With their uniforms packed into Harry's locker, and their regular, non-itching trousers on their legs, Harry led Draco out of the brightly illuminated supermarket, across the parking-lot and over the small wooden barrier to the bus-stop. The early evening was quite warm. When the loud red bus rattled up to the small shelter, and they both climbed on and paid along with the other passengers, Draco felt his stomach do flip-flops. He really could not stand muggle vehicles. However, according to Harry, this was the only way that they were getting to this 'B&Q' and back with anything they bought along the way.
Draco doubted that very much. Harry most likely just wanted to torment him a little more.
They managed to get two seats together, despite the gaggly of children returning home from their first day back at school. Draco sat in the aisle seat, not wishing to get car-sick at watching the streets rolling by. Harry was staring out of the window, lost in a world of his own and tapping his forefinger on his knee ever-so-lightly. Draco watched Harry staring; what could the boy be thinking about? He had the world at his disposal, if he so chose it. He reached out with a finger and touched Harry's hand, causing the boy to flinch and spin around with widened eyes. "Sorry, Draco. Didn't mean to space out there"
Draco gave a soft, tired smile, "it's alright. It's been a long day for the both of us. The sooner we get back to your place the better"
Harry smiled brightly, "well we'll just a few of the tester pots for today and then paint patches on the walls and then you can decide for your final colour, okay?"
Draco nodded and shuffled a little closer, "you'll be alright. Just get an early night tonight. I'll stay with you" he added hastily at the white, panic-stricken expression. Harry looked relieved as he nodded and then nudged Draco's leg.
"This is our stop, come on let's go"
Draco obediently followed the brunette off of the bus and then followed him a step or two behind as Harry led him along to the large building with a huge, bright orange sign illuminating the front of the store. Draco, with his hands hanging limply from his thumbs in his back pocket, frowned up at the store. He wasn't too sure about it, the orange reminded him too much of the Weasley clan, however Harry seemed to know a lot about the place. And who was he to doubt Harry?
They inserted the store and after walking through a pair of shiny gates that opened all of their own accord -how did they do that? -Harry bent and grabbed a bright orange basket before turning to make sure that Draco was still behind him. He smiled and, despite the dark circles underneath his bright green eyes, Draco thought he looked beautiful.
The whole shop was brightly lit with florescent lights that made Draco's head ache. They walked past numerous aisles laden with various muggle items that Draco could barely name let alone understand the purpose of, mounted up on hundreds of sloping metal shelves. He felt the searing urge to turn and head straight back for the door, the only thing stopping him was that he had no idea where they actually were. He would not be able to return home safely without drawing unnecessary attention to himself.
So he stayed.
He followed Harry down at aisle with the word 'PAINT' hanging on a sign overhead. Draco frowned and almost knocked Harry into the mounted wall that held. what looked like, hundreds of colour strips on thin pieces of glossy paper. Draco was mildly impressed, if anything, as he gazed on at all the yellows, reds and blues. Harry grinned at his slack-jawed expression, "so which colour did you have in mind?" he asked.
Draco dumbly shook his head, "there are ... so many colours"
Harry laughed softly, "well there must be on brand of colour you like. We can branch out from there, if anything"
Draco licked his lips. His eyes flickered from one row of colours to the next -how were there so many shades? "Oh I'm not too sure. I've never -um -decorated my own room before"
Draco shook his head, feeling an embarrassed flush gradually grow up his next. "No, not once"
Instead of smirking and laughing at him, Harry merely grinned and stroked a finger down Draco's limp hand, "well then we need to change that for you, don't we?"
Draco gazed down into Harry's bright green eyes and felt his stomach release the anxiety he seemed to be feeding off. He smiled softly, "Harry? Why are you so nice to me all of the time? I haven't done the basic things in life -that you've done -why aren't you laughing at me over it all?"
"Why would I?"
Draco clenched his jaw, "please don't answer my question with another question" he sighed in an exasperated manner.
Harry's smile didn't falter, "Sorry" he grinned wider, "well alright if you want just grab one of each colour and then we can cancel out the awful ones when we get home"
Draco blanched, "how much are these all going to cost?"
Harry quirked an eyebrow but swallowed the obvious question. "Oh these colours strips are free. We don't need to pay. If anything we can just get some sand-paper and varnish for the floorboards"
Draco frowned, "so ... this wasn't a -wasted trip?"
