sake Draco, fix your hair," she added, giving him a disapproving once over.

Draco's hands shot up to his head and began smoothing his pale blond hair, mortified at the thought that he had been walking around with mussed hair. After a moment of frantic smoothing, he caught a mischievous twinkle in Pansy's eye.

"You utter cow!"

"Oh, you love me," Pansy said with a self-satisfied smirk as she stood. "I'm going to go change, meet me here at half eight. We can walk together, yeah?"

"Fiiiiine," Draco agreed, although he still had to make his displeasure known. "But if anyone hexes me," he called out to her retreating form, "I'm sending you the St. Mungo's bill."

xx xxx xx

"I can't imagine why Blaise would have wanted to skip out on this," Draco said darkly, having to practically shout into Pansy's ear so she could hear him over the too loud music.

Paper streamers in the house colors clung haphazardly to the wall, some of them already beginning to fall from their inexpertly cast sticking charms. There were a number of balloons, each transfigured into the shape of a house mascot, floating through the air. But after the first thirty minutes of the party they had begun to sink to the floor and no one had bothered to re-charm them. There was a table set up in the corner for refreshments, but the snacks had already been picked over. At least someone had had the good decency to spike the punch, Draco thought dryly as he sipped his second cup of pumpkin juice and firewhiskey. It tasted as awful as it sounded, but there weren't any other options. Granger, who had planned the whole thing, had sorely underestimated attendance and party-goer thirst. The butterbeer supply had been depleted within the first hour.

"Oh, stop it Draco," Pansy chided, batting him away from her ear. "Can't you at least try to be positive?"

"Positive about what?" he asked sharply, gesturing out to the room. "I'm sorry to say this, Pans, but this little interhouse experiment is a failure."

Pansy looked around the room and couldn't help but agree. Most of the students stood awkwardly talking with members of their own house, huddled together and tight circles that were less than inviting to other students. The only person who seemed to be mingling with much enthusiasm was Looney Lovegood, that odd Ravenclaw girl with the disconcertingly large eyes. She was currently over with the Gryffindors, chatting animatedly with a very uncomfortable looking Hermione Granger.

As if feeling someone else's eyes on her, Hermione turned her head and caught Pansy's gaze. Pansy watched as the other girl made polite excuses to Luna, who seemed not to mind and skipped off to join a group of Hufflepuffs.

"Oh Merlin, as if this night couldn't get any worse," Draco hissed into Pansy's ear. "Granger is coming over."

"Shut it," Pansy responded tersely, stomping on his foot. "And for fuck's sake, Draco, be nice," she spat through a tight smile.

"Granger!" Pansy greeted the other girl graciously when she arrived. Draco watched in horror as his best friend of more than a decade planted two fashionably continental kisses on each of Granger's cheeks. First she was apologizing to Potter, now she was kissing Granger? He made a mental note to check Pansy for personality-altering hexes as soon as they were alone. For her part, Hermione didn't look any more comfortable with the familiar greeting than she had looked when she was stuck in conversation with Luna."Draco and I were just talking about what a stellar turn out you've got," Pansy said, still smiling and motioning to Draco.

Draco was just about to point out that they'd been saying nothing of the sort when he caught Pansy's expectant expression. "Oh, yes," he nodded, trying to cover his initial blunder. "Great turn out," he said through a tight smile.

"Are you two the only Slytherins here?" Hermione asked, looking around the room with worry.

"Millicent and Daphne were here earlier," Pansy offered quickly. "They either left or found a dark corner, you know how those two are," she added with a wink.

Hermione didn't know, but she nodded all the same. "No one else though?"

Pansy shot Draco a desperate look. "No. Sorry, Granger," she sighed, the false politeness slipping from her voice. "I could barely drag this one from the dungeons"—she jerked her thumb back at Draco—"and he always does what I say. I tried, I did. Nott accused me of going soft in the head, Zabini is convinced that it's a set up and he'll be AK'd the moment he walks through the door, Goyle...well, Goyle doesn't even talk to us much anymore," she said sadly. "I might have been able to scrounge up a few of the seventh years, but you were the one who said no alcohol. It's hard to tempt Slytherins with a dry party, especially one where they feel unwelcome to begin with."

"She certainly didn't mention that to me," Draco grumbled under his breath. He had to step to the side quickly to avoid Pansy's attempt to stomp his foot again.

"But you are the ones I'm trying to make feel welcome!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands. She was sorely put out that the party she'd planned wasn't going over well.

Draco gave a snort. Hermione whipped around to stare at him, her hands planted on her hips in a way that was strangely reminiscent of Pansy earlier in the evening. But instead of finding it endearingly familiar, the nerve of her haughty stance enraged him.

"Care to share, Malfoy?" Hermione asked testily.

Draco ignored Pansy's warning look and turned to face Granger. "Did you really think it would work like this? One piss-poor party and everything that has happened over the past few years would be suddenly forgotten? There aren't any Slytherins here because they don't feel safe, the Ravenclaws aren't mingling because they're still a bunch of snobbish swots, the Hufflepuffs will still shit their trousers every time someone from another house so much as looks at them, and the Gryffindors," Draco gestured wildly to the group of scarlet and gold in the opposite corner, "the bloody Gryffindors are sitting over there completely oblivious to the fact that you can't just will things to happen because it's the right thing. If you can't understand why this party is such an utter failure, then I really don't know what to tell you," he finished coolly.

He could feel Pansy fuming beside him, but couldn't be bothered. It was the first time he'd told Granger off this year and it felt good. It felt normal.

Hermione crossed her arms and squared her jaw, "And what would you suggest?"

Draco gave an affected sigh and examined his nails disinterestedly. "Well for one, if I was trying to throw a good party, I wouldn't have invited your lot," he began.

"Draco, stop it," Pansy said warningly from under her breath.

Draco ignored her, pushing on. "Pansy was right about the alcohol, of course. I'm sure that no one is here because they actually want to be. I imagine everyone was bullied into attendance by yourself or someone equally as mental." He gave Pansy a scathing look from the corner of his eye.

"But...someone spiked the punch." Hermione argued, slightly defeated.

"A single flask of firewhiskey amongst all of us? Please, don't insult me," Draco continued. "Either way, these poor sods showed up, for whatever reason, and now there is nothing for them to do. You've organized absolutely zero social activities and haven't even provided them with the libations necessary to make each others' presence tolerable." Draco stopped and made a great show of straining his ear to listen to the music. "And for Merlin's sake Granger, is this a live album?"

Hermione wrapped her arms around her chest defensively. "I thought that if we couldn't actually get the Weird Sisters, this would be the next best thing."

Pansy pulled a face that looked something between pity and disgust. "Oh, Granger," she sighed piteously. "If you didn't know how to plan a proper party, why didn't you ask for help? I was just as eager for this to go well as you were and I have loads of party planning experience. I could have gotten the bloody Weird Sisters too."

Hermione blinked in surprise, "Really? You think you could have?"

Pansy and Draco exchanged looks. "Of course I could have," Pansy rolled her eyes. "But that is neither here nor there because you didn't bother to ask. I think we can still save this party though. But only if you promise to relinquish complete control to me and to ignore your duty as Head Girl and class joykill to report anyone who looks as though they may actually be having fun."

Hermione gave the dismal party a conflicted look. Ernie MacMillion had fallen asleep on the sofa.

"You've got to promise that it won't get out of hand," she told Pansy sternly.

"No, of course not," Pansy grinned wickedly, her small teeth bared. "Slytherin's honor," she added with a wink.

Hermione mumbled something about not being particularly comforted by that, but Pansy was already ignoring her, turning on her heel so that she was squarely facing Draco. "Darling, I need you to run down to the dungeons and get a few things—"

"Run down to the dungeons? What do I look like, your house elf?" Draco asked angrily.

