“Count to ten,” Draco told himself as he watched his reflection in the bathroom mirror. The panic was apparent in his ragged breathing and high-pitched voice as he spoke to himself. The gentle sway of the ship on the Black Lake made him feel nauseous again. There were dark circles under his eyes and his normally pale skin was blotchy and red under the dim lantern lighting.
With a huff, Draco grabbed the porcelain sink on either side and then looked at himself defiantly. The mirror had an intricate bronze frame with an arabesque design flowing around the edges all culminating at the top where an angry looking face stared down at him. Draco thought he looked quite like his father with that disapproving scowl. Though, this man couldn’t wax poetic about how much of a disappointment it was to have a son turn his back on the family values.
Draco stuck his tongue out at the face and spoke to his reflection again, but softer this time as if to comfort himself. “Count to ten and breathe. It is just a party. There are just everyday, normal people out there. It’s a good time. Yule Ball afterparty is supposed to be a fun excuse to drink, so go have fun.”
If he couldn't calm himself down, Draco knew he would spend the better part of his night in this small, creepy bathroom in the Captain's quarters, hating himself. It happened the last time he attempted to go to an event. At the beginning of the year, there was a memorial service held in Hogsmeade for those lost in the battle. Like a fool, he went. And like a fool, he panicked and locked himself away the bathroom at Honeydukes. He missed the ceremony and waited until the crowds thinned before he slunk his way back to the castle.
“Not this time,” Draco asserted to his reflection. He looked around the bathroom for something that might help. After all, this is the Headmaster’s private bathroom. Maybe there was a pepper up potion lying around.
Quickly, Draco scanned the room. Toilet. Sink. Judgemental bronze face on the mirror. Then he spotted a small wooden cabinet to the side of the sink that was the same dark wood the walls were made of—he would have missed it if he hadn’t been looking. It was locked, but a quick wandless alohamora and he was inside. There were a few vials labeled Dreamless Sleep and another labeled Calming Draught. Draco considered taking that one, but really it was more for dealing with trauma and not for a panic attack.
He fingered the vials carefully, trying to avoid clinking them together. Even though it was a one person bathroom, Draco was afraid of someone catching him rifling through the potions. They might think he was up to something. Most people thought he was planning the next big Death Eater uprising even when he used a simple lumos spell to get from the dorm to the bathroom at night.
There was one pepper up potion at the back of the cabinet. Draco held the vile precariously in his hand, cupping it as if it were a dragons egg and could crack with the slightest pressure. If he took this, would it actually help him? Pepper up potions, if brewed right, only lasted so long. He looked at the vile and rubbed his thumb over the cork stopper. Something in his gut told him to put it back. Draco decided against taking a potion in that moment.
In a hurry, Draco shoved the potion back into the cabinet. He stood, wiping his hands off on the front of his robes and look at himself in the mirror again. “You don't need it.”
His reflection still seemed to want to run back up to the castle and the safety of his dorm, but he ignored it and unlocked the door. The bathroom door swung open before Draco could even blink and a very drunk Harry Potter stumbled inside. The man’s face was flushed red. His right hand was tightly gripping the neck of an unlabeled bottle of alcohol. It swished in the bottle. The clothes he wore were some muggle fashion that Draco never fully understood; just a plain white t-shirt and a seemingly old pair of jeans. Seemed more like clothes to garden in rather than wear to a party.
In an effort to right his stance, Potter leaned himself on the side of the sink, getting very close to Draco. The smell of liquor floated towards him like a potion wafting in the wind of an open window. It was an overwhelming smell that made Draco want to barf.
“You,” Potter growled, pointing the hand that held the bottle in Draco’s general direction. All the panic Draco had coursing through his body seemed to bubble at the surface when Potter spoke. If he could just scoot by Potter, then he could get off this damned ship without anyone taking notice. After all, Luna had only invited him to the party out of pity.
“Potter, could you—could you move aside?” Draco said in an attempt to sound casual and polite; two things he had never successfully done with Potter.
“I can’t believe that you actually came to the party.” Potter sloshed the bottle upward and took a long, lingering swig of the mystery alcohol, then made a scrunched-up face before turning his attention back to Draco.
“I—well, I was invited, Potter,” Draco said, still attempting to be casual and polite, but feeling his mouth get dry and his palms get sweaty. He stumbled with a particularly jolting sway of the ship and, in an effort to stay upright, he gripped the front of the sink. Their hands nearly touched.
“Potter. I like it when you say it like that.” Potter took a step forward as he said this, making the small bathroom seem infinitely smaller. Draco tried to back up, however, there really wasn’t anywhere to go in the small room. He practically fell in the toilet to avoid being too close to Potter.
With their height difference, Draco was left staring at Potter’s forehead, and effectively, his scar. Thanks to their new proximity, Draco could almost feel each of Potter’s ragged, drunk breaths against his own chest.
Draco attempted to maneuver around Potter again, careful not to touch him, in order to get to the exit. “Uh, can I go now?”
“Wait, just a minute, you,” Potter slurred, placed the bottle on the sink’s ledge which wasn’t very wide. It slipped as the ship swayed and made a clattering sound as it settled in the basin of the sink. Hands now free, he grabbed hold of Draco’s shoulders. The contact burned through him.
Now with a firm grip on Draco, Potter spun them around and slammed Draco against the bathroom door. The breath got knocked out of him, but before he could complain, Potter pushed his body flush with Draco’s, leaned his head up, so they could look at one another in the eyes, and said, “I’d very much like to kiss you.”
