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A Little Less Than Civil

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As the first years crowded into the Great Hall for the first time behind Headmistress McGonagall, they filtered through their memories trying to remember everything they’d ever been told about the sorting. They were as nervous as a gaggle of Phoenix in a wand shop.

As the headmistress ascended the steps at the front of the room to her spot at the head table, the room settled into silence. For the briefest moment, a heated and angry conversation could be heard from outside the doors.

“If you had simply let me make the decision-”

“Well maybe I would have chosen better than you!”

“That’s not for you to decide!”

“We’re late.”

“This isn’t over.”

From two sets of double doors on opposite sides of the hall came two professors who couldn’t look more different.

From the door nearest Slytherin entered a young man with snowy pale skin and immaculately gelled back platinum hair to match. He wore traditional robes of green billowing silk and polished black dress shoes. He held his head high with his pointy nose in the air.

From the doors between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff came another young man, but the similarities ended there. With darker skin and tousled black hair, he carried himself far more casually than the man in green. He wore open robes of crushed maroon velvet over muggle dress slacks and a button up. On his feet were clean but casual muggle shoes (converse, they looked like.)

The men shot each other dirty looks from over the tables as they moved across the hall to the head table where they found their seats, reasonably far from each other.

“Well, now that we’ve all arrived, let me introduce our new set of first years to our lovely school” McGonagall announced with pointed looks to the late professors.

“At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, our students are sorted into four houses. There are the Gryffindor, who value courage. The Hufflepuff, who value loyalty. The Ravenclaw, who value wisdom. And the Slytherin, who value cleverness. Your heads of houses will explain more to you if you ask them.”

The sorting commenced with minimal disturbance, but the first years were left with many questions about the arguing pair.

-

“What were the two of you arguing about earlier?” Minerva asked the two newest professors who were seated on the other side of her Headmistress's desk.

“Grocery shopping.”

-

The first day of Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons, Harry decided a day of get-to-know-yous was in order. After all, dueling and defense casting could be a very personal subject, and very difficult to learn and practice with strangers. He hoped to bring the class together early so the remainder of the year would run smoothly.

Unfortunately, Harry had very little control over his O.W.L level fifth years. The class, easily his largest one, rounded out at about thirty students.

It was honestly a bit of a hazard in a class as dangerous as defense could get. What had started out as twenty minutes of icebreaker games managed to turn in to a good-naturned Q&A session with the professor.

“Professor Potter, did you ever get detention when you went to Hogwarts?”

“Um…” Harry rubbed the back of his neck nervously, “Well, do as I say and not as I do. We’ll leave it at that.”

“How much trouble will I get into if I skip your class?”

“Enough to definitely not do it.” He said with the confidence of someone who definitely did not skip an entire year of school altogether.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” The class ‘oohed’ and quieted at the question.

“Nope. No girlfriend.”

“Professor, what was your least favorite subject in school?”

“Potions. I despise potions.” Harry had a sour look on his face over just the thought of it.

“Really? What would professor Malfoy say if we told him that?” teased a Slytherin girl

“Oh, he knows how much I could never stand potions.”

“Does he know you can’t stand HIM?” A Gryffindor asked bravely.

“Wait, what?”

-

Luckily, Harry was not the only one having these issues. Draco was sitting on his desk at the front of the room attempting to seem approachable to the new first years.

“Today I thought we could take some time to answer all the questions about the school I’m sure most of you have. I know that a lot of you probably come from non-magical families so this can be pretty confusing. I’d like to help if I can. Any questions at all?”

This was definitely not what students expected of the former death eater turned potions master. They had been apprehensive at best upon entering the classroom, but this might just turn out to be better than they were expecting.

The gramophone against the back wall and the string lights hung from the ceiling were welcoming and cozy. Houseplants that doubled as sources for fresh ingredients filled every nook, cranny, or ledge of the place with artificial sun bulbs hovering just above them. Overall, the room didn’t feel like a stuffy and cold dungeon. It felt homey, and the students enjoyed it so far.

“Yes, in the back? What’s your name?”

“I’m Alice, Professor. I was wondering if there’s a pattern to the way that the staircases move.”

“Lovely to meet you, Alice. I’m afraid that there’s not necessarily a pattern, but as you progress through your education here the castle will get to know you, so to speak. The building tries its very hardest to get you where you need to be, but sometimes it guesses wrong. It will be able to guess more accurately after you’ve spent more time in it. I know it’s confusing, but does that make sense?” Alice nodded.

“On the end. Your name?”

“Jioh. Why do the Gryffindors and the Slytherins not get along? Is it because their heads of house don’t get along?”

“What do you mean Professor Potter and I don’t get along? We have our differences, but we’re civil!”

