Summary: An eighth-year romance, where Draco falls. He falls from roof tops. He falls from grace. He falls for Gryffindors. ~5,800 words
Pairings: Harry/Draco, Neville/Draco
Contains sexually explicit content. Thanks goes to J for beta'ing!
“Draco, don’t let go!” Potter shouted.
“I can’t do it! I can’t hold on anymore.”
“I can’t reach my wand without dropping you, all right? Hold on just a little bit longer -- I can hear help coming up the stairs.”
Draco glanced over his shoulder, a stupid action. The ground was so very far away. The spectators seemed like bugs wrapped in House scarves.
He moaned and tightened his grip on Potter’s arms.
The Cleanup Committee had assigned them a two-man task, ridding the towers of leftover booby traps from the war. It should have been as simple as some nullification spells, but not all dangers at the mangled castle were magical: Draco had stepped on a degraded bit of stone, and the structure let go beneath him. Somehow Potter had managed to grab his arms before the plummet.
Not much good that did, for Draco had immediately found himself in peril again.
“Stop pulling!” he’d cried. “My foot is stuck! I can’t get it out!”
It was wedged between the castle wall and a chunk of crumbled granite. If Potter let go, there was no telling if Draco would fall to his death or just dangle by his snapped ankle.
“I’m falling,” he whimpered.
Potter’s face was turning red from strain. “Then I’m going down with you.”
Draco’s hands slipped down Potter’s arms, down his wrists. “Don’t be noble. I’m sorry, I can’t --”
“No, no, no, hold onto me!”
Potter’s eyes flashed with regret as their hands parted, and Draco fell backwards over the granite, bracing himself for the bumpy impact of the castle walls all the way to his doom.
His doom was elusive. He landed in a pair of strong arms.
“Got you,” someone breathed. “Harry, go ahead!”
There was a crack, and Draco’s foot slipped out of the crevice with ease, but he couldn’t hear Potter’s incantation over the sound of his screaming mind. I’m not dead! He was on a broomstick, veering away from tumbling stones, and clutching the shirt of his savior.
“I figured flying was faster than running through the castle to get to you,” the man was saying. He squeezed Draco’s shoulder. “Can you speak?”
They touched ground, and Draco’s bad foot buckled under his weight. He found himself pulled into a steady, broad chest. His savior was silent, letting Draco tremble the fear away. When Draco finally looked up, he realized he was gazing into the worried, brown eyes of Neville Longbottom.
“I thought I was going to be jelly,” Draco rasped.
“Well, your legs kind of are. Come on, it’s cold.”
Longbottom gathered him up and whisked him to the infirmary, while a small crowd of students applauded. Draco should have been humiliated. But humiliation was forgotten in the face of warmer feelings, ones he felt with his nose buried in the sweaty, herbaceous, safe crook of Neville Longbottom’s neck.
“Oh, Longbottom, my hero!”
“Why, yes, of course I’ll marry you!”
Zabini and Nott howled with laughter whenever they saw Draco. It made evenings in the common room impossible, even harder than walking through the corridors his first day out of the infirmary. The students had covered their laughter behind their hands, but they could not hide what they were thinking: You were carried like a girl.
Draco found solace in the darkness of the greenhouse. He also found a head of tawny hair brooding over some brilliant white flowers. He was Slytherin enough to admit that finding Neville had been part of the plan.
“I didn’t know Pomfrey had let you go,” Neville said, glancing over his shoulder. “How’s that foot?”
Draco stuck it out. “It’s walking.”
“Are you in Herbology? The Nightlights are blooming.”
“No.” Draco waved his Potions text and sat beneath a floating lantern.
“Don’t get me wrong, because I do enjoy the company,” Neville said, carefully funneling a soil sample into a vial, “but don’t you have chairs in Slytherin?”
“More than I can make use of. But they’re filled with imbeciles, who make it difficult to study.”
“I’m not an imbecile anymore?” he asked, moving closer.
Draco pursed his lips, not daring to look up. “No.”
“Hmm?” It was similar to the noise he made when he shivered.
“Sorry, you’re sitting in front of my gardening tools.”
“What? Oh --”
“It’s fine, just let me --” Neville braced himself on Draco’s shoulder to reach past. That’s what that musky smell had been: the dirt and the heavy greenhouse air.
“Are you quite all right?” Neville asked, noticing Draco’s eyes had closed.
