As I stare ahead a dream ahead
Across the ocean
Cross an ocean where there’s nothing to explain
You tell me God is dancing in the rain
It was stormy from the start
You were raining in my heart
Like a thousand tears of laughter
It was easy to ignore
Everything that came before
In the hope of something after
The rain had lasted three months and 28 days.
Harry knew this because it had started raining the day Hermione first held hands with Draco Malfoy.
Of course, this was purely coincidence.
Dully, Harry stared out the window at the bleak day around them. “I wanted to play,” he said irritably. “They never cancel Quidditch matches. Why start now just because of a little rain?”
“A little rain?” Draco Malfoy rolled his eyes. “A little rain, Potter? The worst storm in twenty-five years and you call it a little rain?”
“Harry.” Draco’s voice was gently didactic, a parent lessoning a three-year-old. Harry looked up at him. “Have you seen the Quidditch pitch today?” Draco demanded. Harry shook his head. “It’s flooded.”
“So? So we’re on a bloody mountain. The water is supposed to run off and yet it can’t because the water has nowhere to go, because it hasn’t stopped raining in ages and—”
“I know this already,” Harry interrupted sulkily, rising from the window seat and moving to pace the alcove of the library where the two of them had camped out. “I know it’s a flood, I know it hasn’t stopped raining, I’m not blind. But during Quidditch we’ll be in the air. Who cares if the ground is wet? If you fell off your broom you’d probably just make a big splash and float to safety.”
Draco looked at him, raised his eyebrows, and snickered. Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re such a moron, Potter,” Draco laughed, thwacking him lightly upside the head. “You’d be sitting on the Titanic saying, ‘Draco, why are you running for the lifeboats?—there’s still a whole deck afloat! Let’s play Exploding Snap.’”
Harry laughed in spite of himself and swatted back at him. “Would not.”
“How do you even know about the Titanic, anyway?”
“You don’t think ships that big just up and careen into icebergs miles wide, do you? Pureblood wizards sank it, of course.” Draco ducked under the reach of Harry’s arm and grappled him around the waist. “Good move of them, if I say so. Get thousands of Muggles out in the middle of the ocean and then eliminate them in a single blow.”
“Christ, Malfoy, you’re such a—oomph—hey, let go—” Harry tussled and could not get free. “Narrow-minded git.”
“Lousy comeback,” Draco said smugly, holding him by the arms. “Admit it. You’re relieved they cancelled the match because you know that I’d kick your scrawny arse all over the pitch.”
“In hell, Malfoy.” Harry shoved back against him, and Draco lost his balance. Instead of letting Harry go, however, he clutched him for equilibrium, and they wrestled for a moment before Draco toppled backwards into the nearest chair, giving Harry a shove as he did so and sending Harry sprawling forward into the study table, knocking books in all directions.
Harry righted himself, supremely indignant, caught his breath, and turned around to see Draco laughing at him silently.
“If you two are quite done, need I remind you that this is a library, not an episode of Gladiators?”
“Uh-oh, Malfoy, your girlfriend’s not happy with you.”
“Hey, Potter, your big sister’s going to ground you.”
Hermione leaned against the nearest bookcase, looking at them in exasperation. “Honestly, you two make the Weasley twins look docile.”
Harry shot a grin at Draco at this, but Draco was glaring at Hermione. “You didn’t have to compare me to a band of ruffians,” he said petulantly. “Honestly,” he said, in a perfect mockery of Hermione’s tone, “was that really necessary?”
Hermione grinned cheekily at him. The grin only grew more smug as Draco rose and crossed to her. “You know as well as I do that the Weasleys are a fine—” She was cut off as Draco kissed her lightly on the lips. “—Respectable sort of—” another peck – “family—mmm,” and she let him kiss her in earnest, winding her arms around his waist as he trailed his fingers through her hair.
Harry sat down in his original chair and looked out the window again. The rain came in droves, smattering the dust-streaked window with ugly rivers of mud; it was so torrential he could barely see past the pane itself. No matter what Draco thought, he was sure it would have been okay for flying. Maybe he would go out later that day anyway, just to get out. Sod the rain. Maybe he could get Draco to go with him, maybe the two of them could go flying together. That would be more fun anyway.
Sod the rain. Sod everything.
A lot of people thought that Voldemort had caused the rain; that since the Dark Lord’s ascension, he had somehow found a way to enchant the sky so that the rains came without ceasing. Hermione had gone on at length about how it was really all due to a strange weather phenomenon in the south seas, and about global warming and other things Draco understood perfectly well, but let her ramble on about just to make her feel like an equal and not the intellectual inferior that she ultimately, as a Mudblood, was.
