And Now For Something Completely Different
Part I in the Crush Trilogy
Oliver was the first.
He tended to get far too overexcited in the heat of the game and his eyes would grow extraordinarily bright. Harry had never really noticed anyone's eyes before, but Oliver's eyes were hazel, green and gold, and they reminded Harry of the autumn and crash landings in leaves. When Oliver was excited the blush would start in his cheeks, and before Harry knew it, Oliver's whole face would be flushed with colour and life. Harry used to grip his broom extra tight to keep from putting his hands places they didn't belong, and after a really vigorous practice, Oliver would look as though he'd just run a long distance or had a shag. Of course at thirteen Harry only had vague ideas about shagging, but it was just another reason for Harry to dislike Marcus Flint, and envy was a new emotion for him.
Yes, Oliver was definitely Harry's first crush.
Krum was the second, and Harry's crush on him was hard and brutal, just like the Triwizard Tournament. Krum left Harry reeling all over the school and in classes and when he should have been paying attention to the Snitch. Krum was tall, dark and silent, like those black and white film stars that Aunt Petunia used to watch when she thought no one was looking. Krum liked to brood, and Harry liked to watch.
Harry thinks he might once have had some resolve to do something about his feelings, but since he hadn't planned on competing with both of his mates for one guy it came to naught. Not that Harry should have been that surprised about the Viktor Krum Fan Club: they always did everything together at any rate.
All things considered, it could have been worse. It could always be worse, and it was always going to come back to 'him' anyway. Considering all the effort that Malfoy put into getting Harry's attention on a daily basis, it was the least Harry could do.
Of course, it could have been a different 'him', but Harry's very glad he didn't fall for Cedric instead. Handsome Cedric Diggory with his white teeth and gallant manner, as opposed to Krum with his hunched shoulders and his Wronksi Feint. Yes, Harry could certainly see what Cho saw in Cedric, and to Harry's credit at least he understood that his crush on her was actually a deflected attempt at Cedric.
Krum was second, Oliver was first, and Cedric could have been third. But he wasn't.
If nothing else he confirmed the pattern, but falling for Cedric would've ruined Harry forever. Cedric was smart and kind, and if he had felt the same as Harry it would have been something dangerous. It could have turned into love. Harry's seen what love does to people; Cho is still picking up the pieces. So instead Harry got lucky, as he's often wont to do. Instead of scaring Harry off and making him afraid, Cedric's death made him bold and even more daring -- as though life wasn't already short enough.
Cedric's death was like Oliver waking Harry up at half-four for practice. Harry didn't have time to contemplate the whys, and there was never any 'maybe' about it.
Sometimes life just happens.
Harry Potter didn't 'wake up' gay one morning. It had nothing to do with a spell or a poisoned apple. An errant bludger didn't scramble his gray matter, and he wasn't tricked into admitting his feelings under the weight of words or wands or bubotuber pus.
The culmination of Harry's feelings was a natural progression, and his third crush was no surprise to him. Draco Malfoy played Quidditch, and he certainly expelled enough energy attempting to get Harry's attention. Really it was only to be expected, and in Harry's favour was the fact that at least he was consistent.
Harry Potter liked boys who could handle their brooms.
Like all crushes, Harry's feelings for Malfoy came upon him in an epiphany of sorts.
Thankfully, it didn't happen in Potions, as Harry was sure that Snape would have sniffed it out and made a spectacle of him in front of all and sundry. He never would have heard the end of it, and that's just from Ron. One would have thought that after six years Snape would have found someone else to pick on, but no, so Harry was glad it didn't happen there. It didn't happen in any of the places that Harry typically had sudden realizations either, though. He didn't break out in a nervous sweat thinking of Malfoy. He didn't realise it in the showers after practise. Their eyes didn't mystically meet across the Great Hall during lunch -- which was good as Harry was a bit thin and needed to eat as much as possible without distraction.
No, Harry's realisation came upon him when he was getting washed up one morning and attempting to shave with a minimal amount of damage to his face.
Shaving had never been one of those activities that Harry gave much thought to. It was simply a means to an end. He needed to shave so that he didn't look like a homeless tramp, and that was about it. He didn't find anything particularly erotic about the experience, but it was necessary as the one time he tried to grow a beard it had happened in patches and the new growth had made him itch like he had bathed in Zonko's Scratch-UR-Itch powder.