Yes, he thought. Because of you.
Here they were again on the very top of Hogwarts, sweeping up deadly spells. It was as if someone were playing a nasty joke on Draco’s psyche.
“Sorry,” Potter said, as Draco rooted himself to the center of the lookout. “I should have said something to McGonagall when I saw the assignment sheet. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Why does she have to put us together, anyway? If you like monkeying around with your life, that’s your business. I’d rather be researching counter-jinxes like Granger gets to.”
There was a chalk-drawn grid on the ground, which they used to keep track of their progress. Draco swished his wand over one section, only going as far as his arm extended. Good enough. If anyone gets cursed up here -- well, that will serve them right for being at a magic castle.
“Let me,” Potter said, and finished Draco’s section. He patted chalky hands onto his jeans, shifting his weight. “Er, Malfoy. Neville told me your housemates have been giving you a hard time...”
“What business is it of yours?”
If Potter was bothered by Draco’s irritability, he didn’t show it. “I was going to invite you to our study group, given that we’re not at each other’s throats like we used to be. Actually, it’s only partly a study group, mostly seventh and eighth years, people who had a hand in the war effort. We share our thoughts. It’s pleasant enough.”
“Who goes?” he asked too casually.
“People from all Houses, but the most are Gryffindors. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville --”
“Fine. If you’re going to badger me about it.”
Most are Gryffindors was an understatement. It was like a Gryffindor farm in the Room of Requirement.
There were at least a dozen of them dotting the room, which was made up to look like some sort of gentleman’s lounge without the smoke. There was also one Ravenclaw face, two Hufflepuffs, and no Slytherins until Draco walked in hugging his book sack to his chest.
Potter waved him over to the table he was sharing with Weasley and Granger. “You’re right on time, we’re about to start.”
“But you’re already studying. Unless you lot do it some strange way not involving books.” Draco eyed Weasley, who was chewing on the inky part of a quill.
“I told you,” Potter said, draping his arm over the back of an empty chair, “this is also a discussion group. Come earlier next time if you want to study.”
“I see. I should go.”
Potter looked put out. He leaned towards Draco, as if to whisper something, but before he could speak Neville turned up.
“Did I miss anything?” he said, tossing his satchel on the table. “God, those Nightlights get huge close to the full moon. Oh, Draco, I didn’t know you’d be here.”
Draco couldn’t look away from the dirt smudge poking out of Neville’s collar; he sank into the chair next to Potter, and gripped his seat as Neville told them some very interesting things about some very interesting plants or something.
Hannah Abbott told the group about the dreams she’d been having, about seeing Voldemort’s face around every corner and hearing the screams of her mother as he tortured and murdered her. She held back the tears until that last bit.
Granger conjured a box of tissues for Abbott.
“Thank you,” she said, taking several. “This is really helpful.”
The group murmured supportively, sitting in a large circle in front of the fire. Draco nearly felt at home amongst them. Except he was the only person in the room who hadn’t been a D.A. member -- or on Dumbledore’s side at all.
Never mind. He suddenly wanted to bolt.
“Neville really helped me, too,” Abbott added, putting a tissue to her pink nose. “You know, talking about losing our parents to the same evil man. I hope its okay I bring that up.”
“Oh,” Neville said, a touch pink himself. “Yeah, whatever you’d like to talk about.”
Perhaps Draco’s discomfort was showing, for Neville turned to him abruptly. “Draco, this is your first time here. Do you have anything you’d like to share?”
“Erm.” He glanced around the room. Their faces revealed nothing. Draco took that as a bad sign. “No, I do not.”
“Go on, Malfoy,” Potter said. He was polishing the lenses of his glasses, and his eyes glowed in the firelight. “Tell us why you’re here.”
“To study,” he reminded Potter.
“Why can’t you study in Slytherin?” asked the female Weasley.
“Because,” Draco sighed, lowering his eyes. What more harm could be done? “They won’t have me. Happy?”
A warm hand was on his back. He turned. It was Neville, looking handsome and encouraging.
Abbott extended the tissue box. Draco held up a hand. I’m not even teary, dummy.
When he looked around the room, he realized their faces had become curious, pitying, confused, interested, and a range of other emotions he didn’t associate with these people.
Draco shrugged. “I suppose it starts with my father...”