Harry smiled and shook his head, "of course not. If anything the floors should be done first, that way when they're dry we can place sheets over them and then paint the walls"
Draco felt a weight lift from within his chest. "Alright then. Well if you want you can grab whatever you need for the floors and I'll grab ... as any of these as I can carry"
Harry laughed brightly, the sound making Draco's stomach jitter as a warmth spread through him. He inwardly cursed himself for allowing something so trivial as a laugh affect him so. And yet, he could do nothing but feel a tightening of his chest as he watched Harry casually walk to the end of the aisle and turn right. He returned his gaze to the wall of colours before him. He could not decide for the life of him. Everything at the manor had been dark colours; blacks, greys, greens and even the silver had looked dark. The only things that looked remotely light were the marble floors and fireplaces in each room. Other than that he had been surrounded by darkness.
Perhaps that was why he had secretly loved returning to Hogwarts; the bright, flickering torches, the many brightly coloured tapestries and especially the Great Hall with all the floating candles hovering about a meter over everyone's heads.
Perhaps that's why he adored Harry -because even though his own room was sparsely furnished with anything colourful, his personality was warm and bright enough to keep Draco feeling a little better about life.
He mentally kicked himself and started analyzing all of the colours before his eyes. They all looked so beautiful. How on earth was he able to decide on a single colour?
He grimaced at the multiple shades of orange, yellows and golds. They were vile. They just reminded him of the Weasley clan and Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. Well that was about a quarter of the colours ruled out completely. He felt a little better as he turned a critical eye to the remaining of the colours. Even though the numerous shades of green were calling out to him, he was debating on a colour-scheme change altogether. Perhaps a nice shade of blue or even a dark purple?
He opted so stick to a range of blues, green, and purples, and collected several armfuls of the various glossy strips.
"Are you ready?" called Harry's voice from further down the aisle. Draco turned to face him with a grin, "oh wow you are prepared aren't you?" the brunette teased softly and holding out the basket he had picked up from around the corner, for Draco to dump the glossy strips into.
The blond frowned, "I thought we didn't have to pay for them"
"We don't, it's just easier to carry"
Draco made an 'o' shape with his mouth and obediently followed Harry to the check-out tills. They were practically the same as the ones he had seen in Tesco's. He was almost Harry's shadow as the check-out girl rang-up the varnish and sand-paper. "That'll be eleven, ninety-seven, sir" came the girls' monotone voice as she continued to file her talon-like nails, not once looking up at Harry.
Draco clenched his jaw and felt irritation swirl through his head. Back at Hogwarts he would have demanded respect from this insolent woman. He couldn't do that now. If he did, Harry would most likely consider him as a nut-job.
As Harry dug around in his pocket for some spare change, the girl looked up and her eyes widened slightly in fascination of her latest customer. "Good afternoon, sir, is there anything else I can get for you? Perhaps some discount vouchers for next time?"
Harry shook his head, "just the varnish and sand-paper, thank you"
One of her eyebrows shot upwards, and her lips quirked into a smirk, as though she were about to start playing a game, "Oh, are you sure? We can get you a voucher for spending over twenty pounds"
Harry shook his head, "no, I've got what I came for, thanks. Can I just pay and go?"
The counter-girl looked rather put-out and her disappointed expression screamed volumes. And yet, Harry chose to ignore her immaturity in favour of watching Draco pack the bags at the end of the counter. Harry handed over a purple coloured note from his back pocket and was rewarded with a few silvery and goldish coins, that were no larger than a sickle and a strip of printed paper. Draco frowned but didn't say anything. He really needed to get the hang of muggle money. Once the two medium sized tins of 'Varnish' were loaded into the offensive orange bags, Draco hauled it off of the counter and waited for Harry to round the counter to join him.
The sky outside was still bright and refreshing as they walked along to the bus-stop, a bag in each hand. There was a small breeze that combed through Draco's hair and lifted his spirits as the offensive red bus trudged along the tarmac road. He loathed the journey home but he was beyond relieved when Harry slotted his key into the front door, only to find the bottom lock locked also. That meant that the Dursley's were officially out of the house -for now.
Harry stood aside for Draco to step through behind him. Draco closed the front door before Harry could stretch an arm out, and smiled softly as Harry led the way up the staircase to Harry's bedroom. Once inside, Harry closed the door and dropped the little cans of varnish onto the soft carpet off to one side of the bedroom door. Draco followed suit and was surprised when Harry suddenly pounced into the blond's arms. Draco was momentarily shocked as he drank in the situation of having Harry's face buried against his chest.