"No, my house elf has better dress sense," Pansy replied coolly, giving him another once-over. "Just listen, in my trunk there should be a few bottles of Ogden's Finest, I think three should be enough. You know where I keep my records, bring up the new Wizard's Sisters. It hasn't been officially released yet," she added smugly, eyes trained on Hermione. "My cousin Violet got me an advanced copy. She's dating the lead singer."

Draco crossed his arms, "I'm not your errand boy."

"Fine," Pansy shrugged, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "You stay up here with Granger and the rest of the Gryffindors while I go. I'm sure you'll find plenty to talk about with them. I'd suggest you keep the conversation light: quidditch, exams, the weather, that kind of thing. Try not to bring up the fact that your father and aunt personally tortured half of them and their families."

Draco's shoulders fell. "You're still a cow," he grumbled, turning towards the door.

"And you still love me!" she called after him. "Now Granger, I need you to turn off this racket and round everyone up. We've got a party to throw."

xx xxx xx

Draco grumbled, muttered, and cursed under his breath the entire journey to and from the dungeons. By the time he made it back to the party with three bottles of firewhiskey in his satchel and a stack of records under his arm, he was in such a sour mood that even the Bloody Baron would have known well enough to stay away. Why had Pansy insisted on saving this miserable affair? Why did she suddenly care what the others thought of her? The war had turned her into a touchy-feely Hufflepuff, he thought unkindly. Any real Slytherin, he argued to himself, would much rather be enjoying these bottles of firewhiskey from the safety and comfort of their own common room.

The situation he found upon his return did nothing to lighten his growing apprehension about the rest evening. It appeared as though many students had given up and left, but a handful of students, almost entirely eight years—Pansy included—had formed a large circle in the center of the room. Her head was tipped back, the long column of her white throat exposed. Draco stared for a moment in confusion until he saw fine wisps of smoke escape from her mouth.

Draco approached the circle. He set the satchel down and cleared his throat.

"Darling!" Pansy exclaimed with a slight cough. She waved her hands to clear the smoke in front of her face. "Come, come!" she scooted to the side and patted the ground next to her. "You don't mind if Draco cuts in, do you Potter?" she asked Harry, who had been sitting next to her before she offered the space to Draco. "If anyone here needs to smoke, it's him."

Draco shot Pansy a scowl as he sat. He wasn't sure what she had in her hands, but he didn't like her implication—or the fact she had made him sit next to Potter.

"Here," Pansy said, passing him a small piece of white paper that looked like a crudely made muggle cigarette.

"What is it?" Draco asked, eyeing the smoking joint in his hand with suspicion.

There were a few snickers and tuts. Hannah Abbott giggled openly. Draco glared at her and she looked away quickly.

"It's marijuana, mate," Seamus offered with a too-friendly smile.

"I knew that," Draco snapped at the Irish boy, although he had just announced to the room he hadn't a clue. He turned slightly and sent Pansy a desperate look.

Pansy gave a weary sigh. "It's how muggles get high, since they don't have potions," she explained. "It's Dean's. I could smell it on his robes from across the room, so as soon as Granger,"she tilted her head towards Hermione on the other side of the circle, who looked miserable and wracked with worry, "agreed to hand over control of the party to me, I demanded that he stop being such a selfish git and share with the rest of us."

Dean gave an indignant cry, "Oi! I didn't object, did I?"

Pansy ignored him and continued, "Just, put it to your lips, inhale, and hold. Don't swallow the smoke, just let it fill your lungs."

Everyone watching Draco expectantly, which made him incredibly nervous. He used to seek out attention, but the events of the past two years had taught him that survival meant keeping your head low. Steeling his nerves, he raised the small white joint to his mouth and inhaled. Almost immediately, he doubled over in a coughing fit. The other students were laughing, a few even clapped. There was a firm hand slapping him on the back, attempting in the least effective way possible, to help him through the coughs that shook his body.

Draco fully intended on telling off the lot of them, but when he recovered and scanned the crowd, he didn't see the malicious grins he had been expecting. They had laughed, but it wasn't in spite. No one was jeering or mocking him, not even Pansy. Draco stiffened when he realized the large, clumsy hand on his back had been Potter's.

"Pass that here, Malfoy," Potter said politely, pulling Draco out of his horrified musing. "Everyone has a fit the first time, you'll be aces at it by the next time it comes around."

Draco gaped at Potter, thoroughly confused as to why his bitter rival was being encouraging. He turned to Pansy for confirmation that this was just a horrible nightmare, but she was laughing and pouring a cup of firewhiskey for a slightly pink-faced Ravenclaw girl.

xx xxx xx

Taking his cue from Pansy, Draco slowly relaxed and began to genuinely enjoy his time at the party. If she could do it, why couldn't he? Dean rolled another joint and then another. Pansy made sure his cup was always full of the firewhiskey he'd brought up from the dungeons. Inebriation didn't change his fundamental nature, but the warm glow the drugs and alcohol provided allowed him to let go the cold, haughty air he'd learn to put up around others. Being surrounded by a group of his peers (even if they weren't the sort he'd actively seek out for friendship or camaraderie) felt strangely normal. It reminded him of Friday nights in the dungeons during fifth year, before everything went pear-shaped. He and the other Slytherins would just relax by the fire, sipping liquor they'd lifted from their parents' collection, and have a laugh. This was the first time since the night he took the mark that he remembered actually laughing.

And Draco was doing a lot of laughing. Mostly at Pansy's expense, who turned into a shameless flirt at the mere sight of alcohol. First she decided to thank Dean for sharing his weed by climbing into his lap and snogging him full on the mouth. She made Harry lend her his glasses and did a surprisingly good (not to mention flattering) impersonation of him. She sidled next to Neville and began gushing about the man he'd grown in to, squeezing his biceps and stroking his chest. When Hannah Abbot grumbled "slag" under her breath, Pansy laughed. She assured Hannah that she had no intentions of stealing her man away, but if the blonde girl was that worried about it, Pansy be willing to teach her a few tricks and techniques that would ensure Neville's fidelity. "I know a room where we could practice," she winked at the mortified Hufflepuff.

"Is she always like this?" Harry asked, wiping the tears from his eyes as he watched Pansy abandon Neville's side in order to inform Ron that she'd always had a secret fondness for gingers.

"'Fraid so," Draco answered between chuckles of his own. He felt light-headed, giddy almost. "She can't stand the idea of someone else being the center of attention when she's around."

"Doesn't make you jealous though? Or are one of those blokes who gets off on sharing?" Harry nudged Draco with his shoulders and winked.

"What are you on about, Potter?"

"I mean, uh—doesn't it bother you, watching Pansy flirt with other guys?" Harry blushed, not wanting to have to explain himself. He thought his question was quite clear. "I'm not with Ginny anymore, but I still," he cast a furtive glance at the corner where Ginny and Dean were now deep in a whispered conversation, "I don't like to see it. I thought that maybe you didn't mind, because, you know, you two had some sort of...arrangement or something?"

"What! Oh, Merlin no, Potter!" Draco sputtered. "Me and Pans? Pans and me? You've got be—no, no, definitely not!"

"Really?" Harry asked with surprise. Draco could have sworn he heard the slightest edge of hopefulness in his voice. "So you two aren't? I always thought—"

"We've been best friends since we were in nappies," Draco interrupted. "That would be like—that would be like going with my sister." He shuddered at the thought.

Draco could see the wheels turning in the other boy's head. Suddenly he felt very, very ill. "Oh, sweet Circe, Potter," Draco groaned. Without thinking, he lay back against the harsh floor and began to rub his eyes.

This couldn't be happening. Potter couldn't actually fancy Pansy, could he? Pansy would never reciprocate, he was sure. Not even if Potter was the bloody savior of the wizarding world. Wait, if? Potter was the bloody savior and that was the exact reason Pansy would reciprocate. She wanted to reenter society and what better way to do it than on the arm of the Gryffindor Golden Boy? The thought was too much to bear, especially in this state. He could not lose his best friend to a half-blood bastard, no matter how many Dark Lords the speccy git had vanquished.

