croatoan6000 (croatoan6000) wrote in harrydraco,
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croatoan6000
harrydraco

Finite Incantatum - Chapter 7


Title – Finite Incantatum

Author[info]croatoan6000
Rating – NC-17 (for future chapters)

Genre – Drama/Romance

Pairing – H/D

Chapter – 7

Warnings – Language and sexual references.

Summary – What should have happened after Half Blood Prince! It’s the autumn after Dumbledore’s death, the Death Eaters are steadily gaining power, and Harry and his friends are desperate to find the remaining Horcruxes. But then Draco Malfoy arrives at Grimmauld Place, traumatised, starved and drained of all his magical ability. It falls to Harry to show the Slytherin how to adapt to his new way of life, never guessing that Draco has a few things to teach him in return.

Disclaimer – I don’t own the boys, they belong to Ms Rowling. The chapter title loosely translates as ‘without ill will’. Done for fun, not profit!






Chapter 7: Absit Invidia

Harry’s eyes flew open. He was so stunned, he could do nothing but lie there and think Draco Malfoy is kissing me. Finally, he managed to assemble enough presence of mind to turn his head away.

“Draco,” he whispered hoarsely. “Draco, what are you doing?”

Draco looked down at him, clearly shaken, his eyes very dark. Then he blinked a couple of times and a brilliant blush spread across his cheeks. He pushed away from Harry violently and scrambled backwards.

“What are you doing?” Harry repeated.

“Nothing!” the blond said furiously.

“You… you just kissed me!”

“No I didn’t!”

“But… you… you just did!”

“No I didn’t!” Draco’s eyes were wide with horror. “It… nothing happened. It was a mistake, all right? Just forget about it.”

“Draco, I really think we need to—”

“No we don’t! All we need to do is forget today’s events completely! Nothing happened. It was just a silly accident, and there is no need to ever mention it again. And… and don’t you dare tell anyone else, either! Because there’s nothing to tell!”

“All right,” Harry said, getting to his feet unsteadily. “Okay, nothing happened.”

“That’s right,” Draco said through gritted teeth. “Just forget about it.”

Harry nodded and made his way to the door, feeling that it would be best to leave Draco on his own for a bit. “I’ll see you at dinner,” he muttered.

Draco made no reply.

Once out in the safety of the hallway, Harry breathed a sigh of relief. There was no way he could forget like Draco wanted him to, because something had happened. There was no use denying it; his lips were still tingling. He screwed his eyes shut, desperately trying to make sense of everything. Draco had kissed him. He needed to be on his own. He needed to go somewhere where he could think, where he wouldn’t be disturbed.

Harry made his way numbly to the attic where Hermione had discovered the clue about the necklace. At worst he would find Kreacher there, and he could always just tell the elf to go elsewhere for a bit.

The attic was deserted. Harry sat down gratefully beside the old packing crate full of Sirius and Regulus’s school essays, and hugged his knees to his chest. The light coming in through the tiny, round window was soft and melting; Harry could see dust motes floating around him. He made a conscious effort to make as little sound as possible, not wanting to disturb the sacred, cathedral-like silence that permeated the room.

He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to think about what had just happened. It would be much better to do as Draco had said and forget that the whole thing had ever happened. But Draco had kissed him, kissed him on the mouth, and things would never be the same. Why the hell had he done it? Why on earth would Draco want to kiss him? Perhaps it really had been an accident. Perhaps Draco had just been confused by the spell, and momentarily mistook Harry for someone else.

Harry buried his head in his arms. He had never wanted Sirius’s advice more; he couldn’t think of talking about this with anyone but his godfather. But the confounded thing about Sirius was that he only showed up when he wanted to, and only then to give Harry confusing advice about the war. Harry looked at the old essays, essays written in Sirius’s handwriting, yet more ghosts from the past. Harry desperately wished that he could reverse time. He wished that time was something solid, that he could scrape away at it, do things differently.