Confused, panicked, and a little excited, Draco’s eyes went wide and his heart fluttered in his chest like a caged pixie. All Draco had wanted the whole year was to hear something like that come from Potter’s lips, but not like this.
It started innocently enough. Potter asked to be his potions partner at the start of term. Draco said no. He planned to lay low until the end of the year and being Potter’s partner would not allow him to do that.Yet, Potter insisted he needed the help. He relentlessly bothered Draco until he agreed. After a few late night study sessions, Draco found himself thinking of Potter, fondly. It was another reason he wanted to avoid the party.
“Potter, this is—well, it’s not right, so if you would please remove yourself from the front of my robes,” Draco said, hoping his voice sounded as steady as he was trying to make it sound, but fearing he sounded more like a child making a request.
“Psh, is it ‘cos I’m drunk?” Potter asked, pouting his lips.
“Indeed, and tomorrow when you wake up, you will either remember this and regret it, or not remember it, and I will regret it. So, if you would?”
Potter whimpered, pouted his lip out farther, and looked to be considering something. Then Potter stepped backward which allowed Draco to quickly spin, open the door, and exit the bathroom.
Under those circumstances, Draco had expected to feel worse off than he had prior to his bathroom pep talk. Even breathless as he was from being in such close proximity to Potter, Draco felt like someone had breathed new life into his lungs. Potter had tried...he wanted to kiss Draco. The thought felt preposterous, but also Draco let himself believe it were true for a moment as he stood outside the bathroom. It filled him with warmth.
However, reality hit him hard when Potter stumbled out of the bathroom a minute later and walked past Draco without a second glance. He tossed back the contents of a vial and slipped the empty in his pocket.
Draco watched as Potter unceremoniously made his way back to his cluster of mates who stood just outside of the captain's quarters on the open deck: Weasley, Granger, Girl Weasley, and the rest of the Gryffindor lot. Then laughed as if he hadn’t just mucked up Draco’s entire reality.
Almost without meaning to, Draco headed back in the direction of the party and not off the ship like he had previously planned to do. He was enamored by Potter and couldn't look away as the man stood with his mates and effortlessly made conversation, laughing and smiling.
In his forlorn state, Draco did not realize someone had come to stand next to him. It was Luna. She stood perfectly still with her arms crossed in the same manner as Draco’s. Her gaze was directed at Potter. And, as always, she had on this dreamy face that seemed to imply she was always one step ahead of everyone.
“He is quite beautiful, isn’t he?” Luna asked quietly, turning her attention from Potter to Draco, whose stomach had just jumped into his chest with all the force of a bludger.
Draco turned to meet Luna’s gaze, but it was with great effort because he did not want to stop watching the man who had only moments ago said he wanted to kiss Draco in the bathroom. “Yes, erm, I mean—no, no, that’s not...”
“It’s okay, Draco. You don't need to pretend with me. I see it. I understand.”
“Luna, I am not sure that you do.”
“Hmm, maybe I do. Maybe I don’t.” Luna tilted her head to the side. It reminded Draco of his old pet crup, Circe, whenever she was confused. “Why don’t you come play the game with us.”
“It is terribly fun—fun and informative.”
“Thank you, but I am comfortable merely observing the goings on of the party.”
“How social of you.”
“I don't like parties, Luna. I already explained it to you yesterday when you invited me.”
“And I understand, but also I fear it is less to do with your dislike of parties and more to do with your worry that everyone still looks at you and sees a Death Eater and not the man you have grown into over the last year.”
“Accurate,” Luna paused and then looked over at Potter again. The man was egging Weasley on to chug a Butterbeer. Granger looked positively revolted, but Girl Weasley seemed very amused. Her freckled face was alight with laughter and her red hair swung behind her elegantly.
“Well, I think that is about all the revelry I can take.” Draco moved to leave, but Luna caught his arm and she pulled him in close and tight. It felt nice to be hugged, Draco thought. It had been so long since another person had touched him in a kind way. The last few months at Hogwarts had been a stream of hexes, slurred insults, and ass-kickings in empty bathrooms.
When he pulled back from the hug, Luna smiled softly and placed her hand onto Draco’s cheek in a tender way. She cocked her head to the side and said, “You both are more alike than you realize.”
After Luna walked back to Potter and the rest, her words played over in his mind as he stood there at the edge of the party. He tried to distract himself from the nagging feeling that he was making a huge mistake by even showing up at the party, let alone staying. If his encounter with Potter taught him anything it was that the rule he made at the beginning of the year to avoid everyone at all costs was a good rule and he never should have broken it in the first place when Potter asked to be his Potions partner and especially not now by coming to this party.
In the end, Draco had convinced himself to come to the party out of curiosity, that and Luna threatened to do a French braid and spell it to stay for a week unless he agreed to make an appearance. At least that's what he told himself. It was hard to lie, but between Luna’s threat, which he was sure she would make good on, and his desire to see the inside of the ship, Draco decided that had little choice but to come.
The Durmstrang ship was described as a magical marvel by his father. He heard enough about it fourth year as his father complained that the ship must break every secrecy law the Ministry ever wrote because there was no way to conceal something of this magnitude. It was the only thing his father complained about more that year than he did about how Potter managed a way into the tournament and so how come Draco had not been clever enough to do it.
The fact it annoyed his father was reason enough for Draco to find it impressive. However, the encantions and sheer amount of spellwork that powered something this extravagant would have been enough to strike his curiosity all on its own.
The ship had a strange, skeletal look to it, Draco noted as he made his way around the main deck where the party raged on. No doubt there were as many ghosts roaming the decks of this ship as there were in the castle, though Draco had not run into one yet and he was almost disappointed.
