maxine_chan: (HP - HarryDraco paint by Sherant)
Maxine ([personal profile] maxine_chan) wrote2011-12-16 11:10 pm
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FIC: All the Answers - Chapter 25

THIS IS SO HORRIFICALLY LATE AND I AM SO SORRY. But here it is! Enjoy!!


Title: All the Answers
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Word Count: 9100
Disclaimer: It's not mine. JKR is the brilliant mind behind HP.
Notes: This is a post-HBP 7th year fic that is not compliant with Deathly Hallows at all. Many, many thanks to my awesome beta, [livejournal.com profile] lksnarry1!
Summary: Horcruxes, former enemies showing up out of nowhere, and the usual teenage drama on top of it all - Harry isn't sure how he's ever going to make it through all this. But since when has conquering evil ever been easy?


--> All chapters can be found here. <--



previous chapter


~~Chapter 25~~


Harry spent the next couple of days split between floating along in a blissful haze and being annoyed at everyone in the house.

…It was an odd combination.

Being with Draco was turning out to be something of a revelation. For whatever reason, there was still some small part of Harry that was waiting for the rest of him to catch up and be appalled by the fact that he was snogging a boy. He didn’t know where this deep-seated unease stemmed from – he assumed Uncle Vernon had probably said something at some point that had stuck, or maybe it was just all of the Dursleys’ attitudes in general towards people who didn’t fit their very specific cookie cutter mold – but the distaste never materialized and each day Harry found himself able to ignore that nagging worry a little better.

Because a much more rational part of Harry knew there was no reason it should bother him. It didn’t feel weird, and it certainly didn’t put him off – quite the contrary, actually, because Harry had never found himself actively searching for excuses to grab private time with someone else so often. Even when he’d been with Ginny, there was usually the thought lurking in the back of his mind that she was Ron’s sister and he would know what they were up to if they disappeared for too long. It hadn’t stopped them, of course, but it had limited how long Harry was willing to whisk her away for.

With Draco, Harry didn’t care if they spent hours locked in one of their rooms. Both Ron and Hermione knew what they were doing, and more importantly, they didn’t care. If anything, they encouraged it, and it was shocking how freeing the whole thing was. If his best friends didn’t mind that he was dating – and he was still hesitant to even refer to it as such – not only another male, but one who had actively bullied them for a solid six years and who had, for the longest time, had an opposing viewpoint on damn near everything, then did it really matter how the rest of the world would take it?

One of the bigger problems he was having was actually the timing of it all. Ginny wasn’t due back at Hogwarts for another two weeks, and Fred and George were still hanging around, too, since Charlie had turned up two days into the New Year for a surprise visit. That, on top of Remus and Tonks being back – and with Tonks not really being allowed out of the house anymore in her condition – meant that Grimmauld Place was full to the brim with people. And that meant that whenever Harry stepped outside of his room he was quick to run into someone, and oftentimes they would have a knowing grin on their face that tended to set him on edge.

It was a vicious cycle, really. Harry would leave Draco feeling ridiculously giddy, only to have his mood turn sour when he ventured out into the rest of the crowded house. And then he would immediately feel bad, because these people were his family and most of them had nowhere else to go. They were all so bloody supportive that he didn’t feel he had the right to be irritated at any of them – especially the adults, who hadn’t even been told about the new developments between him and Draco yet.

And in addition to all that, there was the Voldemort issue.

The one pesky little problem that refused to go away.

The amount of people at Grimmauld Place continued to make it difficult to get together with Ron and Hermione to discuss their next move. Although, Harry had to admit, he hadn’t exactly been trying too hard to make it happen, since Draco kept him thoroughly distracted. But, as the days passed, something like an itch grew steadily in the back of his mind. He couldn’t keep putting it off, he knew that. He was pretty certain evil didn’t typically take extended holidays. It was adding additional guilt to Harry’s already emotionally full plate, and also making him feel anxious, which basically meant that his mood was constantly bouncing all over the place lately and he was pretty sure that soon he was going to snap and yell at someone if they so much as asked him to pass the salt at dinner.

“What’s got you all tense, Potter?” Draco asked, peering at him from where he had his face buried in the crook of his elbow. They were lounging on Harry’s bed, Draco on his stomach and Harry with his arms crossed loosely over his chest, his fingers tapping restlessly against his biceps.

“I’m not tense,” Harry said, frowning up at the ceiling.

“Liar.” Draco propped himself up with his arm, looking Harry over. “You’re brooding about something. You’ve got that look on your face.”

“What look?” Harry asked, exasperated. “I’m telling you, I’m fine.”

Draco pointed. “That look. That sort of constipated, on the verge of exploding thing you’ve got going on.”

Harry scowled and grabbed at Draco’s hand. “I was just – thinking,” he said, turning Draco’s hand over in his own. The eerie blackness had spread from his fingers, slowly overtaking the rest of his palm and the back of his hand. Harry’s stomach twisted as he looked at it.

“…So, brooding,” Draco said after a moment, watching their hands. “Like I said.” He’d gone a bit tense himself, though whether it was because of the attention to his curse or just because of the way Harry was touching him, Harry wasn’t sure.

They hit little bumps like this every so often, which Harry didn’t really find surprising. No matter how far they’d come in the past few months, trying to be intimate in a way that didn’t involve mashing their faces together was still going to take some work. They could handle the kissing, but getting Draco to open up more? Not always an easy task, and it probably didn’t help that Harry could be just as much of a brick wall at times. They obviously still had some adjusting to do now that they’d redefined the parameters of their relationship.

“I was just thinking,” Harry said pointedly, “I have no idea what our next move is and we should really start figuring it out.”

Draco groaned and dropped his head back down to his pillow. “Do we have to?” he asked, voice slightly muffled. He turned so he could look at Harry. “I was quite content pretending that fucker had buggered off all on his own.”

Harry grinned and intertwined his fingers with Draco’s, which made Draco go a bit pink and stare at their hands again. “We can’t lounge about like lazy arses forever.”

