by Draeconin

For story details and disclaimer, please see chapter one.

Chapter Six

Professor Snape had not taken the apology graciously; not that Harry had ever seen the man do anything graciously. He'd even offered to help with the catalogueing and storing as the headmaster had suggested - tomorrow, since they still had to locate their quarters - but was flatly turned down.

Three hours later, tired, footsore, and frustrated, they finally found Sir Roxley - one corridor over from Dumbledore's office. Draco started quietly swearing to himself. Harry only caught bits and pieces of it, but he was in general agreement - Dumbledore was a 'bloody old git' at the very least right then, in his mind.

"Do you remember the password he gave us?" Harry asked.

"Some bloody nonsense about being together, I think," Draco replied, irritation still evident in his voice.

"Oh, right. 'Togetherness'." The man in the painting was looking at them with one raised eyebrow, but opened without saying a word.

They stepped inside. To say the quarters were lush would have been a vast overstatement. They had the bare essentials, and that was about it. In the sitting room was a sofa that was sturdy, if slightly worn, two overstuffed chairs in the same condition, two end tables and a long, low table for the sofa, all in fairly good condition, if a bit scuffed. A large, somewhat threadbare carpet in front of the fireplace, and an assortment of leftover brick-a-brack on various shelves and other surfaces from the last tenant rounded out the room's contents.

Still, they weren't wizards for nothing; they'd be able to transform anything they needed to in order get what they wanted: the assortment of bric-a-brac would provide some good raw material to work with.

The bedroom wasn't much better, although the the bedding and curtains on the king-sized bed looked new, albeit not of high quality - probably from school stores. The bath was clean, and the lion-claw tub was large enough for two full-sized adults, as was the shower, with room to spare. Otherwise there wasn't a lot to say about them. The toilet was the same.

Looking at the wardrobe in the bedroom, Harry groaned. "I predict a Hogsmeade trip for us in the very near future," he moaned.

"Trelawney wearing off on you, Harry?" Draco teased.

"No clothes, Draco! Snape destroyed them, remember?"

"You didn't have any clothes, Harry; just rags and baggy sacks that barely stayed on you," the Slytherin replied, with distaste.

Harry glared at him. It was true, as evidenced by his present garb, but he'd grown used to those 'baggy sacks'. "They were comfortable," he stated, with a bit of a pout.

"Don't worry, Harry; I'll dress you like you should be dressed," Draco reassured him. "As soon as you get used to it, you'll wonder why you ever decided to swim around in those old rags. Well-fitted clothing is much more comfortable."

"Why do you care?" Harry wondered.

"You're my..." Draco stopped, puzzled. Just what was their relationship, anyway? Harry wasn't his master, although that's what he was supposed to have been, and they really hadn't got to know each other well enough to establish an intimate relationship, but they were bonded in a way that was actually more binding than marriage. He refused to even consider Snape's suggestion.

"Husband?" Harry suggested, grinning.

"Very funny, Potter. I don't know what we're supposed to be to each other," Draco said.

Harry surprised him by walking up to him, slipping his arms around his waist, and gently kissing him. "How about we try for boyfriends right now, and work our way up to something more serious?" the Gryffindor suggested.

"Boy-" Draco's voice broke, squeaking, so he stopped, and tried again. "Boyfriends?"

"Mm-hm. You can start by giving me a hug, if you like."

Trembling, Draco tentatively put his arms around the Gryffindor; almost as though he was afraid the young man would break. He was doing something that, in his wildest dreams, he'd never dared to hope would come true. And it wasn't a dream; it was real. The real, live, warm, vibrant Harry Potter was willingly in his arms. He'd even asked for this hug!

Draco felt Harry's arms pull him gently, but firmly, up against him as he was kissed again; this time more firmly, claiming the blond as his own. And Draco, for the first time in his life, willingly, whole-heartedly, surrendered. His arms moved of their own accord from around Harry's waist to around his neck. As self-conscious as he was, he suddenly realized that it had been a long, sweaty day, and he was far from being fresh-smelling. "Mmmm... . Harry? I like this, but I think I'd like it more once I bathe."

Harry laughed. "Well, that was a mood breaker!" he said, grinning. "Okay. You go first, again."

Draco almost pouted, but caught himself, and scowled, instead. "You're not smelling all that fresh either, Harry," he said. Actually, he loved the way Harry smelled; earthy, sweaty, but not yet stale. Harry didn't answer; just watched him indulgently. After a couple of seconds of this, Draco blushed. "Okay, so I want to be fresh for you. Satisfied? We've been trudging all over the castle all day!" he finished lamely. By the gods but he'd changed! He'd usually blast someone who'd caused him embarrassment, even if inadvertently. It had to be an effect of the bonding.

Fortunately he'd seen a couple of towels in the cupboard he'd peeked into in the bath room, but what was he going to do about clothing afterwards? Well, it wasn't quite as good as washing, but he could cast 'Scourgify' on what he was already wearing, again.

"What are you going to wear afterward, Draco? No clothes, remember?" Harry reminded, unnecessarily.

"I'll just use 'Scourgify' on these, like I did this morning. I hope we can go shopping tomorrow," the blond said, as he headed for the bathing room.

Harry wondered if the fact that there was only one bed in the apartment had registered with the blond. Draco would have to strip to his skivvies and they would need to depend on their body warmth, rather than pyjamas, to keep them warm. Harry was rather looking forward to it.

After they'd bathed and dressed in their magically cleansed clothing, they headed for the Great Hall for supper. They'd missed tea-time while searching for their rooms, so were rather famished. When they arrived, they found place settings for two, at one table. It appeared that the two older men wouldn't be joining them tonight. They'd no sooner seated themselves than Dobby appeared. Evidently a proximity spell had been placed on the table.

