eruditefics: (Default)
[personal profile] eruditefics
Author: [personal profile] eruditefics
Title: You were a miracle. I was just holding your space.
Rating: NC-17
Ship(s): Harry/Draco, side pairings: Ron/Hermione, mentions of Neville/Hannah, Pansy/George?/Lee?
Genre(s): Romance, Drama
Length: 19800 approx
Warnings/Contains: Non-con situations at the beginning (not H/D), brutality, angst, heavy doses of Ron Weasley in a positive role
Summary: Draco Malfoy has walked through hell, but when an unlikely friendship and an unpleasant spell push him towards Harry Potter, Draco will have to decide what he’s worth and what he’s willing to give for the sake of moving on.
Disclaimer: I own absolutely no character mentioned in this story and I’m not making money off of this at all.
A/N: Thank you to C for the beta. The lyrics are by Gregory Alan Isakov from the song Big Black Car (evocative music that you should listen to while reading this because it’s just wonderful). Dear recipient: I tried to fit in all of your prompts, I changed the setting and the catalyst a little, but I hope this is what you had in mind!



At first, being in prison wasn’t the worst fate. Draco was glad he was alive. His mother and father were alive too. He was only being kept in Azkaban until he could go to trial. The Malfoy family lawyer said she had testimony that would help, and he just had to wait out a few days in holding. Going into it, Draco was confident he could manage it. After all, he’d lived with a madman who wasn’t above torturing. He could do this.

After the first night, any hope he had that he would make it out of this alive were dashed. He got a roommate the next day. That roommate happened to have been a low-level Death Eater who was very upset his side (Draco was never sure if he could call it his own side) lost, and knew that Draco’s mother had a hand in it. How glorious for him that he should be sharing a small cell with the Scion Malfoy himself.

It started with beating: punches and kicks, not enough to kill Draco, but enough that he was worried he had broken ribs. Then, the other inmates were made aware that someone was giving The Malfoy Boy what was coming to him, and the guards were turning the other cheek. After a while, even during mealtimes, the men would take their turns hurting Draco however they could. The guards would come in and heal him so he wouldn’t die, but did nothing to ease the pain and heal the lesser wounds.

One evening, a guard took it upon himself cut a long line down Draco’s face. He said Draco was too pretty, and the other inmates were getting ideas. The guard claimed he was protecting Draco, and he may have been punch drunk, but he wasn’t stupid. They continued to keep him alive, but only so he could be a punching bag day after day.

Draco had made it five days before he started coughing up blood. He knew he was going to die, and he longed to see his parents one last time. His father was being kept in solitary confinement, and his mother in a women’s wing. Draco couldn’t hold back his tears any longer, and the other inmates grew to revel in his pain. He did nothing but cry, spit blood, and take punches for a full day. He didn’t even bother to eat.

When the door to his cell floated open of its own volition in the middle of the night, Draco knew what it meant. He focused on the pain in his side, willing his body to bleed out, willing himself to die. No one gave a fuck. No one was going to save him. He was a Death Eater and a Blood Traitor in the same breath. He was foolish to think he’d survive a short time in prison. He was the literal whipping boy for the entire losing side.

He heard the rustling of robes, and Draco began sobbing again. This…this was something they hadn’t tried yet. Draco thought he had one thing left to hold on to. Now, they were going to take that as well. They ripped his trousers and pants off before he could even begin to fight.
Draco’s broken body did fight back though. They couldn’t have him that easily. Draco had one shred of dignity left, and he was going to fucking use it. He fought hard until a blow to the head left him dizzy. His first assailant managed to flip him over even as the other inmates gathered began to laugh heartily. Draco wouldn’t cry…not this time.

However, when the inmate grabbed his hips and tried to plunge his finger toward Draco’s entrance, nothing happened. Draco braced himself, but no burning pain ever came. Someone hit Draco hard across the face and he flipped over. They reached for his flaccid cock, but no one could touch him. One by one, each man’s hand was thrown back until there was a circle of angry prisoners around him shouting that he was doing something. They hit him until he couldn’t see clearly, but still, nothing happened.

Draco began to laugh after that. He laughed uncontrollably. He opened his mouth, cracking his injured jaw, threw his head back, and let out a howl of mirth. He would die in prison, but something was protecting his arse. Forget about his internal organs or his face, his arse needed protecting. Draco laughed at both the irony and the dumbstruck look on his attackers’ faces.

He shut up very quickly when the first cock was shoved in his mouth. Each man took turns thrusting their fetid penises into his mouth until he was covered in vomit from his own gagging and the cum of everyone who could manage to climax near him. They hit him, called him a whore, and fucked his throat until he was sure he felt glass going down his throat every time he took a breath.

And still Draco Malfoy wasn’t dead.

And still Draco Malfoy wished he was dead.

“Alright blokes, that’s enough for tonight. I expect those transfers first thing from your Gringotts vaults or I’m going to press additional charges on every single one of you!” a familiar guard shouted down the hall.

The men all left, laughing to themselves and sending a friendly wave to the night guard. His cell-mate tossed him a towel. “Clean it up, whore. You have a court date tomorrow.”
The spark of hope that flared in Draco’s chest was its own kind of torture.


()()()()()()())()

you were a phonograph, i was a kid
i sat with an ear close, just listening
i was there when the rain tapped her way down you face
you were a miracle…i was just holdin your space


When Narcissa Malfoy was sentenced to one year in prison, Harry was furious. Ron watched Harry’s face turn pale as the verdict was laid down, and then slowly his best mate became so enraged he was shaking. Ron reached out to put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, but he just shrugged it off.

“I need to go with her. I need to make sure she’s given good conditions, a good parole officer, and the chance to get out early,” Harry said, his voice shaking. Ron nodded his head and Hermione made to go with him, but Harry just put his hand up. “I should be back for Malfoy’s trial.”

Hermione sat back down and Ron sat down beside her, taking her hand in his. The trials had been hard on them. It was a whirlwind of appearances in which they testified on who was a Death Eater and what they witnessed said person doing. They entered the courtrooms, said their piece, received their gratitude from old wizards in black robes, and left in a whirlwind of cameras. All three of them were exhausted, but at least men like Augustus Rookwood would never see the light of day again.

Suddenly, a gavel sounded and the room began to fill up with a new set of officials. Ron and Hermione looked around in shock as they started the next trial so quickly. Ron looked at the door, but there was no sign of Harry. He picked up the notes Hermione had written out for them, and saw that Draco Malfoy was up next. Ron swallowed back a lump in his throat when the floor of the courtroom opened up and the prisoner’s cage ascended.

Everyone in the courtroom gasped, and Hermione cried out, gripping Ron’s hand even tighter. Draco Malfoy was covered in filth. His clothes hung off him in torn rags. There were cuts and bruises all over him, and Ron noticed that they showed up despite a very powerful glamour that was cast over him. The Malfoy family lawyer was in the back of the room, pacing and throwing up her hands, and she began to shout, her yells drowned out by the murmurs of the crowd.

Where was Harry?

“I thought he wasn’t allowed a wand. And his lawyer wasn’t allowed to see him face to face,” Hermione started.

“So who cast the glamour?” Ron asked. Though he knew the answer: someone who was trying to hide something.

The trial progressed despite the Malfoy family lawyer’s (Ms. Maplethorn) repeated requests to give her client a respite and allow him to recover somewhere. A list of his charges were read off, some of them bogus even to Ron’s biased ears. The charges that would stick didn’t seem to Ron to be fair. He was there that night at Malfoy Manor. Harry told Ron exactly what he saw in Draco’s eyes the night Dumbledore died. Ron trusted Harry’s words and Harry’s opinions above anyone else except maybe Hermione’s.

Ms. Maplethorn tried her best, but there were no witnesses for the Malfoy family save for Harry. No one was brave enough to stand up for them or to them as the case may be. It looked like Draco was going to be doomed if Harry didn’t walk into that courtroom soon. The thought made Ron feel something raw deep in the pit of his stomach. Much to his own shock, he wasn’t sure he could swallow his thoughts any longer.

“Well, Ms. Maplethorpe, if you’re unable to produce any reason…” The Chief Warlock started.

“I’ve given you plenty BLOODY FUCKING REASONS!” Ms. Maplethorpe, the classy, intelligent, calm, and collected lawyer was coming unhinged at this point. Ron cringed at the look in her eyes.

“You are in contempt. Auror Clark, if you please, escort this woman out.” The Chief responded, banging his gavel again. There was another scream of frustration from Ms. Maplethorpe as they dragged her out of the room, and then there was stark silence. Ron could hear Malfoy breathing, and it was shallow and shaky. Ron couldn’t take it any longer.

“I’d like to be heard,” Ron said, his voice quivering as he stood up. He clenched Hermione’s notes in his hand.

“Of course, Mr. Weasley, we welcome anything you have to say on this matter,” The Chief had the nerve to smirk, as though he knew Ron would seal Draco into a horrifying fate.

“I’ve…we all have lost a lot in this war. I lost…my brother. Hermione, well, she…” Ron wasn’t sure what he was trying to say . He looked down at Hermione, but she only blinked at him, her brown eyes wide with shock. Eventually, though, she stood next to him and took his hand again. Ron could feel his chest swell.

“Don’t send him to Azkaban.” Ron said, his voice echoing around the chamber. The room gasped again, and Malfoy jumped, meeting Ron’s eyes. Malfoy’s eyes were bloodshot, and they looked nearly hollow and dead.

“I need more than just you asking, Mr. Weasley, regardless of your efforts in the war,” The chief said, still smirking. Ron felt a little insulted.

“Draco Malfoy and I have never gotten along. Blimey, Malfoys and Wealseys have never gotten along. But what I can tell you, what I know for sure, is that Draco Malfoy was just a kid. He was just a kid who was forced to let Deatheaters into the castle or risk the death of his parents. Just a kid who had to live with a mad man in his house who broke his father’s wand and made him do all kinds of things he didn’t want to do.” Ron felt a little better for finishing that sentence without messing up.

“I’m afraid we’re going to need more evidence than--“ the Chief started.

“Wasn’t Harry Potter deposed?” Ron asked suddenly. He wasn’t even sure where they got that word from. “According to Harry’s memories, you’ll see Draco Malfoy risking his own damn life to not give Harry’s identity away. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot to you, but there were Death Eaters living in his house and Draco did that. He may be a smarmy, rich snob, but he’s not even 18 yet! Why would you punish him for the sins of his father?” Ron didn’t even realize he was shouting until his voice echoed back at him from around the chamber.

The room was so quiet that Draco’s pathetic breathing was the only sound. Ron cleared his throat, searching his brain for more words that would get Malfoy out of that courtroom, and hopefully to a healer’s office. Suddenly, Hermione sniffled and knocked her knuckles on the railing of the pew. Ron knocked his as well. It was a common way of showing approval during trials, and Ron had become used to the sounds. Soon, they were joined by Mafalda Hopkirk, quirking her eyebrows at Hermione, and then all of the members of the Wizengamot that surrounded her. The galley directly behind Ron erupted in the loud knocking, and Ron could feel a smile tug at his lips.

The Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot looked around the room and had the nerve to roll his eyes. Ron heard Hermione huff even above the roar of the rapping knuckles. “All of those in favor of acquitting Mr. Malfoy on the grounds of age and coercion?”

A group of witches and wizards raised their hands.

“All opposed?”

Another group of witches and wizards raised their hands.

Ron couldn’t count quickly enough, but when he looked down at Hermione, she was smiling and her eyes were watery. Ron looked over at Malfoy to see tears streaming down his face as he collapsed to the floor of his cage. Immediately, two guards went up to the cage doors and unlocked it, but Hermione rushed forward with Ron close behind.

“I don’t know what the system has done to him, but I’m not letting any of you lot near this young man until he’s been treated,” Hermione said, walking carefully into the cage. She began to undo Malfoy’s chains as Ron helped him to his feet. Percy came rushing to meet them, tucking a quill behind his ear and handing his notes off to another clerk.

