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When Exhaustion Strikes

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“No.”

“Yes!”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“NO, Potter! I can’t stop working right now! I need to do this!”

As his annoying boyfriend gave a horrifically irritating sigh, Draco turned defiantly back to his work, ignoring the man standing over him who was tapping his foot impatiently on the spot and trying to refocus on the words; if only they’d stop moving... 

“You mean you need to keep reading and making notes that make less and less sense, until you inevitably fall asleep on top of the book, wake up with a crick in your neck, and get less than three hours sleep so tomorrow you can work even less but are more tetchy than a Hippogriff having his feathers plucked?!” Emerald eyes bore down on him, burning his cheeks. He really should have stared back but the words were moving faster, making him dizzy, and he was sure that even the slightest movement would tip him over. Something told Draco that that would be the exact kind of nonsense that Harry Potter, Flapper Almighty, would consider proof of Draco’s inability to work. Stupid twat.

“I’m not tired!” he repeated, trying to take a steady breath to calm the storm in his mind, and settle his stomach; it was rapidly protesting the spinning sensations that were ravaging him. 

“I just need to finish these two chapters and practice a few spells for a bit. It will barely take me 3 hours—less if you get me a coffee instead of interrupting me and standing over me!” 

“Not tired, he says,” Harry scoffed. “So if you aren’t tired, why have you overslept three mornings in a row, forgotten your lunch on two of those days, forgotten to eat basically anything in a week, snapped at every single one of your friends in the past week because your exhausted, or made the very helpful notes ‘Uses of Wolfsbane include stopping werewolves from being so howly every 28 days. Instead they stay sleepy. Like me. Right now.’” 

Draco felt his cheeks flush violently as Harry once again glared at him with an expression the Weasley Matriarch would have been proud of. 

“Stop being such a mother hen,” he tried to snap, only to have a wave of nausea completely undermine him, turning it into a weak, shaky, petulant complaint. He couldn’t have that.

“I’m fine!” he continued too loudly, as Potter shifted a hand to his hip and gave a terse sigh. “I don’t need your clucking! Take your chicken’s comb and let me finish working!” 

“Chicken comb?! If you’re trying to prove you aren’t delirious and you’re fit to work, you’re doing an awful job of it…”

“It’s a thiiiing, Potter!” he whined, only just managing to refrain from clutching his head, which now felt like it was wobbling from one side to the other. It was all Potter’s fault! He’d been fine until the berk showed up! Making him talk like some kind of peasant!

“It’s the red thing that sticks straight up in the air! It’s bright red, and stupid looking! Like your hair!” 

“My hair isn’t red, you twat! And it doesn’t look stupid!” Harry exclaimed, fervently running his hands through it in an attempt to flatten it, but only succeeding in making it stand up at even more odd angles. Draco tried not to wince as the sudden change of pitch grated on his already stressed senses. 

“Evidently you haven’t seen a mirror lately,” Draco thought. Under normal circumstances he would have delighted in seeing his boyfriend’s face at such an insult. But right then, with the world spinning violently and his limbs weighing at least a tonne each, all he could manage was another weak protest about needing to work. 

“No, Draco, you need to sleep. You can barely keep your eyes open! We’re going home. Now.” And it was true; his stupid eyes were betraying him having closed against another vicious attack of nausea, they were now refusing to re-open, the bastards! But that wasn’t going to stop him from protesting every step of the way. Malfoy’s never surrendered! As the sounds of his boyfriend packing his things away reached his ears, he flung his arms across the table, trying to protect them.

“Stop it!” he wailed, failing to grab his books before Harry shoved them in his bag.

“No, Draco, you need sleep. Work can wait!”

“No it can’t! I’ll fall behind, and I can’t do that! You know that! I need to stay on top! I need to prove that I’m—,” he stopped, catching himself. Harry paused.

“That you’re what?”

Draco sighed, shaking his head. Which was a mistake. A very, bad, painful mistake. He grimaced.

“Nothing,” he sighed, gingerly resting his head on his hand. “I just want to finish reading this chap—,”

“No, Draco, look at me,” Harry bent down, gently catching Draco’s chin and turning it towards him. And despite the fact that the movement made his head swim even more, the warmth from Harry’s calloused hand and the smell of home sent spirals of calm through him.

“What do you need to prove?” Harry’s tender voice asked. Sighing, Draco wrenched his eyes open, squinting in the harsh light, and immediately falling into an emerald ocean. His stomach swooped.

“I—,” he began, unable to resist the draw of those loving, concerned eyes. Why in Circe’s tits name could the ruddy Gryffindor do this to him?!

“No one believes I deserve to be an Unspeakable,” he whispered, letting his eyes slip closed again as he leaned into Harry’s hand. “You know they almost didn’t accept me onto the course. I only managed it because of you. And I know that they aren’t happy with me learning this stuff. So I have to prove that I’m worth it.”

“I have to stay on top of things, make sure I don’t fall behind, and get the best grades, because if I don’t? If I fall behind and stop getting good grades, I’m sure that they’ll just—,” his breath caught. “Just kick me off, saying that I didn’t perform to the required standards. I know they’re looking for any excuse they can find! So I—, I need to prove that I can do this, Harry.”