Damn Draco! What had he been thinking? Harry laughed bitterly to himself as it occurred to him that he had spent most of the past few weeks wondering what Draco Malfoy might be thinking. The Slytherin’s mind was like a labyrinth. As soon as Harry felt that he had begun to fathom him, the rug was pulled out from under his feet. He knew that he couldn’t trust Draco, he knew that despite being hurt so badly by Voldemort, Draco wasn’t on their side, and yet he kept being drawn to him. He wanted to tell Draco about the things he thought and felt, rather than his trusted friends. It made him feel uncomfortable. It had been so much simpler when he had been able to hate Draco. Now Draco had revealed himself to be, if not exactly pleasant, at least human and capable of feeling. He had shown that he could think and grow. And it was only now, only now when Harry had started to feel that he could relate to Draco, that he had started to feel afraid of him for the first time.

Merlin knows he didn’t want to spend all that time with Draco! He would be much happier if he’d just hung out with Ron and Hermione, annoying as they were with their new relationship. Draco was not his friend, and surely felt no loyalty to Harry. And why the hell had he kissed him?

It must have been a mistake. That was the only solution Harry could think of that didn’t involve opening up a whole can of worms, and he clung to it blindly. To contemplate anything else would be unthinkable. There was no way that Draco could have feelings for him – he held Harry in the deepest contempt! An uncomfortable thought nagged at the back of Harry’s mind. He remembered how needlessly flustered Draco had been when he’d walked in on Harry getting changed. He remembered how Draco had wanted to spend time alone with Harry working on resisting the Imperius Curse, even though the thought of the experiment clearly frightened him. But no; Harry was just reading too much into it. It was all so stupid.

Bloody Draco…

Harry didn’t want to think about it. What he especially didn’t want to think about was the possibility that Draco had seen through him, that Draco had somehow managed to detect the secret Harry had guarded for so long, a secret no one else had guessed at. He had thought that he would never have to dwell on it again.

If only it wasn’t so deeply associated with loss and pain, it might be a bit easier to think about. He could still remember Dudley’s thoughtless taunt, “Who’s Cedric? Is he your boyfriend?” It had caused a wound more deep than Dudley had ever intended it to, because… because part of Harry had wished that Cedric had... It made his face flush to think of it even now. He could still recall the bitter confusion of his crush on Cho, of seeing her with Cedric at the Yule Ball and not being entirely sure of which one to feel jealous of. He had been so awkward around the older boy, acutely aware of how inadequate he was compared to him. He had idolised Cedric with all the fervour and infatuation of a fourteen-year-old boy. He knew that Cedric would never look at him with anything other than bemusement that they had been pitted against each other, and he had thrilled inside whenever Cedric had deigned to talk to him, to treat him like an equal. And then, when Harry had been in a position to give Cedric something, to stand side by side with him, everything had fallen apart. His boyish enthusiasm had led Cedric to his death. Cedric had died right in front of him, and it had been all Harry’s fault. After that, he had determined to avenge the older boy’s death, whatever it took. Cedric. He had never, and would never, be able to acknowledge to anyone what Cedric’s death had really meant to him. It had been the end of innocence.

And it wasn’t just Cedric either. True, there had been no other boy Harry had really felt anything meaningful for, but he had certainly experienced other attractions towards his own sex. There had been nothing pure or honourable about any of that. The summer after Cedric’s death, when Harry had been so wounded and alone, he had come across some gay porn magazines hidden behind a dumpster in a cul-de-sac near the Dursleys’ house. Harry had seen it as a sign. He had taken the magazines home, hidden beneath his jumper, and had run upstairs before anyone could see him and ask him why he was looking so shifty.

Cheeks burning, he had leafed through their pages, painfully aroused and confused in equal measure by what he saw. Men were beautiful and alluring, he realised, just as much as women were. They could appeal in exactly the same way.