“I can get us into a room just off of this one where he can rest. I sent my patronus to a healer friend,” Percy said, looking down at Malfoy with shock and pity. “I can’t…this is too much, even for him. ”

“Thanks Perce.” Ron smiled. He began to walk Malfoy toward the hallway, Hermione going ahead to get everyone out of the way and to put up shields and screens. When Percy went to take Malfoy’s other side, the broken wizard yelled and pulled himself closer to Ron. He was shocked and a little disturbed, but Draco was shaking so fiercely that he was worried the other wizard would collapse at any moment. Percy backed away quickly, giving Ron and Malfoy a wide berth. When finally made it to the open room, he told Percy and Hermione to wait outside.

“I think he’s scared. I don’t know if he really understands what’s happening. Someone’s worked him over,” Ron said, looking back at Malfoy’s slumping form in the black leather chair in the corner.

“He’s responding to you. Just stay with him and try to do some light healing until Audrey gets here,” Percy said. “I’ll watch the door.”

“I’m going to go and find Harry.” Hermione said, sniffling again. Ron wrapped his arms around her quickly for reassurance before going back into the room.

When the door clicked shut, Malfoy jumped again and put his arms over his head. “Um…Malfoy? It’s Ron Weasley. I…I’m not going to hurt you, I just want to help a bit,” Ron said, unsure of what to say. Malfoy dropped his arms and looked up. His eyes rested on Ron’s hair, and Ron rolled his eyes. “Yep, that’s me. Gingery-ginger freckle-face Weasley.”

“Th…thank you. For wh-“ Malfoy started, but it sounded like it hurt for him to talk, so Ron shook his head.

“Don’t mention it. Just let me,” Ron knelt down in front of the chair and took the glamours off Malfoy. He immediately wanted to vomit into the nearest bin. Malfoy had a long, untreated cut down the side of his face. It looked to have been done by a dull blade. His face was so smeared with blood and bruises that Ron could barely make out his features. There was also a terrible, bloody wound on his head. Ron feared Malfoy likely had a concussion to top off the other things.

Ron decided to focus on the concussion. Growing up in a house filled with rambunctious brothers and a sister that didn’t feel satisfied until she saw blood, Ron had gotten used to having to heal injuries on the fly. The Weasley family motto had seemed to be: “Go For the Head”. So Ron pushed back some Malfoy’s limp hair, the other wizard cringing and pulling away, and cast a spell to mend the injury. Malfoy sighed in relief and seemed to regain some of his equilibrium.

“Weasley,” Malfoy said in a whisper. “Can you…cleaning spells…before the healer…” Ron got the point and immediately set about running a ‘Scourgify’ through Malfoy’s hair. Before he could get to the horrible clothes, there was a light tapping on the door. A blonde, round woman let herself in. She was young and very pretty, with eyes green like pine trees and a warm smile. She wore healer’s robes.

“I’m Percy’s friend, Audrey. Percy brought him these,” Audrey said, handing Ron a stack of clothes. “We’ve altered them, and you should be pretty comfortable. I’d like it if you could put on just the robe for now though.” Ron handed Malfoy the clothes.

“I’ll just…um…leave you to it, then,” Ron said, relieved to be getting out of that situation. However, Malfoy reached out and clamped his fingers so hard around Ron’s forearm that he thought maybe the git had broken skin.

“I don’t-“ Malfoy started. Ron just shook his head and sat down with his back turned. Audrey joined him, facing the wall while Malfoy changed.

“Malfoy? Do you mind if I hand your clothes over to Percy? I fear there might be…evidence…on them.” Audrey asked, still facing the wall. Ron didn’t even want to imagine what the evidence could be.

“S’alright,” Malfoy said. “I’m through.”

Ron turned around to find Malfoy looking markedly better, though still shaking like a freezing cold crup. Ron didn’t know what compelled him to do so, but he walked over to Malfoy and put a hand on his shoulder as Audrey began running diagnostic spells over his body and then flicking information to a quill charmed to write medical notes on a sheaf of parchment. She paused when her wand was at Malfoy’s middle.

“Draco? What is this magic here?” she asked, furrowing her brow, but otherwise keeping herself completely emotionless.

“I don’t know. When the- when the prisoners tried….when they were…” Malfoy was choking on his words again.

“It’s okay. I can read these samples on your skin. I know what happened.” Audrey said, finally warming her voice and grabbing Malfoy’s hand.

“They couldn’t, though,” Malfoy whispered. “There’s something there.”

Audrey stooped down and began to very thoroughly examine Malfoy’s…region…with her wand. Ron looked up at the ceiling, down at his shoes, crossed his eyes to try to see his nose, and even contemplated whistling. He decided against the last because he figured it would be in poor taste. He wanted to ask if he could leave yet, but at the same time, he felt like Malfoy needed him. He didn’t want to go as long as Malfoy needed him there.

“Oh, yes, now I see. You’re a pureblood.” Audrey said. It wasn’t a question. Draco nodded. “I’ve seen this on a pureblood before, but only in a medical text. It’s a very old spell,” Audrey paused to look sideways at Ron.

“I think at this point, what do I have left to hide?” Malfoy asked in the clearest voice Ron had heard yet.

“Nothing will leave this room, Malfoy, you have my word.” Ron said out of compulsion to prove himself.

“I’m starting to think that is a good thing,” Malfoy whispered.

“It’s a chastity charm. Pureblood parents are in the habit of putting it on their children to make sure that they stay pure until the parents can remove it on the day they wed their betrothed. The only other way to break the charm is if the witch or wizard encounters their true love before then. We all know that love overpowers so much other magic,” Audrey explained.

“How can it be removed?” Ron asked, grossly curious.

“Either the caster or intimate contact with your true love, like a kiss,” Audrey answered, looking pityingly at Malfoy.

“I don’t even care anymore,” Malfoy said.

“Yes, let’s get you healed up. I think you should stay overnight somewhere under the supervision of a healer for a few days when I’m done, just to make sure everything turns out okay. After that--“ Audrey was interrupted by a loud bang against the wall.

“What the fucking fuck do you mean the trial has already concluded? I intended to fucking testify!” Ron flinched as Harry shouted. The trials and the funerals were already weighing heavily on him, but this was going to absolutely do him in.

“Oh Draco!” Audrey said, kneeling down. Draco had his hands over his ears and he was whimpering. Audrey was trying to console him, but he continued to rock back and forth. Ron decided to go to the door.

“Where is he? What do you mean healer? What did they do to him?” Harry shouted again, and Ron almost wanted to yell at him for being insensitive, but that thought just made him feel ridiculous.

“Oi, Harry!” Ron whispered, and Harry raced towards him. There was a look on his face that Ron thought didn’t fit the situation. He looked panicked and worried beyond just matters of justice. He looked like Ron felt every time Hermione was hurt.

“What’s going on?” Harry asked, much too loudly.

“We’ll talk later, okay? He’s just, he’s really spell shocked right now. When we get him to a hospital, I’ll come home and give you a rundown. Hermione can fill in the rest,” Ron said, putting his hands on Harry’s shoulders. Harry sighed and nodded.

“Why are you in there?” Harry asked quietly.

“I don’t really know, but I’m gonna stay until he feels okay.” Ron said, still shocked that he felt that way.

“How bad is it?” Harry said, with so much tenderness in his eyes that Ron had to look away.

“It’s not looking too great right now.” He said sadly, going back into the little room and closing the door.


()()()()()()()()()()()()()


well time has a way of throwing it all in your face
the past, she is haunted, the future is laced
heartbreak, ya know, drives a big black car
swear i was in the back seat, just minding my own


Draco walked into Healer Covey’s office and sat down on the comfortable, suede couch. He wouldn’t lay down on it, he never did. He wasn’t some blubbering idiot. But it had been four months since he was pulled from that pit in Azkaban and given some semblance of a life back, and he had learned early on that his mind healer was on his side, and that he might as well deal with the indignity of talking about his feelings if it meant he’d actually get better. He made himself comfortable and thanked the intern for his cup of tea.

Healer Covey walked right in and sat down in the chair across from him, her long brown hair was pinned up today, but it fell in loose curls around her round face. She was a very warm looking woman, with soft brown eyes that she always matched with cream color and earth tone robes. Her glasses had an intricate filigree design on the sides that Draco gazed at during the first weeks of their sessions to avoid eye contact. She was quite pretty, all soft curves and round edges, and if he were a little older and a little straighter, he might love her…a little.

“How is the redecorating going, Draco?” she asked as she readied her quill to take notes for her. She always started the session off with innocuous questions to warm him up. He knew her game.

“Oh it’s going well. That man had left so many of the rooms not only in atrocious condition but so full of dark magic that it’s taking an army of curse breakers to see it to rights,” Draco explained. He had spent his recovery fixing up The Manor, so that when his mother returned, it would feel like home again. It was a busy job, and it kept Draco’s mind from dwelling on all of his failings.

“Narcissa is due home soon, isn’t she?” Covey asked, again entirely knowing the answer.

“Two months and counting,” Draco said, sipping his tea to keep from saying, “Like I’ve told you a million times.”

“And what do you hope to accomplish before she arrives?” his healer asked, and Draco knew where it was going.

“I just want her to feel comfortable and safe when she gets out,” Draco said. He shuddered at what his mother must be feeling. He knew his healer could sense it.

“Draco, she’s alright. You get to correspond with her regularly and you said Mr. Potter has made sure she is well looked after. Draco tried to hide his scoff.

“Well, leave it to Saint Potter and all that rot,” Draco said, finding comfort in the familiar emotion.

“It still puzzles me,” Healer said, looking back through her notes. As if she didn’t remember everything in that fiendish little mind of hers. “Potter seems to have done a lot of good to you, and you and your family to him if we get down to brass cauldrons, but you seem to loathe him.”

“He doesn’t have to do with anything we talk about here, so I don’t see--“ Healer Covey put up her
hand.

“I was just expressing curiosity, Draco. Remember, we’re here to help you work through what happened. Even if you weren’t near him, Mr. Potter was a big part of that time. We can move on,” she said calmly. Draco knew she wouldn’t move on, and her quill certainly wasn’t.

They moved into the intensive part of their sessions, where Draco would work through each wound, each moment of that time in Azkaban and try to move around it, to move through it. It was hard, and frightening, and made Draco feel a little weak, but after every session, he felt like something was taken off of his shoulders. He got lighter every time. Once he came out of what Healer Covey called their “immersion therapy” or some barmy Muggle nonsense, they reached the part of their session where they planned his next steps.

He actually hated this part more. It was like ripping off a plaster as slowly as possible. Draco would have to make strides to feel comfortable in his own skin, and safe in the outside world again. He had to trust people and let people in much more than even before the madness of his imprisonment happened. He tried explaining to Healer Covey that he was never very trusting or open, but she just said that it was time he was and that mind healing wasn’t about just sewing up the visible scars, but the deep ones as well. The whole experience left him feeling naked.

“How are your visits with your aunt going?” Healer Covey asked, Draco didn’t even bother to hide his smile.

“She is remarkably like my mother for being so different in lifestyle,” Draco said. He meant it too. He found Andromeda to be charming, engaging, and warm. He really enjoyed the time he spent there. Even though evidence of Potter’s influence was everywhere. There were photos of him in Teddy’s room, a stuffed dragon that smelled just like Potter used to (not that Draco would know anything about that), and one time Draco arrived on the heels of a visit from The Boy Wonder and Teddy had morphed a scar onto his forehead.

“Do you ever go out to the park with her and Teddy?” the healer asked, and Draco knew she meant, “Are you exposing yourself to new people and situations?”

“Not yet…” Draco couldn’t face her as he said it.

“It’s okay, Draco. This sort of thing takes time. But you do need to begin to put yourself out there some more,” she said gently.

“I think I’m social enough,” Draco said, though he knew his argument was no shaky ground.

“A standing date with Ron to play chess and with Hermione to go over research on that infernal chastity belt is not expansive,” she said, glancing at him above her glasses. And before Draco could protest, she added “Despite your relationship with them in the past.”