As tears welled in his eyes and a lump lodged itself in his throat, Draco tried to move away from his boyfriend and turn back to his work, resigned to carrying on despite the protests from every cell in his body. But before he could even look for where Harry had stashed his bag, warmth had surrounded him from his side, a new weight resting on him gently, as arms wound their way around his chest and neck, forcing a whimper from his throat.

“You, Draco Malfoy, are the smartest bloke I know,” his boyfriend murmured softly, breath whistling tenderly through his hair. “Everyone, even Hermione, looks at you in awe. As long as I’m around, they are never going to be able to kick you out. You’re an asset to the team. And both Hermione and I will die before they stop you becoming the best damn Unspeakable the Ministry has ever had.”

As tears began falling down his cheeks, Harry squeezed him gently, drawing another choked noise from him. 

“You’re a fast worker,” Harry continued, kissing his cheek lovingly, “And although it’s a lot of work, taking a night or a day off so that you can rest isn’t going to set you back. It will help you recover so that you can start beating Hermione again—but don’t tell her I said that!” A wet chuckle escaped Draco, who latched onto Harry’s arms, nuzzling into them.

“You deserve the rest, gorgeous,” Harry murmured, squeezing Draco tighter. “Please let me take you home?”

The tenderness in his voice, the gentle squeezes, the overwhelming love in Harry’s voice, and the throbbing ache of exhaustion all melded into one as Harry’s final words, and suddenly, it was just too much. With one final gasp for breath, Draco broke, nodding and sobbing uncontrollably in Harry’s arms, as his boyfriend quickly readjusted, pulling him tight into his chest. 

“Shh, it’s okay,” Harry whispered, as Draco wound his fists into Harry’s shirt. “Let’s get you home, okay?”

Not a moment later Draco was being lifted, carried gently in his boyfriend’s arms, legs winding themselves as best they could around Harry’s torso as they made their way to the fireplace. 

“M’sorry,” he sniffled as Harry stepped in, Floo powder in hand. 

“You’re exhausted, gorgeous, you don’t need to be sorry,” his sappy boyfriend murmured, squeezing him once more. Draco could only hiccup and burrow closer. 

“Now hold on,” Harry warned, before calling out their destination. 

As the Floo spat them out into their warm living room and Draco’s head slowly stopped spinning, his boyfriend gently wandered up the stairs, his sobs slowed, just slightly, exhaustion fighting to consume him.

“Here, gorgeous,” Harry murmured, tenderly setting him down on the bed, holding him upright as he swayed on the spot, trying to get his balance. Green eyes twinkled lovingly at him.

“Can you keep yourself upright?” Harry asked, leaning forward to kiss his forehead softly; Draco’s heart fluttered as he sniffled again, nodding.

Kneeling, Harry undressed him, first taking off his boots, then his socks, giving him a brief foot massage as he did so, before taking Draco’s jacket and shirt, and finally unzipping his trousers. Throughout it all, Draco could barely keep himself in position, tears still running periodically down his cheeks and exhaustion screaming through every inch of his body.  Every now and then he’d relax just a little too much and suddenly find himself leaning just too far to one side, jolting painfully upright again as Harry worked. It was only his soft voice interrupting that stopped it from happening again.

“You need to stand up, gorgeous,” Harry murmured, hands resting on Draco’s knees, squeezing softly. Sucking in a long breath, Draco nodded, eyes falling closed as he searched for the energy to do just that, knowing full well he had nothing left.

“Put your hands around my shoulders,” Harry encouraged a moment later. “That’s it, just hold onto me, I’ve got you.”

Gently, Harry stood, pulling Draco with him, supporting him with one hand whilst the other pushed his trousers and boxers down far enough for gravity to do the rest. 

“That’s it, gorgeous,” he murmured as Draco sniffled into his shoulder, shaking from the effort it took to hold on. “Now, bed.”

Just before his limbs gave out, Harry pulled the covers back and scooped him up once again, this time bridal style, gently laying him in the spell warmed sheets and easing Draco’s trouser’s off. Draco could only sigh in relief, the mattress hugging his aching body in just the right places. But it wasn’t complete without his boyfriend.

“Harry?” he whimpered, willing his eyes to open and his arm to reach for the man.

“Shh, I’m right here gorgeous, give me 2 secs.”

The hurried sounds of someone stripping off reached his ear, Harry’s belt noisily clanging to the floor as footsteps padded over to the bed. But in the next moment, the mattress dipped, the covers lifted slightly, a whisper of cool air licked at Draco’s skin, making him shiver, and then Harry engulfed him. As tender, wonderfully warm arms wrapped their way around Draco, easing him onto his side, pulling his into Harry’s chest, Draco whimpered once more, drowning in the smell of Harry’s skin. 

“I’ve got you, gorgeous.” Harry’s voice rumbled through his chest, “Just sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

And as Harry pressed another gentle kiss to his forehead, finally Draco let himself surrender to the darkness, sparks of delight curling through him at every tender caress from his boyfriend.