To Be Back Again in the Rest of the Room

~~

Harry wakes up with half of his face flaming with pain. He doesn’t know if it’s the pain that woke him up or if his attacker punched him as he was awakening. But he wishes like hell that whatever mess he’s in or whoever hit him, they’ll let him sleep a bit more.

It’s only after a few more seconds that he realises there’s no bed under him, and that he’s not even lying down.

‘What the hell?’ he half-moans, half-shouts, opening his eyes to a large and empty room. Standing next to him is Draco Malfoy.

His first reflex—his half-asleep mind not being able to ponder too much about it—is to throw his fist in the git’s direction and hope to inflict at least as much pain as he’s experiencing himself.

For a half-awake, not-so-burly teenage wizard who isn’t used to punching people in general, Harry’s aim is pretty good. He hits Malfoy right on the nose and even makes him stumble back a few paces.

Harry wants to bask in his self-satisfaction for a few seconds, but he’s interrupted by Malfoy’s outraged cry of, ‘What in the name of Merlin are you doing, Potter?’

Harry briefly wonders if it’s possible to punch someone hard enough that they don’t remember what a punch is without having them faint. He chooses to answer the question simply: ‘Well, I punched you.’

‘I’m very aware that you punched me, Potter. Believe it or not, but your fist in my face was a very good first clue.’

Malfoy really doesn’t sound like he’s in much pain, so Harry decides the tendril of guilt at the edge of his thoughts can very well go to hell.

‘You punched me first, you prat! Did you believe I was just going to stand there and let you beat me to your heart’s content?’

‘Of course!’ Malfoy answers immediately, making no sense at all. It’s as if they haven’t fought each other for seven years, as if Harry hasn’t just defeated the darkest wizard of all time. How can Malfoy’s brain make something so ridiculous work without being damaged? Harry’s not used to using his fists to solve problems; maybe he really punched Malfoy harder than he should have.

Harry also considers the possibility that maybe he’s still asleep.

‘But nothing ever really works for me, does it?’ Malfoy says with a deep, deep sigh.

Harry can feel that Malfoy’s going to start a long tirade of whining and moaning on how difficult it is to be a pointy git with evil parents and a Death Eater membership card, so Harry decides to tune him out to prevent himself the headache.

He takes advantage of Malfoy’s self-absorption to take in his surroundings. They’re alone in a large empty room with dirty white walls and a dusty stony floor. One of the walls has windows, but the glass is yellowish and dirty, and Harry can’t make out anything through it, except that it looks a bit like morning. Harry mustn’t have managed to catch more than a few hours’ sleep if that’s the case: he went to bed not long after dawn. Harry wants to bang his head against the wall, but contents himself with hoping that he’s at least still in Hogwarts. The room feels familiar, but he couldn’t say if he’s been there before.

Malfoy’s voice is persistent, even a little shrill, and Harry can’t help hearing threads of his monologue: things like ‘…this bloody room…’, and ‘…of course it would be you, Potter…’, and ‘…I really, really wanted to punch you so much…’, and then, Harry has to say something because if he doesn’t, he risks encouraging Malfoy’s wrong impression that he can do things like punch Harry with no retaliation whatsoever.

‘Why would you want to punch me? I saved your life twice in one evening. I reckoned it would warrant me at least three months of civility, if not gratefulness!’

Malfoy seems taken aback by Harry’s reaction and cuts himself off with a frown. He’s eyeing Harry suspiciously now, as if doubting the truth of Harry’s words. Harry swears to himself never to punch Malfoy again, if it means he won’t remember how much he owes Harry.

‘Potter?’ Malfoy asks slowly and with knitted eyebrows, as if he’s only just realised Harry’s here and can’t really believe his own eyes.

‘Yes, it’s me, Harry Potter! Don’t you remember just punching me, you twat? You even called me by my name! What on earth is your problem?’ Harry is infuriated. What is he even still doing here? He wants to turn on his heels and slam the door behind him, but while the first half of his plan is executed perfectly, he soon finds himself short of a door to slam. ‘And where on earth are we?! Where’s the bloody door? For that matter, what am I doing here in the first place?’

‘Don’t you recognise this bloody place, Potter?’ Malfoy spits, suddenly very angry.

Harry feels Malfoy has no right to be, when he certainly is the cause of Harry’s presence here, but at the same time, it feels almost nice, fighting with Malfoy. As if, after all the stress and strangeness of war, everything was somewhat back to normal.

‘But I accept it must be difficult for the Holy Saviour of the Wizarding World and all of Humankind to keep track of every single place he played the hero in.’ Harry could really do without the pompous grandiloquence, but as Malfoy speaks, he looks around him again, and it slowly starts to dawn on him. ‘The Room of Hidden Things!’ Malfoy cries at the same time Harry realises what’s really happening.

And yes, they’re definitely in the Room of Hidden Things, except that it’s totally empty. Harry recognises the feel of the room now, but it’s obvious why he wouldn’t have recognised it earlier. Bared of everything that made it itself, the room looks almost dead.

‘Malfoy,’ Harry says calmly. ‘Did you know that another name for this room was the Room of Requirement?’ Malfoy seems to be a bit confused by this statement, and he simply shakes his head. ‘Have you never noticed, when you were here, that when you wish for something, the room gives it you?’ Harry can see understanding starting to dawn on Malfoy’s face as he nods slowly. ‘Malfoy, have you, by any chance, required me?’

Despite Harry’s carefully civil tone, Malfoy has sensed the slight accusation in his voice, and is immediately on the defensive. ‘Well, I told you I wanted to punch you! How was I to know you would just be Apparated here? We’re inside Hogwarts, it shouldn’t even be possible!’

‘Well, inside this Room, a lot of things are possible,’ Harry says with a sigh. At least, now that he knows where they are, he can just wish a door to appear, and then go back to bed. He concentrates on the wall opposite the windows and thinks the most deeply he can about a door, about some way out.

Harry lets one minute pass before feeling like a complete idiot. The wall is still empty, and Malfoy’s smile is way too pleased.

‘How long have you had constipation problems, Potter? I can recommend several very efficient potions if you wish. My great-aunt Cerbreria swore by them, after she reached one hundred and fifty years of age.’ Harry glares at him and already feels his hands clenching into fists. ‘There’s a reason I wanted to punch you so much, you know,’ Malfoy adds, with a smart-arse tone that makes Harry want to do just that. ‘Because ever since I arrived here, I’ve been trying to get out. And because every time something bad happens to me, it is always in some way related to you, Potter. If you knew how satisfying punching you can be, maybe you’d do it to yourself.’

‘Punching you was nice too, maybe I’ll do it again soon,’ Harry says, returning the pleasantry. ‘I’m trying to get us out of here, all right? So just shut up, will you?’

‘If your escape plan is to wish us away, I wouldn’t put my galleons on it, Potter. I’ve been wishing for it for at least fifteen minutes. There’s no door and the windows are impenetrable. Why don’t you just use your wand and magick us all away on your white and shiny battle steed?’

‘I can’t use my wand because someone wished me here, but didn’t seem to wish I had anything to defend myself with! Why don’t you use your wand?’

‘Because some stupid-haired hero took it from me, you gigantic and useless prat!’ Malfoy shouts, seething.

‘All right, let’s try to calm down, then!’ Harry says, trying to placate the git. Maybe if they stop fighting at least for a little while, they can find a way to get out. ‘We have no wands and no door, and the magic of the Room seems to only work for asinine things like punching me. It’s not good, but I’ve definitely known worse.’

‘Thank Merlin for small mercies,’ Malfoy deadpans. Harry tries to not let it get on his nerves. He just has to ignore Malfoy and think. Where is Hermione when he really needs her? He thinks briefly of wishing her here the same way Malfoy has done him, but if she gets stuck with them too, it wouldn’t help any. Perhaps there could be a way of getting a message out there? Ask someone to get them from the outside?

Malfoy is now tapping his foot not even rhythmically, and there is no way Harry can stand the git for any extended period of time. Malfoy certainly couldn’t even survive one day without an armada of house-elves catering to his every whim…

Wait a minute.

‘House-elves!’ Harry exclaims suddenly, but Malfoy doesn’t even look at him weirdly. After Harry’s escape from Malfoy Manor—Harry tries his best not to let his memories bring him back to Dobby’s lifeless eyes—Malfoy must know as well as he does how much house-elves’ abilities tend to be underestimated.

‘Kreacher!’ Harry calls, hoping the house-elf is still at Hogwarts and still loyal to him. ‘Kreacher!’ he calls again, after a few minutes of waiting in vain.

Malfoy gives Harry a look. One that he really doesn’t like, and that doesn’t say any good things about either Harry or any house-elves, for that matter. Harry grits his teeth and remembers his own advice of ignoring Malfoy as much as he can.

‘Winky!’ he tries then, even if giving up on Kreacher kind of breaks his heart a little bit. There’s still no house-elf appearing anywhere near them and Harry decides to give up. He really doesn’t want Malfoy to give him one of those looks again.

‘So, Potter,’ Malfoy drawls in an annoying way that brings Harry back to their first meeting. He was so sure Malfoy had grown up at least a little bit since then, it’s almost disappointing. But then again, Malfoy can bring out Harry’s own inner eleven-year-old so well, he should refrain from judging him on this kind of thing. ‘It looks like there’ll be no easy way out of this for you. I guess it’s a novelty for you to have to work for it, isn’t it?’

‘Shut up, Malfoy. You have no idea what you’re talking about.’ Except that the git’s partly right, isn’t he? If he wasn’t Harry Potter, after all, if he hadn’t had this prophecy and this wretched piece of soul inside him, if he hadn’t had Hermione or even Ron with him, if he hadn’t had the most incredible luck in the world, there’s no way he would have been able to do a quarter of the things he’s achieved.

What a great hero he is, really.

‘Whatever, Potter. Let’s just all admit that we’re stuck here and that we’ve only got to wait until your throngs of fans notice your disappearance and come and get you. I’m sure it will take no time at all.’