“Listen, I can’t just up and go to the pub with Pansy and Blaise. I just can’t be so….surrounded yet,” Draco said, looking at his fingertips.

“I’m not asking you to do that. But you do need to go out more. I know how much you have loved being outdoors lately, and we’ve talked about your need to feel like there is an escape. Why don’t you organize some sort of outdoor activity with some people you trust?” She sounded nearly as hopeful as he felt at the prospect of getting well.

“So you and Ron Weasley at a picnic,” Draco commented sardonically. “Done.”

“You trust more people than that now, even if you don’t realize it. I’m not asking to include Andromeda, I know things are still a little tenuous there, and she’s got her hands full, but what about a get together of friends?” Healer Covey was smiling, and Draco feared denying her would wipe the beautiful grin off her face.

“I suppose Weasley and Granger can gallivant with Pansy and Blaise for a little while,” Draco said, smirking at what promised to be a hilarious party. “And I could have it on the large sailboat we have moored in Southampton.”

“Way to get out of your comfort zone, Draco,” Healer Covey said sarcastically. Her words had no bite, but Draco was still remarkably offended.

“Well I’m sorry, but I’m not very comfortable around people after being face fucked until I vomited all over myself!” Draco suddenly burst out. He was immediately appalled at his behavior and put his head in his hands. He hadn’t behaved that way around his healer in months, and it was so sudden that the emotion he felt almost took the breath from his lungs. He felt the couch dip down next to him.

“I understand,” she said softly, putting a hand on his arm. She had never touched him before. There were very clear boundaries set, but this was the first time she ever crossed an unspoken one. Draco found her warm hand on his cool skin comforting. “The more you let people in, people that are worth it, the better this will be. I can solemnly promise that.”

Worth it. Those words held such a wealth of connotations. Who was worthy of Draco’s trust? Who did he want to spend time with. Who wouldn’t go all oh-my-goodness-let’s-save-this-poor-crea
ture on him if he didn’t handle the event well? He knew what he had to do, and he bit his lip slightly.

“Well, Goyle doesn’t really go out much anymore,” Draco whispered, biting his lip.

“That is a good one. Maybe you can release yourself of some of the guilt you feel for Vincent,” she said, jotting down another note. Draco tried not to wince at the mention of Crabbe’s given name.

“And I suppose…I suppose Potter wouldn’t be out of place at a party with his best mates in attendance,” Draco said, his heart fluttering at the thought of Potter being so near to him. He wasn’t sure if he was terrified or just excited, but he hated the feeling. He bit the inside of his cheek.

“This would be a remarkable step for you,” she said, and her support gave Draco a boost of confidence.

“I’ll have the elves work out a menu.”


()()()()()()()()()()()()


“Checkmate.”

“Bollocks.”

Ron leaned back with a smirk of satisfaction and crossed his arms over his chest. Draco struggled to make a move that would save his queen, but he knew he was screwed. He always was when he played chess with Ron, but he couldn’t resist the challenge. The one time he had beat Ron, he felt better than he had in ages, and almost wanted to blow a raspberry right in the ginger wizard’s face. This time, however, he watched in dismay as the queen fell.

“Another battle hard fought,” Ron said, waving his wand as the pieces righted themselves. They were on a terrace at the manor, and it was unseasonably warm for September. Draco found he didn’t want to go inside at all. Ron, luckily, wasn’t opposed to a day in the sun.

“So I’m having a soiree on my parent’s boat,” Draco said, lifting his eyebrow at Ron. Ron, for his part, only showed a small hint of surprise before masking it over with humor.

“Oh my dear, Mr. Malfoy,” Ron started, fluttering his eyelashes and clasping his hands in front of his chest. “I do hope there will be crumpets! Is it formal dress?”

“Sod off,” Draco said, but it served to ease his apprehension a bit. “I just need to…be around more people. So I thought I’d have some friends to the boat in Southampton to eat, drink, be merry and all that rot.”

“I like the sound of this eating thing you’re talking about,” Ron said, winking. “Hermione and I will be happy to go.”

“I want Pansy, Blaise, and Goyle to come too,” Draco said, lifting his eyebrows. Ron just shrugged.

“Water under the bridge. Harry and Pansy have had their little post-war heart-to-heart, and as long as Blaise keeps his hands away from Hermione, I’ll be a happy bloke,” Ron said, leaning back leisurely against one of the high-backed chairs they played their game in.

“I need ...um, well, that is to say,” Draco stumbled. He had no idea why he was being such a fool in front of Ron of all people.

“Spit it out, Malfoy.”

“Speaking of Potter, do you think he’d like to join us?” Draco asked, speaking as carefully as he could. He was loathing himself for being so nervous.

“Of course he would. He does nothing but ask about you,” Ron said, and then widened his eyes. He looked like he had just let loose the worst secret in the world.

“Yes, well, I need to be around more people. And Potter is…well…that is to say…” Draco wanted to crawl under his chair.

“He’s a generally nice person?” Ron added, unhelpfully.

“Yes,” Draco whispered.

“Do you want anyone else to come? Chances are if you invite three Slytherins and three Gryffindors, we are going to be sitting on separate sides of this barmy boat and not talking to each other,” Ron said, taking a bite of scone and closing his eyes as if it was the most delicious thing he had ever eaten.

“I don’t think I could handle a bigger crowd,” Draco whispered. Ron just nodded in understanding.

“You could always invite your healer, Audrey. Not the brain healer of course, but Audrey is a nice sort,” Ron suggested.

“Yes, but then I’d have to invite your brother,” Draco said.

“Maybe so, but he’ll count as another person,” Ron answered logically. Draco knew he was right. Ron was trying to get Draco out and about more, just like his healer was. Draco’s affection for Ron grew, and along with it, that absurdity of having affection for Ron Weasley as well.

“No one will ever hear from me what happened in that room. You have my word.” Ron said softly. “Just as long as you know that anyone worth your time wouldn’t dwell on it either. You’re more than that.”

“Yeah, a friend to a ridiculous looking ginger who can’t hold their drink from what I hear,” Draco joked, but he felt more safe, more like he belonged than he had since long before the war.

and through the glass, the corn crows come like rain
they won’t stay, they won’t stay
for too long now
this could be all that we know..
of love and all.


“Why in the world am I wearing a sport jacket to a cookout on a boat?” Harry asked, pulling at his collar. “And who the fuck throws a boat party in mid-September?”

“Shut up, you look nice,” Hermione said, dusting off his shoulders unnecessarily. He was wearing a black jacket, with a bright, green poplin shirt and jeans. He felt ridiculous in that outfit, but Hermione said he looked smashing, and he couldn’t argue with her approval. That was literally impossible.

“You’re not fixing me up are you? I’m getting real tired of that,” Harry asked warily.

“Not even remotely.” Ron came up, adjusting his own gray jacket and white shirt.

“This is a favor for a friend. Just a few people, on a boat, drinking and eating,” Hermione said, tucking pin in her hair.

“Then why are you being so vague?” Harry asked. Hermione just smiled softly at him, took his arm, took Ron’s arm, and Apparated them.

They landed on something that Harry could only describe as a yacht. It had sails, but it had a modern structure that made it look more like a very high-class houseboat than a sailboat. He was standing on a shiny, oak floor against a wrought iron railing. The boat was all white, with green stripes painted on the outside and great masts rose up on either side of him. The waving waters of The Solent were beneath him and there was light music playing somewhere behind him. Ron and Hermione were doing a favor for a very wealthy friend, it seemed, if the vessel he was standing on was any indicator.

“Sweet fucking Merlin,” Ron said somewhere next to him.

“Indeed.” Hermione said. “Well, it’s not like we could expect anything less from the Malfoys.”

“Malfoy,” Harry said, nearly choking on his own air.

“Ah, hello Potter. I’m glad you could come.” Draco appeared, climbing a spiral staircase from the floor below.

Ron walked over to him and gave him a quick questioning look, almost like the one he used to give Harry whenever he got caught in a nightmare at school, but Draco just nodded slightly and Ron’s expression completely changed. “Right then, booze?”

“There are drinks for civilized folks downstairs, but I managed to get a few steins of mead set up for you, bloody Viking,” Draco said, smiling warmly. Harry felt tightness in his abdomen at seeing Draco’s genuine smile.

Ron and Hermione went downstairs while Harry was caught in his own mind, musing about the absurdity of Ron and Malfoy being friends. When he looked up, only Malfoy stood there, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. He was in a dark blue oxford shirt and gray slacks that fit him so perfectly, Harry was sure they were tailored. His light gray jacket was slung over his forearm and his hair fell soft against his forehead. When Harry saw the scar that ran down one side of Malfoy’s face, he immediately felt guilty for finding the other wizard so appealing.

“So, who would have thought you and Ron would end up mates. I always figured hell would need to freeze over,” Harry said, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans, unsure of what to do with himself.

“Nope, all it took were some iron bars and a few psychopaths bent on revenge,” Draco responded, looking down at the deck below.

Harry felt all of the color drain from his head. The first few words he’d had with Draco Malfoy in ages, and he brought about the worst reaction. Harry wished he could pull at his hair or jump off the boat or something. Why was he even there? He suddenly felt like an absolute fool in his nice clothes on that beautiful boat. He was instantly ready to leave.

“Shit, Potter, I’m sorry,” Draco suddenly said, putting his head in his hands. “I’m trying really hard not to do that so often.”

“What do you have to be sorry for? What in the world did you do?” Harry asked, filled with an urge to put his arm around Malfoy’s shoulders. He settled for standing next to him against the railing.

“I’m trying not to be so…so…shocking about what happened to me.” Draco explained. He met Harry’s eyes and bit his lip. Harry looked again at the scar running down his perfect face, and he had to fight not to shake with anger at the mere memory of being told about what happened to Malfoy.

“How are you doing?” Harry asked quietly, looking out at the water so that he would not shy Malfoy away with what he knew would be perceived as unfounded intensity.

“I’m getting better, actually,” Malfoy answered. Harry looked up to see a small twinkle of pride in Malfoy’s gray eyes.

“Brilliant,” Harry said, grinning at Malfoy. He wanted to tell the other wizard how strong he was, how amazing he was for fighting through what happened to him, but he thought he’d had enough of the taste of his foot for the night. He looked at the lower deck, where Ron was already fixing himself a plate of food, and Goyle was looking over his shoulder hungrily. “So what do you reckon about this guest list?”

“I suppose we’ll either be very entertained or very angry by the end of the evening, but I am hoping Healer Millburn smoothes some of this out,” Malfoy said, looking at his watch.

“Oh, Audrey is coming?” Harry started. “Because I have not been following up on her treatments and I know she’ll know!” He chuckled. Audrey was so much like Molly Weasley that Percy was often accused of being the Weasley Family Oedipus. His counterpoint was that she was blonde, but that didn’t hold water when faced with a bevy of boisterous brothers.

“You’re injured?” Malfoy said, and the concern on his face made Harry’s stomach flutter inexplicably.

“Oh I just fell off my broom and broke a few ribs. They are healed, I just haven’t bothered--“

“To use the Murtlap?” Audrey’s melodic voice rang out. Harry jumped, but rushed to hug her. “You know that the bruise might cause permanent nerve damage if you don’t use the salve?” Audrey said, immediately untucking Harry’s shirt. Malfoy made an audible hiss at the angry blue and purple splotch. Audrey just huffed and put another tiny pot of murtlap in his pocket.

“I’d use it if I were you,” Percy said, reaching out his hand to shake Malfoy’s while Harry tucked his shirt back in. Audrey went in to hug Malfoy, and he flinched, trying to cover it up with a cough. Audrey looked concerned, but Malfoy just answered with idle chatter. It was heartbreaking to think that Draco couldn’t stand to be touched.

“Well, if you’ll follow me to the lower deck, I’ve got a nice bottle of wine we can open,” Malfoy said, gesturing toward the stairs. Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to leave the lovely view up top and risk looking like a socially awkward fool, but he did anyone. Besides, Ron and Hermione were already down there.