“Is civil really the best word you can come up with to describe the two of you?” Draco’s head snapped up to find the disrespectful student, but his eyes fell on Professor Longbottom in the corner, snapping a bit of Draco’s Aloe vera plant off.

“Minor injury in the greenhouses. I’ll be off now.” He waved the bit of succulent as a thank you, and disappeared down the hallway.

“So you don’t get along?”

Draco buried his head in his hands. Thanks, Neville.

-

Every passing day, the student body of Hogwarts became more and more convinced that the potions and defense professors couldn’t stand anything about each other. This couldn’t be less true, of course, but Harry and Draco found the turn of events amusing.

For the second time that week, they found themselves seated on the scary side of the Headmistress's desk.

“Have the two of you been telling students to rebel against the other one?” McGonagall fixed them with her hyper-focused stare that could melt glass.

“What? No! Of course not! The students sort of started assuming we hate each other and it’s kind of funny so we decided to play along.” Harry responded, trying to keep his cool.

“We’d be happy to set the rumors straight if you find it necessary, Minerva.” Draco added slightly more professionally.

“I think it would be fine for the two of you to continue… whatever this is. I suppose it is amusing.” The headmistress had a twinkle in her eye that Draco had never seen before, but Harry knew all too well. She dismissed them from her office and they walked together back to their shared quarters.

“I’ve never seen McGonagall actually okay with a practical joke before.” Draco seemed a little aghast over their meeting. They both began getting ready for bed, pulling off their robes to reveal the matching wedding rings on thin gold chains around their necks.

“Really? I never told you about the biscuit thing?”

“What on earth is the ‘Biscuit Thing,’ Harry?”

“After I got kicked out of Umbridge’s class that one time, I got sent to her office. She asked me if it was true that I called Umbridge a liar, told her Voldemort was back, and argued with her in front of everyone. I told her yes and she gave me a biscuit and subtly fed me the idea for the Defense Association.”

“She seriously sanctioned that? And gave you a real biscuit?”

“Two, actually.”

“Merlin’s pants.”

“I know, right. So I need to pick up Scorpius from Astoria on Saturday evening, right?”

“Mhm” Draco hummed in response, lowering himself onto the bed to get some rest. “Night.”

“Goodnight, Draco.” Harry replied, leaning down to give his husband a quick kiss on the forehead before laying down to rest himself.

-

Stories spread like dragon pox each time an incident occured. Half of the ‘fights’ that students whispered about were completely fabricated by the two professors to watch student reactions, and the other half were just ridiculous misunderstandings of what was really taking place.

After two weeks of keeping up this charade, Draco and Harry found it came naturally. They would glare at each other in passing and shoot little jibes back and forth between classes, then laugh about it together after they’d tucked their son into bed at night.

Apparently, according to Sarah who heard it from Charlie who got it from Dot, on Monday the professors had a massive fight between second hour and third hour. Everyone was saying that Professor Potter turned a corner too fast with a cup of coffee and spilled some on Professor Malfoy.

Then, Professor Malfoy got so mad at Professor Potter that he hexed his shoelaces, and the two were yelling at each other until they were both half an hour late to their classes, at least that’s what Sarah said that Charlie said that Dot said.

Tuesday was even crazier! Professor Malfoy found a vase of flowers on his desk whose meanings were apparently so rude that Professor Longbottom wouldn’t even translate them!

And on Wednesday, Professor Malfoy actually showed up during a third year defense class. He leaned in the doorway for a moment, just watching, before throwing a wad of parchment at the defense teacher to get his attention. He made a snarky comment about Professor Potter’s inability to cast anything stronger than a disarming spell, then left without saying anything else!

The rumor mill was churning particularly quickly on Thursday as stories of a disaster in potions class spread.

See, word had it that Professor Malfoy had been attempting to facilitate the brewing of a dragon pox cure when a fourth year’s cauldron let loose a volcano of flames and sand directly at the ceiling towards the Defense classroom directly above.

The force and heat of the eruption seared an entire chunk of the ceiling, leaving a hole clear through to the Defense room.

Without warning, a flames circling the void vanished, and Professor Potter’s head appeared. The man was hanging upside down like a child on a jungle gym from above, and scolding the potions master for his inability to control his students.

The whole incident was so ridiculous that the scathing insults thrown between the two men became hilarious.

The absurdity of the situation and the fact that it was rooted around the school’s hardest to decode professors made the story hot gossip, and the rumor had hit the whole school by lunch hour.

-

Friday had Harry in good spirits as he grazed through the library searching for some light reading on merfolk. There had been no rapidfire rumor spreading on his hatred of his husband that day. He humming to himself a little as he was reading the synopsis inside of a field journal that was sure to be interesting when he heard a conversation that would prove to change the entire rest of his school year.

“Dot, he’s a professor!” Scolded a fifth year Ravenclaw student to a fifth year Hufflepuff boy.