Harry thinks of the Marauder’s Map, lying idly on his nightstand. As soon as he wakes up, Ron will definitely notice Harry’s absence and see his dot on the map, stuck there with Draco Malfoy’s. Even with his grief over Fred and his budding romance with Hermione, there’s no way Ron won’t see the emergency of the situation and come and get him right away. Counting on one’s friends can be a good thing after all. And Harry no longer needs to be a hero for anybody anyways.

Harry nods decisively and decides to extend an olive branch. ‘What about you, Malfoy? Aren’t your parents gonna be looking for you, too?’ They were willing to lie to Voldemort for you, after all, he doesn’t say. It doesn’t feel very right that Harry would know more about what Malfoy’s parents did during the Battle of Hogwarts than Malfoy himself does, but he doesn’t really know how to broach the subject without having to relate how he survived death too. Not only is it way too intimate to talk about to anyone, but Harry’s certain that if Malfoy ever knew the truth, he’d just use it as another example of Harry being a dim-witted sacrificial lamb and a bloody Gryffindor. Though, Harry has to admit that he wouldn’t be completely wrong.

‘My parents went back to the Manor. I was…disinclined to follow them there. Not until it’s inhabitable again, at least. It’ll take them at least a week.’

Harry notices how Malfoy didn’t use the word home and finds it fair enough. Even he has never thought of Privet Drive as home, and—even if it could be debatable by some—the Dursleys remain a bit better to live with than Voldemort. What doesn’t surprise Harry at all though, is that Malfoy seems absolutely content to let his parents do all the Evil Overlord cleansing work.

‘All right. We’ll just have to wait it out, then,’ Harry says with what he hopes is an optimistic smile. If they don’t just fight their time away, it’ll only be a night of uncomfortable silences and awkward glances, but Harry would really be happy with that. It’s better than what he could have hoped for, and Harry doesn’t fancy being punched again.

‘Very well, Potter. At least, with the three of us, things sure won’t be boring,’ Malfoy says with a smile way too mischievous for Harry’s comfort.

‘What do you mean, the three of us?’ Harry asks warily.

‘Well, you know. You, me… and him.’ Malfoy points his thumb to the corner behind him, and only then does Harry notice that what he’d thought was a thicker patch of grey dust is, in fact, the pearly grey shape of the ghost of Vincent Crabbe.

***

‘Er…’ Harry says very eloquently. ‘So, Crabbe’s a ghost, now?’

The question is stupid because with his translucent grey skin and the few inches that separate him from the floor, it’s fairly obvious that Crabbe’s a ghost. And it shouldn’t surprise Harry any, really. If he had to bet on anyone he knew for ghost-potential, Crabbe was definitely coward enough to fear death—or maybe he was just too stupid to recognise the light at the end of the tunnel for what it is. Harry wouldn’t put it past him, but he tries not to think too ill of the dead. Even if the dead in question is Crabbe.

The revelation is still boggling Harry’s mind a bit when Malfoy speaks again.

‘And don’t think about it because there’s no point. He won’t go looking for help on our behalf. He won’t even talk to me.’

‘Why not?’ Harry asks, genuinely surprised. He remembers Crabbe’s last moments very well, and how strained his relationship with Malfoy seemed to be, but he’d thought that years of friendship and the knowledge of death would have overcome that. Mostly because every time Malfoy turns his gaze towards Crabbe, Harry can see all the guilt in Malfoy’s eyes, and something that resembles sorrow very much.

‘Well, it seems my insistence about keeping Your Scarred Majesty alive the last time we were here made me “the worst blood traitor who’s ever traitor-ed”,’ Malfoy says with a roll of his eyes before turning to Crabbe. ‘Aren’t those the exact words you used, Vince?’

Crabbe unfolds and refolds his arms, while looking pointedly everywhere but at Malfoy, and Harry could almost find Crabbe’s prima-donna shenanigans funny if it weren’t for the sadness he can still see in Malfoy’s eyes, despite how skilfully he’s trying to look indifferent.

‘At least, those were the only words Sir Ghost-face deigned to say to me,’ Malfoy concludes, turning back to Harry. ‘Maybe if I killed you now, I would come back in his good graces, and he’d fetch help for me…’ he muses half-seriously.

It’s Harry’s turn to roll his eyes now, because if the war taught him anything, it’s that Draco Malfoy is not a murderer. And according to the last few minutes here, Malfoy even seems to be decently funny. Or at least he is when his humour is not aimed at people’s dead families.

Harry finds himself oddly hopeful to know that in spite of everything that’s happened, Malfoy is still able to joke.

There’s silence then, and Harry is almost surprised at how not-awkward it manages to be, despite Harry and Malfoy just standing there, looking at each other. There even seems to be some kind of moment taking place. Harry feels like he should say something serious, like how sorry he is that Crabbe died while bearing a grudge, because he really is. He can imagine Ron dying while he was away from them last Christmas, with the last words they said to each other being heinous ones, and the idea of something like this happening to anyone—even to the likes of Crabbe and Malfoy—breaks his heart a little bit.

‘All right, so if you don’t want me to punch you anymore, I think I’ll just go back to bed,’ Malfoy says with what sounds like the genuine hope that Harry might let him get in another good punch after all. He’s enough of a realist not to wait for an answer though, and a few seconds later, Malfoy has relocated to the middle of the room, wished a bed to appear and slipped under fluffy-looking blankets.

Harry spares a glance for Crabbe, and sees that he has returned to his corner to sulk. Harry wonders idly how boring it can be to be a pouting ghost for the rest of eternity, but decides that he is too tired to care. Seeing Malfoy in his huge four-poster bed has made him remember how well he was sleeping before all of this happened, and he really wants to go back to this state. If he’s lucky, he’ll be woken up by a rescue team coming to get them.

He concentrates on his wish for the most comfortable and sleep-enhancing bed, takes off his shoes and glasses, and gets in.

***

This is twice in a too short period of time that Harry wakes up with his face hurting. This time it’s not a fist that just hit his face, but the hard cold stone floor. He looks around him and notes that he’s unfortunately still in the Room of Requirement and that none of his interaction with Malfoy has been a dream. Harry wonders what time it is and if Ron’s going to get there soon. The room is a bit clearer than before, and even if Harry feels rested all right, it isn’t late enough for Ron to be already awake—he certainly didn’t have a disappearing bed.

‘What are you doing on the floor?’ Harry hears a gruff voice ask just behind his head.

Oh yes. Crabbe is still a ghost, too.

‘My bed’s vanished, if you hadn’t noticed.’

‘His bed hasn’t,’ Crabbe says, now floating just above Harry’s face, a finger pointed towards Malfoy, who is deeply asleep in his majestic bed.

Harry isn’t sure whether he wants to know why the Room of Requirement deprived him of his bed but let Malfoy enjoy his beauty sleep. Harry still very much requires a bed after all. He chooses to believe that the Fiendfyre has somewhat partially damaged the room, rather than that Malfoy has deliberately sabotaged Harry’s sleep. It’s better to keep a certain peace intact for the time being. Harry’s very proud of how adult he can be about all this.

Harry sits up and puts his glasses back on. The floor is very cold and he hopes they’ll find their way out before he has to worry about bathroom arrangements. He’s lacing his shoes when he notices that Crabbe is still hovering next to him, looking at him fixedly, his colourless and unblinking eyes boring into him. Harry hates to admit it, but it makes him feel quite nervous, and hairs are starting to rise on the back of his neck. And more than anything, it feels exceptionally awkward. Harry is this close to ask Crabbe something as inane as, ‘So, you’re a wannabe Death-Eater turned ghost. What’s that like?’ but is saved by the proverbial bell when Malfoy’s voice rings in the almost empty room:

‘Stop trying to find ways to kill him, Crabbe, there’s absolutely no point. Unless the Dark Lord turned ghost too; then you’d expect he’d let you haunt a more furnished area of the castle as a reward, wouldn’t you? But even then, there’s nothing much you can do about Potter, what with being non-corporeal and all.’

‘And there is nothing you can do about me, what with being a filthy coward and all,’ Crabbe snaps back, his eyes not leaving Harry once. ‘I may be a ghost, but at least I died for a cause, instead of surviving for myself.’

Even in the darkness, Harry can clearly see Draco blanch at that, but he’s a little annoyed when Malfoy chooses not to answer Crabbe, as if he’d made a point. Because there definitely is nothing honourable in the way Crabbe died as far as Harry’s concerned. Instead, Malfoy chooses to redirect his attention to Harry, with a sneer.

‘What are you doing on the floor, Potter? Have you slept there?’ He mocks, with no hint of the genuine good-humour he’d showed earlier, but rather a touch of cruel disgust.

There’s something that slashes into Harry very deep, the way he’s said it. Partly it is because sleeping on the floor reminds him of when the Dursleys confiscated his mattress at age seven. He was forced to sleep on the floor of his cupboard after they had discovered bedbugs in his bed sheets. He had slept a week without even one blanket or one pillow, as punishment. Harry has truly made peace with the Dursleys by now—with the war he couldn’t have done anything else—but it still hurts a lot, thinking about it and feeling the icy floor and the shame all over again.

The other reason Malfoy’s tone hurts so much is because he’d genuinely thought he could make his peace with him too. Despite the punching and the being stuck with him in the Room of Requirement, Harry had genuinely thought they were starting off on the right foot.

Harry scowls at Malfoy for his trouble and snarls, ‘I did not sleep on the floor, but I didn’t need Sleeping Beauty’s bed either, you ponce. I think you forgot to put curlers in your hair before going to bed, Malfoy.’ Harry knows the way Malfoy’s name curls on his tongue like an insult is useless, but he can’t help feeling a bit vindictive at Malfoy’s angry look.

‘Whatever, Potter,’ Malfoy says before turning his back to Harry and seemingly going back to sleep.

Harry wishes for an armchair and something entertaining to read and decides not to waste another thought on Malfoy or Crabbe and the silly situation they’re all in. Apart from the fact that he has to wish back his book and his chair every few hours, it works very well to keep his mind off things.

