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Title: Coming Around
Author: Deirdre Riordan
Author email: deirdre.riordan @ gmail . com (remove spaces)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Harry's been gone for four years after a bit of a misunderstanding. Draco wants him back.
Disclaimer: Ain't mine. It's also old and hasn't had a once-over in a while, so cut me some slack.
Notes: Written before release of OotP. This is the sequel to La Découverte ou l'Ignorance, but can stand on its own. Undying thanks to Kiki, wherever she may be.


Coming Around

He used to be surrounded by music. It filled his ears constantly. Those damned Muggle records. But he'd tolerated them because they were Harry's, even grew to like them. But now there was nothing but silence and the dying light of a single candle that threatened to extinguish itself with its own wax at any moment.

The young Potions Master sighed. The sound startled him, as though it were some sort of betrayal of the silence. He returned his attention to the paper he was marking. Bloody Hufflepuffs. He scrawled "INCOMPETENT" across the top of the essay and tossed it aside. It had been this way since Harry had left. Four years now, and every day the same. He'd confessed his feelings for his friend and ally, and Harry had fled. He should have left well enough alone. He should have let things go on forever the way they had been, with a happy, platonic Harry and Draco lounging about each other's rooms talking, drinking whiskey, listening to those infernal Muggle records, marking papers, but never speaking of the volumes of emotion that lurked behind the fragile facade. Draco knew they were there, no matter how much Harry wanted to deny it.

And then he'd had to go and open his mouth. And suddenly Harry had given in to one of the Quidditch teams that had been courting him since 7th year. England, to be precise. Draco was sure Dumbledore would never forgive him for having driven away the Boy Who Lived, the best DADA instructor Hogwarts had seen in centuries. In fact, Dumbledore never did forgive him. He died shortly after Harry left Hogwarts, as though he were the only force sustaining the old man's life. Harry'd been halfway across the world when it happened. The owl hadn't been able to reach him in time for the funeral, as he found out after the fact from Hermione.

Hermione had been livid when Harry left. "Couldn't you have been more gentle about it?" she had whinged at Draco. "You must have scared the shit out of him to make him leave like that, as much as he loves you."

It was days like today that Draco wondered if the Potions position at Hogwarts weren't cursed just the same as DADA--- the DADA instructors were doomed lo leave, the Potions Masters were doomed to be depressed, bitter recluses. He thought of Severus with a pang. He gave up so much to get us where we are now. And he had no doubt that were he alive, Severus would be none too pleased with him at the moment.

He'd kept up with Harry, of course. He had drawers full of articles and newspaper clippings and interviews. All of Harry. Winning the World Cup for England three years in a row. The Boy Who Was Unbeatable, the headlines said. The Boy Who Brought Krum Down. Yes, Harry was still unbeatable. And amazingly happy if the photos were any indication. All, it seemed, to spite him. To show that Harry didn't need him. Maybe he didn't. But gods, he needed Harry.

A knock on his door jolted him out of his reverie. "Enter!" he said, more that a little annoyed.

Hermione came through the door, hands behind her back.

"Trouble in Gryffindor?" he asked with a raised eyebrow that would have made Severus proud.

She shook her head and took her hands out from behind her back, revealing that she was holding a small package. "Happy birthday, Draco."

He hadn't even realised it was his birthday. "Hermione, you didn't have to do this, not for me."

She glared a little.

"But thank you."

"That's better." She gave him a sisterly peck on the cheek and handed him the package.

He eyed it warily, fearing some sort of explosion. "Fred and George had nothing to do with this," she said reassuringly.

His hands began to tremble and his eyes went wide when he saw what was in the box. He looked up at Hermione, tears welling in his eyes.

She smiled a little and nodded. "I think it's time."

He stared disbelievingly at the pair of tickets to the World Cup. "Is it? Was it ever time?"

"Only one way to find out."

"What if England doesn't make it in?"

"Don't be daft."

Draco collapsed into Hermione's arms, sobbing loudly in a scene that would have mortified the entirety of Gryffindor and Slytherin, had they seen their heads of house like this.

"I wanted to get you Harry for your birthday, but the best I could manage was the means to get him yourself," she said softly. "If there's one thing I know about Harry Potter, it's that he holds onto love about as long as he holds a grudge. And he doesn't love often."