Harry still wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about any of this. He still had the magazines, charmed to resemble entirely innocuous pieces of blank paper, and he still looked at them sometimes. But he had never told anyone, not even Ron and Hermione. As much as Harry realised that being attracted to men wasn’t a bad thing, he also knew that it would complicate things for him. There was no point telling people about it unless he was actually considering a relationship with another boy. And that had never happened. It had been quite a relief, really, to realise that he had fallen in love with Ginny; he hadn’t especially looked forward to coming out.

He had half hoped that the whole thing could just be swept neatly under the carpet. He had never hinted to anyone that he was bisexual, and he was sure that none of his friends had guessed. Now that he had committed himself to the person he wanted to spend his life with, he doubted he would ever have to deal with any of the wild speculation and dramatic newspaper headlines that the news of his sexuality was sure to incite.

And now this had happened. Was it possible that Draco had guessed? He had always had an uncanny talent for getting under Harry’s skin; had he realised what the Gryffindor had been hiding? And did it mean that Draco liked boys as well? Harry had always assumed that he was going out with Pansy Parkinson but, as he knew only too well, that didn’t prove anything. Or had it really just been a mistake brought on by the brain-addling spell? There was no way of knowing, and Draco obviously wasn’t going to tell.

And what did it matter anyway? Harry knew that he was completely committed to Ginny, and there was no way he would stray, even if they were on a break. He couldn’t even think about being with anyone else. So what was he so worried about? Even if he had been completely free and single, there was no way that he would contemplate a relationship with Draco Malfoy, a boy who, regardless of recent events, had made his life a misery. And he was sure that, had Draco been thinking clearly, he wouldn’t want it either. He had never felt any attraction to Draco. Okay, so he was strangely beautiful, but Harry had certainly never thought about him in that way. So clearly it didn’t matter.

The only thing the kiss had done, really, was to ruin the tentative friendship the two boys had formed. That, to Harry, was what jarred the most. He had never felt exactly comfortable around Draco, but… but he had been drawn to him. Draco could offer a perspective on his life that was different from anyone else’s. Harry could talk to him about things he hadn’t even been able to share with his friends. And now things were going to be bloody awkward. Even if Harry made an effort to pretend that nothing had happened, he knew that Draco wouldn’t be comfortable around him. They could forget any further Imperius-repelling lessons. Harry felt strangely bereft. His time with Draco, confusing and fucked-up as it was, had been his.

He opened his eyes and looked up. There was no sense in his hiding away in the attic. What had happened was very weird, and it would doubtless put a strain on his relations with Draco, but it couldn’t be helped. He would just have to deal with it and hope that things got a bit easier over time. He certainly wasn’t going to make the other boy feel more uncomfortable than he already was. Besides, it was about time he put more effort into sorting out the problem of the Horcruxes with his friends. It had been so thoughtless of him to spend all that time with Draco when his duty lay with defeating Voldemort once and for all. He didn’t know what he had been thinking.

Harry stood up and brushed the dust from his jeans. Draco was right: it would be best to just forget about the whole thing. He just hoped his friends would forgive him for being so neglectful all week…

~*~


“Harry, what on earth is wrong with you?” Hermione was unable to hide the annoyance in her voice, and Harry looked up at her guiltily. “Are you even paying attention to what’s going on?” she continued, “because this is all rather important, you know.”

“I know it is!” Harry said quickly. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to zone out on you.”

“You all right, mate?” Ron asked.

“Of course!” Harry replied briskly. “I just haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

Ron looked slightly hurt by the rebuff, and Harry looked away guiltily. He hated that he was lying to them both when there were already so many things creeping into their friendship, tendril-like, and driving them apart. Harry had been able to sense the distance growing between them, and had hated the relentless insistence of adulthood, driving them away from the innocent simplicity, the complete conviction in their friendship and its indestructibility. He missed the safety of knowing that no matter what, he had Ron and Hermione. Now there was a whole section of their lives that he was excluded from, and he had started to keep things from them too. It wasn’t just Draco, either. He could excuse keeping quiet about the kiss through not wanting to break the Slytherin’s confidence. But there were other things – his dreams about Sirius for instance – that really couldn’t be justified. Was it just pettiness that made him keep things from them? Resentment that they had been excluding him due to their new relationship? Or, what was worse somehow, was it that he simply didn’t feel as close to them any more?

