Harry blinked and stretched luxuriously. He lifted his now beringed hand high above his head and wiggled his finger. The morning sun caught in the diamond and made it twinkle.
"Blimey, Harry!" cried Ron and sat up in his bed. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Psssst!" Harry urged his best friend to be quiet. "It´s a secret!"
The redhead left his own bed in favour for sitting on the edge of Harry´s. He grabbed the wizarding hero´s hand and looked at the ring closely.
"It´s gorgeous, isn´t it?" beamed Harry in a low whisper.
"A bit small," Ron pointed out. "I mean, he´s Malfoy after all."
"He had to buy it with his pocket money. I´ll get a bigger one once he has access to his vaults and this isn´t about size anyway." Harry reached for his wand and with a sigh cast a charm to hide the ring.
"Why do you have to hide it?" asked Ron. "Is he ashamed of you?"
"Of course not, but we decided it´s better to keep this secret for a while." Neither Harry nor Draco wanted to face Lucius Malfoy after Rita Skeeter had a go at their engagement. Draco had pointed out that his father might disinherit him for marrying his love. Harry had kissed the blond and reassured him that the Potter and Black vaults held more money than they could spend in a lifetime.
"But I´m a Malfoy! I have an exquisite taste!" Draco had pouted.
Harry had kissed him again. "You have. Especially when it comes to your lover."
"I have, haven´t I?" Draco had moaned and returned the kiss enthusiastically. Unfortunately Madam Hooch had decided that was enough romance and shooed them inside before their kisses could become more passionate.
"Harry?" Ron shook his friend gently.
"You kind of blanked out. You had a foolish grin all over your face."
"I was thinking about our engagement kiss."
"Don´t tell me! Please, don´t tell me!"
For the first time this year, Harry looked forward to double Potions in the afternoon. Maybe Snape was going to team him up with Draco again. He just hoped so!
The morning passed quite quickly. Harry sat in his lessons, touching his ring from time to time when nobody looked. Defence was even fun. The professor decided to make it a practical lesson and they practiced the Patronus charm. The teacher was in for a surprise, because due to Harry´s teaching efforts half of the class knew already how to conjure a patronus.
Harry smiled when he cast his spell and instead of his trademark stag a ferret popped into existance. Most students were too busy to notice, but Hermione cast a suspicious glance at him.
They had barely sat down for lunch when the girl moved in on Harry.
"What happened to your patronus? Explain!"
"Well, it changed, like Tonks´. The patronus shows what we love most, and for me that´s a certain Slytherin."
"What does Malfoy say that you picture him a ferret?" asked Neville. Dean and Seamus smirked. "He gave Justin a pig snout for just hinting it last month!"
Harry paled. He didn´t want to anger his beloved, but he knew how much Draco hated to be reminded of the ferret incident.
When the Gryffindor left the hall after lunch for Divination, he was pulled behind the statue of his house´s founder.
"Love!" Draco pressed a passionate kiss to Harry´s lips. "What upset you so at lunch?"
"I´m not upset!" squeaked Harry.
"Nonsense," whispered the blond. "You came to lunch in a perfect mood and then Longbottom said something and you looked crestfallen. What did he say? Do you want me to hex him?"
"No!" cried Harry. And in a lower voice he repeated "No!" He swallowed hard. "Can I show you something?"
"Fire away!" Draco smiled.
They went to an empty classroom and Harry kissed Draco once again before the blond – Harry was sure of it – was going to demand his ring back and never talk to Harry again.
"Something happened to my patronus. – Expecto patronum!"
The small ferret shot forward and weaseled around Harry, sniffing the air for any trace of danger. When it detected none, it dissolved.
"I´m sorry," muttered Harry.
"Don´t be!" cried Draco and pulled Harry close for a hug. "I´m honoured to be your patronus."
"But it´s a ferret!" cried Harry. "It should be a proud dragon if it´s supposed to be you."
"Harry!" Draco wiped the tears from Harry´s cheeks. "A dragon would signify the dream image my father has of me, but the ferret tells me that you love the real me, with all my faults. I´m glad it´s a ferret and not a dragon."
"Really?" hiccuped Harry.
"Really." Draco kissed Harry once more before they had to run to their classes.
Sybill Trelawney looked down at Harry´s homework in disbelief.
"A flamingo, ? In Northern Scotland? Are you sure?"
Harry nodded boldly. "It was a large pink bird, standing on one leg. I´m sure it was a flamingo, professor."
The seer shook her head muttering about frauds, but then she was distracted by Dean´s prediction, which stated that he had seen a penguin flying over the forbidden forest.