***

By the second time Harry sees the sun set behind the Room of Requirement’s windows, he starts losing hope of seeing Ron and Hermione coming to save him. He’s been alternating between thinking they’ve just been occupied otherwise (and then wanting to completely sear the idea from his mind) and convincing himself that the Room of Requirement is presently unplottable, so Ron couldn’t find his dot on the map anyway (and then not really remembering where exactly he’d left the Marauder’s Map after all).

Malfoy doesn’t seem too worried about their situation and keeps quipping about how Harry’s fans are supposedly ransacking the whole Wizarding World looking for him, and that they’d be here in no time. Malfoy continually implies that it’s always been Harry’s deepest wish to have so many people adoring him and trailing after him. Harry is always torn between wanting to make him eat his smug smile (the image of Colin Creevey’s corpse flashing through his mind doesn’t help) and hoping Malfoy’s right in thinking that they’ll be busted out soon.

They aren’t busted out the third day nor the fourth, though, and soon they’ve been there for more than a week.

Harry had been worried at first that they’d starve slowly, between having no link to the outside world and the impracticality of the exceptions to Gamp’s Law of something or other, but food does come every day. Real and nourishing food; good food, even. The only problem is that there’s only one portion of it each time it appears, and it’s always one of Malfoy’s favourite food, which makes the prat even smugger, and Harry extremely suspicious.

Malfoy is much more human than Harry would have thought, though. Because each time food appears in the middle of the Room of Requirement, so obviously meant for Malfoy that it only misses a tag with his name on it, Malfoy looks up at Harry, wishes a knife in his hand, cuts the dish into two perfect halves, eats his part and leaves the rest for Harry.

Maybe Harry just hasn’t been able to figure Malfoy out as much as he’d thought he did, or maybe he’s just still too used to the Dursleys’ eat-everything-and-leave-the-crust-for-Harry ways, but he can’t help but feel wrong-footed every time Malfoy does it. By the twelfth or thirteenth meal, he’s more or less used to it, but there’s still this tiny little part of himself expecting Malfoy to spit in his soup.

The worst of it is that, despite these weirdly kind table-manners, Malfoy still isn’t pleasant to be stuck with in a room at all. They talk only to exchange barbs and spiteful remarks. Malfoy still thinks Harry is some kind of megalomaniac attention-whore and keeps laughing at the room’s uncooperativeness towards Harry’s wishes over and over again, even if Harry’s sure it must start to get a bit old.

And no, Harry’s wishes-situation doesn’t get better at all. Whatever he wishes for never lasts more than a couple of hours and he’s taken to wish for just a thin blanket and mattress at night so that he’d fall from lower when it disappears. As a result, his nights are restless and filled with dreams of short and violent falls.

It’s more manageable during the days, where he can just make an effort of wishing for things explicitly at regular intervals, but he still can’t wish for more than three or four things at the same time. Also, he can only wish for his clothes to get cleaned and not for new ones. Once, he’d been sloppy and made the mistake of wishing for a clean outfit instead of for his outfit to be clean. Malfoy’s cackling at his naked butt had been unbearable and very, very long.

The one thing that is still constant and predictable is Crabbe. The ghost just sulks all day long in one corner or another and insults Harry and/or Malfoy every twelve hours or so, using a not very large variation of “blood-traitor” synonyms. It’s boring, really. Sometimes Malfoy tries to rile him up or provoke him the same way he does with Harry, but it never really works on Crabbe so Harry wonders if he should re-examine his own reactions a bit.

Crabbe and Malfoy’s interactions, despite being somewhat monotonous, could be entertaining, if only Malfoy didn’t look so broken up about it when he thought Harry wasn’t looking. Harry isn’t enough of a bastard to find any cheer in that.

One night, maybe ten days in, after Harry wakes up because of the usual reason of his blanket and mattress disappearing, he hears whispers coming from inside the curtains of Malfoy’s four-poster.

You were the one to start the Fiendfyre!’ Harry can hear Malfoy whisper angrily.

‘And you took off with your beloved hero without even looking back for me, or did you?’ Crabbe replies, not really bothering about his sound-level.

‘He’s far from being my beloved hero! And I didn’t take off with him, he rescued me. I was supporting Goyle, and I didn’t know where you were. I almost died in there, too!’ Malfoy is angry and even through the whisper, Harry can hear how rough his voice sounds. Almost like an animal’s growl.

‘If you’d really been my friend, you wouldn’t have gone without me. You’d have died too. I’m sure Greg would have sacrificed himself to the cause, like me, if you hadn’t taken him with you.’

‘What?!’ Malfoy breathes more than he speaks now, and Harry can almost hear the tears getting held back behind his eyelids. ‘So... you don’t think I’m a blood-traitor because I let you die, but because I didn’t die with you?’

‘You never really cared for anything, Malfoy. Not for the cause, not for your supposed friends. You ever only cared about yourself. You’re pathetic and selfish and weak and a coward. You’re useless to the world and you deserved to die here with me. And certainly now you will. It would only serve you right.’

***

The next day, no food comes. Harry wonders if what Crabbe said about dying here like him was some kind of bizarrely accurate foreshadowing. He wants to speak to Malfoy about it, he wants to ask if maybe Crabbe has more powers here than he lets on, if maybe Crabbe’s the one locking them up here.

But Malfoy doesn’t speak to him, doesn’t even look at him. He sits on a chair and stares blankly ahead at nothing. He doesn’t even seem surprised or bothered when no food shows up.

Crabbe’s cruelty has obviously reached right through Malfoy’s chest and Harry feels like he should say something, maybe. He doesn’t know what to say though, and he’s not certain he really wants to. A lot of what Crabbe said is true after all. For the whole length of the war, the Malfoys had only cared about themselves, about their own family, and even though it saved Harry in the end, it’s not necessarily a good thing.

In the meantime, Crabbe just sulks in his corner all day, as if nothing has happened. Harry wishes the ghost acted dodgier, so he could suspect him of being the bad guy in this whole situation more seriously. It would be nice and simple then. Harry would have a target and someone to fight (even though he has no freaking idea how to fight a ghost) and they’d be out of here in no time at all.

After so many years of misconceptions and chasing the wrong bad guy, Harry knows it can never be that easy.. In all probability, Crabbe is just a ghost, the Room of Requirement has just been irreparably damaged by the Fiendfyre, and the food was merely an anomaly.They shouldn’t have gotten used to it so easily.

Harry gets a bit lost in his thoughts and forgets to wish for his armchair to stay material. His arse hits the ground painfully and he lets out a not-very-manly yelp, but when Malfoy doesn’t even blink, Harry knows things are bad. He definitely has to do something if he doesn’t want them to drown in a sea of negativity soon.

‘Um... Malfoy?’ Harry says warily.

No reaction.

Wow, Harry can’t believe what he’s doing, how awkward it is. ‘You know, I...’ Harry wants to admit he’s heard what Crabbe has said, but he fears Malfoy would accuse him of invading his privacy, and he really wants to help, not fight. ‘I—I wanted to thank you, you know... For not saying it was me, back at your manor. It was a very brave thing to do, you know. Not everyone would have—’

Harry doesn’t really know how to finish this thing he’s trying to say. He’s hoped Malfoy would have interrupted him by now, but he’s still staring into nothing. Harry finds it almost scary.

‘Er...’ Harry starts again, ready to say anything—anything—to fill in the awkward silence.

‘It wasn’t my manor,’ Malfoy saves him unexpectedly, his gaze still unfocused.

Harry almost sighs in relief, because he really has no idea what he could have said. Maybe he would have started rambling about what he’d seen of Malfoy through Voldemort’s eyes, and that really isn’t something he wants to think about.

‘Er, your parents’ manor, then?’ Harry corrects himself, not sure what Malfoy’s point is supposed to be.

‘It was the Dark Lord’s manor when you were there, Potter. I didn’t refuse to identify you because I was brave. I did it because I didn’t want the Dark Lord to come there again. I’m the exact coward Crabbe told me I am, no need to try and butter me up.’

Harry’s only reaction is to gape like a fool. He should have known Malfoy would be able to read right through him, but he’s really not expected him to be so self-deprecating. For someone who’s always appeared to think so highly of himself, Malfoy’s revelation catches Harry off balance.

‘Even though,’ Harry persists, because even if he believes Malfoy is a coward most of the time, he knows he hadn’t been one back there. Harry’s vision had been distorted at the time, but he can still remember what he saw in Malfoy’s eyes. ‘Whatever your motivations were, standing up to authority is one of the hardest things a human being can do.’

‘Look who’s talking,’ Malfoy says a little less heavily, his eyes turned to Harry at last. ‘You spent the whole of your time at Hogwarts standing up to authority.’

‘Well, not everybody can be like me,’ Harry says with a bit of a smile.

Harry’s not sure he doesn’t just imagine it, but he thinks Malfoy’s smiling a bit, too. It’s nice and it makes the room feel warmer. With no food today and Crabbe-the-ghost chilling the atmosphere permanently, it’s a very good feeling.

Malfoy glances over his shoulder at his over-the-top four-poster and, after biting his bottom lip almost imperceptibly, he says, ‘You shouldn’t have to sleep on that shitty mattress, Potter.’ With the way his head is inclined, Malfoy’s eyelids hide his eyes almost completely and Harry can’t really say if Malfoy’s about to mock him or to be nice to him. The clench of his jaw doesn’t let anything on.

It feels like Malfoy is gonna say something else, but his last words have made Harry jittery and he doesn’t let him talk. ‘Well, I don’t really have a choice, now, do I? I’d rather fall from the lowest height possible...’

‘What I was going to say, Potter,’ Malfoy shots back with a sneer, obviously more at ease with an antagonistic stance, ‘is that I could wish my own bed big enough for the whole Quidditch League if I wanted to. So, if you want to sleep somewhere decent, now that we don’t have food anymore and we need to be asleep not to feel hungry, I thought that we could share. But if you’d rather—’

‘No!’ Harry exclaims, aware that his desperation gives Malfoy even more of the upper hand, but unwilling to let the chance of a real bed pass away. ‘That’s really nice of you, Malfoy, thanks. I owe you one.’

‘Whatever, Potter.’

