The Weekend Starts On Wednesday

~~

“See you later!” Harry called before slamming the door.

Harry loved his friends, he really did. But if he had to listen to Hermione's lecture on what he was going to do with his life again, he couldn't be held accountable for his actions. It was the reason he'd turned down Molly's generous offer of a bed at the Burrow. As much as he wanted to accept, he just wanted some space.

Hermione had been relentless. As soon as she'd returned from Australia, she'd been on at both Harry and Ron, asking them what their plans were. Ron was adamant that he wanted to help out in the joke shop, and Harry simply didn't have a clue what he was going to do. Harry was happy that he had someone to care so much for him, but he just didn't know what to tell her, and was, quite frankly, fed up with trying to find an answer for her.

Since the war had ended, Harry hadn't done anything but clean up Grimmauld Place. While Ron was holed up in the shop, helping George, Ginny was off with Dean enjoying the summer before returning to Hogwarts, and Hermione spent her time researching ways to further her education. Harry was lost. The only thing he wanted to do was to go back to school to get his NEWTs. It would mean he had an extra year to just be a teenager before being thrust into adulthood. Hermione had looked into it extensively, but could only finally schools abroad that catered for their age, and Harry really didn't want to leave England.

Harry briefly entertained the idea of getting a job, but after asking a few shopkeepers in Diagon Alley, he decided that it wasn't for him. As soon as he walked into a shop, people would flock to talk to him, thank him and basically worship at his feet. The shopkeepers were more than happy to take Harry on, but day after day of fawning wasn't high on the list of Harry's priorities.

A tapping on the window drew Harry from his thoughts. Hoping to Merlin that Hermione hadn't decided to harangue him by post, Harry opened the window for the unfamiliar owl. Harry pointed the owl in the direction of the treats he kept on the table as he looked at his letter. When he noticed its seal, Harry nearly dropped the letter in surprise. Why would he be receiving a letter from Hogwarts? Ripping open the envelope, Harry read:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry

Headmistress: Prof. Minerva McGonagall

(Order of Merlin, First Class)

Dear Mr Potter,

We are delighted to invite you to complete your education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry. This is the first time in its history that Hogwarts is opening its doors to an older year of student, and as such, there are some small changes to be made. Details of which will be given to you upon your acceptance.

Term starts, as always, on the 1st September. We await your owl by no later than the 31st July.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Filius Flitwick

Deputy Headmaster

Harry couldn't contain his grin or the fist that pumped in the air, letter scrunched within. Finally! Now he had something to do besides sit about the house all day, avoiding Hermione. His grin grew at the thought of Hermione. He couldn't wait to hear her reaction to the news. She had been devastated to hear that Hogwarts probably wouldn't be rebuilt in time for the new term. He had heard rumours of a mysterious benefactor contributing to the Reparation Fund, but Harry hadn't known where the money was being spent. He didn't want to dwell on that though; he had a letter to write.

Harry Potter was going back to Hogwarts.

~

The next morning, Harry was woken up by loud banging on the front door. He rolled over in bed, thinking desperately that whoever it was would take the hint and go away, when a misty otter appeared beside him.

“Harry James Potter! Get out of bed and answer this door,” the otter shouted in Hermione's excited voice, “before I break it down!”

Harry rolled to his other side, only to be greeted by Ron's terrier. “She means it, mate. Her wand is twitching.”

Groaning as he noticed the early hour on the clock, Harry hauled himself out of bed to save his front door.

“Morning to you, too,” Harry said, pulling hair out of his mouth after a rather enthusiastic hug from Hermione. “Do you want some tea?”

“Tea?” Hermione practically squealed. “Is that all you can think about? We're going back to Hogwarts!”

“It's seven in the morning.” Harry stifled a yawn, which he thought made his point entirely.

“You're lucky, mate. If it wasn't for Mum drug—dowsing her cuppa yesterday, she'd have been knocking your door down twenty minutes after getting the letter.”

Tellingly, Hermione didn't disagree with Ron's statement. Despite his words, Harry could tell Ron was just as excited as she was. His huge smile showed Harry that much, even if he was slightly calmer about it.

“What about George? And the shop?” Harry asked as they walked into the kitchen.

“Dean's going to work for him. They worked it all out yesterday. Dean didn't want to go back, so they were talking about Dean designing a new something or other for some new line or something. I don't know; I was a little busy keeping Hermione from exploding.”

Ron grabbed a custard cream before continuing. “And there was also something about how he's practically family now, or will be soon, so he might as well start now—ow! What was that for?”

Harry winced in sympathy as he started the tea; he'd been on the end of more than his fair share of Hermione's elbows to the ribs in the past.

“Ron!” Hermione whispered loudly, cocking her head in Harry's direction. “Have some sympathy.”

“Nah. He's all right, aren't you, Harry?”

“Of course I am. Me and Ginny have never been better. She's happier with Dean than she ever was with me anyway. End of story.”

“See, 'Mione?” Ron said around a mouthful of custard cream.

Hermione simply shook her head and said, “Boys.”

Ron's indignant scoff was covered by a large owl tapping on the window, newspaper tied to its leg.

“I've got it,” Hermione said, delivering another elbow to Ron's ribs as she moved.

As Harry poured the tea, he couldn't help but smile at the perfect picture of domesticity that Ron and Hermione portrayed. Hermione sat at the table reading the paper while chastising Ron for talking around another mouthful of biscuit as he read over her shoulder.

Harry turned to carry the mugs to the table, only to be covered in a shower of biscuit crumbs.

“Ron!” Harry cried in surprise as he plonked the mugs down.

Hermione just sighed before waving her wand, vanishing all traces of custard creams—even the new biscuits in the barrel—and the splashes of tea dotted around the table.

“Cheers, 'Mione; sorry, Harry.”

Harry shrugged. “What's so shocking?” he asked, gesturing to the paper.

Hermione laid the paper out on the table so they could all see it. Harry couldn't fault Ron's reaction when he looked down.

A large picture covered almost the entirety of the front page, topped with a headline that filled Harry with hope.

DEATH EATERS JAILED AT LAST

He-who-should-not-be-named's inner circle imprisoned for life

Lucius Malfoy stood in the centre of the picture, surrounded by his snarling fellow convicts. Harry felt a momentary pang of something akin to sympathy for the man when he looked closely at the photograph. He looked out of place; his sunken, despondent eyes compared to the dark, vicious-looking eyes beside him. Then Harry remembered all the crimes he'd committed—and all the times Lucius had plotted against him—and the pang dissipated.

A small article at the bottom of the page caught Harry's eye, and he leaned closer to read it.

MALFOY WIFE AND SON FREED THANKS TO SAVIOUR

The written testimony of Our Saviour, the boy-who-lived, The Conqueror, Harry Potter ensured the freedom of the two Malfoys on trial. The words of Mr Potter saw that Mrs and Master Malfoy were freed without a tarnish on their names due to their actions to aid Mr Potter in his victorious fight against he-who-should-not-be-named. (for full details, see page 12).

“Blimey!” Ron said with a laugh. “Malfoy's not going to like that. The papers saying you saved him from jail, and his dad being sent there on the same day. You can get great mileage out of this at school, mate!”

“I just did what was right,” Harry said, his mind drifting to what Ron had said. At school. “I have something I need to do. See you guys later?”

“Of course, Harry,” Hermione said before grabbing Ron's hand and moving to the door. “We can go shopping!”

Harry laughed and waved his friends off. He had something that didn't belong to him that needed to be returned.

~

Harry coughed and spluttered as he emerged from beneath his bed with a battered old box. He had thrown everything he'd had on him the morning after the end of the war into a box he'd found in the ruins of Gryffindor tower. He hadn't felt able to deal with anything that day, so it had just seemed easier to pack it all away. Opening the lid, Harry moved aside his pouch and invisibility cloak and took out a long, thin item wrapped in an old t shirt.

Running his wand over himself to rid himself of any dust and to make himself look halfway presentable, Harry turned on the spot and Disapparated. He'd only been to his destination once before, but it had definitely left an impression on him, so he was certain he'd be able to find it with no problem.

Sure enough, as Harry steadied himself after his Apparition, he found himself in front of the huge, ornate gates of Malfoy Manor. Patting the object in his pocket to steel himself, Harry pushed open the gates and walked up the long, winding drive.

As he walked—and walked; Merlin, the drive went on forever!—Harry was surprised to see the gardens in such disrepair. That is, until he reminded himself that the Malfoys probably had more on their minds than the state of their roses.

Harry knocked on the door and automatically looked down as it swung open, expecting to see a house-elf. Instead, Harry found himself looking at a very nice belt buckle.

“I know manners aren't your strong suit, Potter, but my eyes are up here. It is customary to give eye contact when greeting someone. I'd expect dinner before I allowed that amount of leering.”