()()()()()()()()()()



Harry wasn’t going to lie, he enjoyed a good drink…or four. And Malfoy’s party definitely boasted a good selection. Everyone decided to drink, and the suspect mix of guests mingled well with a bit in their bellies. Pansy recounted a tale of the time Blaise ate a puking pastille by accident and threw up all over Professor Snape. Harry laughed so hard he was crying. Blaise even smiled at Pansy’s telling.

“You’ve always been so excellent at miming bile,” Malfoy drawled.

In response, Pansy wobbled over to him, leaned in real close and made a strange guttural sound in his direction. Everyone roared with laughter, except for Malfoy who suddenly got very stiff and shaky. Harry could see it, even through his slightly wavering vision, and abruptly stood up on shaky legs.

“Anyone want to hear the tale of the snake inside the old woman?” Harry said, sloshing his drink around for effect.

“My nightmares certainly do,” Hermione answered, but she was smiling.

“What sort of kinky porn do you get into, Potter?” Blaise spoke up, and Harry told him to ‘jog on’ as politely as possible.

The evening continued like that, with everyone taking turns to tell their tales between drinking like the fish that undoubtedly circled the boat and uncontrollable bouts of laughter. Even Goyle was laughing and carrying on, though he didn’t usually do that much. Malfoy had a please looked on his face everytime he looked over at the former goon, and Harry could feel himself getting happier and happier as the night wore on.

After Audrey’s discussion of the weirdest things pulled out of the weirdest places she’s ever seen as a healer, the mood turned sleepier. The rocking back and forth of the boat wasn’t helping, and Harry could feel his eyelids getting heavy. He suddenly realized he had to go home, or he was sure to fall overboard.

“There are some guest rooms set up below deck if anyone feels they’d like to stay rather than travel. I think I am going to have to turn in before I fall asleep in a very undignified position and you infantile lot end up drawing on me or something,” Draco said. He snapped his fingers and three house elves appeared with room keys as he walked away. Harry decided to go up to the top deck for one last view before finding his bed.

He stood against the rail in front of the sofa that was positioned in the center of the upper deck. He tipped his head back. From where they were in the water, the ambient light of the city had faded enough for him to make out a fair few constellations. Harry had always loved the notion of being under something so much bigger than him and his world. He found comfort in the concept of a universe. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, wobbling slightly as the boat lurched.

“Still don’t have your sea legs, Potter?” Malfoy’s familiar voice drawled from the shadows.

“No, I don’t think I have. I did happen to pick up a spare pair of drunk legs though,” Harry said, wobbling back to the sofa before he tripped and collapsed on the hard floor.

Draco chuckled, a deep, belly laugh that almost seemed too hearty for his lithe frame, but it made warmth spread through Harry. He felt the other end of the couch dip, and Harry peeked through his closed eyes to see Draco still laughing softly next to him. Harry sighed and reveled in the happiness, keeping his eyes closed and smelling the sea air.

“Are you going to go to bed?” Malfoy asked after a comfortable silence.

“I like being outside.” Harry answered. “You?”

“The same.”

“There’s just something about…the sky. I like feeling small and unimportant sometimes,” Harry said. Suddenly realizing what he had said, he muttered, “And now I’m also maudlin.”

“It’s alright, I like you like this,” Draco said softly.

“Then I’ll have to drink more often,” Harry smiled and winked, his face turning red even as he did so. He looked up at Draco to see the other wizard blushing as well.

“So, should I have invited the Weaselette to this party too?” Draco asked. Harry was floored by the segue.

“Would you have anyway?”

“Likely no, two Weasleys is enough. But would you have wanted me to?” Draco’s voice sounded strange, but Harry didn’t understand why. It probably had to do with the fact that he couldn’t see straight.

“I like having Gin around, but if this is your not so subtle way of asking if I’m still dating her, the answer is no,” Harry said, turning around to look at the water. He didn’t bother to ask Draco if he was seeing anyone. The question didn’t seem fair in his current state.

“Why?” Draco asked somewhere off to his right.

“I’m not sure if I should answer that,” Harry responded. The truth was, he was pretty sure he liked blokes. Hermione and Ron knew he was waffling in that area, but he was in no way ready to let it out into the general population. A sudden image of that muggle club, and that tall blonde bloke grinding up against him came to his mind. He pushed it away quickly, hoping Draco didn’t know Legilimency.

“Ugh, I can’t believe this,” Draco said, there was disgust in his voice, but also a smile on his lips. Harry decided he had to open his eyes all the way and take a look at what Draco was talking about.

Down on the lower deck, Ron and Hermione were snogging. Not just snogging, Hermione had straddled Ron’s lap, her skirt hiking up way too far to be safe, and Ron’s hands firmly gripping her arse. They were writhing against each other, their heads smashed together in a tornado of brown curls. Harry had to stifle a crazy laugh, not wanting to kill his friends’ fun. Draco, however, picked up a coaster and threw it.

“Oi! Can’t a bloke have a poke?” Ron shouted.

Draco and Harry laughed until they couldn’t breathe as Hermione leapt off of Ron and hit him with everything she could within reach. It wasn’t until she had a bottle raised over her head that she seemed to calm down. Ron, for his part, just looked sheepish. He tugged at her fingers until she was finished yelling about how disgusting he was and soon he was leading her enticingly down to the guest bedrooms.

“I do not understand those two,” Draco said, shaking his head.

“Ron would die for her. He’s offered to die for her, a few times,” Harry shrugged. “They have always been on the same path toward each other.”

“You’re being maudlin again.”

“You love it,” Harry actually stuck out his tongue at Draco. There was a long, perfect silence as the waves lapped up against the sides of the ship.

“So what kind of research do you and Hermione do in your little meetings?” Harry braved the question that took precedence since about his third drink. He knew why Ron and Draco were close, but what was going on with Hermione?

“I don’t think I should answer that.” Draco said. It wasn’t a lighthearted answer though. His voice had an icy chill that almost literally stung Harry.

“You don’t have to,” Harry murmured. “I’m sorry I asked. I didn’t think-“

“It’s forgotten, Potter. I can be a bit broody, I know.” Draco waved his hand in dismissal and looked back up at the sky.

“I like being out here, not to feel small, but to feel free. Everything feels like a cage sometimes. Like I’m back in that cell and no one will get me out.” Draco’s voice was breaking as he talked. The urge to reach out to Draco flared again, but he tamped it down, knowing how Draco would react.

Harry laid his head down so that it was resting on the empty cushion in between them. He felt a ripple of magic he couldn’t explain, but he assumed it was some sort of ward. He was soothed by the feeling of electricity that went through him. “I’ll always get you out, Draco.” Harry said as his mind drifted off to sleep.

He could have sworn, just before the sea lulled him away, that Draco’s fingertips ran through his hair.

well you were a dancer, i was a rag
the song in my head, well was all that i had
hope was a letter i never could send
love was a country we couldn’t defend.



As he threw the shapeless khaki trousers with all the barmy pockets into his trunk, Draco was considering firing Healer Covey. He agreed to go on some sort of multi-house Hogwarts reunion camping trip at Pansy’s urging, but he couldn’t fire her if he didn’t pay her, so he would have to fire the woman who told him this ridiculous trip would be a good idea. Honestly, Draco Malfoy, ‘roughing it’.

“How can it be a bloody fucking reunion if we’ve only been away for five months?” Draco shouted to Pansy, who was rifling through his bedroom like she owned it.

“I said it would be like a reunion when you consider those in attendance,” Pansy tossed Draco’s toothpaste at his head. “And besides, some of us weren’t even there. Some of us were locked in the basements here, as a matter of fact.”

“I’m just saying, Luna and Dean will both be there, and now that we are all trying to move past what happened last year, we should be all in,” Pansy explained, dabbing some of Draco’s aftershave on her wrist to smell it.

“You’re always ‘all in’, Pans,” Draco replied sardonically. He looked down at the insect repellent and wrinkled his nose. “Who’s going on this trip that you are trying to get into bed?”

“Not sure yet. There are just so many choices!” Pansy giggled. Out of reflex, like it was the old days, Draco put his arm around her.

Pansy froze for a moment. This was the first time Draco had touched someone with more than a handshake since he woke up in St. Mungo’s after his ordeal. He was just so afraid of touch. Not only was he irrationally afraid someone would hurt him, but he was more afraid that someone would be repulsed by him if they knew the filth his skin had once held. Pansy, for her part, just leaned in and kissed him gently on the cheek.

“Just be careful. Life isn’t what it used to be,” Draco warned.

“No it’s not, but sometimes I think it might be better. It all feels just a little more real,” Pansy replied, with such a stark honestly that Draco suddenly felt a little naked under her gaze.

“So who am I subjecting myself to on this adventure?” Draco sighed, secretly nervous at being exposed to so many people. Healer Covey kept telling him he could leave at any time, but then he’d be a coward. Draco feared nearly nothing more than his own cowardice. He did so much harm to himself in the name of saving his own skin that he thought his cowardice would forever be etched into his arm.

“Well the same people as were on the boat, minus Blaise for being abroad, plus Theo, Luna, Dean, Seamus, Hannah Abbot, and Longbottom. Oh, and of course Percy and Audrey won’t be there. This is for our year!” Pansy said, sounding positively excited about a prospect that would have made her vomit two years ago. “Oh and maybe George Weasley and Lee Jordan.”

“I thought you said our year!” Draco protested. That was so many people.

“Stuff it,” Pansy blew him a kiss and tossed his trunk onto the bed. She heaped her trunk and their top of the line tent on top of it. They shrunk their luggage down, Draco cast one last longing look at his lovely manor suite, and they apparated away.

The apparition coordinates were well off of the beaten path. There was a camping area nearby for hikers wishing to hike the Coniston Round or swim in The Lake District, and their party was due to camp just off the hiking trails in a conveniently warded area. Draco had to admit, they couldn’t have picked a better time of year to go camping in this area of England. It was late October, and the trees were still holding onto their leaves with astounding colors that made the countryside look like it was on fire. The air was cool and clean. Even the small gathering of tents in the distance felt inviting.

“Pansy, why is everyone already set up?” Draco said out of the side of his mouth as they approached the site.

“Fashionably late. I wanted to make an entrance,” She replied, taking a moment to press her breasts up farther over the top of her low cut sweater.

“And throw me to the wolves,” Draco muttered. He didn’t want attention drawn to him. He looked up and saw that someone had already made their arrival. Potter was striding over to them. Draco ignored his increasing heart rate.

Since his party a month ago, Draco had met Potter at his aunt’s more than a few times. He no longer avoided Potter when he went over for his visits with Andromeda and Teddy, and Potter always seemed to be there when he turned up at his regularly scheduled time. He’d had dinner at Ron and Hermione’s flat, which also happened to be Potter’s house. One time, Pansy and Potter made plans to have coffee together, and Draco tagged along. Needless to say, he was used to the bloke, even if he still had trouble around people. As Potter grinned at him, he was worried what he was feeling for Potter was much more than comfortable familiarity.

“Fashionably late, you two?” Potter said, reaching out and hugging Pansy quickly.

“Reluctantly present,” Draco drawled, but Potter just chuckled. He looked so warm and happy, that Draco almost wanted to chuckle right along with him.

“Well camping seems to agree with you, though I would have thought after last year you’d never want to see a tent again,” Draco smirked.

“Hermione would like us to create new experiences over the negative old ones,” Potter rolled his eyes. “I just thought it’d be nice to hike in the fall.”

“If that’s what she thinks, I’ve got a basement we should all go hang out in,” Draco murmured. He immediately hated his traitorous tongue for being so glib, but Harry just looked at him with shock before letting out a loud laugh.

“Yeah, he’s a regular cut-up,” Pansy said. “Now where is George Weasley?”

“Oh dear lord, rescue that poor bloke now,” Draco said, as Pansy went trotting off across the campsite and left him to set up their tent. Potter immediately took one end of the canvas and began to unroll it. Once they had the tent flattened on a good piece of land, Draco drew his wand and Potter came up next to him. For a split second, Potter’s shoulder brushed his, and Draco felt the same pulse of electricity that went through his fingertips when he took the risk of touching Potter’s hair.