“Sure we can,” Draco said. He shifted until he was lying on his back, using his grip on Harry’s hand to pull him closer. “Anyway, we aren’t being lazy. In fact, my tongue has been getting quite a workout these past few days.”

Harry moved with him, throwing his leg over Draco’s hips and pinning their still interlocked hands to the bed above Draco’s head. “Meanwhile, the rest of you is getting pudgy,” he said, using his free hand to poke Draco in the stomach. Draco gave him an affronted look.

“I am not,” he said, narrowing his eyes when Harry’s grin only widened. “And if I am, it’s your fault. You’re the one who’s been forcing me to live with these people. I can’t help it if everything Weasley’s mum makes is good. If you put decent food in front of me, I’m going to eat it!”

“As well you should,” Harry said. “You know I’m only joking.” His smile faded. “…If anything, you’re actually too skinny.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Too fat, too thin – Merlin, you’re picky.”

“I’m serious, Malfoy,” Harry said, tightening his fingers around Draco’s. “You’re starting to look like you did back in the summer.”

“I’m fine,” Draco insisted. “Shut up and kiss me before you worry yourself to death.”

Harry wanted to protest, but he found himself leaning down to capture Draco’s mouth instead. It was an easier course of action, which didn’t mean it was right, but he knew that if Draco didn’t want to talk about it, then he wouldn’t. Harry thought maybe it was time to get in contact with Snape again, even though he was pretty sure Snape would have told them if he had managed to come up with any sort of antidote or cure.

Draco pulled back and frowned at him. “You’re distracted,” he said. “I think I’m a little offended.”

Harry snorted and buried his face against the curve of Draco’s neck. “Sorry,” he said, sounding amused. “I keep thinking about other things.”

“Well, quit it,” Draco groused. “It’s way too soon for you to be getting bored with me, Potter – we haven’t even had any more hand in pants action yet!”

Harry’s cheeks went warm and he pulled back a little so he could look Draco in the eye. “That’s not necessarily my fault,” he said. “I don’t know what’s stopping you.”

Draco shifted his gaze off to the side. “I wasn’t sure it was on the table,” he said, and then he looked back at Harry with raised eyebrows. “And I don’t know what’s stopping you, either.”

Neither did Harry, to be honest.

He didn’t know if he was intentionally holding back, or if there was some other reason they hadn’t gotten that far yet. They’d done it before, after all, rushed and weird as it had been. And it wasn’t like he didn’t want to. He didn’t balk at the thought of it – in fact, picturing it actually made his trousers suddenly seem tighter, and he squirmed a bit.

The movement caused Draco’s eyes to widen. He swallowed, flexing his hips upward, and Harry’s breath immediately caught in his throat.

They stared at each other.

And then several pairs of footsteps went thundering past in the hallway, loud voices clamoring over one another, and Harry’s concentration was immediately diverted as he shot a glare at the door.

Right. Maybe that had something to do with it.

Draco let out a noisy breath. “I’m not sure you’re aware, Potter, but as wizards, we have this thing called a wand.” Harry glanced back at Draco, brow furrowing slightly as he tried to figure out if that was some kind of euphemism. Draco smirked. “No,” he said, apparently reading Harry’s mind. “Your actual wand. And with it we can cast these handy bits of magic called spells. Spells can do really useful things, you see. Like lock doors.”

“They aren’t about to come barging in on us,” Harry said. “That isn’t the problem.” A vaguely sheepish look settled on his face. “It’s just that they’re here. I can’t really imagine doing – that – with eight thousand other people in the house.”

“Or just eight,” Draco said.

“That’s still a lot! …And it isn’t eight, it’s more like – ten.”

Draco lifted an unimpressed eyebrow. “I think the real problem is that you’ve suddenly gone all bashful on me.”

“Shut it, you prat, I have not,” Harry said, trying not to sound too defensive because it was entirely likely that was also part of the problem. He sat up, releasing Draco’s hand and grabbing the front of his shirt instead so that he could pull him into a sitting position as well. “Now come on, we have things to do. There’ll be time for hands in pants and all that later.”

“We’re probably just going to interrupt Weasley and Hermione,” Draco said, as Harry climbed off him and paused on the edge of the bed so he could straighten out his clothes. “I bet they’re doing exactly what we should be doing.”

“They’ve had three days to snog themselves silly,” Harry said. He looked back at Draco, who was still sitting on the bed, and rolled his eyes. “Up, Malfoy, let’s go!”

Draco grumbled, but he eventually pushed himself up and followed Harry out of the room. “I don’t see why we can’t do this tomorrow,” he complained, as they headed downstairs. “Unless you already have some genius master plan – which I highly doubt – we should use tonight to brainstorm. And then meet up with the others.”

Harry paused several steps below Draco and turned around to look up at him. “Brainstorm,” he repeated, grinning. “Right.”

“I can’t help it if I’m a healthy seventeen-year-old,” Draco said. He propped his hands on his hips and lifted his chin a bit. “I have needs, Potter.”

“Yeah, well, they’ve waited this long.” Harry climbed back up a couple steps until he was only one below Draco, and then reached out to curl his hand around Draco’s wrist. “Once Voldemort is gone–”

Wait,” Draco said loudly. “I don’t like where that sentence is going.”

Harry chuckled and pushed up onto his toes, craning his head back so he could plant a quick kiss on Draco’s lips. “Just trying to motivate you,” he murmured amusedly against his mouth.

Draco let out a very put-upon sigh. “You are horrid,” he said, and then he kissed Harry again. Harry just grinned again and took a step back, letting his hand slide down to clasp Draco’s.

“I try,” he quipped. “Come on.”

Draco silently let himself be tugged along until they reached the landing, at which point they both let go of each other, and by the time they rounded the corner to the sitting room there was about a foot of space between them. Harry frowned slightly as he noticed this. It wasn’t like they needed to hide, after all. He was halfway contemplating reaching for Draco’s hand again, but a voice broke through his concentration before he could.