"Malfoy? Are you all right?" Draco opened his eyes to find Harry, hovering above him with a look of genuine concern on his face. "Do you need anything? Water? A sobering potion?"

"What I need, Potter," Draco groaned, shielding his eyes from the light again, "is for you to obliviate me. I want to go back to the blissful ignorance that was my life before I learned that you fancy my best friend. I can't get the image of a pack of messy-haired Slytherdor brats out of my mind."

"What?" Harry asked, his nose scrunched in confusion. "Oh, no! Malfoy...I-I don't fancy Parkinson," he laughed.

Draco's hand fell to the side and he opened one eye. "You don't?"




Draco sighed in relief. He let Potter help him sit back up, but only because he felt too unsteady to do it on his own.

"You really had me going there, Potter. I thought for sure you were angling for Pansy, asking all those questions about whether or not we were together."

Harry turned away quickly, attempting to hide the scarlet blush that was creeping up his neck and taking over his face. "No, no, nothing like that," he said quickly. "I'm not interested in Parkinson."

"Good," Draco nodded. He had to blink a few times before his vision would focus. "Oh look! Thomas has rolled another joint. I'm rather fond of this muggle seed."

"It's called weed, Malfoy," Harry said with a small smile.

xx xxx xx

"I'm so hungry," Pansy whined. She draped her arms around Draco's neck and hung limply against his chest. "Draco, don't you have any food?"

Draco laughed as he tried to shift the girl off of him. "Sorry, Pans."

"What about you, Potter?" She asked, turning to the boy who had stayed and chatted with Draco the entire night. Although she had been flitting around the room, she hadn't failed to notice this.

"Not on me, but I could run down to the kitchens and nick something," Harry offered.

Pansy clapped her hands together and gave an unbecoming squeal of delight. "Oh, would you? I'll be your best friend!"

"And what makes you think he'd want that?" Draco asked, eyebrow raised.

Pansy slapped his chest, "Shut it, you. You're just jealous because Potter and I are becoming fast friends and we're going to shut you out. Aren't we Potter?"

Harry gave an uncomfortable laugh, his already flushed face turning pinker. Draco wondered if the other boy had been lying to him earlier when he said he didn't fancy Pansy. He could understand it in an abstract sort of way, she did have rather nice tits.

"Pansy," Draco began, keeping his eyes on Harry, who was now avoiding his gaze. "You can't just make people run all over the castle fetching things for you."

"Oh, no really, I don't mind," Harry interrupted. "I figured I could bring up enough for everyone, since we're out of snacks up here. I really wouldn't mind some treacle tart myself," he added, his eyes going slightly glassy as he thought of his favorite dessert.

Now that Draco was thinking about it, he could really go for something sweet as well. Sweet and salty sounded about right. His mouth began to water as he imagined all the treats that Hogwarts kept stocked in the kitchens.

"See?" Pansy interrupted his confectionery daydream. "It's not just for me. Ever the altruist, Potter is going to get something for everyone. But that will be a lot for one person to carry..." A small smirk slid across her face as she looked from Draco to Harry. "Why don't you go with him, darling? It wouldn't kill you to something nice for others for a change."

Draco eyed her warily, trying to figure out her game. He knew that face well, that was her scheming smile. But after a moment, he sighed. He didn't have the wherewithal to try and figure out what was going on that twisted little brain of hers. "Whatever," he said, pulling himself from the ground. He'd been having a decent enough time arguing with Potter about who was likely to make it to the next Quidditch World Cup and didn't really fancy having to break the ice with anyone new. "Potter?"

Without thinking, Draco turned and offered his hand to the other boy. It was a simple gesture, just attempting to help someone off the floor. But the moment their eyes met, Draco's breath hitched in his throat and he was transported back eight years, to the last time he and Potter had found themselves in this position. He stood frozen for a moment while he saw the same flash of recognition on Harry's face. Just as he was about to snatch his hand away, to call Potter a number of horrible things and curse everyone at the party, when he felt a firm, warm hand slide into his own.

"Thanks Malfoy," Harry smiled as he stood.

Draco stared for a moment at their intertwined hands. He could feel his stomach tying itself into knots, although he couldn't figure out why. He snatched his hand back and scowled, feeling suddenly unsteady. Just because Potter had some interesting theories about Romania's chances in the next World Cup didn't mean they had to get too chummy. The lopsided grin Harry was giving him did little to calm his nerves or settle his stomach. It was the weed and alcohol, Draco decided, not Potter that had suddenly put him on edge.

"Come on, let's go," he said tersely, not waiting for Harry as he turned and headed towards the door.

"We'll be back in a tick," Harry told Pansy, who was still seated on the floor, wearing her most devious grin.

"No rush," Draco heard Pansy call out behind him. "Take all the time you need boys," she laughed.

xx xxx xxx

"You want me to tickle your what?" Draco asked, scandalized. Surely he'd misheard.

Harry stared at the other boy in confusion for a few seconds before his mind finally caught up and he burst out laughing. "The pear, Malfoy. Not my pear," he corrected once the hearty guffaws that shook his frame faded to mirthful chuckles. "Honestly, in all your years at Hogwarts, you've never sneaked into the kitchens?"

"I never needed to," Draco sniffed with as much dignity a man tickling a painting of a fruit bowl could muster. "That's what minions are for, Potter. That's what Crabbe and Goy—" Draco stopped abruptly, letting the unfinished sentence die on his lips. He was suddenly wracked with a deep and intangible feeling of despair. It settled in the bottom of his stomach and felt as though it was weighing down his entire body.

Sensing Malfoy's quick shift in mood, Harry's chuckles died in his throat. He was finding it difficult to concentrate, but he needed to. His brows furrowed as he attempted to make his face look as serious as he felt. He needed to take this moment to say something that he should have said long before. "I'm sorry, Malfoy," he said quietly, shifting on his feet, "about Crabbe."

Draco rested his head against the painting and closed his eyes, taking in a steadying breath. His mind was swimming and his legs felt shaky. He was in no state to be having this conversation, especially not with Potter. "Me too," he whispered absently to the pear. After a moment he seemed to remember where he was and who he was with. Draco turned to the other boy and said in a strained voice, "Let's not get sentimental, Potter. It doesn't suit either of us." Harry nodded, but said nothing. "Especially not when we've got this illness," Draco continued airily.

Harry laughed again, feeling the tension fade away. "It's not an illness, Malfoy. We're perfectly healthy," he shrugged. "We've just got the munchies is all."

The boys made their way into the kitchen, dismissing the house elf that came to greet them. They raided the pantries, piling what they found on the counter. Being around so much food made it impossible for Draco to ignore his hunger. He opened a packet of crisps and popped one into his mouth as he continued to root around in the cupboards. Harry seemed to have the same idea, Draco noticed, because the other boy had a bar of chocolate in his hand. Suddenly, Draco had a great and delicious idea.

"Hand that here, Potter" Draco said, nodding at the chocolate. Harry gave him the bar and watched curiously as Draco snapped off a piece of chocolate, placed it between two crisps, and popped the unlikely sandwich into his mouth. "What?" Draco asked the staring boy. A few crumbs fell from his lips and landed on his otherwise impeccably clean robes.

"Nothing," Harry said quickly, turning away. "It's just—not quite the fine dining experience I'd expect from you," he added with a snicker.

"It's not haute cuisine, but it's good," Draco shrugged. He placed another piece of chocolate between two crisps and offered it to Harry.

Harry eyed it suspiciously for a moment, then shrugged. He'd eaten a toe fungus flavored Bertie Bott's last week and survived to tell the tale, this couldn't be any worse.

