Title: Muse and Restoration
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco; past Ron/Hermione; one-sided Pansy/Draco; Dean/Luna; and a couple of implied pairs, which may or may not be actual
Summary: Harry and the rest of his year took the Restoration Potion, but none of them imagined how much it would change their lives. Now, Harry loves the freedom RP has given him in his career, but the angst it’s created for him and many of his friends in the area of love gives him reason to doubt it was worth it…Luna insists it will all work out, but Harry’s not so sure.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): None (unless complete lack of smut is a warning?)
Epilogue compliant? Not even close ;)
Word Count: ~9000
Author's Notes: Your enjoyed cliché of unusual profession kind of took over my mind (and the story). I’m afraid I only got a couple of other suggestions/prompts in, but I hope you enjoy the fic, regardless. I aimed for UST leading to first kiss (well, second kiss, in this case), and I also have ghost!Fred making a brief appearance. Harry doesn’t exactly fight with Draco over decorations, but there is bickering amongst the crew…and yeah, flangst. Lots of flangst ;) It was really fun to write, and I love the whole Christmas/winter mood as a setting! Many thanks to J, as usual, for her wonderful beta/brit-pick job!
Muse and Restoration
Harry sat back in his favourite chair, sighing. The war had ended over two years ago; he was surrounded by his friends; life was good. Well, mostly good. Okay, kind of good – Harry sat up again, running his hands through his hair. Honestly, life was confusing. He shivered a little, frowning at the roaring fire nearby.
Grimmauld had been greatly improved, but it still had these weird draughts, and during winter, Harry was often too cold. Overhead, a door banged, and Harry heard Ron yelling at someone. Probably Blaise. He cocked his head, listening. When he heard nothing in return, he nodded. Definitely Blaise.
The Golden Trio had seen many changes in the last two and a half years, and this house exemplified most of them. Light steps tripped down the stairs, and Luna came into the room, sitting on the arm of Harry’s chair and smiling at him. “Contemplating the world again, are you?” she asked.
“I suppose,” he admitted.
She shook her head. “It’ll all work out. Ron is learning, you know. It’s just hard since Headmistress McGonagall insisted on all of us taking the Restoration Potion. Ron doesn’t know what to do now that he can’t fall back on his own prejudices and assumptions. That’s all.” She smiled again, her lilting voice echoing a bit in the room. Then she bounced up. “Are you coming to help choose a tree?”
“Erm, no.” Harry had no desire to be in the midst of that argument.
Luna nodded, clearly not surprised. “I don’t blame you. But I’ll go along and try to keep Ron from killing Blaise – or vice versa.”
“Blaise never even raises a hand to Ron,” Harry started.
“Which is the problem, wouldn’t you say? Besides, Draco has insisted on going this year --”
After the atrocity Harry had allowed Ron to choose last year, Harry knew.
“—and I don’t think Pansy’s very comfortable with Ron and Draco being alone together.”
Harry winced, hating having something in common with Pansy.
“But since Pansy has to work, and this was the only other time everyone else could do it, we’ll just have to make it work.”
As if her words summoned them, thunder broke out overhead, and the rest of Harry’s and Luna’s housemates came tumbling down the stairs. Well, Blaise and Draco didn’t tumble, of course – at least, not that they’d admit. Harry enjoyed a covert look at Draco’s flushed face. He was obviously excited about the holidays, though he frowned when he saw Luna and Harry.
Ron, standing just behind Draco, swung a scarf off a peg and wrapped it around Draco’s neck, pulling his attention away. “Don’t forget this. I don’t want to be listening to you whinge all morning.”
Draco snorted. “Malfoys don’t whinge, Weasley.”
Blaise laughed. “You keep telling yourself that, Dray. Maybe we’ll come to believe it in another century or so.”
Draco elbowed him, and looked towards Harry again. “Not joining us, Potter?”
Harry knew he was imagining the hope in Draco’s voice and shook his head. “No thanks. I’ll take the chance for quiet.”
Draco rolled his eyes, and Ron frowned. “Where’s Nev?”
“Hermione and Nev should be home in another hour or so. She’s helping him pick out some more herbs for those potions you were building, Draco,” Harry said.
Draco nudged Ron, who blushed. Harry frowned and looked away, picking at some imaginary lint on his jeans.
“Can we be off then?” Blaise asked, his tone bored. “I realise this is the event of the year, but some of us have lives outside this, you know.”
“Don’t be such a prat, Blaise,” Draco said.
Luna, already bundled up, opened the door and started out. Blaise followed her without hesitation, but Ron looked over at Harry again. “Mate, are you certain --”
“Have fun, Ron,” Harry said, making his tone as calm as possible. He avoided Draco’s eyes, instead giving a general wave to the door. Seconds later, the cold air hit him, even though the door had closed. He sighed into the silence. Yeah, life was definitely confusing, at best.
After the war, Headmistress McGonagall had not only recruited any living and non-jailed 7th years to help rebuild Hogwarts, but she’d also insisted they all return for their final year of education. Even those who’d been in Hogwarts for that horrible year of the Horcrux hunt had not been exempted.
Once there, they learned why she’d been so insistent. Apparently, during Voldemort’s reign, even while he was supposedly dead in the years between the death of Harry’s parents and Harry’s return to the wizarding world, some truths about wizarding society had been suppressed. Even those who had lived before Voldemort first came to power had had their knowledge fiddled with through some strange spells.
Headmistress McGonagall had explained to the students during their first week back that it was like waking up from a strange dream when Harry had finally defeated Voldemort. All that suppressed knowledge returned to her mind in waves, and it took her a while to sort it out. Now that she knew it, however, she also knew that the wizarding world needed a few reminders.
