Draco explained what he'd done with the medallion, and what it was – though Charlie seemed to know already. Charlie said he'd send someone over to the manor to make sure the medallion was safe later. For the moment, he'd do his best to make sure the dragons went back to their owners, or into the wild. They had already begun to leave, though – without the medallion to keep them around, they were beginning to tire of the limited fun they could have pulling apart the manor grounds. They took to the air one by one, gliding gracefully into the sky.
Charlie went off to deal with a couple who were less happy about leaving their new nests, leaving Draco in Ron's uncomfortable presence.
"So, er, Ron," said Draco.
"So, er, Draco," Ron mimicked, with a grin. "Hey, no hard feelings, Draco. I'm sure your animal lust just gets out of hand sometimes, right?"
"I won't answer that, due to a fear I might incriminate myself," said Draco, frostily. "I don't understand how you can take this all so lightly."
"Shit happens," said Ron. "I don't let it get me down. But try any more funny business with me, and I really will hit you."
"I don't plan to," said Draco, rubbing his cheek. It was still quite sore – and that combined with his aching nose and the bruises he'd sustained running from the dragon made him feel very suddenly tired.
"Right. Catch you at work, then."
Ron walked off, to help Charlie. Draco blinked. So that, apparently, was that.
He looked towards the manor. Harry, on the other hand, seemed like he wouldn't let things go so easily. Draco groaned. He figured he'd have to face the music, and better it be sooner than later.
"The rich boy and you?" Charlie guffawed. "Going up in the world, are we, Ron?"
"Not any time soon, I hope," said Ron, making a face. He crawled under one dragon Charlie had distracted, checking for any branding marks. "Looks like a little L here, and an S."
"Ah, yes. The Lausent-Sanders house. Quite a small breeding group. They'll be happy to have this one back."
Charlie tapped the creature's snout, and began to whisper to it. Ron pulled out before the dragon could accidentally step on him, and brushed his hands off on his thighs.
He didn't feel particulary ashamed about what had happened. None of it was his fault, precisely – just bad luck he'd happened to be about when Draco felt randy. And whether or not Harry forgave him or not – well, that was Harry's problem. Life went on. Ron wasn't going to let anyone hold him back, especially for such idiotic reasons. He'd managed well enough without Harry around to back him up for a while now, and he was plenty capable of doing it again.
Friendships ended, relationships died in the water, and the only thing you could count on, Ron thought, was yourself. And family, too. He watched Charlie drag a few unhappy looking dragons across the grounds, tying them by the necks to the green dragon's tail in a harness.
Charlie had mentioned something about a job opening, working with dragons in Africa. Ron didn't like dragons overmuch, but the thought appealed to him. He did like travelling, and quitting his job at the Ministry would get him out of Draco's meddling hands. New beginnings, new horizons, Ron grinned to himself. The sky was the limit, and all that nonsense.
He dug in his pocket for his packet of jellybeans, slightly hungry after his dragon-handling exertions. He always kept a cylinder of jellybeans in his pocket, a relic of his late student days, when he'd always ended up straggling to the dinner hall too late for supper. One of his ex-girlfriends had joked that he kept it there just to impress the ladies, like Muggles were said to keep a roll of quarters. Ron snickered at the idea. As if anyone could be impressed by jellybeans.
He popped a couple in his mouth as he headed over to Charlie.
"We done here?" he called.
Charlie mopped his brow – he was sweating. "Yeah, Ron," he said. "I think we're well and truly done."
Draco came upon Harry in their bedroom. Harry was lying on the bed, reading a book – it was a nice attempt at looking uninterested, but Harry was holding the book upsidedown, and his hands were shaking. He looked like a bum, thought Draco, rather harshly, running his eye over Harry's too-large clothing and the mess of his dark hair.
"So?" he said.
"You're holding it upside down," Draco offered, helpfully.
Draco glanced at the sky, beyond the window. "I guess I have time," he said.
"Can't you take anything seriously?" Harry spat, slamming his book down on the covers. "Don't you know that you hurt me? Don't you feel even the slightly bloody bit of guilt? Aren't you going to apologise?"
"Sorry," said Draco, simply. He walked over, and leant his arms on the metal edge of the bed.
"Is that it?" Harry was disgusted.
"Let me think." Draco paused. "Yes," he continued, finally. "Sorry about sums it up."
"If you ever do that again –" Harry warned, but Draco cut him off.
"What? You'll leave me?"
Harry floundered. Yes, his mind screamed. Tell him you'll leave him. If you say that, he won't dare to do it again. But an equally loud voice in Harry's head asked the more painful question – what if he does? Despite the ultimatum?
"Probably not," he murmured.
"What if it was Ron? Or Hermione? Or someone else you loved?" Draco probed.
"I guess I'd just – try to get over it, and move on. I mean – if you still wanted to be with me. I – can we not talk about this?" Harry's eyes were threatening to become tearful again. He took off his glasses, and rubbed at them. This conversation was turning out all wrong. He wanted Draco to be repentant – he wanted Draco to understand. But instead Draco was being resolutely blithe about it, and asking all the wrong questions, the ones Harry couldn't lie about.