Harry looked up—and up, Malfoy was taller than he'd remembered—and found himself tongue-tied. He thought that maybe he should have practised a speech or something. He hadn't a clue what to say.

Malfoy simply crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame, the very image of casual nonchalance. He did look slightly weary, but Harry thought that that was probably a natural reaction to your old school nemesis turning up at your door.

“Hello, Malfoy,” Harry finally said, pulling the package out of his pocket.

“Ah, he speaks,” Malfoy said, before raising an eyebrow at Harry. “Of all the people in the world, you were last on my list of people I expected to turn up with a birthday present for me.”

“It's your birthday?” Harry mentally slapped himself for the stupid question.

“Yes,” Malfoy said slowly, gesturing to the package in Harry's hand, a confused look on his face. “I assumed that's why you brought the curiously wrapped present.”

“Um, no; I didn't know.”

“Okay...” The 'what the fuck are you doing here, then?' was clearly implied.

“Can I come in, please? I have something I would like to say.”

Malfoy's confused look didn't disappear, but he did step aside to let Harry into the hallway.

“Follow me; we can talk in the drawing room. Mother doesn't like to go in there.”

Harry really didn't like to go in there, either, but he tried his best to hide his distaste. At Malfoy's look of horror, he had obviously failed.

“Oh, shit! I'm sorry; here will be good,” Malfoy said, pointing to a small room just off the hallway.

Harry was taken aback. Not only had Malfoy apologised—something he never thought would happen for anything—but he had taken steps to ensure Harry's comfort.

“Potter?”

Harry shook himself and forced a smile. “Thanks,” he said, entering the room and taking a seat.

“Now, what do you want to talk about?” Draco asked, sitting down opposite Harry. “I've been racking my brains, wondering what you might want, and I can't seem to find an answer. Unless you've come looking for a thank you for saving my sorry arse—countless times—but I can't imagine you being that crass.”

Harry cut off Malfoy's rambling by thrusting the package into his hands.

“Here,” Harry said, “this is yours. I should've returned it a while ago, but to be honest, I'd forgotten I had it. I'd also like to start again. With you, I mean. No more fighting, if that's okay. I've had enough of fighting. And no, I wouldn't be so crass as to come knocking for a thank you. We could go back and forth with the sorrys and thank yous, and then I'd have to speak to your mother, so—”

“My wand?”

Harry stopped his own ramble and was shocked by the look of pure awe on Malfoy's face, wand in hand and ratty t shirt dropped to the floor.

“Now, I don't know if it'll work properly for you again—” Harry was cut off by a burst of purple stars.

“No, it does.” Malfoy's face still looked awestruck. “Thank you.”

Harry had never seen the man smile before; it was quite a revelation. “You're welcome. Like I said, I should've returned it earlier. But at least now you'll have it in time for school.”

“School?”

Harry smiled. “Hogwarts? Where we've been going to school for the past seven years?”

“I know what school is, Potter.” Harry had the distinct impression that Malfoy wanted to stick his tongue out at him. “I just don't know what you mean. Hogwarts has never taken older students.”

Malfoy's smile had actually grown bigger at the mention of going back to school, as if he, like Harry, hadn't known what he wanted to do with his life.

“You should check your owls. I must be off, now. I'm glad your wand works for you.” Harry stood to leave. “See you at Hogwarts, Malfoy.”

Malfoy stood as well, holding his hand out for Harry to shake. “If you meant what you said, we're going to do this properly. You're right. We've all had enough fighting. Call me Draco.”

“Well, then, call me Harry.” Harry said, taking his hand. “See you at Hogwarts, Draco.”

“Definitely, Harry.”

~

Harry ticked off a mental check list as he looked over his school trunk for the last time. Harry had, as promised, joined Hermione and Ron to shop for their school supplies. The three of them had enjoyed spotting all the eleven year olds running about Diagon Alley with their parents, excitement plain to see on their little faces.

Harry shrank his trunk with a smile and dropped it into his pocket. He was ready to go. He had sat, and later fallen asleep, with Ron as they listened to Hermione's 'refresher course'. He'd even sat with Ginny and Ron and promised to owl Molly and Arthur—as they insisted on being called; it still felt weird to Harry—once a week. He'd given Kreacher instructions of what to do in his absence—basically, 'lock the door when you leave; see you at Christmas.'

There was nothing more for Harry to do. It was time to go back to school.

As Harry waited, rather impatiently, for Ron and Hermoine, he wondered about the changes that awaited him at Hogwarts. It was already quite strange, not to be travelling on the Hogwarts Express, but that was the only thing specifically stated in the note from Flitwick.

Pupils are to Apparate to Hogsmeade by half past five on the evening of August 31st. You will be met by a member of staff and escorted to Hogwarts by carriage. The Headmistress will then meet with you to discuss your living arrangements and schooling requirements.

At five o'clock, a sharp knock on the door brought Harry out of his thoughts. His cheery hello was answered with the glum faces of Ron and Hermione.

“What's up?”

“Ginny,” Ron said, as if that answered the question.

“She wanted to come with us,” Hermione clarified at Harry's raised eyebrow. “She kept saying that she didn't understand why she couldn't—we're all going to be in the same year, so why did we get to go early?”

Harry nodded, hopefully sympathetically. Personally, he thought that Ginny might have a point, but Harry wasn't about to voice that opinion with the face Ron had on.

“I told her,” Ron said, getting steadily more red in the face, “we're not in the same year. We were going to be in a whole new year, and she said—”

Hermione cut him off with a kiss. She'd discovered earlier in the summer that it was the easiest way of shutting Ron up, and Harry couldn't love her more for it. He'd put up with Ron and Ginny's sibling spats for years; he couldn't take much more. It was the only time he'd ever been glad to be an only child.

“Anyway,” Hermione said, when Ron looked like starting up again. “Shall we go? We don't want to be late. I want to see who's going back. It's quite exciting, don't you think?”

Harry nodded and patted the pocket holding his trunk, not afraid to admit that he was a little excited as well.

~

“Welcome back to Hogwarts!” Professor McGonagall announced as they were herded into the Great Hall. “Come in and take a seat. We have lots to discuss.”

It had been quite exciting, seeing who had come back. It was a little upsetting as well, noticing those who were absent. Of course, some, like Dean, had simply chosen other paths. But some, like Lavender, were gone for good. As selfish as it was, Harry thought he couldn't dwell on that. Not at that moment, at least. He wanted to enjoy his first day back at school, and he expected that his twenty or so fellow students felt the same way.

Harry had given Malfoy—Draco, he remembered—a quick smile when he noticed him, and was shocked to see Pansy stood next to him. Not because she was there, as such; it was the way she looked. Gone were the harsh face and better-than-you attitude, in their place simply a shy girl clinging to her best friend's arm.

“Are we all seated?” Professor McGonagall called out, pulling Harry's attention.

At her words, Hermione pulled his arm, dragging him down onto the bench beside her.

“As you were told in your letters, there have been changes put in place for this, the first year that Hogwarts has taken an 'eighth year class'. These have been decided due to your age and experience. You have all lived through a war, and you are adults. You should be able to conduct yourselves properly.

“As such, the Board of Governors and I have decided that you are not to return to your individual houses. You shall be placed into a tower of your own; boys and girls will be separated, of course. There will be certain privileges awarded to you; there is no curfew, and no restrictions on leaving school grounds during evenings and at the weekend. Also, those who were prefects are no longer such. The fifth, sixth and seventh years will be continuing their duties, so you are relieved of yours. Please do not abuse these privileges; they can easily be taken away. There will be no participation in the house cup, no Quidditch team and no points to win or lose. This year is specifically for you to finish your schooling and get back on your feet after the war.”

The small group were slack-jawed and wide eyed at the speech they had just received.

As the first splutter passed their lips, Professor McGonagall raised her hand for silence. “This is not negotiable, so please don’t try. Please follow me and I will show you to your quarters. Food will be served there, for you will be missing the feast. There will be a separate table set up for you to sit at should you wish to dine in the Great Hall, but you will see that may not be necessary once we reach your tower. Please,” she added in a tired voice, “use this year to build bridges and make friends. The war is over.”

“What about our name? If we're not in our old houses any more, what are we going to be called?”

Professor McGonagall's eyebrows disappeared under her hat, obviously displeased. “I have no idea, Mr Weasley. Would you like to come up with one?”

Harry nearly laughed out loud at Ron looking around the hall, blatantly desperate for inspiration. “Um...um...um...Owl House?” he said, his eyes glued to the podium at the front.

A few people actually laughed at that. Hermione elbowed Harry in the side to stop him from joining them, thankfully. He didn't need Ron mad at him.

“We'll be okay without one,” Hermione said, grabbing Ron's hand to calm him down.