"He didn't love me. He would have stayed if he had."

"No, you scared him. Any fool could see that the two of you were made for each other."

"Nobody stays scared for four years."

"No, but by the time he stopped being scared, he was too proud to come back. And you were too proud to go after him. That's why I wasn't speaking to you for so long afterward."

And Draco knew she was right.

Month after excruciating month passed, until at long last it was time for the Cup final, in which England was indeed playing. He realised suddenly that the match was taking place on Harry's birthday. On an impulse, he dug into his desk drawer and pulled out the birthday gift he had tried to give Harry the day he left and shoved it into his bag.

Hermione showed up, all jubilance and muggle sunscreen, wearing a stylish red and gold sundress. She laughed when she saw Draco in his green and silver cowboy shirt, black jeans and Dragonhide boots.

"Are all your Muggle clothes red and gold?" he asked.

"Are all yours green and silver?"

"Well..."

"Won't you be hot in that?"

"I'm hot in everything."

"I was speaking in terms of temperature, dear."

"Oh. No. Cooling charm over the whole thing. Should last most of the day."

"Why Professor Malfoy, I didn't think you went in for such foolish wand-waving." They shared a look of understanding at this comment, but said nothing the rest of the way to the edge of the grounds.

Nothing could have prepared Draco for the sight that met them at the Apparation point. Harry Potter. Everywhere. On everything. Harry Potter posters, banners, figurines. Harry bloody Potter costumes. A booth doing magical lightning bolt tattoos-- temporary or permanent.

"Christ, it's Pottermania," Draco muttered, more to himself than to Hermione.

"Yes, it is," said Hermione, gawking at her old friend's face everywhere she looked. "We'd better go find our campsite."

They did so and managed to get the tent up without too much magic. "Right," Hermione said, flopping down on the couch. "Eat first or look round first?"

"Look round. Not hungry." That was an understatement. His stomach was in knots.

"Don't worry, everything'll be fine. You're not going to bloody well run into Harry tonight."

As soon as they emerged from the tent, the first sound to reach their ears was a call of "OI! HERMIONE!"

The voice belonged to Oliver Wood.

"Oliver!" She ran to hug the Scotsman, who lifted her and spun her around. Draco hung back, not really knowing what to do. "Here to see your protégé squash some Germans?"

"Dead right. Why don't you come over to my tent? A lot of the old gang are over there-- what's left of 'em anyway." Even from the distance he was standing at, Draco could see the sad, faraway look that crept into Wood's face. A look he knew well. The Gryffindor death toll in the War had been high indeed. Ginny and Ron Weasley, both their parents, Neville Longbottom, the Creevey brothers, Dean Thomas, Lavender Brown-- and those were just the ones Draco could think of off the top of his head. He wondered somewhat ruefully how many of them could have been saved if he'd given up his father earlier. The feeling of responsibility for everyone else was undoubtedly something he'd gotten from Harry.

"You remember Draco Malfoy," Hermione said, pulling him forward and snapping him out of his guilt-filled mungs.

Wood's features tightened briefly, but then he smiled. "'Course I do. Good to see you, Draco." The two men shook hands and the trio went into Wood's tent.

The evening passed pleasantly enough, even if Draco felt a bit left out of the old Gryffindor clique. He could see that like Wood, it took them all a few seconds to remember he wasn't the enemy anymore, since many of them hadn't seen him since before he denounced Voldemort and turned his father in. But despite old prejudices, they all knew of his role in bringing down Voldemort alongside Harry, their saviour, and upon seeing he was not the insufferable git he used to be, treated him amicably. Although he couldn't help but think par of that was fear of Hermione's wrath.

They all got pleasantly tipsy from some mead Finnegan had brought along, and the ensuing nostalgia caused them to break into a cacophonic rendition of the Hog warts school song. Draco chose his tune without even thinking, and halfway into it realised it was one of Harry's Muggle rock songs. There were tears streaming down his face by the end of it.

Hermione noticed. "What's the matter?"

"The tune... it was one of Harry's favourite songs."

Instead of comforting him as he'd expected, she began to yell. Apparently alcohol brought out her mean streak. "Malfoy it's not like he's bloody dead, you git! You're going to see him tomorrow, you're going to talk to him, and everything will be JUST SODDING FINE!" she screeched, silencing everyone.