Malfoy goes to bed with his back to Harry and doesn’t say anything more. Harry climbs onto the thick and soft mattress and feels like he’s never been so comfortable in his whole life. He takes his glasses off and promptly falls asleep, only sparing a thought on the wish that he won’t have nightmares tonight. If he wakes Malfoy up with sobbed cries of dead people’s names, he’s sure he won’t be able to share Malfoy’s wish-bed again.

***

The next morning, Harry wakes up not only in the most rested state he’s been in since before Dumbledore’s death, but also to the divine smell of a just-cooked breakfast.

When he opens his eyes, he can see the blurry shape of Malfoy bent over a plate of pancakes, sausages, tomato, bacon—and certainly many other things that Malfoy’s back is obscuring from view—and it looks as if whoever or whatever sends them food wants to apologise for the diet of the day before.

‘So the food is back, then?’ Harry asks not very intelligently.

‘It is, Potter. Thank you for stating the obvious, it was very useful,’ Malfoy deadpans, but continues with something a lot more gentle in his voice, ‘I wonder if we’ll ever know how this room can circumvent Gamp’s Law. It could be very intellectually stimulating to research it. The Room of Requirement itself must be the most ingenious piece of magic ever. One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern Magical World.’

Harry puts on his glasses, gets out of bed and they eat in silence. It is not quite comfortable, but definitely more than just bearable. There isn’t a truce between them exactly. For there to be a truce, there should have been a war first, and they were both way too exhausted to actually be at war against each other. It’s more like a warm-ish amiability that seems to be surprising them both.

The day goes on, Malfoy asks him about the book he’s been reading lately, and they even tentatively discuss what they could do to get out of the room if nobody finds them. It’s very difficult, having to think about that, about the world going on out there, about Ron and Hermione searching frantically for him everywhere, thinking something awful might have happened.

Harry misses his friends painfully, and Ginny and Hagrid, and everyone, but he’s also a bit relieved he doesn’t have to face the Weasleys with Fred gone or his godson when Remus and Tonks are dead. He wonders if it makes him a bad person, and he guesses it does, so he asks Malfoy if he misses his parents instead. It’s easier to listen to him trying to hide how much he really does than to think about his own grief.

‘So, what will you do when we get out?’ Malfoy asks, taking Harry a bit by surprise. He himself would have phrased it if we get out.

‘I haven’t really thought about it yet,’ he admits. ‘Before ending up in this room, I mainly pictured myself sleeping a lot for the next few months. I guess this whole Voldemort-crap really took a toll on me. I’d wanted to be an Auror then, but I don’t quite know if I’d really feel up for it now, even if I don’t really feel qualified to do anything else.’

The truth is, Harry’s not even sure he would be able to make it as an Auror either. He doesn’t really fancy adding any more names to the list of people he wasn’t able to save. And he feels so ashamed most of the time: he’s supposed to be this Big Damn Hero, but he wouldn’t know what to do with himself in the real world. Malfoy’s face, when Harry glances up at him, is neither mocking nor pitying though, and Harry feels almost as grateful for this lack of judgement as he is for half the bed at night.

‘What about you, Malfoy? D’you want to work in research, then?’ Harry asks with what he hopes is a livelier tone, referring to Malfoy’s earlier remark.

Malfoy snorts and rolls his eyes, but answers anyway, ‘I don’t know that I’ll be able to work at all, Potter, let alone in research. As I’m seeing it now, I’ll be lucky if I don’t end up in Azkaban.’

Oh. Harry’s never really thought about this possibility. Well, the War has only been over for a short time and it’s not as if Harry had been sitting around wondering about Malfoy’s future, but the sudden idea of Draco Malfoy in a damp Azkaban cell really doesn’t sit right with him.

‘That’s absolute bullshit!’ He exclaims, maybe a bit too vehemently. ‘I haven’t fought this war for people to keep on hurting innocent people.’

‘I’m hardly innocent,’ Malfoy says with a raised eyebrow and a quick glance at his left forearm. Whether Malfoy ever actually had it or not—and Harry is not so sure now as he was two years ago—Harry knows that Voldemort’s death has made the Dark Mark invisible. He also knows that having a Dark Mark and being an actual Death Eater are two very different things.

‘You were barely of age when you did the worst they can accuse you of, and the rest of the War, you were more of a—’

‘If you say the word victim,’ Malfoy cuts him off sharply, ‘you can rest assured that I’ll have no qualms about punching you again, Potter.’

Whatever, Malfoy,’ Harry tries to intone the same way Malfoy does. ‘Even if you do punch me, I’m not letting anyone send you to Azkaban.’ Because even if Malfoy doesn’t want to hear it, in Harry’s eyes, he was a victim. He wasn’t the helpless-princess-y kind of victim, but he was a prisoner in his own home, forced to use Unforgivables and let his friend die in a fire.

Harry glances at Crabbe’s ghost and can see him quickly turning away. He’d been listening in, and from the brief flash of emotion on his pearly grey face, Harry can tell he didn’t like what he was hearing. Harry doesn’t know if Crabbe’d always been like that or if it was the Carrows’ influence over the last year, but what a douchebag!

They spend the rest of the afternoon reading quietly and sometimes exchanging a few comments about their respective readings (Malfoy’s reading a very pretentious nineteenth century Transfiguration research dissertation, whereas Harry’s choice is a Muggle crime novel that Hermione had once recommended), but by the time the sun is setting, Malfoy’s become pretty restless.

‘What do you know exactly about Gamp’s law, Potter?’ Malfoy asks with a wicked glint in his eyes that makes Harry rather wary.

‘Er... That you can Transfigure anything into anything, except food and four other things?’ Harry says, trying to remember if Hermione had ever said more about it. He can’t really recall if they were ever supposed to study it in McGonagall’s class, and realises that even with Hermione there, gallivanting in the woods for the most part of a year hasn’t been very beneficial for his education.

‘Well, you can’t conjure food out of thin air, but you can change it, so I was wondering: what about drinks?’ Harry doesn’t really follow where Malfoy’s going with this, but he’s not sure Malfoy’s noticed. He’s using his most snotty and posh accent right now, and that means he won’t really be listening to whatever Harry has to say anyway. ‘We could begin with water, right? The water produced by an Aguamenti is the same we wish for here: it’s real water, refreshing, clean water that quenches our thirst, right?’

‘Slow down, Malfoy,’ Harry interrupts, and Malfoy looks at him quizzically. ‘I’ve absolutely no idea what you’re rattling on about.’

‘What I’m talking about, Potter, is wishing for some alcohol.’

***

Harry doesn’t know if it was his Transfiguration book or just plain boredom that motivated Malfoy to experiment with alcohol, but after his third glass of this French rosé Windwine that Malfoy chose, Harry doesn’t think about the hows and the whys anymore. He just thinks that the idea was bloody brilliant.

Also, Harry suspects that he might be a little bit drunk.

‘It’s brilliant, Malfoy!’ He says for the sixth time. ‘It’s really, really brilliant. You’re brilliant, Malfoy. How come you’re so brilliant? I never knew you could be this brilliant.’

‘Come on, Potter, your turn to choose the poison. Whaddaya wanna drink?’

‘Dunno,’ Harry shrugs. ‘Windwine is fine by me.’

‘No, Potter, tell me!’ Malfoy says with a whiny quality to his voice that is no doubt due to the alcohol. ‘What’s your favourite drink? I’ll wish it for you!’

‘I don’t have one, Malfoy. Give me whatever,’ says Harry, holding out his empty glass.

‘How can you not have a favourite drink? Everybody’s got a favourite drink! Pansy’s is Muggle champagne—even if she’ll swear to everybody who’ll listen that it’s the Wizarding kind she likes best—, Blaise’s is 1705 over-matured Ogden’s Arson-Firewhiskey—the ponce couldn’t get more specific if he wanted to—, Goyle’s is Horned Vodka—he’d tried it at his cousin’s in Belarus in the summer after fifth year and brought back a bottle, he wouldn’t shut up about it until we all had some of the vile thing—, and Crabbe’s... Crabbe’s...’

Malfoy suddenly looks around him a bit hysterically, his head snapping back from left to right to everywhere, and the git is giving Harry a headache, but he slowly realises that Crabbe’s not in the room. Malfoy looks like he’s losing his friend all over again and Harry has no idea what to say, so he decides to just ignore it. Crabbe’s a ghost after all. He could always glide all around the castle to his dead heart’s content; there’s no reason for Malfoy to panic so much.

‘I don’t know any drinks, Malfoy. Just give me something good.’ Harry holds his glass closer to Malfoy’s face, and it seems to bring him back to their conversation instantly.

‘Stop bullshitting me, Potter. You must know a couple of drinks at least.’

‘I only drank real alcohol once before tonight.’

This makes Harry think back about the Firewhiskey he had after Mad-Eye’s death, and his mouth suddenly goes dry, despite the wine taste still lingering on his tongue. Malfoy may be getting nicer and all, but it doesn’t mean Harry wants to be discussing alcohol with him when he could be drinking it.

‘I can’t believe it!’ Malfoy almost squeals with delight. ‘Harry Potter is such a prude. Well actually I totally believe it. So what? At the healthy age of seventeen, you’ve only strayed once from good ol’ Butterbeer? And I suppose this means you’ve never even tried smoking ginger-weed? Though from what I heard from sixth year gossips—and I didn’t hear a lot back then so it must’ve been big—you did some other kind of smoking with some other kind of ginger, right?’

Harry frowns and watches Malfoy leer for a few seconds before saying, very honestly, ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying, Malfoy.’

‘For the love of Merlin, Potter! I’d understand you never got to catch the Weaselette’s Snitch, but you surely did at least as much as score the second goal, didn’t you?’

‘What on earth are you talking about?’ Harry asks. He’s never felt this clueless in his entire life. But then again, it is Malfoy’s fault for not making any bloody sense. ‘What do you mean, “score the second goal”? I’ve never played as a Chaser. And why are you suddenly talking about Quidditch, anyway?’

‘Potter, Potter, Potter,’ Malfoy says with a sigh and a very patronizing tone, ‘scoring the second goal is a Quidditch euphemism for touching her boobs. Have you done that?’