“If that's settled, please come with me,” Professor McGonagall said, walking out of the hall. “Your dinner will be ready.”

They followed in silence, just the stray elbows and fervent nods or shakes of the head speaking their shock or displeasure.

Professor McGonagall stopped at a portrait of an old man, snoozing in his chair. “Wake up, Alphius! Mandrake root.” The portrait grumbled, opened one eye and swung open.

The Headmistress managed a brief, “See you bright and early to greet the younger classes!” before she pinned a schedule to the wall and left.

An uneasy silence settled over the group until Ernie MacMillan spoke up. “Why don’t we all go and have a look around, then maybe we can start to get to know each other properly?”

“Hufflepuff,” someone muttered.

“Not any more!” Ernie cheerfully replied.

“I tell you what,” Parvati piped up from the corner. “Why don’t we just find the promised food, have some dinner and go to bed?”

No one could argue with that so they did as Parvati suggested. Hermione opened the door nearest her and started in shock.

“Look at this!” she called out.

Through the door, there was a dining room, big enough for all of them, laid out with food and with a kitchen leading off it.

“We’ve got to cook our own food?” Ron grumbled.

“I don’t think so; it’s just there if we wanted to use it.” Hermione smiled as she placated her boyfriend.

Harry found himself pleasantly shocked at how their first meal together as a group turned out. A nervous giggle from the other end of the table had broken the silence and Ron’s groan of approval upon tasting the food had caused laughter to break out all around.

The group ate their dinner happily and Harry sat back with a smile on his face as he surveyed his classmates. Hermione had struck up a conversation with some other like-minded students, discussing the lessons and what they might entail. Ron was bemoaning the lack of Quidditch to anyone who would listen, and the Patil twins were talking excitedly with some of the livelier girls about the freedom they were to be allowed as Eighth Years.

On the other end of the spectrum, the ex-Slytherins were sticking together fiercely; whispering their conversations amongst themselves only and shooting nervous glances across the room. This surprised Harry; he had expected the small group to return to their previous, superior and unfriendly, ways. Even with their meeting on his birthday, Harry expected Draco to revert to his earlier ways. Harry found himself pleasantly surprised as Malfoy stood after the meal and politely said ‘Goodnight’ to the group before leaving the dining room.

After they had eaten their fill, they found their bedrooms to settle for the night. There weren’t that many students, so instead of dormitories there were only two people to each room. Harry and Ron nodded to each other and made themselves comfortable.

“I can't believe we're back at school,” Ron said. “Bloody Hermione.”

“You love it really,” Harry replied. “And think, if you weren't here, I'd end up rooming with Malfoy or someone.” The fact that the thought of sharing a room with Draco didn't worry him in the least was startling to Harry.

“Harry,” Ron said between yawns, “everything with you comes down to Malfoy.”

Harry threw his spare pillow at Ron. “Shut it, you.”

~

The following morning, Harry awoke early. He showered and changed into his uniform, but didn't venture out into the communal rooms; he wanted to wait for Ron to wake up. Yes, he defeated a Dark Lord, but he wasn't ready to face Pansy Parkinson first thing on a Monday morning. She might have looked demure in the Great Hall, but he still hadn't spoken to her since she tried to offer him up to Voldemort, and he didn't quite know how to take her.

Harry was right to be worried. As soon as he and Ron had entered the dining room, Pansy had cornered Harry and asked if she could have a word. Ron quickly left them alone without a second glance and went to fill his face; Harry was determined to get his supposed best friend back for deserting him in his hour of need. Nodding to Pansy, Harry gestured towards the living room.

“Potter,” Pansy said once they were sat on opposite ends of the sofa. “I need—want to apologise.”

Harry was shocked. It must have shown on his face as Pansy smiled before continuing.

“Seriously. I'm sorry. You don't understand—well, maybe you do. I was scared. I didn't want to die. Potter, I...”

As Harry listened to Pansy try and explain herself, he realised he didn't want to hear it. He stopped listening as the words of Professor McGonagall rang in his ears. The war is over.

“Pansy. I forgive you.”

It was Pansy's turn to look shocked. “Potter?”

“You heard the headmistress,” Harry said. “It's time to start again. And please, call me Harry.”

~

The next few days passed in a whirl of awkward conversations over the dinner table, disastrous attempts to make their own food and, of course, lessons and homework. Harry had heard from Ron that Theo Nott had overheard Harry's conversation with Pansy, and he had told Blaise, who had told Seamus, who had told Parvati, who had told everyone else. The outcome of which was that by the end of the week, the group of Eighth Years had started to actually get along. Hermione refused to believe that it was down to Pansy, and not her plan of weekly study sessions for their group.

The general feeling amongst the group, especially after their one attempt at eating dinner in the Great Hall, was that they were outsiders. The other students either didn't know how to treat the elder students, or they were simply jealous of the freedom afforded to the group, as they were faced by either silence or mutters wherever they went. Harry still experienced the usual pointing and staring he had become used to after the war, but he tended to ignore them and stick with his friends.

As a consequence, most of the group—who were called simply The Eights by the rest of the school, the teachers included—spent most of their free time in their own tower. Evenings were spent doing homework or simply chatting. Harry had been coerced into talking to the house-elves after Ron had let slip his affinity with the creatures. They no longer had to choose between the stony reception of the Great Hall, or the direness of their collective cooking; they now had whatever the rest of the school was served, freshly delivered to their own kitchen. Of course, some members of the new house still preferred to flaunt their freedom and venture into Hogsmeade to eat a couple of times a week.

Classes were going well, as far as Harry could tell. Only a few students seemed to have a full timetable as they were permitted to only take classes that interested them. Of course, Harry and Ron had tried to tell Hermione that they weren't interested in any of them. Hermione, of course, had disagreed, and Harry found himself stuck with Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfirguration, Charms and Potions.

Harry had settled into his new routine nicely; his classes were hard work, but enjoyable and he really was getting along with most of his year mates. Without the threat of someone trying to kill him, Harry was quite looking forward to having a 'normal year'.

~

Harry's first proper interaction with Draco happened two weeks into the school year. Ron had taken Muggle Studies—at Hermione's and Arthur's urging—and Hermione had her Arithmancy class, so Harry had a few hours free every Wednesday afternoon.

Most people tended to go into Hogsmeade in their free hours—Harry assumed it was the novelty of it—but Harry didn't fancy walking into town by himself, so on his first afternoon off, he grabbed a book and settled onto one of the comfy sofas in the common room.

“Chess?”

Harry looked up from his book—a present from Ron in a last ditch attempt to 'get a proper game' from him—to see Draco sitting down on the other end of the sofa.

Grinning, Harry couldn't help himself. “It's a game. There are two different sets of pieces—”

“Oh, shut up. I was merely trying to initiate conversation.”

“Conversation?”

“It's when two people talk to each other—converse, if you will.”

“Ha, bloody, ha. I just meant you want to have one—with me?”

Draco suddenly looked unsure, and moved to get off the sofa.

“No,” Harry said, touching him on the arm in an effort to get him to stay. “I didn't mean it like that. Let's start again. Again.”

Draco laughed and sat back down.

“Yes, chess. Do you fancy a game? I have a set in my room somewhere. I'm not very good, but—” Harry waved the book at Draco. “—I'm getting better.”

“You're on. I might even give you some tips. Help you finally beat your W—friend.”

Harry ignored Draco's near-slip. “How very gracious of you.”

“You know me; can't help but help the helpless.”

Harry flipped him the vees as he got up to fetch the board.

~

Later that evening, Harry was packing away his chess set, when Ron walked into their room.

“Been playing?”

Harry grabbed his chess set and threw it to Ron. “Just practising, you know? Fancy a game?”

Ron grinned and took the box off Harry, setting it up without a pause.

Harry didn't know why he didn't tell Ron he'd been playing with Draco all afternoon. He just felt like keeping it to himself.

They had had a great time. Draco had, as promised, given him some tips, and Harry had actually thought he'd come close to beating him once or twice. Of course, Harry knew that there wasn't a chance of him beating anyone any time soon—a Chess for Dummies book and some helpful tips could only help so much, but he had really enjoyed himself. He hoped that Draco thought the same.

They'd talked as they played, about school and how it felt to be back, the changes that had occurred, and the people that had changed. Draco laughed himself silly at Harry's admission that he had been scared of Pansy, and Harry had had a great laugh at Draco's indignation at having to share a room with Blaise for the eighth year in a row. Apparently, the boy talked in his sleep, and Draco had even tried to room with Zach to get away from him. Harry had joked that they should switch roommates; Ron's snoring was a perfect match for any sleeptalker.

“Ready?” Ron asked, bringing Harry out of his thoughts.

Harry nodded. No, he thought. He didn't want Ron telling him why he shouldn't be friends with Draco. It was best just to keep him in the dark.

