Author's Note: Part 4 of Certain, Harry POV. I heartily apologize for the loooonnnggg delay in getting Part 4 out. Special thank yous to my beta-readers hah and my HP-slash-queen Rhysenn. And to Bennie, who gave me feedback along the way, encouraging my Muse to finally return. A large bar of Honeyduke's chocolate to you all!
DISCLAIMER: JKRowling owns Harry Potter. Lucky woman.
Feedback: Yes please. Even short notes mean a lot to me. Both positive and constructive feedback are fine with me.
Malfoy -- Draco -- was kissing him. Was. Kissing. Him. He felt like his brain was still trying to process it all -- the feel of Malfoy's warm lips against his own, the way his hand came up behind Harry's neck, pulling them even closer together. At first, Harry was too surprised to respond, but his body quickly overtook his stunned brain. His lips molded to the blond boy's, and they kissed for one, long, lingering moment before finally pulling away. Green eyes locked on gray, questioning.
"What was that?" Harry finally choked out.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me you don't know what a kiss is. I'm sure you've seen Granger and Weasley do it often enough."
"I know what a kiss is. I just wasn't expecting one from you."
"No? Why were you telling me your lovesick story, then?"
The thrill of the kiss was quickly dissipating in the onslaught of annoyance. "Well, I thought I'd heard that you'd been that you might feel the same way about me. But then you pretty much told me I was being ridiculous, so--"
Draco crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine, I admit it," he grumbled. "Your little informant, whoever he or she is, actually got something right. I've been watching you, Potter. Have been for years."
Harry's eyes widened. "Y-you have?"
"Yeah. But I meant what I said earlier -- if you tell anyone, I'll still send you a Howler every day. My reputation as a Slytherin and as a Malfoy would be ruined if people found out."
"So that's it," Harry said bitterly, crossing his own arms and glaring. "You're just going to kiss me once, and then throw me away in favor of your precious reputation."
"I didn't say that."
Harry furrowed his brow. He felt almost as befuddled as he did in Trelawney's incense-filled tower. "So, what are you saying, then?"
"What I'm saying is," Draco replied, a note of exasperation in his voice, "you do know how to keep a secret, don't you, Potter?"
"Yes, I know how to keep a secret," Harry mimicked. "Do you have to be so irritating?"
"I could ask the same thing about you, you know. Don't be a dimwit -- I assume you've got brains in there somewhere, or you couldn't have pulled off all those capers over the years. Do I have to spell it out for you?"
Draco stepped in and pressed another brief kiss to Harry's lips. "It means," he said, turning to whisper against the dark-haired boy's ear, "that I'll see you here tomorrow night. Bring the cloak. And keep your mouth shut." And with that, the blond boy stepped back, gave Harry a quick, suggestive smirk, then swiftly turned on his heel and disappeared down the side stairwell.
Harry tottered back to the Gryffindor common room in a daze. He wasn't entirely certain what had just happened, but two things were readily apparent. One - Draco had kissed him; two - the Slytherin boy wanted to meet with him again. For more kissing? Harry wasn't sure -- it seemed like that was the general intention, anyway. His heart started pounding again at the memory of their first two kisses, and he had to stop and compose himself as he reached the Fat Lady's portrait.
"Bunny slippers" he said, and the painting swung forward to let him in.
The common room was fairly empty by then, most of the others having given up on studying in favor of going to bed. A few Gryffindors remained huddled around a table in the corner, pausing every now and then to measure the length of their parchment before sighing wearily and continuing to write. And there, ensconced in one of the squashy armchairs near the fireplace, were Ron and Hermione. They hadn't noticed his return yet, as they were too wrapped up in their own snog session. Harry thought briefly of slipping past them so he could get to bed without having to endure their questioning, but the temptation to have some fun proved too great.
Bending down, he retrieved one of the books which had fallen on the floor, held it open above their heads, and slammed it shut with a *bang*.
Ron and Hermione sprang apart in surprise.
"Ehrm Hi, Harry," Ron stammered, as Hermione tried to shift surreptitiously off his lap. "Hermione and I were just uh "
"Practicing sucking poison out, in case Snape makes us ingest our potions next week?" Harry suggested sweetly. "Good idea. You know, I bet Neville would appreciate having that knowledge, too. Let me just go upstairs and get him so you can all pract--"
"All right, Harry, you got us," Ron interrupted, his face crimson with embarrassment. "Well, it's not like we could go behind Giuseppe tonight, what with you being there and all."
"How'd things go, anyway?" Hermione asked. She had quickly composed herself, and was now smoothing her rumpled robes with a casual hand.