‘What? No! Why—?’ Harry knows he’s not really coherent right now, but he’s got the excuse of French Windwine. It’s a wonder how Malfoy can still be using words such as euphemism. ‘We were only together for a few weeks, I haven’t... She hasn’t... We haven’t done that, okay?’

‘Why not?’ Malfoy asks in a very poised manner.

‘Er, I don’t know... Boobs kind of scare me, I guess.’ The second after the words have left Harry’s mouth, Malfoy’s stupid smirk has appeared on his smug face. Harry wants to do nothing else but bury his head deep, deep down in the ground. He knows his face must be freaking burning, and after so long being stuck in this room with Malfoy, he’s never wanted to get out of there this much.

The only escape from this conversation he can see, though, is behind the bed’s curtains. He climbs on the bed and shuts the thick drapes all around him, hoping the beacon that must be his face doesn’t shine through them.

‘Oh, Potter! Don’t be a baby!’ Malfoy calls after him.

Harry wants to ignore him, but soon the curtains are moving and Malfoy’s white-blond head is peeking through them, and at least the way he scrambles to get on the bed shows that Malfoy’s a bit drunk too, after all.

It dawns upon Harry how stupid his idea of hiding in a very accessible four-poster bed was when he finds himself ensconced in an enclosed space—no matter how big this bed is supposed to be—with a way-too-happy Malfoy.

‘So,’ Malfoy says very seriously, as if he’s not actually forcing this conversation on Harry, ‘not only is the great Harry Potter a virgin, but are you telling me you’ve never done anything?’

‘Well, Ginny and I snogged a lot, if that’s what you mean. Not that it’s any of your business,’ Harry snaps, more than a little on the defensive.

‘But you’ve never done more? Not even necking?’

Harry doesn’t know what necking is, and doesn’t like Malfoy being so interested in his love life, so he doesn’t say anything. Maybe if he completely ignores him, the prat will just disappear.

‘What about Granger? You spend an awful lot of time alone with her. Haven’t you explored her other bushy mane a bit?’

‘Ew! Hermione’s like a sister to me! That’s disgusting.’ Harry really doesn’t like the bushy mane innuendo. If Malfoy’s so far gone that he can think of this kind of stuff, then he’s much more pissed than Harry is.

‘What about the other Weasley, then? He’s the person you’re the closest to, isn’t he?’

‘What?!’ Harry exclaims breathlessly, suppressing a nervous giggle. It’s decided: Malfoy’s completely out of his mind. ‘That’s ridiculous! Ron’s been in love with Hermione before he even knew what love was!’

‘Funny that your first objection to this idea isn’t “Ron is a bloke”. I’m starting to understand your Fear of Boobs much better, Potter.’

‘What? I’ve never said... That’s utter bollocks and you know it!’ Harry can’t quite believe what Malfoy’s implying.

‘I don’t know that, Potter,’ Malfoy says with a way-too-wise air for Harry’s comfort.

And then. Then, Malfoy does the last thing Harry ever expected him to do and takes off his shirt.

Harry wants to tell him not to be ridiculous and to put it back on, but all he can do is gape helplessly. Malfoy is... Malfoy is fit. In a completely objective and totally non-gay way, Harry hurries to add mentally.

‘No boobs here to see, yeah?’ Malfoy almost whispers.

Malfoy’s skin is very light-coloured, almost translucent, and even in the darkness Harry can see the barely-visible scars criss-crossing his chest. Before he has time to realise what he’s doing, Harry’s right hand has reached out, as if of its own accord, and his fingers have pressed themselves against the skin just below Malfoy’s nipple.

‘And this is how the second goal is scored,’ Malfoy murmurs, leaning towards him close enough for Harry to feel Malfoy’s breath on his face. And despite Malfoy’s underlying mockery, it somehow shoots right down to Harry’s cock. In a not totally non-gay way.

‘D’you want me to teach you about necking?’ Malfoy breathes in Harry’s ear, making it impossible for Harry to process any thought whatsoever.

Malfoy doesn’t seem too keen on waiting for Harry’s response though, and goes right for the kill. He puts his mouth on the side of Harry’s throat and licks a stripe from collarbone to jaw.

Harry can’t move anymore. Malfoy’s actions have made him equally boneless and utterly excited. His nerves are on fire from not knowing if he should just give in to the bliss or start jumping up and down about how stupidly good it makes him feel.

Malfoy’s sucking some of his skin into his mouth and Harry thinks his cock might just literally explode. Why didn’t anyone ever tell him what necking was? Necking is bloody brilliant! Harry lets out a wanton moan and isn’t even ashamed.

And suddenly, just when Harry’s quite convinced things can’t really get any better than they are right now, with Malfoy’s mouth on his neck and his hair brushing his jaw lightly, suddenly Malfoy’s hand is there, right on his cock, and the instant pleasure it brings Harry is unfathomable.

Harry can't help his body from suddenly going into spasm, and then there’s something hitting his elbow—or maybe it’s the other way around—and Malfoy’s not touching him anymore.

‘Ouch!’ Malfoy says angrily, holding his side. ‘What the hell, Potter?’

Harry knows Malfoy’s waiting for a response from him, but he’s still too much in a daze to be articulate enough to give one right now.

Malfoy must see in Harry’s face, and in the bulge in his trousers, that the actions of his elbows were completely independent of his own will, because the next thing he knows, Malfoy’s lips are back on him, this time attacking his mouth fiercely.

Harry opens to them quite wholeheartedly and no kiss Harry’s ever received—even the most wonderful one Ginny had given him for his seventeenth—had ever been like this. It’s hot and warm and heady and Harry can’t quite get enough of it. Malfoy’s tongue is everywhere, sending sparks flying from his mouth to the rest of his body, and Harry can feel Malfoy’s thin strands of hair between his fingers. He doesn’t know exactly at what point he grabbed Malfoy’s face, but he sure doesn’t want to have to let go. Maybe not ever.

Also, the lack of boobs on the chest pressed against his is definitely a plus.

And then Malfoy’s mouth leaves his but it’s not too bad because it’s back on his neck instead, and one of his hands is sneaking along his stomach and towards is crotch and Harry really likes where this is all going.

‘One and two have been scored,’ Malfoy says breathily, and really, he could be saying anything, as long as Malfoy’s hand keeps getting closer to his flies, Harry couldn’t care less. ‘Do you want me to show you about the third goal, Potter?’

Harry doesn’t think he can do anything else but nod frantically, and it makes Malfoy smile.

‘Take off this atrocity you call a shirt, Potter,’ Malfoy orders. Harry automatically complies, because even if it doesn’t seem like it, he knows they’re on an equal footing; he’s spied Malfoy’s bulge in his own trousers.

But when Harry’s shirt and glasses are duly discarded and he looks back up at a slightly fuzzier Malfoy, the mood has somehow completely shifted. Malfoy’s mouth is not preparing to ravage Harry anymore, but actively stifling a laugh.

‘What?’ Harry asks, offended. He’s still light-headed enough not to feel so self-conscious that he wants to put his shirt back on, but he’s definitely irked.

Malfoy’s not able to really speak for a few seconds, busy as he is intently ogling Harry’s chest instead. Harry looks at his chest too and sure, it’s not as pretty as Malfoy’s with the thick black hair and the few scars, but it’s definitely more muscular and more well-defined. There’s nothing here to be ashamed of, right?

‘It’s just...’ Malfoy says finally, ‘You’ve got the weirdest pattern of chest hair I’ve ever seen, Potter. It almost looks as though your nipples are wearing glasses.’

Malfoy’s tone is mocking but not outright mean, and when he looks down Malfoy’s body, Harry can still see the well-defined hardness stretching Malfoy’s trousers, so he guesses he’ll let it slide.

‘So, d’you still wanna score this third goal, or d’you wanna laugh at me while I go play a game of catch with myself?’ Harry says with a hard stare. Malfoy’s eyes follow his tongue as he lets it peek out of his mouth between two words, so he already knows what choice Malfoy is gonna make.

‘Okay, we’ve totally got to stop with the Quidditch metaphors, it’s starting to get a bit weird.’

Harry snorts but doesn’t say anything else, because he soon discovers that “scoring the third goal” actually means “getting a blow-job from Malfoy”, and his brain completely shuts dead.

It is unbelievable. It is magical.

Malfoy’s mouth and tongue work Harry’s cock in time with Malfoy’s hand, while the other hand fondles his balls. There’s no way Harry can last longer after the second time Malfoy presses the tip of his tongue against Harry’s slit.

Malfoy curls his tongue under Harry’s foreskin and Harry promptly comes, letting out a half-scream, half-groan that reminds him fleetingly of Dudley’s videos of the Hulk.

‘What the hell, Potter!’ Malfoy exclaims, choking a bit, Harry’s come spilling out of the corner of his lips. The sight is oddly arousing. Malfoy looks angry though, so maybe it’s a good thing that Harry’s too spent to get hard again right away. ‘Give a bloke some warning next time, or I might have to vomit on your dick!’

Harry’s too sated to do anything else than smile half-wittedly.

‘I’d be amenable to let it go, though,’ Malfoy says with a predatory look on his face. Harry can see Malfoy’s still hard and he has nothing against the idea of doing something about it, but he has no idea what he can do, or how.

Malfoy is slipping out of his trousers and pants with the same confidence he got rid of Harry’s, and when Harry sees his first glimpse of Malfoy’s cock, hard and pink and huge, he’s got to agree wholeheartedly with Malfoy about the meaning of his Fear of Boobs, because it is widely balanced by his longing for cock.

‘What should I...? Do you wanna...?’ Harry doesn’t know how to express it, but he’s a Seeker: as far as Quidditch is concerned, he’s here for the Snitch, not for the goals.

Okay, so maybe Malfoy was right about dropping the Quidditch metaphor, too. It is a bit weird.

‘Do you?’ Malfoy asks in response to Harry’s questions and Harry nods.

And then he realises this is all very vague and maybe sex shouldn’t be something to be vague about, so he says, just to be clear, ‘We’re talking about you putting your cock in my arse, right?’