~

Harry didn't see much of Draco over the following week—a quick 'Hello' here and a 'How's it going?' there was about the extent of it—so he was pleasantly surprised to walk into the common room on Wednesday afternoon to find Draco setting up a chess board on the coffee table.

“Hey,” Harry said, as he slung his bag in the vague direction of the sofa. “What are you up to?”

“I thought you might want a rematch. Try and get back some of your pride.”

Harry smiled weakly. He'd had quite a tiring morning; since the loss of Snape's book, he'd had to concentrate more in Potions. There was nothing he wanted to do less than think his way through a game of chess.

“Do we have to?” Harry asked around a yawn. “I'm knackered. Can we do something else?”

“We don't have to do anything.” Draco said, and Harry thought he saw a glimpse of the old Malfoy.

Harry was very surprised to find that he liked it. Missed it, even.

Racking his tired brain for something to keep Draco with him—and not sparing a thought for why that was so important to him—Harry blurted out the first thing to come to mind.

“Gobstones?”

It had the desired effect—Draco snorted and dropped the box. “How young are you?”

“Younger than you,” Harry said with a smile—a real one. “And don't think I missed the fact that you didn't turn up on my doorstep on my birthday.”

“I apologise.” Draco stood up suddenly and packed the rest of the chess set away. “I obviously have some making up to do. Grab your coat.”

“I've pulled?” Harry said with a laugh.

“Pulled what?”

“Never mind; Muggle thing. Where are we going?”

“Hogsmeade. I have a birthday to make up for.”

~

Draco and Harry were walking side by side back to Hogswarts, Harry swinging a quill between his fingers.

“I can't believe you bought me a bloody quill for my birthday.”

“To be fair, you gave me something that actually already belonged to me. By accident, I might add.” Draco waved his wand, as if it proved his point. “And it is a nice quill. The generally accepted response is to be grateful.”

Harry gripped the quill to his chest. “Oh, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the glorious present, oh gracious one.”

Draco laughed, nudging Harry in the side. Harry was amazed how easily they had fallen into their friendship. A pang of regret hit him with the thought that they could have been doing this for years, instead of calling each other names and breaking noses. He touched his own nose gingerly.

“Do you want to get—”

Harry's question was cut off by Ron's shout of “Harry!” across the courtyard. Moving away from Draco slightly, Harry waved at Ron in greeting.

“Where've you been, mate?” Ron said a little breathlessly, having run to meet him. “I've been looking for you; Muggle Studies wasn't on.”

Harry waved the quill in Ron's direction. “Shopping,” he added for emphasis.

“I'd have gone with you,” Ron said, completely ignoring Draco's presence. “Nice quill though; where'd you get it? I need something for Hermione's birthday.”

Harry decided to tell the truth—Ron would just have to lump it. “Draco bought it for me,” he said, before laughing at Draco's scoff.

Ron's face immediately changed, getting redder by the second. “What? Why?” Turning to Draco, he added, “Trying to buy friendships now, is that it, Malfoy?”

“Ron!”

“Well, it isn't going to work. Come on, mate,” he said before storming off.

“Ron!”

“Leave it,” Draco said with a sigh. “What do they say? Too much water in the moat?”

Harry nearly corrected him, before he realised that Draco's saying worked just as well as the Muggle version. “I'll talk to him,” Harry promised, giving Draco what he hoped was a sympathetic smile.

Draco simply shrugged as Harry ran after Ron.

~

“You git!” Harry shouted as soon as he caught up with Ron in their room. He slammed the door behind him; he didn't need the rest of the year to hear them.

“What the fuck, mate?”

“What was that, with Draco?”

“Draco?”

“Draco Malfoy. Blond, a bit taller than me, same year as us. Remember him now?”

“What is the matter with you?” Ron looked less angry and more genuinely concerned.

“You.” Harry sat on his bed and crossed his arms over his chest. “You're friendly with nearly everyone. You'll sit there and talk to Blaise about Quidditch and you're even civil with Pansy. But you can't be nice to Draco Malfoy? What gives?”

“I have to be nice to Pansy,” Ron answered, a little sheepishly. “Hermione made me promise after they started that study thing together. And it's just nice having another Cannons fan about, you know.”

“So what about Draco?”

“He's Malfoy,” Ron said, as if that explained everything. With a pang, Harry realised, two months ago, it would have.

“Just give him a break, Ron.” Harry took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. “The war is fucking over.”

“But, Harry—”

“Ron, please.”

Ron nodded. “All right.”

“Thanks.”

“I can still hate Smith, though, right?”

Harry laughed. “I'll even help.”

“So, he really bought you a quill?”

Harry laughed and told him the whole story.

~

As the weeks passed, Harry found that he looked forward to Wednesdays more than any other day. Yes, he had to endure two full hours of Slughorn's fawning—not about his potion making, unfortunately—but then his afternoons were spent with Draco.

Harry still enjoyed spending time with his other friends, doing homework, or simply sitting and chatting in the common room, but for one afternoon a week, it was just him and Draco. They didn't do anything exciting—mainly walks into the village, or a game of chess—but they talked a lot. Harry liked listening to Draco's view of the world, and Draco's spot-on imitations of their classmates had them both in peals of laughter for hours.

Harry now knew why Draco had always been surrounded by people over the years. It wasn't, as he was ashamed to have thought for years, fear and power that Draco had over others. Harry found Draco smart, witty, and fiercely loyal to those he cared about.

One of the main points Harry enjoyed about his time spent with Draco was the talk about girls. Or rather, the severe lack of it. Hormones were running rampant around their common room, and it seemed to be the only topic of conversation between his friends: who was going out with whom.

Harry was asked on a daily basis—by Ron, mainly; Harry assumed it was on Molly's orders—when he was going to find himself a girlfriend. It wasn't only Molly that was interested either; everyone seemed to need to know when he'd find himself a nice witch. Harry was horrified to find out that there were even articles asking that very question in the newspapers and magazines. When faced with the question, Harry fumbled for an answer. His old standby of his being too busy fighting a Dark Lord simply wasn't working any more.

It wasn't as if Harry hadn't thought about it. On the contrary, since his relationship with Ginny had fizzled to nothing, Harry had thought about it quite a lot. After a good deal of soul-searching, and more than a couple of looks at Ginny's copies of Witch Weekly, Harry had finally decided that he wanted a relationship; he just didn't want one with a girl.

Harry had taken a long time to finally admit it to himself, and he wasn't sure he was ready to share it with anybody else. He didn't know anybody else who was gay—or at least, he didn't think he did—and he had no idea how his friends would take it. Harry was pretty certain that Hermione had an inkling, but she hadn't said anything outright. He'd asked her about the wizarding world's general reaction to homosexuality—under the guise of a Muggle vs. Wizard debate—but she'd had that damned twinkle in her eye that Harry knew meant that she had figured something out.

With Draco, Harry didn't have to worry about fielding twenty questions a day about which girl he fancied, nor did he have to sit through anyone pointing out all the 'hot witches' at Hogwarts. It was easy; it was nice.

~

Harry had been having a nice, relaxing Saturday afternoon in the common room, when all hell broke loose. People were whooping and whistling, and all because Padma walked in, hand in hand with Blaise. Harry did join in with the cheering for a minute; he was happy for his friends, yet he was already dreading what was probably coming next.

Sure enough, as everyone calmed down and went back to whatever they were doing before, Ron turned to Harry and grinned.

“Blaise and Padma! Who'd have thought it?”

Harry only smiled and nodded, hoping it ended there.

“So, mate, that's another couple all set up. Who can we set you up with?”

Harry groaned. At least Ron said 'who' instead of 'which witch'. That had to count for something, right?

“What's the matter?” Hermione asked, having missed their conversation and only catching Harry's groan.

“Nothing,” Harry lied. “Although I do have a bit of a headache; I think I'll go for a walk.”

Grabbing his jacket quickly, Harry practically ran out the door. And straight into Draco.

“Whoa!” Draco said, holding onto Harry's upper arms in an effort to keep them both upright. “What's the rush?”

“Nothing,” Harry lied again. He needed something to take his mind off what he was feeling and struggling with; he needed something that was guaranteed to make him happy.

“Fancy going for a fly?” Harry asked suddenly.

“Fly?”

Harry opened his mouth to answer, but Draco cut him off.

“Before you start, you sarcastic bastard, I know exactly what flying is.”

Harry couldn't resist the urge to poke his tongue out. “So, do you want to go and grab our brooms? Please?”

Draco looked dumbfounded. “I haven't—Not since—”

“Oh, I'm sorry! Do you want to go for a walk or something instead? I wouldn't go and spend time in there—” Harry gestured to the door he'd just left. “—for a while. Not unless you want to see and hear all about Blaise and Padma.”

“Blaise and Padma?”

