Draco's return to Hogwarts comes as slightly more anticlimactic than expected.
He isn't exactly welcomed back but neither is he shunned. He supposes it has something to do with Potter speaking up at his trial, revealing his refusal to identify Potter at the manor and his mothers lie which Potter adamantly tells the Wizengamot are some of the only reasons he is alive and Voldemort is dead. And while it had been a closed hearing, somehow within days everyone had somehow known anyway.
It hadn't completely dampened the hatred his family, and he in particular, still sometimes received, but it had lessened it. Part of him wants to hate Potter for being so bloody good, to hate him so much for saving him when he wasn't sure he wanted to be saved.
The problem is after so much fear and destruction and pain he finds he doesn't have any room in his heart to hate anyone, not even himself.
So despite his apprehensions he boards the Hogwarts express that chilly September 1st, desperate to go back and have one last chance to prove himself. He isn't even sure if he wants to prove something to himself or to everyone else (or maybe just one someone else in particular if he is being honest with himself), all he knows for sure is that it is something he has to do.
He sits alone for the majority of the train ride there until he hears his compartment door sliding open. He doesn't need to look up to know who it is. He can think of only one person would seek him out willingly, or at the very least not be afraid to be near him.
It's on the tip of his tongue to ask what the other boy wants, but Potter looks tired. So tired. Not as if he needs to sleep, but as if he needs a reprieve from something. Draco can only imagine. He guesses it's probably just as emotionally taxing to never be left alone as it is to always be left alone.
Potter sits down, leaning his head against the glass window and closing his eyes with a heavy sigh.
"Do you want me to leave?" Draco asks after a few minutes.
"No," Potter answers
They don't say anything else the entire journey, but something in their silence makes Draco feel like he made the right choice to come back to Hogwarts.
He shouldn't be surprised really. He should've known it would happen.
Destiny. Fate. Karma.
He doesn't know which one it is because he can't decide whether it will end up being another second chance he didn't know he deserved, or just a monumental fucking disaster.
"So...roommates huh?" Potter says, walking into what will now be their shared dorm room. After McGonagals announcement in the new 8th year common room Draco had practically run to their newly appointed room but it appears Potter followed him anyway, so it hadn't given him the few moments of solitude he had hoped for. Potter is rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly and Draco has no idea why he would be the one to feel awkward.
"Relax, Potter, I promise not to kill you in your sleep."
"Must you be such a prat all the time? I wasn't worried about that. Jesus, Malfoy."
"Oh do calm down, Potter. I was simply joking."
"Yes, it's been known to happen. Just like you winning at Quidditch."
"Was that another joke?"
"I don't know, Potter, was it?"
Potter snorts, cocking his head to the side and just staring at Draco. He waits for a verbal retort that never comes. Instead Draco watches in disbelief as a bed pillow comes soaring across the room to smack him directly in his face. He isn't sure if he is more shocked by the pillow or the powerful, casual display of wandless magic.
"Potter!" He shouts, but the rest of his reprimand dies on the tip of his tongue at the sight of Potter's barely controlled laughter. His shoulders are shaking, his lips pursed together tightly as he tries not to smile and his eyes look brighter than Draco has seen them in years.
He doesn't know what comes over him but before he consciously realizes it he's sending his own pillow straight at Potter's face. Only Draco doesn't try to control his laughter, instead he relishes in, doubling over in glee as Potter's glasses fall to the floor and he tumbles down onto the floor looking equal parts confused and surprised.
"I didn't know you had it in you, Malfoy."
"I think you might find out a lot of things you didn't know this year."
This time Potter doesn't try to hold back his smile, and it is nearly blinding.
Yes, Draco thinks, he's definitely fucked.
The first few weeks of the new term pass by in a blur and while there are moments of awkwardness, and definitely more than their fair share of bickering over inconsequential things like socks on the floor or missing sheets of parchment, mostly things are alright.
He's relatively surprised to find that Potter is actually an okay roommate. He's not exactly tidy, but he's not nearly as messy as some of the other Slytherin boys had been. He finds that he doesn't mind so much that Potter leaves his jumper over the foot of the bed, or his half written essays strewn across the desk, or that his trunk always seems to have things tumbling out of it. It's such a strong juxtaposition to Draco's side of the room which is spotless and organized at all times, something that was instilled in him from a very young age.
Instead of Potter's mess making him feel annoyed or anxious though it has the opposite effect. It makes him feel calm, almost relaxed; at home.