A one-second laugh escapes Malfoy’s throat, but he’s still hovering over Harry, looking at him very seriously. He nods too. ‘That’s what we’re talking about, Potter, yes.’

‘Have you done it before?’ Harry rather hopes Malfoy knew what he was doing, because he certainly doesn’t know himself.

‘Once,’ Malfoy confirms, ‘but it wasn’t very enjoyable. I’ve learnt from my mistakes, though,’ he finishes with a grin, and Harry can see a small bottle appearing in Malfoy’s palm.

‘What’s this?’

‘It’s lube, and believe me, it’s very, very important.’ Harry believes him, and wonders briefly who Malfoy had tried it with before, but doesn’t ask. He’s not sure he wants to know.

Malfoy splashes a generous amount of the bottle’s content in his other hand and wraps said hand around Harry’s cock. It’s a bit cold and squishy, but Harry’s seventeen and doesn’t need anything else to get hard again. It’s been, what, five minutes since his mind-blowing orgasm? Life certainly can be good.

Malfoy is very meticulous but doesn’t waste time. Harry figures it’s because Malfoy’s hard-on must start to feel unbearable with no one touching it. Malfoy gets one finger then another in Harry’s arse and talks him through it all the way. It’s not very romantic and not how Harry had imagined his first time at all—even putting aside the gay part of it—but he reckons it’s for the best. Malfoy’s voice is soothing and it calms Harry’s nerves and turns him on all at once.

‘Okay, Potter, I’m gonna put it in, now.’

It’s alien and a bit uncomfortable, but not entirely bad. Harry especially likes the look of pure ecstasy on Malfoy’s face. He likes it even better when Malfoy gets his hand back on Harry’s cock.

‘Come on,’ Malfoy pants between two strokes, ‘tell me how you like it, Potter.’

‘It’s okay. Good,’ says Harry.

Malfoy opens his closed-in-pleasure eyes to glare at Harry. ‘No, it’s not just good, you prat!’

Malfoy then changes the angle of his thrusts slightly and—sweet Hunith, mother of Merlin!—this is definitely better than just good. There’s something that ignites inside of Harry—he doesn’t know what, he couldn’t describe it even to himself—and it’s brilliant.

After maybe only thirty seconds of this, with Malfoy accelerating his pace on top of everything, the pleasure becomes way too much. Harry’s second orgasm of the night, his second orgasm provoked physically by someone else, his first one involving any form of penetration, takes his breath away.

It takes him a moment to fully regain his senses. He hasn’t blacked out, not really, because he hasn’t missed even a twitch in Malfoy’s expression, but it sure feels like it. Malfoy comes not long after and that’s when it actually, really and completely dawns on him: Harry’s just had sex for the first time. With Draco Malfoy.

Harry chooses to fall asleep rather than freak out about it.

***

The next morning is a very, very late morning with a slight hangover and a not-so-unpleasant pain in Harry’s arse. Also, Malfoy is more or less sleeping on top of him.

Harry blinks his eyes open only to be greeted by the scowling, gauzy face of Vincent Crabbe.

‘You shirt-lifters are disgusting,’ Crabbe says sternly before turning away and going back to his usual sulking corner.

Well, no surprise this new development doesn’t please Crabbe. Nothing pleases Crabbe. Harry is just relieved that the ghost had disappeared last night before things had gotten a bit too steamy. If only Crabbe could have stayed away.

Now that Harry’s fully awake though, it is time for the nerves and the never-ending questions to appear.

Harry just slept with Malfoy last night. They were drunk but clearly not enough for it to be dismissed as a drunken mistake. And he liked it a lot.

1) Does it mean he likes Malfoy? 2) Does it mean he’s gay? 3) Will they be doing it again? 4) Does Harry want to do it again?

Well, these questions aren’t too hard to find answers for: 1) No, not necessarily. 2) Yes, totally. 3) Maybe, who knows? 4) Definitely.

Malfoy starts to stir then and Harry gets a bit more nervous. He has no idea what the etiquette is for the morning after having sex with your school rival. Well, he has no idea what the etiquette for the morning-after is, period.

‘Good morning, Potter,’ Malfoy says with bleary eyes and a voice still infused with sleep.

‘Hullo, Malfoy,’ Harry says, trying to sound aloof about it.

‘How was your night, Potter?’ Malfoy asks very politely.

‘Er... It was brilliant, wasn’t it? I really think it was brilliant at least. And you were brilliant, too. Really. Brilliant.’ It’s only as he trails off that Harry realises Malfoy must have been asking him how he’d slept, not how much he’d liked sleeping with him. Talk about aloof.

‘Are you still drunk, Potter?’ Malfoy asks with an almost-worried expression.

‘Er, no. Why do you ask?’

‘I don’t know. It must be the babbling and the overuse of the word brilliant, most certainly.’

They’re silent for a bit then. Harry doesn’t quite know what to say and Malfoy is shirtless; he’s trying not to stare at his nipples.

‘Crabbe thinks we’re disgusting,’ he says, out of the blue, because the silence is turning from tense to awkward, and Harry always has to save the day, doesn’t he? Even if it’s only from uncomfortable blanks.

‘Crabbe’s an arsehole,’ Malfoy says easily, loudly enough for the ghost to hear him. ‘Wait, are you saying he was there when we...?’ Malfoy hurries to ask, more quietly and suddenly alarmed.

‘Um, no. I’m pretty sure he’d disappeared before we started drinking, so...’

‘So we’re safe on this side, right?’ Malfoy’s smile is a bit cocky.

Harry smiles back, but it’s sort of bittersweet. He doesn’t imagine what it would be like telling Ron about the Malfoy-sex he’s had but he hopes that if he did, at least Ron wouldn’t resort to insulting him. Harry genuinely cares about what his friends think, and he knows Malfoy must too. It’s a bit sad that Malfoy lives in a world where he can’t show how much he does.

‘So, Crabbe didn’t know that you were...? I mean, are you even...?’

‘Well if that’s your question, there is not a lot of deep and searching discussions about sexual inclinations in the Slytherin Common Room, no. If you want to shag a girl, you do. If you want to shag a boy, ditto. You only tell people if it’s supposed to matter. When you know the Dark Lord has returned and you’re on the edge of a new world order, finding out you like cock definitely doesn’t matter.’

Harry knows he has his eyebrows raised. It’s not like he’s a big feeling-sharer in need of affection or anything, but he really doesn’t think he would have liked being in Slytherin so much if that’s how you were supposed to act there. Discussing asinine things with Ron and Hermione has always been one of his life’s treasures, what has helped him cope with the whole Chosen One thing.

‘But then again,’ Malfoy goes on seriously, and Harry can feel the soft blanket of a silencing barrier settling around them, effectively keeping Crabbe from hearing their conversation. Malfoy is definitely going to say something that matters, then. ‘Crabbe’s reaction to this,’—he waves a nonchalant hand between them— ‘is nothing to be surprised about. Anything I would do would be bad, in his books.’

‘How come he still followed you around everywhere and did all of your bidding, then?’ Harry asks, genuinely curious. He doesn’t know why, but it’s suddenly very important to be able to understand Malfoy better.

‘Well, things with Crabbe haven’t always been as they are now.’ Malfoy’s looking down at his hands, something in his expression half-reminiscing, half-ashamed. ‘At the end of the first War, when he was faced with the trials and everything, Crabbe’s father didn’t have anyone to turn to. The Dark Lord had only considered him as another big-armed pawn, and well, he wasn’t too bright either... My father was the only one who did something. Well, knowing him, he didn’t do it because he cared, or anything, just because he knew it would benefit the Malfoy family, but that’s all the same. He did save Crabbe Sr. from being sent to Azkaban by helping him pretend he’d been Imperiused.

‘So, then, Crabbe kind of felt indebted to the Malfoys. And I don’t know if he was already like that before or if it was because of the War, but he’s a very, very paranoid man, Crabbe’s dad. At that point in his life, my father was the only person in the whole world he trusted anyway. Don’t know if he was quite right to do so, but, well...

‘It was quite overwhelming, sometimes, how devoted to my father Crabbe could be, especially when he was so hostile to everyone else. I remember him coming to the manor once, when I was a kid, ranting drunkenly at my father about how everyone else was after him and how my father was the only good wizard left in Britain. It got better though. I don’t remember when exactly, but he became friends with Goyle’s father at some point too.

‘And Vince, he’s a lot like his father. I don’t know what it must have been like, growing up with that kind of man—I never really asked, now did I?—but I know his father was usually a bit rough with him, instilling in him that everyone was bad except a few people and that you should always listen to the Malfoys. That’s a wretched life-lesson to teach your kids, if you ask me now. But at the time, I was quite pleased to have someone stronger than a house-elf doing everything I asked.

‘But after the Ministry debacle and my father’s fall from grace, when everybody realised how much the Malfoys weren’t what we were cracked up to be, I think the Crabbes were those it had hurt the most. It was like a betrayal to them. And let me tell you, Potter, when you’re chronically paranoid and the only person you trust turns out to be quite a shitty man, it cannot go well.

‘I still feel like I owe him, you know. Especially with the way he died.’ Malfoy’s voice has gotten smaller during his speech, and even if what he’s saying hurts him, he soldiers on. ‘That’s why I came in this room in the first place. I didn’t know if Crabbe would still be here, but I had to make amends, somehow. See if he would forgive me.’

There is something in Malfoy’s eyes, so sad and vulnerable and regretful, that Harry has the sudden impulse to lean in and press a kiss to Malfoy’s mouth. He does it then, just because he wants to, just because he can. Malfoy opens his mouth to it and there’s a bit of frantic tugging at Harry’s hair, but it all stops pretty quickly.

At least, when he pulls back, Malfoy looks a tiny bit comforted. A small smile is even trying to tug at his lips. ‘Despite everything, Crabbe’s not entirely wrong, you know. We’re pretty disgusting,’ Malfoy says with a glance at the dried come on Harry’s stomach.

A smile is not yet there on Malfoy’s face, but Harry can feel it in his body-language. It makes him grin.

‘All right. Do you want to try shower sex?’ Harry asks with what he hopes is a casual tone. It’s pretty hard to hide how eager he is, though.