“I didn’t know that about you,” Neville was saying, as he sliced the stem of a Dragon Orchid paper thin. “How difficult it must be for you, walking that line. You want to be safe, so you try to remain politically neutral. You want to be loyal, so you try to tread close to Slytherin. It sounds agonizing.”
Draco looked up from his Potions book. “At any rate, it seems to be coming to a close. They all know I didn’t want to do the Dark Lord’s bidding, and I won’t entertain talk about their fantasy Death Eater resurgence. They’re done associating with me. Unless you count poking fun about you.”
“What about me?”
Neville gave him a sideways look, and walked across the greenhouse to lean over Draco’s shoulder. “What are you reading?”
“Potions,” Draco said stupidly.
Neville grinned, and that was the closest his face had ever been to Draco’s. “Well, I know that much.”
“Watch it, Malfoy!” Harry stuffed his fingers into his mouth, stinging from the curse Draco had set off.
“At least it was a mild one this time,” Draco said, rather dreamy in the eyes.
“That’s the second one today. What are you, lovesick or something?” Harry asked in jest. When a slow grin spread across Draco’s face, he blinked. “Malfoy?”
“Well,” he said slowly, “his name’s certainly not Malfoy.”
Harry tried to appear casual. “Is he in your House?”
“No,” Draco drawled. “He’s in yours.”
Harry trailed after him in a stupor. Draco twirled his wand, pointed, and zapped an obvious body-binding curse layered in the tower’s next doorway. “And he’s very kind. And very tall,” he added, smirking over his shoulder.
Well, that left some people out.
“Er, yeah. Good for you.” Harry trudged through the doorway and whipped his wand about, suddenly impatient to be finished.
“How much longer do we have to do this?” Draco complained. He was leaning against the wall with his arms folded.
“I imagine until it’s done. Or until we graduate. You know it’s part of our curriculum now.”
“Yes, but it’s so boring. And I have other things to be doing.”
The lovesick smile returned. Harry scowled and worked on the room in silence.
Draco had perfect timing.
Neville was heaving a huge burlap sack onto his shoulder, his arms bulging beneath the rolled-up sleeves of his white shirt. He was sweating so much that the cotton had soaked through, revealing the taut muscles of his shoulders and back. He whipped a switchblade out of his jeans and cut into the sack, biceps flexing as he dumped soil into the clean garden beds.
Draco edged into the greenhouse. “New project?”
Neville no longer needed turn to see who it was. “Yeah. Professor Sprout’s got me working double. I think she’s trying to make me an apprentice on the sly, even though I told her I wanted to be an Auror.”
He tossed aside the empty sack and wiped his brow, leaving a smear of dirt.
“Want to help prune the Fangafloras? I’ve got to cut off the toothier buds before I plant them, or else -- well, they bite, of course.”
“These bags are heavy. I’ll finish dumping them, and then I’ll get you started.”
Draco was about to remark that they were wizards and a little levitation spell would save a lot of energy, but when Neville squatted and hefted up another armful, he thought better of it.
In short order, Draco was in a pair of oversized gardening gloves nipping at flowers with ugly shark-mouths on them.
Neville was taking more soil samples next to him. “I was thinking about asking Hannah to Madam Puddifoot’s for tea. What do you think?”
Draco went still. Then he started pruning at lightning speed. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Why not? You don’t think she likes me? Yeah, she is rather pretty for me...”
“Are you kidding?” Draco asked, pruning all the harder. He thought about Neville’s pronounced jaw line and the way his hair curled up when it was humid. He thought about how his middle tapered in a dramatic V-shape, and how Neville would place his large, sculptural hands there when in thought. “She’s not too pretty for you, not by a long shot. But I don’t think you should ask her out.”
“You haven’t told me why not.” Neville stared in that unwavering way. “Draco, stop.”
He did. Oh, shit. He’d taken every bud off Neville’s plant.
Neville took the shears from his hand and pulled him into the outdoor garden. It was less stifling there, abundant with flowers and ferns that didn’t bite you, and Draco was finally able to catch his breath.
“What do you want from me?” Neville asked pointedly.
Draco touched a red rose, as if he hadn’t heard the question.
Neville came so close that Draco could feel his body heat. “Do you think I don’t have a guess?”
“I don’t want you to ask me to Madam Puddifoot’s, if that’s what you think,” he snapped. He softened, seeing the concern in Neville’s eyes. “I just want you to hold me like you did on the broom.”
Draco kicked himself. How stupid he sounded.