In regards to the idea though, it certainly could have been less painful.
Harry was shaving the left side of his face with his usual haphazard style, as he tended to be very slapdash when shaving and only insisted on going from right to left. His razor was a bit dull that day, but as he was already late for breakfast he couldn't take the time to sort out a new one. And as he stood there, shaving cream clogging up the sink, with a small bit on his nose, he thought about the upcoming Quidditch match against Hufflepuff and how they really needed a seeker like Cedric to put them back in the contending for the house cup. Poppy Crabble was nice to look at, but that was about it - if she spent as much time looking for the Snitch as she did looking for Ernie McMillan she might have actually been half-decent.
For a long time Harry had harboured enormous feelings of guilt and shame every time he thought of Cedric, but recently he had come to the realization that life was for living. If he continually felt guilty over everyone who died for him then he would never leave his room, and he really didn't want to spend the rest his days with Pig, Hedwig and a small group of spiders as his only companions.
Naturally, the thought that Hufflepuff needed a better Seeker inevitably brought him round to Malfoy because, git though he was, he was a good Seeker. Perhaps as good as Harry, but at least Harry didn't resort to trickery to win his matches, and Merlin only knew what else Malfoy resorted to trickery to win. And that was when it happened - Harry shivered, and his supposedly dull blade nicked him, and there was blood.
Harry was rather used to his own blood by his sixth year. It was red and bright, and Malfoy's was the same. Malfoy's blood was red, not blue as Mr. Pureblood liked to believe. Harry knew this because Malfoy had nicked his finger in Potions the other day, and Harry had wanted to lick it. Well, he hadn't wanted to lick it at the time. At the time he had called Malfoy an incompetent git, but looking back on it now he wanted to lick it. Or perhaps just lick Malfoy, because his skin seemed so flawless except for that small cut, and really, he was a damn good Seeker, and obviously this was the makings of a crush.
At least Harry had experience with those.
Yes, it was terribly bad form for Harry to lick the remaining jam off his palm, but when Hermione glared at him and he smiled back, she simply shook her head and went back to her porridge. The more things changed the more they stayed the same, and at this point it was simply a force of habit that made her try and correct his manners. Obviously there wasn't much she could say to him in their sixth year that would rattle him, not with war on the horizon, so he felt entitled to eat his breakfast as he saw fit.
It was poor luck that the strawberry jam reminded Harry a bit too much of coagulated blood, but it still tasted brilliant on toast, and he had got over the whole 'butterflies preventing eating' thing at the start of his fifth year. If constant thoughts of a dead boy staring at him couldn't deter his appetite then having a crush on a Slytherin or the filth under his fingernails from last night's attempts at the Wronski Feint paled in comparison.
The idea of having a crush on Malfoy didn't disturb Harry that greatly. That was the whole thing about crushes: they were silly and ridiculous and generally not based on reason. Harry liked boys who rode brooms. Hermione had been notoriously keen on Lockhart, and Ron had gone round the bend over Fleur. All three of them had done a header over Viktor, and they were still friends. Friends didn't care about crushes. Those sorts of things were never anything to go to ground over. The problem only came when people attempted to make more of them than was strictly healthy, and or necessary.
Of course every now and then an errant crush got out of hand, but Ron and Hermione certainly seemed happy together and by proxy Harry was happy for them. Not that there wasn't the occasional flare-up of jealousy when he caught them laughing together without him, but really it was all for the best. At least Mrs. Weasley no longer held any mistaken ideas about who was interested in whom, although there had been a moment when there was some concern about Percy fancying Hermione. However, that had all been put to rest with the morning tidbit about Percy having moved in with Oliver.
Fair play to them both, and surprisingly Harry hadn't felt any jealousy when this news had reached his ears. The moment that he had expected it to at least twinge never happened, and Hermione had simply gone back to her eggs. Naturally, she had been the one appointed to tell him as Ron couldn't be depended on to employ that much-needed tact, but Harry had been able to tell by her deft scan of his face that she was impressed as he was with his lack of response. But really there had been nothing to respond to because Oliver had been two crushes back, and that was practically a lifetime ago.
Harry was all about living in the moment. It would have been folly for him to squander his time wishing for something that was never going to come to pass, which was yet more proof that there was nothing wrong with his being keen on Draco Malfoy.