Privately, though, Draco wondered if perhaps it wasn’t true—if perhaps Voldemort weren’t using this trick as a way to demoralize Dumbledore’s band of resistance. Certainly the rain fell nowhere worse than at Hogwarts; mealtimes were so dismal with the constant gloomy, overcast lighting that for the first time in the school’s history the enchantment had been taken off the ceiling and regular, more cheerful candelabras put in its place. Dumbledore walked with a slight limp, and remarked cheerfully that he had an old war wound which ached when it rained. But for this limp he seemed to be in perfect health; still, Draco’s mind wandered more than he would like in his classes, especially the ones he had with Gryffindor.
From far away he heard Hermione speaking, but he didn’t register that anyone was speaking to him until Draco’s voice jolted him out of his reverie. “Potter,” he said sharply. “Wake up.”
Harry looked over at him and blinked. “I am, Malfoy,” he said languidly. “I’m wide awake.”
“Do I seem distracted to you lately?” he asked Harry one day while they cleaned their broomsticks. Since the rain had driven everyone inside, one end of the Owlery was being used as a makeshift broom shed. Care of Magical Creatures took place there now as well, much to Draco’s chagrin; Harry liked to mock him mercilessly for his aversion to the place. Draco complained that since the owls had been confined to half their normal living space, they made twice the mess. With the help of several very strong deodorizing charms, the stench was greatly diminished, but it was still enough to turn his nose whenever they entered the room.
He wrinkled it now and tried to focus on polishing his broom handle. He and Harry were sitting side-by-side on one of the benches, with the polish in between them. He felt Harry’s eyes on him. “No,” said Harry after a moment. “Not any more than before, when you were always looking for an excuse to attack me and Ron and Hermione—always watching us out of the corner of your eyes, that sort of thing. Other than that…”
Draco looked up and grinned at him. “Who says I’m not still looking for an excuse to attack Weasley?”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Why not?” Draco shrugged. “Would you stop me?”
Harry looked down and frowned at his broom.
“So show some bloody sign of life when you’re spoken to.”
Draco always spoke insolently, to everyone, but whenever he spoke to Harry, his tone was generally laced with amusement. Harry found it hard to look back and believe there had ever been a time when he had taken Malfoy and all of his theatrics seriously. Of course, he found it hard to look back and believe they had ever become friends at all, least of all what he would reasonably call close friends. He also found it hard to look back and believe that Hermione had actually asked Draco to the Valentine’s ball.
“Sorry, I was just letting you two have your moment of bonding,” Harry scoffed. He bent to gather the books scattered on the floor. “What were you saying?”
In a rare moment of selflessness, Draco bent beside him and helped him put their books away. Harry looked up at him in surprise. “Hermione was saying the three of us should go down to the Herbology greenhouse to check the rain gauge.”
“Oh.” Harry reached underneath Draco’s leg where he squatted to fish for a pencil that had rolled away from him. Draco moved obligingly out of the way. “No, I don’t think so. Not right now. I mean—you two go on ahead, I’ll…” he trailed off. “I’ll just be here.”
Draco eyed him curiously, then shrugged and gave him a pat on the back. “Whatever, Potter,” he said. “Suit yourself.” Harry shoved the pencil into his knapsack. Draco tousled Harry’s hair as if he were a small child, before he slung his satchel onto his shoulder and rose gracefully, his long legs like stilts. He stepped towards Hermione, who gave Harry a last look and a parting farewell as Draco took her hand. She linked her fingers with his and they left.
And Harry hadn’t remembered to mention flying later. Dammit.
“Remember how upset he was when you sat with us that first day?”
Draco smirked, but his voice was pleasant. It was one of his fondest memories, really—Hermione shocking all of Gryffindor by sitting with the Slytherins, only to have Harry, a few days later, stun the whole school by joining them and sitting across from Draco. Weasley had marched over to the table and demanded that Harry get up, but Harry, fixing his eyes on Draco, had replied with the quiet resolve he was famous for, that he’d made his decision and that Ron was making them all look bad. Weasley had caused a royal scene, then sulked back to his table, threatening to stop speaking to both of them. He had at first ignored them studiously, instead falling in with the Irish chap, Finnigan, and that other quieter fellow he always hung out with. After a few weeks they were on speaking terms again, but it had never quite been the same between the three of them.