Malfoy doesn’t answer, but he does lead the way to the bathroom-corner of the room. Completely starkers.

Harry follows. (And hopes that Crabbe’s not watching.)

***

The next few days pass in a blur. They don’t get any closer to being rescued or finding a way out of the room, but it doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore.

They alternate between trying various sexual things (Harry definitely likes giving head, but he’s not too fond of Malfoy tying him up) and just lying in bed lazily, talking about everything and nothing at the same time.

And it never seems very important, or as loaded as the conversation about Crabbe was, but Harry genuinely likes talking with Malfoy. Sometimes he even feels like he actually likes Malfoy himself, but it might be his orgasm-addled brain talking (he’s never had so many orgasms in such a short time, not even when he discovered the joys of masturbation for the first time).

It’s very weird, seeing Malfoy’s face first thing in the morning and just before falling asleep, and being all right with it. Harry’s starting to discover how nice Malfoy’s face actually is.

They’re even trying to use each other’s first name rather than sticking to “Potter” and “Malfoy” during sex, and that totally tops the weirdness cake. It’s because Malfoy feels like “Malfoy” should only refer to his father, and neither of them want to think about Lucius Malfoy while shagging. (Harry agrees to call Malfoy “Draco” orally, but still has trouble thinking about him as anything other than Malfoy—that’s what a seven-year habit can do to someone, he guesses.)

Malfoy still mocks Harry and sneers too much, and sometimes he can still be a little prick, but his talent with his tongue generally tends to mellow it all down. Fighting can actually be nice, when it ends with sex.

***

‘No, absolutely not,’ Harry asserts, and he knows there is fear in his voice. ‘Don’t come any closer, Draco, just don’t.’

‘Come on Harry, it won’t hurt, I promise.’ Malfoy’s smile is positively evil, and Harry can almost see it reflected in the shine of the blade he’s holding in his hand.

‘I don’t believe anything out of your mouth anymore, Draco, not ever again.’

‘I didn’t know you could be so melodramatic. We’re not in a Wireless-novel, you know,’ Malfoy says with a condescending tone that ruffles Harry in all the wrong ways.

‘Oh, really? Then tell me who in the real world still uses knife-blades to shave?’ Harry asks, pleased with the very good point he’s just made.

‘Wizards, that’s who! What do you use to shave?’

‘A spell, of course! And don’t try to bullshit me about mysterious pureblood traditions, Ron uses a spell too.’

‘Maybe, but we don’t have wands, do we? What did you use before being able to master the spell, and what do you wish for in front of the mirror every morning?’

‘Er, a razor?’ Harry’s wanted to be more confident in his answer, but Malfoy’s getting closer and closer with his blade, and Harry really doesn’t like it.

‘Well, I for one don’t know what a ray-zer is, and this is what I use every day,’ Malfoy says, approaching his knife even closer to Harry’s chest. ‘I’m really sick of this hair-decoration around your nipples and I don’t trust you to take care of it properly. So it’s either you let me shave it for you, which I can assure you I’m really proficient at, or it’s no sex for you anymore.’

‘What?!’ Harry exclaims, even more alarmed than at the idea of losing a nipple to Malfoy’s knife, ‘You wouldn’t withhold sex...’ Harry’s pretty confident Malfoy is as addicted to what they get up to under the sheets as Harry is, but hesitates nonetheless; he knows Malfoy is capable of a lot of things. Bloody Slytherin.

‘Well, okay,’ Malfoy says after seemingly thinking about it a bit more, ‘but it’d be shirt-on sex exclusively. And I know how much you like your nipples being played with, right?’

Just the way Malfoy says this is arousing, and Harry has to give up. It doesn’t mean he has to like it, though. He sighs deeply and tries to convey to Malfoy how much of a hardship this is for him. Maybe, if he plays it right, he’ll get compensation out of it, afterwards.

‘All right, do your worst.’

Harry closes his eyes and lets Malfoy do whatever he wants to his chest. Almost as if he trusts him. (But maybe it’s only because he’s so used to Malfoy doing very pleasurable things to his chest. Maybe.)

The next time Harry opens his eyes, it’s to a vision of Malfoy’s knife less than one inch from his throat. Harry has a moment of panic where his brain comes up with a whole scenario of his head rolling on the floor and Nearly Headless Nick sponsoring him for the Headless Hunt.

It is then that it strikes him.

Harry can’t believe how blind he’s been. Nearly Headless Nick, The Bloody Baron, The Grey Lady... They are, all of them, sporting the wounds from their bloody deaths.

‘Draco,’ Harry says carefully, aware that Malfoy still has a knife in hand, close to Harry’s chest. This is not the moment to be brusque with him. ‘How come Crabbe doesn’t look more...burnt?’

Malfoy pulls back from his work on Harry’s chest slightly, and when he glances down, Harry can see that Malfoy’s only shaved half of it yet.

‘I don’t know... I’ve never really thought of it...’ Malfoy looks worried and hesitant and Harry wonders if he’s thinking the same thing Harry is.

‘This room seems to work very well for you, Draco, doesn’t it? I mean, for me it’s as efficient as a third-rate Kwikspell crap, but for you...’

‘What are you implying, Harry?’ Malfoy’s angry, now, and his legs are gripping Harry’s hips very tight. Harry gets it, he really does, and he would be very angry too, if situations were reversed. But it doesn’t mean he has to let it go on.

‘I don’t think Crabbe’s become a ghost after his death, Draco,’ Harry says the most softly possible. ‘I think you just...wished him to be one.’

Malfoy climbs down from Harry’s chest and throws the bed-curtains open violently. There, behind them, is Crabbe, sulking in a corner and looking exactly like any other day. Not any trace he’s ever been in a fire, though.

Malfoy’s looking at Crabbe intently from the bed, and Harry can only see Malfoy’s back, but he can see Crabbe’s face very well, and he can feel the anguish emanating from Malfoy too.

‘You won’t ever forgive me, Crabbe, will you?’ Malfoy says, his voice rough with unshed tears.

Crabbe doesn’t say anything, just looks at Malfoy evenly.

‘Of course you won’t, you’re dead! You don’t exist anymore.’ Malfoy’s voice is deeper than usual, and Harry hardly recognises it. He feels the mattress trembling beneath him and notices that Malfoy’s whole body is shaking.

And then, Crabbe’s ghostly figure fades away, and Malfoy breaks down.

Harry presses himself against Malfoy’s back. He’s still wet and soapy, but he knows it doesn’t matter right now. He can feel Malfoy’s sobs all through his half-hairy chest.

‘It’s gonna be all right, Draco,’ he whispers in his ear. ‘I’m here, Draco, I’m still here.’

Malfoy nods, and Harry holds on tight.

***

Harry spends the next day with his arms around Malfoy, embracing him for all he’s worth. Malfoy cries a bit, and sometimes he screams deafening and angry screams, but Harry doesn’t let go.

Malfoy talks, too. He talks a lot. About his childhood and his mother, about his father and what it means to be a Malfoy. He even talks about Voldemort and what he had to do during these last two years. He doesn’t talk about Crabbe, and Harry doesn’t make him.

It’s all very cathartic, and Harry realises that when Malfoy’s not saying anything there isn’t silence, because it’s Harry who talks then. He talks about the people who died because of him, about the weight of being a hero. He even lets slip one or two things about the Dursleys.

It’s during these twenty-four hours that Harry understands that it hasn’t been all about sex. Harry genuinely likes Malfoy. And perhaps even more just like. It’s very strange, these feelings he has, not the all-encompassing burn that he associates with Ginny. It’s something a bit deeper, a little more complicated, something that he cannot imagine being able to put aside for one second, even if someone announced today that he had to go hunt another Horcrux.

He thinks briefly of his mum telling his dad that she would not go out with him if she had the choice between him and the giant squid, and smiles.

The next time they have sex, Harry thinks about it as making love, but he has no idea how to express it without sounding like a third-year girl, so he just kisses Malfoy with all his worth, and hopes he’s not heading straight to a heartbreak.

Two days later, Malfoy brings his knife to Harry’s chest again and finishes the task. It’s the first smile Harry sees on his face since Crabbe’s disappearance.

***

After that, things change, but they stay the same, too.

They cry a little bit more, but they laugh a lot, too. They read their respective books, and they read over one another’s shoulder. They talk about important things and about whatever funny thing goes through their minds. They are often silent too, and it’s a warm silence, a comfortable one. They have a lot of sex: hand-jobs, blow-jobs, rim-jobs; and everything they feel like doing, they do. They play chess (Harry loses) and Malfoy even wishes for the complete equipment to play Quidditch (Harry wins). They only fly once though, because it reminds them too much that they’re not outside and that there’s no real wind.

Harry doesn’t quite know if he’s in love with Malfoy, but even if he is, it doesn’t keep him from asking himself questions about how much power Malfoy is able to wield inside the Room of Requirement.

Perhaps, if Harry was a bit less of a Gryffindor, it would scare him more. He just ponders that if Malfoy’s able to make Harry Apparate through Hogwarts, to create a ghost of his dead friend and to plant a whole Quidditch pitch in a normally sized room, maybe he’s able to wish Harry into falling for him too.

Harry dismisses the idea right away though, and chooses not to even consider the possibility. He doesn’t think Malfoy feels this way about him, so there’s no reason why he would want Harry to develop these feelings in the first place. No motive, no crime. Harry could make a pretty good Auror after all.

‘Do you think we’ll ever get out of here?’ Harry asks one day, when he’s lounging lazily on the bed and Malfoy is reading another of his over-pompous intellectual books.

‘I don’t know. Sometimes I’m not sure I really want to anymore,’ Malfoy answers honestly. ‘I do miss my parents and some of my friends, and the sunshine and whatnot, but on the other hand, I’ve got you here. I don’t think I could have you if we were outside.’ Harry wants to cut in and to assure Malfoy that he’s always gonna be there, but Malfoy isn’t finished: ‘Plus, I don’t really feel like I deserve to be let out in the outside world. I know it’s unfair to you, but I guess, after everything I’ve done, the Wizarding World might be none the worse for it with me locked up here. At least it’s not Azkaban.’