Just then, as if he wished it into existence, a girl nearby screamed and threw her drink as a ghost wearing full pirate garb floated through her on his way to walk the plank. Unlike the Hogwarts ghosts, or even the ones in the Manor, this one seemed trapped in a loop. He did not even acknowledge the students as he flung himself into the Black Lake.
Draco glanced around some more, ignoring the few students who were shouting about the ghost who just walked off the deck. There was a table that someone had transfigured where the booze sat. It was a menagerie of half filled bottles, likely stolen and snuck into school from their parents homes.
A student must have enchanted the bottles to say to whoop every time someone picked it up. The sound went off nearly continuously. Draco watched as some Beauxbaton’s boy in a pale yellow dress robe picked up the bottle, let it whoop, put it down and then pick it up again, letting it whoop. He did this four times before finally pouring his drink and walking away with a self-satisfied smirk that led Draco to believe that he may have been the mastermind behind the whooping bottle enchantment.
Amid the chaos, Draco managed to keep an eye on Potter and his friends. They were easy to spot thanks to the cluster of red heads that followed Potter around like lost crups. It still seemed to Draco, that Potter was the ring-leader, even when drinking. He got everyone shots and begged them to do them. Once over the music, which came from an enchanted gramophone, Draco heard Potter shout to Granger who seemed to be refusing yet another shot—“but did you die?”
The look on her face was priceless. She was speechless and somber and incensed all that the same time. She tilted her head back and took the shot. Potter watched gleefully. He seemed much more in control of himself than he had in the privy and Draco wondered if he had imagined the interaction all together.
“You are like spectre,” a voice came from behind Draco. The thick accent told him it was a someone from Durmstrang.
Draco turned and saw the person who the voice belonged to was, in fact, not a student but Amelia Kharkov, a past headmaster of Durmstrang and a ghost. She had been young to be head of a school, possibly in her late forties, when she died nearly a hundred years ago. Her hair matched Draco’s in length, dropping to her shoulders. Though she wore hers tied back with braids, something he thought Luna would approve of. She had a long nose that ended in a dramatic point. On someone else it would seem out of place, but somehow on her, it fit. She wore robes with no embroidery, no embellishment. If one weren’t paying attention, she would simply blend into the background.
Dismissing her comment, Draco pointedly asked, “Are you not concerned that there is a massive party happening on your ship, Headmistress?”
“No,” Kharkov responded matter-of-factly.
“No?” Draco found himself amused. Any other headmaster would disapprove of this sort of underage debauchery even in death, but Kharkov seemed completely at ease. She watched the party and didn’t wince.
After a moment's pause, Kharkov nodded toward a group of Beauxbaton girls who were all shouting out animals names to a rather large and boorish looking Durmstrang student, who was mimicking each one the girls called out. “It is good. They have fun. Blow off steam. It is good to be young when one is young.”
“You know you were young yourself,” Draco pointed out. “Too young to have bored yourself with being head of a school.” Too young to have died such a tragic death aboard this ship, Draco wanted to add. Her death was taught in History of Magic. A student who was obsessed with her, drowned her in the Captains privy sink—the very one Draco had been giving himself a pep talk in front of only minutes ago.
The only sign that she had been drowned was the small trickle of water dripping from the corners of her mouth. Otherwise, she looked composed. More composed than the Bloody Baron or Nearly Headless Nick, anyway.
Kharkov threw her hands up and belatedly laughed, the water trickled out faster when her mouth opened wide. “Nonsense. I was just young enough to be boring myself, as you say, with being head of a school.”
“Okay…” Draco let his response die on his lips. He was realizing this woman was as odd as Dumbledore had been. Seemly always speaking in riddles, but making sense all the same. He thought how the two would have gotten along. He thought about Dumbledore often these days. Without Dumbledore, Draco would have made a decision that would have split his soul in two. It was thanks to that odd man that Draco even had the chance to think about starting over.
“Why not enjoy like the rest?” Kharkov said, pulling Draco out of his thoughts. She had her eyebrows raised in question.
“Is because you were Death Eater?”
“Umm, to put it bluntly,” Draco snapped. He crossed his arms in front of his chest. Yup, this headmaster was decidedly very much like Dumbledore. She pulled no punches.
Kharkov hummed to herself. “That is all they will see of you,” she said nodding at the crowd of students.
“Thanks for the pep talk.”
“Just like him,” Kharkov said, pointing at Potter, who was spinning Longbottom around the deck in a very sloppy version of a Venetian waltz which Draco found both endearing and annoying. He dropped Longbottom on the dip, but they laughed it off. Then she added, “Always savior, never person.”
“Seems like a better thing to be remembered for.”
“Still a box to be trapped in, no?”
“I guess if you want to simplify everything.”
“It is simple. You have much in common, I’d say.”
“You know, you’re the second person to tell me that tonight.”
“Maybe you will listen then.”
“You know, you’d give Dumbledore a run for his money as weirdest headmaster.”
“Yes, I am the weird one... at party, but not actually at party.”
“Try to have fun. You are young, start over. Always time to start over.” Draco looked away and watched Potter and his friends again. They looked happy. He felt a jolt of jealousy and realized that he wanted that. He wanted happy. He turned to thank the headmaster, but she was gone.
As he headed to the table that housed the whooping bottles, Draco felt his stomach flop at the thought of starting over. Could it really be that simple? With all he had done and the terrible choices he made, could he start anew? Even though he had taken the mark, he had switched sides—losing his family in the process. Everyone was shocked when he did it and in the end, it helped them win the war. Though that didn’t seem to be enough for some people.