When the sweetness of the chocolate melted in his mouth to combine with the salty crunch of the crisp, Harry very nearly groaned in satisfaction. He always forgot how marvelous food tasted after smoking. "Merlin," Harry exclaimed, licking his fingers clean. "That's brilliant, Malfoy. You're a bloody genius."

"Of course I am," Draco drawled airily, although his insides were glowing at the compliment. "Just figuring this out?"

"Too bad you only use your genius for evil," Harry laughed, trying to grab a crisp from the packet in Draco's hands.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Harry wished he could snatch them back and swallow them down. Draco suddenly went very stiff, the warm glow of inebriation that danced in his eyes snuffed out.

"Fuck, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I was just taking the piss, yeah?" Harry tried to shrug it off.

Draco busied himself with shoving their small stockpile of foodstuffs into his satchel. "What makes you think I care what a filthy half-blood like you thinks about me?" he asked coldly, trying to ignore the way his hands were trembling.

"Malfoy," Harry said patiently, moving to stand behind Draco. "Malfoy, turn around. Listen to me."

Draco spun on his heels and glared at Harry. The sudden movement made him feel a little disoriented, but he chose to focus on the anger burning inside of him rather than the slightly off-kilter room. "Don't tell me what to do, Potter," he spat.

If Harry had been in his normal state, he might have risen to the bait and matched Draco's hostility with his own. But he wasn't, and all he could think of was the absurdity of the situation. Here he was on a Friday night, stoned off his arse and doing a snack run with the Draco Malfoy, ex-Death Eater and all-around prat. Malfoy's anger at him was the only part of this situation that made sense. "Hate to break it to you mate," Harry said with a sloppy grin, "but you did actually turn around."

Draco's mouth fell open and closed a few times before he gave up trying to find a clever retort. "Whatever, Potter," he mumbled as he turned back to the counter. "Let's just get back to the party so we don't have to talk to each other again."

Every hair on the back of Draco's neck stood at attention when he felt, rather than saw, Harry approach him from behind. He was hyperaware of Potter's presence, but made no move to react. Even his breath came to a still as he waited to see what the other boy would do.

"Malfoy," Harry said, suddenly serious. He didn't move, but stayed close behind Draco. "Turn around. Talk to me."

Harry didn't ask, he merely commanded. But it was not the kind of bossy, overbearing demand that makes one want to do the exact opposite in spite. Harry's command was gentle and self-assured. Without thinking, Draco obeyed. He turned to fine that Potter was standing far too close for comfort. He tried to edge away, but he was pinned to the spot by Harry's bright green eyes.

It took him a moment, but Draco finally found his voice. "What do you want, Potter?" he croaked out, slightly unsteady.

"I want to apologize. I want you to accept my apology," Harry said simply, never breaking their eye contact. "I didn't mean what I said. I don't think you're evil."

Under normal circumstances, Draco really wouldn't care what Potter thought of him. Under normal circumstances, Draco wouldn't even spare much thought to the concept of good and evil or where he fit into the equation. When he was alone at nights, when the memories and feelings of his two years in the Dark Lord's service pushed their way into the forefront of his mind, he did whatever it took to distract himself from the darkness of his own thoughts.

But these were not normal circumstances. Draco did not normally find himself intoxicated and face-to-face with Harry Potter in Hogwarts kitchen. He could feel the sincerity radiating off the other boy, hear the earnestness in his voice. He wanted to have the talk. Draco always knew this would happen at some point; it seemed impossible that they both could experience something as large, as earth-shattering as they had and ignore it forever. They had been on opposite sides, but their experiences weren't all that different. A small, traitorous part of Draco actively wanted to have this talk, to seek out absolution in Potter, but this wasn't, this couldn't be the time. But Harry was just standing there, staring at him with impossibly green and expectant eyes. Impossibly green? Since when had Harry's eyes ever been anything besides just eyes? And since when had Harry ever been anything besides Potter?

The entire situation was too much to handle at the moment and he could feel himself being crushed by the weight of it all. Draco's legs began to give out. He pressed his back against the cupboard for support as he slid to the floor. "I'm so fucked up," he said quietly, holding his head in his hands.

"We all are," Harry said quietly, crouching down. He placed a tentative hand on Draco's shoulder, hoping it would be interpreted as a comforting and not hostile gesture. When no hexes flew his way, he gave a gentle squeeze. "None of us came out of the war the same people we were going in. It fucked us all up."

Draco opened his eyes and stared at the Harry in disbelief. "I meant from the drugs and drink, you berk."

Harry blushed, feeling very silly. "Oh, right." He let go of Draco's shoulder and sat next to him on the floor, pressing his back against the cool wood of the lower cupboards and pulling his knees to his chest. "Sorry," he said quietly.

Draco sneaked a glance at Potter from the corner of his eye and wondered if he'd hurt his feelings. Harry had seemed so open a moment ago, but now Potter was huddled up in a defensive position that mirrored his own. The most disturbing thing about the whole situation was that Draco felt upset at himself for hurting Potter. Under normal circumstances, he'd be positively gleeful. But under these extraordinary ones, it made him feel like an arse.

"Thank you though," Draco said so quietly he hoped Potter might not actually hear him. "I appreciate it." He chanced another quick glance to find that Harry was now looking at him, a playful grin across his face. Since he'd been caught looking, Draco felt obligated to say something kind in return. "I guess you're not a total arsehole either," he mumbled.

Harry threw his head back and laughed, a deep, throaty laugh as though Draco had said the funniest thing in the world. Potter's laugh was just like the man himself, open, inviting, honest. There was something about his laugh that made Draco slightly uncomfortable, although he couldn't identify what. Bemusement colored his face as he watched Potter continue to laugh. Unwittingly, his eyes focused on Harry's exposed throat. Draco swallowed thickly, his own throat feeling suddenly very dry and tight. He knew why Potter's laugh was making him uncomfortable; he found it attractive.

Draco scowled and turned away, struggling only slightly to tear his eyes away from Harry's bouncing Adam's apple. "It's not that funny," he grumbled.

Harry did his best to control his laughing fit, healthy chuckles fading into what could only be described as a round of giggles. Draco most certainly did not find those giggles to be cute or endearing. Not at all.

"Sorry, Malfoy," Harry said, wiping tears from his eyes. "I can't help it. Once I start, it's hard to stop. Blame Dean. It's just, your face. Was it really that hard to—well, I wouldn't really call that a compliment. Was it really that hard to not insult me?"

"Yes," Draco sniffed, but he was unable to prevent a wry smile from tugging at the corner of his lips. "It was very difficult indeed. And if anyone asks, I will deny everything."

Harry must have found this just as funny, because he was doubled over in laughter once again. Draco tried to fight back the warm giddiness that was bubbling in his stomach, but Potter's laughter was too infectious. One quick look at Harry's bright red face and he couldn't help but join him in a round of near maniacal laughter. Draco was never a particularly cheery drunk, so he reasoned that this abnormal behavior could be traced to Dean's contribution to the party.

Each time one of them seemed to get control of himself, they'd burst out again. Draco was shaking so hard with the force of each laugh that his body began to ache. He was having trouble getting a steady hold on his breathing and quite suddenly the already skewed kitchen began to spin. Draco's laughter faded, but the disoriented feeling did not. He bent over, pressing his head against the cool kitchen floor and waited for the spell to pass.

"Malfoy? Malfoy, are you all right?" Potter's worried voice came from somewhere in the distance.

Draco could only grunt in response. For the second time that evening, he felt Harry's large, warm hand on his back, this time rubbing comforting circles. "Are you ok?" Harry's voice asked again, although this time he sounded much closer.

"Dizzy is all," Draco managed after a moment. Even though he was motionless, he felt like he was spinning. He sent a silent prayer to Salazar that wasn't about to be sick all over himself, and in front of Potter no less.

"Do you need anything?" Harry's voice was soft, low, and close to Draco's ear. If Draco had had the energy, he would have jumped away in shock at the proximity.