“Afternoon, gents!” George greeted, looking up from where he was bent over a table with Fred, various sweets and the like spread out in front of them. Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to know what exactly they were working on.

Fred looked up, as well, a smirk on his face. “Out for your daily five minutes of socializing, are you?”

“Please,” Draco said with a scoff. “It was at least ten minutes yesterday.”

“Have you seen Ron or Hermione?” Harry asked.

“Hermione’s with Ginny somewhere,” Fred replied. “Think she felt bad for her.” He directed a sort of pointed look at Harry, which quickly disappeared when George smacked him on the shoulder.

“Ignore this one,” George said, taking his own advice and paying zero attention to the scowl Fred sent his way. “It’s not you two–”

“Not just you two,” Fred cut in.

George rolled his eyes. “Seems like Ron actually knows how to keep a lady occupied,” he said, sounding amused. “Hermione finally told him to bugger off so she and Ginny could gab and braid each other’s hand and paint their nails and do…other mysterious girly things, I’m sure. Gin was just feeling a bit lonely, is all.”

Harry shifted uncomfortably, and Fred finally took pity on him. “No worries, Harry,” he said, looking back down at whatever he was working on. “She’d have been lonely even if you weren’t shagging Malfoy. You’ve got other stuff going on.”

“We’re not shagging,” Harry said in exasperation, his face coloring.

“Not yet, anyway,” Draco added, and Harry shot him a quick glare. Draco ignored him. “Where’s Weasley, then?” he asked the twins.

George raised an eyebrow. “Right here.”

“And here,” said Fred.

“There’s probably at least one of us in the kitchen.”

“And I think dad’s upstairs.”

“Not sure where Charlie is–”

“He’s probably one of the Weasleys in the kitchen.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Draco pinched the bridge of his nose. “Where’s Ron, you twits.”

“I’m here,” Ron said, as he stepped into the room. He was carrying a plate full of sandwiches, one of which he was currently stuffing into his mouth, and there were several glasses bobbing along in the air behind him. “Thought you’d gone into hibernation for the winter?” he said to Harry in a teasing tone.

Harry scowled while Draco cracked a grin. “Potter’s hero complex got the better of him. It’s time to start doing you know what.”

“You still call him that?” Ron asked curiously, taking another bite out of his sandwich. “Even after…?”

Draco shrugged. “It’s his name.”

Ron looked doubtful, but he didn’t say anything more about it as he handed the plate off to his brothers. Then he brightened. “This means we’ll need Hermione!”

“Merlin’s pants, man,” George said. “You can’t even go an hour without seeing her.”

“I can so!” Ron said defensively. “…I just don’t like to.”

Fred and George glanced at each other with identical smirks, and then suddenly there was a loud crack and Charlie appeared in the middle of the room. “Hey all!” he said cheerfully. “Oh, sandwiches – excellent.” He grabbed one off the plate, thoroughly ignoring the squawks of disapproval the other three Weasleys gave. “What are you blokes up to?”

“We’re trying to eat,” Ron said, but Charlie just quirked an eyebrow at the sandwich he was still holding from earlier and the tips of Ron’s ears went red. “…This one doesn’t count. It’s a pre-lunch snack.”

Charlie barked out a laugh and clapped him on the shoulder. “There’s a healthy appetite. Hope Hermione’s up for keeping you in shape.”

“Oh, I don’t think they’re going to have any problems there,” George said slyly.

Ron groaned and shot a dark look at Draco. “Have I mentioned yet that I hate you?”

“Not recently.” Draco grinned. “Besides, fair’s fair.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense – you spilled the beans on us first!”

Draco waved him off. “Details,” he said haughtily.

Harry rolled his eyes at the lot of them. “I’m getting something to drink,” he said, turning on his heel and heading for the kitchen. “Ron, Malfoy – you coming?”

Ron frowned. “There are drinks here,” he started to say, but Draco gave him an exasperated look and he caught on quickly enough. “Oh – I mean. Right. Coming.”

Of course, Mrs. Weasley and Tonks were in the kitchen.

“Back for more already?” Mrs. Weasley asked. She moved toward the fridge before Ron could even answer, and he made a muffled sound of protest and held up the sandwich he was still eating. Mrs. Weasley frowned. “…Oh,” she said, absently wringing her hands. “That’s a no, then.”

“Wotcher, Harry, Draco,” Tonks said. “Have you seen Remus around? He was supposed to be back by now.”

“No,” Harry said, his brow furrowing a bit. “Where did he go?”

“He and Arthur went to meet up with Kingsley,” Mrs. Weasley replied. She looked worried, but was clearly trying to hide it. Harry frowned, wondering what was going on.

“He said he had news,” Tonks said. She was sitting on a stool by the counter, her knees bouncing restlessly up and down. “But he left out the part about whether it was good or bad.”

“Do you think it has to do with the Ministry?” Harry asked.

Tonks scowled. “If it does, then he should have just told all of us.” She rested her hands protectively against her stomach without even seeming to realize she was doing so. “I hate being left in the dark,” she muttered.

Mrs. Weasley glanced around, searching for a distraction, and her eyes landed on Draco. “You’re looking a bit peaky, dear – are you sure I can’t fix you something to eat?”

“We can’t right now,” Harry answered for him, already turning and trying to herd Ron and Draco out of the kitchen. “But thank you, Mrs. Weasley!”

Finding privacy anywhere else in the house seemed to be a lost cause, so instead they headed back upstairs to drag Hermione away from Ginny. Once they’d locked themselves in Harry’s room, Ron let out a forlorn sigh and eyed the door almost wistfully.

“Back to this, then,” he said.

“We can’t go on holiday forever,” Harry said, already starting to feel annoyance creep up on him again. “We still have Horcruxes to find, not to mention we have to start preparing for the possibility that Voldemort is going to attack Hogwarts.”

Hermione nodded as she settled onto the bed. “Did you send the map to Neville?”