What Draco found most interesting—and most rueful—was that Weasley’s anger seemed to be directed most at Harry, even though it was Hermione who had originally asked Draco out; even though it was Hermione who had been his girlfriend for months. Weasleys were a jealous bunch by nature; the fact that he was more worried about losing Harry’s friendship to Draco than at being angry at Hermione for getting involved with him in the first place spoke volumes about the boy’s level of insecurity. Secretly, Draco was very gratified in knowing that Harry had chosen him over the Weasel. He’d never said it, and he never would; but he didn’t have to—it was evident in the way his eyes always came to rest now on Draco as he entered a room. Before it would be Ron he would seek out, sharing some private joke in the space of a single silent glance between them.
Now he was the one on the inside of the joke, and he was the one Harry looked at.
The rain stung their faces, and the wind was so strong it nearly knocked Harry’s glasses off several times, until he had to enchant them to stay on his face. He could barely see anything more than a few feet in front of him, but somehow he always knew where Draco was, even when he was hundreds of feet away from him. His shape was a grey blur against an even greyer backdrop of clouds. Harry had an urge to fly after him and stick close in case Draco’s hold on his broom became too uncertain, as his own threatened to do because he had neglected to use a gripping charm.
He resisted it, however, because it was after all the Snitch he was trained to keep his eyes on.
Somehow Harry managed to make his shrug appear less awkward than dignified. “He knew we couldn’t all keep fighting forever.”
“Au contraire, he still does a nice impression of knowing nothing of the sort.”
“And you don’t?” Harry looked up at Draco so directly then Draco almost thought he was angry, and got one of those exclusive-to-Harry jolts of dread in the back of his stomach. A second later, though, he looked away and reached for the broom polish, and Draco realised he wasn’t angry, but just very thoughtful.
“It’s mutual, is all I’m saying,” he replied.
“All I’m saying is if you can get over hating me you can get over this thing with Ron.”
“I never—” Draco cut himself off and scrubbed his broom handle vigorously. “It’s just different with him, it’s not just me and Weasley, it’s our whole families.”
“And your father doesn’t hate me any less?” They were both looking down, and Draco’s hand hurt from the force he was applying to the broom.
“I—it just—” Draco knew he had been tripped up, and so he took a deep breath and said forcefully, “I don’t give a damn what my father thinks, but when you’ve been brought up to hate someone it’s hard to just stop.”
Harry looked up at him again, and rested his broom beside him on the bench. “I thought—weren’t you brought up to hate me?”
Draco met his eyes. “No,” he smiled a little ruefully. “I liked you the first time we met.”
“Until you found out who I was.”
“No,” Draco smiled. “I liked you then.”
Harry couldn’t read. The rain was too loud. It pummelled the windowpane with the staccato of a rapid-fire rifle, and even though he knew he could charm the room so that he had all the silence he needed, he somehow felt it would be cheating. Perhaps Lord Voldemort had used magic to tamper with the weather. Harry Potter would not.
He went constantly to the window and stared out, in the incessantly futile hope that the rain had cleared up. He only ever went outside anymore to fly, and the only other person he had seen outside was Draco, when they were flying together. He wasn’t expecting to see a figure, brown hair unmistakable even though it was matted to her scalp from the downpour, standing outside in the middle of the rain, looking, even from seven floors up, more lost than Harry had ever seen her.
“Why else do you think I went to the trouble to steal you away from Weasley?”
Harry started. “Steal me away?”
Draco smirked, and reached over and pinched his cheek. “Figure of speech, Potter.”
Harry responded by cuffing him lightly on the side of the head, fingers catching in his hair. Draco shrieked ungallantly.
“You pulled my hair.”
“I did not, you twit.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you are utterly uncouth?”
“Has anyone ever told you you’re a priss?”
“I’m an English aristocrat; we’re supposed to be prissy.”
“That’s a stupid rule.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is.” Harry was grinning at him. “I’m not poor, but you don’t see me running around fussing about my hair and buying tailored robes.”
“That’s because you, Potter, are a freak of nature.” Draco grinned at him smugly, and Harry punched his arm. Draco recoiled and pouted and promptly shoved him off the bench. Harry landed with a satisfying plop on the floor, and in the process knocked his glasses to the floor. Draco stood over him with his hands over his hips, smirking.
“You look like Yul Brynner,” mumbled Harry.
“Nevermind. Hand me my glasses.”
“You’re not very good at pretending to be upset,” remarked Draco, kneeling beside Harry. He fished Harry’s glasses out from under the bench and then dangled them just out of Harry’s reach.
Harry made a half-hearted swipe at them. “Well, some of us aren’t as good as you at the whole ice-queen thing.”
“Excuse me? Did you just call me an ice-queen?” Draco stiffened in what he hoped was an expression of towering rage. Harry snickered.