“Erecto,” Draco said, his voice almost choking on the word. He knew their tent was big, extravagant, and overall a status symbol, but he didn’t expect everyone on the site to stop what they were doing and gawk.

“Well excuse us, Lord Malfoy! I didn’t realize we lowly peasants were cramping your style,” Ron said, obnoxiously bowing at Draco’s feet.

“Yes, perhaps he’s also brought along the servants to serve our high tea,” Seamus said, mimicking drinking with his little finger out.

“Sod off, Weasley! I wasn’t going to go out and purchase another tent just to appease your delicate sensibilities.” Draco said, tossing his luggage onto the floor of the tent’s sitting room.

“I was going to bunk with Neville and Hannah this weekend, but with them constantly making love, maybe I’d be better off joining you,” a soft, trilling voice said to Draco’s left. He looked over to see that Luna Lovegood had appeared beside him. He had not talked to her since…well…since his basement. Draco could not hide the disbelief on his face.

“If you’re sure you’d be comfortable, there is another sleeping area in there,” Draco managed to croak out. As if on cue, Draco saw Longbottom drag a blonde haired girl toward the blue tent in the corner. Luna was already happily summoning her luggage over to Draco’s large, white tent.

“They’ve been like this for months,” Potter whispered to Draco. “Whenever we go out, they just…snog.”

“I imagine everyone is just sort of making up for lost time,” Draco said, though the image of Longbottom as a lust crazed maniac was giving him an imperturbable grin.

“Tell me about it, the walls of Grimmauld Place are not very thick,” Harry said, loud enough for Ron to hear.

“Oh my ears!” Dean shouted from behind his own mangled tent.

“Oy!” Ron said, but Hermione just hid her face. Draco caught Ron looking longingly at Longbottom’s tent. “Harry’s bunkin’ with us this weekend.”

“Oh bloody- Potter!” Draco started, already feeling a little overwhelmed by the crowd. “There’s a bunk next to Luna’s. Does anyone else want to join the celibate tent?” Draco met Hermione’s eyes and she looked shocked, but Draco waved off her concern.

“No need!” Dean and Seamus shouted in unison, leering at each other. Draco wondered if they were having a laugh, or if they were serious.

“Wait, celibate? I need to trade tents!” Pansy shouted, rushing in to grab her things.

“Room in ours, Parkinson,” George Weasley called, emerging from his own lime green atrocity. Pansy suddenly looked positively giddy.

“Celibate? I think I may no longer meet the requirements,” Luna said. “Does self-love count?”

There was a collective groan as Draco finally entered his tent to unpack his things. His tent wasn’t necessarily that big. There were two rooms: a master suite where Draco would sleep, and a bunk room that held four beds where Draco used to entertain his friends during the Quidditch World Cup. There was a well-appointed sitting room, a bathroom with a working shower, and a kitchen. It wasn’t like they were staying at the finest inn or anything.

“So, who wants to go and hunt for plimpies?” Luna said, sitting down on the sofa in Draco’s tent. When Potter emerged from the bunk room with his hand raised and a smile on his face, Draco knew he was in for a long weekend indeed.



()()()()()()()()()()


Plimpie hunting was physically and mentally exhausting. It started off with Luna wading in a rocky stream and everyone else bravely following after her, and ended with a literal game of freeze tag in which a sleeper cell was awoken and Goyle came out victorious. Who knew he was so good at climbing trees? It was positively surreal to see people on such starkly different sides behaving so amicably toward one another. Draco made the decision right then that if they started singing, he was leaving.

He had to admit, it wasn’t the worst time he had. He stayed in the background a lot, just watching everyone else, but he still reveled in being outdoors and not being scared out of his mind of the people around him. Everyone was moving on, or trying to, and Draco wanted desperately to be there with them. Seeing Goyle happily master freeze tag, and then willingly wear a crown of flowers as the winner of all made Draco feel so guilty that there was still so much darkness building up in him.

When they got back to the campsite after a day of running around the woods like a band of renegade children and not adult witches and wizards, everyone set about to start dinner. Some wanted to cook on the fire the muggle way, others went into their tent kitchens. Theo insisted he could make the perfect kebobs in a frying pan and set about taking orders from everyone assembled. Draco took his chance to be alone for a while on the outskirts of the camp.

“Draco?” Hermione’s voice was coming up the path toward his spot.

“I’m over here, Granger. I’m okay,” he said, realizing it must have been longer than he thought, since the sun was already beginning to set.

“I’m sorry to bother you, I just wanted to go over some things while I knew we wouldn’t be bothered,” she said, pulling two dusty books out of her endless handbag, sitting on a nearby log, and balancing them over her lap.

“Oh,” Draco said, almost fearful to hear what she had found out about the spell his parents cast on him. He still had no confirmation from his parents that they did it, but who else would have?

“Remember how I told you I was pretty sure I found the exact chastity charm that was cast on you?” she asked, licking a finger and delicately opening a ribboned page. “Well now I’m sure of it.”

“How doomed am I?” Draco asked dryly.

“Not nearly as doomed as we thought,” Hermione smiled. Draco wondered if she realized she was giving him a beatific smile that hinged largely on his ability to have penetrative sex.

“Can you remove the spell?” Draco asked, not even sure what that would mean considering his feelings about anything intimate at the moment.

“Not without slicing off your willy,” Hermione said. When Draco winced she added a hasty, “Sorry.”

“This one is called Immomare and can be removed by the caster,” Hermione started to explain.

“Oh that’s just excellent. Oh hello mother, father, I’d enjoy some meaningless sex, but I can’t when this charm is on. Kindly allow me the use of my tackle!” Draco’s voice was taking on a shrill overtone now, but Hermione looked like she was holding back laughter.

“At least you know it’s not permanent,” Hermione said, swallowing her giggles.

“There’s more isn’t there? There’s always more where pureblood magic is concerned.” He was setting himself up for disappointment in counting down in three...two..

“Intimate contact with your true love will negate all of the magic.” Hermione said.

…one…

“Ummmmm.” Draco had no idea what he was supposed to say. It was a choice between asking his parents to remove the spell and asking his parents to remove the spell. There were too many reasons why no one could ever love Draco, and he wasn’t going to waste his time being turned down over and over again in search of his knight in shiny armor.

“There’s always that rot about true love being able to do amazing things. Well, I shouldn’t call it rot, Harry is alive because of love. Sometimes I think I might be too,” Hermione looked far away for a moment.

“WE NEED TO HAVE A NAKED TWISTER GAME RIGHT NOW!” someone shouted into the woods. Draco was almost positive that was Longbottom, and he did not want to even fathom what twister could mean.

“Oh gods. If Ron’s already started drinking, he’s going to be without his pants any second now,” Hermione said, putting her head in her hands.

“What have I agreed to?” Draco asked of the camping trip. It was an honest question.

“Catharsis?” Hermione responded hopefully. “We missed so much while we were all fighting for our lives. Merlin, I don’t think Harry ever even got a chance to be a kid.”

“Seamus’ ass is not to be touched by you lot!” Dean yelled out into the fading light. There was an accompanying roar of laughter.

Draco and Hermione got up, put their books away, and rushed back to the party.

()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Draco never slept well, and being cooped up in a tent, regardless of how grand, was not helping. He sometimes felt like the linen walls were going to surround him and steal the air from his lungs. Everyone else was sleeping in various states of inebriation, and his tent mates could be heard breathing loudly on the other side of the room. Draco had a fleeting urge to go and see what Potter looked like when he slept, but he swallowed it down.

He got up and decided to make himself some tea. He could go for a cuppa somewhere out in the open where no one could see him and no doors could close. Suddenly, there was a pained whimper from the bunks and Draco rushed over to make sure no one was hurt.

Luna was still sleeping soundly on an upper bunk, her hair floating around her head and a stasis bubble keeping any sound out. He looked down at Harry just in time to see the other wizard twist painfully in his sheets and scream in fear.

The sound sent chills down Draco’s spine. Harry’s voice was ragged and there was so much fear dripping from him that Draco was convinced that Harry thought he was going to die. He reached out his arms and began to weep, saying ‘no’ over and over again. Draco put up a silencing charm, perhaps too late, and sat down on Harry’s bed. The wizard continued to toss and turn, fighting, begging someone to stop, and throwing punches in the air.

“Potter, wake up.” Draco said, as sternly as he could.

“You can’t take them.” Potter whimpered.

“Potter, I need you to wake up. You’re having a nightmare.” Draco said again, more urgently.

“You said it didn’t hurt. You said it was like falling asleep. Liar!” Harry growled. Tears were still falling down his cheeks and Draco could feel his throat close up.

“Harry, please,” Draco said, more quietly. With a shaking hand, he reached out and put a hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“Draco,” Harry whispered, though he was still tossing fitfully.

Suddenly, Harry shot up. “Draco!” he shouted, gripping Draco’s shoulders hard. Draco winced back at the sudden and volatile contact.

Harry sat there and looked at him, wide eyed, for what felt like an eternity. Finally, he swallowed and reached his hands up to his face to wipe away the tears. “How bad was it this time?”

“I was quite worried,” Draco answered honestly.

“I’m sorry I grabbed you,” Harry said, his voice still scratchy.

“It’s okay.” Draco said, looking down at his hands. “Are you going to be alright?”

Harry took the time to breathe in a shaky stream of air before nodding. “I just…it all catches up to me sometimes, I guess.”

“I know the feeling,” Draco answered earnestly.

Harry let out another shaky sob. “I’m sorry. There are some aftershocks when I get these nightmares. It felt so real.”

“What did you mean when you said, ‘You said it felt like falling asleep’?” Draco asked, plucking up his courage and meeting Harry’s eyes.

“It was something Sirius said to me. Well, something his ghost said,” Harry answered, clenching his fists.

“I didn’t know he came back as a ghost.”

“He didn’t. I sort of summoned him.” Harry’s hands were shaking, and Draco wanted to hold them so badly, but he knew he’d never be accepted like that. “With the resurrection stone.”

“I thought that was myth.” Draco added unhelpfully.

“It was very real, and I used it when I walked into the forest to let Voldemort kill me. I brought back mum, dad, Sirius and Remus. I was too scared to go alone,” Harry said, his words so raw that Draco felt like he would spontaneously combust.

“So Sirius lied?”

“No, it didn’t hurt. It was just in that dream…I…everyone was just…” Harry shook his head back and forth.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Draco whispered.

Taking a deep breath, Draco pulled Harry to his chest. It was the closest another human being had been to him in five months. He wrapped his arms around Harry and rocked back and
forth slightly. He just wanted to take it all away. Draco thought maybe his existence would be less worthless if he could just be Harry Potter’s proverbial whipping boy. Draco whispered soothing words in his ear and tried to ignore the crackle of magic that seemed to be going directly to his centre.

“Thank you, Draco,” Harry said, his bright green eyes meeting Draco’s with so much intensity that Draco had to lean back slightly.
He walked back to his bed before Harry could take back the moment, and before he could fuck it up by being himself.
)()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Harry avoided Draco when he woke up that morning. He got up early, went over to the river to wash his face, and decided to start making the whole campsite breakfast before the sun even broke over the horizon. He was unbelievably embarrassed by his behavior last night. He had held on tightly to Draco, too frightened by his own mind to remember his pride, and Draco just sat there and comforted him. Harry wanted to hide under a rock. What was even more disconcerting was how good it felt to hold on to the other wizard.

Harry had transfigured a large grille over the fire pit out of a nearby rundown fence. He was cooking copious amounts of bacon and toast in several frying pans and whistling to himself when his tent rustled and Draco emerged. His hair was standing up on one side, his silk pajamas were wrinkled, and he was vigorously rubbing his eyes. Harry thought he looked near to perfect, and his face immediately heated at the notion. Draco stretched his arms above his head, revealing just a hint of pale skin, and Harry stared openly until a splatter of grease hit his cheek and he hissed in pain.

“Bloody hell Potter, first you wake me up with all your clicking and clacking about and then you ruin the smell of bacon with your singed flesh,” Harry put a finger up to his cheek and found that a painful blister was forming. “Let me heal that for you.”

