HP fic: Building and Rebuilding [Draco/Harry, general]
Title: Building and Rebuilding Author: celandineb Fandom: HP Pairing: Draco/Harry Rating: general Length: 3200 words Summary: The Wizengamot has assigned Draco to help with the restoration of Hogwarts, a punishment that turns out to have some reward to it after all. Note: I try to follow Hobbit fashion and give a gift to others on my birthday. This is the result this year.
A gong's brassy note reverberated through the warm late afternoon air. Draco straightened his aching back, biting back a curse as a muscle spasmed painfully. An hour for dinner, and then he would be back to work again until the light failed.
The Wizengamot had assigned him to help with the restoration of Hogwarts. A number of the others were here for the same reason, but there were also some who had volunteered of their own accord. Draco wondered if they would have done so had they realized they would only be allowed to use the simplest spells – levitation charms and the like – and would mostly have to perform their labors Muggle-style. Any complex spell had the potential to interfere with both the magic already extant in the castle and that which the professors were adding to enhance stability and security in the future.
Draco headed inside with all the rest. The boys' lavatory was crowded with people, but he managed to push his way to a basin and wash the worst of the grime from his hands and face before going into the Great Hall.
The usual House tables had been replaced by a single long table for the duration. Students tended to clump by House nevertheless, with the professors scattered among them. The few Slytherins especially stuck together; all of them were working for the same reason Draco was, none as volunteers, although no one ever talked about why they were there. Tonight the only seat by the other Slytherins was opposite Harry Potter. Odd to have him sitting so close. Draco managed to ignore the Gryffindor as he sat and began to eat. Draco had been unable to look straight at Harry since his rescue from the Room of Requirement during the Battle of Hogwarts. Even when Harry had come to return Draco's wand, Draco had kept his eyes on Harry's shoes as he muttered his thanks.
He understood a great deal more now than he once had, but he still didn't understand what Harry was doing here. Harry was a hero of wizarding Britain, probably the whole wizarding world. He could do anything, go anywhere he wanted, at least until term started, so why had he chosen to spend his summer sweating away with Draco and the others being punished? Yes, there were other volunteers like Harry, and Draco didn't understand them either, but Harry's decision seemed especially strange. He could have gone to stay with the Weasel and his family, or at the old Black house, or just about anywhere else he wanted. It didn't make sense.
"Pass the potatoes, please."
Harry's request broke into Draco's thoughts. "What?"
"The potatoes, please," Harry repeated, holding out his hand.
Draco picked up the bowl and handed it over, keeping his gaze firmly on the table.
"And the salt and pepper. Please," Harry added.
Draco passed Harry those too. He kept his head bent over his plate, but stole a glance at Harry from under his lowered eyelids. Harry was regarding him steadily, an unreadable expression on his face. Draco took a bite of meat, then one of sprouts, pretending not to have noticed Harry's stare. At last Harry gave a tiny shrug and began to eat again.
As soon as he could, Draco left the table. There wasn't really time to go back to his room in Slytherin quarters before he would have to be back at the work site, so instead he wandered outside, around one of the greenhouses, and sat down, drawing his knees up and wrapping his arms around them. He closed his eyes. The gong would be rung again when it was time to go back to work, and he could hear it from here.
The memory of Harry staring at him from across the table made him shiver, despite the warmth of the summer air. Harry had looked as though he might have guessed Draco's secret, although Draco didn't know how. Surely anyone would have held Harry as tightly as Draco had when being rescued, and he had been so terrified that he hadn't had the physical reaction to Harry's closeness that he knew would otherwise have been the case.
His thoughts were interrupted by an unpleasant churr of laughter.
"Skiving off work?"
Pansy plunked herself down beside him, uninvited.
"No," said Draco coolly, "just waiting for the gong, as I assume you are too."
She scowled. "Can you believe these ridiculous conditions they have us working in? It's an insult to our abilities, and a waste of time to boot."
Draco let her complaints wash over him without really listening. He was trying to figure out a way that he could get himself assigned to a task where he could watch Harry without it being noticed. Ruefully he concluded that there was no way to manage it. Professor Vector was in charge of the construction site, and always assigned tasks fairly by ability, showing no favoritism.
The gong rang at last, interrupting Pansy's whining monologue.
"Come on." Draco rose to his feet. "We don't want to be late."
Lateness, absence, or poor work all resulted in loss of privileges such as going to Hogsmeade, as had been explained to them all from the first day they began.
For the post-dinner shift, both Draco and Pansy were assigned to a group that was jointly to levitate the enormous wall stones, holding them up while Professors Flitwick and McGonagall spelled them into their permanent places and applied the necessary protective charms. There were half a dozen others their age in the group, including Harry. Draco ironed all emotion from his expression as Harry took his place beside Draco.
"All together now. On three. One, two, three!" called Professor Flitwick.
"Petrum leviosa," the eight of them chanted, their wands moving in near unison.
The enormous stone rose slowly. Together McGonagall and Flitwick guided it into place.
"Finite incantatem." Draco ended the spell with a sigh of relief, and with his left hand tried to knead a knot from his right shoulder as he waited for the professors to finish their spell work. Magic at this level, moving such large objects even with the help of a group, was quite physically demanding.