Draco lost himself in that thought and poured a glass of whiskey. The bottle whooped loudly and jolted him from his revere just in time to see that Potter was sauntering over to the table with the Girl Weasley at his side. She touched his arm lightly and tilted her head back, laughing at something he said. The whole scene made Draco feel like he was was drinking acid instead of whiskey. His stomach cursed him for even considering a drink, let alone having the audacity to sip at it.
“—and so I said, fuck this! I will leave when I am good and ready,” Potter said, laughing. He picked up a bottle, which whooped and in response he whooped back. “Anyways, I doubt that Robards will like having me in training come end of summer, but he will have to get over it.”
“You are an absolute menace, Potter,” Girl Weasley answered. She took the glass Potter had poured for himself and swigged it back in one fluid motion. Then she smirked, handed the glass back, and walked away.
“Have you got one of those?” Potter asked, pointing behind him in the general direction Girl Weasley had walked.
Draco started. Potter was talking to him. Potter was talking to him and he seemed perfectly in control of himself, very much leading Draco to believe he really must have imagined the scene in the privy because that Potter was much more drunk than this Potter.
Belatedly, he responded, “Um, sorry, but are you asking me?”
Potter laughed, looked around the table and said, “I don’t see anyone else, do you?” He smiled wide and Draco felt the world around them melt away as if they cast a muffliato charm.
“Er, no. I suppose I don’t.” Draco tucked a stray piece of hair behind his ear as he spoke. He felt the top of his ear and it was hotter than a kettle. He wondered if Potter noticed how red the tips of his ears must be.
Sipping from his drink, Potter walked around to where Draco stood at the edge of the table. He nudged Draco in the side and asked, “So do you?”
“D-do I?” Draco stammered. He couldn’t manage to keep his face impassive. He felt his brow furrowing and his nose scrunch up. If he had not imagined their earlier encounter, then how was Potter acting so casual? Had he forgotten it? Draco considered. Then he thought, maybe it was a prank. Potter and his mates were always pulling pranks this year. Every product Weasleys Wizards Wheezes ever concocted had shown up on campus now that students could truly relax for the first time in years.
Potter nodded toward his friends. The Girl Weasley was chugging yet another beer down in a race against Finnegan and Thomas. She won and belted out a large burp. “Have one of those, I mean?”
“A Weasley?” Draco snorted before he could stop himself. “No, I’m afraid not.”
“No, I mean a friend who is insane, but you love them anyway.”
“No, fresh out of those, too.”
Potter choked on his drink. “Funny,” he said. He looked concerned for a minute and opened his mouth to say something, but then, instead, slapped Draco on the back playfully.
The more Potter stood there looking at him, speaking to him casually, the more anxious Draco got. The worst part was that after Potter slapped him on the back, he rested his hand there for a moment. The soft pressure of the touch made him think of the roughness with which Potter had swung him around in the privy earlier. So juxtaposed, but still having the same effect on Draco’s breathing.
“I’ll alert the prophet,” Draco deadpanned in response. “Draco Malfoy, occasionally funny. It will merit a full page article.” He smiled half-heartedly and took another sip of his drink. It was vile, but he gave him something to focus on other than Potter’s hand. The longer Potter stood there with his hand on Draco’s back, the more Draco worried someone might see. Someone might see and...and then what?
Potter made a disgusted face. “I hate that paper. The whole lot of them can suck my snitch.”
“That’s fair,” Draco said honestly. It was true. The prophet did more harm than good. If anyone else knew that, it was Draco. After the war, they eviscerated Draco and his family and revealed the location of the Manor. This resulted in more hate mail than Draco had ever thought possible and more than a few people trespassing and getting lost in the gardens and maze after being hit with the Confundus charms surrounding the grounds. He hadn’t been living there for some time when it all happened, but when he read about it, he tried to owl his mother. She never responded.
“Is it? Hermione says I’m too harsh.” Potter looked delighted that Draco agreed with him. His face lit up and settled in a satisfied smirk. “She’s too concerned with what’s proper. I couldn’t give a flying hippogriff anymore.”
“Well, they aren’t doing feature pieces on what kind of towels she prefers to use after quidditch in the locker rooms now, are they?”
“See! That’s what I tell her.” Potter paused to sip his drink. Then he scrunched his eyebrows together and made an affronted look that would have rivaled Draco’s mothers when tea was served a bit cold and without biscuits. “God, you actually read that trash?”
“On occasion,” Draco admitted. It was a sort of guilty passtime of his. He wanted to see what was being said about him and his family. He felt like their hate for him was justified and that he should be subject to it. It was the same reason he never fought back when someone hit him. Yes, he helped in the end, but he was also one of them. It was only right that he be punished, too.
“Well,” Potter mused, “they got it wrong anyhow.”
“Who got what wrong?” Draco asked, absentmindedly. He took another sip of his drink. It was still vile.
“The prophet,” Potter asserted. “I don’t use any towels after. I air dry.”
Draco let out a small squeak at the thought of Potter walking around naked after showering and then masked it by coughing so ridiculously loud that a few partygoers near them looked over. In fact, he was so caught up in the moment that he barely felt the glass slip from his fingers. It shattered at his feet.
“You okay?” Potter asked and he actually looked concerned which only further made Draco feel like he was imagining this whole party.
“Fine,” Draco coughed, “just swallowed down the wrong pipe.”
“Been there. So why are you lurking in the shadows like Moaning Myrtle anyways?”
“I’m not very good at parties.”
“Come off it. Everyone is good at parties. Just got to get a bit more whiskey in you and you’ll be singing the pirate jaunts along with Seamus in no time.”
“I was actually thinking of leaving after this drink.”