Finally he managed to regain control of his motor skills and slowly encircled his arms around the brunette boy. "What's with the impromptu hug, Scarhead?" Draco asked in a hushed voice as he rubbed a soothing circle at the base of Harry's spine.
Harry let out a small laugh and nodded his head, "I honestly could not have gotten through today if you had not been there with me"
Draco felt his fluttering heart swell with affection. He tightened his embrace and rested his head on top of Harry's. "You're welcome Harry. I'd help you in any way that I can"
Harry let out a heavy breath through parted lips. He did not know how to say the words that were tangled and tittering within the confines of his head. He tilted his head upwards and gnawed on his lower lip as he stared at the sharp contours of Draco's beautifully chiseled features. "Draco ... I-"
The two boys' flinched and jerked out of one another's arms as the resounding bang of the front door closing echoed throughout the house. Harry walked over to his bedroom door and opened it. He poked his head out and called down to his aunt, "Yes, aunt Petunia?"
"Just letting you know I'm home!" she called out, the rustling of plastic shopping bags joining the clicking of her heels on the kitchen tiles, "I'm going to start making dinner!"
"Okay!" he called back. His fingers itched suddenly. "Can Draco stay for dinner?"
"Is he here?"
"Yes he's helping me with the attic!"
"Oh that's good! I'll give you a call when dinner is ready!"
As he closed his bedroom door, Harry could not help but curse his awful luck. The thought of velvet soft pink lips upon his own had raced through his mind, and now all of a sudden the chance -the only chance he may have had -was gone. He clenched and unclenched his fists before reluctantly bending down to haul a varnish can in each hand. "I suppose we should head up then" he stated morosely to the ladder as he began to climb up the metal rungs, a perplexed and confused blond following suit in his wake.
To say that Draco was relieved when Harry's aunt called out for them to come downstairs for dinner, was an understatement. He was utterly exhausted and his poor hands were rubbed raw from the sandpaper. He'd gotten a few deep cuts where the paper had roughly grated through his skin. He desperately wished he had some of Severus' healing salve to apply to the wounds. Instead he had to settle for what Harry called 'a plaster'.
Bloody useless as far as he was concerned.
Although he would have much preferred several more of the agonising cuts compared to the bloodthirsty growls that he recieved from both Vernon and Dudley upon entering the kitchen behind Harry. Petunia scowled at her husband and son before placing a full plate in front of Harry and Draco, before serving herself and sitting down at the table.
"What is that toff doing here?" Vernon sneered across the table as he repeatedly stabbed his food with his fork. Draco frowned at the food -what on earth had it done to offend the man? But he stayed obediantly silent, not caring for a repeat of their last encounter, especially after such a long day.
"I invited him" Harry stated darkly as he glared up at his uncle through his long, curled black lashes.
Draco swallowed thickly, the food suddenly losing most of its flavour despite how desperately his stomach was crying out for the delicious meal.
"And who gave you permission to invite toff's over?" Vernon growled.
"I asked Aunt Petunia, and she said yes"
"You had no right!" he barked, smacking his fist upon the tabletop and glaring over at his wife. Draco peered up at Petunia, and had to give the woman credit; she was sitting straight-backed and primly cutting her food up and eating it in the calmest manner Draco thought only possible by his own mother.
Petunia regarded her husband cooly and delicately wiped her mouth, "I think you'll find that I can, Vernon. He is MY nephew NOT yours. If I give him permission then he has it"
"THIS IS MY HOUSE!"
"That you've used my inheritance to pay for. Therefore, I think you'll find that this is my house"
"Mum what's up with you? Since when do you care so much about that little freak and his queer friend?" Dudley grumbled as he shovelled food into his mouth.
"Don't you dare use that word, Dudley!" Petunia snapped, "or else I would have to share a few little home-truths about -someone" she ended with a pointed look over at Vernon, a sleek dark eyebrow raised, daring him to challenge her.
Dudley frowned up at his mum, for the first time that Draco knew him, he looked a little afraid at the implications of her words. "W-who do you mean?"
Petunia shook her head and waved her hand dismissively, "nothing. Just eat and leave the table"
Dudley frowned but did as he was told.
Draco returned his gaze to his plate. He really was not hungry anymore. He just wanted the floor to open up and swallow him whole. He glanced side-ways at Harry and could decipher that the pale brunette boy most likely felt the same way. He allowed his right hand to drift from his wown knee, and wander blindly through the empty space between them until he found Harry's thigh. He curled his hand over the tense muscle, images fluttering through his mind as he gave a soft, reassuring squeeze.