He saw the looks of pity from the rest of the people in the room, but they didn't dare interfere. Draco sighed. "You're right. I'm sorry. I guess I'm just a bit maudlin."

She softened, touching his shoulder. "It's okay," she said, "Just stop feeling sorry for yourself."

Conversations around them resumed again tentatively, relieved that the storm had passed.

As they approached their tent, Draco could have sworn he saw a phoenix take flight from the top of it.

"Hermione, did you see that?"

"See what?" asked the Gryffindor, who'd been looking the other direction.

Draco sighed. "I'm probably seeing things."

"What did you see?"

"I saw a bird, and I thought for a second it was..."

Hermione patted his shoulder. "You need to get some sleep. You'll see Harry tomorrow, after that game." She stopped in front of the tent, sneering at it. "Honestly, Malfoy, did you have to get a SLYTHERIN tent?"

"You expected anything less?" he grinned, regaining some of his previous mirth.

"Not really."

Draco awoke the next morning to a wonderful smell of bacon and coffee wafting in. He found the small kitchen empty. Shivering, he picked up the nearest blanket and stepped outside, where he found Hermione cooking over a huge blaze.

"Oh, good," she said, catching him out of the corner of her eye and starting to turn around. "Breakfast is---" she suddenly got a good look at Draco and started laughing uncontrollably.

Draco scowled at her, miffed. "Oh, come on, you've seen me with bed-head before," he said self-consciously, trying to smooth his hair.

"It--- It's not that!" she said, still giggling. "But I do wish I had my camera right now! The head of Slytherin house, in his bloody Slytherin pajamas, in front of his Slytherin tent, with a huge Gryffindor blanket wrapped around him!"

Draco took the blanked off his shoulders to examine it. It was all red and gold, with Godric Gryffindor's head on one side and a lion on the other. He glared at her, draping the blanket back around his shoulders, too cold to argue much. "Shut up, Granger. Let's eat."

"It's all ready. Pull up a log."

"I am NOT sitting on a log. Can't we go inside and eat this?"

"No, this is Muggle camping. Besides, I want to make you suffer."

"But it's freezing!"

"It is not."

Glaring at the log, he attempted to transfigure it into an armchair. He'd always been notoriously mediocre at Transfiguration, so although he managed an armchair, it was definitely still wooden and not squishy in the least. This amused Hermione even further.

"Well, tuck in! We don't want to miss the pregame show!" Hermione said, smugly transfiguring her log into a velvet settee.

"Showoff," Draco grumbled through a mouthful of eggs.

After breakfast Draco ran inside to the refuge of a hot shower. Harry. He was going to see Harry today. He'd apologise. No more offers of love, no. He just wanted his friend back. That was infinitely better than nothing. *I wonder if I can persuade him to come back to Hogwarts? Not bloody likely. BUGGER! What am I going to wear?*

"HERMIONE!" he bellowed, racing out of the bathroom in a towel.

Hermione hobbled in from the other room rather ungracefully, wearing one shoe and holding the other in her hand. "What? What's the matter?"

"What do I wear?"

She rolled her eyes and flopped down on the floor to put on her other shoe. "Honestly, Draco. Anyone would think Voldemort had just joined you in the shower. Anyway, I thought you were going to wear your old Quidditch robes."

Draco shook his head. "No, too frumpy. Besides, I'm not terribly proud of that season." He grimaced at the thought of the one season he'd spent as Seeker for the Wimbourne Wasps.

"Really, it wasn't your fault." He'd taken a Bludger to the head ten minutes into the qualifying game for the League Cup. The season had been over by the time he'd woken up. "Look, I don't care if you go in that towel, but GET READY."

In the end, Draco settled for jeans and a t-shirt. Hermione laughed when she saw him. "Ten points from Slytherin for forgetting to wear green."

"Quiet you. Got the banner?"

She held up the rolled-up cloth banner, which was charmed to alternately flash "GO POTTER" and "MAKE SOME SAUERKRAUT."

"Good. I've got the Omnioculars. Is my hair all right?"

Hermione groaned.

"Okay, okay. Let's be off, then."