“I have excellent self-preservation skills.”
“Merlin you make it sound like we are going to make you walk the plank like that bloody ghost earlier.”
“I’m sure it will cross some of their minds.”
Potter’s face got serious all of a sudden. He seemed to agree with Draco, but did not want to admit it. “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you. That is my potions partners promise.” Potter raised his right hand and straightened his back, looking all official and said, “I swear it. No harm will come to the sole reason I am passing Potions this semester. Come on.”
“Potter, really, I don’t…”
But it was too late, Potter managed to drag Draco away from the drinks table, leaving the shattered glass on the deck where it fell. They crossed the party and a few people gawked at them. The Beauxbaton’s boy, who Draco suspected was the whooping charm culprit, very audibly said “Is he mad?” Though Draco wasn’t sure if he meant Potter or himself.
“Now, we are playing a game and you have to play,” Potter said. He didn't turn to look at Draco when he spoke. Instead he looked at his group of friends with a wide smile on his face.
It felt like every bad idea Draco ever had personified into that devilish smile on Potter’s face. His stomach felt heavy from the alcohol. He barely stuttered out a response before Potter spoke again.
Potter added, “You have to play. I am invoking the lab partners clause.”
“The what?” Draco managed. They were nearly at the group. He could hear Weasley’s obnoxious laugh over the hum of music.
“The pOrion’s partners clause that says you have to do what I say,” Potter quipped. His mouth turned up into a smirk that was dangerously handsome. He stopped walking and turned to face Draco now.
“I must have been absent the day they explained that one,” Draco quipped back and laughed in spite of his best efforts to be annoyed with Potter for acting so casual after the bathroom incident.
Swiftly, Potter leaned in to whisper in Draco’s ear. “It was in the fine print. Always read the fine print.”
A shiver ran down Draco’s spine as Potter’s warm breath ghosted over his ear. He tried to ignore the stupid floating feeling in his gut. It was useless. Potter’s whisper sent Draco’s body over the edge. The hairs on his arms stood up. His cheeks flushed. The tips of his ears burned hot.
“And what is the game?” Draco said, simply to have something to think about other than Potter’s breath on his ear. Potter only winked and tugged Draco forward by the elbow. They arrived just as Granger was saying, “He’s a hack, we all know that, but I was young and you have to admit he was beautiful.”
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you it was impolite to talk about your friends like that, Ms. Granger?” Potter asked, winking at Granger. She blushed and rolled her eyes at him. Seemed to Draco that Potter had that effect on everyone. At least he wasn’t alone in that.
“Merlin, the ego on this one,” Weasley commented. “She meant Lockhart, of course. It was her turn for Truth. Neville asked her who her first crush was and it was apparently Lockhart.”
“Right better choice than mine,” Girl Weasley chimed in, walking to stand near Potter. “I had the hots for Mr. I Have a God Complex, over here.” She nudged Potter in the ribs and he laughed, putting an arm around her shoulders. Draco never felt so out of his depth in his life and he shared a home with the darkest wizard of their time. He almost thought that was easier than trying to be casual and calm next to a group of people who had never liked him. He didn’t know what to say, so he stood there and watched Potter interact with them.
“Poor kid didn’t realize she wasn’t my type,” Potter said with a pout.
Everyone laughed at this. Draco wondered at how easy it was for Potter to be out. Of course, it was headline news for months after the war, but Potter never seemed phased by it. Draco, on the other hand, well, his parents threatened death if Draco so much as looked at anyone before marriage. So he never really let himself consider romantic feelings until after the war, after his family disowned him for his betrayal. Even though it was that “betrayal” that saved them from Azkaban and from death.
“Hello, Draco,” Granger cut in between the laughter. “I assume Harry is also forcing you to play this insipid game?”
“Mm, ‘fraid so,” Draco answered. Keep it to as little words as possible. They can’t get mad at what is said, if you don't say anything, Draco told himself.
Everyone else nodded politely at Draco, but no one else spoke to him. Longbottom, Finnegan, and Thomas all looked sideways at one another, probably thinking what Draco was thinking, himself. Potter is mad for bringing Draco over here.
“So if Hermione just went, that means it’s…” Longbottom started, ignoring the quiet that settled in the group after Granger acknowledge Draco.
“My turn,” Potter answered. “Man, I feel like I just went—waltzing you all across the deck like a maniac.”
“Well, time to go again, Truth or Dare?” Longbottom asked.
“Oh, do let me ask,” Luna’s voice came from behind Draco. “Hullo, Draco, so lovely of you to join us.”
“So what’s the question?” Potter asked.
“When you were dared to hold the Reveal-it-all…”
“The what?” Draco asked. He couldn't stop himself from blurting it out and cutting Luna off. She didn’t seem phased by it at all. In fact, she seemed eager for Draco to understand. She leaned forward on her toes and raised her brow waiting for someone to answer him.
“Oh, right,” Potter started, “well, Hermione and I tinkered with Neville’s old Remembrall to make it reveal what it is you’ve forgotten. Took a lot of charm work, but it seems to work most of the time.”
After Potter’s explanation, Luna spoke again. “So when you were dared to hold it, you ran off and we didn’t see you for a few minutes. What was it that you remembered you needed to do?”
“I’m afraid it is a boring answer. I was reminded that I needed take a pepper up potion so I could keep up with you lushes. I found one in the captain's private bathroom.”
“Hmm,” Draco heard himself say. How interesting that Potter knew he was in the captains bathroom, but did he know that Draco had been in there with him before he took the pepper up potion?
Luna eyed him knowingly, but she didn’t say anything.