Harry started weakly out of his musings as Draco's hand curved on his thigh and gave a light squeeze, the pressure reassuring and also, dared he admit it, a little arousing also. However, with the murderous and tense silence hanging over the table, it was almost too easy for him to force said arousing feelings away. Harry finished as much of his food as he could, but the lump in his throat made it a little awkward for him to do so.
Once done he took both his and Draco's plate to the sink and then departed from the room without another word other than a small 'thanks' to his aunt.
Neither said a word as they climbed the narrow staircase to Harry's bedroom.
Severus ran a hand down his face as he gazed over the room into the crackling fire. A spy? Dumbledore wanted him to spy again? Of course, Lucius was not as mad as Voldemort had been, but he had banished his own son from the wizarding world -and family was supposedly the most important thing to a pureblood. Well, that and money.
He toyed with a small thread that was unravelling from his cuff. He needed to see Harry -or his aunt even. He needed to restore the woman's full memory, though his charm should be wearing off by now regardless. He pursed his lips in thought. He needed to talk to Petunia about everything -including Lucius. He needed to try and get the family out of the area.
He flexed his fingers.
But would Harry go? He doubted it highly. He closed his eyes and clicked his tongue in annoyance. He needed to discuss with Petunia the severity of Harry's suppressed magic. He needed to make sure that both boys would be safe and that they would leave the area a the drop of a hat if they needed to.
It would take a lot of planning.
The temperature dropped a little than evening.
Harry had to dig out two pairs of thick tracksuit bottoms for them to wear against the cold breeze that skirted over the carpets of the had had to turn away from Harry as they were dressing for fear of getting an erection over the deliately tanned contours of the younger boys' body. Harry was grateful for the privacy. He had not wanted to see Draco's beautifully chiseled form, as though the other being had stepped out of a Greek God tale. Once they were both dressed, Draco slipped into the bed and made sure that there was enough cover left over for Harry as the brunette slid inside beside him.
Both boys' were curled up, back-to-back, in Harry's single bed, the covers pulled taut around their bodies and the heat of their breathing warming their cocoon. Draco could not sleep. He didn't know why. He was warm, he was fed and every muscle in his body ached something awful, and yet sleep still evaded him.
He sighed and shifted for the umpteenth time in a matter of minutes.
"Draco?" came a soft whisper behind him. He stiffened awkwardly and swallowed.
"There's nothing wrong" he hissed a little too harshly. He immediately regretted it. "I just ... can't sleep" he added in a softer tone.
He felt the mattress dip and quake as Harry shifted onto his other side behind him. The soft breath on the nape of his neck sent warm shivers rippling down towards his belly. A soft hand hesitantly touched the base of his spine before sliding around to fully encircle his waist.
His breath hitched as Harry drew his body closer, his head of ruffled raven tresses nestling inbetween Draco's shoulder-blades.
"Harry?" Draco breathed out shakily, his voice barely a ghost of a whisper in the frigid air.
"Mmm?" came the sleepy response.
"Do you like me?"
"Course I do" the brunette mumbled through a low rumbling yawn.
Draco gave a weak smile, the nerves within him knotting and straining. He inhaled several times in a desperate bid to calm all the hectic scenario's that could take place as soon as the provoking words left his mouth. "That's good because ... I ..." he inhaled and exhaled again, this tim even slower. "I think I like you too ... more than a friend"
"Mhm" was all the response he recieved from the brunette snuggled up against his back. Draco inwardly scowled at himself. The little git had fallen asleep, right at the moment that he had been -confessing his feelings. How dare he!
"Shit!" he hissed out as he drew the cover's tighter around both of their bodies. His anger dissipitated a little was Harry nuzzled his back and cuddled him tighter, humming softly in his sleep.
"M love you," Harry slurred as he burrowed down deeper into the covers and laced his legs with Draco's.
Draco swallowed thickly as the words -so beautiful and innocent as they floated overhead like a dream come true -registered within his brain. He loved him? It wasn't possible -was it? Of course the little idiot was sound asleep and completely oblivious to what he was saying but the fact of the matter was this; he loved Draco! It was hardly concrete evidence or reassuring enough to lift Draco's dampening spirits but for tonight -tonight it would do.
He tightened his hold on Harry's arms and smoothed his fingers over the tanned ones looped around his waist. "Love you too" he breathed out softly.