Potter isn't always in their room, often staying in the common room late into the night with Granger and Weasley, but the signs that he lives there are everywhere and Draco takes comfort in it. He wants to say that it's not because it's Potter but rather because it's nice to not be alone, but he knows that's only a half truth.
He can't explain the way his fingers itch to pick up Potter's jumper sometimes to see if it's still warm, or if it smells like him, or the way they linger on his essays taking in the untidy scrawl and wondering why Potter has such an easy time starting things but such a hard time finishing them.
He tries not to think about it too much because it's too confusing and messy when he does.
"Do you think about it much?"
Draco looks up from his charms book. Potter is sitting on the edge of his bed fidgeting with the loose threads on the wrist of his jumper. He is chewing on his bottom lip and his shoulders look tense.
"Potter, I'm quite positive that now that we're no longer enemies and you can feel free to acknowledge my wonderful abilities that it must be overwhelming at times, but contrary to popular belief I am not a mind reader."
Potter just snorts, rolling his eyes as he climbs off his bed and pads across the room to sit at the foot of Draco's. He curls his feet up underneath him. Draco wonders when exactly Potter became so comfortable with him.
He does it a lot lately, invades Draco's space without asking. He wonders if Potter would do that with any roommate or if maybe they're, well friends seems like too much of a leap, but not enemies at least.
"Do you think about the end of the war?"
Of all the things Draco expects to hear that is not one of them. By some sort of unspoken agreement neither one of them brings up the war, or Voldemort, ever. And while Draco has been pretty sure up until now that Potter has had his own reasons for this he's been grateful.
He almost tells him no, just so he won't have to talk about it. But for the first time in a long time he wonders what it might be like to say the things he thinks about out loud. So he does.
Before he knows it he's telling the other boy so much that he isn't sure he can stop; how much he hated him, how jealous he was, how much he wanted to be like him, how much he wanted to be anyone but himself, how scared he was, how he swore he would do anything to keep his family safe but how the shame of his own ignorance won't leave him. He talks about his guilt and the faces he still sees when he closes his eyes. And he says the one thing he's never said out loud - that given the choice he isn't sure he would do anything differently. Not because he doesn't know what he did was fundamentally wrong, but because he's not sure he could ever be that brave or self sacrificing enough to care about someone else more than himself.
By the time he's finished talking his throat is dry, his eyes are wet and his chest feels tight. He feels lighter and heavier all at once saying those things out loud. He wonders what Potter might be thinking, wonders what it's like to have your not quite arch enemy spill their guts to you but he doesn't have to wonder long because without a moments pause Potter starts talking.
At first it's just little things, like how he never knew he was a wizard or how he set a snake on his cousin in a zoo, but then he talks about bars on his windows and locks on his cupboard. It takes all of Draco's self control not to touch him while he talks, because he wants to, so desperately, but he doesn't know if he should, or what it would mean so he doesn't. Instead he listens as Potter keeps talking as if he's never talked before; his words and jumbled are he tells his story out of order, but it's honest and heartbreaking and Draco wonders how he could once again realize how very little he knows. He has never felt the desire to make someone else feel better as much as e does in that moment.
But Draco has never been good with emotions, and he has no idea what to do with an emotional Potter at the edge of his bed. So he does the only thing he can think of; he challenges him.
"Bet you I can catch the snitch before you."
Potter looks up, confusion marred by what looks like might be the beginnings of a smile.
"It's half past eleven and freezing as fuck outside. Only a crazy person would go out there right now to find a Snitch."
"If I do recall the Prophet has called us both crazy at some point. Wouldn't want to disappoint anyone."
At this Potter does smile, rising off the bed almost excitedly and grabbing his shoes. He looks a bit like a kid on Christmas.
"You're so on, Malfoy."
If asked Draco couldn't say what exactly what changes that night, but something definitely does. They don't talk about their confessions on the way down to the pitch, in fact they don't talk at all. But the silence doesn't feel heavy, instead something about it makes him feel free.
Their seeker game lasts well into the wee hours of the morning morning. After Draco somehow manages to finally be the one to catch it the first time he tries to get the other boy to go in, because every single one of his extremities is freezing and it has already taken him nearly two hours to find the blasted snitch once. All he wants are some dry clothes and a warm bed.
But then Potter flies down to meet him, his eyes alight in the moonlight and his cheeks flushed; he looks alive in a way so tangible it takes Draco's breathe away.