“Well, that was a dud, Luna,” Girl Weasley said. She opened her arms out for a hug and Luna walked over to her and snuggled in. “Bless her, she tries.” Girl Weasley added before kissing Luna on the forehead.
“So,” Potter said, turning to Draco, “I reckon it’s time to get you in on the game.”
Draco put his hands up, as if trying to stop the idea dead in its tracks. “Really, I would rather watch.”
“No way, if I have to play, so does he,” Granger asserted, her words slurring together slightly. She gave him a positively smug look after and leaned forward.“Fair’s fair, mon cher.”
“She’s right, I’m afraid.” Weasley crossed his arms and nodded in agreement.
“Truth or Dare?” Potter asked without any preamble.
Draco’s stomach lurched. Either choice felt like it would subject him to a litany of unwanted attention. His initial thought was to pick Truth, but then what was to stop questions about Voldemort or the war? So before he could think more on it, he shouted out, “Dare!”
There was a collective Oooo from the small group. Weasley eyed his sister and she smirked. Granger raised her brows and sipped from her drink attempting to keep in a laugh that was forming at the corner of her mouth. Finegan and Thomas laughed outright and slapped each other on the backs. Only Longbottom and Luna seemed concerned for Draco. Their faces seemed to reflect Draco’s own feelings on the matter.
“Uh, was that the wrong choice? I’ve never played this game before.”
“No, there isn’t really a right or wrong choice,” Longbottom said.
“Speak for yourself,” Granger added, still trying to keep a laugh from pouring out of her.
“Can I switch it?” Draco asked hopefully.
“Sorry, mate. You said Dare and now you have to do a dare,” Weasley answered and Draco thought he sounded a bit too happy about it.
“Okay, so the way it works is I will dare you to do something and you have to do it, otherwise you drink from this bottle until we say stop.” Potter held up a bottle of a familiar brown liquid that Draco hadn’t seen him grab. There was no label on it and it looked like it was missing nearly half its contents. Draco recognized it as the bottle Potter had when he was in the bathroom earlier and suddenly everything was making sense.
“Mr. Golden Boy drank all that because we dared him to slap one of the Beauxbaton’s girls arses. Like the gentleman he is, he refused and chugged until we had him wobbling around drunk as a pirate,” Thomas explained. He winked at Potter and then added, “Probably why he needed that reminder to drink a pepper up.”
Suddenly the very drunk Harry Potter that accosted him in the bathroom made much more sense. Draco wasn't sure if he was relieved or not to find it was not in his mind and that Potter had actually said those things to him.
“So what is my Dare then?” Draco asked, trying to sound unafraid. It was best to never show your enemy fear. Or at least that’s what his father taught him—for whatever good it did him.
“Hmm,” Potter mumbled.
“Ooh, I have one,” Luna said. She walked to Potter’s side, pulled him down to her level and whispered something to him. All the while, she was bouncing back and forth from one foot to the other. Her excitement was palpable. The rest of the group watched with smiles on their faces; some good natured, others, in Draco’s mind, seemed smug.
Once Luna was done, Potter stood up straight again. He swigged back a bit of his drink and said, “I dare you to switch clothes with one of us for the rest of the party.”
“You heard me. Switch clothes with someone.”
“Uh,” Draco said, scanning the group. Right off, he decided he would not switch with Potter. Wearing his clothes would be torture. The smell of Potter’s cologne would haunt his dreams for weeks if he was forced to smell it on his own skin all night.
He was not going to switch with Thomas or Finagean. He had seen their idea of cleanliness after sharing a common room with them all year and dreaded the idea of wearing clothes that smelled like they had never been washed properly.
Luna was also out of the question. She wore a tightly fitted velvet dress that barely covered her arse. And that also counted Girl Weasley out because her dress, while loose fitting, was shorter that Luna’s.
Weasley posed a similar problem to Thomas and Finagean. Draco wasn’t sure how clean the clothes were, even though begrudgingly he had to admit Weasley’s outfit was the least dreadful of the bunch as he wore a traditional dress robe much like the one Draco wore.
Granger was a possibility. She wore a floor length blue dress. It was a shiny slip covered by a lace outer layer. It was elegant and he was sure Granger knew how to properly launder clothes.
Longbottom was out of the question completely because as Draco was scanning the group, he watched Longbottom spill some of his drink down the front of his shirt. Draco was not about to wear a shirt that smelled like alcohol all night—no spell could really take that smell out of clothes.
At the last second, Draco heard himself whisper, “Potter.” He couldn't believe he actually said Potter. Out of everyone there...he said Potter. He had meant to say Granger. He was going to say Granger. Instead he said Potter. Potter. Draco decided he was definitely going mad.
Everyone watched excitedly. Potter smiled at Draco and answered, “Let’s do it then.”
Draco nodded shakily and they walked off toward the privy in the captain's quarters where this whole mess had begun. They didn't speak until they reached the bathroom. Draco had to keep his mind off the fact that if he had picked anyone else this wouldn’t be so bad. At this rate, he was no only going to be in the same room as Potter and undress, he was going to be wearing that stupid muggle outfit all night smelling like Potter. He hated himself for not choosing Granger.
“You okay?” Potter asked, closing the door behind them. He clicked the lock into place and Draco felt his heart leap into his throat. He had to be dreaming. There was no way this was actually happening. He would wake up tomorrow and this will have all been a dream.
“Me?” Draco asked and turned to face the mirror instead of Potter. If he looked at Potter, he was sure to lose it. He watched his reflection. His face was flushed. It bothered him that his hair looked unkempt. He tried to tuck it behind his ears again. Maybe he should have let Luna spell his hair into a braid after all.
