Hey look, this is all late and stuff. I did warn you. I hope you all enjoy and thank you for being so patient. Please leave a review and tell me what you though. I appreciate them greatly. Next chapter will probably be just as slow to come. But don't worry, it's not over.

Chapter 13

Fear

Draco Malfoy stood anxiously alongside his mother at King's Cross Station, platform nine and three quarters. When he had first arrived at Malfoy manner, he had been so distraught over his encounter with Harry the night before, he was barely able keep himself composed. His mother, of course, had noticed, and, of course, she had wanted to talk about it, but the wound was still too raw and Draco declined. Much of his holiday was spent reassuring his mother that he was not about to fall apart at the seams. As time went on, his mood grew considerably better and eventually, Narcissa had stopped asking what had happened.

Thus, Draco had yet to tell her he was gay.

He knew there was no way he could put it off until the summer. It was a miracle she hadn't already heard through the Pureblood grapevine. She deserved to hear it from him, but he was just so afraid to ruin the bond they were slowly building. Things between them weren't the same as they had been before the war. Draco and his mother had always loved one another – Draco knew Narcissa cared more about him than she did her own life – but the love he'd always known was there had become more tangible. They told one another they loved each other. They spoke about their feelings. It wasn't a typical Malfoy thing and at first, Draco had thought it immeasurably strange, but he had no quarrels with welcoming this new way of loving. It was nice.

So what if his confession went and ruined that?

"Draco, Darling, are you alright?" Narcissa asked, looking over at her only child sidelong. "You've been on edge since arriving home. I know you were upset, and we didn't talk about it. Is there anything I can do?"

Draco bit his lip, at war with himself. The train's whistle blew, signalling it would be leaving very soon, and he looked over at it. He almost jumped when he felt a soft hand clasp his own, his eyes darting back to his mother.

"Don't worry about the train," she said, shaking her head. "If you need me, we can work out another way to get you back. I'm your mother, Draco. I want to be there for you." Her voice dropped to the barest hints of a whisper as she continued. "You have been through far too much for a boy your age. You were supposed to be my little boy, and you grew up to fast, and I know that was my fault. What your father and I put you through, what we brought you into, it was a bad thing. I was supposed to protect you, and instead I did the opposite. Let me be you're mother, please. If not for you, than do it for me."

Moved by his mother's words, Draco pulled her into a tight embrace. He didn't dare look her in the eyes, hearing the tears in her voice and not being strong enough a man to see them too.

"You are my mother," he insisted, his voice full of raw sincerity. "I wouldn't have asked for another. Stop putting all the blame on yourself. You'll make yourself ill."

"Then would you please tell me what's been troubling you?" Narcissa pleaded. Draco pressed a quick kiss to her cheek and held her at arm's length. He heard the final warning whistle sound, and though he knew first-hand how terrible it was to receive earthshattering news from a runner, he saw only one option that appealed to both is cowardice and his mother's wishes.

"Mother, I'm gay," he blurted before turning on his heels and walking as fast as could pass for normal towards the Hogwarts Express. He made his way with purpose towards the compartment car he had seen Theo watching him from – nosy sod.

"I'm assuming that was you, only now scrounging up the courage to tell your mother," Theo said, not bothering to turn in Draco's direction as he entered their compartment, watching though he window as the train rolled away from the station.

"She didn't pass out or anything of the sort," he added, finally turning to face the blond, trying to be helpful. "I'd take that as a good sign."

"Or she was already coming up with ways to humiliatingly disinherit me," Draco offered, taking a seat opposite Theo.

"It'll be fine, Draco," Theo insisted, laying a comforting hand on his knee. Though Slytherins were given a reputation for being cold and emotionless by the students at Hogwarts, they stuck together just as much as the students from any other House. Was it such an atrocity that they weren't keen to parade through the halls arm in arm and scream the sincerity of their friendships to the world?

"Thank you for your support, it means the world," Draco sighed. "But if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to be alone."

"Of course," Theo said, nodding solemnly. "I had planned to spend the trip with Ginny anyhow, it's no bother. I just wanted to make sure you were alright."