Harry didn’t think he had ever felt so lonely. He wished desperately that Ginny was there; she would surely know what to say to comfort him. If nothing else, she would put her arms around him. It was almost painful to miss human contact so much. Perhaps that was why he hadn’t pulled back straight away when Draco had kissed him; the need to be touched had usurped everything else.

“Harry!”

“Huh?”

Hermione glared at him. “You’re doing it again! Look, if getting rid of the Horcruxes matters so little to you, you can bugger off until you have established a better work ethic! I know you’re the chosen one, and the only person who can defeat You Know Who, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to appreciate the effort the rest of us are putting in here. Now you can either tell us what’s bothering you, or you can get over it and be decent enough to at least pay attention.”

Harry flushed, abashed at being caught out again. He didn’t know what he could say to make things better. He was shrinking into himself, unable to even coherently express what was making him hurt.

“Harry, what the hell is wrong?” Hermione asked in a gentler tone.

He looked into her frank brown eyes, and hated himself for not being honest with her. Ron and Hermione were his best friends and they had stood by him through everything; he hated himself for shutting them out. After all, there were no prophesies surrounding them – they had chosen to fight alongside him of their own free will, and they deserved his respect. He had no right to punish them just because he was bitter about their relationship.

“If I tell you something,” he said at length, “will you promise not to laugh?”

Harry saw his friends share an exasperated look. “Out with it,” Ron said. “Of course we won’t laugh.”

Harry looked down at his hands. “I’ve been having these dreams since we got back to Grimmauld Place. Dreams about Sirius.” Of course, there was no way he could have told them about Draco, even though that was what was really bothering him. He owed Draco his silence, no matter how much he wanted someone else’s thoughts on what had happened. He couldn’t tell anyone, let alone Ron and Hermione. Telling them about his dreams would at least alleviate some of his guilt.

“Well,” Hermione said slowly, “I suppose it’s natural that you’re dreaming about him. I mean, this house will always be associated with Sirius.”

“Yeah,” Ron adjoined. “I mean, this is where he grew up. And last time we spent any time here… well… he was here too.”

Harry shook his head. “No, it’s not like that; they’re not ordinary dreams.”

“You mean like a prophesy? Like when you saw my dad getting attacked by that snake?”

“No, not like that either. Okay, this is going to sound really stupid. It’s… it’s like Sirius is talking to me from beyond the grave. He tells me things about the war, and how I could do things better. I don’t understand half of it if I’m honest, but… I think he’s trying to help me.”

Harry could feel his face growing steadily hotter as he spoke. He hadn’t realised quite how ridiculous and sentimental his story would sound until he had actually heard it out loud.

To their credit, his friends kept their promise not to laugh.

“You see why I haven’t told you?” Harry said ruefully. The whole thing is absurd. I know full well that the chances of Sirius being able to talk to me in my sleep are stupidly low. But… I can’t explain it. It just feels so real. And he tells me things, things that don’t make sense at the time but seem to be loaded with significance later.”

“Such as?” Hermione said quizzically.

“I dunno.” Harry shifted uncomfortably. “He… he said that… that Malfoy would be able to help me. He said that he could help me find out who I really am.” Harry felt himself blush again upon mentioning the Slytherin’s name.

Ron snorted. “And?”

Harry swallowed. “Okay, you’re going to be mad at me. That night when we found Wormtail… well, after you’d gone to get help, he said some things to me. He said that Voldemort had picked me as his nemesis for a reason. He said it was in my blood to fight him, that it had been decided long before I was born. Part of me thought he was just bluffing, but it kept preying on my mind. I… I talked it over with Malfoy.”