They were led to their seats. "Merlin, Granger. You didn't tell me we were in the top bloody box."

"Ungrateful git, isn't he?" she said, winking at Seamus Finnegan, whom they had to thank for the seats.

"Well, it's just--- what if Harry sees me? What if he gets nervous and loses?"

"Since when has Harry ever lost a Quidditch game just because of seeing you?" Finnegan asked, smirking.

"Point taken." He had a feeling all the Gryffindors knew about the situation-- which meant the entire Ministry knew about it, thanks to Finnegan's big mouth. Fortunately Rita Skeeter was still too afraid of Hermione to write anything about anyone who even knew Hermione.

Draco barely noticed the opening shows. He was completely lost in a combination of reverie and extreme nervousness. And then the teams flew onto the pitch. Draco was deafened by the cheer that arose when Harry came into view, and nearly blinded by the great throwing of roses and undergarments by teenage girls.

"Sonorus," he heard Hermione say when the cheering had begun to die down. She looked over at Seamus, Fred, and George and nodded. They started to sing happy birthday to Harry. Draco immediately joined in, as did the entire stadium.

Draco sighed. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. It's stupid of me to think he'll come back to Hogwarts, not when he has all this. What's DADA to greatness? He's finally famous for something he was actually responsible for. Who am I to try to take that away? Who am I to him anyway?

He kept his Omnioculars on Harry all through the match, paying no attention to the other players, watching him dive and dodge and scan the sky. He's so at home on a broom. It's beautiful. He's beautiful. He probably has a hundred lovers.

Draco was pleased to see that Harry had perfected the Wronski Feint, which resulted in a rather jumbled German Seeker. As soon as the other Seeker proved unharmed (leave it to a Gryffindor to sacrifice precious seconds out of concern for someone else's safety), Harry shot up again in search of the Snitch. And he found it. The German Seeker was too far away to have a chance. Harry had won the World Cup for England for the fourth year in a row. A spectacular lot of cheering ensued, but Draco was deaf to it all. He could swear that Harry looked right at him as he was doing his victory lap. Maybe it was just wishful thinking.

Down on the pitch, bottles of Champagne were popping open, and the most hardcore fans were rushing the pitch to congratulate the team, with very little interference from the officials. Draco felt tears stinging his eyes in the bitter knowledge that had things worked out differently, he'd have been down there celebrating with Harry. He'd have been down there every year for the past four. Or else they would have both been in the stands together.

A bottle of Champagne and glasses magically appeared before him, and looking around he saw the same thing happening all over the stadium. He toasted and drank with Hermione, but he didn't feel much like celebrating. Not yet anyway. All he felt was a tight knot of fear in the pit of his stomach, taunting him, telling him that Harry would want nothing to do with him.

Hermione touched his arm and said something to him. He vaguely managed to understand that the victory party was happening at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and that they had to go collect their things and Apparate there. He nodded and followed her back to the campsite. His hands were shaking too much to be of any use in collecting anything. He saw something gleaming red in the grass beside the tent. It took him three empty, trembling grasps to pick it up, but he eventually got hold of it. It was a feather, long and red, tipped with gold and green. It was unmistakably a phoenix feather. And it was unmistakably one of Harry's. He'd have known it anywhere. He had another one just like it back at school that Harry had made into a quill for him. He'd stopped writing with it when Harry left, almost afraid it might turn to ash if he touched it. The one that trembled in his hand had not turned to ash; it was as strong and vivid as ever. And he knew that what he had seen the night before had been real. Harry had been there. Harry must know he was there. His tent wasn't exactly of a common design. Even if Harry had never seen it before, he'd probably have recognised it. Harry knew, and yet he left a feather. Why not a note? What was the feather supposed to tell him? Come back or go away? Or simply hello?

Hermione came out of the tent, satisfied with the inside of it and ready compress it. She stopped when she saw him standing there holding the feather.

"Hermione, he was here. I know I saw him last night, and I'd know this feather anywhere."

"Phoenixes don't give feathers often," she said quietly. "Not even transfigured ones."

Somehow Draco hadn't remembered that, not even in all the years that had passed. "And he's given me two."

"See, he does love you, you git."