Draco shook his head slightly, but even that small motion made him feel as though his brain had come disconnected and was rolling around in his skull.

"Please, Malfoy, let me help you." Harry was pleading now, as though he were the one bent over in pain.

Steeling himself, Draco pushed up from the floor slowly. He blinked as the world righted itself and began to focus again. Harry was sitting on his heels next to him, his face flushed with worry. Something inside of Draco's stomach felt tight and strained. He knew it had nothing to do with the drugs and alcohol he'd consumed that evening. Potter had every right to hate him, to spit at his feet and curse the ground he walked on, but instead Potter was staring at him with large, concerned eyes. Draco felt a sudden burst of gratitude course through him. He wanted to reach out and grab Potter, to hold him tight against his chest, to feel him under his fingers, to prove that this was real—that Potter was really there, and for some inexplicable reason, genuinely seemed to care.

"Malfoy?" Harry asked nervously. He snapped his fingers in front of Draco's face and gave a soft whistle. "You in there, mate?"

Draco blinked again. He was having trouble focusing; he felt like he was looking out at the world through the hazy glass of a dirty fishbowl. "Sorry, Potter," he apologized once he had regained his senses, "I'm fine now."

Harry looked unconvinced. His hand was no longer on Draco's back, but he looked as though he may reach out again at any moment. Draco was simultaneously excited and unnerved by this prospect.

"Do you want to go back to the party? Or I can walk you down to the dungeons if you'd like," Harry offered.

Draco shook his head, "No, it's fine. I just need to sit here for a second more."

"If there's anything I can do..." Harry trailed off.

"Well, there is one thing," Draco said before he could think about what he was saying. It was a stupid, ridiculous idea. Potter would never agree and he'd likely hex him just for asking—or worse, laugh. But once the idea planted itself in his brain, Draco couldn't stop himself. "Usually, when I'm feeling poorly..." Draco trailed off, aware of how utterly stupid this was going to sound. "Pansyletsmeputmyheadinherlap" he rushed out in a single breath.

Potter's eyebrow quirked to match the smile he was trying to hide.

"Nevermind, forget it," Draco said sharply turning as if to get up. Draco knew Potter was going to laugh! Why had he asked that? What was wrong with him, he wondered. This was precisely why you never socialized with anyone outside of Slytherin. You ran the risk of forgetting yourself and who you were with. It's not that he actually wanted to lay in Potter's lap or that he found the other boy's gentle caresses incredibly comforting; he was just looking for a substitute for Pansy, who always knew how to soothe him. Yes, that's exactly what it was, he decided. He would go and find her, tell her all about his horrible time in the kitchen. She would agree that Potter was still a horrible git with ghastly clothes. She'd let him lay in her lap while she stroked his hair and everything would be exactly like it should be. It would be normal. He would forget all about this entire thing and the strange feeling he got in his stomach at the thought of Potter touching him.

He would have done all that, he really would have, if it weren't for the hand on his shoulder, holding him down. "Malfoy, don't go," Harry said quietly.

Draco said nothing but watched as Harry scooted back and leaned against the lower cupboards. He spread his legs out in front of him and gestured towards his empty lap.

Draco's mouth went very dry as his heart began to beat furiously against his chest. He looked from Harry's lap to his face. "Forget it," he muttered. He could feel his face growing hot and red. "It was stupid, I wasn't—I'm not—" Draco sputtered with frustration. He was usually so laconic; he was usually sober. Giving a sigh, he buried his head in his hands. "I'm fucked up, ignore me."

"Malfoy," Harry began quietly, using the same gentle but commanding tone as before. "Lie down. If it will help you feel better, I don't mind."

Draco felt himself being drawn to Harry despite the small, rational voice in his head that was screaming for him to stop. He'd spent his entire life being given orders he didn't want to fill, but this was one that he found himself yearning—despite his better judgment—to follow. Draco's body moved without his consent, scooting to the side so that he could lie down and gently rest his head on Harry's outstretched legs.

It was not comforting in the slightest. Draco was scared to breath or move. He stared straight and unblinking at the ceiling. The ground felt harsh beneath him and his neck hurt from straining to keep his head held slightly above Harry's lap.

"Malfoy, relax." Harry commanded as he tentatively threaded his fingers through Draco's fringe, combing the hair off his forehead and back towards his crown. It was just like Pansy always did, Draco noticed. And as if Harry's small movement was the permission he had needed, Draco let out a shuddering breath and let his body relax.

Harry didn't know why he was so surprised to find out how soft Malfoy's hair was. If he really stopped to think about it, it only made sense that it would be. But it surprised him nonetheless; it was even softer than Ginny's. Harry inwardly winced as he tried to push that thought from his head. This was not the time to be thinking about his ex-girlfriend. He couldn't help it though, considering this was probably the most intimate thing he'd even done with someone besides her. And by some cruel twist of fate, it was with Draco bloody Malfoy.

Harry hadn't been exaggerating when he said that the war changed everyone, that they had all been fucked up by it. Goofy, grinning George rarely smiled anymore. Ron was prone to violent mood swings and horrible tempers. Hermione's anxiety skyrocketed and her need for control and perfection was maddening. The war had changed Harry too. It had made him a fighter, a soldier, a warrior. But now that it was over, he wanted nothing more than hang up his battle robes and watch as the world rebuilt itself around him. He spent more time alone than ever, he wasn't in the mood to mourn or brood. It seemed the whole world was doing that for him, all he wanted to do was move on.

The point was driven home to him a few weeks prior, when a nervous and stuttering Pansy Parkinson approached him on Platform 9¾ and stammered her way through an awkward apology. Harry waited for the anger to take him over, waited for his outrage at her nerve to come and make him lash out at her, to tell her off, to demand she be punished for her actions. But it never came. After a few moments of trying to muster the energy to hate her for what she'd done that night, he couldn't do anything but shrug it off. A small part of him understood why she had done it and wondered how many of the students in the hall had thought the same thing.

Once they arrived at school, it hadn't taken long for Harry to notice the toll that the war had taken on Malfoy. Harry had half-expected that when they returned for their 8th and final year at Hogwarts, Malfoy would have reverted back to his younger, pre-Death Eater self. He had expected Malfoy's taunting and insults to return, but much like Harry's anger, they never did. Harry watched Malfoy, not quite so obsessively as he had in 6th year, but enough to notice that Malfoy had regained some—but not all—of the color and weight he'd lost during the war. He noticed that Malfoy rarely spoke without being first spoken to, and never to anyone besides the other 8th year Slytherins. He noticed Malfoy's conspicuous absence during the first Hogsmeade weekend and the fact that he no longer received weekly care packages from home. Harry noticed these things, but having never been one to spend too much time with introspection, he didn't know why they bothered him so much. He just knew that whenever he saw Malfoy's tightly drawn face pass him in the corridor between classes, he wanted to reach out and stroke it.

And here he was now, sitting on the kitchen floor with his former rival's head in his lap, his own hands combing their way through the soft, blond strands of Malfoy's head. And oddly enough, he found that he was actually incredibly comfortable like this. He listened as Malfoy's breathing steadied and became deeper. Harry found his own breath pattern slowing to match. Malfoy's eyes had closed, long pale eyelashes dusting his cheeks. His lips were slightly parted. Malfoy's face looked soft, open, and completely unlike any way Harry had ever seen it before. He looked like the young vulnerable boy he was supposed to be, not the war-hardened man who had been forced to commit unspeakable acts on pain of death. To his surprise, Harry found that Malfoy looked almost beautiful. But then when Harry thought about it a little more, he found that he really wasn't that surprised at all.

"Can I ask you a question?" Malfoy broke the silence. They'd been sitting quietly for so long, Harry thought that Malfoy had fallen asleep.

"Go ahead," Harry said, slightly wary. He was worried that whatever Draco was going to ask might break the comfortable peace they'd found.