“I’m just saying, he’s gorgeous.”

“I mean, Dot’s got a point. He makes a boring subject a little more fun to… keep an eye on,” chimed in a Gryffindor girl at their table.

“Potions isn’t boring!”

Wait a goddamn minute. There was a group of fifth years whispering in the library about Draco bloody Malfoy? That was not allowed. Did this happen often? Harry’s face morphed into an expressive medley of shock, concern, and confusion as he turned his head to face the table in question.

“He has a nice arse. That’s all I’m saying.” All five students at their round table nodded in solemn agreement.

The Ravenclaw girl stared behind the heads of the others, suddenly mortified. The group turned to find Professor Potter, frozen halfway through pulling a book from a shelf, looking utterly bewildered.

The students paled as they watched him slowly back away towards the door on the other side of the library. Harry moved gracefully until - THUD. He was on the ground with books scattered around him and his glasses knocked off of his face.

“Oh, here, let me help you with that.” His adversary knelt down to help him fetch his books, but the moment the unknown man reached for the glasses to hand them back, the two recognized each other.

“Malfoy?”

“Potter!”

The professors sprung apart, and with final glare they went on their separate ways. As Draco moved towards the aisle Harry had just abandoned, Harry waited a moment to watch. After giving a thoughtful look at the Potions Master’s retreating back, Harry turned to the table of students.

He gave a dramatic shrug and begrudgingly muttered “well, you’re not wrong.” The table erupted into (quiet) chaos.

-

That afternoon during the gap between the final class of the day and dinner brought a group of students to Harry’s classroom. He looked up from the essays he was reading over to find the five kids from the library that morning, much to his surprise.

“Can I help you all with anything?” The professor asked politely.

“We were just wondering if we could hang out in here for a bit,” proposed the Ravenclaw girl.

“Oh, sure!” Harry responded with surprise. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course. You just seem pretty cool and we like your class a lot so…”

“This is about my comment on Malfoy’s butt, isn’t it.” He deadpanned.

“No! Well, not entirely,” the Hufflepuff boy fumbled, “We always enjoyed your class a lot but we were intimidated by you before. Now we know you’re like, a person.” The others nodded quickly in agreement.

“Oh, well, in that case, what makes you lot like defense so much?”

The Library Five (as Harry came to call them) started stopping by his classroom more and more often. It came to the point where nearly every day after the final hour of classes, Harry would make an extra pot of tea and bond with the students.

Time with the Library Five was exhilarating, it reminded him so much of his time leading the DA in fifth year. Harry would work with the students on advanced spells if they asked, and have in-depth discussions with them.

Occasionally they would bring up potions or Malfoy in what they probably thought was a subtle manner, but Harry would usually deflect. Sometimes, though, he’d ‘accidentally’ make a wistful comment about the other professor, then turn away to do something and watch the five freak out in the corner of his eye.

Whatever these kids thought they had figured out, it couldn’t possibly be stranger than the truth.

-

Draco and Harry started to really enjoy the reactions they would get out of students from this prank. Aside from bringing the school together with a universal conversation topic, it made students like them more. Their office hours were full of students from all years wanting extra information on assignments, book recommendations in the subject area, or just to hang out.

Harry, of course, still had the Library Five.

Determined to continue what had to be the longest lie either of them had ever pulled, they would even stay up late some nights after tucking Scorpius into bed discussing what they’d do they next day to keep the students talking.

“I think I want to tell my Library Five that we’re married.” Draco rolled onto his side to face his husband.

“Is that what you want? I wouldn’t mind.”

“Can we make this week a chaotic one though? And script a dramatic way to tell them?”

“Dramatic? Me? Merlin, Harry. It’s like you don’t even know who you married to!”

-

The students had no idea what they had coming.

The next Monday morning, Draco walked into the great hall a little after Harry did.

The two of them knew what was about to happen, but they tried to imagine it from the perspective of the students who didn’t.

Breakfast was going swimmingly. Students and faculty slowly trickled into the hall. Everyone was minding their own business, keeping to their morning papers until there was a sudden POP!

A cloud of pastel pink dust obscured the potions professor’s upper half as he was almost to the staff table.

From what they could see, he seemed to be coughing and swatting away at the dust from within the cloud.

Slowly… oh so slowly, the cloud dissipated to reveal that…

Professor Malfoy had pink hair! It was a tasteful pink, soft and shiny looking. All pastel and trendy. It wasn’t bad, to be honest, but he didn’t seem very pleased with it. He looked to be holding in a lot of rage as he continued to make his way to the staff table.

He shot a mean looking glare at… Professor Potter? Could that cloud have been his fault? And in the middle of the great hall, too?

People wouldn’t stop talking about this one for awhile.

Well, that’s what everyone thought at least.