If he'd remembered that when Harry had given him the feather, he would have known then. Everything would have been different. 'Phoenixes only give feathers to their owners, and only then in cases of extreme loyalty on both sides.' He remembered the passage now, he' spent ages drilling it into the heads of a group of third-years who were being entirely too careless with the phoenix feathers they were using for a strength potion.

When Harry had given him the quill, he had been saying 'you own me.' And now, dropping another feather, he was saying 'you still own me.' Everyone must have known. Everyone who'd ever seen him writing with that quill-- and that was a great many, since he used no other between the time Harry gave it to him and the time Harry left him. Every teacher knew. Every student who knew Harry's other form probably knew. But he, Draco, had not known, and was now the last to learn it. Things started to come into focus, memories started to gel and make sense now. He realised why Fleur Delacour had curtailed her somewhat persistent attentions to him the day he got the thing, why the Slytherin girls with crushes on him had stopped sending love notes. That quill showed him as spoken for. Had everyone thought he and Harry had been lovers all that time? And Merlin, they could have been. If only Draco hadn't been too daft to read the signs. If only he had realised it then and let it progress slowly and naturally instead of frantically proposing to him when he heard a rumour that Harry was finally going to accept England's offer, thereby ensuring that Harry accepted the spot on the team.

"Draco? Draco?" Hermione's voice shook him into reality.

"Hmm?"

"You've been standing there staring into space for the past ten minutes. I thought you'd been petrified. It's time to go."

"Go?"

"Three Broomsticks. Victory party. Harry."

"Right." Draco tucked the feather carefully into his bag and watched Hermione go out with a pop. "Please want me, Harry," he whispered so quietly that even he could not hear it. And he Apparated to the Three Broomsticks, where a slightly impatient Hermione was waiting out front.

"Thank Merlin! I was afraid you'd been splinched or something!"

"Honestly, Hermione, I haven't gotten splinched since I was twelve."

"Twelve? Oh, never mind, I don't want to know about your childhood training. Are you ready to go in?"

"I think so. Are the team here yet?"

Hermione nodded.

"All right. Now or never."

They walked through the door. Even magicked as large as it would go, the pub was still jam-packed with rowdy, drunken Quidditch players and fans.

"Merlin's beard, I thought there was a guest list for this thing!" Draco exclaimed.

"There is!" shouted a frazzled Madam Rosmerta over the din. "It's an hundred ruddy feet long!"

"This'll be Finnegan's doing," Draco muttered. Seamus Finnegan was notorious for his love of parties, and his reign as Minister of Magical Games and Sports had seen more officially-funded parties than any in history.

"How am I supposed to find Harry in all this?"

"Look for the crowd of screeching females throwing their knickers about," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

Well, there were no flying knickers, but there were some screeching females, so he grabbed a firm hold of Hermione's hand and started to push his way through. He got many a nasty look and felt sure he'd have been hexed several dozen times by now if there had been any room.

Finally, they came to a sort of clearing in the centre of the crowd. Harry and a couple of his teammates were sitting on top of a table together, laughing and drinking, attempting to fend off the warring females. They managed to get round to the backside of the table.

Hermione planted a kiss on Harry's cheek, drawing an angry squeal from the crowd. Harry turned, ready to kindly put off whoever it was had kissed him, but instead broke into a huge grin when he saw it was Hermione.

"Hello, stranger!" he said, grinning. Draco knew he hadn't been seen yet.

"Hey! Happy birthday!" She flung her arms around his neck. "I brought you a present."

"Thanks. What book did you get me this year?" he said, laughing. "Hogwarts: A History?" This was an old joke, Draco knew.

"Actually I didn't get you a book."

"Who are you, and what have you done with Hermione?"

"Well, all right, I got you a book, but I don't have it with me. But I did bring something else. Perhaps I should say someone else. That is if he hasn't been eaten alive by your fans."

She stepped aside and pushed Draco to where Harry could see him. Suddenly Draco couldn't hear the people screaming or even see them. All he could see was Harry.

"Hello, Potter," he said, his voice breaking.

"Hey Malfoy," Harry said softly.

Harry held up his hand, palm out, and Draco matched his to it. "Still smaller than yours," Harry said. Their fingers intertwined and they threw their arms around each other, both in tears now.

"I thought you were never coming back," Draco whispered into his ear.

