Title – Hearts Collide
Rating – PG
Genre – One-shot
Pairing – H/D
Words – 4,303
Warnings – mild angst, hurt/comfort
Summary – Harry feels like he can't cope with the pressure of being The Boy Who Lived any more.
Prompts – one or both open s up about dealing with pressures, gossip, dessert, fire, silence, affection
Disclaimer – I don’t own the boys, they belong to Ms Rowling. Done for fun, not profit!
Harry had always found open fires to be a little bit hypnotic. He often found himself staring into the flames for untold minutes, imagining that he could see strange dreamscapes, dancing figures, indecipherable script… It was nice, really. He could get so caught up in the flickering flames that he forgot everything else. And there were times when forgetting everything was just what Harry wanted to do. He sighed wearily. He could feel the knots of tension in his shoulders, and his eyes prickled with fatigue.
There had been yet another stupid story about him in the papers today. There were times when he just wanted to disappear altogether and not have to deal with any of it any more. It wasn’t like he had ever sought out the fame that had been bestowed upon him. All he had wanted to do was destroy the monster that had torn his family apart. He had just wanted to end all that misery which Voldemort had caused. And then he would have been quite happy to be left alone. But that wasn’t what people wanted. Sure, Harry was willing to go to memorial services, give the occasional lecture, represent his fellow Aurors at public functions, but he wasn’t a celebrity. He had never set out to be a celebrity – he had made that clear from the start – and yet the popular press were constantly criticising him for not acting the part. They wanted him to be public property. Harry had already lost his youth and innocence by doing his duty – was it too much to ask that he could have some life of his own now?
Thank God they hadn’t found out about Draco. Harry could only imagine what would happen if they did. Newspaper headlines swum in front of his stinging eyes. Potter’s Betrayal – Affair With former Death Eater… Malfoy Corrupts Boy Who Lived… Potter’s Gay Affair Rocks Wizarding World… There was no way they would ever understand. They didn’t know Draco; they didn’t see how Draco had changed, just in the few years since the fall of Voldemort. They didn’t know how Draco’s world had been torn apart, or how he had worked so hard to build it up again, to do things differently. Harry knew. And Harry loved him for it.
The thought of other people finding out terrified him. The thought of people commenting on something that had become so dear to him, of them criticising it, pulling it apart… it was just awful. Draco had been fantastic about it all. Harry knew that it must be hard on him as well, having to sneak around like this, but he had never once made Harry feel bad about it.
The fire suddenly flared up, making Harry jump with surprise. The flames licked their way up the chimney, then began to spark bright green. The next moment, Draco Malfoy stepped into Harry’s living room, brushing cinders from his shoulders with a slight frown of annoyance. “Ugh, I hate travelling by Floo,” he said. “I always feel like I need a good shower afterwards.”
Harry didn’t respond to this. He simply got to his feet and pulled his lover into a close embrace. Draco didn’t even attempt to extricate himself, for which Harry was very grateful. He didn’t think he could have coped. It felt so good to be holding onto someone right now. It felt good to be accepted for who he was – a man like any other, who had weaknesses and needs, and not an all-powerful hero. “You smell like honey,” he whispered.
Draco laughed softly, planting a kiss on the side of Harry’s neck. “I’ve been in the patisserie. Careful, or you’ll squash what I’ve brought.”
Harry let go of the other man. “You’ve brought something?”
Draco grinned wickedly and pulled a cake box out of the bag he’d been carrying. “I got us some cheesecake. I… I saw the papers today. I thought you could do with a treat, so I stopped off at Antoinette’s.”
Harry broke into a smile. “You’re the best… you’re amazing, Draco.”
Draco smiled roguishly. “Not really. I just fancied some cheesecake, and thought I’d use you as an excuse.” He kissed Harry gently to show that he was only joking, and carried the box through to the kitchen.
Harry has almost said that Draco was the best boyfriend ever, but had stopped himself just in time. They hadn’t had ‘the talk’ yet, and Harry wasn’t sure if the other man was at the stage where he wanted to define the relationship yet. And this was Harry’s first relationship with another man. It was all still so strange, so new, like exploring a previously undiscovered country. He hadn’t really known what was happening or what he was feeling until Draco had kissed him that night. They had just been hanging out at Harry’s house, drinking beers. It had been the first time they had discussed what had happened during the war…
Draco had been so shy to approach him at first, so afraid that Harry wouldn’t want to know, and Harry had been so aware of how delicate, how tentative, their friendship was. He had felt like he was holding his breath half the time, as if his time with Draco was a snowflake that could melt away at any moment. And he had watched Draco slowly open up like a flower, grow in confidence, relax in Harry’s presence. They had come to each other fresh, with the unspoken agreement that the past they shared no longer mattered. Draco had taken him for who he was. And Harry hadn’t known how much all of that meant to him until Draco had kissed him that night, about a month ago. And then it was like everything had fitted into place. It scared him, and he didn’t have the first clue what he was doing, but then that had never stopped Harry in the past, and it wasn’t going to stop him now. He hadn’t known whether he was falling or flying.