Neville must not have thought so. He put his arm around Draco’s shoulders, and pulled him in. “Like this?”
Draco let out a shaky breath. He found his hands bunching up Neville’s shirt, like they had that horrible and wonderful day. His index finger accidentally slipped past the hem to touch Neville’s hard, sticky chest.
He looked up, feeling bold. “And I would like it if you would kiss me.”
Neville hesitated. “If Draco from a year ago could hear you now.”
Then he dipped his head and took Draco’s mouth. Draco knew he would be gentle, but this was feather-soft. It was as if Draco were still trembling in his arms, after hanging off that ledge, and this kiss were the remedy. Neville took Draco’s hands and placed them around his neck, and Draco felt the sheen of sweat and the grit on Neville’s skin. He opened his mouth beneath Neville’s tongue, and with that Neville drew him so close he was on his toes, trying not to lose those firm but loving lips.
It was the second safest Draco had ever felt.
“Neville,” Harry barked, charging down the corridor, his quidditch robes billowing behind him.
Neville stopped in front of the Fat Lady. “Hi, Harry. Did you just finish practice?”
Harry was unable to hide the storm brewing within him. “I saw you two in the garden.”
“Oh. Oh, God.”
“What are you doing, Neville? You’re straight as an arrow! Is this some sort of cruel joke on Malfoy?”
“N-no! God, you know me better than that.” Neville covered his face with both hands.
“Then what’s going on?” Harry demanded.
“I mean, he’s very pretty. It’s not hard to imagine a girl there --”
“Don’t be patronizing. What a cop out! Do you like men or not?”
“I like Draco,” was all Neville could say. He shook his head. “But I don’t know if I could love him like I could Hannah. Blimey, please don’t mention this to her.”
“That’s none of my business.”
“Well, why is Draco your business?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said, his anger deflating. “You and me, we’re the only ones at this school sticking up for him. Bonkers, right? I don’t like being in this position, but there it is. I don’t want you giving him a hard time, too, got me?”
“Harry, I just spent --” Neville stopped and looked at the Fat Lady, who was clearly engrossed in their conversation. He took Harry aside and continued quietly. “I just spent a quarter of an hour snogging him in the garden. How is that giving him a hard time? It was really great, actually. He’s so --”
Harry was growing red in the cheeks. “I don’t need to hear all the details, thanks.”
“Sorry, it must wig you out,” Neville said. He slapped Harry on the shoulder. “Anyway, he’s safe in my hands.”
Neville retired to Gryffindor, but Harry stood, glaring at his quidditch boots, until the Fat Lady tried to comfort him. “You’re very handsome, too, dear. I’m sure someone will like you eventually.”
“Merlin, Harry, why are you so fired up about this?” Ron asked.
“I’m not used to being in Neville’s shadow. I feel a little bothered, all right?”
Ron slung an arm over his shoulder, as they entered the Great Hall for breakfast. “Aw, do you want Malfoy fawning all over you, too?”
“That’s not what I mean,” Harry said, knowing he hadn’t really answered the question. “I’d just like a thank you or something. I was the one up there with him. I was the one telling my childhood enemy that he had the strength to hold on and all that rot.”
“Can’t believe you missed that opportunity to look the other way.” When Harry cast him a withering look, Ron added, “Merlin, it was just a joke. You’re as angsty as you were in fifth year.”
They found Hermione reading a tome at Gryffindor’s table. “I’m on the verge of piecing together a single incantation that might restore Hogwarts entirely to its former state,” she said excitedly.
“Sorry, Hermione, I already did that yesterday,” Ron said, buttering some toast.
“And that means no more evenings on rooftops, Harry.” She set her book aside. “What’s this about you having angst?”
“I don’t have angst, you two. I’m just miffed that Neville is getting all the recognition for saving Malfoy’s life.”
Ron’s mouth was full. “Be fankful. Thaf’s wha’ I keep tellin’ you.” He swallowed. “I heard Malfoy is trying to get into Neville pants.”
“He what?” Hermione blurted.
“Neville won’t say a word about it, though. He’s too nice. Why he wastes his niceness on Malfoy, I’ll never understand.”
“Would you care if something were going on between them?” Harry asked, swiping a soft-boiled egg.
“Well, not me. I don’t care what people do in private. But if I were Malfoy, I’d be more discreet. Old Pureblood families go nuts over this kind of thing. Look how few of them there are already. They require marriage bonds and heirs, and whatnot.”