"Cramp? Let me." Harry touched Draco's shoulder.
Draco jerked away reflexively. "I don't need your help, Potter."
He regretted it immediately. Not only because he would have enjoyed being touched by Harry, even with the risk of his body betraying him, but because Pansy came and without asking began to massage Draco's shoulder, saying, "I can do this for you, Draco darling."
Physical revulsion swept over Draco at Pansy's touch, but with an effort he controlled it. "Thank you, Pansy, but I don't need your help either," he said through gritted teeth, and stepped away from her clutching hands.
Glancing sideways, Draco saw Harry's mouth set in a thin line. For a moment pain reflected in Harry's face, but then he assumed a studiedly indifferent expression.
"Never mind, Malfoy."
Draco watched as Harry walked away, toward the cluster of other students. He supposed that he should say something conciliatory to Pansy; he wanted to run after Harry and apologize. He did neither one.
The next few days all followed the same pattern: get up, eat breakfast, work on repairs until lunch, eat lunch, enjoy an hour of free time, go back to work until dinner, eat dinner, work again after dinner until dusk, take a bath, collapse into bed. Several times he was assigned to work in a group with Harry, but neither of them spoke again to the other.
Draco was stiff and sore from the still-unaccustomed labor when he woke Sunday morning, and was glad to realize that there would be no work that day. Perhaps he would go to Hogsmeade in the afternoon. They wouldn't permit him into the Three Broomsticks, but there were other establishments where his Galleons would be welcome.
Accordingly after lunch he slipped his wand and a few coins into his pocket and set out. Not feeling like having to make conversation, he managed to avoid walking with any of the other Slytherins taking advantage of this opportunity.
So far this punishment hadn't been too bad, but Draco put no faith in the Wizengamot's promise that once he had completed this work, he would be treated like any other member of the wizarding community. That simply was not how the world operated, from Draco's observations. Nevertheless if he would be legally cleared, that was something. It would still be awkward staying in school another year, but he hadn't completed the seventh-year work or taken his N.E.W.T.s, and there were certainly a number of other students Draco's age who were in more or less the same position. Draco was curious to see how Professor McGonagall planned to organize their sleeping arrangements as well as their classes. Each House's area had fourteen dormitory rooms, for boys and girls in each year, so either they would have to double up somehow or the eighth-year students would have to be housed outside their Houses. There would be protests either way.
Thus musing, Draco arrived at Hogsmeade. The first shop he visited was Honeydukes, where he bought lavish amounts of sweets. After that he wondered around for a while before deciding to stop in at Madam Puddifoot's. It was too hot for tea, but he could order an ice cream there.
He shook his head at Blaise and Pansy when they waved at him to come sit at their table. If there was any chance that Pansy might transfer her unwanted affections from Draco to Blaise, he would do whatever he could to assist the process. He chose the smallest table, one for two people, putting his bag of sweets on one chair while he sat in the other, which faced the door. He was savoring a dish of vanilla ice cream when the bell on the door tinkled, and Harry walked in.
Hurriedly Draco returned his gaze to his dish, but he couldn't help noticing that Harry had seated himself at the next table, on the opposite side, from which he could easily see Draco in return.
Draco felt himself flush under Harry's direct, even questioning gaze, and took another bite of ice cream to cool the heat in his cheeks.
Harry placed his order for tea and scones. After the waitress had gone, he stood and brushed past Draco's table on his way to the back of the shop, presumably heading for the men's lavatory. After he had disappeared, Draco saw a scrap of folded parchment on the table next to his ice cream. He supposed it was nothing much, but curiosity made him unfold it.
I want to talk to you. Meet me tonight after dinner, down by the lake.
Mentally Draco gave Harry points for discretion. If he had come over to ask Draco in person, and Pansy had seen it, the gossip would never end. What could Harry want to talk about, though? He would have to go tonight as requested to find out, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to jump at Harry's bidding. On the other hand, he had nothing better to do, either.
When Harry returned and sat down again, Draco caught his eye and gave a single slow nod to indicate acceptance.
Harry flashed back a brief wide grin before straightening out his expression as the waitress arrived with his tea.
Draco had finished his ice cream. He paid, picked up his Honeydukes bag, and sauntered out. It was almost time to head back to Hogwarts.
At dinner he responded absentmindedly to the usual chatter. Harry was sitting nowhere near; Draco had spotted him at the far end of the table. After that he tried not to look Harry's way lest anyone remark upon it. The note hadn't said what time after dinner, so he assumed Harry meant immediately. He intended to eat quickly and arrive first, but became trapped in a conversation with Daphne Greengrass. When at last he managed to extricate himself, the house elves were already clearing up.
Draco didn't let himself hurry, however. He reasoned that if he looked as though he were merely out for a stroll, he would arouse less curiosity should anyone see him than if he were rushing and looked worried. Accordingly, he took a slow and somewhat roundabout route that put him out of view of the castle as much as possible and avoided the more popular areas of the grounds.
