“Why does <i>he</i> get a Patronus Ceremony? We never got a Patronus Ceremony!” Ron Weasley snorted as he threw a dirty look at the Slytherin table.
Hermione Granger rolled her eyes at him as she reached for a plate of bacon. “Because he’s following wizarding tradition instead of joining the DA like everyone else.”
Harry Potter’s eyes were riveted on the Slytherin table instead of on his breakfast. Draco Malfoy was smirking and deliberately not looking at the Gryffindor table. He wore sleeveless robes fashioned out of silver fur and a wreath of holly around his head.
“Anyway, if we hadn’t been allowed to retake our seventh year this wouldn’t be happening here anyway,” Harry Potter pointed out, but it was obvious to the others he was annoyed as well by the growl in his voice.
“Oh for pity’s sake, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Hermione hissed.
“And miss Malfoy dancing naked around a fire?” Ron asked her, his eyes wide.
“You must be joking!” Harry laughed. “Does he really have to do that?”
They watched as Pansy Parkinson gave Draco a small green box with a silver bow on it.
Draco’s smile was forced, but he accepted it graciously.
“I almost feel sorry for her.” Hermione shook her head and pursed her lips.
“Can’t she take the hint that they’re broken up?” Ron chuckled.
“She’s a pure blood and it’s his Day of Ascension,” Hermione snapped. “Of course she has a gift for him. They probably all do.”
Draco opened the small box and lifted out what looked like a bit of bone on the end of a leather thong. The other Slytherins crowded around and started murmuring their approval.
“What’s that?” Ron squinted at the pendant as Draco tied it around his neck.
“It’s a piece of antler, probably dipped in some sort of prophetic potion,” Hermione shrugged as she smeared some marmalade on a piece of toast.
“Draco’s a seer?” Harry frowned. This was news to him.
“Prophetic potions can enhance the powers of a seer, but they tend to just ‘open the third eye’ of non-seers, if you believe that sort of thing.” Hermione sniffed.
“What’s the ‘third eye’?” Ron asked, curiously as he speared a sausage on his fork.
“It’s supposedly where seers get their sight from.” Hermione snorted. “Nothing’s ever been proven. For the most part it’ll just make him loopy.”
Another girl, a dark haired second year, passed him a blue box with a pink ribbon. Draco opened it and his face lit up. He reached into the box and pulled out a Dirigible plum and held it up. The other Slytherins oohed and aahed as he took a bite and smiled as he chewed the bitter fruit.
“Good thing this is happening on a Saturday,” Harry chortled. “If that bone doesn’t make him loopy, eating that thing will.”
Draco sat at the Slytherin table smiling pleasantly as he took another box from another Slytherin girl, this time a curly-haired fair thing in her fourth year.
He opened the box to see a small bottle filled with a gold swirling liquid inside.
“Is this what I think it is?” Draco breathed.
“Felix Felicis!” The girl nodded, her pale blonde hair bobbing around her face. “A gift from my father, of course.”
“Of course.” Draco inclined his head slightly. He removed it from the box and cracked the red wax around the seal on the top of the glass bottle. He carefully unstoppered it and took a small sip. “I’ll be sure to write him tomorrow telling him all about this most special of days.”
The girl beamed and Draco made a mental note to find out who her father was by tomorrow.
“And then he just took a bite out of it!” Ron Weasley was rather animated when retelling the story of breakfast to Luna Lovegood as they stood in a hallway with Hermione and Harry. “Right there!”
“Where should have he have eaten it?” Luna looked puzzled.
“Well, it’s not like they’re a common thing around here, are they?” Ron huffed.
Harry coughed. He immediately saw where this was going.
“I have some.” Luna looked at Ron thoughtfully. “Is it that you want some for your own? I can give you some?”
“What?!” Ron spluttered. “How did you get them? Did you smuggle them into the school?”
“They’re not a controlled substance, Ron!” Hermione said sharply. “They’re fairly common in healing potions because of their pain blocking capabilities. I’m sure Luna uses them in her Healing classes.”
“Oh, no. I mean, I do use them in Healing, but they’re my favorite fruit! My father sends me a parcel every few weeks,” Luna said cheerfully.
“Her father has them in their front yard, mate,” Harry reminded Ron as Ron goggled at Luna.
“But—“ Ron looked at each of them as if he’d be able to read some answer in their expressions. “But if you eat too many you’ll go mad!”