“Not you, too!” Harry groaned.

“No. I'm just joking with you. Blaise already told me all about it last night. Of course, he was asleep at the time.”

Harry laughed. “So, fancy a walk?”

“I want to fly. I didn't bring my broom for sweeping, after all.”

~

“Did you have any trouble getting it?” Harry asked after accepting his shrunken broom from Draco.

“No.” Draco frowned and cancelled his spell over the brooms with a wave of his wand. “Weasley caught me as I was coming out of your room, so I told him I was borrowing your Potions notes. And he believed me! Me, needing notes on Potions. From you!”

Harry tried his best to look insulted at Draco's words, but he couldn't; every word was true. Harry was usually found scrounging notes off Draco, never the other way around.

As they reached the edge of the Quidditch pitch, Harry jumped on his broom and took off.

“Woo!” Harry cheered, loving the feeling of the wind flooding into his lungs.

A few laps—and a couple of quick dives—later, Harry stilled in the air and looked around for Draco.

“Come on, Malfoy!” he shouted when he spotted Draco still standing on the ground, broom in hand and a funny look on his face. Flying down to meet him, Harry suddenly worried that there was something wrong. “You all right?”

Draco shook his head and grinned. “Of course. Just giving you a head start, that's all,” he said before mounting his broom and taking off with his own “Woo!”

They flew circles around each other for a while, flying higher and higher until Harry couldn't stop smiling. Merlin, he loved to fly. By the looks of him, Draco loved it just as much as he did.

Draco, Harry realised with a jolt, was beautiful in the air. Harry found he couldn't take his eyes off him as he flew. He'd never seen Draco look so at ease, so happy, as he did as he flew loops around the pitch.

Harry suddenly, and quite brilliantly, he thought, had an idea. Beckoning Draco over, Harry stopped in mid air and pulled his wand out of his jacket.

“Fancy making this a little more interesting?” he asked, and waved his wand in the direction of the broom shed.

Draco looked confused until the tiny golden ball flew into Harry's outstretched hand. “You're on, Potter,” was all he said as Harry released the Snitch.

Harry didn't know what it was about Seeking that he loved specifically, he just knew that he couldn't get enough of it. Catching sight of the Snitch at the other side of the pitch, Harry flattened himself against his broom and shot off. He laughed and pushed his broom to its limits as he noticed Draco flying beside him.

Harry and Draco jostled each other good-naturedly, each trying to knock the other off course, and they were enjoying themselves so much they didn't notice that the Snitch had disappeared. It was only when they both had to swerve to avoid the goalposts that they even noticed the small crowd watching them.

“Oh, look,” Draco said, pointing to the younger students in the stands, “it's the Potter fan club.”

“Piss off.” Harry laughed. “You're just jealous.”

“Pithy comeback, I must say,” Draco shouted as he took off after the Snitch, Harry hot pursuit.

A good twenty minutes later, an exhausted, but happy, Harry and Draco landed to cheers from the watching crowd. Draco couldn't stop grinning as he pocketed the Snitch.

“I demand a rematch,” Harry said with a smile.

“Next week. Same time, same place?”

“You're on. And I won't go so easy on you next time.”

Draco simply nudged him in the side as they walked back to the common room. Neither boy seemed to notice, or mind, that they were walking very close together.

The following Saturday, the boys met again—Harry emerging the victor—and soon it was another weekly ritual of theirs. Their friends would troop off to Hogsmeade, and Harry and Draco—and their growing band of onlookers—could be found on the Quidditch pitch, having the time of their lives.

A couple of Saturdays, someone else would try to join in their games, but Harry and Draco soon made it clear that they were flying just for fun. They wouldn't make it into a serious competition, no matter how many teams Ron tried to coerce into playing.

~

All Harry wanted to do was sleep, but he knew that that wasn't going to happen any time soon. He'd had an exhausting day, and now his mind was whirling, waiting for Ron to come in. Defence Against the Dark Arts had been brutal. After a morning casting a difficult new spell they'd learnt to defend against banshees, Harry had wished for the return of Lockhart and his pixies. He'd then spent the afternoon finishing off a particularly fiendish essay for Transfiguration.

Harry had just wanted to eat and sleep. He ventured into the Great Hall—no one else was about in the common room, and he didn't fancy eating alone—and his tiring day went even further downhill. And fast.

Harry had found Ron, Blaise and some other boys from his year scoffing their faces and had gone to join them, only to have his dinner interrupted by a young witch sitting down beside him. The girl then proceeded—quite loudly—to ask him out in front of the whole Hall.

Harry groaned as Ron practically bounced into their room and plonked himself down on the end of Harry's bed.

“Mate!”

“What?” Harry asked, even though he knew exactly what Ron was referring to. Running out of the Great Hall when a girl asks you out is quite an obvious thing to do, after all.

“Why'd you run? Anybody would love to have Astoria Greengrass as their girlfriend.”

Ah, that was were Harry knew her from. Daphne quite often brought her sister into the common room with her. Harry flopped back onto his pillow, resisting the urge to suffocate himself—or possibly Ron—with it. Taking a deep breath, Harry decided it was time to tell Ron the truth.

Not sitting up—he couldn't bear to see Ron's reaction, he whispered, “Not me.”

“What? Why? She's hot!”

Harry snorted.

“Don't tell Hermione I said that,” Ron added in a lower voice.

“I'm gay.” It was the first time Harry had ever said the words to anybody else, and he was surprised by how easy it was.

“Oh.”

“Oh?” Harry finally sat up and faced Ron. “Is that all you can say?”

“Well, why didn't you tell me before? Oh, Merlin! All those times I kept on at you about girls!” Ron laughed.

Harry was shocked. In every scenario he'd dreamt up of him telling Ron, Ron laughing—just laughing, not laughing at Harry—had never featured.

“You're...okay with it. Really?”

“Of course. Why wouldn't I be? What with Charlie—”

“Charlie? He's gay?”

Ron had a confused look on his face. “Remember Jim came to stay with him when Charlie stayed home for the summer?”

Harry couldn't believe it. While he was in bed, worrying and desperately needing someone to talk to, there had been Charlie and his boyfriend—Harry wondered how he had missed that. His gaydar obviously hadn't been set yet—two floors down, probably able to answer any questions Harry had.

Harry dropped his face into his hands. “So you're actually all right. With me being...gay.”

Ron nodded. “So,” he said with a grin, “are you interested in any bloke in particular?”

Harry thought hard. He wanted someone who was funny and kind. He wanted someone good-looking, yet who wasn't full of himself. He wanted someone who didn't treat him any differently just because he happened to be Harry Potter.

A face appeared in his mind, as clear as day. Draco. Fuck. Harry realised with a jolt that the person he wanted to be with was Draco. He fancied his bloody friend. “Nope,” Harry told Ron, all the while wondering how he was going to deal with his latest revelation. Harry couldn't help but think that he was royally screwed.

~

The following morning, Harry didn't want to get out of bed. Usually, it being Wednesday, Harry would've been quite happy, looking forward to spending some time with Draco. But as Harry lay in bed, listening to Ron banging about the room getting ready, Harry wished, for the the first time all term, that it was any other day.

How was he supposed to face Draco? Would Draco be able to notice Harry's feelings straight away? Harry really didn't want to lose his friend due to his crush. That's all it was, he told himself: a stupid crush. There was no need for anybody to know.

One thing Harry did want Draco to know, was that he was gay. With Ron being Ron, Harry expected the world and its crup to know before dinner time. Luckily, Draco wasn't one for gossip, but Harry didn't want to risk his friendship—and that was all it was ever going to be, Harry reminded himself—because Draco thought he was keeping it from him intentionally.

Sighing, Harry forced himself to get up and get ready for his day. He just knew that Potions was going to drag, and thought he'd better have some breakfast to take his mind off it.

Unfortunately for Harry, Slughorn asked the class to work with a partner, and Draco automatically sat next to Harry. Harry couldn't exactly say no; they'd worked together whenever they'd needed partners all term—not to mention the fact that Draco was Harry's best chance of passing—so Harry smiled and went to fetch their ingredients.

“Do you want to go into Hogsmeade?” Draco asked as they walked back to the common room.

Harry yawned and nodded.

“Are you all right? You barely looked at me in class, and you didn't even smile at my Zach impression.” Draco pulled his 'Smith face' again and Harry forced himself to laugh.

“I'm fine, really. Can we just go? I just need some fresh air.” Harry wanted to tell Draco, and he'd rather do it where his chances of being overheard were minimal.

As they walked into the village, Draco didn't stop talking. Harry knew that Draco was just trying to cheer him up, but it wasn't helping at all. Taking Draco by the arm, Harry pulled him into a small clearing off the path that they'd sat and talked in before.