She’d got the best potion masters in the world to work on it – and by that first Christmas after the war, all the students had taken it. Called the Restoration Potion or RP, it removed false prejudices from the minds of everyone who had been influenced by Voldemort’s ideas. Even those who’d been against him had been affected by the subtle spells he and his followers had spread throughout their society.
Harry shifted in his chair, heaving a dramatic sigh. He knew the Headmistress meant well; he even knew she’d been right to do what she did. But everything was a huge mess now.
It hadn’t been obvious immediately. At first, Harry hadn’t even noticed a difference – but for him and any other Muggle-raised students, the change wasn’t as great. Dean, for example, had no real problems, and he’d adjusted to the ‘new world’ without hesitation. Luna, of course, had taken it all in stride. Harry wasn’t surprised they were together now.
For those like Ron, though, it was huge. Before RP, Ron and all the others had grown up believing that their emotions and desires were instinctive and normal. But that hadn’t been the case.
Voldemort, perhaps because of his own Muggle upbringing, had serious prejudices towards certain types of behaviour. Among these were homosexuality and bisexuality. Another was regarding ambition. With those biases, he’d designed spells and potions to influence everyone in wizarding society – to suppress their natural urges and replace them with his own.
For someone like Ron, that meant that he woke up that first Christmas and realised that he no longer simply desired women. It wasn’t that he was suddenly gay – it was more that he had lost the ability to choose based on gender alone. And that meant that Hermione wasn’t his first choice any more. Without the help that preferring her femininity gave him, he had to be more objective about it. All of them did – and now, they were looking at magical ability, personality blending, and future goals more than simple attraction. Yes, attraction still existed, of course, but it didn’t have the strongest role any more. It was simply one of many.
It wasn’t only Harry’s friends and peers who struggled, either. As RP was eventually required for all witches and wizards in England, their entire world shifted. Now that ambition didn’t rule, more focus was placed on finding each person’s true place in society. It wasn’t simply that wizards lost their desire to be powerful, it was that they no longer would find a profession based on prestige or familial pressure. Now it all came down to ability and talent – and joy.
Harry knew that was good. He knew it, in his head. But watching his friends struggle wasn’t as easy. Hermione had been broken-hearted – and still was – when Ron ended things with her. It seemed, because of her Muggle upbringing, that she’d already chosen someone with her heart and head combined. Ron, however, didn’t feel that he and Hermione were very compatible at all.
Ginny was another whose life had radically changed. She and Harry had got back together again the summer after the War, but after RP, Harry had suggested they take a break and see what they really wanted. Ginny, more stubborn than most, continued to insist it was Harry; while Harry, who had suspected for some time that he wasn’t really into girls, felt nothing but relief.
When Harry’s class left school, most of Ginny’s class still needed another term or more before they would be ready for their NEWTs. Harry and Ron had moved into Grimmauld, mostly because Harry wanted to see it become a house which would reflect the new age, rather than a depressing reminder of all he’d lost.
Ron jumped right on board, and soon Neville moved in too, desperate to find his own path away from his grandmother. Luna, the first in her year to complete her NEWTs, had joined them in September after completing a special summer term. She encouraged Harry to invite Hermione, despite the bad feelings between Hermione and Ron. By October, Hermione moved in. Then Ron and Draco had been paired in Auror training, and their training master insisted they live together for a few months as part of it all, so Draco moved in too. He wanted some of his friends around him, which brought Blaise and Pansy. Ginny was never invited, and when she realised the exclusion, she left for Romania. She hadn’t been back for more than a brief visit since.
Last Christmas had been their first holiday with a full house, and it hadn’t gone all that well. Harry hoped this year would be better, though it was definitely more complicated. Pansy was deeply in love with Draco, believing he’d asked her to live with them because of his own feelings for her. Everyone else seemed to realise that wasn’t the case, but Pansy was stubborn too.
And then there were Harry’s feelings. Without realising it, he’d fallen fast and hard for Draco, himself. He didn’t know if it was because Draco had always captured his attention, but once they were in a house together, Harry couldn’t stop the growing belief that Draco was the only one for him. Of course, no one knew about that apart from Hermione and Neville. And probably Luna, who seemed to know all kinds of things. Still, Harry didn’t want to join Pansy in the ‘crazy person in love with Draco’ role. And he didn’t see any evidence that Draco thought of him any differently than he did anyone else.
Hermione still wanted Ron, but she was trying to look at other options. Ron was a mystery, but Harry was terrified he was also falling for Draco. The two spent so much time together now that they were official Auror partners. It seemed like he never saw one without the other.
Neville claimed he was open to anything or anyone, which mainly meant he didn’t want to share his deepest feelings yet. Harry respected that, and since Neville spent most of his time with him and Hermione, Neville seemed content enough. Neville had changed a lot, but he still kept his feelings close to his chest.
Blaise seemed above it all. Just as quiet about anything personal as Harry or Neville, he watched everything with a façade of amusement and not much else. Harry couldn’t tell what Draco thought, either, except that he obviously enjoyed Ron. They played chess together almost daily; they had inside jokes; they covered each other’s backs during work and at home.
Harry frowned, thinking about it. He sometimes felt like he’d lost his best friend – plus, his attachment to Draco seemed to grow every day, and that looked hopeless too.
Another rush of cold air snapped him out of his depression, and he looked up as Neville and Hermione came in, stamping with the cold, their breath clouding around their heads for a second.
“I can’t believe how cold it is today. And it’s still not snowing. I want some snow!” Hermione hung up her scarf, hat, and heavy cloak before coming over and plopping down on Harry’s lap, rubbing her cold nose against his cheek. “You’re not sitting here moping, are you?”
Harry gave a weak smile, knowing she’d see right through it. “No?”