"I thought you'd never come after me," Harry replied. "Couldn't even owl me, you prat."

"I didn't see Hedwig breaking my door down."

But their words were not harsh-- everything was just bygones now. All that mattered were their arms around each other. And Draco suddenly realised that the entire pub had, indeed, gone silent.

"Go on, kiss, you ungrateful prats!" exclaimed Hermione.

They loosened their grip on each other and pulled back, gently brushing the tears from each other's faces. Draco stared into Harry's eyes, drinking them in, as though he'd been starved without them. In a way that was quite true.

Their lips brushed gently, shyly at first, and then the kiss deepened. Draco was vaguely aware of a flashbulb-- several flashbulbs-- but he didn't care. He had what he'd come for. He had what he'd longed for for four years. They parted and looked at each other, smiling through heavy-lidded eyes, and the whole pub erupted into cheers.

"Bloody hell," muttered Harry. His teammates were congratulating him and clapping him on the back as though he'd just won another world cup. Draco felt like he had. They celebrated late into the night, until Madam Rosmerta was begging them to go home so she could get some sleep herself.

"I'm back off to Hogwarts, then," Hermione said, kissing each of her newly reunited friends on the cheek. "I trust you'll be coming round a lot more, Harry."

"I think so," he said, grinning.

"Well, then, I'll see you later. Goodnight!" And with a pop she was gone.

"Where are you going now?" Draco asked, turning to Harry.

"I'm open to suggestions."

"Come back with me then? We've got a lot of lost time to make up for."

Harry nodded and held up his broom. "Do you want to ride back?"

"I think that ever since I first saw you on a broomstick I wanted to ride one with you."

"I'll take that as a yes."

Draco reduced his bag to a non-cumbersome size and climbed onto Harry's Firebolt II behind him.

"I always knew you'd be my bitch, Malfoy," Harry said, grinning mischievously.

"Cheeky prat."

"Always. Hang on."

Draco wrapped his arms around Harry's waist and they took off. Draco hadn't felt this good in ages. He and Harry were the only people in the world. He pressed his face into Harry's shoulder, taking in the scent of leather and sweat and whatever cologne or soap it was that Harry had smelled like as long as Draco had known him. It was like... coming home. Too soon for Draco, they landed. He opened his eyes slowly, expecting to see the huge double doors of the castle. Instead he saw the edge of the lake. Seeing the (non-violent) willow next to him, he realised where they were. This was *their* spot. They used to spend countless hours here when the weather was nice, talking and watching the clouds or the stars. This was where Draco had hastily proposed to Harry, four years ago almost to the hour. They had come full-circle. Draco shot a questioning look at Harry.

"I didn't feel like going in yet," he explained. "You don't mind?"

Draco shook his head. He tried to speak, but his mouth had other ideas. He closed the space between himself and Harry and reached up to release the band holding Harry's hair. With both hands, gently, he combed his fingers through the long black strands until they framed Harry's face and spread over his shoulders. Harry's eyes were closed as he did this, obviously enjoying it. Draco cupped Harry's face in his hands and gave him a feather-light kiss. Harry made a sound in the back of his throat somewhere between a moan and a growl, and then Harry's hands where in his hair, on his back, his shoulders, and Harry's lips were on his, kissing him hungrily. They fell to the ground, years of unanswered passion exploding between them.

Neither of them had any idea how much time had passed when they came up for air at last. Draco cradled Harry's head on his chest, stroking his hair, at last content.

"Harry?"

"Hmmmm?"

"I'm sorry, for every---"

Harry placed a finger to Draco's lips. "Shhh. I know. You don't have to say it. I know."

"It was just, I freaked out, all I could think about was how to make you stay and---"

"Draco. It's all right. I know. None of that matters now. We both know that you should have perhaps asked me nicely to stay, and that I perhaps should not have run off without a word. We both screwed up, we're both sorry. I don't care about what could have been or should have been. I've spent too much time thinking about that the last four years to bear it anymore. I care about what is and what can be, what we can have here and now, all right?"

"All right. You do know I love you, right?"

"'Course I do. And I love you. And that's what's important."

helovesmehelovesmehelovesmehelovesmehelovesme HE LOVES MEEEEEE!