Until Malfoy charmed Potter’s classroom to be as slippery as an ice rink for all of Tuesday.

Until an aggressive back and forth argument fought entirely though howlers sent across the school occupied all of Wednesday.

Until Potter spent all of Thursday being followed by a charmed beachball that would hover in inconvenient places and bonk him in the back of the head when he least expected it.

Until, finally, one broken vase, one broken finger, and one broken-spirited McGonagall later, Friday came.

The previous week had hosted a lot of homework and tests for the students, so the Library Five were ecstatic to finally have a moment of peace during which they could visit the Defense room after classes finished on Friday.

Together, they knocked on the closed classroom door.

“Come in!” Shouted a voice from inside that was definitely Professor Potter.

They found him sorting essays into piles on a table towards the front of the room. He was dressed more casually than they’d seen him before. A muggle t-shirt and jeans. And - wait. Was that-

“What’s that on your neck, Professor?”

“Oh, this?” He set his papers down and tapped what appeared to be a gold band on a long gold chain.

“That’s my wedding ring!” He smiled fondly as if just thinking about it made him happy.

“You never told us you were married!”

“It never came up!”

“Well who are you married to?” The students were aghast that their favorite professor had kept something like this from them.

The door burst open.

Professor Malfoy walked in holding a- holding a child in his arms?

An actual toddler. That he was holding. He was holding a toddler. That looked just like him.

“Harry, dear, he’s asking for you- oh! You have students round?”

What.

The.

Fuck.

Five equally shocked faces stared between the professors, at each other, at the kid-

“Papa!” The toddler reached his tiny hands out towards Professor Potter in a grabby motion.

The man immediately stepped forward to gently hoist the child from the other. There was a tender moment between the two professors as they both held the child for a second before Potter shifted and stepped away from Malfoy.

Now that there wasn’t a child blocking his chest, the students could see that a gold band on a long gold chain hung there.

Professor Malfoy held up a finger. He closed the classroom door behind him calmly.

“Now you may freak out.”

“Wh-”

The door slammed open again.

Whoever was throwing open the door clearly didn’t expect someone to be on the other side because the heavy piece of wood slammed directly into Malfoy in that awkward way that happens when you stand on the wrong side of a door.

“Merlin’s pants! So sorry, Mr. Malfoy!” It was the headmistress. This was not part of Draco and Harry’s plan.

The entire room was officially confused.

“I mean- is that your child? Haha. Why would you possibly be letting Potter hold your child? I certainly wouldn’t let someone who I couldn’t stand hold my child! I thought that the two of you couldn’t bear the presence of each other” She tried to correct as she noticed the students in the room. It was a little much.

“They know, Professor, er, Headmistress.” Potter facepalmed to the extent he could with a child in his arms.

“And even if they didn’t, that probably would have given it away to them.” Malfoy smiled a little.

“Well it’s hardly my fault that in all my years at this school, I have never seen a situation quite so ridiculous.” The headmistress respond before laughing with the two professors.

“That can’t possibly be true, you had Harry as a student!” Malfoy chided. The students remained in a stunned silence.

“Biscuit incident.” Harry conceded.

“Biscuit incident.” McGonagall solemnly agreed before exiting the room.

“What did she come in here to do?” Harry asked his husband, slightly concerned.

“I guess we’ll never know.

-

The next few weeks were some of the best of Harry’s life. The Library Five would hang out in his classroom like before, but now Draco and Scorpius could join them as well. They could banter and joke about their lives without their ridiculous act of rivalry. It was comfortable. It was freeing.

“And the note I sent him about the broken vase? Here it is, get it out.”

“What makes you think I still have it?” Harry exclaimed. The students laughed at Malfoy’s irritance and Potter’s incredulousness.

“You’re a bloody hoarder, everyone knows that.”

“Language!” The students laughed again.

“Here. Here it is. My letter, pretty handwriting, properly punctuated, no mistakes, eloquent. And what did I get in response?” Draco drew a folded up note on wrinkled parchment from his robe pockets. The kids leaned forward in anticipation.

“This chicken scratch that’s messier than anything I’ve ever had a first year turn in!”

 

“It was not that bad, Draco!” Harry protested.

“Half the page is just crossed out words because it took you that many tries to formulate one sentence that isn’t even grammatically correct! And that sentence? I can hardly read it through the inkblots.”

“Oh, yeah, okay. Not grammatically correct? What are you, a teacher?”

Draco stared at Harry for a moment.

“Wait…”

“Salazar’s handkerchief, you’re such a bloody idiot.”

The entire room was lost to a fit of giggles, the strongest of all from Harry himself.

“Has this man told you any stories from his time at Hogwarts?” Draco pointed dramatically at his husband, but he was speaking to the students.

Harry thought that was a good moment to excuse himself from the conversation and put the kettle on.