Neville joined them, sitting on the sofa across from Harry’s chair. “The others getting the tree?”
“Except Pansy. She’s still at work.”
“Why aren’t you at work then?” Hermione asked.
“My own schedule, remember?” Harry grinned for real, this time. One of the benefits of the whole RP thing was his job. He’d decided he wanted to be a photographer after the Creeveys had given him Colin’s camera. He spent the entire summer learning how to use light to build a composition, rather than just pointing and shooting. Once RP had been given, no one blinked twice when he decided to make that his profession, and he’d quickly found work. Luna, of course, had him working for The Quibbler.
However, even The Prophet had got on board as his ability with portraiture, especially, became more well known. “I’ve already got the ideas for Dean’s art show next week. I’ll go out tomorrow and start work. Today’s my planning day,” he said, stretching a bit. He didn’t mention the picture he was already working on, one he’d taken a few weeks before – the one of Draco. He knew Hermione would want to see it, and Harry wasn’t ready for that yet. Only Luna had seen it, and that was because it stayed at the little office he had at The Quibbler. He moved again, trying to get Hermione’s weight off his crotch.
She got the hint and stood up. “We got the plants.”
Harry grinned at Neville. “Good on you. I’m sure Draco will be pleased.”
Neville’s smile had a little too much knowing in it for Harry’s taste, and he jumped up too. “Hot cocoa?”
In the end, all three of them migrated to the kitchen. Kreacher, still willing to do anything Harry asked, served up their favourite cocoa. For a while, they sipped in silence. Then Hermione set down her cup. “I’ve made a decision,” she said.
“About what?” Harry asked. From the way Neville kept drinking, Harry suspected he already knew.
“I’m going back to Australia.”
“No, Harry. I should’ve gone back ages ago, really. I just kept hoping – but we know that isn’t getting me anywhere. It’s time. I’ve already written to my parents. I’m leaving in two days so I’ll be there to help with Christmas and take classes down there for the new year.”
Harry felt tears prick his eyes, but he didn’t argue with her. Instead, he took her hand, squeezing it. “I’ll miss you,” he whispered. “But I understand.”
“You can always join me,” she said, swiping at a few tears.
“Maybe. I guess it’s good to have options.” The thought of leaving England depressed Harry even more. Yes, he was frustrated watching Draco and Ron grow closer while he stayed on the outside. But could he really leave everything he’d ever known? He didn’t think so. Not yet, at least.
Neville got up and put his mug in the sink. “Enough depressing talk,” he said. “We should be celebrating. After all, Hermione’s going on the adventure of her life, no?”
The three of them left a note for the others and went to dinner at Hermione’s favourite restaurant. Harry got pleasantly drunk, and when they came home that night, stumbling and giggling, he stopped her outside the house and hugged her. “Be happy, Mione,” he mumbled. “For me.”
“I love you, Harry.” She tried to hug him but instead fell into him, knocking him down a step. When Neville tried to help them up, she pulled him down too. “I love you too, Nev. You’re my best friends.”
They managed to get themselves inside, but Harry didn’t notice much. “They go’tree,” he slurred as he went past the parlour.
“Pretty tree,” Hermione simpered, giggling. Harry couldn’t tell if it was pretty. It wasn’t decorated yet, and it just looked like a tree to him. Neville pushed the two of them up the stairs. Hermione slept on the first floor, but Harry had to go up two more. Neville managed to get him all the way to his room.
“Stay,” Harry said, when Nev started to leave. “I don’ wanna sleep alone tonight.”
Neville hesitated then nodded. “Of course, Harry.” They undressed down to their underwear, and then Harry pulled Neville into bed and snuggled up against him, holding him tight. “I don’ know wha’ I’d do wi’out you,” he murmured, before passing out.
The next day was horrible. Hermione spent the day packing and dealing with a million questions from Ron, who wasn’t handling her leaving well. “I don’t know why you care, anyway,” Hermione finally yelled, tears in her eyes. “You’re the one who left me!”
Harry couldn’t seem to help, and it only made him feel even worse when Draco was the one who got Ron to leave Hermione alone. Of course, Ron wasn’t too happy with Harry, either. He’d burst into Harry’s room far too early, all excited about the tree. When he saw Neville in Harry’s bed, he froze and gave Harry a look of betrayal. “You could’ve told me, Harry,” he’d said, before slamming the door.
Harry’s throbbing head almost exploded at that, and he whimpered until Neville found a hangover potion and poured it down his throat. “What was that all about?” Harry asked when he could think again.
Neville shrugged. “Maybe he thinks we’re together, and he’s wondering why you didn’t tell him you preferred blokes?”
Harry stared. “But we’re not together – I mean --”
Neville smiled, clearly amused. “It’s okay, Harry. I didn’t think you had an interest like that in me.”
Relieved, Harry nodded. Though he tried not to act too relieved. “You think I need to tell him I prefer blokes? I mean, I thought it was obvious after the whole RP mess.” After all, according to McGonagall, most witches and wizards were actually bisexual, in that they didn’t make their marriage or bonding choices based on gender but rather on other qualifications.
Neville shrugged again. “You only prefer blokes though, no? Maybe that’s what you need to tell him.”
Harry sighed. He didn’t want to talk to Ron about that, because he didn’t want Ron returning the favour and telling him, once and for all, that he was in love with Draco. Or worse, that Draco was in love with him too.
At lunch, Pansy was all over Draco, and Harry felt his worst yet. Draco seemed to take it okay, but he was clearly not interested – and he kept turning to Ron for distraction, though his gaze slipped between Harry and Neville a few times too. When it got to the point where Ron actually took Draco’s hand and pulled him away from the table – without letting go – Harry couldn’t take any more. He pushed his plate away and stalked to the door.
