Chapter Seventeen
Voices of the Past

Harry awoke slowly as he felt Draco stretch beside him. He remembered the night before, his thoughts and his actions. A slight nervousness set in as he knew that a confrontation would follow when the blonde discovered just how close together they had been sleeping, this time without a vision to blame it on. He held onto Draco, making no move to try and get away from him as he’d done on occasion before. If he were to tell Draco of his feelings, he would do it properly.

He wondered what exactly his feelings were. He didn’t love Draco, at least not yet. However, he was quite sure that he was in love with the other boy.

Draco sat up slightly, looking disoriented. His gaze stopped on Harry and the grey eyes caught a confused look.

“Good morning,” said Harry softly. “Sleep well?”

Draco frowned. “Yes. Very. What are you doing?”

Harry smiled at him. “I was sleeping.”

A delicate eyebrow rose at him, yet the grey orbs still looked perplexed. “Harry…” he said warningly.

“All right, all right,” Harry said, pulling himself up to a sitting position, so that he was facing the blonde. “I was thinking yesterday.”

“Oh? This must be the fi–”

“Shh,” Harry said, placing his fingers on Draco’s mouth. “Don’t say it, not now.”

Draco stared at the fingers that were just barely touching his mouth, and then moved his gaze to Harry’s green eyes.

“I carried you in here last night. I don’t know if you remember,” Harry started again. “When I’d put you to bed, I started thinking about… everything. I probably shouldn’t go into the details, ‘cause that would be a trip into my brain, and you wouldn’t understand, because I hardly understand it…” He trailed off, trying to collect his thoughts again. He did not need to ramble right now.

“I thought about you,” he said finally. “Your words, your actions - your kissing me. And I – I realized that it – it felt good. And I liked it. And I like you.”

Draco was still staring at him, looking like he didn’t believe what he was hearing. At that moment, no sign of sickness was anywhere on him; only nervousness, wonder, fright, expectation – Harry couldn’t name all of the emotions that were playing on the pale face.

“I won’t say that I love you,” Harry said, his voice so quiet it was barely more than a whisper. “I don’t know if I do, not yet. It’s all too soon. But… I think I have fallen in love with you… Somewhere on the way, I don’t know exactly when or where, but I think I have…”

He trailed off again, waiting for Draco to process the words he had just uttered. When the blonde didn’t say anything, he asked, “Draco?”

The Slytherin then shook his head to clear it and met Harry’s eyes again.

“It’s just – I mean,” he said, his voice no louder than Harry’s had been. “Wow.”

Harry smiled at him, and Draco grinned back. “What do you say we try that thing again?” Harry asked.

“What thing?” the blonde asked, frowning once more.

“Kissing,” Harry said and bent forward.

His arms snaked around Draco’s slight form, pulling him closer. Their lips met, a bit awkwardly and unaccustomedly at first, but they learned quickly. If Harry had thought their first kiss was good then this one was absolutely amazing. His head spun as he pulled the blonde into his arms, Draco following without ever breaking the contact.

Draco’s tongue soon begged entrance to Harry’s mouth and Harry allowed it, his thoughts only on the Slytherin before him and what said young man was doing to him. So this was what was it felt like – walking on clouds and only wanting more, more, more…

They finally broke, coming up for air. Both boys’ cheeks were flushed, lips looking swollen after being so thoroughly kissed.

“I’ll second that ‘wow’,” Harry whispered to the blonde.

Draco didn’t respond; he just leaned forward onto Harry’s shoulder, sighing happily. Finally he whispered, “Thank you.”

It was almost forty-five minutes before the two young men managed to get out of bed. By then, Draco’s usually finely groomed hair was a mess, almost rivalling Harry’s unruly mop of black hair. Harry shrugged as Draco pointed this out to him and tied his hair back in a ponytail. The blonde, however, combed through his hair – constantly being interrupted by Harry, who seemed to definitely have come to terms with being in love, stealing kisses. Not that Draco minded, most definitely not. He welcomed the kisses with unmanly giggling.

“Merlin, I am such a woman,” he joked as Harry put his arms around him.

“Yes,” Harry said, “But you’re my woman.”

Draco laughed, and another kiss followed.

“Why did I wait so long to do this?” Harry asked.

“Don’t ask me – if I had been the one to decide, we would have been here a year ago. Well, not here here, but – oh, you know what I mean.”

Harry nodded. “I do know what you mean. Sorry ‘bout taking so long.”

“Well, isn’t there a Muggle saying about these things – ‘good things come to those who wait’ and whatnot.”

“I’m impressed,” said Harry, “I didn’t expect you of all people to know any Muggle proverb – especially not after last night’s performance with the Grangers. You really don’t know what an electric toothbrush is, do you?”

Draco glared at him. “It doesn’t sound all that comfortable – something jumping around in your mouth trying to clean your teeth. There are spells to do such things.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “You just won’t admit your shortcomings when it comes to Muggles.”