‘Why do you think you deserve to be punished so much?’

‘The things I’ve done... The people I’ve hurt... People have died because of me.’

‘A lot more died because of me,’ Harry retorts bitterly. ‘And I doubt they’ll want to send me to Azkaban.’

‘That’s because you’re one of the good guys,’ Malfoy replies at once.

‘You know how the bad guys were, Draco. You saw what they are. You must know you’re nothing like them.’ Harry marks a pause in the hope that it’ll really sink in. ‘I told you I would testify on your behalf if it ever comes to it. I believe in you. You’ve just got to believe in yourself.’

Even now, Malfoy looks doubtful about it. Harry gets off the bed and sits just opposite him, close enough that Malfoy can’t look anywhere else but at him. ‘Promise me you’ll believe in yourself, Draco. You’ve got to.’

‘Do you... Do you really think I’m redeemable?’ Malfoy has a vulnerable look in his eyes and a very small smile on his lips. ‘Even after I wished you here just to punch you?’

‘Of course,’ Harry answers with a grin of his own. ‘I got to punch you too, after all.’

Harry leans for a kiss that says “I love you” better than Harry ever could.

When they have sex afterwards, it’s not rougher or longer or more passionate than any other time. But it really is better than all of them combined.

***

The first thing Harry remarks when he wakes up, is that they’ve forgotten to close the bed-curtains, and that the sun is shining directly on them.

The second thing he notices is that Malfoy has drooled a little bit on his shoulder.

The third thing is that the blurry image of a door has appeared in the wall opposite the windows.

‘Draco! Draco!’ Harry cries after putting on his glasses to check that what he’s seeing is actually real. He’s trying to call Draco from the land of sleep, shaking his arm and shoulder at the same time. ‘Draco! There’s a door! An actual door! We’re saved!’

Harry can see Malfoy’s features waking up slowly, then faster when he processes what Harry has just said. Malfoy is sitting up almost instantly, then. His hair is rumpled, his skin is still run across by bed sheets marks, and his eyes are a bit puffy.

‘Why? How?’ He asks nonsensically when Harry is already out of bed, one foot in his trousers.

‘I don’t know,’ says Harry. ‘Something must have happened, something must have changed, I don’t know what, but—’

‘I think I know,’ Malfoy cuts him off. His eyes have lost their sleepiness and he’s looking at Harry dead-on, his face a mask of seriousness. ‘It was all my fault.’

‘What do you mean?’ Harry asks warily. He thinks about this fleeting idea, this fear that the room makes Malfoy too powerful for his own good.

‘The first thing I wished for when I entered this room, before realising that it would be granted… What I wanted so much when I was pacing in front of the bare wall... It was forgiveness.

‘I think that’s the reason why Crabbe’s ghost has been fabricated too. I think we could have left ages ago if only I’d forgiven myself sooner. The room didn’t let us out because it was still trying to fulfil my first wish, but I didn’t let it.’

Harry stumbles towards the bed, managing not to trip on his half-pulled on trousers. He kneels on the mattress and takes Malfoy’s face between his palms.

‘It doesn’t matter, Draco. I’m glad you managed to forgive yourself, it’s the most important thing you could do. And I needed to be cut off from the world for a bit, too. I’m happy because we got to be together here, and we get to leave together too.’

‘All right,’ Malfoy nods, swallowing audibly. ‘Let’s get out, then.’

They kiss and get dressed and kiss a little bit more, and soon they’re ready, standing in front of the door and wondering what they’ll say to the people waiting on the other side. Harry feels almost light-headed by the thought of being out there at last, but the closer they get to turning the knob, the most he starts to feel uncomfortable.

There is a feeling of foreboding invading his mind, and the thought he could so easily dismiss before, that maybe this flutter in his chest isn’t real, suddenly becomes his worst fear.

‘Once we’re outside, everything you wished for in here will disappear,’ says Harry. It feels like a warning on his tongue, but he wishes it didn’t. He looks at Malfoy, and Malfoy’s smiling at him.

‘I don’t care. I don’t need anything that’s here anymore. Just you.’

But instead of reassuring him, the words make a headache start to bloom behind Harry’s eyes. He believes Malfoy, he does. But how can he know whether or not he wished for Harry to love him, when he didn’t know he’d wished for Crabbe to be a ghost?

‘Whatever happens, Draco. Whatever happens, you’ve got to know that what I feel for you is real.’

‘What are you talking about? You’re making me nervous, Harry. Let’s just get out of here. I think this room is starting to get to us.’ Malfoy doesn’t understand, but Harry had to say it. He had to. It’s all going way too fast.

If I was in bed before landing up here, how come I had my glasses on?

Malfoy grabs the doorknob and pulls the door open. They step out exactly at the same time and then—

Everything goes blank. Nothing exists anymore.

***

***

‘Oh, it’s so good to see this corridor again! I thought we’d never—’ Draco turns to Harry because he wants to see his joy reflected on Harry’s face. He wants to see him smile his dimply smile, with his eyes sparkling behind his glasses.

But Harry’s not there. He was standing right beside him less than a second ago, but he’s not there anymore. It’s just like he Disapparated, but without the crack. And you cannot Apparate inside of Hogwarts, you just can’t.

‘Harry?’ Draco calls, but it’s only a strangled cry and Harry can’t have heard it. ‘Harry!’ He repeats, his voice seemingly not able to carry anymore, not enough for Harry to hear him and to answer, to say, I’m here, Draco. I’m all right.

The door to the Room of Requirement is still open behind him. Malfoy peeks through it, but does not dare setting a foot back in. Harry’s not in there though. He’s nowhere to be seen. Draco is going mental.

Whatever happens, Draco.

Harry knew something was going to go wrong. But how could he? Everything was going perfectly. There was no other reason for things to turn sour than Draco being Draco.

Harry’s not here and it’s inexplicable. It feels like losing a limb and Draco wants to hurl himself against the wall. Maybe Draco could go back inside, back in the room where he was so powerful. He managed to make Harry come to him once, he can do it again.

Unless... Unless things were not what they seemed. Unless, when Draco had wished so deeply to punch Harry Potter, maybe what he initially thought was happening, but dismissed later, was actually happening.

He had thought he’d punched a fake Harry at first, a fleeting image created by the Room to appease his nerves. But when Harry Potter punched him back and was exactly like the real one, Draco felt sure it was really him. The person he spent more than three weeks with could not not be a real person.

But then again...

It would explain so much. Why Harry’s wishes never stuck, never worked properly. Why no house-elf answered when Harry called but seemed to answer to Draco’s wish of food without him having to ask. Why there was only food for one person each day. Why none of Harry’s friends came to get him. Why Harry’d looked like he loved Draco.

Harry had looked so real.

Draco lets himself fall on the floor. He feels numb, like an outside force has taken control of his body. He needs more than just time to wrap his head around the fact that it was all a lie—everything. He feels a dry sob forming in his throat, but it’s as if it can’t dare get out.

He’s been technically all alone in one room for several weeks, but it’s here, with his back against a wall in a half-destroyed corridor that he truly feels the wave of loneliness wash over him.

He wants to slouch here forever, but even if Harry wasn’t real for the rest of the world, he was real for Draco. And he would never have stood for him wallowing in his own despair like this. He’d been so adamant Draco deserved something out of life more than Azkaban, that he deserved something more. Even if the Harry Potter who said this was only a figment of his imagination, Draco loved him enough to respect his wish.

Draco stands up and decides he has to face the world again.

A few paces down the corridor, and Draco’s not so sure anymore. His whole world is crashing down on him for the second time in maybe five minutes, and he doesn’t know if he can handle it.

There, next to a big pile of rubble, crouched on himself and with his head in his hands, sits Harry Potter. But it’s not Harry; it’s Potter, the real one. Draco had wished for a half-second that it wouldn’t be the case, but the clothes and the shoes are not the same his Harry was forced to wear all the time. And the air of utter hopelessness surrounding him is all wrong too.

Draco doesn’t dare move, doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to have to talk to the real Potter, but is dying to see the green of his eyes again.

He doesn’t have to make a decision though, because the next moment, Potter is lifting his head and looking straight to him.

‘Malfoy?!’ He exclaims, not realising how hard it is for Draco to hear his last name in this voice without all the feelings he was used to. ‘What are you doing here? Where have you been? A lot of people is looking everywhere for you!’

Draco winces as he remembers that the trials are no doubt still happening and that he doesn’t have Harry Potter as his ally anymore.

He doesn’t know what to do with himself, so he goes and sits down opposite Potter. ‘I’ve been around, I guess. Hiding, perhaps. I couldn’t really say.’

Potter is looking at him with a perplexed frown. It’s not untrue that Draco doesn’t really make any sense anymore. Not even to himself.

‘What about your parents, Malfoy? They’ve been worried sick.’

There’s something in Potter’s eyes when he says that, something very Harry-like, and Draco realises that his Harry wasn’t just a product of the mind. The room must have actually created a replica of the real Harry Potter. The one sitting here right now is exactly the same as the one he’s lived with, except with very different memories of the last three weeks.

It makes Draco hope. It makes him hope so much.

‘And what are you doing here, Potter, sitting in the middle of this ruined corridor?’ He asks gently.

‘I—I’ve a friend who died here. I was just a few inches away when it happened. I couldn’t do anything.’

There is so much sadness in Potter’s voice... Draco wants to kiss it away, but he knows he can’t. He remembers when he did kiss it away on another Harry’s mouth.

‘You’re the only one who can forgive yourself—the dead can’t,’ Draco says, because, for once, he knows exactly what to say.

‘That’s…unexpectedly wise of you, Malfoy.’

‘I know.’

Draco knows he’s smiling too much for the type of conversation they’re having, but he cannot help himself. He just needs to be weird for one more thing and then everything can go back to normal.

‘Just one quick question, Potter. How would you express your feelings towards boobs?’

Potter’s too taken aback to answer in any other way than perfect honesty. ‘Er, I don’t know... Boobs kind of scare me, I guess.’

Draco beams. Everything is going to be all right, after all.

fin

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