The professor´s hace was red with fury. She was just going to start her tantrum when Parvati raised her hand and called out for the seer´s attention shyly.
"Professor," she said cautiously, "I wondered while I worked on my homework, whether thestrals have to be taken into account with auspices."
"Stupid child, would you note down butterflies or bats? No! Nor would you a thestral! Augures work with birds and birds only."
"Thank you, professor," beamed Parvati. "I knew you were going to help me!"
"What did you use?" asked Trelawney. "The orb? Tealeaves?"
Parvati blushed. "Cards, professor."
"Ah, tarot! Very reliable!"
"Actually I had to use my exploding snap cards," admitted Parvati, "but it seems to have worked."
"Well done, my child!" cried the seer. "Those among us who truely possess the inner eye, can make use of the most simple means to foresee the future!"
Harry bit his bottom lip not to laugh out loud. As soon as he and Ron had left the classroom, they burst out laughing.
"Thanks for saving me, Parvati," Ron said on their way down to the dungeons. "Do you fancy a butterbeer next time we´re in Hogsmeade?"
"That would be great!" smiled Parvati.
Behind them Hermione huffed.
Harry smiled. No more jealousy and petty flirting for him. He belonged to Draco and Draco was his. It was very reassuring.
The Slytherins were already there when the Gryffindors entered the dungeon classroom. Harry went boldly to sit beside Draco. The blond smiled at him brilliantly and touched his hand gently.
"Don´t you dare snog in potions and lose points, Harry!" Seamus cried from the back of the class.
"A brilliant suggestion, !" said professor Snape. He entered the classroom in his usual swirl of black robes. "There will be no brewing today," continued the potions master. "Last week´s accident" – he glared at the two lovers – "showed me that you´re shockingly incompetent when it comes to dealing with mistakes in your brewing. The reason Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy discovered a new ... fondness of each other is that neither of the two knew how moonstone was going to react with shrivelfig. You will today analyze the recipe we used last week in detail. I want a report on the role of each ingredient and how it would interact with other substances. Start! Now!"
It was dull work. Harry and Draco leafed through their potions texts and scribbled down what they found.
The lesson was nearly over, when Draco nudged Harry and pointed at a paragraph in the book. Harry read it and the further he got, the more fear creeped up his spine. The text described the properties of scarab eyes, which – according to the book – limited the effectiveness of most potions to a short period of time.
Draco gripped Harry´s hand and the two boys looked at each other in panic. Their happiness was only temporary!
They escaped to the library after the lesson and Harry cried his eyes out on Draco´s shoulder.
"This was the happiest week of my life! I don´t want it to end!"
"Nor do I, beloved. You make me happy and I want things to stay like they are."
"But the scarab eyes!" sobbed Harry.
"Every magical ingredient has an antidote, Harry. We only have to find it."
"An antidote!" Harry´s eyes shone with new hope.
They searched until dinner and returned to the library after their meal to continue their task. It was in vain. No book mentioned how to counteract scarab eyes.
Harry woke feeling sore. He had cried himself to sleep the night before and he felt like crying again when he woke.
They had checked shelves and shelves of potions books, had worked until Madam Pince shooed them out of the library, but to no result at all. On the contrary. They had found a book that called scarab eyes ´a foolproof way to limit efficacy´. Foolproof. That meant scarab eyes would work no matter what you did. There was no way to counteract them by accident. And if it couldn´t be done by chance, it couldn´t be done at all.
Harry held his ring close to his heart and cried. Sooner or later he was going to lose Draco. Snape had said the potion would wear off within a week. What if he walked down to breakfast and Draco didn´t want him any more? Harry cried even harder at the thought.
"Harry?" Ron touched his friend´s shoulder gently. "What is it? Did Malfoy hurt you?"
"No!" cried Harry. He tried to roll away from his best friend and hide in the pillows, but Ron wouldn´t have it.
"Then why are you crying?"
"It´s more than a week! Soon the potion will wear off and Draco won´t want me any more!" the teenage hero sobbed. "I can´t stand the thought of Draco looking at me other than lovingly. What if he is disgusted he ever touched me?"
"In that case you will be disgusted, too. Won´t you?" asked Ron.
"I don´t want that!" wailed Harry.
"What´s this racket about?" asked Seamus sleepily.
"Harry just realized that his little romance is coming to an end," Neville informed the Irish boy, thus giving away that he had been listening.
Seamus shrugged. "Why´s he crying about that? He still can blotch a potion again. We all know he´s good at that."