"Again?" He asks, his voice tinged with hope.
There are so many reasons to say no, but he finds himself saying yes.
"You sure you're up for it, Potter?"
"I like a good challenge."
"Ah so you admit it's challenging playing against me then!"
"Of course that's what you take from that," Potter laughs, walking towards him. Draco stands very still wondering what the other boy is doing as he moves even closer to him. So close their faces are nearly touching. "So are you ready?"
Draco has the distinct feeling that he isn't talking about the game.
"I'm ready for everything you've got."
"Everything?" Harry whispers and he's so bloody close Draco can almost taste the treacle tart Potter had for dinner.
The first time they kiss Draco has just come back from class. He is tired and cranky, but everything seems to change the moment he walks into their dorm room. Potter is sitting atop Draco's bed studying instead of his own, something he has taken to doing fairly often recently.
It's something small, but it doesn't quite feel that way. So it's not even an unusual sight really, but for some reason that afternoon it's just too much.
Maybe it's the way Potter's bare feet are tucked under Draco's favorite blanket, or the way he's chewing on the end of his quill.
Or maybe it's the way his glasses are poised on the end of his nose as he crinkles his forehead in concentration while he reads.
Or maybe it's the way he looks up at Draco as if his presence isn't just tolerated but welcomed.
All he knows is that it's nothing and everything all at once that makes him drop his bag and cross the room, taking Potter's face in his hands and kissing him. Potter's lips are chapped and his hands are cold as he grabs onto Draco's forearms tightly. It only lasts for a few seconds but when Draco pulls away he is completely breathless.
Kissing Potter, he thinks, is exactly like flying; part terrifying and part like he was born to do it.
They have been dating only a few weeks the first time Draco notices it.
"So I was thinking-"
"Oh so you do you think?" Draco teases, dragging his fingertips across Potter's stomach. It is Sunday morning and they haven't left their room. Instead they've done nothing but make stupid jokes and kiss, rolling around the bed and playfully fighting for control. Draco thinks this must be what it feels like to be carefree.
"If you'd let me finish you giant wanker," he starts, but Draco can't contain himself, flipping them over with a laugh so that Potter's back is on the bed and he is straddling his waist.
"As I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted by the worlds largest-"
"I'm not sure you can definitively call me the largest if you haven't seen it yet?" he says with a smirk, his voice dripping with innuendo.
Potter begins to laugh but snaps his mouth shut when Draco presses down, rolling his hips against the other boys.
"That's it, be a good boy and stop talking."
He only means it as a joke so the last thing he's expecting is for Potter to suck in a shaky breath, for his cock to harden beneath him instantly and for his eyes to go wide.
Draco opens his mouth to say something but the other boy doesn't give him a chance, tangling his fingers in his hair and pulling him down roughly for a bruising kiss. It's desperate and messy and the first time they pull each other off which is also desperate and messy. They don't know what to do with their hands and they both laugh nervously far too much, the angle is awkward and he's never touched someone else like this. But when he comes it's with Potter's fingers wrapped around his cock and his lips on his neck.
Draco has never felt anything so fucking wonderful in his entire life
For days Draco can think of nothing but the look of embarrassment and need in Potter eyes. He doesn't understand why he reacted that way but he wants to.
Except Potter refuses to talk about it, no matter when or how Draco tries to broach the subject.
So he does the only thing he can do and mail orders books. Lots of books with more information on sex than he thinks even he needs to know.
But it feels important, as if Potter needs it, and Draco wants to be the one to give it to him.
Draco waits weeks before he says anything again, almost afraid of being wrong.
Until one night when Potter seems particularly agitated. There is a tension in his body that won't leave, a nervous energy that permeates the air, and so summoning up all the courage he thinks he has he presses Potter back into the bed.
"Malfoy what are you-"
"Just relax, be a good boy now."
"Malfoy-" he starts, looking as if he is torn between stopping him from saying another word or begging him to never stop.
"Just let go, Harry, let me take care of you. You're such a good boy aren't you?" He whispers, kissing up the side of his neck as his fingers slide through his hair. "You try so hard to make everyone else happy. Even now, when you should be telling them all to fuck off and leave you alone you don't."
"Yes you can. You could. But you don't because you're so good. You do so good every day, being strong and brave. Do you have any idea how proud I am of you?" Draco's throat feels dry and even though he's barely touched the other boy Potter is already whimpering, his cock hard.