Draco sat up slowly, and so did Harry by consequence. "I've got you a birthday present."

"You didn't have to do that."

"I didn't bring it because I had to. Anyway, before you open it, just... know that it doesn't have to mean anything you don't want it to. I just want you to have it."

Harry shot him a slightly confused look and took the box from Draco. When he opened it and saw the ring, his mouth dropped open. It was a platinum casting of two dragons joined head to tail, one with an emerald eye, the other with a ruby one. "This is beautiful," Harry breathed, putting it on. "Thank you. But what do you mean it doesn't have to mean anything I don't want it to?"

Draco blushed. "I.... well... I was going to give it to you four years ago... but... well, I just didn't want you to think I was making another hasty marriage proposal."

Harry laughed. "The thought never entered my mind." He embraced Draco and gave him a long kiss.

"I found your feather," Draco said after a bit.

Harry grinned. "I thought you might need another one. As a sort of reminder."

"Now that I know what it means."

"Oh, hell, I thought you knew."

"I did.... I just somehow managed to forget, for which I feel like an idiot, but there you have it."

"Oh, that explains a lot. When I made you the quill, that was my test, to see what you'd do."

"To see whether I loved you or not?"

"More or less, yeah. And when you didn't do anything, I thought it was a hopeless case. But then you wrote with it every day... I was horribly confused, really."

"I really am sorry about that. It was only when Hermione said something this afternoon that I remembered the passage out of the textbook. How could I have been so oblivious?"

"Hush. Don't worry about it. But it's true, word for word. I belong to you. I always have."

They walked slowly back toward the castle.

"Will you stay here tonight?" Draco asked hopefully.

"Of course I will. I'm certainly not going all the way back to London to an empty bed if I don't have to."

They entered the castle and went down to the dungeons. "Still in the dungeons, I see."

"Where else would I be?"

"Indeed. Hermione tells me you're head of Slytherin now."

"Yep. After Professor Sinistra retired, I was, sadly enough, the one with seniority." They entered Draco's rooms.

Harry took a deep breath. "Still just the same," he said, barely audibly. "Gods, the memories in this place," he murmured, running his fingers over the top of Draco's desk.

"I still have your records and all that."

"Really?" Harry seemed genuinely surprised by this. "Ever listen to them?"

"No, I sort of couldn't bear to. But they're all still there. You can take them if you like."

"They belong here."

Hearing that, for some strange reason, made Draco's heart soar. Harry understood that his spot in Draco's life had been left wide open, just waiting for him to come back. Harry thumbed through the pile of potions essays on the coffee table. "Incompetent.... incompetent.... failure.... oh, look, this one got a 'decent.' Still heavy with the compliments, I see?"

"Those are Hufflepuff papers, what do you expect?"

"So, what else has been going on round here? Hermione tells me a little bit, but I don't get to hear from her too often."

"Well, let's see.... Gryffindor has done disgustingly well in Quidditch the past three seasons, and won the House Cup all three of those years as well, but I imagine you might have known that already. In other news, Ermengarde retired the end of last term and has yet to be replaced. Temporary DADA professor number three has also resigned... what was his name... Lowell or something like that. Had a bit of a twitch in his lip. I don't know where Minerva finds them. Fleur is breeding winged horses for the Magical Creatures classes, and Hy is at long last getting married in...oh, about two weeks now. Ummm, let's see.... they finally finished rebuilding the Astronomy tower, to the utter delight of every student with a hormone and the utter chagrin of every professor. Other than that.... things have changed very little.... except that they're a bit boring."

"So in other words, I've missed a lot, but really very little."

"Essentially."

"Except that I've missed you," Harry said, pulling Draco into his arms once again.

"I've missed you as well," Draco murmured.

"What do you say to a drink and then bed?" Harry asked.

"Sounds fine. Whiskey?"

"Of course. Can I put on a record?"

"As long as it's not that Reznor bloke. He makes me want to kill myself."

Harry laughed. "13th Floor Elevators all right?"

Draco thought for a moment. "Well.... I don't remember objecting to anyone by that name."

"You like them."

Harry put on the record and Draco suddenly remembered. "Riiiight, they do a better version of this song than someone else."

"Bob Dylan?"

"That's the one."

Strike another match and start anew

It's all over now, baby blue....