Harry sniffed. That was it! They had to brew the potion again! "Seamus, you´re a genius!" he cried happily and rushed downstairs. He only became aware that he was still in his pyjamas when Ernie wolfwhistled after him when he rushed through the Entrance Hall.
Luckily Draco was already at breakfast. The blond rushed to Harry when he saw how upset he was and they escaped to an empty classroom.
"Draco!" Harry panted after a passionate kiss, "Seamus gave me a brilliant idea! – Are you listening?"
"Sorry," smirked the blond, looking at Harry hungrily, "but you can´t come here in your nightwear and expect me to be able to concentrate. You look too good to eat! – Now, what about Finnegan?"
"Seamus said that we could still blotch the potion again!"
Draco raised his wand at Harry. "That seems like a good idea, but I won´t be able to think about it with you standing here in your pyjamas." Draco licked his lip and Harry blushed. The blond looked the Gryffindor over once more before he cast a spell and transfigured the flannel pyjamas into school robes. "Done. Now tell me about that idea."
"Seamus meant it as a joke, but I think it makes sense. We can blotch the potion again. Snape told us what we did wrong! The moonstone. Cherry root instead of cherry leaves. We can brew the potion again, but without the beetle eyes!"
Draco pulled Harry into a hug. "You´re so clever, my Harry. We will do that! But we need a place to brew it and we have to nick the ingredients."
"We can brew it at the room of requirement. The ingredients may be difficult."
"We need a variety of ingredients, but nothing really rare or expensive. We could use owl order." Draco frowned. "But I have to send the order off if we want the ingredients today."
The blond grabbed Harry´s hand and together they rushed to the owlery. Draco produced a piece of parchment and a quill from his pocket and together they drew up a list of what they needed. Draco added a request to send the ingredients as soon as possible before he whistled and an elegant eagle owl landed smoothly on his shoulder.
"Xerxes," Draco explained to the bird solemnly, "take this to the apothecary´s at Diagon Alley. You will be given a parcel. It´s very important and very urgent! Fly quickly!"
The two boys watched the bird take off before they returned to the Great Hall for Harry to get some breakfast.
Lessons crawled by. For the first time since the accident Harry didn´t enjoy History of Magic. Professor Binns´ boring lecture gave him plenty of time to worry and to think of the most humiliating and devastating scenarios for the potion to wear off. What if the efficacy of the brew ended before they could brew a new potion?
The wizarding hero had to use all his willpower not to cry of sheer despair.
The next lesson was Transfiguration, which was slightly better than History of Magic. At least it was a practical lesson and Harry needed to concentrate on the task at hand. The professor made them turn toenails into cuttlery. So they had to cut their nails first and Harry spent half an hour wondering what Draco´s toes looked like, but once he had started working on the spell, he was blissfully distracted from his worries.
Ron and Hermione had to usher Harry to the Great Hall for lunch. Harry had got all worked up over his fear, he was close to panic. What if Draco didn´t want him any longer? What if he, Harry, was asked to give the ring back in front of the whole school?
At last Hermione convinced him to calm down by pointing out that Draco had gotten some of the potion into his eyes and Snape had said it was more efficient if it touched mucous membraned.
"The potion will probably wear off for you first, Harry," Hermione said reassuringly. "So, if you still love Draco, he´s very likely to be still infatuated with you."
"It sounds so negative, the way you say ´infatuated´," sighed Harry.
Hermione looked at her friend, worried, but said nothing.
Draco waved and smiled at Harry at lunch, though, and the Gryffindor couldn´t have been happier. He was still loved. They still had a chance. All they had to do, was brew that potion in the evening.
In the afternoon they met in Care of Magical Creatures. They were made feed their Cleasles again. Draco tapdanced again and Harry caught the Cleasle after staring his fill of the blond. Unlike the week before, Draco didn´t complain, but showed off to his beloved. The Cleasle had a hard time following the Slytherins pirouettes and rapid foot-work. At last Harry took pity on the beast and grabbed it from behind.
The couple sat on the lawn side by side and Draco fed the Cleasle and Harry grapes in turn. The Gryffindor leaned as close to the blond as would be considered decent in public.
"Are you sure the owl can make it until dinner?"
"I´m confident. Xerxes is a fast flyer and a loyal familiar. I told him how important the matter is and he will rather die than disappoint me."
"I hope you´re right."
"What´s bothering you? I feel there´s more."
"What if the potion wears off before we have the new brew? What if it wears off before we can drink it?"
"You have to be a bit more optimistic, love," said Draco and squeezed Harry´s fingers reassuringly. "We´ve come so far, we´ll be okay. In some hours we´re going to brew our potion and then nothing can seperate us ever. We´re going to get married and live happily ever after."