“Very funny for a poncy Gryffindor,” Draco murmured, and he unfolded Harry’s glasses and placed them carefully back on his face, tucking the frames over his ears. Harry looked at him, a strange, intense sort of look. Draco returned it because he couldn’t think of anything else to do.
“Shit or get off the pot,” Harry murmured a moment later.
“So what happened?”
Draco shrugged elegantly, and Harry really wanted to punch him. “I said something I shouldn’t have said.”
“Malfoy, you can’t take a breath without saying something offensive.”
“Well, this was very offensive, then.”
Harry waited. Draco said nothing more. Harry sighed and turned away in exasperation.
“It doesn’t matter,” Draco said pointedly.
“You didn’t really answer my question.”
Harry stared at Draco, who turned and stared out the window at the rain.
Draco’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I said, ‘get off me, you bloody sod.’”
Draco laughed and stood, extending a hand to help Harry to his feet. Harry was halfway off the ground but took it anyway. Draco pulled him up and brushed off the dust clinging to Harry’s back before knocking the dirt from his own knees. “So,” he said, his voice measured, “was that a ‘yes, I’m distracted,’ or a, ‘no, I don’t know what you’re talking about, you bloody git’?”
Harry looked slightly disoriented. His eyes had gone unfocused between Draco’s eyebrows. “What?” he asked.
Draco shrugged. “Nothing.”
“Draco.” Draco’s gaze sharpened. “How long have you been with Hermione?”
“Four months,” Draco said, after counting them up.
Harry considered. “Wow. Does it feel like a long time?”
After a moment Draco answered, “Longer than four months, I guess.”
Harry thought about this. “Do you love her?”
Draco grabbed his broom and ran the polish-free side of his cloth over the end of it, satisfied with its new dull shimmer. “Let’s put these away before somebody’s owl flies over our heads and sprays them with bird-droppings.”
“I don’t want to,” Harry said firmly. “I’m going to go flying.”
“I won’t be if you’ll come with me. Then we’ll just be two people tired of being cooped up indoors the whole time.”
“I’m not coming with you,” Draco pouted. “I’ll get wet.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” Harry said pointedly.
“This isn’t fair, Potter.”
“Fair is for Hufflepuffs,” said Harry.
Draco was drenched. He was also angry.
“How fucking long have you been out here, Potter?”
Harry shrugged. Draco grabbed him by his shirt collar and hoisted him forward, nearly off the ground, his grip was so strong—unexpected for such a lightweight. “Don’t shrug your shoulders at me, either!” he spat. “You’ve got to stop this, Harry. It’s pointless and stupid and you’re worrying everyone.”
He tried to wrench himself away, but he only succeeded in taking Draco with him, still grappling his shirtfront. “I just want to fly!” he yelled into Draco’s face, screaming because even at that volume his words were almost lost, swallowed up by the noise of the rain around them. “That’s all I want to do anymore and I don’t care what the rest of you do, I’m not going to be stopped just because of the rain!”
“You could get killed!”
“The fuck do you care?” Harry retorted, and Draco’s grip changed, just like that, in one flicker of his eyes, and Harry suddenly realised that Draco wasn’t going to let go.
“Something tells me I shouldn't have done that,” said Harry, his breath hitching in his chest.
“No,” said Draco in a broken voice. “No, you really shouldn't.”
And he leaned forward and did it again before Harry could stop him.
“Why won’t you tell me what happened?”
“Because, really, Harry, you don’t need to know. At least not from me.”
“So it’s okay if Draco tells me?” Harry frowned. “Why do you just assume I’ll ask him anyway?”
“Because I know you,” she said ungently. “You can ask him, I don’t care. Just… look, maybe you should go see how he’s doing.”
Harry stared. “Hermione, are you sure that’s such a good idea?”
Hermione looked up at him, and he recognised something he had never, ever dreamed he would see in her expression: hostility.
“Yes,” she said curtly. “I’m sure.”
Harry swallowed. “All right,” he said unevenly. “Uh, where is he?”
Hermione shrugged. “Probably outside flying.”
“In the rain?” Harry said, before he could help himself.
Hermione glared at him.
“This has to stop,” Draco said in little more than a whisper.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked him.
“I mean this—the hiding.”
“But—but we can't stop hiding,” Harry said blankly. “Every—Everyone would know!”
Draco looked at him. Drops of water still clung to his black head. The shirt he wore was soaked through and through, and stuck to his back, but he never seemed to care, and Draco realised that Harry didn’t care because Harry was in love with him.