“Yeah.” Harry took a seat at the desk. “And I let McGonagall know, too.”

“Good,” Hermione said. “We can’t be everywhere and do everything at once; I think delegating responsibilities is the smart thing to do.”

“What about the Order?” Ron asked, as he sat beside Hermione.

Harry frowned, leaning forward in his chair and resting his chin on his folded hands. “We’ll tell Remus before we leave,” he said, and the other three looked at him sharply.

“Leave?” Ron repeated blankly. “Leave for – where?”

Harry took a deep breath and then let it out slowly. “I’m not sure yet,” he said. “But we can’t stay here.”

“Harry,” Hermione started to say, clearly at a loss.

Ron turned to face Draco. “Did you know about this?”

“No,” Draco said, and he sounded none too pleased about it. He crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall on the other side of the bed. “This is the first he’s mentioned it.”

“Haven’t been doing much talking the past few days, eh?” Ron said with a smirk. Hermione smacked him on the shoulder, and Harry felt his face go warm.

“Apparently not,” Draco muttered.

“It’s not like I didn’t tell you on purpose,” Harry said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “I’ve just…been thinking about it. Quietly. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea.”

“And you decided it is?” Hermione asked. “When you know Draco can’t go anywhere that isn’t protected?”

Draco looked faintly alarmed suddenly. “Wait, you’re not planning on leaving me here, are you?”

“No!” Harry said quickly. “Jesus, Malfoy – of course not. I just. We need more space.”

“But Grimmauld Place is huge,” Hermione said, her brow furrowing.

“Yeah, and it’s also housing loads of people,” Harry snapped. Hermione blinked at him, startled at his sudden shift in demeanor, and Ron’s face went carefully blank. Harry instantly felt guilty. “…Sorry,” he mumbled, rubbing a hand over the bridge of his nose. Then he sighed. “Look, it’s not that I don’t want them here. I’m happy to give everyone a place to go, but we can’t work like this! It’s too crowded, we can’t talk freely, and – and it’d be nice if we could have a place to meet up with Snape.” He let his gaze drift over to Draco at that point, noticing that his eyes had widened a bit.

Hermione glanced back and forth between the two of them, and then she nodded. “Where do you want to go?”

Harry hesitated. “…I’m not sure,” he said. “I don’t know where we can go.”

“What about your relatives?” Ron spoke up. “It’s not…ideal, but would they let you use their house?”

Not ideal is an understatement,” Draco said. “And didn’t Potter lose whatever protection he had there when he turned seventeen?”

“We’ll probably need a Secret Keeper no matter where we go,” Harry said. “But…I don’t really fancy going back to that place, no.”

Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but then she paused. “What about…” she said slowly, before frowning and hesitating again.

Ron bumped his shoulder against hers. “What have you got?” he asked.

“…I was thinking we might be able to use my house,” Hermione finally said. “My parents are there, but it might be time to…convince them to go on holiday. For awhile.”

“Why couldn’t they stay?” Ron asked. “I’ve only barely met your parents; I feel like I should introduce myself again.”

“What, and tell her dad you’re shagging his daughter?” Draco said, sounding amused.

“…Well, not in so many words,” Ron muttered, while Hermione’s face went pink. She sent Draco a dark look, but he just grinned cheekily at her.

“The less they know about what we’re doing, the better,” she said after a moment. “And if we’re going to stay hidden, it’d probably be best if they aren’t always leaving the house and such.”

Harry rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t want to kick your parents out of their own home, Hermione,” he said.

Hermione waved him off. “To be honest, I’ve wanted them to get them out of the country for awhile now. At least until all this is over.”

“How do you expect to convince them they have to go?” Ron asked.

“There are ways,” Hermione said shiftily, looking down at the bedspread and plucking at it nervously. “Memory charms, or…” She glanced at Draco again, who seemed to understand right away.

“That’s less risky, to be honest,” he said. “Illegal, mind, but at least it’s easy to undo.”

“Wait,” Harry said, catching on. “Wait, you aren’t thinking of–?”

Hermione shrugged, looking at the bedspread again, and all at once, Ron sucked in a breath. “Hermione,” he said. “You can’t use the Imperius on them! They’re your parents. And you don’t want to have that spell on your wand; if anyone ever finds out that you used it–”

“I can do it,” Draco interrupted. Ron and Harry blinked at him, and an embarrassed look washed over his face. “…Sorry, that sounded a bit too eager,” he mumbled. “I just meant – I’ve done it before, you all know that. I can keep people under it for as long as I need to. They could still go about their lives just fine, I’d only need to tell them to go to – France. Or wherever you decide. Feed them some bollocks story and be done with it. They’ll never know the difference.”

Hermione looked slightly worried, but she nodded nonetheless. “And then we can use the house,” she said. “You just need to pick someone to be the Secret Keeper.”

Harry fidgeted a bit, chewing on his lower lip. Then he sighed. “Hermione, I can’t ask you to do that,” he said. “We’ll find somewhere else.”

“We don’t have time to find somewhere else,” Hermione insisted. “It’s like you said, we have Hogwarts to worry about now, in addition to the Horcruxes and the situation with the Ministry. And you’re right, there are too many people here and we’re distracted, all of us. It’ll be good to have a place just for the four of us, where we can focus and get things done without having to worry about everyone else in the house possibly overhearing.”

There was a knock on the door suddenly, which only seemed to emphasize Hermione’s point. Timing, Harry thought, as he got up to answer it.

“Just think about it,” Hermione said. “We can make a decision after dinner.”

Harry nodded and gave her a small smile, and then he pulled open the door to find Remus on the other side. “You’re back,” he said. He tried to look over Remus’ shoulder to see if there was anyone else in the hallway. “Does Tonks know you’re here?”

“She does,” Remus said tiredly, and Harry looked at him again. He seemed to have aged years in a matter of hours, which couldn’t possibly be a good thing. Harry’s grip on the door tightened as apprehension crept in.

“What’s wrong?” he asked quickly. “They said you were meeting up with Kingsley.”