“What?” Hermione snorted at him. “No you don’t. That’s why they’re in so many healing potions. Because you can give them to just about everyone.”
Ron looked bewildered. “Why would my mum lie to all of us?”
“To keep your brothers out of the Lovegood’s yard, no doubt,” Hermione said dryly.
“I usually have one as a night time snack, right before bedtime,” Luna said, sighing. “It makes it easier to fall asleep and I always have the nicest dreams.”
“I bet!” Harry chuckled.
Draco sat outside on the small hill overlooking the forbidden Forest. He felt more amazing than he had ever felt in his life. He was wearing the sacred garments, he had donned charms, taken potions, eaten the sacred fruit (something he had not been counting on), and now he felt prepared for the ceremony.
He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. A kaleidoscope of color and smell assaulted him.
He could smell the different types of trees! Which ones were green, which were blooming, which held fruit, and one that was sick and would die if something wasn’t done soon.
The grass under his fingers was healthy and he smelled a mouse nearby. It smelled grey and brown and like twitching things: he had no other words to describe what he was smelling.
He felt the sun beat down on him and he felt his skin absorbing its strength along with its warmth. The fur around the edge of his robes tickled his skin as it moved in the breeze and he felt one of the ivy leaves tapping his head gently as it caught the air.
He fought back the urge to leap along the hillside with glee. He felt euphoric, like everything was coming into place.
His family had not been prosecuted. Crabbe was dead and Goyle was in Azkaban so he need not worry about anyone watching his every move, ready to report him to a higher power that was out to get him.
For a moment he felt a bit of pity for Potter in their fifth year at Hogwarts.
He thought about a lot of things these days.
He shook his head, trying to get the dark thoughts out. This was supposed to be a day of celebration. Of his ascension into manhood. Such thoughts were certainly not allowed on a day like today.
Unfortunately, the thoughts kept nagging him and he frowned. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and looked at the school grounds around him. The colors were even more vibrant than he remembered a moment ago and he blinked in surprise.
The answer was so simple! Why had he not thought of it before?
He would just simply have to apologize to Potter, and he might as well do it now so he could blame it on the ceremonial aids if it all went wrong!
Draco rose to his feet and took in a deep breath. He could feel the tendrils of air swirling in his lungs, rejuvenating him.
He let it out and started the climb back to the castle. He had to find Potter.
Harry was blustering down a hall, annoyed at what he had just seen in the Gryffindor common room.
Ginny had practically thrown herself at him in the Burrow, when she thought they were going to die. He had thought of her every night and he knew she had done the same, but after all was said and done; she had started dating Seamus when the smoke had cleared.
He knew he had to deal with it, but he didn’t feel he was obligated to stick around when they were snogging in the common room.
He rounded a corner, lost in thoughts of accidentally knocking a bludger into the Gryffindor stands during the next game, when a hand shot out of an empty classroom and pulled him inside.
He didn’t have time to panic before the door slammed shut and Harry found himself facing Draco.
“What are you playing at, Malfoy?” Harry asked, quickly checking to see if Draco was armed, but the blond boys’ wand was in a leather sheath by his side.
“I have to talk to you, Harry,” Draco said seriously.
Harry’s eyebrows went up in surprise at Draco’s use of his first name, but he said nothing.
“Today I become a man, and I’m supposed to put away all childish things,” Draco said quickly, as if he wanted to get it over with. “And that includes grudges. I’m sorry. For everything.”
Harry’s jaw dropped.
Then Draco hugged him suddenly.
Harry stood there, stunned, while Draco wrapped his arms tightly around the Gryffindor boy. Harry was so shocked, he did only what came naturally: he patted Draco on the back awkwardly.
This seemed to satisfy Draco, who smiled widely before clapping Harry on both shoulders roughly and turning on his heel.
As he strode out of the room Harry stood in the classroom feeling strange.
“There you are, Harry!” Luna called out as she trotted across the courtyard to meet him. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Really?” Harry asked cautiously. “Why?”
Luna smiled and pulled a purple velvet bag out of her robes. She opened it, reached in, fumbled a bit, and then pulled out two Dirigible plums. “You should eat these.”
“You know, Luna, I don’t know—“ Harry started.
“They’re part of the ceremony,” Luna explained. “Ron’s already eaten four.”
“Four?” Harry laughed.
“He didn’t expect them to be quite so delicious.” Luna smiled serenely.
“Well, in that case.” Harry sighed as he took them from her.