“I have something to to tell you,” Harry began, not looking at Draco, “and I hope you're okay after hearing it, but if you're not, I want you to know I've really enjoyed our friendship and don't want it to end.”

“Now I'm worried. What is it?” Draco wrapped his arms around himself in a gesture that Harry knew was his defence mechanism.

Harry stared at the ground, unable to force the words out.

“Harry?”

“Okay.” Harry looked Draco in the eye. “I'm gay.” Harry stopped and waiting, anxiously, for Draco's response.

“I know.”

Harry spluttered. “What? How? It was Ron, wasn't it? Bloody git; I'll kill him. He couldn't wait. I thought I'd have at least until lunchtime.” Harry paused in thought. “But you haven't seen Ron, have you? How did you—”

Draco held his hand up to stop Harry's rambling. “It wasn't Weasley. I just knew. I have eyes, you know.”

“What?”

“I've seen the way you look at me. Well, me and the new Arithmancy professor.”

Harry was about to deny it, but he knew he couldn't. That was it, Harry thought. He hadn't even realised he'd been obvious, but Draco had. He was screwed. “I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable.”

“You didn't. You don't. I didn't say I didn't like it.”

“Huh?” was all Harry could come up with as he struggled to understand what Draco had just said.

Draco smiled. “You're an idiot. I've been bloody flirting with you for weeks!”

Harry opened his mouth to respond, and Draco kissed him. It took a few seconds for Harry's mind to wrap around that fact, and when it did, Harry wrapped his arms around Draco and kissed him back.

It was nothing like any other kiss he'd had, not that he had a lot of experience in the area. Goosebumps erupted on Harry's skin as his heart started racing wildly. Harry now knew what all the fuss was about, and he vowed never to bitch about people talking about their relationships again.

When they finally broke apart, Harry was stunned into silence while Draco let out a nervous laugh.

“I'm a fucking idiot,” Harry said, before taking Draco's face into his hands and kissing him again.

They spent the afternoon in the clearing, talking, laughing and, of course, kissing. Draco was quite proud of the fact that his longing looks had gone unnoticed, until Harry had pointed out how generally unobservant he was.

As they got up to walk back to Hogwarts—Harry's stomach loudly informing them that they had missed lunch—Draco took Harry's hand in his own.

“Can we keep this just between us?”

Harry dropped Draco's hand, unable to hide the hurt he felt. “Are you ashamed? Of being gay, or being with me?”

“No!” Draco said immediately. “Neither. I just meant that I want it to be between us. For us to have a while to work out how we feel properly before the gossip-mongering starts.”

Harry thought about it and decided that it sounded brilliant. As much as it would be good to finally tell Ron—and therefore Molly and Ginny—that he had found someone, Harry thought it would be nice to enjoy some time to figure things out before the papers got wind of it.

“You're a genius,” Harry said, before kissing Draco quickly.

“I'm glad you finally acknowledge it.”

They walked back to Hogwarts side-by-side, both quite aware of how close they were.

“But,” Draco added, “we're going to have to talk about your habit of leering at other blokes. I'm quite a jealous person.”

Harry laughed out loud, finding himself quite unable to stop smiling.

~

November rolled into December, and Harry felt happier than he ever had done in his life. Everything seemed to be perfect to him. He was enjoying school, he had a group of really good friends, he could think of no one that wanted to kill him, and best of all, he had a boyfriend.

As they'd decided, Harry and Draco kept the change in their relationship to themselves. Harry was quite surprised that no one had figured anything out, as he couldn't keep his eyes off Draco when he was in the same room, and, try as he might, he couldn't stop smiling.

Harry, more than ever, lived for Wednesday afternoons. Everything else carried on as normal. He still sat with Ron and grumbled about homework as they sat through Hermione's study group. He partnered Draco in Potions—Harry hoped no one noticed the lingering touches whenever they passed each other ingredients. He and Draco—and their fans—still enjoyed their Saturday afternoons on the Quidditch pitch.

Wednesdays though, were just for Harry and Draco. The first couple of Wednesdays after they had admitted their feelings were spent as usual, walking into Hogsmeade or playing games. Harry liked snatching kisses between turns, or taking Draco's hand while no one was looking.

A few weeks into their relationship, everything changed. After Potions, Harry had walked with Draco to the common room, expecting to go for a walk or a fly. He didn't expect Draco to drag him into his room and slam the door behind him. Harry was about to ask Draco what was going on, when he found himself flat on his back on Draco's bed, Draco between his legs.

Instead of talking, Harry groaned and eagerly accepted the kiss Draco gave him. They lay entwined on the bed for a while—Harry couldn't tell how long; it felt like hours—kissing and stroking each other's back and arms.

Harry could feel himself getting turned on, and was mortified to discover that all the blood in his body was rushing to one place.

Shocked, Harry tried to move from underneath Draco. He'd never had an erection in front of anybody else before, and certainly never against anybody else.

Draco, obviously sensing Harry's problem, simply smiled and leant down to whisper into Harry's ear, “Don't worry; it's not just you.”

Draco emphasised his words by grinding his hips down. Harry's eyes shot open as he felt Draco's hard cock rubbing against his own. He couldn't think of a word in that moment that adequately described the feeling. Without another thought, Harry reached down and clasped Draco's arse, bringing them closer together.

Harry kissed Draco everywhere he could reach. He had never felt so many sensations at once, and couldn't help himself. As he took Draco's earlobe between his teeth and bit down, Draco moved faster and faster until Harry couldn't take any more. Throwing his head back onto Draco's pillow, Harry came with a scream.

As Draco still moved against him, Harry could feel the wetness spreading beneath his trousers, and he couldn't bring himself to care one bit. Draco's movements became more erratic, and Harry gripped his arse tighter as Draco came with his head buried in Harry's shoulder.

They lay together, panting and catching their breath, until Draco slipped off the bed and reached for his wand. A quick swish and a mumbled spell later, Harry found himself clean and dry, and Draco climbed back onto the bed, snuggling into Harry's side.

“I've been wanting to do that for so long,” Draco said after another couple of minutes. “That was fucking awesome.”

Harry could only nod in agreement. He couldn't think of a better way to describe it. Once he felt that he could speak—and not just babble incoherent words—Harry turned to face Draco. “It certainly beat my plan of a game of chess.”

Draco grinned and kissed him. “I am a genius.”

“Yes, you are. Want to do it again?”

Draco laughed and looked at his watch. “We have twenty minutes.”

“Plenty of time,” Harry said, and he climbed on top of Draco.

~

From there, Harry and Draco rarely left the comfort of their beds on a Wednesday afternoon. As soon as Potions had finished, they would practically race back to their rooms and spend their time discovering each other.

Draco had finally admitted that he knew just as much as Harry—that was, next to nothing—about sex, so they had a great time figuring out what they liked and practising what they found out.

Harry would never forget the first time he took Draco's cock in his hand. The feel of it mesmerised him. The noises Draco made as Harry stroked him nearly caused Harry to come without being touched. Harry had practically begged Draco to return the favour—not that he'd needed to; Draco had already been undoing Harry's trousers—and he'd come within seconds of Draco touching him.

Their first attempts at blow jobs had been unmitigated disasters. Draco had eagerly fallen to his knees one Wednesday, and taken Harry's cock into his mouth without pause. Harry had jumped in surprise, almost choking Draco and causing him to involuntarily bite down.

Once Harry and Draco had gotten over their shock and calmed down—it had taken another ten minutes of kissing and touching—Harry had pushed Draco down onto the bed and knelt down. Harry had only just taken Draco into his mouth when Draco jerked and came, all over Harry's face. Harry waved off Draco's apologies; especially as Draco had immediately reached for Harry's cock and stroked him until he erupted over Draco's hand.

Harry cringed when he thought about their 'first time'. It wasn't, contrary to what Ginny's magazines promised him, 'a magical moment'. The magazines, like Draco, hadn't prepared him fully, and afterwards he hadn't been able to sit down without the aid of a healing spell. When Draco had insisted that he try, Harry had been quite reluctant—he hadn't want to hurt him—and with good reason. Harry had never cast so many healing spells as he had that week.

It took a while, and a lot of practising—for Harry and Draco to figure out how to please each other, but when they finally did, there was no stopping them. Harry liked nothing better than the sounds Draco made as he came, and he only wished he could hear them all the time. They found other times to be together, afternoons and evenings other than a Wednesday. They had to; after all, they were teenage boys. One afternoon a week simply wasn't enough.

They snuck off—under the pretence of some Potions work—at least three times a week. Any more and they feared that people would notice. As it was, with the looks Hermione and Pansy were shooting him, it seemed as if they might have figured it out.

Harry had brought up the idea of going public, but Draco was adamant that he liked the way things were. The sneaking, Draco had told him, turned him on. As Draco had been naked and between his legs at the time, Harry hadn't argued. Anyway, Harry thought, it was exciting.