Remus nodded. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”

Harry’s brow furrowed. He glanced back at the others and made a vague ‘stay here’ sort of gesture, before stepping out into the hall and shutting the door behind him. “What is it?”

“Ted Tonks has been taken,” Remus said, not wasting any time in getting to the point. “That’s Tonks’ – Dora’s – father. He left for work yesterday and never turned up. Hasn’t been heard from since.”

Harry drew in a slow breath. “Do they think…?”

“Death Eaters,” Remus said, nodding. “Word must have gotten out that we were there. I imagine they took him in for – questioning.” He frowned and dragged a hand over his face. “We shouldn’t have gone there for Christmas. We knew it would be risky, but… She wanted to tell them about the baby.”

“It’s not your fault,” Harry said. “What about – Andromeda, right?”

“We’re going to bring her here,” Remus said, before backtracking and giving Harry a somewhat awkward look. “If…that’s alright, that is.”

“Of course it is,” Harry said instantly. “I’d never turn anyone away.” Which was how he had gotten himself into this situation in the first place, but regardless… He shoved his hands into his pockets and stared at the floor, suddenly unable to meet Remus’ eyes. “We’re actually going to be taking off soon,” he mumbled.

Remus seemed to hear him just fine anyway, and he sighed. “I was afraid of that,” he murmured. “Thought it might be coming. Too many people here, right?”

“It’s not that,” Harry lied. He looked up when Remus chuckled.

“You’re a terrible liar, Harry,” he said. “Same as James was.”

Harry cracked a reluctant grin. “We just need somewhere a little more private,” he admitted. “It’s hard to get our plans in order here.”

“I understand,” Remus said. “Though, I’m sorry to push you out of your own house.”

Harry shook his head. “Sirius meant for it to be used for the Order.”

“But it’s still yours now.” Remus clasped Harry on the shoulder, and then pulled him in for a one-armed hug. “Might be a good idea to get out while you can,” he said. “Molly’s a wreck; she thinks the twins could become targets now, as well. Their shop is one of the few still open in Diagon Alley, and with Arthur being a…person of interest, shall we say – they could very well try to kidnap them for interrogation purposes, too.”

“So they’re also going to move in permanently?”

“I’d say it’s very likely.”

Harry pulled back and looked up at Remus. “You know we can’t tell you where we’re going.”

“I had a feeling,” Remus said wryly. “I don’t like it, but I understand.” He paused, and then added, “And I’ll make sure Molly does, too.”

“Thanks,” Harry said, with a smile that was really more of a grimace. “Can’t imagine she’ll be too thrilled.”

“She’s just worried about her children, that’s all.”

“I know… Remus, I have to tell you something. Something the Order should know, but I don’t want everyone panicking over it yet.”

“Oh dear,” Remus said. “What’s happening now?”

Harry told him about the map of Hogwarts that Wormtail was working on, and what he thought Voldemort’s next move was going to be. Remus’ mouth tightened at the mention of his old friend, a hard look entering his eyes. He didn’t ask any questions about where Harry had seen such a thing, for which Harry was grateful. It would be kind of hard to explain that they’d gone traipsing through one of Voldemort’s hideaways looking for his giant snake that had to be killed for reasons he wasn’t allowed to say either.

When he finished, Remus promised to let the rest of the Order know. “Except for Molly,” he said. “I’ll let Arthur break it to her. She won’t want Ginny going back, otherwise.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Harry said. “And Hogwarts is probably an even safer place to be than Grimmauld Place. Plus, Ginny’s talented. She was in Dumbledore’s Army, just like the rest of us. If something happens, it’ll be a good thing that she’s there to help.”

Some part of Harry suddenly felt like he was playing a giant game of chess, not unlike Ron had back in their first year. It was like he was getting all of his pieces in the right place, preparing for a checkmate, and Voldemort was the black queen on the other side of the board.

…And wasn’t that an interesting mental picture?

Once Remus had disappeared down the hallway, Harry went back into his room and was immediately met with three expectant faces.

“Start packing up,” he said. “We’re heading out tomorrow.”

* * *

The following evening, Harry found himself with his arm hooked around Hermione’s as they Apparated into her old bedroom. He glanced around when they appeared, vaguely thinking that the room was slightly more…girly than he would have expected, with its pale pink curtains and matching bedspread. Then his eyes landed on the desk in the corner and the overflowing bookshelf next to it, and the corners of his mouth curved upward in a fond smile.

“Alright, Harry, here’s the thing,” Hermione said brusquely, taking quick steps over to the door and making sure no one had heard them come in. “Mum and dad – they don’t actually know that I haven’t been at Hogwarts this year.”

Harry blinked. “You didn’t tell them?”

“Of course not!” Hermione said, turning to face him and propping her hands on her hips. “They would never understand. I’ve only told them a little about what’s going on – I don’t want them to worry.”

“They’re your parents, Hermione, it’s their job to worry.”

“I know, I know.” She sighed. “It just seemed – easier. Anyway, they know we’re on break now but I told them I’d be at the Weasleys’ for the holiday. We’ll just tell them there was a change of plans.” She opened the door again, gesturing for Harry to follow her.

“You have a nice house,” he commented lightly, as they headed down the stairs.

“Thank you,” Hermione said, smiling at him over her shoulder. “There’s a guest bedroom across the hall from mine. You and Draco can stay in there.” She paused. “That is…if you’re comfortable with that.” She looked embarrassed suddenly, like she thought she was assuming too much. “I’m sorry, I know it’s only been a few days, I just thought – I mean, you’ve shared before–”

“Hermione,” Harry interrupted, sounding amused. “It’s fine; sharing won’t be a problem.” He grinned. “Are you going to share with Ron, then?”

“I suppose,” Hermione said, as they reached the first floor. She flushed slightly, but also looked pleased at the thought. “We’re going to sidestep that particular detail with my parents, though. Mum! Dad! Are you here?”