He pulled the few leaves sprouting from the top of the plum off and tossed them on the ground. He bit into the small fruit and was pleasantly surprised by the tangy sweetness of the pulp.
“You don’t have to eat them both now. You should save the other one for later or if you run into someone who doesn’t have one.” Luna folded up the small bag and stuffed it back into her robes.
“Are these common in the ceremony?” Harry frowned. The Slytherins and Ron didn’t seem to act like it.
“They used to be, but there are less than six bushes left in Britain,” Luna explained. “Four are in our yard and a lot of people don’t really like talking to my father if they don’t have to.”
Harry inwardly winced at Luna’s knack for telling the truth.
“Well, thank you, Luna,” Harry said, pocketing the other fruit. “I’m sure it will come in handy.”
Draco wandered the dungeons of Hogwarts feeling quite content. Many of the other Slytherins had to adapt to the underground, but Draco had always felt quite cozy in the Slytherin Den.
<i>‘What, ho, Patronus garb?’ </i>A picture of a small, dark, 1920’s-looking wizard drinking tea exclaimed as Draco strode by. <i>‘Good luck, young Wizard!’</i>
A portrait of a gaggle of hags giggled as he passed.
<i>’Good wishes, young man!’</i> A portrait of a stern looking witch in a tall, pointed hat nodded at him as he strode around a corner, into a corridor with no paintings.
Draco had never truly explored down this way and there was no time like the present.
The hallway wound down into the earth, and Draco tried to open the first closed door he came to. It squeaked noisily and he walked into what looked like an old potion’s room. The cauldrons weren’t up to code anymore and the floor looked like part of the stone had actually been eaten away.
Draco snorted at a carving of what looked like a small dog in a desk in the back of the room. That type of nonsense wouldn’t be tolerated at Hogwarts these days.
He left the room and wandered deeper into the bowels of the castle.
Harry was sitting on the side of a hill, the wind whispering in his hair and his fingers curled in the grass. He took a deep breath and smelled the sunshine.
The world was full of wonderful new beginnings. The year was almost over and soon he would be out in the world. Voldemort was dead and it seemed like everything was back on track.
There was a niggling thought at the back of his head, though.
He tried to give it a little shake, as if the thought could be shooed away like a bee buzzing around his head, but the thought stayed.
He sighed as he opened his eyes and the sun momentarily made him squint.
He really should go find Draco.
Draco had found an abandoned staircase behind a statue of a gnome and decided to explore it. Unfortunately, it had been so long since the stairs had been used they had fallen into disrepair. Halfway down the narrow path, the ancient wood gave way and Draco fell through.
Draco stood up and brushed himself off. He hadn’t fallen far, but he couldn’t reach the top of the pit he’d fallen in.
“Bugger,” Draco muttered to himself as he looked around.
The area under the stairs was hollow and dark. He reached his hands out and felt along the walls for any type of hand hold, but although he could feel cracks under his exploring fingertips, none of them were deep enough for him to climb the wall.
He continued feeling, and to his surprise, he found what seemed to be an ancient archway. It was bricked over, but the arch was still prominent.
Draco screwed up his face for a moment before he remembered his wand. He pulled it out and started to perform a silent light spell when he heard approaching footsteps and muttering.
“Damn Malfoy,” Draco heard. “He could get lost down here.”
Draco still didn’t know who the speaker was, but he felt relieved to hear they were concerned about him.
“Down here!” Draco called out. “The stairs gave way, be careful!”
Draco watched as a light from above grew brighter as the wizard grew nearer to him. The speaker finally got near the edge of the hole and peered in.
“Potter?” Draco asked incredulously. Potter was the last person he’d think would be concerned about him.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked, looking somewhat alarmed.
“I’m fine,” Draco said, grinning at him.
Harry gave Draco a worried look. Draco had never done anything but scowl or smirk in his direction for years, and now he was grinning like a madman.
“I found something!” Draco gestured to the bricked up archway with his own wand, the end now lit like a torch.
Harry blinked. Draco was dusty, the wreath of ivy was askew, and he was examining old runes around a bricked up archway.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, poking around with that,” Harry said cautiously.
Draco brushed some dust from what looked like several runes intertwined in a pattern. “It says not to open before 1532. I think we’re safe.”
“Don’t you think we should get someone?” Harry asked as he transfigured part of the broken staircase into a ladder.
“Oh, come on, Potter,” Draco huffed. “We won’t even have to use magic. The mortar’s crumbling.”
