Public Displays of Affection
Part III in the Crush Trilogy
It was a given that there were certain things that Harry would have changed, or at least tweaked in his life if he had a choice -- but he didn’t have the choice so it didn’t really matter. His sight was always going to be awful. He was never going to be taller than Ron. And since no one ever got to choose who they wound up with, Harry was currently, and rather heavily, enamoured of Draco Malfoy.
Of course, Millicent Bullestrode was still single and Harry was gay, but stranger things had happened in history so it could have come to pass. And if Harry had wound up with someone other than Malfoy – correction: Draco – he might’ve had serious problems, as opposed to the minor ones of surviving Double Potions without yet another detention, and being involved with the son of a Death Eater. Yes, in a certain context Harry had rotten luck, but it could always be worse. Harry was always able to see that, which perhaps was why he had spent quite a good bit of time trying to understand exactly why he had fallen for Draco as hard as he had.
Originally, Harry had chalked the entire mess up to a crush that had gone pear-shaped. However, that rationale had soon been overcome by the simple fact that he still wanted to be near Draco, and for all intents and purposes Draco seemed to respond to that. Or maybe Harry just wanted him to respond to that, but Draco made him feel desired and needed and alive, and Harry very much wanted that. Yes, Draco was nice to look at, and blindingly sharp sarcasm apart, he seemed to have a goodish sort of heart, but there was something else there. Draco challenged Harry; he made him justify himself. Being The Boy Who Remembered Fuck All wasn’t enough, and it was nice to be with someone who seemed to want Harry for Harry and no other reason. Not that he didn’t get that from his friends, but it wasn’t the same.
Harry had to believe it wasn’t the same.
Yes, Draco was Draco, and inherently Harry had qualms about trusting him, but he had to trust somebody sometime, and Draco wanted him. Harry needed to be wanted. After all those years of being told he was nothing, being wanted was a big deal, and at least he was attracted to Draco. So yes, he would have to sit next to Draco for close to two hours - and not touch him. And yes, Snape would most certainly make his life a living hell for that duration of time, but eventually it would end. Then he would go to dinner and stare at Draco across the hall. As opposed to sitting in class and staring at Draco sitting next to him. Variety certainly was spicing up Harry’s life, and if he wanted to get on with the spice it would probably be best if he stopped loitering outside the Potions door like a love-sick third year, and went in the room and got on with it.
The sooner they started, the sooner it was over with. Of course it was early days yet to be thinking of the end, but Harry always tended toward pragmatism when forced – albeit by Hermione - and when he thought about it there was never really any other option.
There had never been any randomness in the way their lives meshed. Snape had probably seen that before anyone else, which was rather frightening, and perhaps he would have been happier teaching Divination. All the same, Snape had put them together in his class and dealt with their histrionics for six years. It was terribly sappy in that fate and destiny way, but at least now Harry could admit that it was always going to be this way.
Of course, he and Malfoy would always end up together.
Yes, Harry knew he should have been preoccupied with fathers and sons and apples and trees, but he carried a card in the folds of his robes that told him differently. This card promised him green and silver slugs, and it made him reek of Lemon Zingers for two days before the effects had worn away. Harry could still smell them if he tried.
He could taste Draco with no effort at all.
The small cream-coloured card with emerald green ink worked as a talisman. It contradicted every negative thought and howling godfather that Harry could come up with as a reason for him not to think of blonde hair and pink tongues. Every time Harry thought that he might have lost the plot, that Malfoy might be yanking his chain, he would finger the card in his pocket and know otherwise. And if that wasn’t enough, it was almost as though Malfoy needed as much reassurance as he did. Harry would find himself rubbing the card unthinkingly in the halls and Draco would appear. In Care of Magical Creatures, Draco would lick at the corner of his mouth and arch his eyebrow in Harry’s direction.
When Harry did the same thing he tasted strawberry jam.