“Hermione? Is that you?” a voice called out from further down the hall, and then Hermione’s mum poked her head around the corner from what looked to be the kitchen. “It is! Darling, what are you doing here?” She rushed out, wiping her hands on her apron before pulling Hermione into a tight hug. Harry recognized her from the few times she had come with Hermione to Diagon Alley, but he had never really spoken to her before. She looked like Hermione, though, and he could immediately see where Hermione had gotten her bushy hair from.

“I missed you!” Hermione said. “So I thought we’d drop by for a quick visit before classes start up again.”

“We?” Mrs. Granger looked over Hermione’s shoulder, catching sight of Harry standing awkwardly a few feet away. “Oh! Goodness me, I didn’t even see you there, Harry. It is Harry, isn’t it? You’d think I’d know one of my own daughter’s best friends. Where’s there other one – Ronald, right? Weren’t you staying with his family again?”

“Slow down, mum, one question at a time,” Hermione said, laughing. She pulled back and waved Harry forward. “Yes, this is Harry. Ron’s coming by later, along with another friend of ours you haven’t met yet – he’s not in our house at Hogwarts, but we’ve all spent a lot of time together this year so we’ve finally gotten to know him better. I was hoping we could all stay here for a few days.”

Mrs. Granger gave Hermione a knowing look. “You and three boys, hm?” she said, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

Mum, it’s not a big deal. We have the guest room, we can stick two people in there.”

“Which two?” Mrs. Granger asked, crossing her arms and getting that familiar I’m-your-mother-and-you-can’t-fool-me-so-tread-lightly look that Mrs. Weasley had perfected.

Hermione let out an exasperated breath. “Harry will stay in my room, alright?” Mrs. Granger turned her look onto Harry, and he quickly backed up a step and waved his hands in front of him.

“Don’t worry, I won’t – I mean, I wouldn’t do anything. We’re not – I have – that is–”

“Leave it, mum,” Hermione said, coming to his rescue. “He has a boyfriend and I’m dating Ron, remember? I know I told you about that!”

Harry felt his cheeks go brilliantly hot. “Hermione,” he hissed, as his brain tripped over the – the word she had used and tried to make sense of it. Boyfriend. She’d just referred to Draco Malfoy as his boyfriend.

Which, okay, maybe he was. But.

Weird.

Hermione sent him a brief apologetic look and then pushed a hand back into her hair in exasperation. “Honestly. I’m eighteen, you’d think it’d be okay for me to have someone spend the night.”

Mrs. Granger laughed suddenly, a wide smile breaking out over her face as she drew Hermione in and kissed her forehead. “You’re right, of course, darling. You always are. I forget you’re all grown up now. Can’t help thinking you’re still my little girl. Ronald will have to stay in the guest bedroom, I can’t imagine your father would be okay with anything else, but I’m fine with Harry staying in your room.” She glanced across at Harry. “The other gentleman coming – is he the one you’re seeing?”

“Er.” Harry swallowed and resisted the urge to fan his still burning face. “Y-yeah…” He rubbed at the back of his neck and had to look away from Hermione’s amused grin before he gave into the urge to throttle her. “His name’s Draco,” he said, trying to sound more confident about the whole thing. Mrs. Granger hadn’t even blinked an eye at the fact that he had a – boyfriend. So she must not mind.

“Draco. Lovely! Well, I’m looking forward to meeting him,” Mrs. Granger said cheerfully. “The name sounds familiar, actually. You must have mentioned him before, Hermione.”

“…Well, we sort of compete for best marks,” Hermione said, and Harry couldn’t help snorting. Hermione ignored him. “Where’s dad?”

“Still at work,” Mrs. Granger said, with an exasperated sigh. “He had to take an emergency patient. Some poor child took a football to the face this afternoon! Knocked three of his teeth right out. I was just putting his dinner away so he could have it later. Can I get you anything? How are your classes going, love?”

“We’re fine, we already ate,” Hermione said, taking a seat at the kitchen table. “We’re not staying long – I just wanted to let you know I was bringing people over before we all suddenly showed up on the doorstep.”

“Well, that was thoughtful,” Mrs. Granger said. She went back over to the sink, picking up where she must have left off before they showed up. “As if I would’ve turned you away without the warning.”

“One can never be too sure,” Hermione quipped. “And my classes are going well. They’re challenging, of course, but that’s to be expected given it’s our final year.”

Harry would’ve been surprised at how smoothly the lie rolled off her tongue, but he’d learned a long time ago that she could easily channel her inner Slytherin when needed. He moved to sit across from Hermione at the table, when something outside the window caught his eye. At first he wasn’t sure what it was he saw, but as he kept looking he could only just make out a figure standing by the lamppost across the street. Whoever it was wasn’t standing directly in the lamp’s light, they were off to the side a bit, almost as if they were trying to keep slightly hidden.

Harry narrowed his eyes.

“What is it?” Hermione asked, having noticed the way he’d abruptly gone still in the middle of the room. “Harry? Is there something out there?”

“Someone,” Harry replied, taking a wary step closer to the window.

Mrs. Granger leaned back from the sink, craning her head so she could get a look, too. “It’s probably just Judy Cumberbatch from next door. She usually walks her dogs in the evening.”

Harry shook his head. “They’re not walking, they’re just – standing.” Although, whoever it was, they did seem to be wearing some kind of a dress. But the frame of the person seemed too large to be a woman. And – maybe that wasn’t a dress. Actually, the more Harry looked, he thought it could possibly be–

Abruptly, Harry ducked out of view of the window and slid into a seat at the table instead. “They’re wearing robes,” he said to Hermione under his breath. “Hermione, I think it’s a Death Eater. I think they’re watching your house.” Hermione reached for her wand, looking startled, but Harry quickly shook his head. “Don’t,” he said. “They can’t know we’re here. They’re probably just watching in case we do show up.”

“Who is it?” Mrs. Granger asked. “Friend of yours?”