Ron made a noise of outrage.

“I know! I said you wouldn’t be happy! It’s just… I couldn’t sleep, and he was there. Also, I figured he’d have heard things. You know, he’d been around the Death Eaters for months. Anyway, it turns out that I was right: he did know what Wormtail meant. He’d read in an old genealogy that I’m a descendent of Godric Gryffindor from my father’s side of the family.”

“What?” Ron looked flabbergasted. “Bloody hell, Harry.”

“You had no idea?”

Ron laughed weakly. “You know my family couldn’t give a toss about bloodlines.”

“I had my suspicions,” Hermione said softly. “I mean, it would make a lot of sense, but I didn’t want to say anything without proof. I’d meant to look it up in the library, but then I ran out of time. So it’s definitely true?”

Harry nodded. “Why would Dra- Malfoy lie about something so pointless? And… and that night I had another dream. Gryffindor was there. And yes, I realise it sounds stupid! Look, I can’t explain it. You have no idea how long I’ve spent turning it over in my mind, trying to figure out if it really is Sirius, or if I’m just deluded. The honest answer is that I don’t know.”

Hermione smiled at him gently. “Do you think it really matters?”

“What?”

“Well, do the dreams make you feel better? Do you think they might be helping you?”

“I guess,” Harry said uncertainly. “I mean, it’s frustrating at times, but I think that he’s pointing me towards something.”

“Well then, does it matter whether it’s real or not? You believe Sirius is helping you figure out how to defeat You Know Who, so whether he actually is or not is beside the point.”

“Or you could just get him to tell you something you could never have found out from anyone else,” Ron butted in.

Hermione shot him a long-suffering look. “Is this how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives? I come up with profound philosophical theories, and you shoot them down with your man-logic?”

Ron grinned at her. “We all have our crosses to bear, Hermione. Seriously though, Harry, what do you reckon?”

“Yeah… yeah, that’s a really good idea. Whether Sirius will go along with it is another matter. Still, it’s got to be worth a shot, just to know once and for all if I’m chasing rainbows. Thanks, mate.”

“I’m going to see if your mum needs any help with tea,” Hermione said wearily. She got up and stomped out of the room, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like ‘men!’

~*~


Harry was killing time before he had to go to bed. He knew that he would have to face Draco again at some point, but he wanted to give himself, and the other boy, one night’s reprieve. He wanted to let the awkwardness settle a bit before they spent too much time alone.

They had shared an awkward exchange when Harry had gone to fetch a jumper just before dinner. They had edged round each other in the doorway, careful not to let any part of their bodies touch, unable to meet each other’s eye. During the meal, Harry had been determined not to look at Draco, feeling instinctively that the other boy wanted to avoid his attention. Still, he was acutely aware of the Slytherin’s presence in the room, anticipating his every move. He could almost hear what Draco was thinking.

It would die down. It would have to die down. They would both make a concentrated effort to forget what had happened, and things would settle. They would just be a bit more wary of each other, more guarded when they were alone. But had Harry ever been relaxed around Draco? Even when they had formed their uneasy truce, there had always been a strange tension crackling in the air around them; Harry had always had the vague feeling that he was suspended, waiting for something to happen.

Harry was tired. He was tired of guessing what other people were thinking, he was tired of being so much inside his own head. He wished he was able to go out on his Firebolt and clear his mind for a bit in the joy of flying, but he knew it was impossible.