He wrapped his arms around Harry and shivered as the cold fabric met his skin.
“I love you,” he whispered.
Harry rested his forehead against Draco’s and nodded. “I know,” he said.
“One of you had better tell me,” Ron said.
Hermione looked away out the window.
Harry looked down, then up at Ron’s face, at the lines of uncertainty etched around his mouth and across his forehead. “It’s nothing serious, Ron. Hermione’s got a date for the ball, is all.”
Ron blanched. “Oh,” he said, and after a moment, “Is that all.”
Hermione lifted her head and said in a calmer voice than even Harry had ever heard her use, “It’s Draco Malfoy.”
A loud peal of thunder cut off Ron’s exclamation.
Draco had wanted just once to be uncatchable. He had thought that he could fly high enough to be invisible, beyond the lowest cloudbank. But the electricity in the air as he circled higher was too much for him, and inevitably when the lightning started he had to return. When he did he met Harry, the rain coursing over his cheeks and dripping from his chin. Water pooled in his hair and blurred his eyes into smears of green behind his glasses. Before he could say a word Harry had reached out and swung his leg over Draco’s own broomstick, straddling them both and facing Draco.
“Why won’t one of you tell me what the fuck happened if you’re both so upset?”
“Because you don’t need to know.”
“Why do I think that’s a lie?”
“Because you’ve never been one for accepting the truth when it’s right in front of you.”
“Fuck you, Malfoy,” said Harry, and he leaned forward and violently yanked Draco’s hand off the broomstick, nearly unseating him and causing him to need to grip Harry’s thigh, hard, with his other hand for support. Draco looked into Harry’s face, alarmed and enraged, and clenched his hand into a fist inside of Harry’s grasp. Harry shivered, and he leaned forward and slowly released him. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, but the words were almost lost in the hiss of the wind around them.
Draco moved his hand up over the side of Harry’s cheek, brushing the hair out of his unfocused gaze, so that he could have a passing chance at seeing what was before him. “She was upset because she claimed that I spent all my time with you,” he said calmly. “I reacted defensively, and said that the only reason she had asked me out in the first place was because I was the next best thing to having you.”
Harry said, “Oh.”
“And she responded that people often accused others of what they themselves were guilty of.”
Draco swung his leg over the other side of Harry’s broomstick. Draco leaned forward, and Harry’s mouth was cool under his own, cool with rain and deliciously warm on the inside. He felt the two of them floating upwards together, higher and higher in the air, until he could not tell whether he was breathless from thinning oxygen or from Harry’s breath stealing his own.
They rose, and he rose with Harry’s kisses, and he leaned back, tucking his feet beneath the broomstick handle, and resting his head on his thumbs as they gripped the end. The rain tickled his chest until it was indecipherable from the flicks of Harry’s tongue, until his own moans and the sound of the rain on his skin were one and the same.
Harry looked up just as they topped the cloudbank, and Draco would never know whether it was the sight of Harry’s eyes sparkling at him over the frames of his glasses, or the first glimpse he had had of the sun in months, setting over the cloud-tipped horizon, that sent him over the edge.
Almost a year earlier, a few weeks before they played again in the Quidditch cup final, the last Gryffindor/Slytherin match of the season had taken place. Harry had pulled off what was widely believed to be the most breathtaking Wronski Feint that had ever been attempted on the Hogwarts pitch; the only problem was that Draco had not been fooled by it—not even remotely.
The sun had been out that day, glaring over the pitch and blinding them both. They had been flying side by side, silently scouting the field in that strange combination of resentment and gratitude for each other’s company that Harry had come to associate with mutual respect. Draco had, for one abrupt moment, taken his eyes off the air around them and rested them on Harry. Harry had never known why. He had only been able to look back for a little bit, and then, in his haste to look somewhere else, he had looked down and abruptly decided to execute a feint. It was undoubtedly his distraction that made his dive so dramatic—he didn’t even realise that Draco was nowhere near his side until he was plummeting to earth too fast to pull out before seeing the dive through; but nothing was quite as dramatic as pulling out a heady moment later to see Draco still hundreds of feet above him, holding the Golden Snitch in his hand as casually as if it had just flown into it.
And Draco had looked down at him from that great height, and he had smiled. It was not a smile of triumph, or the gloating smirk he was used to. The white flash of his teeth was the only unforgettable look he had ever given Harry. He had been silhouetted against the sky, so that it hurt Harry to look at his outline against the burnished sun. And in that moment Harry had somehow known that when the next year came, they would not fight.
He had been right. They had not fought. And he supposed he would never quite get over the shock of it.