Luna met him there. “It’s not what it looks like, Harry,” she said.
“Sure,” he replied, just wanting to get away. “I have work to do.” He managed a weak smile. “Tell Hermione I’ll be back for her good-bye supper.” He slipped away, camera in hand.
Once outside, he looked up at the leaden sky and sighed. Life was going from confusing to downright miserable. At least he loved taking pictures. Rather than go to his office and work on Draco’s piece, he went to Diagon Alley. He needed something which could be the main piece for the art show, and although he knew his picture of Draco could work, he wasn’t sure he’d have the courage.
In Diagon Alley, he found a corner where he could sit and watch. It didn’t take long, and although the light wasn’t great, he knew that if he got the close-ups he wanted, he’d be able to play with them enough to make them work. He’d been there almost an hour when it started to snow. At first, the snow was too light – almost like white rain – and he wondered if he’d have to give up. But then, the temperature rose a little and the flakes began to grow. Soon, he had more than he could’ve hoped for, and he snapped away, capturing not only the fluffy flakes but the wonder on many children’s faces as they wandered through the shops, delighted with the falling snow.
Harry spent hours there, losing himself and his misery as the snow slowly frosted the world.
When his hands were too cramped with cold to work and the light began to fade to the point of dimness, he knew it was time to return to reality. Hermione was leaving in the morning, and Harry would be more alone than ever in a house filled with people.
Back at the house, Harry took a hot shower and dressed in a soft, forest green jumper and black jeans. Hermione had picked out the jumper for him last Christmas, and when her eyes lit up at the sight of him, he knew it was the right choice. He joined with the others at the table, filled with more food than Harry thought they’d ever eat.
They’d managed to get the word out – or rather, Luna had, Harry knew – and the house was bustling. George came and sat with Harry after a bit, watching the others. Fred’s death had quietened George, and he and Harry got on better than ever before. Fred floated over, as well. His ghost seemed to be tethered to his twin, which surprised no one, and he talked more than ever. Harry wondered if it was to make up for George’s increasing silence.
Fred crossed his legs and drifted right above Harry’s chair, like he was sitting on Harry’s lap. “What do you want for Christmas, Harry? And have you been a good boy?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
Fred laughed, his whole form shaking and going lighter and darker. “Oh, that’s a good one, Harry, it really is.” He glanced at George, who sat without talking, and some of the laughter left his face. Harry wished he could help, but he knew this was something the twins would have to work out themselves. The thing was, George had to find his own way – without Fred. Harry suspected Fred would move on once George did.
Around the room, the others were busy with their own pursuits. Ron and Draco were talking over a chess game, as always, and Pansy had convinced Blaise to clear a spot for dancing. Hermione, the guest of honour, stood with a few girls from Gryffindor, smiling and looking happier than Harry’d seen in a while. Then the music started, and everyone began dancing. They’d used spells to make the room larger, and the room quickly heated up. Fred flitted amongst the dancing partners, cutting in anywhere and everywhere.
Soon, Harry and George were the only two not dancing. Harry tried not to stare at Draco and Ron, who were laughing as they moved together. The music was fast and loud, so it wasn’t like it was romantic; still, Harry didn’t like it. His stomach clenched and he swallowed hard.
“I guess I’ll have to move out there too,” George said suddenly.
“What?” Harry looked at him. “Move where?”
George gave a grim smile. “Australia.”
Harry gaped at him as a couple of things clicked into place. “Why didn’t you tell her?” he said finally.
George raised his brows. “Really, mate? That’s what you come up with? You?”
Harry scowled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
George nodded his head towards Draco. “You haven’t exactly been forthcoming, either, now have you?”
Harry’s face heated up and he winced. “You know?”
“I’m not as blind as some people, no. And Fred notices everything,” he admitted. Then George put his arm around Harry and squeezed. “I’m not trying to tease you. Neither of us is happy, and neither of us has done anything about it. Hermione’s the only one going after what she wants – but I’m tired of watching the world go by.” He turned back to the dancers, watching as Luna and Parvati twirled Hermione between them, all three of them laughing. “I waited long enough for her to get over my brother.”
Harry saw his eyes move across to Fred’s ghost, and he swallowed against the sadness. “Will he go with you?” he asked in a low voice.
George shook his head. “He says no. The rest of the family need him here.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah. I can see that.” His eyes found Ron and Draco again. “How can I go after what I want when it could hurt your brother too?” Harry blurted. Then he hung his head. “Not that it would matter. Draco clearly likes him too.”
George nudged him. “Watch for a sec, mate. Just watch.”
Harry picked at his cuffs, but he did as George suggested. Draco and Ron were mimicking Hermione, except Draco was the one being twirled. He was laughing, his blond hair surrounding his head like a silky halo. Harry caught his breath at the sight. “He’s beautiful,” he murmured.
George smiled. “And you can’t keep your eyes off? But did you notice, Ron’s eyes aren’t on Malfoy at all. They never are, really. Don’t you think he’d be just as caught up as you are?” Then he got up, taking a deep breath. “I’m not letting her go without at least one dance, either. I’d suggest you do the same.”
Harry watched as George wove through the crowd and found Hermione, leaning down to whisper something in her ear. She gave him a surprised look, but to Harry’s eyes, she was pleased. Fred, now moving with Dean and Luna, winked at Harry. Harry glanced over at Draco again – could George be right? It was true that Ron wasn’t looking anywhere near Draco, not really. And Draco was looking –right at Harry!
Harry gulped and ducked his head. Then, as the music changed to something slower, he gathered his courage. Surely, he could do this. He got up and started towards Draco, who was watching him with a strange, intense expression on his face. Before Harry reached him, though, Ron stepped between them and started talking to Draco in a low voice.