“Draco doesn’t care about those things anymore,” someone said.
They looked up to find Pansy Parkinson there, arms crossed, nose upturned.
“How do you know?” Harry asked.
Pansy scoffed. “I know more about Draco than anybody. Besides, you just have to be observant. Draco was among the elite at this school because of his family’s station in society, and suddenly it was all pulled from beneath him. I don’t know what Draco’s parents are doing -- probably walking the line between Pureblood loyalties and kissing Minister Shacklebolt’s arse -- but Draco gave up. His family’s name is mud, so he has little incentive to pretend to be something he’s not.”
“Er, what is he not?” Harry asked.
“Well, he’s not the type for marriage bonds and heirs, if you know what I mean.”
Ron shot them a look, as if to say I told you so.
Pansy held out a folded note. “Could you give this to Draco, Miss Muggleborn? Blaise said an owl showed up with it while Draco was out.”
“Why can’t you?” Hermione asked flatly.
“I never see him anymore, and I know it’s because he’s hanging around your lot. Plus, my father would have my hide if I associated with him. Not to be crass, but in our circles hanging around your kind is rather worse than being your kind.”
“I don’t know why I’m indulging you, but fine.” Hermione stuffed the note into her bag.
“It’s a letter from his father, and it’s not good news,” Pansy went on, as if it were no big deal to read someone’s personal business. “Good luck with Draco’s impending meltdown.”
“Wait,” Harry said, before Pansy sauntered away. “Why would he meltdown?”
“Oh, you’ll find out soon enough,” she sing-songed.
If there had ever been a Draco who was going to have a meltdown, he was clearly not present today. When Hermione handed him the note, Draco read it without expression, folded it crisply, and put it in his pocket.
“I need your help with some herbs,” he said, strolling away with his arm hooked in the bend of Neville’s elbow. “My Potions experiment has been lackluster with the store-bought selection...”
“So much for tonight’s entertainment,” Ron muttered, slumping over his Transfigurations essay.
“Well, that’s certainly entertaining,” Hermione said. She nodded to the far corner of the Room of Requirement, where Draco and Neville had settled, pouring over a book on common herbs. Though, Neville was doing most of the pouring, while Draco was giving affectionate gestures: tucking Neville’s hair behind his ear, rubbing his bicep, whispering each comment like a tender secret.
Ron looked like he’d seen Snape dancing in a tutu. “I -- can’t -- watch.”
“Look how oblivious Neville is acting,” Hermione said. “But what’s up with Malfoy?”
He couldn’t help it. He’d fished Lucius Malfoy’s note out of Hermione’s bag while she was distracted by her renovation book. Draco had been disowned. Not just disowned, but verbally ripped to shreds for his indiscretions: his lack of loyalty to his Pureblood kin, his weakness at letting Neville carry him like a baby to the infirmary, his blatant lack of care for displaying his sexuality -- for word had spread about him snogging with Neville. Harry had found that wizards had more slurs for homosexuals than Muggles did.
Draco was not welcome back in his father’s home.
He was acting like this because had nothing left to lose.
“McGonagall and the Board of Governors are going to approve Hermione’s incantation,” Harry remarked. His curse detector went off and he chalk-marked that window for later reference. “When that happens, Hogwarts will be restored and we won’t have to do this anymore.”
Draco’s eyes lit up. “Wonderful, I’ll get so much more time with Neville.”
This was not the reaction Harry had in mind. “You won’t miss spending time with me?”
“What?” Draco asked, as they continued up the winding staircase of the southern tower. “I’ll still see you in the study group. Someone’s got to give you a hard time about your Potions essays.”
Harry nodded, and tried not to notice the skip in Draco’s step.
Neville’s hands were on him.
Draco had thought the most attractive place Neville’s hands could be was in a fresh, moist vat of soil. Not so. Now he preferred them on his waist -- pushing up Draco’s shirt -- and on his stomach, as he kissed a trail along Draco’s abdomen.
They had stayed behind after the last study group. Or, rather, they had been whispering and laughing so long, they didn’t notice everyone slip out.
At first, Neville had refused to lay with him on the plush sofa, complaining about a mountain of unfinished homework, but when Draco smiled and led him down by the tie, those concerns vanished.