Harry abruptly remembered he wasn't supposed to mention what had actually happened; he groaned inwardly at the thought of keeping something this momentous a secret from his two best friends, especially since, against all odds, they had been proven right. But a promise was a promise, and he had no doubt that Malfoy would follow through on his Howler threat if Harry revealed the truth.
He bit his lip and took on a crestfallen expression. "Nothing happened," he murmured.
Hermione looked astonished. "Nothing?"
"Nothing, as in he didn't show up? Or nothing as in nothing?"
"Oh, he showed up all right," Harry said. "I did what you said -- I told him what I felt. And he"--Harry did some quick thinking--"he said it was a ridiculous notion and threatened to send me a daily Howler." Well, it was the truth. Just not the entire truth.
Hermione frowned. "Stupid git. I guess he really is the horrible little toad he always seemed to be." Then she looked up at her best friend with worried eyes. "I'm sorry, Harry. We shouldn't have encouraged you to have anything to do with him. I know you're attracted to him and all but you can do a lot better than Malfoy."
"You want me to hex him for you?" Ron asked, hopefully. "Hermione found a really cool-sounding one the other day. Verdus otocillius, or something like that."
"Ron," she said reproachfully, "Malfoy might look better with curly green ear-hair, but I hardly think that will help the situation any. He'll do a lot worse than send a daily Howler if you do that."
Ron sagged in disappointment. "Oh, all right," he finally conceded. "But I want to learn that hex anyway -- revenge for whatever prank Fred and George decide to pull the next time I go home."
"You know we're not supposed to do magic at home--" Hermione began, but trailed off as Ron rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll teach you. But not now." She turned back to Harry. "Sorry, Harry. We got a little off-track there. How are you doing? Do you want to talk about it?"
"Hmmm?" Harry was running the invisibility cloak through his fingers, remembering the feel of Draco pressed against him as they had hidden from Filch. Realizing Hermione had asked him a question, he added hurriedly, "Oh. No, no, I'm fine. In fact, I think the less I talk about it, the better."
"You sure?" Hermione peered at him intently. "You still seem rather distracted. You're not mad at us, are you?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. Look, I appreciate your sympathy, but it's really not necessary. I'll be fine." He gave a small smile, hoping it conveyed the appropriate balance of 'fine' and not 'too fine'. "And no, I'm not mad. You meant well, after all. Look," he added, yawning hugely, "I'm just going to go to bed now. You two go back to what you were doing. See you at breakfast."
Quickly, before they could object or question him further, Harry disappeared up the stairs to the dormitory, crawled into bed, and pulled the velvet curtains shut. He ran the entire meeting with Draco over again in his head, his stomach lurching as he replayed their first kiss. Then he fell back against the pillows with a sigh, feeling all the day's tensions and emotional highs and lows beginning to drain out of him at last. The note, the anticipation and worry, putting up with Malfoy's usual attitude, and then gut-wrenching embarrassment, heart-pounding ecstasy, and confusion galore. What a day.
Harry yawned again, genuinely this time. Exhaustion was closing in on him, fast. Sleepily, he brushed his fingers against his lips, remembering the imprint of Draco's warm mouth. He tried to think about the Slytherin's cryptic instructions for their next meeting, but was too wrung out to do more than absently wonder what the heck he was getting himself into. Then, with Neville's snores providing their usual background buzz, Harry succumbed to his fatigue and he slept.
In the following days and weeks, Harry discovered exactly what was meant by a "love-hate relationship". After their second meeting, when Draco had made it quite clear that snogging was high on his list of priorities, they had begun a clandestine affair. Odd nooks, faked errands and late-night trips to the broom shed all became part of their secret life. At the same time, they continued to snipe at each other in public as they always had, and with just as much genuine dislike. Draco still drove Harry crazy with his uppity attitudes, tendencies for mischief, and ridicule of just about everything. And it seemed that Draco still despised Harry's fame, choice of friends, muggle connections, and stance against the dark arts.
Either way, Harry observed wryly, their emotions could only be described as passionate -- irritation and attraction each provoked their own sort of heated exchange. And, increasingly, he found the line between the two getting very blurry indeed.
"Are we making clothing potions or something?" Ron asked, puzzled, as they took their seats one morning.
Harry pulled his eyes away from the ingredient list in front of him to look at his friend. "What are you talking about?"
Ron held up a button. "I found this on the table."