“I’m a pureblood!” Draco exclaimed. “I grew up with a fully trained witch for a mother and a senior Death Eater for a father. We had house elves that did everything for us. I’ve never done anything like a Muggle, not even brushed my teeth, no.”

Harry moved closer to him, placing his arms around the smaller boy. “I know. It doesn’t matter. It’s just fun to tease you,” he added with a smile.

“Oh sure, tease the sick blonde. It is so much fun,” Draco said sarcastically with a pout.

“Well, it is,” Harry said, and bent in to steal another kiss. “Merry Christmas.”

Draco grinned up at him. “This is the best Yule gift I’ve ever received.”

“I’ll second that,” Harry said. “Should we go out and say good morning to the rest?”

“Can’t we just stay here? So much nicer…” he mumbled, leaving a trail of kisses down Harry’s neck.

“There will be presents out there,” Harry said.

“I told you – I already got the best one.” At Harry’s look, he added, “Fine. We’ll go out and be social with Weasley and – oh Merlin, the rest of them are coming today, aren’t they?”

Harry nodded. “Sometime around noon, I think, after the gift opening. Why, do you mind?” he teased, earning another glare.

Eventually they did make it outside their room. They were met with the delicious smell of breakfast, which made their stomachs growl. They walked through the living room into the kitchen, where Ron, Hermione and the Grangers were preparing breakfast.

“Good morning,” Harry said happily to them.

“Good morning, boys,” Mrs Granger said, “And merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too!” Draco said, grinning.

Hermione eyed them. “You two seem in an awfully good mood.”

“Well, let’s just say that we had a most wonderful morning,” Draco winked.

“I do not want to know,” Hermione said with mock disgust. She broke into a smile and hugged them both. “Merry Christmas!”

“To you, too,” Harry said.

It was another half hour before Sirius and Remus came downstairs to join the six others for breakfast. Apparently, they had also had a most wonderful morning.

The presents were waiting for them underneath the Christmas tree. However, Hermione wouldn’t let them open the gifts until breakfast was over and the table cleaned up. Finally, she was satisfied and let the boys go loose over the presents. Harry and Ron took it upon themselves to act as Santa Clauses as the others sat down – Draco on one of the couches, Sirius and Remus on the other, Hermione in the rocking chair and the Grangers on Christmas ornaments that Ron transfigured into chairs. When everyone was seated, Harry and Ron began.

“Merry Christmas to Remus from Sirius,” Harry read, picking up a first present.

“For me?” asked Remus, sounding very surprised. “You got me something?”

“Of course,” Sirius replied, kissing his lover.

“Ahem.” Harry cleared his throat as the kiss inevitably became deeper. Sirius growled at him.

“Don’t mind him,” Remus said to Harry, accepting the gift.

Apparently it was custom to wait until all the gifts had been given and then open them, for Remus put the un-opened present away and Ron picked up another one.

“To mum from Hermione,” Ron read from the next gift, and gave it to Mrs Granger.

They continued like this, back and forth until the last gift was gone from under the tree. Everyone had received at least three gifts; Harry’s own pile was quite impressive.

“Okay, I guess you’re all free to open–”

The rest of Hermione’s words were drowned out as Ron, Harry and Sirius began tearing away paper from their gifts. Their lovers and better halves stared at them as they acted as three-year-olds, opening present after present. Finally, Hermione sighed to herself and began opening her own gifts.

Harry watched Draco the entire time out of the corner of his eye, noticing when nobody else did how the blonde was getting more and more tired by the minute. He was opening his gifts slowly, never tearing the paper off as Harry had been doing, but instead peeling the tape off carefully before removing the wrapper.

Harry stood and walked the few feet over to him and was just about to put his hand on Draco’s shoulder when the blonde whipped around at him and screamed,

“I haven’t done anything father, I promise!”

His eyes were wide and frightened and disturbingly unfocused. The room was suddenly silent.

“Draco?” Harry asked quietly.

“Please don’t hurt me, father,” Draco said, his voice and posture revealing that he was close to panic.

Harry bent down before him and gently took his hand, focusing on giving Draco the warmth of his healing abilities. The blonde shrank back as Harry touched him and tried to turn away, his hands and body shaking.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Draco,” he said softly. “It’s me, Harry. Draco, can you hear me?”

Slowly, Draco turned back. He blinked rapidly, trying to get his eyes to focus on his surroundings again.

“H-Harry?” he asked uncertainly.

The Boy Who Lived gave a small smile at him and placed a hand on Draco’s cheek. The Slytherin was still shaking and he leaned into Harry’s hand. Harry let the hand slide around Draco, pulling him close. The blonde drew a few shuddering breaths, trying to calm down.

“What was that?” he whispered hoarsely, looking up at Harry.

“I don’t know. You – you thought I was your father.”

The room was eerily silent as the rooms other occupants watched Harry and Draco. Finally Hermione said quietly, “It’s the poison, Draco. Severus said it would make you hallucinate.”