Frozen to the spot, ignoring the people moving around him and bumping into him, Harry watched as Draco put his hands on Ron’s shoulders, as the two began moving together to the music, still in the midst of what appeared to be an intense conversation.
After a couple of seconds, Harry finally got his legs to work again. He went to the kitchen and sat, his head in his hands. If it wasn’t for Hermione, he’d leave – but he couldn’t do that to her. Fred floated in a few minutes later. “You won’t get his attention in here, mate,” he said.
Harry shrugged. “He’s well taken care of, I’d say.”
Fred tried convincing him, through cajoling and teasing, but Harry refused. Finally, Fred returned to the party.
It continued for another couple of hours, and Harry spent it in the kitchen. Even after the dancing seemed to slow and then stop, and bits of conversation drifted into the dim space, Harry didn’t move. He couldn’t keep doing this. Like Hermione, it was time to take his life into his own hands, he realised. He knew leaving the country wasn’t for him, but he could leave this house – find his own space. For someone supposedly so courageous, he’d been a horrible coward.
After a while, he realised that he wasn’t alone. Luna sat beside him, her eyes gentle. “It’ll be okay, Harry,” she said softly.
“I know,” he said, though he didn’t really believe it. She took his hand, and he let her. They could hear people leaving, and then the housemates slowly trickled into the kitchen. Draco came in and frowned when he saw Harry and Luna sitting there.
“Feeling more anti-social than normal, then?” he asked. For a second, Harry thought he was looking at their joined hands, but then, when that cool gaze met his, he decided he was imagining it.
“Just a little overwhelmed,” Harry said. “As you know, I’ve never been much of a dancer.”
“Nev would’ve danced with you,” Hermione said, still moving like she heard music. “So would’ve I.”
Harry managed a smile. “I didn’t want to put either of you out. I don’t need to dance – the party was for you. Did you have fun?” he added.
She beamed. “I really did! It almost makes me wonder if I should truly go --”
“You don’t have to on any of our accounts,” Ron said, pulling out a chair next to Draco.
Hermione swallowed. “I’m not. I’m doing it for me.”
Harry shook his head as tension crept up. Then Pansy came in, Blaise right on her heels. She plopped down on Draco’s other side, putting her head on his shoulder. “Take me to bed, Draco darling. I’m beat.”
Draco looked uncomfortable, and Harry opened his mouth. Before he could speak, though, Ron said, “I’m taking Draco to bed, Pans. You’ll have to find someone else.”
“I’ll do it,” Luna said, squeezing Harry’s hand before she let go. “Come on then.” Pansy didn’t look happy, but Harry knew she wouldn’t make a scene. There’d been too many scenes in the past year, and they were all tired.
Luna hugged Hermione on her way out. “Be happy, Hermione,” she said. “I do think it will come to you.” She winked at Harry, and he swallowed a laugh. Did Luna know George’s plans too?
When their steps had faded, Harry took a deep breath. “I have an announcement too,” he said, hardening his resolve. “I think I’m going to be finding my own place after the hols.”
Everyone stared at him. Then Blaise shook his head. “Never thought I’d see the Saviour running away.”
Harry’s jaw dropped.
Ron scowled. “Hey. Harry’s not running – maybe he just wants some peace and quiet.” Then he turned to Harry. “But you shouldn’t have to leave your home, mate. We could all go --”
“No!” Harry took a deep breath, trying to get his feelings under control. “I want you to stay – all of you. I’ll come back for visits, I just --” Just a glimpse of Draco’s wide gaze had Harry choking on feelings he could never express.
Neville, who’d been standing against a counter, came and leaned on Harry’s shoulders. Draco dropped his eyes and stared at the table. Neville rubbed Harry’s nape and said, “I think that’s a good idea. Especially if you do come back and stay here regularly. Maybe you could find a place which would double as a studio.”
Harry pushed back into Neville’s hands, relieved and encouraged at his support. “Yes, that would be nice. I do need a studio.”
With a look that was a little too knowing, Hermione nodded. “I think that’s a great idea, Harry. You don’t even have to move out – you could find a space which would work as a studio that you could also stay in overnight from time to time. It’ll give you some time away from it all when you need it.”
Harry gave a weak smile at Hermione, thankful for her support, as well. He was going to miss her horribly, he knew, but he couldn’t begrudge her this chance. And he hoped that George’s appearance in a few weeks would be a good thing for both of them.
The silence started to get uncomfortable, though Harry wasn’t sure why. Draco kept staring at the table, and Harry desperately wanted to know what he thought. Would he miss Harry at all? Or was he relieved that Harry would no longer be there to take any of Ron’s time or attention – not that Harry’d got much of that from Ron lately, anyway.
“Well, I’m off to bed,” Harry said when no one else talked. “Mione, I’ll be here to take you to the airport,” he said, hugging her as he went past. Neville said good night too, following Harry up the stairs. His room was on the second floor, but he went up to Harry’s floor.
“Need company?” he asked.
Harry hesitated then nodded. “Sure.” They undressed and brushed their teeth in silence. When Harry slipped into bed, Neville joined him without a word, curling up behind Harry. Harry closed his eyes, absorbing Neville’s friendship. Even that couldn’t stop the tears which wet the pillow, however. But when the sobs rose, Neville held him close, staying still, letting him mourn.
The next day was worse. Hermione left mid-morning, and Harry had a hard time not crying. It didn’t help that Hermione was crying herself. Ron didn’t come to the airport, but Harry saw George watching from across the terminal. When Hermione’d boarded, he walked over and stood with him, and the two of them watched the plane leave.
“You’ll see her soon,” Harry said, sniffling.
George nodded. “Yep.” They stood quietly together in the midst of a noisy crowd, and Harry felt a little better.