And even when they weren’t together, Harry still thought about Draco and crushes and why just maybe they were very right together. It wasn’t any sort of Arithmancy that he had done before, but something about all the other stuff in their lives seemed to cancel out. Harry really thought that they had a chance. A chance at ‘what’ he wasn’t really sure, but he bet that it had to be something because he dreamt about kissing Draco in Charms and Transfiguration, and caught Dumbledore looking at him with that all-knowing smile during dinner.
Harry suspected that Dumbledore might’ve known before they did, but he wasn’t sure what there was to know apart from the fact that when he had wanted to kiss Draco in Charms class, he didn’t mean in front of. But now that Draco was Draco and not just Malfoy, it was all very confusing and would obviously take some getting used to. And so for some reason, when the Enchantment Charms made Harry think about all that, that was why he enchanted his quill instead of the much preferred pair of shoes.
So while everyone else was enjoying, or not enjoying, their tap-dancing shoes, Harry spent his class period attempting to control a quill which had taken to scribbling Draco’s name across his parchment in flourishing, large letters. And when at last, the quill began to seek out new surfaces, Harry had no recourse but to set it on fire. It was a trade off of sorts. While Professor Flitwick was less than amused, and Harry knew he would hear about it for days on end, at least no one noticed the damning parchment with the amazing flaming quill screaming for water.
To say that Ron didn’t approve was a small understatement, but Harry had been prepared for that. Preparation had been key, and he had had the exact same row with Draco the night before, so at least he was on top of his game. After Harry made his announcement, he sat down, calmly fiddled with his robes and their contents and let Ron get it all out. At least nothing of his had been broken, just a dent here or there. Practise had taught Harry that at least one of them had to keep his head when they disagreed.
So, he had thought about it a lot beforehand, but when Ron asked him why, he just said ‘because.’ It was no way to answer a question, but he didn’t think that Ron wanted to hear about crushes and jealousy and being alone when you didn’t have six other siblings. They had never discussed Harry’s issues before and now didn’t seem to be the time to start. If they were going to have a deep conversation, starting in the middle was never going to work. Ron hadn’t even blinked when Harry had had a crush on Oliver, but he kept saying that Malfoy was ‘different’. That Draco was evil and duplicitous… and well what Ron had actually said was that Draco was ‘a sniveling, lying bastard who wasn’t fit to lick Harry’s Quidditch boots clean’ and the licking comment had almost thrown Harry off.
Nevertheless, Harry wanted Ron’s approval, and he was a bit hurt when it wasn’t more forthcoming. Maybe if it had just been a crush Ron would have taken it better, but that was a lie, and Harry knew it. Ron hated Draco in the same way he hated spiders, and if Harry could ever get them in the same room without bloodshed he would be satisfied.
At a later date he would explain to Ron how things really weren’t going to change in the future, and he would do his best to help Ron adapt. After all, Harry had been ‘adapting’ since Draco hadn’t tried to beat the snot out if him in the library after he licked him, and Harry never would have told Ron about their involvement if he didn’t take it seriously. Point of fact, he took his involvement with Draco very seriously, and that was why he told Ron and Hermione separately.
Whereas Ron had said Harry was just upset about Percy and Oliver, Hermione never even brought it up, and truthfully, Harry hadn’t even thought of Oliver until Ron had said something. Ron always wanted to protect Harry when Harry didn’t need protecting, and he had spent a good five hours trying to explain that that really wasn’t necessary.
Thankfully, Hermione didn’t take as much work.
Harry always counted upon her to be his voice of reason and reticence, so instead of just stating the facts, he also told her the whys. Where Ron had gotten the ‘because’, Hermione got the justification. It felt good to tell someone. It felt right and valid, as though someone had transfigured whatever was between him and Draco into something tangible and solid. Telling Ron and Hermione made he and Draco a real entity, and if the secret was shared then it wasn’t a secret anymore. So Harry told Hermione about Lemon Zingers and strawberry jam and why this particular crush had turned into something more.