"You're a good friend," Draco said, smiling. Theo's answering smile was almost infectious.

"And you're, well, you're a friend too I suppose," he teased, drawing a chuckle out of the blond just as he'd hoped to. As much as he wanted to honour Draco's wishes and give him his space, he didn't want to leave him alone while feeling so down. Hopefully the little laugh and helped.

As it turned out, Theo had no reason to worry about Draco being alone and down for long. It wasn't more than a few minutes after Theo had left that Draco heard a knock on his compartment door. Without waiting for an answer, Seamus stepped into the compartment and sat across from the moping Slytherin.

"Alright, who died?" the Irishman asked, crossing his arms in what appeared to be frustration.

"I'm sorry?" Draco asked, not fully understanding. Aside from the fact that no one was dead, he was confused by Seamus's choice to approach him. Though they were connected to each other just as much as they were connected to Rhea, they didn't engage one another much during the time they spent together and never once had they spoken without Rhea present.

"There's an anvil on your chest," Seamus said. Draco looked down and examined his aforementioned chest, prompting the Gryffindor to scoff. "Well not literally."

"I still don't follow," Draco sighed, shaking his head.

"Are you forgetting our empathy link?" Seamus asked. "You're absolutely gutted. Is this still Harry?"

"Uh, no," the Slytherin replied slowly, still trying to understand Seamus's motivations.

"Look, I know this is weird," the Gryffindor said, gesturing between himself and Draco, ascertaining the relationship between them. "Unprecedented, actually. The only times we've exchanged words in the past we were volleying insults back and forth. We're not exactly chummy, but I thought, seeing as how I could tell you were struggling with something, I'd try to help you through it. We had plenty of reasons to argue in the past but now, we've kinda got one big one to get along, and her name's Rhea."

"While this is very kind of you, Seamus, I don't know how much I want to talk about it," Draco said. "I wouldn't take offense; I don't want to talk about it with anyone."

"So, not a Harry thing?" he asked again, just to be sure. Draco wanted to get annoyed with him, but when he focused on the empathy link, all he could feel was concern coming from the boy in front of him and he caved.

"My mother, actually," the blond sighed, picking at his nails anxiously. "I wanted to tell her about me during the holiday, but I kept losing my nerve. I let it go so long I found myself at King's Cross station with her and I had yet to say a word regarding my orientation."

"And you thought it would be a brilliant idea to tell her right before jumping on the train," Seamus finished, finally understanding why he'd caught that sudden influx of part panic, part pain through the link.

"Turns out, it wasn't such a brilliant idea," Draco sighed. "I should have remembered from when I told Pansy. I don't mind saying it; it's waiting for a reaction that kills me. In the five seconds it took Pansy to tell me she was okay with things, I almost had a heart attack. It's been a little more than five seconds since telling Mother."

To Draco's utter surprise, Seamus exploded in a fit of laughter.

"Excuse me," Draco bellowed.

"I'm sorry," Seamus exclaimed while trying to catch his breath. "I'm being so rude. It's just, the parallels between your behaviours. It really is hysterical."

"Again, Seamus, I'm not following," Draco said. He was sure the Irishman had a plenty nice personality – Rhea wouldn't have bonded with him otherwise – but he certainly didn't make a lot of sense.

"You ran away from your mother, and even though it's killing you that you don't know how she's reacting to your confession, at least she can't reject you this way. If you didn't care about her opinion, you would've just told her from the beginning. But you do, and I bet Harry did too."

Draco had been following, up until the point Seamus had mentioned Harry. He was lost again, and Seamus could tell, so he carried on with his explanation.

"Why did you kiss Harry, Draco? I know why, and Rhea knows why, but does Harry? Did you tell him how you felt?"

"I believe it was implied," the Slytherin answered.

"So in other words, Harry had no solid proof of how you felt."

"I kissed back!"

"You could've just been swept up in the moment for all he knew," Seamus pressed. "It happened to me, yeah. I'm sure Rhea's mentioned Dean and our little celebratory kiss. Because that's all it was – a celebratory kiss. We'd escaped death, after all. When I kissed him, he kissed back, but not because of me. No, it was all for the bloody moment. Has it yet to occur to you that maybe Harry was just trying to protect himself from being rejected by you?