~

Harry was finishing off an essay in his room for Slughorn, and trying his best to ignore how turned on he was. Bloody Draco, Harry fumed silently, thinking about how Draco had helped him.

'Recite the ingredients, and you'll get this,' Draco had told him as he stroked his cock to hardness. 'Remember the formula and you'll get this,' Draco had said before taking Harry's cock into his mouth. 'Tell me how you know the potion is correct, and you'll get this,' he'd said, trailing a wet finger down Harry's arse.

Harry had never thought so hard about his Potions homework in his life. Draco had done everything he'd promised as Harry recited his homework, finally fucking him hard as he said the words, “It turns mauve!”

When they had finished, Draco had simply kissed Harry, dressed, and left him to write out his essay. Bloody bastard.

The door banging open shook Harry from his thoughts of Draco and his, quite frankly, genius way of teaching—it worked, after all. Ron stood in the doorway with a big grin on his face.

“You nearly finished, mate? I've got great news!” Ron said excitedly, before returning to the common room.

Intrigued, Harry finished his essay and followed him out. “What's up?” he asked as he sat down.

In answer, Ron handed him a letter and gestured for Harry to read it. Harry did so, trying to ignore Draco's smug looking face from across the room.

“Who's Thomas?” Harry asked. “And why does he want to meet me?”

“Bill's mate, from school. He moved to Spain, but he kept in touch. You know Mum's been looking for a bloke for you, and he said yes! He's meeting us in Hogsmeade on Saturday morning.”

Harry didn't have a clue of what to say. He was torn between anger at Molly's meddling, affection at her having an interest in his life, and pure horror at the thought of her pimping him out.

“You set me up on a date?” Harry finally said, his eyes automatically going to Draco.

“Yep!”

Ron looked so happy with himself; Harry really didn't know how to let him down gently.

“What was that?” Blaise asked loudly. “Potter's got himself a date? Awesome. About time, too!”

“No!” Harry said, but everybody in the room started talking at once. Ron was describing Thomas—tall, athletic and good-looking, according to Ginny—and everybody else was too busy congratulating Harry and patting him on the back.

The only person that Harry was interested in was simply sat back in his chair, an unreadable look on his face. Harry stood up from his chair and mumbled something about finishing up his homework.

“Draco,” he called as calmly as he could, “could you help me, please?”

Draco didn't move. “I think I've helped you enough,” he said coldly as he picked up a book and began to read.

Harry was numb. He almost ran to his room and slammed the door behind him. “What the fuck?” He asked the empty room. His mind whirred. Did that really just happen? Was that Draco ending things? Did he want Harry to go on the date? Did he think Harry wanted the date?

Needing to talk to Draco, but unwilling to face his friends, Harry slipped on his Invisibility Cloak and went back to the common room. Draco was nowhere to be seen. Running back to his room, Harry checked the Marauder's Map and sighed in relief. He was in the library. Telling himself that Draco just had some work to finish, Harry went to find him.

Draco was tucked away in the corner they usually sat in to do their homework when Harry finally got to the library. He pulled off his cloak, causing Draco to jump.

“I told you not to do that!” he said, before crossing his arms across his chest. “What do you want?” he asked quietly. “Why aren't you getting ready for your date?”

“What the fuck are you on about?” Harry replied, keeping his voice down. “I'm not going on any date.”

“Maybe you should,” Draco said coldly. “We were just having a bit of fun, anyway.”

Harry tried his hardest not to break down. What the fuck was happening? What did that even mean? It was true that they hadn't exchanged 'I love you's, but Harry was damned well not 'just having a bit of fun'.

Before Harry could say anything, Draco got up and ran off. Harry couldn't chase after him; his legs were barely keeping him upright. Instead, he simply slumped into the nearest chair and dropped his head into his hands.

~

Harry struggled to get out of bed the following morning. He had pretended to be asleep when Ron had come in the previous night; he had no desire whatsoever to deal with Ron and his excitement over Saturday. The sudden thought of Ron continuing the same topic had Harry jumping out of bed and scrambling, very quietly, to get dressed and out before Ron woke up.

Harry ensured he had all his supplies for the day and crept out of the room with the realisation that it was Wednesday. The thought both uplifted and saddened him. On one hand, he had all day to try and talk some sense into Draco, but on the other, he also had a whole day of Draco treating him as if they'd gone back in time two years.

Harry decided that he couldn't wait around in the common room for Draco to get up; there was a high possibility of one of his friends trying to talk to him. There was no way he could stomach food, so Harry disregarded the Great Hall and went to the library, knowing that no one would be there as early as it was.

Harry settled at a desk—he couldn't sit in his and Draco's corner, not with the memory of what was said there yesterday—and pulled out his Potions essay, thinking he would read it over before he handed it in. His eyes welled as he checked the ingredients, and by the time Harry reached the word mauve, he was a mess.

He couldn't—wouldn't—believe that it was over between him and Draco. It was too good, too right. Wiping his face, Harry put his homework away and stood up, move determined than ever to talk to Draco.

Even with his early start, Harry's trip to the library meant that he was one of the last to arrive for Potions. Heading straight for his usual table, Harry was surprised to find Hermione's smiling face waiting for him in Draco's place. Looking around the dungeon, Harry felt a pang of hurt as he spotted Draco sitting in Hermione's place next to Pansy, his eyes glued to his table.

Harry was about to ask Hermione what had happened, when Slughorn entered with his usual flourish.

“Essays on your desk, please,” Slughorn said with a smile.

Everybody did as asked, Harry irrationally reluctant to let his go. Slughorn collected them all with a wave of his wand.

“Today, I have a surprise for you!” Slughorn said, smile still firmly in place.

Most of the class cheered, obviously hoping for a free lesson or, at the very least, an easy potion.

“We're having a test! Let's see what you know. Wands away; quills out.” Slughorn waved his wand, distributing tests to each desk. “And silence, please. You have two hours.”

Two dreadful hours later, Harry didn't want to think about how he'd performed on his test. With his constant looking around at Draco and the annoyingly fast scratching of Hermione's quill, Harry didn't have high hopes of a good mark. Harry couldn't care less, he just wanted the lesson to end so he could talk to Draco and sort their obvious misunderstanding out.

The bell chimed to signal the end of the lesson, and Harry had never welcomed it so much before, not even when Snape had been at his worst. Throwing his quill and ink into his bag, Harry stood up to leave, hoping to catch Draco before he disappeared.

He was out of luck. Just as he turned to leave, Slughorn stopped him with a jovial, “Harry, my boy. Can I have a word?”

Harry groaned, not caring if it had been audible or not. Looking around, he groaned again when he noticed that Draco had already left.

“Miss Granger, you are free to go.”

Hermione looked as if she wanted to say something else, but she simply said, “Arithmancy,” and left, an apologetic look on her face.

“I want to congratulate you on your essay,” Slughorn said, patting Harry on the back. “Marvellous work; worthy of your mother, that was.”

Harry forced a smile. “Thank you,” he said. “I had a great teacher.”

Slughorn beamed and Harry couldn't be bothered to correct him. He had somewhere he'd rather be.

“So, yes. That's all. Well done. Now, off you go.”

Harry didn't have to be told twice. He grabbed his bag and ran as fast as he could to the common room. Panting, Harry threw open the door and sighed. Draco wasn't there. Harry didn't know what he expected, Draco setting up the chess board, or something, and he was gutted. After a fruitless check of the other rooms in the tower, Harry checked the Marauder's Map for any sign of his—he hoped, still—boyfriend. Harry searched the entire map for his name, but Draco was nowhere to be found.

Harry knew what that meant: Draco wasn't in the castle. He and Draco had discovered that the Room of Requirement didn't exist any more, so Harry assumed that Draco was in Hogsmeade. Grabbing his coat and scarf, Harry set off after him.

Harry looked all over Hogsmeade. He ran—and after a few funny looks, walked—up and down every street in the village, even having a look in Madam Puddifoots for him. It was to no avail. Defeated, Harry trudged back to Hogswarts, hopeful he'd see Draco there.

As he opened the common room door, Harry noticed Pansy sitting on the sofa next to the fire. Harry waved and opened his mouth to ask her about Draco.

Pansy held her hand up, stopping Harry before he uttered a word. She slowly stood up, and Harry was suddenly fearful of the harsh look on her face.

“Before you say anything, yes, I know where Draco is, and no, I'm not telling you.”

Harry moved towards her, wanting to explain, and hoping she would understand.

Once again, Pansy stopped him with a wave of her hand. “And yes, I know all about your torrid little affair.”

At that, Harry had to speak up. “It wasn't a 'torrid little affair',” he said as coldly as he could manage.

Pansy simply stood there and stared at him. Harry had felt more at ease facing down Voldemort; at least then he'd had a chance of winning against the snake-eyed bastard.