"You're so strong....so brave....so fucking good."
Draco watches mesmerized as Potter keens, arching up against Draco and holding onto his wrists so tight he wonders if it might bruise. Draco had thought this would be for Potter, to make Potter feel good, and it is. He knows it's working and he made the right choice taking this chance, but never in a million years could he have imagined what his own response to it all might be.
There's a power in it, a power in knowing the other boy wants to hear these things from him; that his words could mean so much, at the implicit trust and desire and submission Potter is offering him with every whimper and sigh.
Draco wants to keep talking but he can't, he feels nearly as overcome as Potter and he's not sure he could form a coherent sentence even if he tried.
When Potter opens his eyes, Draco swears he might come just from the way Potter is looking at him. Draco didn't know it was be possible after everything he's done for someone to look at him like that and he almost wants to laugh at the pair of them both nearly crying, both so close to coming when they haven't even done anything yet.
"Potter....Harry," he says, voice low, but the other boy closes his eyes, shaking his head softly.
"Please," he begs and Draco doesn't know what he wants but then he's grabbing Draco's hand and shoving it down the front of his trousers. "Please."
In that moment all of Draco's bravado is gone and he is reminded that he too is only eighteen, how desperately he wants this, and mostly how neither one of them have any idea what they're doing.
"Me either. I trust you."
Draco doesn't ask if he's sure. Instead he undresses Harry with hands far steadier than they feel. When the other boy begins to undress Draco though, he can only marvel at how exposed he feels. Draco exhales a shuddering breath as Harry's hands linger on his chest for ages. He doesn't say anything, and neither does Harry. Instead Harry spends what feels like an eternity stroking them before he replaces his fingers with his mouth.
It shouldn't feel so good for someone to kiss scars but it does and Draco wonders if he would feel so completely undone by something so small if it were anyone else or if it's only because it's Harry.
"Do you want-"
"Yes," Draco answers immediately, then blushes.
"I wasn't even done asking yet," Harry laughs.
"Doesn't matter. I told you I want everything."
"So...will you.." but he trails off, looking at the ceiling.
"Will I what?" Draco asks.
"Fuck me," Harry says, his eyes blazing.
There are so many things Draco wants to say, or ask. Like how is it possible that Harry seems to need the same things Draco wants to give, or how he could possibly want Draco to be the one to give these things to him. But he doesn't ask. Instead he runs his hands down Harry's body, lifting his legs and pressing them back into his chest before his fingers get to work.
It's not perfect, and for awhile Draco is convinced the books must have been wrong because Potter's teeth are gritted and he doesn't look like he will ever be in the raptures of pleasure. His arse is so tight Draco feels like just his fingers might split him open and it doesn't seem like his cock will ever fit in there. But then Draco's fingers press into a spot inside Harry that makes him scream and it gives him enough confidence to keep going.
"Fuck, that's a good boy. Relax for me, Harry. You're doing so good," Draco whispers against his skin, his confidence returning as he watches Harry's cock becoming harder with every twist of his fingers.
After that Draco loses track of what's happening, lost in fingers and tongues and whimpers and pleading and he doesn't know which one of them is begging and screaming, but as he thrusts in and out of Harry he swears this must be what heaven feels like. He has never felt so powerful and powerless all at once, in awe of the sight of his cock slipping into Harry's body as the other's boys stomach muscles tense and quiver, his ankles thrown over Draco's shoulders and his head thrown to the side.
When he comes, it is with Harry's name on his tongue and he knows he is ruined for anyone else for the rest of his life.
After that it feels as if everything and nothing has changed.
They go to classes, they still have seekers games on the weekends, they still bicker and tease constantly.
No one looks at them any differently when they walk down the hallway. No one seems to know just by looking at them what they've done, or said.
No one says anything when one warm day in April Harry reaches out and slips his fingers into Draco's in the middle of a crowded corridor on the way to classes on Monday morning.
And no one says anything when the following week Draco kisses Harry in the Great Hall at breakfast after asking him to pass the toast.
The world does not implode when, on the last day of classes Harry leans into him whispering "I love you, move in with me."
And there is no story in the prophet when Draco whispers "I love you too. Yes."
And as Draco takes Harry's hand as they step off the Hogwarts Express for the last time, he thinks maybe this was how things were always meant to be; not with them facing off against each other but facing the world, together.