"Moreover," Seamus continued. "If he's not honest with himself, if he doesn't own up to his sexuality – be he homosexual, bisexual or Draco-sexual – no one else he cares about has cause to reject him. No one says Look! It's a straight man! The horror! Grab your torches! Shun! Shun! The way you ran from your mother is the same as how Harry's been running from everyone else. It's all fear-based."

"You realize, if you're wrong about this, you're making one giant arse of yourself," Draco admonished, but the true meaning behind his words was understood. Thanks for the pep talk.

"It's nothing I don't do on a daily basis anyway," Seamus joked before turning to exit the compartment.

Draco thought that once Seamus was gone, he would be able to pass the rest of the journey in peace, but very few minutes passed before there was a knock at his door once again.

"For Merlin's sake, Seamus, if you're back to pester me, you'd best leave now," Draco snapped as the door opened. He froze in his place as he saw Harry Potter standing in his doorway sporting a rather sheepish expression. In his stupor, "you're not Seamus," was all the blond could think to say.

"No, no I'm not," was Harry's stunned reply. Seeing Harry here at his door, the memory of being fled from mid-snog fresh in his mind, the vehemence returned to Draco tenfold.

"Are you training for the hundred meter dash? Hoping maybe the sight of me will help you run a record time? Here, let me kiss you. The professionals won't know what hit them," he barked.

Harry's face turned red and he shifted from foot to foot, looking much like someone who wanted to squirm out of their own skin. "I came to apologize," he said softly, entering the compartment and closing the door in the vain hopes this blow-up could remain semi-private.

"For not making time or for ever being born?" the Slytherin growled.

"Yeah, you're angry, I get it," Harry sighed in defeat. "Go on then, hex me, or punch me, whichever you'd prefer. Both if you want."

"Sit down," Draco ordered, and then, as an afterthought, "I'm not going to punch you."

"I am so sorry," Harry said after a moment of uncomfortable silence. "I was afraid, alright. Me, the bloke who took down the darkest wizard of all time, can't handle the thought of starting a relationship with someone he fancies, just because he's a bloke too. Merlin, I'm pathetic."

Instead of replying that, yes, Harry was pathetic, Draco rather timidly asked, "You fancy me?"

Harry let out a nervous chuckle. "A lot."

Leaning over, Draco reached for one of Harry's hands and the Golden Boy not only allowed the contact, but took it a step further and twined their fingers together. He looked up into storm grey eyes and smiled serenely.

"I fancy you too," Draco said shyly. "A lot. And I know you were afraid. I've had a lot of past experiences with fear. I shouldn't have snapped at you when you first came in."

"You had a right to be angry," Harry argued. "What I did, when I left you at the tower, it wasn't the most honourable thing I've ever done. Now that I've come to terms with everything, I think back to how that night should have gone, and I know I should have been brave for you. You deserve only the best from me, and if I haven't lost you for good, I promise I'll always give it to you."

"Um, hello, Mr Prince Charming, that's not how relationships work," Draco said, chuckling at Harry's naivety. "Obviously, you're not supposed to be shitty on purpose, but from what I've gathered, relationships aren't all moonlight and roses. What makes relationships triumph is loving the bad in someone as much as you love the good in them. You've seen just about all the bad things about me I have to offer, and somehow you still fancy me; clearly, you should understand this better than anyone. So, you run when you're scared. My defence mechanism involves lots of yelling and hexing. I don't want to date the Golden Boy, or Harry Potter, Saviour of the Wizarding World. Just Harry, alright?"

And Harry couldn't help it. Once again, his body, moving of its own accord, brought Draco's lips and his own crashing together, but he wasn't running this time. The very thing he had been scared of having had become something he was scared of losing. And maybe it wouldn't be blissfully easy, but since when had anything between he and Draco ever been easy?

Kissing, Harry realized with a jolt. Kissing Draco Malfoy was blissfully easy.