“Sit down.”

It wasn't a question, and Harry obeyed immediately.

“Quite frankly, I don't give a shit what you think it was. All I know is that Draco is a mess and it's all your fault.” As she spoke, she punctuated each word with a poke of her perfectly manicured fingertip.

“No,” Pansy said as Harry opened his mouth to defend himself. “Before you, Draco was, well, he wasn't happy, but he wasn't this sad or broken, either. I don't want to hear it!”

“He broke up with me!” Harry shouted and jumped up from his seat, turning on Pansy. As he said the words aloud, he knew them to be true. He and Draco were no more.

Harry collapsed straight back onto the sofa, shattered. Pansy, surprisingly gently, touched him on the shoulder and sat down beside him.

“He let you go,” she said quietly.

“What does that even mean? Isn't that the same bloody thing?”

“It's not my place to say,” Pansy said softly before her face hardened once more. Standing up, she went to the door, turning around before she left. “Just go on your stupid date with Weasley's stupid friend. And leave my friend alone.”

~

The following days were difficult for Harry. Hermione only looked at him with pity, refusing to talk about anything but school work or Ron. He had tried to talk to her about Draco, but she always changed the subject with a dismissive, “it'll work out; now about your Transfiguration essay.”

Everybody else he spoke to couldn't talk of anything but the upcoming Christmas holidays, sharing stories of where the were spending them and what they hoped to get. Harry couldn't think about Christmas. The present he'd picked out for Draco went unbought, and if it wasn't for the Howler from Molly, he'd have (un)happily spent the break at school, alone.

Ron didn't seem to notice how heartbroken Harry was, preoccupied as he was about Saturday. He talked non-stop about 'how great it'll be, double-dating', or how Molly was 'ecstatic that all her children were paired off'. After two days of constant haranguing, Harry had finally relented and agreed to meet Bill's mate. After all, he thought sadly, he had nothing else to do.

Draco made it blatantly clear that he didn't want to talk to Harry. He was never seen without at least one other person, so Harry couldn't catch him alone. In their shared lessons, no matter how early Harry arrived, Draco was always sat at a desk with no free chairs.

~

Saturday morning, Harry awoke to find Ron rummaging through the wardrobe, clothes flying all over the room. When he sat up in bed, Harry realised that it was his wardrobe that was being emptied.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Harry asked as he bent down to pick his favourite scarf off the floor.

“Finding you something to wear. Ginny says you need to wear something to match your eyes.”

“Again, what the fuck?”

“To impress Thomas, of course! Ginny says it's important to make a good first impression. It's all those magazines she reads, I reckon. Gone to her head.”

Harry was torn between hugging Ron for being so supportive, and strangling him with the scarf in his hands. With a jolt, Harry remembered that Draco had bought him the scarf—and what they did with it—so he carefully placed it back on the bed.

“Thanks, mate,” Harry said, waving his wand and sending all his clothes back, “but I'm going to shower and choose my own clothes. See you in a bit.”

As they walked into the village later that morning, Harry felt a pang of jealousy at seeing Ron and Hermione holding hands. He wanted that badly, someone gladly holding his hand in public. Pushing his cold hands into his pockets, Harry trailed behind his friends. Maybe, the thought without much hope, the date would go well and he'd have that, finally.

Reaching, to Harry's utter horror, Madam Puddifoot's, Harry felt more than slightly apprehensive.

“Come on,” Ron said as he took Harry's arm. “I know it's nerve-racking, your first date with a bloke and all; it'll be fine, we promise.” Ron looked to Hermoine, and she nodded in agreement.

Harry forced himself to smile and followed his friends into the tea shop.

Three cups of tea and a scone later, Harry was surprised to find himself having a nice time. Thomas was just as Ron described: tall, and good-looking. He was quite funny, having Ron in stitches more often than not, and very knowledgeable about European wizarding culture, which pleased Hermione immensely.

For Harry though, there was something definitely missing. He could see himself happily sitting down for a pint with Thomas, but only as a friend. Harry felt that they were missing the spark—the excitement—that he needed to feel. It just didn't feel right, or easy. Not like it had with Draco.

“Can we go?” Harry asked, interrupting Ron's rattling off of Harry's 'good points'. “I could do with some air.”

“Of course,” Thomas said, standing up.

Hermione and Ron shared a look that Harry knew only too well. They were up to something.

“I fancy another cuppa,” Hermoine said, elbowing Ron in the ribs as she spoke.

“Uh, me too,” Ron agreed, holding up his empty cup for emphasis.

“Shall we?” Thomas gestured to the door. “See you later, Ron. Nice to meet you, Hermione.”

Harry nodded, glaring at his friends as he left.

Walking down a side street, Harry was surprised to feel another hand in his. As much as he'd wished for it, Thomas' hand didn't feel comfortable at all. It was clammy and warm, and Harry dropped it, pretending to redo his laces. Luckily, Thomas must have got the hint; he didn't try it again.

Conversation was stilted as they walked down the main street. Harry tried, he really did, but without the buffer of Ron and Hermione, he and Thomas simply didn't have a lot to talk about.

A group of what looked like third years barrelled out of Honeydukes as Harry and Thomas walked, so they stepped aside to let the younger boys pass.

“Blimey,” Thomas said with a laugh, “what's their rush?”

Harry shrugged, but one of the boys must have heard him. As he turned to face them, the boy said, “It's Saturday. We can't miss the match between Draco Malfoy—” The boy's eyes widened comically as he recognised who he was speaking to. “—and you.”

Another boy stepped up. “It's the favourite part of our weekend, watching the two of you fly together. You look awesome!”

Harry looked around in awe at the group of boys, their heads bobbing as one in agreement. Turning to Thomas, Harry smiled apologetically. “Sorry,” he said, “I just remembered that I have somewhere to be. I have to go.”

Harry didn't know if Thomas had guessed what was going on, but the man simply smiled and held his hand out for Harry to shake. “Nice to meet you, Harry.”

“You too,” Harry replied, shaking his hand quickly. “See you again,” he shouted as he ran back to Hogwarts. He had a game to get to.

~

Harry was breathing heavily as he finally reached the common room. He was desperate to reach his room and get his map, wanting nothing more than to find Draco, so he almost missed the fact that the man himself was sitting, alone, on the sofa, nose stuck in a book.

“Draco!”

Draco paled and dropped his book. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.”

“Why?” Draco asked. Harry could tell he was trying to be aloof, but he saw the hope in his eyes. “Was your date not satisfying?”

“He wasn't you.”

Draco picked his book up and ignored Harry.

“Draco. You know damn well that I didn't make that date, nor want to go on it. What the hell is going on?”

“I broke up with you.”

“No. You didn't.”

Draco scoffed. “I'm pretty sure I did.”

“No. You 'let me go'.”

“Pansy.” Draco spat her name as if it were Voldemort's.

Harry sat down beside him, resisting the urge to touch him. “What's going on?” he asked again. “What's the matter?”

“I'm not the one for you.”

“I think I'm the only one who can judge that.”

“No, listen.” Draco turned to face Harry, looking him straight in the eyes for the first time in days. “Weasley, and the rest of the bloody world, won't accept you with me. Someone like—”

“Thomas.”

“Someone like Thomas will suit you better. People will be okay with him.”

Harry suddenly wanted to leave. “I thought you knew me,” he said sadly. Deep down, he knew that Draco didn't really think like that. Draco knew damn well that Harry didn't give a flying fuck what anyone thought of him. Not any more.

“Harry, please,” Draco pleaded, taking Harry's hand in his own. “It's for the best.”

Harry gripped Draco's hand tighter, preventing him from leaving. “I've had enough of people telling me what's 'for the best'. It's about fucking time I did what I think is for the best. And I think you're for the best.”

“That doesn't make any sense,” Draco said, and Harry's heart warmed at the sight of the small smile on his face.

“You're an idiot,” Harry said before taking Draco's face in his hands, kissing him.

“That I am,” Draco replied, sinking back into the sofa cushions, dragging Harry with him.

“We can do that later,” Harry said, standing up and dragging Draco up by his hand. “We have a game to get to.”

As they walked hand-in-hand to the Quidditch pitch, Harry couldn't help but grin. It felt nice; it felt right.

~

HARRY POTTER IS OFF THE MARKET

Saviour finds love with Malfoy heir.

Witches—and wizards—up and down the country were sobbing into their butterbeer today as it was confirmed that Harry Potter, Slayer of he-who-should-not-be-named, has fallen in love.

When pressed for a statement, Mr Potter could only say, “Deal with it. Now fuck off and leave us alone.” For the full reaction to the news, see pages 4,5,6,7,8,9&10.

Don't forget to go back to H/D Holidays on LJ and leave feedback!