"Mister Harry Potter, sir!" the elf exclaimed in greeting, beaming at the dark-haired boy, then cowered a bit as he looked anxiously at the blond. "Master Draco," he said in polite acknowledgement. Turning back to Harry, the elf proclaimed "For supper tonight, we is having shepherd's pie, cheese, and special treat of rhubarb pie! What would the young masters like to drink? Only Dumbly say no alcohol," he threw in, so he wouldn't have to refuse, should he be asked.

"Hm... Something cleansing for the palate with the meal... Perhaps limeade - no, lemonade; and coffee with dessert!" Draco decided. Then he noticed Harry looking at him, and he couldn't stop himself. "If that's okay with you, Harry?"

"I'll trust your judgment this time, Draco," Harry said, smirking. "But I don't like the placement settings. They're on both sides of the table. I'd like to sit next to you."

Draco blushed, then wondered why. It was almost as if... It was! He was acting like a bloody girl on her first date with the boy of her dreams! He rather wanted to fight it, but something leached the fight out of him; that bloody ritual magic again, he decided. But Draco found he really didn't care. Probably another effect of the magic. He sighed, then decided that trying to fight it was likely a losing battle. Isn't that why he'd picked that particular binding in the first place? So Harry would feel safe from him? He hadn't quite counted on the willingness/love/lust angle changing things, but instead of being a loyal, bound retainer, he had a little more freedom. He should be grateful that the magic was actually helping him win Harry's affections, although from what he'd seen so far, it hadn't taken much. All he would have had to do was be nice to the Gryffindor, and they could have been together. Hindsight was wonderful, if a little useless. Still, that had no bearing on the reason for the binding.

While he'd been musing, Harry had been moving his place setting over next to Draco's, and was now sitting very closely, indeed.

"Harry, if I were meeting you for the first time, I'd swear you were a Slytherin," Draco teased.

The raven-haired boy's grin grew broader. "I could have been. The Sorting Hat wanted to put me there, but I'd just had that unpleasant interchange with you, and Hagrid told me that all dark wizards came from Slytherin, so I begged for anything else."

Draco was stupefied. That explained so much. "You should ask for a re-Sorting," he suggested impulsively.

Harry shrugged. "To what purpose? Too many Slytherins dislike, or even hate me now. No, I may be more like you guys than like Gryffindors, but I've learned how to adapt - and Ron and Hermione are really good friends. They'd be crushed if I got re-Sorted."

Draco scowled. "I'm not sure about Granger, but that Weasley...!"

"What's wrong with Ron?" Harry asked, defensively.

Now Draco was sorry he'd said anything. "I... Look, it's just..." He took a deep breath, and sighed. 'In for a knut, in for a galleon,' he thought. "You know Slytherins study people, to best be able to utilise them?" He scowled at his own wording. "Only not quite so clinically and coldly as I just put it; it's more of an instinctual behavior." At Harry's nod, and his relaxing from the unconscious tensing of muscles caused by the malaprop, Draco continued. "It seems to me that Weasley is the sort to bathe in reflected glory, and wish it were his own." He sighed again, and continued. "And, if he ever got it, he wouldn't know what to do with it. He'd probably abuse it."

To his relief, Harry nodded.

"Pretty good reading there, blondie," the Gryffindor replied. "But he's a good sort, and makes me laugh."

Draco bristled a bit at being called 'blondie', but let it go. He let the subject drop, as well. He was just relieved that Harry hadn't become angry with his analysis.

The rest of the evening passed without undue event. They went back to their apartment and discussed how to decorate it, an occassional flick of the wand and muttered spell making decorating ideas evident. Eventually they settled on a few things, leaving the rest for another time. The sofa was outfitted with rich Cabretta leather in a toned-down, though rich, reddish-brown colour; and soft, so you didn't slip on it, with the chairs set to match. The tables were pretty good as they were, so they only renewed the finish on them. The threadbare carpet was transformed into a large sheepskin rug. The walls of the sitting room were made a light, sky blue, the ceiling being two shades lighter. They then moved on to the bedroom.

Draco finally put two and two together, and noticed that two of something in the room that should be there, was only singular. "There's only one bed?" he said, his voice suddenly strained, as he blushed yet again. "I'll sleep on the sofa," he volunteered.

"Don't be silly, Draco," Harry insisted. "I won't ravish you - again - until you're ready. And we are boyfriends, right?"

Draco nodded. "I guess since we have... had sex, that I shouldn't be so prudish, but... "

Harry nodded, too. "That was out of necessity," he said understandingly. "The next time needs to be because we both want it, and are ready for that step in our relationship. Don't worry, love, I'll try not to rush you."

Draco's chest and throat grew tight. "Did you just call me... 'love'?" he asked, disbelievingly.

Harry's face grew red as he realised. It was no use denying it; he had. "Um... Do you mind?" he asked, somewhat fearfully.

The Slytherin shook his head 'no', eyes wide as he looked at the other young man.

Tension grew with the silence, and Harry did the only thing he could think of that would break it; he gently drew the blond to him, and kissed him. He was relieved to feel Draco relax against him, and kiss him back. They were soft, almost closed-mouth kisses, but sweeter for all that, at this time.

They undressed, backs to each other, as much as they each wanted to look, and climbed into the bed. There was plenty of room between them, if they wished to have it so.



"Can I cuddle with you?"

Draco froze, undecided. Finally he let his body make the decision, and wound up with his back to the Gryffindor, Harry's arms wrapped loosely around him.

"Good night, Draco," Harry said softly.

"Good night, love," Draco sleepily replied.


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