Draco put his fingers under Harry’s chin and lifted his face up slightly. He muttered a healing spell, but even as the pain subsided, Draco’s touch lingered. Harry didn’t feel like he could pull away for all bacon in the world.

“I’m sorry, about last night,” Harry said, finally looking away.

“I didn’t mind at all, Potter. We all have our own messes to deal with. I kind of got the point that this is why we are all acting like fools in the middle of the forest,” Draco smirked.

“Trying to get better, not wallowing in our own…stuff,” Harry said, feeling incredibly vulnerable under Draco’s piercing gaze.

“I understand the sentiment, even though it was articulated so poorly,” he drawled, and Harry gave him a nice rude gesture in reply.

“It’s a bacon smorgasbord!” Ron shouted excitedly, making Harry jump a mile in the air.

“I heard the word bacon,” Longbottom poked his head out.

“Sure, he comes up for air for that,” Seamus came out of his own tent.

“Right? He can’t be arsed to leave his girlfriend’s arse alone unless bacon is involved. I feel lower than swine!” Dean mock pouted.

“Nice hair, Granger,” Theo called coming out of his tent with Goyle in tow.

“Mine?” Hermione shouted, gesturing carelessly to her haphazard curly mane. “What about Malfoy’s?”

“The moment he realizes his stasis charm didn’t hold, he’ll be- oh never mind, he’s already disappeared,” said Pansy, who walked out of George and Lee’s tent looking perfectly put together, save for the love bite on her neck. Harry looked back, and sure enough Draco was nowhere to be found.

“I’m famished!” Lee Jordan said, walking up and being the first camper to help himself to toast and bacon. No one seemed to care that he was wearing the sleeping shorts that Pansy had on the night before. Lee Jordan may have been well built, but Harry doubted his arse was ‘juicy’.

“I imagine you would be,” George murmured, winking at him. George seemed to be wearing Lee’s clothes from yesterday, which were too short and inside out. Harry wondered what happened in their tent last night, but decided that maybe that image was better saved for shower time, not breakfast time.

They had decided that day would be spent finding the best lake in the Lake District and taking a crisp autumn swim. Harry was just glad the weather was still warm enough to fathom swimming without catching cold. No one had thought to bring swim gear, but then again, Harry was beginning to think that no one cared in the slightest anyway. Hermione pulled a gigantic map and soon, the entire camp was in agreement that Buttermere Lake sounded like the most delicious one to go to. They found a secluded apparition point that was only a mile hike away from a swimming spot, and began their journey.

Harry stayed by Draco for the entire walk. He found himself talking to Draco about his dreams for the future, which was something even Hermione hadn’t had much success getting out of him in the past six months. Harry wanted to do something good and real, that didn’t have to do with the bloody Boy Who Lived. He was thinking of being a professor or a healer…something to do with kids, but he just wasn’t sure.

“All I really want is to be somewhere that feels like home,” Harry said. He immediately felt like a fool, but when he looked up at Draco, he saw only understanding and admiration in his eyes.

“I know how you feel. The manor is so big and empty, which can be nice considering how uncomfortable I am in closed in places and crowds these days, but nothing feels like home anymore because nowhere feels safe,” Draco said, looking away and avoiding eye contact with Harry. He was being so honest about what he was going through that Harry almost felt unworthy.

“Well, what do you want to do, you know, for a living?” Harry asked carefully.

“I can do anything or I can do nothing,” Darco answered dryly. “I have the money for both.”

“Well, technically, so do I,” Harry laughed bitterly. “I’ve inherited enough death money to keep me comfortable.”

“How morbid of you, Potter,” Draco smirked. Harry was growing incredibly fond of that sarcastic, mischievous look. “Oh, Merciful Morgana!” Draco suddenly exclaimed, looking over Harry’s shoulder.

They had made it to the water’s edge, and suddenly an army of feet thundered past them. Pansy, George, and Lee were completely nude and heading toward the lake at full speed. Harry got a glimpse of Pansy’s bouncing breasts and immediately put his hands over his eyes. The three naked adventurers hit the water simultaneously, and Harry knew it was only a matter of time before everyone in their party had shed their clothing.

“Should we cast a ‘notice-me-not’ charm?” Hermione asked behind them.

“It’s October on a lake in the middle of England. Whoever’s out here at this time of year deserves to see my bits!” Seamus said on the other side of her, running as he pulled his clothing off.

“Any excuse to be naked,” Dean admonished as he removed his clothing as well.

“You love it,” Seamus said, waggling his arse at Dean before taking off in a run.

“Mmmmm, too right,” Dean responded. Harry always wondered if they were joking or not when they said things like that.

When Luna began to pull her sundress over her head, Hermione made Ron turn around. Ron, for his part, didn’t peek back once, but kept his eyes locked on Hermione as she bravely stripped down to her underthings. Ron did the same, as did everyone else in their party, and soon Harry and Draco were left to sit on the hill alone. Draco didn’t seem to want to go in, and Harry didn’t want to be away from Draco right then.

“Aren’t you going to go in? I’m sure you can score some points with the single women of our party if you were to present yourself in the buff,” Draco smiled, though he sounded as though he wasn’t really all too pleased with the notion.

“While Luna and Pansy are beautiful women, I don’t think they’re my type,” Harry answered, getting nervous at where he knew the line of questioning would take him.

“Not ginger enough?” Draco asked, bitterness tinged his voice.

“Not male enough,” Harry said, blushing. Draco was silent for a long time.

“Well that’s something of a surprise,” Draco finally said.

“I was a bit surprised myself. But after the war was over, so was the lack of introspection. I caught on pretty quick. I told Ron and Hermione, and apparently they had been waiting for me to tell them since Ginny and I called it quits,” Harry laughed. “They took me to a muggle club that night for…blokes who liked blokes.”

“Wow. I mean, my friends have known for ages, but you just don’t do anything half-arsed, do you?” Draco asked. Harry was too busy focusing on the notion that Draco was also gay to even be proud of the complement. “Have you ever had the chance to act on those feelings?”

“I’m not sure I should answer that,” Harry said, blushing as he remembered the tall blonde man on his knees in front of him in the back of the club.

“Fair enough,” Draco croaked, his cheeks coloring as well.

They sat on the shore, walked around the lake, and talked for hours while everyone else played naked versions of every water game they could think of. Harry was beginning to feel like he never wanted to leave Draco’s side. He wondered if the other wizard would ever be okay again.

()()()()()()()()()

well you were a magazine, i was a plain jane
just walking the sidewalks all covered in rain
love to just get into one of your stories
just me and all of my plain jane glory


It was nearing dinner by the time they made it back to camp. Everyone was exhausted and water-logged save for Harry and Draco, so they offered to prepare another grilled meal while everyone else went off for a nap…or sex…or a nap and sex. Harry was positive that with the exception of Theo and Goyle’s tent, and the Celibate Tent, every single one of them was going to see some afternoon action. He wasn’t sure if he was jealous or disgusted, so he settled on both.

Draco and Harry had set up a large table transfigured from the nearby trees and set about grilling the steaks that Theo had brought from his father’s “land holdings in the north” (see: farm). Harry was currently throwing hunks of meat over his grilles while Draco wrapped potatoes and carrots in aluminum foil with butter. Sure, they could have cast cooking spells, but they had time to let them roast over the fire. The sky had grown overcast and the air chilly, so a hot dinner made over a roaring fire seemed more than appealing.

All of a sudden, the sky opened up and rain began to pour over them so densely that Harry could barely see in front of him. The grilles sizzled and the fire was quickly extinguished. Harry immediately set about sending the plates of half cooked food into the kitchens of the tents to save them from behind drenched. Draco was sending the utensils and linens carefully away for protection as well.

When they had cleared the area and saved their dinner, Harry realized he didn’t cast a water-repelling charm on himself and he was drenched, continuing to nearly drown in the sudden downpour. He looked up to see that Draco had forgotten as well. When their eyes met, Draco patted his chest and water came off in a big splash. Harry stomped down onto the ground and water cascaded around them. Suddenly, they were right next to each other and laughing as they splashed around in the rain.

Harry met Draco’s eyes when the other wizard stopped laughing. He was looking at Harry with so much intensity, that he was sure he saw lightning strike in those gray irises. Harry clenched his fists to keep from pulling Draco toward him, but when Draco leaned in and put a hand on his face Harry couldn’t resist any longer.

Their lips met in a searing kiss, hands going up and down their wet bodies trying to get closer. When Harry brought his hands up to the sides of Draco’s face, There was a flash of white hot light that surrounded them both, followed by an explosion of sound that knocked Harry directly on his arse. He thought maybe they had been struck by lightning, but he could see no smoke or fire. He looked up at Draco, and the other wizard looked horrified. His face screwed up in the most pained expression Harry had ever seen.

“No!” Draco shouted at the rain. Harry stood up and reached out to him, but Draco had already turned and Apparated on the spot, just as everyone else was coming out of their tent to investigate the explosion.

“What happened?”

“Who cast that spell?”

“Where’s dinner?”

“Where’s Draco?”

Harry whipped his head around in panic. Draco was gone. There was no use shouting after someone who Apparated away, he’d learned that the hard way. He was scared out of his mind that he had done something to hurt Draco, and that he was hiding somewhere wounded.

“Harry?” Ron asked carefully, pulling him into a nearby tent.

“Ron! We need to find Draco! Something happened to him!” Harry said, gripping his best mate’s shoulders.

“What happened to him?” Goyle said to Harry’s left. Suddenly, he realized everyone was staring at him. Harry also realized he didn’t care.

“We kissed. He leaned in. He was touching my face. I thought he wanted-- and then there was this explosion of magic like something snapped!” Harry said as he began to shake. What if Draco was hurt?

“There’s no way Draco did that,” Pansy said coldly.

“He did. And then that magic thing happened. And then he backed away like he was going to throw up….fuck what did I do?” Harry gripped his hair tightly.

“You pushed him too far you sick fuck!” Pansy suddenly shouted. Everyone gasped and George put a hand on Pansy’s shoulder.

“There’s more to it than that, Pansy,” Hermione answered gently. She met Ron’s eyes and they nodded. What did they know?

“What is it?” Theo asked carefully even as Pansy continued to seethe.

“Yes, why would Draco react so unfavorably to a kiss?” Luna piped up, running her hand up and down Harry’s back.

“Let’s stop talking and go find him!” Harry shouted.

“We can start looking now,” Neville said, putting an arm around Hannah.

“No, I’ll go,” Hermione sighed. “There’s…I can’t tell you guys. But I think I need to go talk to him.” Ron kissed her cheek and she Apparated away.

“Why is Granger all of a sudden Draco’s best friend?” Pansy said, still dripping with anger.

“Pansy, I wish I could tell you. It’s not because we’re his favorite. We were just there on that day and he doesn’t want anyone else to know.” Ron explained.

“Come on, everyone, let’s pack up. Maybe we can go find somewhere to get tea and wait for word on Malfoy, yeah?” Dean asked, putting an arm around Theo in a show of solidarity. Pansy, however, just shook her head.

“What aren’t you telling us?” Pansy screeched. “Because from where I stand, Potter manhandled Draco like some sex crazed lunatic. You can’t do that to someone who’s been raped!”

Harry felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. All of a sudden everything Draco had done and said made even more sense. And on the other side of the coin, everything he had done made him feel sick to his stomach. How could he do that to Draco? In the same time frame it took him to realize how much Draco had meant, he had hurt him irreparably. Harry fell to his knees.

“Oh blimey, Potter. I…you didn’t know. I’m so sorry,” Pansy said, putting her well-manicured hand to her mouth. The rest of the room remained quiet.

“I think everyone should leave this room right now,” Ron said with a powerfully quiet voice that dared anyone to argue with him. And no one did.

“What did I do to him, Ron?” Harry cried as soon as everyone left.

“Nothing, mate,” Ron said, kneeling down next to him and looking him in the eye.

Harry fought the urge to call Ron a liar.