Neville was lapping at a tender spot on Draco’s neck. “God, you’re beautiful,” he breathed, “so beautiful, I don’t know what to do with you...”
Draco rolled him over, straddling him, delighted at the way Neville’s erection jumped beneath him.
“I know what I would like you to do with me,” Draco said longingly, moving his hips. “I know lots of things I would like.”
Neville took his waist again, but this time he was trying to stop the motion, turning red and blotchy in the cheeks. “Oh, God --”
“Yes, like that,” Draco said, persistent. He slid up Neville’s body, rolling his arse over the long bulge in Neville’s trousers. “I can’t wait to have you inside me. I want you to take your pleasure in me.”
“Draco, stop, I’m going to --”
He put his hand on Neville’s cheek. “Just come, just come --”
“Wait,” Neville forced out, and Draco realized he was serious. He looked to be struggling with his thoughts. He put his face into Draco’s palm and kissed it. “I’ve got to tell you something.”
Neville sat up. His face was twisted in despair. Perhaps that was why he chose to hide it in both hands.
“Hannah asked me if I was dating you,” he said, muffled.
“I told her no.”
“I see.” Draco found himself scooting away.
Neville reached for him, looking pitiful. “You told me you didn’t want me to invite you to Madam Puddifoot’s or anything like that --”
“So, you thought this was casual? And you invited her there instead.”
Draco’s vision was blurring. Where was Abbott and her godforsaken box of tissues now?
“I wanted to tell you earlier,” Neville said, squeezing his hand, “but you were kissing me and -- fuck, I didn’t mean for all this to happen. I’m so sorry.”
“For what?” Draco asked coldly, straightening his robes and shouldering his book sack. “I’ll see you around, Longbottom.”
“Draco, wait --”
But he did not.
His fist was a bloody pulp when Potter turned up. The wall was winning this fight, so far, but Draco wouldn’t stop till someone went down.
“Hey, hey, stop it,” Potter said, restraining Draco by the shoulders. “I said stop! Don’t make me body-bind you.”
Draco leaned tiredly towards the stone wall, now mottled with blood, but Potter caught him and held him upright.
“Is this about your dad?” Potter asked.
Draco raised his head, disbelieving. “How do you --?”
The door to the Room of Requirement slammed. It echoed all the way down the corridor, along with heavy footfalls. Neville appeared, scowling, and stopped in his tracks when he saw Potter embracing Draco.
He sniffled and trudged on without a word.
“Oh,” Potter said awkwardly.
Draco put his forehead on Potter’s collarbone. All his dignity was shattered by now. Why hold back?
“He wants Abbott,” Draco said pathetically.
“Where am I supposed to go?”
Potter pushed him back to look him in the eye. “What do you mean?”
“To study. And to talk to all you buffoons. You’re the only friends I’ve got, and you’re not even my friends.”
“You’ll still see us. Right here in the Room of Requirement. You don’t have to go anywhere.”
“He won’t want me there.” Draco thought about Neville’s smile, his hands in the soil, and cursed himself for desiring the man so.
“I invited you here,” Potter said firmly. “If Neville doesn’t want to see you, he can bugger off to Hufflepuff.”
At the mention of Hufflepuff, Draco’s jaw went hard and he showed his teeth. “That fucking bitch. I’ll hex her back to the half-born hole she crawled out of.”
“You’re not hexing anyone. You didn’t even have it in you to harm this wall,” Potter said, smiling. “Come on, I forgot my Defense book in there.”
Draco stayed outside as Potter fetched his book, and for some reason Potter escorted him back to Slytherin.
“You’re right,” Draco was saying. “I can’t hurt her. Neville probably loves her. I want him to be happy, I guess.”
“Somehow, Draco, you are nobler than most.”
Draco snorted. “I’m really not. But Neville is good and kind. He deserves it. Here’s the entrance.”
Potter frowned at the stone wall and then back at Draco. “Neville dated you, knowing he wanted Hannah more. Why are you still glorifying him?”
“Potter -- he saved me from falling off a tower!”
“And what was I doing, laughing and poking you with a stick?”
“He got me down safely,” Draco said, realizing he was rambling. “He held me, and comforted me, and didn’t mock me.”
Potter’s hands began to shake and the torches in the corridor flickered. “Well, if I wasn’t having so much fun hanging off the castle by my ankles, I would have held you, too!”
“He’s the only person who still cares about me!”