“…Not quite, mum,” Hermione said in a shaky voice, before visibly steeling herself. “Harry and I have to go. But we’ll be back in a bit. Don’t leave, okay? And when dad gets home, just stay in the sitting room. Don’t go outside.”

Mrs. Granger’s eyes went wide, and she turned all the way around so she could give them her full attention. “…This is serious?” she asked, her gaze darting back and forth between the two of them before settling on her daughter. “Hermione–” She paused, taking a deep breath. “This has to do with that one – wizard,” she guessed. “The one who you said came back.”

Hermione nodded and Mrs. Granger glanced at Harry, her eyes focusing on his forehead for a moment before she looked away.

“Alright, well you’d better go,” she said. “Get your friends and come back. I’ll wait for your father. Are you – you’re not going to fight that person out there, are you?”

“No,” Hermione said. Her voice was starting to sound unsteady again. “No, we’re going to put up a – a protection charm around the house when we get back. The Fidelius Charm. It’ll make it so no one can find us…” She trailed off, looking down at the table. “You and dad will be fine, though,” she said abruptly. “So don’t worry.” Mrs. Granger looked like she was going to say something, but Hermione stood up before she could and tugged at Harry’s arm. “Let’s go. We need to get the others.”

They went back out into the hallway so they could Apparate away from the view of the window, and they ended up back in Harry’s room at Grimmauld Place where Ron, Draco, and Charlie were waiting for them. All three of them noticeably relaxed when Harry and Hermione appeared.

“There’s a Death Eater outside her house,” Harry said, forgoing any other greeting. “They must be stationing people around trying to find us.”

Ron stood and reached for Hermione’s arm, pulling her close to him. “What – how do they know her address?” he asked, his eyes wide.

“The Ministry,” Hermione and Charlie answered at the same time.

“They keep a record of all current Hogwarts students – especially anyone who’s Muggle-born,” Draco added. “Since they don’t have your birth records or anything before you start going to school in our world.”

Hermione nodded. “And with Voldemort having control of the Ministry…”

Ron sighed, rubbing a hand up and down Hermione’s arm. “Are your parents alright?”

“They’re fine,” Hermione said. “But I don’t want to stay away for long.” She looked at Charlie. “You’re sure you don’t mind being the Secret Keeper?”

“On the contrary,” Charlie said. “I’m honored you’d even ask. I promise, I know how to keep my mouth shut.” He winked at her. “Especially around mum.”

Hermione gave him a faint grin. “Alright, then let’s head back. Harry, we’ll come get you and Draco as soon as it’s safe for him to be there.”

“Okay,” Harry said, nodding. “Good luck.” He watched as they Disapparated, and then turned to Draco.

“So,” Draco said. “Death Eaters?”

“Just the one.” Harry sat down on the bed, letting out a long breath. “And it was dark, so it’s possible it wasn’t – but I’m pretty certain. It was definitely someone wearing Wizarding robes, and they were lurking about being all shifty and the like.”

“Guess it makes sense,” Draco said. “Given what we know about Nymphadora’s father.”

Harry grinned a bit. “Don’t let her hear you using that name.” Then it faded and he fell backwards onto the bed with a loud sigh. “He wants to find us because he knows what we’re after now,” he said. “He’ll try to make his way through everyone in the Order if he thinks one of them will give us up.”

“But you don’t think any of them will?” Draco took a step closer to Harry, frowning slightly. “I mean – Charlie Weasley? He seems kind of…”

“Like a random choice?” Harry supplied. Draco nodded, and Harry continued, “That was kind of the point. You don’t want to be obvious.”

“That can backfire on you, though,” Draco said.

Harry thought of Wormtail and frowned. “I know. But we’ll be okay.”

Draco didn’t look as though he really believed that, but he didn’t say anything. A moment passed, and then abruptly he moved forward, all but falling on top of Harry on the bed. “They’ll be gone awhile setting up the Fidelius Charm,” he said, throwing one leg on either side of Harry’s thighs. “We could–”

“Uh, no,” Harry said, even as his hands came up to rest on Draco’s hips. “No, we couldn’t. What if something happens and they have to come back sooner than planned?”

“Then they’ll get an eyeful, won’t they?” Draco said, right before his mouth crashed down onto Harry’s and promptly knocked any further protests from his mind. Harry’s lips parted beneath the other boy’s eagerly, and he groaned low in his throat as Draco’s tongue swept into his mouth. His grip on Draco’s hips tightened, fingers digging into the denim of the trousers he was wearing. The stray thought floated through Harry’s mind that they weren’t actually Draco’s jeans at all – that he was wearing some of Harry’s clothes, and for some reason, even though it wasn’t anything unusual by this point, that fact set a fire burning in Harry’s gut and made him press up harder into the kiss.

Draco pulled back from him just long enough to suck in a breath, his eyes opening partway so he could look at Harry. Harry stared back for a moment, their mouths still close enough that their lips kept brushing against each other, and then Draco dove back in, slower this time, making the kiss long and leisurely, drawing it out until Harry’s toes were curling in his shoes and he thought his brain might actually short-circuit.

“Wait, wait,” Harry gasped, breaking away and letting his head bounce off the mattress beneath him. “Malfoy, seriously, we don’t know when they’ll be back–”

“Ugh, Potter,” Draco groaned, burying his face against Harry’s neck for a second before sitting up so he could glare down at him instead. His face was flushed, his hair disheveled, and Harry really, really just wanted to kiss him again. “You worry too much, do you know that?” Draco asked, crossing his arms over his chest. “It’s not like they don’t know.”

“…I know,” Harry said weakly. “But that doesn’t mean…” He trailed off, not entirely sure why he’d thought it was necessary to stop when Draco looked so bloody appealing like this.

Shit. Focus.

Draco huffed before Harry could get his thoughts together, and the next thing Harry knew he had climbed off and was standing on the opposite side of the room. “Look,” he said, facing the window, his arms still crossed. “If you don’t want to do this–”

“Did I say I didn’t want to?” Harry burst out, pushing himself into a more upright position. “Fuck, Malfoy, stop jumping to conclusions. I want to, I want you, that’s not–” He cut himself off, scowling at nothing in particular.