()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Harry watched as his owl, Rhiannon, returned with another empty claw. It had been two weeks since that fateful camping trip, and he had apologized to Draco in every single way he could think of without being granted the ability to see him face to face, but he had no reply. Not even an angry letter. Just silence.

Ron and Hermione told him every day that Draco was okay, that he just needed to work some things out, but Harry was convinced they were just protecting his feelings. If it weren’t for Luna dragging Harry on long walks through unfamiliar forests that he questioned were even on the continent, or his visits with Teddy, that he wouldn’t miss for anything, Harry would never have left his seat by the window. Ron and Hermione were in and out of Grimmauld Place, and he knew that they were seeing Draco, even if they never mentioned him. Harry felt like he was some disease ridden pariah, a Contagion of Cruelty or something equally repulsive.

Harry looked up as an unfamiliar owl tapped on his window. He pulled the letter off of the leg with a shaky hand.

Potter,
Can you meet me at the tea shop around the corner from Leaky? In an hour?
-Pansy


Harry was there a half an hour early, and so was Pansy. They smiled sadly at each other. Pansy looked terrible. She looked like she hadn’t eaten or slept in two weeks. Harry wondered if he looked similar. He didn’t know what possessed him to do it, but Harry pulled her into a hug, and she clung to him.

“Thanks, I needed that, though I don’t think I deserve it after the way I behaved.” she said, dabbing her eyes.

“It’s water under the bridge, Pans. You were just protecting him.” Harry said, pulling out her chair for her as they got a table.

“In case you didn’t notice, I also told everyone about what happened to Draco in that cell. He’s been humiliated,” Pansy said.

“Have you seen him?”

“Yes, he came over to tell me he was alright, but he didn’t want to talk to anyone for a while and then he left,” Pansy said. “I thought it was all over, all the pain. Especially for him, I thought he could finally begin to be free of it.”

“And then I pulled him back into it," Harry said darkly.

“You didn’t know. Besides, he asked me how you were. I told him you were a little bit destroyed,” Pansy said, spooning some sugar into the herbal tea she ordered. Harry bit his tongue to keep from asking how Draco reacted to that.

“I’m glad that you wrote me,” Harry said, and he meant it. He liked that his circle of friends expanded, and he loved even Pansy despite her faults. Maybe someday they could all put themselves back together again. If only Draco would forgive him.

They went through two cups of tea and shared a scone before Pansy said she had to go meet her parents for dinner. She looked better at the end of their talk, and Harry felt just a little bit better. He stood up and looked forward to going home and hopefully having a nice meal with Ron and Hermione.

He decided to walk for a little way, and Apparated a few blocks from Grimmauld Place to walk the back way to the garden entrance. He walked into the kitchen to get out something for dinner, when he heard a familiar and gut-wrenching voice in the living room. His entire body froze for a moment before he walked toward the sound of Draco’s shaky voice.

“He keeps sending me letters about how sorry he is! Tell him to stop. I get that he regrets it after he heard about what happened,” Draco cried. Harry almost spoke up, but Ron beat him to it.

“I don’t think that’s it at all.” Ron said gently.

“I’m never going to get a fucking choice, am I?” Draco said.

“Draco, have you seen Healer Covey lately,” Hermione asked.

“Yes, but what good will it do? Even if my mind gets better, I’m still once again forced. The magic told me. It didn’t let me find out!” Draco shouted. Harry had no idea what he was talking about.

“No one knows Malfoy. I know you do, and your parents will, but you can still keep it as your choice when you decide to act on it,” Ron said, his voice slightly urgent.

“Don’t you get it? Now I’ll always know, and know that I’m too ruined to ever enjoy it.”

“You’re not, Draco!” Hermione cried out.

Harry had walked into the entryway without even realizing it. Ron was the first person to notice, and when Draco whipped his head around, he looked almost as crushed as he did the day they kissed. Harry dug his fingernails into the palms of his hands to keep from reaching out to Draco.

“Yes, I fucking am!” Draco said, looking at Harry with his eyes wide and maniacal. Draco began to rip at his shirt, and Ron reached out to restrain him, but was thrown back by wild magic.

“No…” Harry whispered.

“I took his filthy fucking mark! I had no choice!” Draco said, his fingernails at the Dark Mark etched in his skin.

“Stop,” Harry pleaded.

“And I took their abuse. It was either that or die! But they left it all over me,” Draco was sobbing in desperation, clawing at his face and leaving angry red marks. “I’m nothing now. It’s all over me.”

“No!” Harry shouted. “No you’re not!” He reflexively reached out to Draco, but Draco backed away.

“Why are you sorry, Harry?” Draco said, his voice suddenly small and pitiful.

“I’m not. I’m sorry if I offended you. I’m sorry if I hurt you. I’m sorry if I scared you,” Harry started.

“You didn’t,” Draco said, his breathing starting to calm.

“But I don’t regret wanting to kiss you even for a moment. And I don’t regret that split second when it felt amazing to be pressed up against you,” Harry said, walking toward Draco carefully, with his hands out in front of him in plain view. Harry saw Hermione rush over to revive Ron.

“Neither do I,” Draco said, barely making a sound as he spoke.

“Then talk to me, Draco,” Harry pleaded. He reached up and ran his hand over the scratches on Draco’s face. Draco leaned into his touch and took a deep breath.

“I can’t,” he whimpered. He ran out Harry’s back door and Apparated away before Harry could grab his wrist.

()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Draco went back to the manor shaking. He was surprised he didn’t splinch himself completely in half, considering his emotional state. His mother would be home in less than a month, and while the Manor was cleaned up and lovely, Draco felt like he was still a shivering mess. He didn’t want to worry her. She’d been through quite enough.

He couldn’t get the look in Harry’s eyes out of his mind. He looked so scared and so earnest. Draco could see how much he cared. Draco saw every time Harry wanted to reach out, but pulled himself back. He felt like right bastard for pulling away from him. He sat down in the drawing room and put his head in his hands.

He wanted to fire-call Healer Covey. He was convinced he ruined his chances of ever being happy with Harry and he needed to know how to fix it. However, he remembered their last session a few days ago and held back. She wanted him to learn to lean on his friends more. Sure, he was spending more time with people, but he still wasn’t trusting anyone with what he was thinking and feeling. He decided to take his last dose of dreamless sleep to try to rest away his jitters, and in the morning, resolved to find Pansy.

He located Pansy exactly where he knew she would be on a Sunday morning: head down on her kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee in her hand just watching the clock until the morning was over. He was relieved to find he was still keyed into her wards, but why wouldn’t he be?

“Whoever is there better be here to kill me or rub my shoulders,” Pansy said against the cherrywood table.

Draco cracked his knuckles and set to work rubbing the tension out of Pansy’s neck and shoulders. He was quite pleased with himself that he was becoming so much more comfortable with physical contact, and he thought it would be fun to start surprising people with small gestures. Sure, he was never one for being touchy feeling, but spending months not touching another person who wasn’t a healer had given him an appreciation for contact. He tried not to focus on the fact that the one contact he desperately needed, he couldn’t bring himself to take.

“Blaise, sweetie, your hands feel- wait, who’s there?!” Pansy said, suddenly realizing it wasn’t Blaise’s large, thick hands rubbing her delicate neck.

“Shhhhhh, let me work out the booze from last night,” Draco said, smirking .

“Draco!” Pansy screeched, leaping up. She went to go put her arms around him, but suddenly winced and stepped back. Draco relished in pulling her against him and giving her a brief embrace.

“I see you had a good night last night,” Draco lifted his eyebrow and looked down at her smeared mascara. She rolled her eyes and with a flick of her wand, her face was free of any smudged makeup.

“It was passable. It would have been better if you were there,” she said, and met his eyes with a sort of searching longing.

“It’ll take time,” he said softly.

“I know, darling,” Pansy said, taking his hand. “Do you forgive me?”

“Of course. I know you didn’t mean to tell the world,” Draco said. He really couldn’t hold it against Pansy that the truth of his ordeal was out. How was he ever supposed to move on if he kept added grudges? Besides, he needed her.

“I’m getting off way too easy in all of this.” She looked down at her feet. “Potter didn’t even bat an eye.”

At the mention of Harry, Draco tensed, and Pansy felt it in his hands. “What did you do to Ha- Potter?”

“Basically, I accused him of forcing himself on you,” Pansy mumbled. Draco could feel the blood drain out of his face.

“I just made things a million times worse,” Draco said, taking a seat at Pansy’s table and pressing his forehead to the cool wood. He was afraid he may have another breakdown

“Draco? Is everything alright?” Pansy said, sitting near him and putting a hand at the center of his back.

“I saw him yesterday. For the first time since he kissed me, I looked right into his eyes.” Draco could feel his face tighten and his lips begin to shake. “He was so convinced he had done something wrong…had done something to hurt me.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Pansy said, holding his hand more tightly.

“I kissed him back, Pans. That day in the rain, I kissed him back! And I liked it and I wanted more.” Draco was finally pouring his heart out. This wasn’t behavioral modification or medicinal, but it still felt just as good to lean on another person.

“You don’t have to explain why you left that day, Draco,” Pansy said quietly. “But you have to know Potter isn’t them. Potter isn’t even us. He’s different and he’d never hurt you.”

“There’s more than that,” Draco took a deep breath. “The reason Hermione and I have been meeting and doing research is because my parents cast a spell on me. I don’t even know when they did it.”

“Merlin, Draco. What is it?” Pansy said, her eyes looking so worried, so frightened that Draco felt a lump rise in his throat. He truly did love her.

“A purity charm. A chastity one to be exact,” Draco said, looking away. “To be honest, it was a good thing to have when I was in Azkaban.”

“Are you alright? Can it be reversed?” she was leaning forward and gripping his hands. “Is there anything I can do?”

“It’s already gone,” he answered in a whisper.

“Did they- “

“No,” Draco shuddered. “No, Harry did it when he kissed me.”

“How did he manage that?” Pansy asked, the astonishment in her voice nearly comical. “I mean, I know he’s powerful and all that, but breaking a charm with a kiss?”

“Think on it a moment, love,” Draco said, unable to say the words out loud.

“Oh bloody hell. He’s your...he’s....” Pansy’s breathing had quickened.

“He’s not even going to be able to be near me now,” Draco said quietly.

“Because he knows what really happened?”

“Well, adding that to the fact that I broke down in front of him,” Draco said, lifting up his arm and turning his head so she could see the scratches he dug into his skin. “Being faced with it, with him and what I wanted, I felt so fucking filthy and unworthy I just…everything went decidedly pear-shaped after that.”

“Do you still want him?” Pansy asked, after a long pause.

“More than I can begin to explain to you,” Draco whispered.

Pansy lifted Draco’s chin and carefully drew her wand over the angry red marks on his face. She did the same thing to his arms without saying a word. Then, she took a deep breath and rested her head against his chest. He breathed in slowly and got used to her closeness.

“You deserve this, and you deserve him. I know you think you’re unworthy. And I know you think you’ve now bollocksed the whole thing up, but somehow I doubt that,” she said, smiling up at him.

“I don’t know if I have it in me to just…be,” Draco said, the prospect of loving someone and having them love him back seeming foreign to him, but so appealing that he almost felt a glimmer of hope in his chest.

“I think it’s time to let go of the reins just a little and see what happens,” she said.

“How in the world are you so wise?” Draco asked, feeling lighter than he had in weeks.

“Don’t say that, you’re making me sound old,” Pansy scowled. She began to fix herself a warmed up muffin, and Draco settled in for a decent breakfast. He was going to need his strength for what he intended to do.

()()()()()()()()()()

Draco felt decidedly shady waiting in the shadows down the street from Grimmauld Place, but he just couldn’t seem to find the courage to walk into the place he almost destroyed yesterday. He stood along a wall, letting his fingertips brush over the rough bricks, trying to plan out exactly what he was going to say. When Ron and Hermione walked out the front door and down the street to the apparition point, Draco knew he had to act.