"Earlier, when you were asking me all those questions...are you sure you don't fancy Pansy?"

Harry could hear something uncertain, perhaps a little sad in Malfoy's voice, but he couldn't quite identify it. He wasn't the best with subtlety at the best of times, and after an evening of drinking and smoking he wasn't anywhere near his sharpest.

"She's...uh...not really my type," Harry answered flatly.

"Not Weasley enough?" Draco asked with a smile and relaxed again. "Blaise likes gingers too, but I don't know, too many freckles for me."

"Ginny wasn't really my type either," Harry added, hoping Malfoy would catch on quickly. He didn't know why he wanted Malfoy to know—in the long run it was probably very dangerous and stupid—but there was a feeling in his gut that encouraged him to expose himself.

"No?" Malfoy's eyebrows raised although his eyes stayed closed. "Carrying a torch for Granger then? Pity, Potter. Everyone can see that she and the Weasel are going to raise a brood of frizzy-haired half-bloods. Not that there is anything wrong with being a half-blood," Malfoy added quickly, coloring for a moment. He didn't want to offend Potter and lose his comfortable pillow.

"No, Hermione's not my type either," Harry said, beginning to feel a little disheartened. He didn't want to have to come out and say it. Was Malfoy being intentionally thick?

"So, you don't like girls with black, ginger, or frizzy brown hair..." Malfoy's mouth was pursed in thought. "Blondes, Potter? Really? Who knew you had such good taste?"

Harry was glad that Malfoy's eyes were still closed, because something about his teasing statement had made Harry's face go scarlet in embarrassment. He swallowed thickly and steeled his nerves to make his admission. "It's not really about hair colour, if you know what I mean."

Harry held his breath as he waited for Malfoy's reaction.

Draco felt his stomach bottom out as his mind processed Harry's words. Potter obviously didn't care about things like blood-status or social class, and if his "type" wasn't defined by physical preferences, then that left only one thing.

Draco sat up slowly and turned to examine Harry. "Are you telling me you're gay, Potter?" he asked with one eyebrow raised. Harry swore there was a hint of amusement in Malfoy's voice.

Harry couldn't maintain eye contact and looked away quickly, feeling his face grow hot for the millionth time that evening. "Maybe. Yes. I mean, I don't know. I think so?" he mumbled to his hands. "Would that bother you?"

"Oh yes," Draco drawled sarcastically. "I'm a complete homophobe. Which is precisely why I count Millicent and Daphne amongst my best friends and lost my virginity to—" Draco snapped his mouth shut, belatedly aware of the folly he was about to commit.

"To who?" Harry asked. Malfoy wouldn't have even thought to mention it unless...but that meant...

"To whom," Draco corrected.

"Okay, to whom?" Harry repeated, somewhat frantically.

Draco looked conflicted for a moment before letting out a great, defeated sigh. "To Blaise, all right? Merlin, Potter, so nosy."

Harry felt thunderstruck. He had assumed that Draco was going to say another boy, but that knowledge hadn't prepared him for the reality of hearing it confirmed out loud. And with someone he knew, no less. When had this happened? Was it here at Hogwarts or over a holiday? Was it a one-off, or had they been together multiple times? Was Zabini Malfoy's boyfriend? And most importantly, why did this thought make Harry feel jealous?

"Are you telling me you're gay, Malfoy?" Harry finally asked, attempting to hide his surprise and unnerving feeling of possessiveness by mirroring Malfoy's own words.

Draco sniffed, holding his straight nose high in the air. "Sexual categorization is a very Gryffindor way of thinking, Potter," he said disdainfully. "Slytherins merely do what we want, when we want."

"And have you ever wanted know...with any guys besides Zabini?" Harry asked, hoping his voice sounded steadier than he felt.

Draco looked positively frightened for a moment. "What about you, Potter? Who'd you lose yours to?" he asked, attempting to redirect the conversation away from himself.

Harry blushed again and dropped Malfoy's gaze. "I, um, I haven't. That's why I said maybe. Because I can't say I really know, because I've never..."

"With anyone?" Draco asked, genuinely surprised. He would have assumed that Potter would be the biggest manwhore in the whole of Britain, considering who he was. There would be no shortage of witch or wizard willing to hop into bed with the Wizarding World's savior. "Not even Ginny?"

"We tried," Harry admitted, studying his own hand's very carefully. "After the war. She was really keen to, but I couldn't...I didn't really respond, you know? I told her it was just because I was too nervous, but in honesty, the whole thing just felt wrong somehow. After that she kept wanting to give it another go and I always found a way to avoid being alone with her. She chucked me a few weeks ago because of it, said I couldn't give her what she needed. Can't say I blame her."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief when he'd finished. He hadn't told anyone that, not even Ron and Hermione. Everyone had been curious as to why Harry and Ginny had called it quits and so soon after the war, but neither of them were willing to admit their problem was sexual dysfunction. It felt somewhat liberating for Harry to say it out loud. It wasn't a secret anymore, no longer a source of shame. It was just a fact, something that had happened. Still, no one knew the things he thought about when he was alone at night, but something told him that Malfoy may be able to relate.

"That's tough. I'm sorry, Potter," Draco said quietly. Harry looked in surprise to see that Draco looked sincere. "What you need is to find someone who you can—you know—try it out with," he continued seriously, "to see if that's really how you are or if you were just put off by all those freckles."

Harry gave a half-hearted laugh, but didn't feel better. "Yeah, but they'd probably just want to sell the story to the Prophet or something like that," he sighed and wrapped his arms around himself, feeling rather miserable. "I can see the headline now: Harry Potter, the boy who lived gets bent."

"I see your point," Draco conceded, with a sigh. "No one values discretion these days."

"What about you Malfoy?" Harry asked, wanting to stop talking about his own non-existent sex life and wring more dirty details from Draco. "You know anyone discrete?" he asked with a nudge.

The look on Draco's face made Harry's blood run cold. It was obvious that he'd been misunderstood.

"Oh, Merlin! Malfoy, no, not like that," Harry cried out, mortified. "I wasn't—I'm not coming onto you! I was just asking if you knew anyone who...I—oh, bollocks," Harry buried his flaming face in his hands. If Malfoy didn't Avada Kedavra him soon, he'd just have to do it himself.

"Well, why the fuck not?" Draco asked, slightly irritated. "I'm fit, aren't I?"

"I—what?" Harry blinked. His heart skipped a beat at the same moment his stomach dropped. "Are you saying you want me to come onto you?"

"No!" Draco answered a little quickly. "I'm just—If you had any taste you would. That's all I'm saying. If you had any taste you'd come onto me and I would get the immense satisfaction of rejecting you for being an insufferable, Gryffindor arsehole."

Harry studied Malfoy from the corner of his eye, but didn't trust himself to speak. His heart was thumping too loudly in his chest.

"Although, I suppose I do owe you a favor," Draco whispered, avoiding Harry's gaze. "For saving my life..."

Harry turned away, stung by Malfoy's addendum. That was the worst possible reason someone could sleep with someone else. And although the thought of finally knowing what sex was like thrilled him, he wasn't interested in doing it with someone who was only acting out of a sense of obligation or guilt.

"Just forget it," Harry said as he moved to stand. "You don't owe me anything."

There was a quick flash of white and then Malfoy's hand was on Harry's wrist, stopping him from standing completely.

"Potter, wait," Draco said, strengthening his grip in case Harry tried to pull away. He didn't know what he was doing or what he was saying, but he didn't care anymore. The rational side of his brain had bowed out gracefully long before. "What if I don't owe you anything then? What if I just...want to?" he asked in a low whisper.

Harry's mind was reeling, he could hardly believe what was happening, what might happen if he played his cards right. He had never considered Malfoy before, but the thought took complete hold of him the moment it entered his drink-addled mind. He could finally do this, he could finally know what it was like, all of those lingering questions would be resolved. And Malfoy—strange, beautiful, and fucked up Malfoy—wouldn't tell anyone, he wouldn't want anyone to know any more than Harry did. Hell, he might even want that less. It was strangely perfect.