Draco turned partway toward him, giving him a wary look. “…You want me,” he repeated, and Harry made a vague gesture with his hand.

“Well, yes,” he said, somewhat exasperated.

“…I knew that,” Draco said. He faced him completely, looking slightly embarrassed. “I did. You said as much before.” He fiddled absently with his shirtsleeves for a second, and then frowned when he noticed what he was doing and went back to crossing his arms instead. “I just – have a hard time believing it,” he muttered, and something in Harry’s chest squeezed painfully.

“Why wouldn’t you believe it?” he asked, standing up from the bed and taking half a step forward. “Just because I’m – pathetic at this sort of thing, and – and a little awkward, I guess. Or more than a little. Very. That doesn’t mean–”

“I don’t care how pathetic you are at it,” Draco interrupted. “Don’t – that’s not what I meant. You’re still getting used to this – we both are, really. If you don’t want to rush things, then fine. I get that, it’s not a problem. I just. These past few months we’ve… Well.” He paused, looking frustrated with himself for not being able to put his thoughts into words. Harry knew the feeling all too well. “…It’s just hard to wrap my head around this whole thing,” he finally said. “I mean, we could barely sit in the same classroom together for six years, Potter. Six years!” Draco ran a hand through his hair, looking out the window for a moment as he continued talking. “I guess sometimes I forget we’re past all that. This almost doesn’t feel real.” He glanced back at Harry. “In my head, I can’t help making up reasons this isn’t going to work. It’s like I’m looking for shit that doesn’t exist. But – we’re actually fine, right? Right. We are. So.” A faint blush worked its way onto Draco’s cheeks, and he shifted uncomfortably in place. “So…it’s stupid. I’m being – you should probably just ignore me.”

Harry remained silent for a moment, just watching Draco, and then he gave a soft laugh and couldn’t stop the grin that quickly formed on his face. “As if you would put up with being ignored,” he said lightly. “And anyway, I can’t do that. Next thing you know, you’ll be banging on about how I’ve kicked you to the curb or some such bollocks like that, and then where would we be?”

“Somewhere with our heads buried in the sand refusing to talk about it, I’m sure,” Draco said dryly.

Harry chuckled, scuffed his foot against the ground, and then abruptly blurted, “Hermione told her mum that you’re my boyfriend.” His face flushed a bright red. “Er…you know. When she was saying you’d be coming over. That’s how she introduced you.”

Draco’s nose scrunched up. “Your boyfriend?”

“Er…yeah.”

“That’s…” Draco paused, fishing around for the right words to use, and then he ended up settling on, “fucking weird, really.”

Harry laughed again, louder this time, and felt some of the tension bleed out of his shoulders. “Right? That’s what I thought!”

“I suppose it’s…well. It’s true enough, but.”

“I know.”

Boyfriend.”

“You’ll get used to it.”

Draco looked at him sharply, but his face softened after a moment. “Maybe I will,” he said, and then added in a lofty tone, “And maybe I won’t. I’d hate to become predictable, Potter.”

“Oh, no, we can’t have that,” Harry said, grinning. “That would be boring.”

Draco grinned back at him, and for a moment they just stood there grinning goofily at each other, before the sudden reappearance of Hermione and Charlie had them attempting to school their expressions into something less ridiculous.

“Okay, we should be good to go,” Hermione said, absently brushing invisible dust off her skirt. “Draco…you’re sure this will work? I remember when we practiced the Imperius in fourth year, and…”

“It’ll be fine,” Draco said. “Trust me, I’ve had enough experience with it by this point.” There was a bitter edge to his voice that made Harry move closer to stand beside him. Draco’s eyes flicked toward him briefly before he looked at Hermione again. “Memory charms are still an option, if that’s what you’d rather do. But that’s... You’re actually changing very specific parts of their memory and it’s difficult to undo because you have to, you know, change it again afterwards.” He frowned. “With the Imperius, in this case, we’re just going to tell your parents to believe something and they will. We’re not actually going to change anything in their head.”

Hermione pressed her hands against her cheeks, her brow furrowing as she stared at the floor. “They’re both so awful,” she murmured. “But they’ll never leave otherwise.”

“It’ll be alright,” Charlie said, resting a hand on her shoulder. “They’ll understand one day. Anyway, we should get going. I’ve seen those lines at the Muggle airports; Apparating will only get us so far and we want them to make their flight.”

“Was the Death Eater still there?” Harry asked, and Hermione nodded.

“There are two of them now, actually,” she said. “The other one turned up after we set up the wards and the Fidelius Charm.” She gave them a wry smile. “I suppose when they suddenly couldn’t find the house anymore, they got suspicious.”

“Well, they can’t all be idiots,” Draco said. He reached down to pick up his bag, and then as an afterthought he grabbed Hermione’s, too. Charlie slung Ron’s over his shoulder, and Harry picked up his own. He hesitated for a second, and then held his hand out to Draco.

“Ready?” he asked.

Draco stared at him, his cheeks going a light pink even as he smirked. “You mean, am I ready to go perform illegal magic on somebody’s parents and then live in their house, which I’m assuming is going to be all Muggle, for Merlin knows how long?”

Harry grinned. “Something like that, yeah.”

“As if I’m going to back out now, Potter,” Draco said, and he took Harry’s hand.



Seriously, I'm so sorry for the delay, you guys! Life has just been really busy for me lately and then whenever I did manage to find time to get on the computer, I kept getting thoroughly distracted by [livejournal.com profile] hd_holidays, haha. >.> Which is fucking fantastic, by the way, if you haven't been keeping up with it. :Db

Unfortunately, I can't make any promises that the next chapter won't also be late. With Christmas and everything else coming up, my free time gets sucked up pretty quickly. But I'll try!!!

If I don't get it posted, then I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and Happy New Year!! ♥

~Maxine





You can also read it at Skyehawke.

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