He walked up the front steps, stopping when he felt the wards. He knew he was keyed in, but he wasn’t sure if he was necessarily invited in. While he contemplated how best to knock, he toyed with the magic surrounding the house, feeling Harry’s spell tangled in with the rest. He sighed and got ready to turn around and give up. He just wasn’t strong enough.

“It’s not quite throwing rocks at my window, but it’s just as effective,” Harry’s voice flooded his ears.

“Hmmm?” Draco said, his entire body tensing.

“You’re poking at my wards,” Harry explained. He scratched the back of his head, but didn’t look away. His hair was sticking up in every direction, and he was wearing faded tee shirt and striped pajama pants. Somehow, the image calmed Draco.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you,” Draco said. A cold breeze whipped his hair around and made him shudder.

“Don’t go,” Harry whispered. His eyes were bright, and Draco was drawn in. He was walking such a fine line between terror and want that he thought he was going to go tumbling to the ground. Still, he followed Harry into the house.

“Where are Ron and Hermione?” Draco asked, even though he knew the answer. He just assumed that if he kept Harry talking, the day wouldn’t vanish.

“It’s Sunday, they are at The Burrow for dinner.” Harry said. Suddenly, he looked down at his clothes. “Sorry! I didn’t realize I was still wearing this. I should go change.” Harry made for the stairway as soon as they were all the way inside.

Draco reached out and grabbed his wrist and Harry froze. They didn’t move for a long moment. “Stay,” Draco whispered.

Harry turned and shifted his hand until his fingers closed over Draco’s. His skin was warm against Draco’s, and he instantly wanted so much more. He had no idea how he was supposed to be with Harry, in that place, when there was so much left to be said. There was so much left to run from.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked carefully. Draco just nodded and swallowed hard.

“Harry,” he said, more for his own benefit, and took that single step that closed the space between them. Harry remained perfectly still until Draco reached up and put a hand on Harry’s neck, his palm feeling the steady thrum of Harry’s pulse. “I’m…I’m….”

“S’alright,” Harry murmured. He turned his head and kissed Draco’s fingertips one by one. Draco was undone.

He grabbed Harry’s face and kissed him hard, breathing him in as their lips moved against one another. Harry stayed placid. His hands went up and down Draco’s back carefully, but he made no move to the control the kiss nor to guide Draco’s body in any particular direction. They stood in that entryway, locked together as Draco got used to the feeling of Harry pressed so closely against him.

Draco moved them until Harry was pressed against the wall with a moan. Draco loved that sound, reveled in the knowledge that Harry wanted him. He couldn’t understand it, but as Harry’s body moved against his, it stopped mattering nearly so much. He wanted to move past this. He let his tongue move over Harry’s lips, and Harry opened his mouth eagerly.

Trembling, Draco moved his hands up Harry’s t-shirt, feeling his warm, soft skin. He had more hair than Draco did, and was a little harder to the touch, but he felt so alive and so powerful that Draco wanted to press his own bare chest against Harry’s. The thought of taking off his shirt gave Draco pause, however. Harry knew. Harry knew what they did to him. How could Harry ever look at him like that knowing what happened?

“It’s okay, Draco. We can do everything or nothing,” Harry whispered, sensing Draco’s tension. He curled his fingers around Harry’s sides and took a deep breath.

“You feel so good, Harry,” he croaked.

“So do you,” Harry said, and he met Draco’s eyes before dipping his head down and kissing lightly on Draco’s neck. When Harry bent his body at that angle, Draco could feel his hardness against his thigh. He was excited, and he was terrified.

“But you know,” Draco cried, when Harry began to move his shirt out of the way and kiss his shoulder.

“I don’t want you any less, Draco. You’re perfect,” Harry murmured between kisses.

“No,” Draco cried even as his hands gripped Harry’s bare back hard and pulled him closer.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Draco. I’ll never hurt you,” Harry said, pulling back and wrapping his arms carefully around Draco’s shoulders with remarkable tenderness. Draco could have sworn he heard Harry sniffle, but his head was buried in the crook of Draco’s neck, and he didn’t want to move from that position long enough to look.

“They hurt me,” Draco whimpered before he could stop himself. He was trying to find some way of explaining what was going through his mind, but he couldn’t stop the words from cascading out of his mouth. He looked away from Harry and hid his face even as Harry held him close.

“I know, love. I know,” Harry said. “They won’t. Ever again. You’re okay. You’re safe here.” Harry ran a finger up the scar on the side of Draco’s face. “You’re strong and you’re resilient. I’ll be here with you, whatever way you want me.”

Draco paused and pulled back to meet Harry’s eyes. “You’re the strong one, not me. I let them…I let them do that.”

“I’m foolhardy and powerful,” Harry’s face broke into a slight grin, “and a bit lucky.” He pressed his forehead to Draco’s. “But you made it through this. And now you’re here. And even if we never move past this moment, I’ve got you.”
.
Draco felt like his chest was going to split in half. With shaking hands, he began to unbutton his shirt and Harry lifted up his own hands to stop him. Draco met his piercing eyes and shook his head, and Harry assisted in undoing all of the buttons, kissing down his exposed bare skin. His lips continually danced over the scars he had gotten from Harry’s curse, but neither of them said a word about it.

Harry undid the fastenings of Draco’s trousers, and Draco did not stop him when he pulled them and his pants all the way off. “Please tell me if it’s too much,” Harry whispered.

“I will,” Draco answered, though is focus was completely on the path of Harry’s mouth toward his groin. He cried out when Harry dropped to his knees and took his throbbing cock in hands. “I can’t make you do this though.”

“What do you mean?” Harry said, kissing up the insides of Draco’s thighs and making his abdomen quiver.

“I can’t make you use your mouth,” Draco whimpered, and suddenly he was remembering the way his jaw ached and his throat hurt. There were just so many of them. Draco could feel himself shutting down.

“It can feel good, Draco. It can be good. I promise you it can,” Harry said, still kissing his legs.

“Yes,” Draco whispered, letting go of the darkness and running his fingers through Harry’s hair.

When Harry’s mouth closed around Draco’s cock, he had to fight not to come. It had been so long since he came, he could manage to wank in the shower a few times since it happened, out of necessity, but nothing like this. What Harry was doing felt like ice and fire through his veins at the same time, Draco began gripping at the wall for purchase, wondering when they had even flipped around. Harry’s hands wrapped around Draco’s hips to hold him steady and his mouth tightened around Draco’s shaft. When Harry wrapped his lips around the head of Draco’s cock and sucked hard, Draco came without warning, coming down Harry’s throat.

When Draco’s vision cleared, Harry was standing in front of him, smiling cautiously. Draco was about to apologize again, when he realized that Harry looked too happy to justify him feeling that he did anything wrong. He pulled Harry to his chest, and for the first time, their naked bodies touched. Harry’s hard cock rubbed against Draco’s sensitive one and they both groaned.

“Fuck,” Harry moaned, and Draco felt him reach down to touch himself. “You’re so beautiful.”

No one had ever said that to Draco before. Sure, they called him pretty. The Death Eaters used to love calling him ‘pretty boy’, but Harry looked at him with his eyes shining and called him beautiful. Draco didn’t understand how in the world he deserved that. His hand went up to the scar on his face.

“Draco,” Harry whimpered, moving Draco’s hand away and kissing the mottled skin there. Draco tried to pull away, but Harry’s gentle insistence kept him locked against the wall. When Harry’s lips moved to his neck again, Draco could feel Harry begin to stroke himself.

“I want more,” Draco said, his voice catching on the words. He wanted to say ‘everything’, but he wasn’t even sure what that would mean.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Harry soothed.

“Take me to your bed, Harry,” Draco said, his voice suddenly loud and echoing off of the ancient walls.

“Draco, I…Are you sure?” Harry asked, his hands coming back up to Draco’s face.

“Want all of you, Harry,” Draco moaned, and Harry pressed their bodies so close together that Draco arched his back.

“You can have all of me…always, Draco,” Harry sobbed. He led Draco up three flights of stairs, stopping every so often to smile and kiss and touch.

They got into Harry’s bedroom, almost all white linen and oak, and Harry kissed him as he guided him back to the bed. They spent ages just kissing and frotting, until Draco had regained full hardness and it was Harry’s turn to tremble with want. Harry summoned a bottle from his night stand without using his wand, and Draco moaned at the display.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked. Draco nodded. “Just tell me, alright? I’ve never done this before.”

“You haven’t,” Draco asked, the fog clearing. “Not even with a woman?”

“No. Have you?” Harry asked. Draco felt his face heat up. If he only knew how much he hadn’t.

“No, not at all.” Draco said, turning his head.

“It’s you and me here, Draco. There’s no one else. I’m all yours,” Harry whispered, kissing Draco’s neck. “What do you want?”

“I want you inside of me,” Draco whispered. Harry froze.

“Draco…I…” Harry said, and when Draco met his eyes, there was so much uncertainty, tenderness, and something he couldn’t place. Something he’d never seen on any one who was looking at him for sure.

“Don’t ask me if I’m sure again, Potter,” Draco growled, wrapping his legs around Harry’s waist. Harry got the idea and began to run his hard cock up and down Draco’s crease.

He circled his entrance and slowly inserted a finger. Draco froze, but got himself to relax. This was Harry. Harry wasn’t going to hurt him. Harry watched Draco’s face as he inserted another finger and pumped them in and out. Harry’s fingers were starting to feel amazing, and when he turned them slightly, it set something off in Draco that had him seeing stars.

Harry whispered Draco’s name as he entered him, and Draco froze at the sudden burning pain. “I’m sorry,” Harry whimpered, his body shaking.

“Don’t be. Just give me a moment,” Draco said, running his hands up and down Harry’s back. His body slowly gave way, and soon Harry was fulling sheathed inside of him. Draco arched his back and took him all the way in.

“Fuck, I’m not going to last,” Harry cried.

“Let go for me, Harry,” Draco said, desperate to make Harry feel good.

Harry repeated Draco’s name like a prayer on his lips, and Draco only had to stroke his cock a few times before he was coming right along with Harry. He threw his head back and Harry buried his face in the crook of his neck as his body shuddered.

When they had settled, Harry pulled out and lay on his back. He pulled Draco to his chest and held him so tightly, Draco was worried he was going to drown if Harry let go. When he heard Harry’s breathing slow down, Draco looked up to see that he had fallen asleep.

“I love you,” he whispered, watching Harry’s chest rise and fall. He just wasn’t sure he’d be able to say that when Harry was awake, but the truth of it rang through him like a bell.

()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Ron Apparated back home with an entire pot full of his mum’s leftover spaghetti. Sure, he had three bowls, but he was so hungry, he knew he was ready to eat another one. He glanced at the homemade bread in his hand and decided it was time to invent the spaghetti sandwich. Why not? Hermione was staying after to help Ginny with some homework, and he had time to completely gorge himself before she got home. He might even be able to eat in bed before he was caught! Perfect, a snack and then sleep without ever having to pull off his blankets.

Ron heated up his new invented meal and made his way up the landing. He saw Harry’s bedroom light on and decided to offer him half if he promised to eat it in bed as well. However, when he got to Harry’s doorway and opened the door, he nearly dropped his plate of food.

Draco was curled up on Harry’s chest, his white blond head tucked below Harry’s chin and his hands gripping the sheets. Harry had his arms around Draco tightly, as though he was protecting him from the world, and his cheek was resting on the top of Draco’s head. Ron took a bite of his sandwich just to keep from yelling out in shock.

Ron was not upset about what he was seeing, though he never thought he would be. On the contrary, he thought those two would be excellent together. He just hadn’t realized they would have ever come around. There was so much there between them, so much pain, fear, and doubt amassed in their lives, that sometimes Ron was surprised either of them could function let alone fall for one another. After what Draco had been through, what he had witnessed, he feared that his new friend would ever be able to have some semblance of normalcy again.

He took another bite of his delicious sandwich just as Hermione was coming up the stairs. She gave him an incredulous look, but he just put his finger over his lips and pointed toward Harry’s bed. When Hermione saw the scene before her, she reached for the other half of Ron’s sandwich and took a bite, probably to keep from yelling out in shock.
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