“Would it be all right to put the kettle on?” Draco called from the kitchen. “I could do with a cup of tea.”
“Of course! Here, let me come help.” Harry loved Draco’s voice now. He loved how it was like cut glass. Though he would never admit that to Ron, who still referred to Draco as ‘that bloody aristocratic ferret.’
Draco was busying himself with the tea set, prompting Harry to smile again. He remembered how appalled Draco had been the first time he visited, how he had refused to use anything from Harry’s ill-matched assortment of coffee mugs. He had gone out the next day and bought the Gryffindor a bone china tea set, decorated with emerald green swirls. This was the kind of thing that used to really piss Harry off about Draco – this inherent snobbishness – but now he found it endearing. The tea set was definitely not the kind of thing that Harry would ever have brought for himself, and he was quite embarrassed at the thought of any of his friends finding it, but he liked it nonetheless. It made him think of Draco.
“I got lemon cheesecake – hope that’s okay.” Draco pulled out his wand and deftly used it to divide the cake into slices.
“Sounds perfect,” Harry replied.
“You’ll never guess what I heard today,” Draco said lightly. “Apparently, according to Pansy, Lavender Brown got caught in the men’s bathroom at the Enchanted Ballroom with Greg Goyle.”
“I know! Pansy thought it was hilarious. That stuck-up princess has always made out that she’s got such high standards… Mind you, she did go out with Weasley.”
“All right, all right, don’t get your knickers in a twist. Though I don’t see why I should make any effort to be nice.” Draco glanced up as Harry, and then clearly decided that he should change tack. “Anyway, it looks like you’re not the only one who’s got a thing for Slytherins. It could be a new trend, you never know.” He looked up at Harry again, almost cautiously. “I… I expect that if everyone saw you doing it, they’d all want to…” He smiled embarrassedly and starting putting the tea things onto a tray.
Harry didn’t say anything. He picked up the plates with the cheesecake on them, and followed his lover back to the living room. The fire was dwindling now, and the room was wonderfully cosy. Draco put the tray down on the coffee table and sank down onto the sofa with a sigh of repletion. Harry handed him one of the plates, and sat down next to him. Draco immediately shuffled over so that they were touching. It made Harry’s heart beat faster. It was so soon since they had made love for the first time, and each touch was still a revelation.
The cheesecake was delicious. It melted over Harry’s taste buds, sweet and tangy at the same time. He loved that it had been chosen for him by Draco. They sat together in companionable silence, forks scraping against plates.
“That was amazing,” Harry sighed at last.
“Mmm. Antoinette’s never disappoint. I have to stop myself from going there too often – I’d get so fat otherwise.” Draco leaned forward and poured out the tea, dropping a slice of lemon into each cup. Harry had always been a milk-and-two-sugars man before, but Draco had successfully converted him.
Harry loved the way Draco drank so primly, raising his eyebrows and sticking out his little finger as he raised the teacup to his lips. He loved that he was in a position to notice things like that about the other man. He leaned over and planted a kiss on Draco’s neck, just below the left ear, shivering a little as he did so. He still couldn’t quite believe that he was allowed to do this, that Draco was his to kiss.
Draco sighed softly, turning his head in order to press Harry’s lips against his own.
When they pulled back, Harry noticed that Draco’s eyes seemed troubled. “What is it?” he asked, trying to ignore the butterflies that had formed in his stomach.
Draco smiled crookedly. “Nothing. Look… I really am sorry about the papers today. I know it was nothing serious, but… but I understand how that must get to you. And I hate that I did it to you at school with that old hag, Skeeter. You know I… I only did it because I…”
“I know. Don’t worry about that. Don’t even… I mean, that’s all over now.”
The silence between them had a tension to it now.
“Harry… is this really what you want? I mean, with me?”