Harry held Draco even closer, trying desperately to draw comfort from Draco’s presence whilst he was at the same time reminded of the poison swirling around in the blonde’s body. Draco in turn clung to Harry, needing the closeness just as much.

“Don’t make me go to Hogwarts,” Draco mumbled. “Please, not yet.”

The severity of Draco’s feelings made themselves known – if one didn’t know already – with that little word. ‘Please’, a word the old Malfoy would never use.

“I can’t promise anything,” Harry replied heavily. “Not yet, but you may have to go there soon, for your own good.”

“I’m dying, Potter,” Draco said, “There is no ‘for my own good’.”

“You are not going to die, Draco,” Hermione said softly from behind them.

“Granger, as much as your positive attitude is warming,” Draco drawled, sounding like his old self again, “There is not much we can do. Severus is working on an antidote, but so far, there has been no progress. I’m sorry, but – I’m not as stupid as to think that some miracle will suddenly happen.”

“Well you’re wrong,” Hermione said defiantly. “And even if you’re not ready to fight for yourself, I know a dozen that are. Look around you, Malfoy – you’re not the same person you were at Hogwarts. You have people who care about you now, even one who’d give his life for you. We are not about to just let you go.”

“Your words are warming,” Draco said, having untangled himself from Harry and was now facing the irritated witch. “Still doesn’t change the fact that Severus is the only one who could possibly figure out an antidote, if there is one at all. He’s the greatest Potions Master in the world – but it doesn’t matter, ‘cause even he can’t find an antidote.”

Hermione and Draco glared at each other and Hermione was just about to counter Draco’s words when Mr Granger interrupted.

“That’s enough, you two,” he said as though talking to two small children.

Draco and Hermione were unfazed; neither moved.

“I will not have you two ruining this lovely Christmas morning by fighting,” Mr Granger said, his voice louder. Harry saw Hermione wince slightly at the tone of his voice and Draco took a small step back.

“Now, you two will sit down and continue to open your presents. Afterwards we will discuss what to do about you, Mr Malfoy,” he added in a softer tone.

The two fighters did as they were told. Hermione backed down to her place next to Ron. Harry wanted to welcome Draco into his arms, but the blonde sat down as far away from him as he could.

Slowly, the mood began to change back to what it had been before Draco’s interruption. Sirius and Remus, who’d been quiet the whole time, began to nervously tear at the paper of their presents. Mrs and Mr Granger followed suit, knowing that the younger people needed something to distract them.

“Thank you, Harry.” Hermione’s words broke the quiet as she held up the book he’d bought for her and the room started to relax again. Remus and Sirius began talking between themselves; Ron spoke to Hermione’s parents.

“You’re welcome. What’s-his-name at the bookshop said you’d like it,” Harry replied.

“Gordon? He always knows what I want,” Hermione replied. Apparently, it was not uncommon for the Harry of this time to be bad with names either.

“I haven’t seen any books here on the subject, so I thought it’d be good.”

She grinned. “I’m sure it will be most helpful.”

Draco still sat silent, his fingers picking carefully at the present in his hands. Harry was worried that the blonde was hallucinating again, but when he looked into the other boy’s eyes, he saw that they weren’t unfocused as they had been, and the worry decreased.

Harry continued to open his own gifts, slower now than before. He’d received a book from Hermione on Potions, most of them with healing qualities.

“Thought you might like to know why those potions of your do what they do, rather than just knowing that they do it,” she said with a smile.

Ron gave him a gift certificate at the Quality Quidditch Supplies, with the comment, “There’s no use in me buying anything ‘cause then you already have it. This way, you can just go buy it yourself.”

Sirius and Remus had given him a new, beautiful dark blue cloak, which they’d bought when they’d been in France. The fabric was silky and soft, and Remus told him that it had protection spells woven into it.

Yet the one gift he valued more than any other was the one from Draco. It was the first time the blonde had ever given him anything. It was a small golden ring with a lion on it, walking proudly from one side to the other. On the inside, a quote was inscribed in tiny, tiny letters.

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without
and know we cannot live within.

It was just what it had done for Draco, Harry knew. Draco had been Draco Malfoy before he fell in love with Harry, but then love had taken that away, leaving the boy with only Draco. Suddenly he was not his father’s son, nor the heir of the Malfoy name; instead, he was only Draco. Harry knew that it had not only been falling in love with him that had changed the blonde, yet he knew that a large part of it was just that – because love really did take off the mask that they wore in everyday life.

Draco was still that Malfoy when he wanted to be – in fact he had just shown that side to Hermione. However, now Harry knew that; he knew it was only a mask, a protection. Harry knew it was what Draco needed to have on to survive, especially right now when everything seemed to be upside down. Underneath it, though, when Harry was alone with Draco, the blonde could be just himself.

“Thank you,” he said, and he knew that Draco heard it, despite not showing it.

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