The A-To-B Line
by zahra

I. Not-So-Straight and Narrow

Harry doesn't think he's straight, but he doesn't necessarily think he's gay either. He just sort of is -- without the obligatory tags attached. Not that Harry thinks he's above being labeled, or even that he's above naming whatever category he falls into, but the whole category thing itself concerns him: why can't he just be whatever the hell he is without anybody needing to know?

Of course if he had had sex by now then he might not be so on the fence. Or maybe he's wrong. Maybe it has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with not deciding at all. It doesn't actually pain Harry to consider this, because he thinks about his sexuality so often that it's just a running commentary in his head. He's a sixteen year-old boy, and it's rather obvious, at least to him, that he appreciates people who are attractive regardless of gender or house affiliation.

Girls and boys have different bits, inside they're all the same, and Harry's likes them all -- in a less than platonic way.

He knows it started with Cho because she's a pretty girl, and only a blind man couldn't see that. She's bright and witty, and even though she's still in mourning over Cedric, Harry has to admit that there's something kind of hot about the whole depressed and wearing lots of black thing. Her hair shines and her smile is reserved, but his hormones don't really care about that. When Harry sees Cho on the field and in the halls, he has an overwhelming urge to snog her repeatedly and tell her to get over it. But that's kind of crass and cruel, and Harry's not that sort.

He just thinks it.

Of course Harry wants her to notice him, but he doesn't want to be her rebound guy. He's heard about what happens to them, and the last thing he needs is to be left high and dry after being used, abused and rather badly confused. At least that's what happened to Seamus after Parvati broke up with Terry Boot, and Harry would rather not have that happen to him.

But he still thinks she's hot.

Of course he sort of feels the same way about Ron, so there is that.

Harry's attraction to Ron doesn't compare to what he feels for Cho. It's like comparing Gryffindors and Slytherins.

Harry likes Cho because she's girlie and feminine, and Ron is a million things but Harry's not expecting Ron to stomp over to him anytime soon to inquire about nail varnish. Ron's charm comes from other things, and his hair glows even in the dimmest light. Sometimes Harry just wants to touch it, but based on the way that Ron continually moons over Hermione, Harry knows he can't possibly feel the same. Still, Harry thinks it might be nice if he did. They could really be happy, he and Ron. They're friends, and they're close, maybe not that close, but they have a connection, a symmetry, that he doesn't find everyday. They can anticipate what the other is thinking and what each is going to say before anyone's mouth opens. If nothing else Ron's family likes Harry and that has to count for something.

Harry's loathe to think of his life before Ron and Charlie and Percy and Bill and Fred and George, and he suspects that that might be part of Ron's appeal. Whatever feelings he has for Ron are sure to be tied up in his family structure. The Weasleys are something Harry's only recently begun to have, and he could do worse than being Harry Weasley Potter. Besides, anybody who dates Ron will have to be comfortable with his family; the Weasleys are too close to accept anybody whom they don't like. And at least Harry doesn't have to worry about Ron running off with someone like Pansy Parkinson because Mrs. Weasley would never stand for that.

All the same, while Harry may be ambivalent about his sexuality, he knows that Ron's not, so that doesn't really leave him anywhere. Naturally there's always Hermione to consider, but Harry gets the distinct impression that she's saving herself for someone who is certainly not him.

Even if that weren't the case, Harry doesn't think he could ever think of Hermione in that way. Not that he doesn't think she's pretty and smart and amazing, but he knows her well. Perhaps too well, and there are all these little habits that she has that he doesn't think he could deal with.

For starters she's just too focused, and Harry likes to have fun. Plus, the way she constantly has to be on top of everything tends to drive Harry a bit mad, and while he doesn't have to be in charge all the time, he knows that if they were in a relationship they would knock heads more than they already do. That's saying a lot. Of course, the real issue happens to be Ron and his ironclad claim on her. Harry knows that Ron would never forgive Harry for taking his girl. So, that puts the final nail in that, and looking around the Great Hall at dinner, Harry can honestly say that not getting into Hermione's knickers or Ron's y-fronts won't be the worst thing that's ever befallen him.

There are some extremely attractive people at Hogwarts, and Harry isn't exactly gagging for lack of choice. Hannah Abbott and her flaming red hair remind Harry of the photographs of his mother, and Justin Finch-Fletchley and his double dimples have had the girls queuing up since their fifth year. Seamus has caught Harry's eye once or twice, but Harry's not sure how he feels about dealing with such a big mouthed virgin. He knows Seamus is still a virgin because if he weren't then the entire school would know. Seamus isn't the sort to keep something so earth-shattering to himself.

Even Dean is sort of cute, but Harry isn't really that into cute. Fourth years are cute; Pigwidgeon is 'cute.' Ginny Weasley is cute, but Harry has absolutely no designs on her; it would be like dating his sister. Not that he actually has a sister, but that's pretty much what dating Ginny would be tantamount to.

No, Harry's definitely not interested in cute.

What Harry's after is something more than cute, something more than a pretty face. Harry wants someone who he finds 'hot.' He wants someone he's keen on, someone to fancy. Harry wants someone that when people see them together they'll say that Harry's a lucky sod. Of course, with the curse of his fame, Harry might be hard pressed to find someone like that, but he knows that person has to be out there somewhere.