Then Harry went to his small office, the only space he had to work on his pictures. He really did need that studio, he realised. He’d learned how to cast spells on his pictures which did similar things to Muggle computers, enhancing and clarifying the basic components. Harry was good at it, he knew, and a couple of the pictures he’d captured the day before were spectacular. One, in particular, kept drawing Harry’s eyes again and again. It was a boy, his eyes half closed, his face lifted to the sky. His pink tongue held a flake, not quite melted, and his red and gold knitted hat slipped to the side. Then the eyes opened as his face came down, another snowflake catching on his long, black eyelashes.
Harry looked between that and his picture of Draco. Draco’s was an evening shot, taken indoors. He’d been completely in his own world and hadn’t even noticed Harry standing near the stairs. In the picture, which almost looked like a still, Draco stood at the window, evening light coming through in rays and turning one side of Draco’s hair to burnished gold. One long-fingered hand rested against the glass, and only the motes of dust floating in the air and one slow blink of Draco’s golden eyelashes showed it was a wizard photo instead of a Muggle one. His gaze had been on something no one else could see, and Harry loved everything about it.
He glanced back at the little boy, unsure which he would choose for the main piece. They were both good, but of course, Harry had stronger feelings about Draco’s – though he wasn’t sure if he’d ever have the courage.
The day continued to worsen from there. When Harry went home, Pansy and Draco stood at opposite ends of the living room, both red in the face. Blaise and Ron were there too, and although it was quiet when Harry opened the door, he could almost hear the echoes of their shouts.
“Well, what’s this then?” he asked, when no one spoke.
Ron rolled his eyes. “Parkinson’s being a bint, that’s all.”
“Shut up, Weasley! You’re not helping anything, you know,” Blaise said. And although it was calm, like Blaise always appeared, Harry heard tension there.
“Draco?” Harry asked, steeling himself. Those beautiful grey eyes met his, and something ignited in Harry’s stomach.
“It’s just a misunderstanding,” Draco said. “That’s all.”
“It’s not a misunderstanding,” Pansy yelled. “Dammit, Draco, when are you going to acknowledge me? Everyone else has forgiven me. Everyone else has let it go – but you can’t! I know why that is; I’m not stupid. I just don’t understand why you can’t at least try to forgive me. I love you, Draco!”
For a second, Draco looked distraught, and Harry lifted his hand, wanting to touch him, to soothe him. Then the usual mask slipped into place. “I apologise, Pansy. Of course, I forgive you. I did from the very beginning. But I can’t love you back – not like you want me to.”
Pansy’s façade slipped away, and by the time Blaise had pulled her into his arms, hiding her from view, her shoulders shook. Harry looked back at Draco, taking another step. Before he reached him, however, Ron moved up and pulled Draco back against him, hugging him from behind, and leaning over him to murmur in his ear.
Harry left before he fell apart. He ran up the stairs to his room, and once there, paced. “I can’t do this any more,” he said aloud. “I just can’t.”
Neville found him there an hour later, when he got home from the nursery. “Tough afternoon?” he asked, lying beside Harry.
“I don’t know what to do,” Harry admitted. “I thought I could do this, but I really can’t. I’m in love with him, Nev.”
They laid there together until a timid knock came on the door. “Harry?” Luna called.
“Come on in.”
She left the door open and joined them on the bed, curling up by their feet. After a few minutes, she said, “We’re going to decorate the tree now. You should join us.”
“I don’t think so,” Harry said, closing his eyes.
Luna put out her hand, and it landed on Harry’s thigh. “Harry, you should join us.”
He sighed. Luna got like this, and he knew from experience that she wouldn’t let up. “Fine. Coming, Nev?”
“He is,” Luna said, answering for him.
Nev turned his head to meet Harry’s gaze, a slight smile on his face. “Apparently.”
They went downstairs together, and in the parlour, which was well lit, Kreacher was placing boxes all around. Draco and Pansy, apparently over the earlier problem, were peering in them together, bickering gently over the contents. “Oh, not that,” Pansy said, wrinkling her nose. “That’s not for our tree.”
“Don’t be such a snob, Pans,” Draco said. “It’ll be perfect.”
Ron came around the corner, almost running into Harry. “Hey, mate, here’s the last box.” He set it down, going to stand next to Draco. Neville, who’d been leaning against the wall studying the tree, opened the box nearest his feet.
“Have you looked at these, Harry?” he asked.
“Since last year, you mean?” Harry said. But he went over to look. Soon, the room was filled with the sounds of teasing and even laughter. Harry, hanging yet another ornament with silver and green highlights, wondered why he felt so detached. They weren’t leaving him out. In fact, Draco had asked his opinion on a number of decorations. Every time Harry heard his voice, another butterfly let loose in his stomach. It was pathetic how much that man affected him, but Harry couldn’t seem to help it.
Neville hovered near, ready to reach out with a warm hand anytime he noticed Harry faltering. Ron watched closely, as well, his eyes tracking their movement. Harry felt like he was in a preordained play, except everyone but him knew their role and he was just guessing.
“Here it is,” Luna said, triumph in her voice. Everyone looked, and she held up a sprig of mistletoe. “I’ll put it right above the doorway – perfect place. Everyone who enters this room must kiss. It’ll spread Christmas cheer.”
Harry wondered if he imagined the wink she sent his way as she hung it. They went back to the tree, and by the time Kreacher called for a late dinner, it was done. The fairy lights twinkled, and the ornaments caught the sparkles and shone. Pansy put out the lights, and they all stared, entranced. Harry knew he’d have to try and capture this on film, though he wasn’t sure he could. Even magic couldn’t always capture…magic.