"Do you?" Harry whispered back, licking his dry lips. "Do you want to?"

A moment of extended silence passed as the boys stayed rooted to the spot, frozen in their awkward tableau, worried that any sudden movement would bring the other to his senses. Stormy grey eyes stared into wide green ones, both sets nervous, scared, and excited. Draco's head began to move a fraction of an inch in an almost imperceptible nod.

"Yes," he breathed.

Harry's self-restraint snapped and he all but lunged at Draco, knocking the blond back against the floor. He attacked Draco's mouth with his own. Limbs were flailing as they rolled around on the ground, Draco struggling against Harry's assault.

"Potter! Potter!" Draco cried as he tried to squirm out of Harry's grip, but there was laughter in his voice. "POTTER!"

Harry stilled and looked down to see the slightly irritated but largely bemused face of Draco Malfoy smirking up at him.

"While I'm by no means delicate, there is no need to manhandle me."

"Sorry," Harry mumbled, suddenly wanting to call the whole thing off. He didn't know what he was doing, he was just going to make an utter fool out of himself.

"It's fine," Draco said kindly, reaching up to push back a piece of Harry's fringe that had fallen into his eyes. "I'd probably be just as excited if I were snogging myself, but don't worry. I'm not going anywhere."

Draco wrapped his hand around Harry's neck, pulling him down as he lifted his own head slightly from the ground. Lips parted and came together, softer this time, almost tenderly. The strength of the kiss increased as tongues explored and confidence grew. Draco strained his neck so he could reach up and leave a trail of alternating kisses and suckles on Harry's throat. Harry learned that if he bit gently on Draco's lower lip and pulled it into his own mouth, Draco would give a delicious little moan that went straight to Harry's cock. Harry canted his hips forward experimentally and Draco moaned—deeper this time—into Harry's mouth.

"Mmm, Potter," Draco said, breaking the kiss and letting his head fall back to the floor. "What do you want?"

Harry stared in awe at Draco's lip, swollen and red. He knew that he didn't want to stop kissing and start talking. He ignored Draco's query and tried to capture the blond boy's mouth again. When Draco pulled away, Harry pouted.

"Tell me, Potter" Draco said, thrusting his hips up and grabbing Harry's attention. "Tell me what you want."

Harry gasped at the feeling of Draco's hardened cock sliding against his own through their trousers. "Fuck, Malfoy. You know what I want," he breathed, returning the favor with a thrust of his own. "I want you."

Draco wanted to lay back and enjoy the feel of Harry rutting against him, the firm pressure of the other boy's groin against his own, but he needed to concentrate. There were logistics to work out.

"That's very sweet, Potter, be sure to put that sentiment in your diary," Draco said, although the dig lost much of its bite since it was bookended between moans as Harry nipped at his throat. "But if I'm going to help you sort this out, you need you tell me exactly what you want. What is it that you think about when you're in bed at night, when all the other little Gryffindors are asleep? What makes your cock ache to just think about? Tell me Potter, tell me what dirty little thoughts make you cum long and hard?"

Draco's words were driving him crazy. It didn't matter what he wanted, if Malfoy didn't shut the hell up, Harry would cum before they'd even gotten their pricks out. Harry's hand slipped down to cup Draco's arse; he pulled Draco against him tighter. "Fucking hell, Malfoy," Harry groaned.

Suddenly, Harry felt himself being shoved roughly to the side as Malfoy flipped them over. Draco straddled Harry's hips as he climbed on top. Bending over at the waist, he leaned in to whisper into Harry's ears. "What is it, Potter?" he asked, slowly grinding his hips against Harry's. "Do you want to me to fuck you? Do you want get on your hands and knees and feel me taking you for all that you're worth? Or do you want to fuck me? Do you want to open me up and feel your cock buried deep inside my arse, swallowing you whole? Do you want to come inside of me, Potter?"

Harry's cock jumped at the thought. He let out a strangled cry as he bucked his hips wildly, trying to dislodge Draco. Draco tumbled to the side and Harry immediately sat up and scrambled to his knees, panting and trying to catch his breath. "I just—I need a moment," he said lamely. "Don't want to—you know," he made a gesture.

"Couldn't even get it up for the Weaselette, but with me you might cum yourself before I've even got your kit off?" Draco smirked. "I'm flattered."

Harry would have been embarrassed had Malfoy's words hadn't been so true. Everything Malfoy had said sounded amazing and he wanted to say yes to everything, to do it all and so much more, but Harry knew he should probably start with the basics.

"Will you..." Harry began, dry mouthed. "Will you touch my cock?"

Draco grinned and crawled the few feet across the floor to Harry. He said nothing, but deftly undid the button and fly of Harry's trousers and pulled him free. Harry's cock was of average length, but considerable girth, bright red and gleaming at the head as precum oozed from the small slit at the top. Draco bit back a moan as he imagined all the things he could do with a cock that beautiful. He traced the length of it lightly and swirled his thumb through the sticky clear liquid. Harry's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as he watched Draco lift his thumb to his mouth and suck off the excess.

Harry wondered if it was possible to die of sexual frustration as Draco slowly stroked him. It was just a wank, but it felt better than anything he'd ever felt in his life. He thrust his hips forward, hoping to indicate that he needed more, but Draco pulled away and tsked, a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

"Can I touch you too?" Harry nearly begged. "Please?"

Draco grinned widely and scooted back, undoing his trousers and pulling out his own cock. Much like Draco himself, it was longer, thinner, and paler than Harry's. Although Harry hadn't seen that many, and certainly not fully erect and darkened with need, he felt as though he could honestly say that Draco had the most gorgeous cock on earth. He watched as Draco fisted himself a few times, before dropping his hand away in invitation for Harry.

Harry's touch was tentative at first, but his grip increased in strength with each stroke. He focused the pressure on the underside of Draco's shaft, just as he did when he wanked himself. Based on the way that Draco's eyes fluttered shut and the sharp hiss he gave, Harry assumed that Malfoy was partial to that technique as well. Draco reached about wildly until he found Harry's neglected cock again and began to pump it in time with Harry's strokes. There they sat, trousers pushed down, swollen red cocks hard and out, wanking each other on the kitchen floor.

Draco's free hand snaked its way through the tangle of limbs and cupped Harry's balls, which felt heavy and fit to burst. Draco rolled them through his fingers a few times, giving an experimental tug and slipping two fingers behind the swollen sac to press firm, massaging strokes against Harry's perineum.

"Oh Godric," Harry gasped, his grip on Draco becoming so tight it almost hurt. "Malfoy, I'm—I'm going to—"

"Wait!" Draco yelled, immediately dropping Potter's cock like it could burn. Harry cried out at the loss, although he was partially relieved. He wasn't ready for this—whatever it was—to be over just yet.

Draco shifted so that his knees fit in between Harry's. He batted Harry's hand away and took himself in hand. Their eyes met as Draco gave himself a few lazy pumps.

"Ready, Potter?" Draco asked with a devious grin. Harry didn't know what he was supposed to be ready for, but he didn't really care. He'd agree to anything as long as Malfoy kept looking at him like that.

Harry swallowed thickly and nodded.

Draco leaned forward, prick still in hand, until the hard length of his own shaft found Harry's. Draco wrapped his finger's around Harry's cock, holding it flush against his own and began to work his hips. A feral moan tore from Harry's throat at the sensation of hot flesh slipping against hot flesh. Slowly he began to thrust against Draco as well, increasing the friction of skin on skin. He had to brace himself for a moment before looking down. His stomach contracted and his balls drew tight against his body as he drank in the sight of it. Two engorged cocks, dark red with desire and shiny with precum, slipping against each other.