Harry, wondering exactly why he was going along with this, decided Draco’s judgment was being affected by the bone charm around his neck.
However, if Draco <i>was</i> on the verge of discovering something historically important, Harry didn’t want to be known as the-Boy-Who-Toddled-Off-and-Let-Malfoy-Take-All-the-Credit.
Harry climbed down the ladder and cast a spell that created an orb of light that hovered over them.
Draco sheathed his wand and they started brushing and clawing at the crumbling wall. Harry felt bits of rock falling on the tops of his shoes and his fingers started getting tender from scrabbling at the rough stone when Draco let out a squeak of triumph.
“I felt this brick move!” Draco whispered excitedly as he pilled at a bit of broken stone.
Harry worked at removing the crumbling stone from around the brick while Draco pulled and after a bit of work, it finally gave way.
Harry floated the ball of light into the room and the boys both breathed in sharply at the sight of several skeletons laying on the floor, ancient robes rotting on their bare forms. Rows of cauldrons sat neatly on small fire pits set into the floor.
“At least Longbottom’s never killed anyone!” Draco breathed in sharply, his eyes wide at the walled up Potion’s
“The books are still open to the page they were working on!” Harry whispered excitedly. Hermione was going to be so jealous!
“I want to go in, but we’d better not,” Draco sighed in disappointment.
“Yea, we’d probably destroy something,” Harry admitted.
“I wonder if they’ll give us some sort of award for discovering something,” Draco said suddenly, sounding excited.
“You know, they might,” Harry admitted, chuckling to himself over the idea of he and Draco’s names on a plaque in the trophy room.
Draco felt full of air. He was having a great day. His Patronus Ceremony was tonight, he had found a secret room of some merit, he felt particularly cozy in this little cove underground (thanks to the plums and the charm), and, for the first time ever, he was enjoying Potter’s company.
Harry raised an eyebrow at Draco who had started looking at him funny. He had just opened his mouth to ask Draco if he was feeling well when the blond boy pounced.
Draco grabbed Harry’s wrists as he pounced, pulling Harry’s arms up and slamming him against the wall near the archway. Draco’s lips smashed against Harry’s roughly and Draco growled softly at Harry’s squeak of surprise.
Their lips parted and Draco looked into Harry’s green eyes.
“Why are you holding my hands?”
Of all the things Draco expected Harry to ask him, that wasn’t one.
“So you didn’t hex me,” Draco said. His hands were still around Harry’s wrists, pressing them into the rough, cold stone.
When Harry didn’t struggle, Draco leaned back in for another kiss, his lips parting slowly and his tongue exploring gently.
Harry parted his lips, his mind racing and his skin on fire. He had meant to resolve some of the animosity between he and Draco, maybe pull him out of a hole, but not make out with him.
He had never thought of him in that way. He had never thought of any bloke that way, but then again, he had never thought of any girl except for Ginny in that way and her kisses had never done this to him before.
Harry wanted to blame it on the plums, but he had a feeling that wasn’t it at all. Then a small, niggling voice at the back of his head reminded him he could analyze whenever he wanted, but he may only have one chance to make out with Draco.
Harry flicked his tongue into Draco’s mouth and he felt Draco gasp.
Draco pressed into Harry and Harry felt his eyelids flutter in his excitement. The feel of fur against him was decadent enough, but the feeling of Draco trailing kisses down his cheek and onto his neck was pushing his enhanced senses over the edge.
Draco pulled back and gave Harry a smug look as Harry tried to catch his breath, his heart pounding.
“Thanks for the rescue, Potter.” Draco released Harry’s hands and Harry found himself feeling very disappointed. “But I have to get ready for my ceremony.”
“What?” Harry asked, sounding desperate.
Draco started to climb the ladder Harry had transfigured and smirked down at him. “You <i>are</i> coming to the ceremony, aren’t you?”
“Like I’d miss seeing you dance naked around a bonfire?” Harry chortled.
Draco looked down at Harry and seemed to be thinking. “Like to see more later?”
Harry blushed furiously. “Maybe.”
“Then maybe I’ll be slipping away around ten o’clock.”
“Maybe I will too.” Harry said hoarsely.
“Well, then,” Draco said, climbing the ladder and pulling himself out of the hole. “I’ll see you then.”
Harry hoped Draco would still be wearing those fur robes. “See you then.”
Traditions Challenge – Birthday/Coming of Age
8th year Hogwarts, humor/sarcasm, UST, relationship beginning, kissing against wall