As they made their way out of the room, Luna made everyone stop in pairs and kiss. Pansy, who obviously wanted to leave with Draco, instead kissed Blaise. Harry almost smiled, until he realised Ron was next to Draco and would be kissing him. He looked away, a tightness in his chest.
Then Luna said, “Oh, you two see each other all the time. Neville, why don’t you leave with Ron.”
Harry watched in surprise as Neville and Ron kissed. Neither seemed that upset about it. He looked at Draco, who also seemed quite unperturbed at the sight of his partner kissing another man. “Harry?” Luna said.
He was still frozen, staring at the spot where Ron and Neville had stood.
Draco lifted his chin, looking uncomfortable. “I apologise for not realising you probably wanted to leave with Longbottom.”
Harry blinked. “Erm, what?”
Then Luna gestured, and Harry automatically went. He and Draco stood beneath the mistletoe together, and Harry couldn’t keep his eyes from Draco’s pink lips. He licked his own, and Draco made a funny noise. “For Merlin’s sake,” he muttered, and he leaned forward and pressed his lips against Harry’s.
Harry opened his without thinking, and for a second, his tongue touched Draco’s. Harry’s stomach was a flurry of butterflies now, and he sank into the kiss – except that Draco had pulled away, his grey eyes wide and a look of confusion on his face.
“What?” Harry said, his voice low. “What did I do wrong?”
Draco shook his head, but before he could speak, Ron appeared in the kitchen doorway. “We’re starving in here, and Kreacher won’t serve until you guys join us. Are you coming?”
Harry followed, but he doubted he could eat anything. He’d finally got his chance to be with Draco – even for a second – and somehow he’d blown it.
The days leading up to the art show were miserable though busy. Harry managed to avoid most of his housemates, though Neville continued to show up in his room at night. He never said anything while Harry cried. Luna also seemed to be around more than usual. She also kept her peace, but Harry could feel her eyes on him, and he knew she was worried.
In between working on his pieces and trying to gather his courage to include his Draco composition, Harry looked for a studio. The morning of the show, he thought he found one. It was across the city from Grimmauld, and he couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not. On the one hand, it would make it easier to just stay in his studio at night; but then, it would make it easier to stay away from Grimmauld, and Harry couldn’t decide what he wanted.
Well, he knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted Draco. He wanted him so badly it made him almost sick. Still, when he saw the studio with its huge windows and open spaces, he knew he’d have to take it. It really was exactly what he needed to continue his work, and there was a small room off one side which would serve as a small bedroom. The counters had room for a tiny stove, though Harry knew he could also use magic or order in. He didn’t plan to truly live here, after all.
After signing the lease, he went to his office and gathered his pieces. He included Draco’s, even though he still hadn’t decided if he’d actually put it up. He had the snowflake boy ready too, plus six others. Dean wanted him to have at least six altogether, so Harry felt pretty good.
The gallery looked fantastic, and when Dean showed Harry where his would be placed, he felt overwhelmed with gratitude. “Dean,” he breathed, looking at the wall at the very front which would showcase his prize piece. “You didn’t have to do this.”
Dean clapped him on the shoulder. “I really did, Harry. Do you want help?”
Harry made a split second decision. “Actually, I’m debating between two pieces for this spot – perhaps you can help me choose?”
He led Dean to his pictures, lifting them carefully with magic to ensure they were all safe. When they were all laid out, Dean immediately went to one of them. “This one, no?”
His fingers trailed over the title, My Muse.
Harry swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes.” He and Dean hung the pieces, and then Harry did a quick walk-through, paying close attention to the flow of the room. “It looks really good,” he said, nervousness beginning to prey on his stomach and breathing.
Dean put his arm around him. “It does. You’re an amazing artist, Harry, and I’m honoured that you joined me for this event. Now, go home, eat something, and get ready to come back and enjoy the accolades.”
Harry gave him a weak smile, but he did as Dean suggested. At Grimmauld, the house was quiet. Harry knew Neville had to work later than usual, but he also knew he’d be there. He didn’t know where Ron and Draco were, though they’d promised to come. By the time he’d choked down some stew, only Blaise, Luna, and Pansy had showed, however.
As the clock chimed seven, Neville ran in the door. “Let me change, and I’ll follow right away,” he called, running up the stairs. Harry couldn’t wait any longer, and he gave Pansy and Blaise a twisted smile before Apparating off.
At the gallery, Dean was in his element, and Harry didn’t really know what to do. The doors opened at half seven, and within minutes, the place was filled. Everyone stood and stared at the main piece, and Harry felt some of the tension of the past few weeks melt away. He almost didn’t have time to wish Hermione could have stayed for this, as person after person came and praised his work.
Then Blaise, Pansy, Luna, and Neville came. They stood in front of the front wall for a long time, and when the others wandered away, Pansy came straight to Harry. He’d been keeping one eye on them, though he could barely see them around the corners. Although he was talking with someone, when Pansy approached, he excused himself and turned to her.
She looked at him, tears swimming in her eyes. She opened her mouth, but she couldn’t seem to find the words. Finally, she pulled him into her arms, almost smothering him with her large breasts. Harry tried not to push away, but then he figured out she was whispering something. “—beautiful, so beautiful. I didn’t know, Harry. I realise I should have, but I didn’t. I’m so sorry – and I won’t stand in your way again. You need to tell him. Tell him.”
Harry swallowed and managed to get his face away from her chest. “I’ve tried --”
“Harry.” It was Ron’s voice, but it carried through the entire gallery.
Harry winced, gathering his courage and managing to walk on shaky legs to the front. Ron and Draco stood there, both still in their Auror robes. Harry couldn’t quite look at Draco; it was hard enough to face Ron.
Ron stared at the picture, awe written on his face. “This is amazing, mate.” He didn’t sound angry. Harry blinked, unsure what to do now. Ron shook his head. “I suspected it, but I was too jealous to see clearly, I guess. Draco, man, you were right.”