Harry was there when he arrived, seated crosslegged on the grass a few yards from the edge of the water. Draco bent down to pick up a couple of stones and sent them skipping across the placid surface before he went to sit by Harry. He spoke first, hoping to control the conversation.
"Why did you ask me here?"
The pink in Harry's face could have been a blush, but it might just have been an effect of the sinking sun, because he answered steadily, "To talk, as I said."
"So, talk." Draco emulated Harry, looking at the lake rather than the other boy.
"Why do you think I'm here?" Harry asked.
Draco cocked his head. "Because you asked me to come here. I don't know why you picked the lake as the spot to meet, other than that it's relatively private."
"No, not here right now. I mean here at Hogwarts, this summer," Harry clarified.
"I have no idea," said Draco. "Merlin knows I wouldn't be if I didn't have to be. Er. You didn't have anything better to do?"
Harry gave a gulping chuckle. "Not quite. I could've gone to the Weasleys' – they asked me – but with Fred dead... there was a bit of me that worried I'd either be in the way or end up being a kind of substitute for him, and I didn't want either of those things to happen. But I wanted to be with people, do something to take my mind off everything that happened last year, you know?"
"It doesn't seem to me that helping to rebuild Hogwarts would let you forget the battle," said Draco.
"Oddly enough, though, it does. Rebuilding lets me focus on the future instead of the past." Harry took a deep breath. "There was another reason, too."
Harry didn't answer directly. "You remember our sixth year?"
"Yes." Draco didn't say that he hated remembering it. It had been the worst year of his life, worse even than the past year had been.
"I was sure that you were up to no good," said Harry.
"Well, you were right." There was no point denying it. Draco kept his eyes on the lake, seeing tiny ripples where fish rose to feed.
"So, I don't know if you noticed, but I followed you a lot. I figured out that you must be using the Room of Requirement. I had no idea what you were up to; mostly I wanted to see if you'd taken the Dark Mark," said Harry.
"I hadn't, you know," Draco said. "That was supposed to be my reward, if I was successful in the task the Dark Lord had set me: I would be accepted as a full-fledged Death Eater."
"Are you sorry you failed?"
Draco sighed. "Sort of. I really didn't want to kill Professor Dumbledore, mind you, but I was ashamed of the failure. If that makes sense."
"Yeah, it does."
"What does all of that have to do with why you're working to restore Hogwarts, though?"
The sun had dropped behind the hills. Now the color in Harry's cheeks was clearly embarrassment. "Following you around all the time that year, trying to figure out what you were up to... um. You became important to me in other ways too."
Draco's blood raced. "What other ways?" he asked, hardly daring to hope that the answer would be what he longed to hear.
Again, Harry evaded an immediate answer. He turned his head and gave Draco a wry grin. "I'll be honest, I might not risk saying this if I didn't know that if you hexed me tonight, you'd get in trouble with the Wizengamot. But I've been watching you for a long time now, one way and another, and I'm tired of that. I want something else for both of us."
"What do you want then?" Draco held his breath, waiting for the reply.
"I want us to be friends... more than friends, actually, but it matters to me that we be friends too. Not just two blokes who find each other hot. You understand?"
Draco could have drowned in those eyes, green as the sea in the fading light. "Yes," he managed to say. "Yes. I'd like that, too."
They grinned at each other, one sort of tension dissolving, another beginning to take its place.
"Um. Just so you know," Harry said, "you're the first – the only – bloke I've ever fancied."
"I know you were going out with Ginny," Draco barely stopped himself from calling her "the Weaselette"; there was no sense in making Harry angry unnecessarily. Even if he'd broken up with her, he wouldn't appreciate that epithet.
"Yeah. I used to like Cho Chang, too," said Harry. "How about you? As I remember, you went to the Yule Ball with Pansy."
Draco bit his lip. "I did, but mostly because it seemed to be the thing to do. To tell the truth, I've never been very attracted to girls."
It felt good to be honest about that to Harry. He'd never told anyone before.
Harry's eyebrows rose until they disappeared under his messy fringe of dark hair. "Really?"
"Really." Draco squirmed a little. "My parents wouldn't exactly be happy if they found that out about me. Family's very important to both of them, carrying on the family line, that sort of thing."
"No kidding. Maybe this is one of the few times when it's not so bad not to have any family. I don't know how my parents would have felt." Harry shook his head. "That's depressing to think about. Anyhow. If you don't want your parents to find out...?"
He trailed off. Draco guessed what was likely bothering him.
"Just – for now – could we be discreet? I mean, about being anything more than friends. That's going to be hard enough for people to understand to begin with, if we become friends."
"True, given our history," agreed Harry. He reached out and took Draco's hand. "Only because nobody's here to see," he said quietly, with a glance around them, and leaned over to brush his lips against Draco's.
They were warm and soft, and Draco had to shut his eyes and remind himself fiercely that he was the one who wanted discretion, because he also wanted desperately to take hold of Harry and give way to the desires that had been tormenting him so long. He squeezed Harry's hand tightly and felt the pressure of Harry's fingers in return.
Perhaps this would work out between them, and perhaps not, in the long run. For now, Draco was simply happy to have this much. It was more than he had ever dared hope.