And what did it matter, really? In the whole grand scheme of things, the things that had really been preoccupying so much of his time and energy of late really weren’t justifiable. Poor Ron and Hermione had been working so hard, trying to think of a way to destroy the Horcruxes and find the ones that were still out there. The other members of the Order had been risking their lives to keep vulnerable witches and wizards safe and keep track of the Death Eaters. And what had he been doing? Obsessing over Draco Malfoy. Harry was reminded of when he was in third year. The end of year exams had been coming up and he had had a ton of revision to get through, but he had wasted an entire afternoon doodling funny cartoons of his friends on his Transfiguration textbook. He could have kicked himself, then and now. The knowledge that he had failed to prioritise when there was so much at stake made his chest clench with panic. He thought of Ginny; what if something awful happened to her because he had wasted time instead of fulfilling his destiny? The thought was insupportable. He wasn’t a thirteen-year-old boy any more; he was a man now, and he had better start acting like one.

He resolved to spend the next hour at least doing something productive. There were bound to be some books in the Morning Room; he could have a look through them and see if there was something useful. Mrs Black was bound to have obtained volumes on dark magic. He could always ask Kreacher if he couldn’t find anything on his own. It would be so good if he could compensate for his terrible behaviour by going to his friends in the morning with a possible solution to their Horcrux elimination problem.

When he entered the Morning Room, however, Lupin was already there, seated wearily in one of the high-backed armchairs. He was gazing moodily into the dying embers of the fire, his brow drawn, his eyes glittering. Harry felt that he could see the wolf in his old Defence teacher, and had experienced a shiver of nerves. His first instinct was to leave before Lupin noticed his presence, but just as he turned to go, the older man looked up.

“Harry! I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Sorry to disturb you,” Harry said stupidly.

Lupin smiled wanly. “Not at all; come and sit down. I was just… thinking. In fact, the interruption is more than welcome. What brings you here at this time of night?”

Harry sat down a little awkwardly. He liked Lupin a lot – he was Harry’s only real point of contact with his parents and their world, besides being an interesting man in his own right – but he had not felt like talking to anyone that night. “I was just looking for a book,” he said.

“On anything in particular, or just in general?”

“Well… I wanted to see if there was anything here on dark magic. I wasn’t sure if anything had survived the cull a couple of years ago, but I thought I should check. I… I thought there might be something useful, something we could use.”

Lupin was silent for a moment. “Harry, am I right in thinking that you’ve got something planned? You, Ron and Hermione… you know something, don’t you? There’s… there’s something you’re working towards.”

“Sort of,” Harry owned quietly.

Lupin nodded. “Yes. Don’t worry, I’m not going to interrogate you. I know that you’re deeper into this than the rest of us could understand. I… I just needed to know that there was something. I needed to know that you were… I don’t know. But, Harry, it goes without saying that if you ever need any help, you only have to ask. There is nothing I wouldn’t do at this point to bring this war to an end. So… if you think you know a way of ending it, and if I could help you… you need only ask, and I would do it.”

Harry nodded. “Thank you.”

“I have spent far too long sitting and thinking. I have been a coward. I could fight at your side, just like Sirius would have done.”

“I know.” Harry really wasn’t sure where this conversation was heading, but it certainly seemed that he was not the only person in the house plagued with self-critical thoughts. “You’re not a coward, Remus,” he said. “Look at all the work you’ve been doing with the werewolves.”

Lupin laughed a little bitterly. “Oh… that.”

Harry was silent for a moment, not entirely sure what to say. He clearly didn’t understand what was plaguing the other man, so any attempt to encourage him would seem infantile and trite. He eventually opted for an attempted change of subject. “So… do you think there are any books around?”

“Hm?” Lupin had been lost in thought again. “Oh! Um, I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m rather afraid that Dung has made off with anything of any great value. I think there are a couple of suspicious-looking potions books around, as well as a volume on hexes, so it’s worth a look. And you could always rifle through the attic.”

Harry nodded. “Yeah, I was thinking of asking Kreacher.” He contemplated summoning the elf at that moment, but decided against it. He found that his enthusiasm for the books had worn off for the time being. He would have a proper look in the morning when there was more time, and he wasn’t quite so tired.

“How are you doing?” Lupin asked gently.