Behind him, Potter let out a breath that turned into a laugh. “Ha, yes. You’re the only other person in here with me.”
“I keep doing that.” Draco winced. In the mirror, he saw Potter standing behind him. He smiled at Draco. With great effort, Draco smiled back. The gentle sway of this ship reminded Draco that he was definitely not dreaming. He braced himself on the sink much like he’d done earlier when he was trying to talk himself into having fun. Well, here he was—trapped in a small bathroom with Potter breathing down his neck. For the second time that night, Draco wondered why this bathroom had to be so small.
“So, let’s undress then?” Potter asked, leaning in closer. Draco watched Potter’s eyes in the reflection.
He was scanning Draco’s reflection. Draco felt his body inches away from his own. “Heh, right.” Draco let out a sigh, desperately trying to banish the image of Potter pushed against him earlier. Ignoring the pull in his gut that made him want to push Potter away, Draco closed his eyes and turned around.
When he opened them, Potter was standing in front of him looking Draco up and down. His face was unreadable. “You would have to wear the most formal looking dress robes in the world, wouldn't you?”
Draco felt his mouth hang open at the comment. He was wearing a traditional dress robe. Yes, it was a bit on the elegant side—more for a charity function than a school ball, but he liked the silver gray color of it and the small buttons that went all the way down the front. “This is the appropriate dress for a formal ball,” Draco reminded him, “I didn’t think to change before coming here, unlike some people.”
Potter smirked at Draco’s accusation. He looked down at his clothes—the jeans and white undershirt. “I wore this under my robes.”
“I didn’t think to do that,” Draco answered honestly, but he did not add that the reason he had not considered more casual clothes for the party was because he had not intended to come to it. Stepping forward, Potter ran his hand over the front of Draco’s robes, fingering one of the buttons. “So what do you have on under there?”
“Nothing,” Draco stuttered, raising a hand to his top button trying to swallow the lump in his throat. “I mean, undergarments, of course, but traditionally you don’t wear clothes under a dress robe.”
“I don’t do tradition well.” Potter’s hand fell and he stepped back a little, giving Draco space to breathe. Well, space is a bit generous as the bathroom was the size of a broom cupboard. Potter simply stepped back enough that they would not bump elbows as they undressed.
“I know,” Draco said, undoing the top button of his dress robes. His fingers trembled trying to unfasten it. Potter was watching him. Eyes fixed on Draco’s fingers while they worked to unfasten the rest of the buttons. Suddenly Draco was glad his dress robes had buttons all the way down. He could take his time undressing. Potter on the other hand, would be undressed before Draco could say whomping willow.
Potter didn’t respond. Instead, he lifted the bottom of his shirt, revealing a dark trail of hair going to his navel. Draco’s throat went dry. He stopped unfastening buttons and watched Potter slip his shirt off over his head. His chest was a little hairy. Dark hair covered his pecs and trailed down to meet the hair at his navel. His body was pale and toned from years of quidditch training.
“Your turn,” Potter said, breaking Draco from his revere. “It looks like you have a few more buttons to undo.”
“Sorry,” Draco choked out. His throat was still dry. He scrambled to start unbuttoning again. The buttons weren’t cooperating though. He was stuck on the same one for awhile, trying to slip it through the hole.
“For what?” Potter asked. His voice was ernest which almost made it worse that he was asking. He had his hand on his belt, beginning to unfasten it.
Draco considered lying. He considered ignoring the question. He considered high-tailing it out of that bathroom and going back to his room and pretending all of this didn't happen.
However, he found himself answering honestly. “Starring.”
“I like it.”
“Er, w—well,” Draco muttered. He shook his head and broke eye contact with Potter, refocusing on his task of unfastening his buttons. Halfway down, Potter placed his hand over Draco’s to stop him from unfastening.
“I like your hands.” Potter took Draco’s hand and lifted it to eye level. Draco watched nervously. “Your fingers are so long. Did you play piano? I always wondered.”
“I did—I do,” Draco managed to answer, though he wasn’t sure how because all his thoughts were focused on Potter’s hand holding his.
“I thought so. I watch you in Potions, you know? It’s mesmerizing to watch your hands work so deftly, so steady.” Potter started to stroke Draco’s palm with this thumb as he spoke. He moved it in small circles. The motion made Draco whimper.
“Potter, what are you…” Draco started and tried to pull his hand away from Potter, but he felt Potter tighten his grip slightly.
“I love it when you call me Potter.”
“It’s your name. What else would I…”
“It’s the way you say it.” Potter pulled Draco’s hand to his lips. He did not kiss Draco’s hand, but instead rested Draco’s fingers against his lips. Then he whispered, “Sometimes, I get hard just hearing your voice.”
“Are you insane?”
“Maybe,” Potter whispered and smiled against Draco’s fingers. Warm breath escaped his mouth and it caressed Draco’s skin like the first ray of sunlight after a hard winter.
“Potter, you are insane.”
“Merlin, say it like that again.”
“I swear to—are you serious?”
“You tell me,” Potter said and dragged Draco’s hand down his chest. Draco felt the slight curve of his pec and the subtle bump of his abdomen as Potter pulled it down further. He watched, frozen as Potter guided his hand down past his belt to the now evident bulge in his trousers. “Does this feel serious to you?”
“Merlin,” Draco breathed out, “Potter, I—“
But his words fell dead on his lips because Potter had closed the space between them, pushing Draco against the bathroom door again. This time it was a slow, languorous journey. Potter didn’t throw him against the door like before, instead he guided Draco back with care. His hands on Draco’s arms to keep him steady. His eyes watching Draco.