Harry took the button from Ron and pretended to study it. "Someone probably just cut it off accidentally while they were chopping ingredients," he said, casually pocketing the fastener. He began to unpack his supplies, but not before catching sight of Draco, sitting just one row up. Even from behind, he could tell that the blond boy's ears had turned pink -- clearly, Draco had overheard Ron's discovery. Neither of them acknowledged the other, but Harry smiled inwardly as he set up his cauldron, remembering:
The two boys stumbled into the Potions classroom, hardly aware of their surroundings, focused as they were on each other; they bumped into a table with a dull thump. "Shhhh. I heard Snape patrols the dungeons at night," Harry whispered against Draco's mouth. He was fumbling with the fastenings on the Slytherin's robes.
"Not tonight," Draco murmured back. "I overheard him tell Professor Sprout that he'd be at her rooms promptly at nine, and did she prefer cognac or sherry."
Harry pulled back in surprise. "You don't mean ? Yeccchhh!"
"Yeah, I know." Draco grimaced, tugging Harry's robes off. "He could do so much better." Then he silenced Harry's next words with another kiss. "Forget them."
Harry had no problem wiping Snape out of his thoughts as Draco nudged him onto the nearest table surface and impatiently yanked at his shirt buttons .
He fingered the small fastener in his pocket as he listened to Snape explain the day's lesson.
"Today we are going to learn how to analyze a potion's properties. Very useful when someone's used an unmarked substance and you need to know what you're up against. I have here some leaves from one of Professor Sprouts' latest acquisitions, which she gave me last night."
Harry barely managed to choke back a snort.
"You will combine them with the other ingredients on your list in the prescribed amounts. If, by some miracle, you all manage to successfully follow the simple instructions, you should be able to tell me, in precise terms, exactly what effect this plant has." Snape glared beadily around the room. "I think," he drawled "some groups might benefit from a new perspective. With other partners." Swiftly, he rearranged the students, putting Hermione with Millicent Bulstrode, Ron with Crabbe, and Harry with Draco. No one dared complain, although most people rolled their eyes as they repositioned themselves. Neville looked almost paralyzed with fear as he moved his belongings over to Goyle's table, but the Slytherin boy just grunted dully.
It was a miracle anyone got anything accomplished at all. Hermione and Millicent spent the lesson glaring at each other, while Ron and Neville struggled to get any assistance from their dim-witted partners. Meanwhile, at their table, Harry and Draco bickered every step at the way. Draco didn't like the way Harry chopped the leaves; Harry told Draco he was stirring too slowly, and neither was willing to budge on his opinion of what the mystery substance was.
"What the heck were you pulling in there?" Harry snarled, the minute class was over and they were safely in the hall and away from Snape's omnipresent stare.
Draco Malfoy turned his cool gray gaze on his accuser. "Me? Potter, you're delusional. If there was a problem, it was all your fault."
Harry gave a derisive snort. "You think you can get away with anything, even doing the stupid analysis wrong, just because you're Snape's pet."
"Pretty strong words coming from someone who's used his fame to get away with practically everything." Malfoy was starting to lose his cool demeanor, his gray eyes sparking in the torchlit hallway.
"What?? I've never--"
"Never asked for special treatment," the Slytherin boy filled in, mockingly. "Yeah, yeah, you say that all the time. But it doesn't matter, Potter -- you get it anyway. Heaven forbid Snape treat you like a mere mortal. You just can't handle the fact that I was right."
The two boys were nearly shouting now. Eyes locking on eyes, chests heaving with indignation, stepping closer and closer with each volley . Fire was raging through Harry's veins; his emotions demanded an outlet. Malfoy opened his mouth to say something else and Harry was suddenly overwhelmed with the impulse to shut him up with a kiss, to find release for his storm in the person who had caused it in the first place. His gaze shifted to Malfoy's lips as he stepped forward and--
"Harry, forget him," Hermione interjected worriedly, appearing at Harry's side. "Snape's going to hear you any minute, and you know whose side he'll take."
Harry blinked. He'd forgotten they were in full view of everyone. And he'd almost--
"Come on," she urged, "He's not worth it." Hermione shot Draco a look of pure poison as she tugged Harry away by his arm. "Let's just go get some lunch, ok?"
"You know, Potter," Draco taunted, as Harry walked away, "you're not nearly as interesting an adversary on the ground as you are on a broom."
Harry spun around. "Funny you should say that," he snapped. "If you recall, when we're on brooms, I always win."
He turned back to join the others as they made their way to the Great Hall and listened as Hermione chattered excitedly about the new troll uprisings they'd be learning about in their next class. But inside he was already anticipating meeting Malfoy in the broom shed that night.
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