"I hope you´re right," sighed Harry and leaned in for a kiss. Draco complied happily.
"Oh no! I told you last week to stay away from each other. Don´t make me give you detention!" growled Hagrid from behind them.
Harry blushed. "Sorry Hagrid," he apologized. "It won´t happen again."
The half-giant turned to help Dean and Parvati muttering about certain teachers making their students brew risky potions.
"That was a narrow miss!" sighed Harry when Hagrid was out of earshot. "I´d never forgive myself if I landed us in detention and cost us the chance to brew our potion."
"We need to be careful," agreed Draco.
Harry couldn´t help but stare at the Slytherin table all through dinner, but no owl made its way to Draco. The blond shrugged apologetically from time to time.
"Why are you staring at Malfoy?" asked Seamus. "Really, it´s time that potion wears off. It was kind of funny for a while but now it´s rather annoying."
Harry glared at the other boy angrily.
Hermione tried to calm their tempers by suggesting they go to the library together after the meal. Harry was grateful for the suggestion.
"I did most of my homework yesterday and I agreed to meet with Draco to write the Care of Magical Creatures essay after dinner."
"You won´t be snogging and losing points again?" Dean asked suspiciously.
"No, we won´t!" Harry rolled his eyes. "I learned my lesson."
"You better have," huffed Ron.
"Want to see my essay when I come back, Mum?" Harry snapped at his best friend. He got up from the table and left the Great Hall.
Draco followed barely a minute later.
"Did Weasley annoy you again, love?" he asked. "Are you sure you don´t want me to hex him? It would be my pleasure, really."
"That´s cute of you, but no." Harry pecked Draco´s cheek.
Hand in hand the two boys went to the owlery.
"What if he doesn´t come?" Harry asked for the third time. He sat on a window sill in the owlery, wrapped in his love´s arms.
"He will come, beloved."
"We have been waiting for more than an hour!"
"He will come, Harry. Calm down."
Xerxes came five minutes later. Draco raised a brow, but didn´t say "I told you so." They all but ran up to the room of requirement. Harry walked past the wall three times, thinking about how he needed a potions lab.
When he turned around the last time, there was a door and they slipped inside, before they were caught.
The room had provided them with a duplicate of the potions classroom. Even professor Snape´s instructions on the blackboard were there.
Draco unwrapped the ingredients and they started to brew.
Again, the blond did the actual brewing while Harry diced and cut and skinned. The only ingredient he was allowed to add was the shrivelfig and this time Draco gave him the thumbs up when he produced a lump.
"Shouldn´t it explode now?" Harry asked anxiously.
"The colour´s already changing. Let´s hide under a worktable!" cried Draco.
The boys ducked under a table and not a second too early. Their cauldron exploded spectacularly. They waited for the potion to rain down on the room before they scrambled out of their hiding place.
Draco went to the storeroom and returned with two small cups. He laddled a dose of potion into each and handed one cup to Harry.
"To us!" he said and smiled.
They downed the potion in one big gulp each.
"And now?" asked Harry.
"Now we hope and wait," sighed the Slytherin. "We can't have mucked up mucking up a potion, can we?" Suddenly he grinned. "Are you aware that we´re in the potions classroom and Snape can´t catch us?" He took Harry´s hand and pulled him to the front of the classroom.
"What..?" squeaked Harry, but Draco sealed his lips with a passionate kiss. The blond pushed Harry until he felt the edge of Snape´s desk on his behind. With a giggle Harry sat on the desk. The blond giggled, too, and continued to kiss the Gryffindor for all he was worth.
Harry wrapped his legs around Draco´s waist. "Snogging on Snape´s desk!" he giggled. "Naughty! How many points do you think would he take if he found out?"
Draco nibbled Harry´s earlobe. "One zillion points from Gryffindor and Slytherin each!"
As it was Saturday and Friday evening had been exhausting, Harry slept in.
"Come on or you won´t get any breakfast at all!" cried Ron when he pulled down Harry´s blanket.
"Ron!" squealed Harry. "I´m tired!" He tried to pull the blanket back up.
"Okay, mate. But don´t blame me if you go hungry until lunch," Ron let go of the blanket and Harry fell back onto the pillow with a soft thud. "Though I guess Malfoy will be worried if you don´t come to breakfast."
Grudgingly Harry had to admit that his friend was right. He got up and dressed. The only good thing about leaving bed was that there was a chance he was going to see Draco at breakfast. Draco! Harry supressed a moan. How was he ever going to look at Snape – or his desk – again without blushing?