Draco brought over the whiskey and snuggled up on the sofa next to Harry. He raised his glass. "To picking up where we left off."

Harry laughed. "Or a bit further along."

This was perfect. Draco had what he wanted. He had Harry, and Harry loved him. But there was the small matter of Harry still having a career that sent him to the four corners of the globe a good bit of the year. It wouldn't matter that much, now that they could be in contact, but Draco was feeling terribly selfish. He sort of wanted to just lock himself up with Harry and never come out again. Probably not a feasible possibility. But there would be weekends and vacations and whatnot.... *Don't get ahead of yourself there, Malfoy.*

"When do you have to start training for next season?" Draco asked, hoping he'd have the rest of the summer with him at least. It would be too much to ask him to give up all that fame just for him. But a month, that might be doable.

"Fact is, I don't."

WHAT? "What?"

"I don't have to start training again, not necessarily. I was on a four-year contract that ended with today's game. I've got a meeting next week on whether or not to renew it. But I want to have a little chat with Minerva first."

Was he hearing things? Was Harry saying he was about to give up Quidditch and ask Minerva for his job back? "Harry? What are you saying?"

Harry grinned. "What I'm saying, you great git, is that Hogwarts needs a DADA professor."

Draco was speechless for a second. "Harry... you're saying you want to give up Quidditch?"

Harry nodded. "Playing professionally anyway. My wrists are completely messed up, and my back's never been in worse shape. I've got more money than I'm ever going to need... And the fact is, I want to be with you."

"Harry, don't do it for me. You could regret it the rest of your life."

"I won't. Quidditch was wonderful, it was amazing. But what I regretted was leaving you. I want to be here. That is, if you want me here."

"Of course I do! Just... only if you're sure."

"I've never been more sure of anything. I love you and I want to be where you are. I'm doing it just as much for myself as for you. There was a giant hole in my life without you. God knows, I tried to fill it, but nothing worked."

Draco decided not to ask what his replacements had been like. That didn't matter. Nothing in the past mattered. Just the present and the future. "You have no idea how happy this makes me," Draco whispered, capturing Harry's lips with his. Without letting go of each other, they made their way to the bedroom and closed the door behind them.

Up in the Headmistress' quarters, Minerva McGonagall was putting the finishing touches on a contract for the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. After a long talk with Hermione Granger, she decided it might be necessary. All it needed was Harry Potter's signature.

~~Epilogue~~

=============

The Daily Prophet

5 August

POTTER DECLINES CONTRACT RENEWAL

After a meeting this morning with John Mince, head of the England National Quidditch team, and Seamus Finnegan, Minister of Magical Games and Sports, Harry Potter, 4-time World Cup Champion Seeker, has announced that he will not be renewing his four year contract. Potter's retirement comes as a shock to Quidditch fans across the nation, who believe that he has only just hit his prime.

Potter has stated that he will be accepting a contract of a different sort-- a position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry teaching Defense against the Dark Arts, as he did for two years before joining up with England. Potter delivered the following statement at the press conference following the meeting:

"I don't much care about fame, really. I care about doing what's going to make me happy. Playing for England was always a dream of mine, and it was one of the best experiences of my life, and I'll never forget it, but I'm ready to settle down a bit more. Quidditch isn't exactly a low-stress job. And I feel that I have more to give the Wizarding world as a professor than as a Quidditch player, that I owe it to my former professors and allies to teach others the things they taught me. I owe it to everyone who fell at Voldemort's hands to prevent, as far as I can, something like that from happening again. Because believe it or not, there are still dark wizards about, and if I can give even one student something that might prevent another Voldemort from existing, I have no right to spend my days playing Quidditch."

Mince stated his agreement with Potter's reasoning, but also said, "We'll take him back anytime he wants." An inside source, however, tells us that the Boy Who Lived won't be wanting to get too far from Hogwarts anytime soon, as it is rumoured he has a love interest there, Potions Master Draco Malfoy. There was no one on the Hogwarts staff who would either confirm or deny the rumour, so one can only speculate, but our sources tell us that there are going to be a lot of very disappointed single witches out there.

~~fin~~

© 2002-2004 Deirdre Riordan. Email comments to deirdre.riordan @ gmail . com (remove spaces)



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