When Draco felt the door behind him, he gasped. Potter laughed. He began to unbutton where Draco had left off. With each button, Draco felt himself grow more and more erect. Potter moved almost agonizingly slow until he reached Draco’s waist. He stopped unbuttoning and he slipped his hands into Draco’s half-open robes and slowly slid the robe off Draco’s shoulder’s. It pooled at Draco’s feet. He only wore his pants now.
Potter hummed under his breath and moved forward until their mouths were slightly touching—not kissing. Just lip touching lip. Draco held his breath. He felt the soft tickle of Potter’s chest hair on his chest. The boat swayed and they stumbled, but Potter righted himself by planting both hands on either side of the door.
Lips still touching, Potter whispered, “So?”
Draco swallowed hard and whispered, “Yes.”
There was a moment where Draco thought he misunderstood Potter’s implied question, but then he felt the pressure of Potter’s mouth against his. He closed his eyes and let himself be kissed.
It felt like everything he expected and nothing he could have imagined at the same time. Potter’s lips were soft and unmoving, but there was a roughness around his mouth where Potter shaved. He tasted sweet like a honeysuckle in summer. He smelled like whiskey. His lips parted and Draco mirrored him—unsure.
It was his first kiss. He didn’t know where to put his hands, so they were clenched at his sides. His nails digging into his palms. The pain was easy to ignore because Potter’s chest hammered against him. Draco wondered if Potter was nervous. His heart seemed to beat as fast as Draco’s and Draco was nervous.
Suddenly, Potter’s hands were off the door and cupping Draco’s face—tilting his chin down. Then Potter slipped his tongue into Draco’s mouth and hummed softly. His hands gripped Draco’s face tighter as he deepened the kiss.
Loosening his fists, Draco felt himself sigh into the kiss. He opened his eyes and looked at Potter who stopped moving his lips and smiled against Draco’s lips. Slowly, Draco moved his hands up—resting one on Potters bare shoulder. The muscle tensed under his touch. The other he slid around to the back of Potter’s neck. Draco felt Potter’s pulse flutter.
“Merlin, this feels right,” Potter said, eyes still closed, lips resting on Draco’s.
Before he could get out the rest of what he intended to say—all the reasons this was madness, all the reasons it shouldn’t happen—Potter pulled him into a kiss that was so hungry, so desperate, that Draco lost his breath.
They kissed for so long, Draco felt his lips start to get raw, but he wouldn’t be the one to stop this kiss. Eventually, there was a knock at the door and a muffled voice calling out to hurry up in there.
Potter pulled back. His face flushed. His lips red. Pupils blown. And he laughed. A full throated, belly laugh. Draco stood against the bathroom door. Breathing in deep breaths. Trying to catch his brain up to his body.
They were still half undressed. Potter picked up Draco’s robes and without a word, dropped his trousers and slipped the robe on. All the while, Draco stared at the bulge in Potter’s pants until it disappeared under the robes. He found himself licking his lips at the thought of touching it again.
“Draco?” Potter said, still laughing.
“Oh, right.” Draco knelt down to pick up Potter’s white shirt and slipped it over his head. It smelled like sweat and Potter’s cologne. Then he slipped himself in Potter’s jeans which were a little too big in the waist and a little short in the leg. He fastened the belt tight and knelt down, ignoring his own bulge, and cuffed the legs.
When he stood upright again, Potter was finishing buttoning up the robe. He concentrated on each button, furrowing his brow. “Merlin this is a torture device.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It is easy.”
“Well, I won’t be the one undoing the buttons when I get back to my room, so I suppose it’s going to be easier than getting it on.” Potter winked as he said this. The implications set Draco’s body off. He felt himself get excited all over again. He was thankful for the extra room in Potter’s jeans.
Draco smirked at the thought of going back with Potter, but if this was what a first kiss was like, he wasn't sure he was ready for anything more. Not yet, at least. He decided to play it cool and answered, “If you think I am going to bed with you tonight, Potter, you are sorely mistaken.”
Potter moved in closer and tilted his head to the side. “Oh?” He placed a soft kiss on Draco’s cheek and then moved to kiss his jaw. Draco froze under his touch. Potter kept placing soft kisses down his neck.
“I am a proper wizard, Potter. I require wooing,” Draco said, hoping to sound in control of his breathing. It was difficult to think straight while Potter continued to kiss his neck. Each one, burning through him like a shooting star.
“Oh, I can woo better than anyone.” Potter’s voice vibrated against his neck in between kisses.
“Then—then prove it.”
Potter stopped kissing him and stood back—looking Draco in the eyes. There was a twinkle or something mischievous in that look. “Is that a challenge?”
“Merlin, I love it when you say my name.”
Draco didn’t answer. Instead he shook his head and smiled. Potter was definitely going to succeed at wooing him, but Draco didn’t have to tell him that right now.
There was one last loud bang on the door and someone shouting to get a bloody room if you want to shag but let the bathroom be the bathroom. Potter laughed and said, “Come on.”
Draco, feeling practically naked in Potter’s clothes, followed him out of the bathroom. There was an angry looking Durmstrang girl hopping from foot to foot. She scowled at them and mutter “bloody Potter, of course,” under her breath and slammed the door behind herself.
“Ready?” Potter asked but Draco wasn’t sure what that was in reference to—was it about going back to the group, or was it about their potential relationship, or was it about something else all together?
“Yes,” he answered. Boldly, he slipped his hand into Potter’s and intertwined their fingers. Potter smiled and Draco decided he didn’t care what the question was, as long as Potter kept looking at him like that.