He avoided Draco's eye, and stared myopicly at the spectacles in his hands. "Did you even notice I'd gone?" he asked, quietly.
"Yes. Worried me a little at first. Knew you'd be back, though." Draco leant over the railing and strained to touch Harry's foot, lightly. "You always come back."
"I do." Harry sighed. "I shouldn't."
"Yes, you should. Because you love me and I love you. It's that simple. Nothing else – no one else, should enter the equation. Right?"
"What about Ron?"
"I kissed him. So what?" Draco realised he was sounding almost like Ron, now, and added, "I mean, I don't care about him. I just thought it would be interesting. Slumming it." He squeezed Harry's toes, through his shoe. "He rejected me, anyway."
"Hurts, doesn't it?"
"A bit," Draco lied. He let go of Harry's foot and walked around the side of the bed. Sitting on the edge, he swung his legs to his chest. Harry was staring at him in a I-don't-believe-a-word-of-it way, both eyebrows raised, his lips tense. Draco wrinkled his nose. "Fine," he said. "It hurt like anything."
"Made you feel about this small, right?" said Harry, approximating an inch with his index and thumb.
"I wouldn't go that far," said Draco.
Harry spread his fingers a little wider.
"Okay, that's about it," said Draco. "Quit rubbing it in."
Harry pulled away, pushing himself up against the bedhead, diagonally opposite from Draco. His green eyes were indignant – but the effect was marred slightly by the fact he had to squint to see Draco clearly. He rubbed his glasses on the sleeve of the sweater and put them back on.
"You're going to do it again, aren't you?" he said.
"Maybe. I can't predict the future."
"What would you do if I did that to you?" Harry had to ask.
Draco thought for a moment. "I'd probably have to kill you," he replied. "And mount your head on a wall."
For some reason this reply, coarse as it was, seemed to make Harry happier. He smiled, breifly.
"You do love me, then?" he said, in a small voice, dithering at the edge of the blanket with his fingers.
"Didn't I just say that?"
"Sometimes you don't show it."
Harry stuck out his lower lip in a pout, and Draco groaned. "My stars, Harry, stop talking like a girl," he muttered. "I just told you that I did, okay? Can we get over this – and talk about something else?"
They sat there in silence, looking everywhere but at each other. Draco started to hum, for want of something to do.
"Right," said Harry.
"Right, what?" Draco blinked.
"We'd better have sex and make up," said Harry, hearing a confidence in his own voice which surprised him. "Otherwise we'll just sit here all day."
"Always the sex, with you," Draco chided.
"Got any better ideas?" Harry was brisk now. He tugged his arms out of the overlong sleeves of Viktor's sweater, and struggled to pull it over his head. He emerged a few seconds later, scruffy-haired and waiting.
"You still need a hair cut," Draco mumbled.
"Would you shut up about my bloody hair," said Harry, reaching for him.
They ended up meeting somewhere in the middle of the bed, fingers tangling in fingers. They didn't have sex right away, though. Instead they simply held each other, and for once neither struggled for the upperhand.
That night, as Harry slept, Draco lay awake, looking at the ceiling, one hand wandering the length of Harry's side. His fingers drooped to stroke Harry's stomach, pausing to press into Harry's navel. Harry was deliciously warm, so tempting to curl up against, but Draco's thoughts were still bothering him. He wasn't sure yet if something had started between them, a new level added to their relationship. Or whether something, conversely, had come to completion – a test brought to its surprising (or unsurprising) conclusion.
He understood Harry. He figured he knew Harry just as well as any one person could know another. He knew Harry's moods, and knew instinctively how to change Harry's happiness to tears in a few words, or vice versa. Harry was bound to him, hopelessly so. But did that mean that Draco was bound to Harry in return?
He guessed it probably did. You couldn't know so much about a person without having them become a part of you, too. For the life of him, Draco couldn't picture a world without Harry trailing behind him. They went together like chalk and cheese, and yet – they fitted, somehow. He sighed, hummed, and then rolled over. Harry's proximity was getting to him, and he was dog-tired, after all. He curled in against Harry's body, spooning him, his arms curling around Harry's waist.
These were the moments Harry waited for, every night before he went to sleep, those few moments when Draco gave up his facade. He'd feigned sleep tonight, waiting for it, waiting for Draco to squeeze him – as if making sure that Harry was still there, and to prevent him from leaving before the morning. The real Draco, Harry thought, happily.
He wriggled a little – he couldn't help it. Draco murmured something, sleepily surprised.
"What?" Harry dared to whisper.
"I said I thought you were sleeping," said Draco, more clearly this time.
"No. Not yet."
"Waiting for me?"
"I'm here now."
"Not going anywhere. Not soon, leastways."
"I know, Draco."
"Mm." Draco rested his head against Harry's neck, pressed his lips against the small ridge of Harry's spine. "I'll see you in the morning, then."
"And then we're going to a hair dresser."
Draco laughed, quietly. "I'm joking. Shoosh."
After a few minutes he heard Draco's breathing deepen, the rise of his chest slower against Harry's back. Harry timed own breath to meet Draco's rhythm. They might dream different dreams that night, but Harry was determined that even when they woke that peaceful rhythm would never change.
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