There was no danger that their lives would ever intertwine more than they already did.
Harry never really took it upon himself to be less obvious about his attentions, since both of his previous crushes were so completely oblivious to his affections. It had bothered Harry in the way that most immutable things did, but it was what it was, end of story. Harry couldn't really be bothered to be that upset over the fruitlessness of his feelings if only because he hadn't expected them to go anywhere in the first place.
The lovely thing about admiring from afar was the lack of need to get up close and personal and have everything get mucked up.
True, he had admired both Viktor and Oliver, but so did many other people, and as such Harry was really only part of a whole. It was nice, and while being Harry Potter may have gotten their attention, it could never force them to return his feelings. Luckily boys tended not to act like third-year girls. So, in a way Harry was glad that neither boy knew of his feelings, as nothing could come of a pairing where he couldn't be certain if the other person involved truly wanted him for him or for his name. The beauty of fancying Malfoy was not that he disliked Harry, but that he would never be impressed by Harry's name.
That was certainly something, although what exactly it was Harry couldn't be sure. However, whatever it was probably couldn't be found by leaning against the Runes section of the library shelf, and there was no chance that it would be found whilst staring at Malfoy when he attempted to do his homework. Although all those reasons were exactly why Harry should have left quickly and quietly when Malfoy glanced up from his parchment and saw him loitering there.
Of course, Harry was never that good with reason. He was good with knowing when to stay versus when to flee, and he was certainly good with knowing when someone had put a spell on him. So it was surely the Imperio that made him walk over to Malfoy's chair and bend down next to him.
The first thing that Harry noticed was the plaster on Malfoy's ring finger. The second thing he noticed was what seemed to be a small bit of strawberry jam in the corner of Malfoy's bottom lip.
"Potter, if you don't stop staring you're going to go cross-eyed," Malfoy said, the sneer not quite as malicious as Harry remembered it being. Of course, Malfoy's lack of vitriol could also have been down to Harry's proximity. Harry had never been very good with the personal space thing either. He never spent enough time with most of his crushes to have to consider those sort of issues.
"I wasn't - I was staring?" Harry inquired with an innocence of which only the very guilty are capable.
"If the holes bored into my skull are any indication, then I would say yes. Is there something in particular you were after today, or can this wait until Monday? I like to think of my weekends as Potter-free," Draco remarked.
Harry scrubbed at the back of his head and blinked. It was difficult to focus on what Malfoy was saying with that bit of jam taunting him. Harry really was very fond of strawberry jam.
"You've got jam on your mouth," Harry offered. Draco arched an eyebrow, and Harry's mouth felt a bit parched. Crushes were not supposed to have elegant eyebrows - it was off-putting.
"You've been starring at me for the last quarter hour because I've got strawberry preserve on my mouth?" Draco replied, his voice rather dry. Harry thought that if he looked up 'droll' in the dictionary Malfoy's photograph would be there - with his left eyebrow arched. "Would you'd care to get rid of it for me, Potter? Lick it off, perhaps?"
In Harry's mind, crushes were not supposed to have good ideas. Harry had never licked one of his crushes in his life. That was no reason not to start. When Harry leaned over and licked the corner of Malfoy's mouth he wasn't expecting it to taste of anything other than jam. Unfortunately Malfoy also tasted of cinnamon and dirt and Lemon Zingers. Harry happened to really like Lemon Zingers. So when his tongue was back where it belonged, and Malfoy had put his eyes back in his head and stopped clutching at his chair in apoplectic shock, Harry stood up and prepared to leave. Possibly to procure some Lemon Zingers.
Harry was not prepared for Malfoy to yank him back down in a rage. "What the hell are you playing at, Potter?" he snapped. "D'you think this is funny?"
"Do I think what is funny?" Harry inquired, slightly off-balance with the sugar rush and the licking bit and the loud, incessant 'this is not what crushes do' record going round in his brain.
"You - you licking me," Malfoy hissed. "Is this - this is about that rumour about me fancying you, isn't it? I'm not laughing here. I'm not expecting you to feel the same... that's no reason to go round licking me." And that was the moment that Harry paused and had to reconsider quite a few things that he had thought about recently, because apparently crushes were supposed to be called something else when they were reciprocated.