If nothing else she seemed to understand about the crush bit.
She hadn’t exactly been thrilled about his choice of partner, but she had given a tentative sort of approval and that was a lot. Hermione had also assured him that Ron would come around eventually, and he had been grateful for that. She’d pretty much promised Harry that Ron had no other choice and closed with something about ‘deciding what sort of friend you want to be’ and never abandoning each other over the small things.
Harry didn’t know what kind of friend he wanted to be, but he knew what kind of friend he needed: the kind that gave acceptance regardless. He knew he was lucky enough to have that when Ron didn’t apologise for taking his last Chocolate Frog, and instead offered him a Canary Cream.
Harry never tended to be philosophical, but there were certain things that he had found to be true, regardless. He was going to die – eventually. War was most definitely coming - with Voldemort blazing the way - and no matter what they said, people just wanted to be liked.
Considering his last few weeks with Draco, it all made sense in a strange sort of way. Harry was going to die, but maybe he didn’t have to die alone; and all the time that Draco had spent trying to get Harry’s attention was probably down to wanting to be liked, in a manner of speaking. Harry knew that Draco would never admit as much, but considering his behaviour over the past six years, it made so much sense that Harry was a bit startled and fractionally bent the piece of paper he was holding.
He went about setting the crease to rights immediately, but was struck by something else at that time that made him smile. The grass underneath his feet was the exact same colour as the ink that Draco used for writing, and Harry thought that perhaps he might be slightly obsessed. Of course, Harry might not’ve noticed anything at all if he hadn’t been sitting in the grass flipping the Lemon-Zinger-and-fingerprint-smudged card around in his fingers.
“Isn’t it your turn to bring me something, Potter?” a voice called from above. When Harry tipped his head back, Draco was standing above him, peering down at Harry with that that self-same smirk that used to drive Harry mental. Now it just made him want to lick Draco.
“Harry,” he corrected automatically. The first name basis was still new to them, but they were slowly attempting to work through it. Just in the same manner that they were attempting to spend time together without resorting to violence or name calling. So far they were able to spend thirty whole minutes talking together without incident.
“Harry.” A pause. “Sorry.” Draco’s voice was soft as he moved and sat down next to Harry on the grass. They remained there for several seconds without saying anything, and Harry thought that that might be the time he liked the most -- when they were together and didn’t have to talk to each other. Yes, they were working on the conversation bit, but they had spent four hours in detention without exchanging more than a few words and… well, it had been probably the best detention Harry had ever served. However, that didn’t mean he wanted to make a habit of it, and when Draco reached over and pulled the card from Harry’s fingers, he smelled of cinnamon and jam and lavender soap.
“You still have this?” Draco said, turning towards Harry, his voice slightly incredulous; and Harry flushed. Not because he was embarrassed, well, maybe a wee bit, but more because Draco seemed so surprised. And because Draco was smiling at him, and he looked… happy, and Harry tried very hard not to be sentimental, but still. Draco always smirked. Harry had never seen him smile before, and he had smiled at Harry. It made Harry’s chest feel tight, and then his mouth went dry. Harry had never given much thought to beauty, but that’s kind of what Draco’s smile brought to mind, and Harry had quite obviously lost the plot.
And then Draco kissed him.
The kiss wasn’t earth-shattering or mind-blowing or any of those other adjectives that Ron liked to use when he was short a few inches of parchment, it was something else entirely. When Draco kissed Harry, it was wet and messy, and Harry made a whimpering sound that might’ve been called girlish if he had been anybody else. When Draco kissed Harry, he touched Harry’s face and his hair, and Harry’s glasses went askew and he bit down on Draco’s lip. It probably hurt.
For a first kiss it had promise, and when Draco pulled back to gasp for air, he had crushed the card in his fist.
Harry didn’t care.
Dedicated to Kassie and Fay for tireless betaing and encouragement in the face of my insanity.