“I care about you, you idiot!” The torches blew out. There was a sigh, and Potter said, “Lumos.”
When Potter’s face appeared in the wand light, it was close to Draco’s and burning with an emotion Draco could not place. “Why do you think we were always assigned renovation tasks together? Why do you think we were on an abandoned tower that day? I asked McGonagall for it. I was trying to get up the nerve to tell you something.” He touched Draco’s hand, caressing it with the outside of his finger. Draco’s breath hitched. “But then Neville swooped in -- literally -- and fucked it all up.”
“I see,” Draco whispered. It was hard to talk with Potter stroking his skin. “Did he know you...felt like that?”
“No. Not Neville, he wouldn’t...”
Potter looked somberly at their fingers. Draco didn’t know what to say, so he pulled away, saying “snake soup” to the wall, watching it degrade into an entranceway.
Potter cleared his throat. “You still haven’t acknowledged the whole preventing-you-from-dying thing.”
Draco threw a weary look over his shoulder, but Potter was already striding away.
Draco was eager to attend this study group. He had lain in bed for several nights with flashes of the tower accident in his head: Potter shushing Draco’s screams, reminding him to be brave despite the terror and the pain; Potter fighting against gravity, feet hooked around the parapets; Potter holding his gaze, having lost his glasses in the struggle, never faltering, ever green. These restored memories made Draco twist and sweat in his bed.
It was a busy night in the Room of Requirement. Two new Ravenclaws had popped in, but Draco noted that neither Neville nor Abbott were present. Potter was studying alone near the monstrous fireplace, scratching away on some parchment.
Draco slipped into the chair next to him. “I would like to formally apologize for not thanking you for saving my life. You were also very strapping and heroic that day.”
Potter snorted. He dipped his quill, and continued scratching.
“Actually, the most strapping and heroic,” Draco amended. “After all, you saved me with brute strength. Longbottom had to use a broomstick.”
“Better,” Potter said, looking up. There they were, the eyes from Draco’s memories. Potter leaned back in his chair, displaying a brawny chest Draco had hardly noticed before. “How could you just forget that I was there?”
“I didn’t forget, as much as I seem to have a one-track mind. Why do you think I was so good at harassing you growing up? It was my only hobby.” Potter was twirling the quill in his hand, casting a sultry smile. Draco went on, “So, when I...took a liking to Neville...I forgot who was there with me from the start.”
“And that would be...?”
“The dick sitting next to me right now.”
Potter chuckled, and leaned his elbows onto his knees. “And this dick --” Draco regretted letting his eyes flicker to Potter’s groin. “-- you said he was strapping?”
Draco hummed indifferently. He found a distinct pleasure in withholding things from Potter.
“Because he thinks you’re as handsome as can be,” Potter said quietly. His hand -- smaller than Neville’s, but wide and square -- pressed up Draco’s thigh. No one else seemed to notice. “Neville told me what a good kisser you are.”
“I’ve been thinking about it for weeks, how lucky he was to have that lovely mouth.”
Draco took a slow breath, which only made him aware of his mouth and how Potter’s eyes stuck to it. Casually, he let his tongue slide out, as if he were licking his lips in thought.
Potter did not react with reservation, like Draco expected. He put down his quill, took off his glasses, and kissed Draco right in the middle of the room. The patrons went silent, besides an outburst from Weasley (“What in the bloody Hell is Malfoy putting in the water?”), but any shock Draco felt was quelled by the fullness of Potter’s lips and the rough, masculine graze of his stubble. It didn’t last long, however. It was more of a long peck than a proper kiss.
“That was a little anti-climatic,” Draco said airily.
Potter’s eyes went dark. He took the back of Draco’s neck and whispered grittily into his ear. “I’m not as gentle a soul as Neville. And this is not the place for me to get out of hand.”
Draco squeezed his legs together and looked anywhere but Potter, lest he cry out. “Well, then. Shall we excuse ourselves?”
As Potter led him out of the room, with whispers and rumors already forming in their wake, Draco did not think of Neville. He thought of the rough hands that pulled at him, leading him through the most secret corridors; and the way Potter would pause in a cove and dote on his mouth for a spell; and the way his smile transcended the torchlight as he held Draco close; and the speed at which that smile sank into a longing growl, and Potter would lift him and pin him and they would kiss until it was time to run off again.
There was no one else but Harry.
Oh, yes. Draco was falling fast.