Draco waited for Harry in the Entrance Hall with a basket.
"Fancy a picnic, sweetheart?" asked the blond.
Harry sent Ron off to the hall with a promise to talk to him later and went down to the lake with his boyfriend. They found themselves a hidden spot near the water and Draco laid out a variety of delicacies on a chequered blanket.
"Were you able to slip past McGonagall?" Draco asked with concern. "I can´t tell you how sorry I am that we missed curfew. I didn´t want to get you into trouble."
"I wasn´t caught," Harry reassured the Slytherin. "And you? Did Snape catch you?"
Draco shook his head and sat beside the Gryffindor. "No problem. He didn´t see me."
They spent the morning kissing and feeding each other small snaps of smoked salmon, bits of asparagus and – for dessert – grapes. When they had finished their meal, Draco lay down and Harry snuggled up to him and rested his head on the blond´s shoulder. It was pure bliss. The day was sunny and warm and the bushes around them were smelling of spring.
The two boys only went back to the castle when it was time for lunch. They walked all the way back hand in hand. From time to time they stopped to share a little kiss, but not much as neither boy wanted to lose house points in case they were seen.
"I´ll see you later," whispered Draco when they reached the Entrance Hall. He leaned in for a good-bye kiss and Harry kissed back enthusiastically.
It was like waking from a long sleep. What was he doing? Harry felt a shudder run down his spine. Hastily he disentangled himself from Malfoy´s arms.
"Baaah!" Harry licked his palm to clean his tongue. "Oh my God! Malfoy what are you doing?"
Draco looked hurt. "Kiss my fiancé?" he suggested.
"What?" shrieked Harry. "What kind of dark magic is this?" Were those tears in Malfoy´s eyes.
Hermione, who seemed to have been on her way to lunch, too, stepped to Harry´s side. "There was a potions accident, Harry. You were enamoured with Malfoy for more than a week."
Potions? He remembered. Oh God! What had he done! Hastily he pulled the ring from his finger and shoved it into Malfoy´s hand. Oh God! He had kissed the Slytherin ice prince!
"Why didn´t you stop me?" he snarled at Hermione. "Or why didn´t Snape at least team me up with someone less... repulsive? Why is it always me, anyway?"
"But you were lucky," Malfoy said coldly. He was shaking with anger and humiliation. "You got to kiss someone goodlooking."
Harry turned on the spot and rushed off to Gryffindor Tower.
It had been so wrong! So disgusting! But why did he feel like he had lost something?
Nine and a half months later
"I still can´t believe you´re going to do that, mate!" said Ron.
Harry frowned. "You´re not going to spoil this day for me, are you? We discussed this plenty of times! It´s what I want!"
"But it´s Malfoy!" insisted the redhead.
"Yes, it´s Draco Malfoy and I´m more than happy about that. He´s really sweet and you would see that, too, if you forgot your prejudices for just one minute! Help me with this wreath!"
"At least you aren´t going to wear a veil!"
"Ronald Weasley! Stop it immediately!" Hermione joined the conversation. She took the wreath from the bed and placed it on Harry´s head gently.
"I still can´t believe they got back together," insisted Ron.
"Well, it had been the happiest week of both our lives and once we admitted it to ourselves, we both wanted it back," smiled Harry.
"And you´re sure Lucius won´t disinherit Draco? Or curse you during the ceremony? I saw him lurking in the bushes with Snape earlier."
"Snape is Draco´s best man. And Lucius is paying for the wedding." Harry smiled happily. "It turned out his objections were all about not getting any grandchildren. Once we showed him our application for adoption he went all tame."
"Did you hear from the agency?" asked Hermione.
Harry beamed. "Can you keep a secret? We want to announce it at the reception. We´re going to have a son and daughter tomorrow! Aeolus and Aphrodite are muggleborn twins, three months old. Their parents died in a car crash."
Ron looked doubtful. "Are you sure Lucius Malfoy is going to put up with muggleborn grandchildren?"
Hermione slapped him on his arms. "I told you to stop it!"
"It´s okay, Hermione," Harry reassured her. "We talked about that a lot. But they will be Malfoys by adoption; that makes them purebloods in the eyes of the ministry. And their Mummy is going to be the Saviour of the Wizarding World, that won´t hurt either."
Ron jerked at the word ´Mummy´, but said nothing.
"Ready, Harry?" asked Hermione.
Beaming happily, Harry went out to the lawn, where his future was waiting for him; a future with his one true love, Draco Malfoy.