Harry gave him a half smile. “Oh, I’m just peachy. No, I’m fine really. As well as any of us are. I miss Hogwarts. I feel very old these days, you know? Like all the things I used to do, like play Quidditch, and go to classes, and sneak into Hogsmeade… it all seems so far away. I’m sad, because I don’t think I’ll ever really get it back. And I miss Ginny, of course.”

Lupin smiled at him sadly. “Yes, I imagine you do. It must be hard.”

Harry shrugged. “I did it for the right reasons. I couldn’t bear the thought of her getting hurt because she was close to me. And… and I know she’s waiting for me, and that she’ll be there when…” Harry left the sentence hanging. He didn’t want to jinx himself, and he didn’t want to acknowledge that that ‘when’ could so easily be replaced with an ‘if’. He smiled. “You’re lucky. I know it must be a worry, but I’m really glad you and Tonks have decided to make a go off things.”

Harry knew instantly that he had said the wrong thing. Lupin’s face clouded over, and his mouth tightened into a grimace. “Yes,” he said uneasily. “Yes, well… well…”

Harry looked at him. They were both adults now; they were fighting the same war; why should he be afraid of bringing up an uncomfortable subject? He steeled himself. “Remus, what exactly is going on between you two?”

Lupin looked a little surprised. “I’m not sure that that’s any of your business.”

“Well, it probably isn’t. The thing is, I care about Tonks, and she obviously loves you. And you don’t seem happy. You’ve been one of the most inspirational people in my life, and… and I want you to… I don’t know. I don’t feel like I have the right to be worried about you, seeing as I’m so much younger. I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”

Lupin was staring broodingly into the fire again. “Neither do I.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, Harry. I know that you mean well, but—”

“But I should keep out of it? I know. It’s just… don’t feel like you don’t deserve to be happy. I know you were worried about the age difference and the werewolf thing, but Tonks is smart. She clearly knows what she wants, and she knows none of that stuff matters.”

Lupin shook his head wearily. “It’s more complicated than that,” he sighed. “I’m afraid I can’t explain it. Believe me, the last think I want is to hurt anyone. I’m honoured that you see me as someone to look up to, but… I’m afraid I’m not perfect.”

Harry got up. “I know,” he replied. “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about living a life you’re happy with. Sirius would have wanted you to be happy.”

Remus looked up at him. “What?” he said sharply.

“I… I just meant that he never hesitated,” Harry replied, a little taken aback. “He always did his best to enjoy life, even at the risk of being reckless. He knew how fragile everything was, and he wanted to make the most of it. I know he’d want his friends to do the same.”

“Oh,” Lupin replied, settling back in his chair. “Oh, I see. Yes, you’re probably right.”

“Good night, Remus,” Harry said.

“Oh… good night, Harry.”

~*~


The bedroom was dark and quiet when Harry entered it. The hangings around Draco’s bed were tightly closed, but there was something in the tension of the silence that told Harry that the other boy was still awake.

He undressed quickly, throwing his clothes over the back of the chair, and practically jumped into bed. As he closed himself off from the room and lay down to sleep, he thought of how he would spend the next day trying to track down any remaining dark artefacts in the house. He could even see if they could get a message to McGonagall at Hogwarts and ask her if she could help them by finding something useful in the library. She might think it too risky, of course, but it would be worth a try. He was going to be much better now, he promised himself. He wasn’t going to let his friends down again.

All the same, as he lay there staring at the canopy above his head, he felt little tendrils of his mind reaching out to the boy who was lying only a few feet away, probably lying awake in the darkness as well. It would be so easy to… but no, Draco needed space. He would not want to talk to Harry just yet. Perversely, Harry realised that he missed him. He hoped that Draco wouldn’t get too lonely. He wished that he understood what had happened between them that morning.

Without realising it, it was the first night that Harry hadn’t performed an Impenetrable Charm on his bed curtains before he went to sleep.

 

Chapter 8

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
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