That got Harry’s attention, and he flashed a look towards Draco then froze. Draco’s mouth was slightly open, his eyes wide and a pink flush on his cheeks. He looked mesmerised, humbled, and –
Harry swallowed hard, wondering if he was mistaking what he saw on Draco’s face. He
stepped closer. “I’m sorry I didn’t ask --”
Draco waved a hand, stopping Harry immediately. He swallowed, and Harry followed the action with his eyes. “This is,” he started, his voice hoarse. He cleared his throat and tried again. “How? When?”
Harry wasn’t sure he could talk, either, but as his housemates slowly gathered around them, blocking them off from the rest of the crowd, he took a deep breath and said, “About two months ago. You’d just finished that case, the one with Dolohov, and you were exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.”
Draco turned his eyes to meet Harry’s, and the look in them stole any other words Harry might have had. “Harry,” Draco whispered.
And then, as quickly as they’d all appeared, their mates faded away, somehow taking the crowd with them. Dean and Luna manoeuvred Harry and Draco until they were in a corner near the back, all without Harry really understanding what was going on. All he could see was the grey of Draco’s eyes, the golden blond of his hair, the pink of his full lips.
The corner was not only fairly private, it was also a bit darker. That didn’t seem to bother Draco, though, and the second Dean and Luna had left, he stepped closer to Harry – so close Harry could feel his chest when he took a breath. “Ron was so sure you were in love with Neville, but I hoped it wasn’t so. It got harder to believe this past month, when you were together all the time – you were even sleeping together --”
“Sleeping only,” Harry put in, closing his eyes and revelling in the warm breath washing over his face as Draco talked. Draco’d had chocolate recently, no surprise, and that scent combined with just Draco was making him a little high.
“Well, I hoped that, as well.” He leaned closer, his lips almost touching Harry’s. “Harry,” he said again, and then he wasn’t talking at all as his mouth was devouring Harry’s.
Harry didn’t hesitate to open up and seek out Draco’s tongue, and by the time he remembered this really wasn’t the place or the time, they were pressed so closely together than note even the thinnest parchment could get between them. Harry couldn’t tell if it was his heart or Draco’s, but the thumping made his entire body shudder, and the feel of Draco’s lips and his tongue moving against Harry’s made every muscle in his body melt.
Harry heard Dean, but it didn’t process right away. It wasn’t until Luna joined in, her hand on Harry’s arm, that he recalled where he was. He let go of Draco and stepped back, heat flooding his face. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
Dean grinned, though he looked a little embarrassed. “No worries, mate. But there are others who want to talk to you.”
So Harry did what he had to do, only it was good this time, because Draco didn’t leave his side. Everyone wanted to know how he’d got his ‘boyfriend’ to pose for such a perfect shot – and no one believed it had just happened. Harry didn’t bother to correct them about the boyfriend part, and neither did Draco. By the time the show closed, at just after midnight, Harry felt like he’d entered a new world.
Draco, still attached to his side, looked like he felt the same way. “It’s snowing,” he said, as they helped Dean and Luna clean up.
“Well, the good news is you sold every piece,” Dean said.
Harry blinked and then panicked. “What? I didn’t want to sell --”
“I bought that one,” Draco put in.
“You did?” Harry asked, stunned. “When?”
“When Luna showed it to me, the day after the mistletoe.”
Harry gaped at Luna. “You showed him?”
Luna shrugged. “I could see you needed some help. Even the mistletoe didn’t work, so it was time to step it up,” she said. Dean chuckled, apparently not surprised by his girlfriend’s sneakiness.
Harry looked at Draco again. “But you seemed so surprised.”
“It wasn’t framed when I saw it – and I had no idea you’d make it your front piece.” His face flushed. “That was…nice.”
Harry couldn’t help but touch that silky hair, his hand trailing down to cup Draco’s cheek. “I love you, you know,” he murmured.
Draco lifted his hands to Harry’s face, as well. “Good. Because I love you.”
They walked home in the falling snow, hand in hand and stopping frequently to kiss. “I was so sure you and Ron were more than partners for work,” Harry said for the third time.
Draco laughed and stopped him for another kiss. When they pulled away to breathe, he said, “Ron’s in love with Neville. He’s been using me, really, to make Neville jealous.”
Although Harry had heard about the Neville part the other two times he brought it up, this was the first mention of the jealousy plan. “Well, it worked – I was horribly jealous.”
Draco laughed again, his head thrown back. Harry lifted his free hand and caressed Draco’s throat.
That stilled the laughter, and Draco showed Harry again how much he needed him. Then, as they resumed their slow journey, he said, “You don’t ever need to be jealous. There’s only been you for a long time, Harry. Even before RP.”
Harry blinked at that, and tightened his grip on Draco’s hand. After a few seconds, he said, “Well, I can’t say I knew myself well enough to realise it that early, but I can say that no one has ever captured my attention the way you have – from the first second I met you.” He hesitated then asked, “Did you happen to notice the title?”
“Muse?” Draco asked.
“My Muse,” Harry said.
Draco pulled him in for another kiss, his hands tangled in Harry’s hair, his tongue stroking and licking. “God, Harry.”
“Love you,” Harry said, when he could.
“I love you.”
And as they strolled through the deepening snow towards Grimmauld, Harry felt his worries leave like they’d never existed in the first place. Suddenly, he could believe that everything really would be okay – Luna’s motto made sense. George would join Hermione, and they’d discover something Hermione could never have had with Ron. Ron and Neville, too, would find love together. Even Pansy might find someone.
Maybe RP wasn’t so awful, after all, he realised. After all, it had brought him his muse.