“Of course it is!” Harry said quickly, his chest tightening. “I’m sorry that I’m… that I’m not exactly the ideal person to be with, but I—”
“It’s not that! I just… I just want you to know that I’m serious about it. I was from the start. I’ve worked so hard to… to become a better person. I got so lost. And the fact that you were willing to forgive me, well, it meant the world. Really. And I know I’m not perfect, and I’m probably the worst person for someone like you—”
“”Don’t say that!” Harry pressed his fingers to Draco’s lips. “You’re… you’re the best… Look, this is my fault. I just hate that I can’t, you know, be someone else. And I understand why people want to know about me, and I appreciate the support, but they act like I’m someone special, when really I’m just this guy who happened to have a prophesy written about him. And now I’ve fulfilled the prophesy, there’s nothing remarkable about me. And they have to make things up just to get a story. And they still want me to be, I don’t know, some kind of hero, and it seems like they criticise everything I do, because I’m supposed to be perfect, but I’m not. And I hate that it’s all because my parents died and I didn’t. I hate that it’s because I spent my school days going through this fucking nightmare. And I wish that it could be over now. I wish… I wish that I could go back to being nobody. And I hate that I have to sneak around like this with you, like it’s something I’m ashamed of, when really… when really, some of the time it’s the only thing that gets me through the day.”
Draco gently pulled Harry’s hand away from his mouth. “You’ll never be nobody, Harry. It wasn’t just the prophesy that made you special – can’t you see that? There’s something about you. There’s this power to you, this strength. I saw it from the first, and I hated you because you wouldn’t let me near. I was too stupid to see why. You’re the most remarkable person I know. I know why you’re suffering. I know you never asked for this. But… Harry, has it ever occurred to you that you could just… not pay attention? I mean, this is your life! You’ve earned the right to do what makes you happy! Hell, if I was the one who’d killed V-Voldemort, I’d consider it my right to be carried about in a divan wherever I went, and be fed peeled grapes by gilded youths. I mean… look, half the time I think they only criticise you because you’re so determined to hide.”
Harry smiled sadly. “But it isn’t just me. It’s going to affect everyone around me as well. I mean… Ginny couldn’t cope with it. The papers kept running all these stories about how she was this bitchy gold-digger, and—I mean, I doubt it would have lasted anyway,” he said quickly, seeing the look on Draco’s face.
“You… I expect you wish things could have turned out a little differently…”
“No! Draco, I don’t love Ginny any more. There was more to our break-up than… I just… I just hate that I could cause someone I care about any pain, even indirectly.”
Draco looked at him, a strange fierceness in his eyes. “You think I’d care about that? Harry, you do realise what people have been writing about me and my family for the past four years, don’t you? I can’t walk down the street without someone giving me the evil eye. Believe me, I can cope. You... I would stand by you. I’d put up with it…”
Harry could feel a lump forming in his throat, and coughed gruffly, turning his gaze to the glowing coals in the grate, unable to look at Draco any longer. “They’d tear us apart,” he said quietly. “They wouldn’t understand. They’d turn what we have into something… something to be ashamed of. And I can’t let that happen. Draco, it means too much. It means too much to have something that’s mine after all this time, and I can’t…”
Draco wrapped his arms around Harry and pulled him into an embrace. “Harry… you really want to be with me? I mean… are you serious about this?”
“Yes,” Harry replied, terrified.
“Me too.” Draco’s voice was trembling. “It’s scary, wanting something so much.”
“I hate that we’re—”
“Harry,” Draco interrupted, “let’s run away together.”
“Come on, let’s… let’s just go. You can write your books anywhere in the world, can’t you? And I still have the good old family fortune to live on. Let’s just go! Let’s… let’s tell our closest friends about us, and then let’s leave. When we come back, the fuss will have died down, and we can… we can be happy. Don’t you want to see the world, Harry? Because it’s so beautiful. And… and I want you to be happy so badly. Please come away with me.”
Harry had a thousand objections on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t manage to voice any of them. What Draco was suggesting was madness. It wasn’t the kind of thing that real people with responsibilities did. They could never… could they? The scheme began to form in his mind in glorious technicolor. And Draco was right – this was his life. He deserved to catch a little happiness, a little excitement, along the way. He deserved to do something for himself for once. He slowly broke into a grin. “Okay.”
Draco laughed giddily. “Really? I… I was so sure you’d refuse! I… really?”
“Yes.” Harry felt weak, and terrified, and ecstatic all at once. “Yes, let’s do it. Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Draco kissed him, wrapping his arms around Harry’s neck and causing him to fall backwards onto the sofa. It was so new, kissing Draco. It was so perfect. It was everything that Harry had been waiting for, and he was damned if he was going to let anyone spoil it.
“Nothing can come between us,” Draco whispered between kisses, as if he had read Harry’s thoughts. “Not if we don’t let it.”
Harry allowed himself to surrender to the passions that were surging through him in waves. It felt like his body was the ocean, and Draco’s was the shore. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Not that it mattered. It was their world. And Draco was right – no one was going to spoil it for them.