Harry wrapped his hand around Draco's, forcing him to grip their pricks together tighter. Harry began to thrust his hips in earnest, feeling as though he was going to drown in his own lust. He wanted more of this, he wanted everything that Malfoy had to offer him. Harry envisioned all of the things Draco had asked him if he wanted; flashes of skin, arse, mouths, and cocks played in his mind. He wanted to do it all and so much more. The thin thread in his belly that kept him tethered to reality was straining; Harry knew he was losing it.

Malfoy gave a throaty moan and it was over for Harry. He didn't have time to announce it, his orgasm ripped through him with a force he had never known before. Even with closed eyes, white spots danced in his vision. He felt dizzy and disoriented. Harry cried out as thin, white ropes of cum arced through the air.

Neither boy moved while Harry caught his breath. He opened his eyes to find his hand still wrapped around Draco's, their sticky, cum-soaked cocks pressed together. He sneaked a look upwards to find Malfoy wearing that same expression of mixed irritation and amusement.

"Potter," Malfoy drawled, using his free hand to wipe a shiny splatter of cum from his cheek, "you cum like a bloody champion."

Whatever embarrassment Harry might have felt over his shoddy aim disappeared as he watched Draco's finger slowly disappear inside his mouth. It was the filthiest and most erotic thing Harry had ever seen.

Harry launched himself at Draco, knocking the other boy back to floor and devouring that dirty little mouth of his. Draco didn't push him off or tell him to slow down this time. He matched the ferocity of Harry's kiss. Harry slid his hand between their bodies, taking Malfoy firmly in hand, wanking him steadily.

"Oh Gods, Potter. I need to cum," Draco moaned into Harry's mouth. "Please, make me cum, Harry, make me cum."

The sound of his given name on Malfoy's lips was beautiful. Harry wanted to hear Draco chant it, over and over again like a prayer, to hear him call it out as he lost control.

Harry had an idea. He ignored the cry of disappointment he heard as he let Draco's cock drop from his hand and slipped down the length of Draco's body. He took Draco's prick in hand again and examined it closely. He ran his fingers up and down the length, watching with curiosity as it jumped in response. He dipped his finger in the clear liquid that leaked from the head, collecting a bit and experimentally brought it to his lips. He sucked the precum from his fingertips and was surprised to find that it tasted all right—a little bitter, a little salty, but not unenjoyable. He smiled to himself as he stuck out his tongue and took another taste directly from the source.

"Potter, you're killing me," Draco groaned, his eyes wide as he strained his neck to see what Harry was doing.

"Harry, my name is Harry."

"What?" Draco cried, unable to concentrate. "I know your bloody name, just hurry up do something."

"You called me Harry a second ago, do it again. No more Potter, no more Malfoy." Harry tightened his grip, but didn't move. Draco gave a little squeak. "Call me Harry, Draco."

"Fine! Harry!" Draco nearly sobbed. "Harry, please!"

Harry looked at Draco's cock, throbbing in his hand. He wasn't quite sure how to do it, but in true Gryffindor fashion, he decided to do it anyway. He wetted his lips and opened his mouth, swallowing as much of Draco's length as he could.

It was odd, having his mouth full of cock. But odd in a good way. He could certainly get used to the odd little cries coming from Draco.

"Harry, fucking move!" Draco yelped from above him as he thrust his hips up, pushing himself deeper into Harry's mouth, desperate for the friction he needed to get off.

Taking the hint, Harry began to bob his head, letting Draco's cock slip in and out, growing wetter and slicker with each pass. Harry felt encouraged by the desperate, mewling sounds that tumbled from Draco's lips; he began to speed up, taking Draco further inside each time. He felt Draco's hands card through his hair and relaxed, giving Draco control. Draco held Harry's head still has he thrust his hips wildly, fucking Harry's mouth with abandon. Not wanting to feel totally passive, Harry slipped his hand behind Draco's balls and began to massage the thin strip of skin that connected sac and anus, just as Malfoy had done to him moments before.

"Fuck, Harry, yes," Draco gasped, his thrusts becoming erratic.

Harry's neck and jaw were beginning to hurt, but he wouldn't stop for anything. He wanted to finish this, to see and feel Draco come completely undone. He inched a finger back, slipping it between the crack of Draco's arse until he found his goal. He teased the wrinkled rim of Draco's arse with his finger, but before he'd even gotten the opportunity to push up and breach the tight orifice, Draco gave a strangled cry and his entire body tensed.

The salty, bitter taste of Draco's cum flooded Harry's mouth, he could taste it on the back of his tongue and throat. He pulled back in surprise, swallowing it down reflexively. He sat back and let Draco's slowly softening cock fall from his mouth, landing on Draco's flat stomach with a soft thud.

"Sorry, Potter," Draco chuckled as he let his body relax against the floor. He closed his eyes as he basked in post-orgasmic warmth. "Didn't have time to warn you."

"Sorry, Harry," Harry corrected.

Draco opened one eye and looked at the other boy. "I thought that was some sort of kinky sex thing. You actually want me to call you Harry? All the time?"

"Well, that's my name, isn't it?" Harry asked testily. Draco's resistance was beginning to make Harry feel quite stupid for insisting upon it.

"Harry," Draco said experimentally as his head fell back to the floor. "Might take some time getting used to, but I can try." They exchanged small smiles, both feeling quite unsure of what to do now. "Well, at least we got your problem sorted," Draco smiled shyly. "I think I can say with certainty that you are quite gay, Harry."

"I don't know. You mentioned a number of things earlier...I don't think I'll know for sure without trying them all."

"And I suppose you'll be requiring someone to help you experiment further?" Draco raised an eyebrow.

"Yes, someone discreet." Harry felt warm, giddy, and somewhat reckless. "Do you know anyone, Draco?"

"I think I might," Draco smiled. "Slytherins are known for our discretion."

xxx xx xxx

The Next Morning...

Draco awoke disoriented. It took him a few moments to realize what was wrong. His bed-hangings were far too bright, far too red. Someone must have sneaked in and changed them as he slept. What a pathetic prank. As soon as he recovered from this hangover, he'd find the culprit and hex their balls off.

But then the events of the previous night flashed in Draco's mind so quickly he worried that he might get motion sickness. He groaned slightly as he experimentally stretched, blushing with the knowledge of how his limbs got so sore. His foot hit something warm underneath the covers and he immediately snatched his leg back.

"Draco?" the large, maroon lump of bed covers next to him asked sleepily. Draco held his breath. There was movement as the Potter-shaped lump rolled over. Suddenly a large hand was snaking its way around Draco's waist, fingers splaying across his stomach. "Draco, it's early. Go back to sleep," Harry yawned into Draco's back as he pulled Draco closer.

"But—but what if someone finds me here? I should leave before the others wake," Draco pointed out, his voice unsteady. He needed to leave quickly, to shower, to brood over what had happened, to swear off alcohol and all forms of muggle drugs forever. Going to bed with Harry bloody Potter was surely a mistake.

"Don't worry about it, I've got an invisibility cloak" Harry said, his voice slightly more awake. "You can sneak out later." Harry's fingertips began to dance across the flat planes of Draco's stomach, playing in the thick trail of dark blonde hair below his belly button. Draco's stomach muscles contracted and he tried to fight the effect the light touches were having on him. It was one thing to crawl into bed with your rival when you're pissed, it was an entirely different thing to continue in the cold light of morning.

"Besides," Potter whispered, his voice still husky from sleep, "we only got halfway through your list last night. You promised you'd help me get sorted."

Draco gave a little yelp as he felt something hard and fleshy poking him in the back. He swallowed heavily, trying in vain to fight the urge to push back against it. When Harry's hand slipped lower and grabbed his cock firmly, Draco closed his eyes and gave into the promise.

"Put up a silencing charm, Harry," Draco said as he rolled over and hooked his leg around Harry's waist. "Discretion is key."

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