Harry is nothing if not optimistic.

After all, if Harry can admit that he even finds Draco Malfoy, with his sneer and slim-hipped stroll... interesting, then surely he hasn't closed himself off to all his options.


II. Roundabout

Obviousness is bad.

Harry knows this, but people like Malfoy belong in Muggle magazines and on the side of London buses. They don't cringe away from Vampire Ferns in Herbology, and they certainly don't do anything as mundane as clean out the twigs of their brooms on the front lawn. It must be a trap, but Harry's walked into enough of those not to be worried. There's nothing that Malfoy can do to him that he can't take; but he's still curious about all those little things that are so distinctly Malfoy, even after six years.

Everything about Malfoy seems so ludicrously elegant and sharp that it verges on mockery, and Harry has to get his kicks where he can. He knows he should never gather his entertainment at someone else's expense, but it's Malfoy, and taking the piss out of him is like letting a niffler loose in Gringotts. It's too easy, and Malfoy does everything so perfectly that it drives Harry barmy.

However, there is one thing that Harry definitely does better.

So, as long as Harry can continually beat Malfoy at Quidditch, he isn't going to change his ways just because Malfoy gets angry and pouts and scowls. It's almost kind of cute, and if Harry were looking for cute then he might be in a severe amount of trouble.

"It's not going to help, you know," Harry says, refusing to blink when Malfoy fixes him with that shriveling stare of his. However, Harry can't help but notice how much Malfoy's glare reminds him of Snape, and isn't that just a really unpleasant thought to have? Harry was just looking forward to a nice argument about Malfoy's lack of Quidditch skills, but apparently he's started off on the wrong foot, because Snape? Yuck.

"Today's the day, Potter," Malfoy goes back to clipping the ends of his Nimbus 2001, and Harry has the distinct sense that Malfoy has done this before. But don't people as rich as Malfoy just buy new brooms instead of servicing the old ones?

Harry always thought that Malfoy had an endless supply of whatever he needed locked away in his trunk. Except Harry has never seen Malfoy's trunk, and maybe he comes equipped with his very own clothing expert or some such thing. Besides, Harry doesn't want to think about Malfoy's clothes or Malfoy naked or Malfoy's anything. It's always this way with them, though, there's one conversation going on for everyone to hear and another one under the surface that only catches up with Harry several hours, days, weeks later.

Harry would be loath to admit it, but he does tend to think of their exchanges afterwards. How can he not with the way that Malfoy tends not to look at him, except for when he thinks Harry's not looking. Which, of course, is nothing like now, and Harry has never seen anybody this engrossed in the grass dredge in their broom thistles. Except perhaps for Oliver Wood. "I know I'll kick myself for asking this later, but the day for what exactly, Malfoy?"

"The day I catch the snitch," Malfoy responds, fixing Harry with a smile that he's never seen before. It's a tad bit scary that Malfoy has so many teeth. Plus, they're all white and straight, and Harry's eyes can't help but focus on them. A smile like that, well, Harry doesn't think he could stand to see it again. Malfoy's smile promises too many things and none of them good. Harry's not sure he could be held responsible for his actions. "I hope you have your pride handy, Potter. I'll be taking it with me."

"In your dreams, Malfoy," Harry snaps back.

Now that Malfoy has stopped grinning like he's going swallow Harry whole, Harry feels much safer, and his face doesn't feel nearly as hot. He doesn't even remember it getting hot in the first place. Perhaps Harry's wearing too many layers. Although not as many as Malfoy, because when Malfoy bends his head down to do something or other, Harry can see some sort of undershirt neck peeking out from the collar of Malfoy's shirt and robes.

"Then I'll see you there," Malfoy says, gathering his broom cleaning kit and stalking off towards the pitch. His ending gambit leaves Harry slightly off his mark, and he's tempted to go after Malfoy and demand to know what he means by that. Nevertheless, Harry thinks better of it. Most likely it's just Malfoy being his insufferable self again; besides, it's always this way with them.

Round and round they go, where it will stop, Harry doesn't know.


III. The S-bend

Harry's never noticed the curve in the steps down to the kitchens before, but most likely that's because he's not the sort to make nighttime jaunts down to see Dobby and have tonnes of house elves make a ruckus. Harry hates it when people make a fuss over him. He wishes it didn't happen so often, but that's his lot in life so he accepts it as best he can. Just as he accepts that occasionally he's going to trip up and someone is going to be around to see it. He simply wishes that on this occasion it didn't have to be Malfoy, but wishes have never gotten Harry anywhere.

"It wouldn't hurt you to look where you're going on occasion, Potter," Malfoy snaps as they nearly collide on the stairs. There's a clattering of crockery, and Harry's fingers grasping at stonewalls so that he doesn't pitch forward onto Malfoy. "The crowds don't always part for The Prat Who Lived."

Harry's so flustered to find someone in his path that it takes him a moment to gather his insomniatic thoughts and not just shove Malfoy down the stairs. Stupid git has the biggest mouth.

"Looking where you're going works both ways," he retorts mildly. It's too late at night for him to get worked up and involved in Malfoy's nonsense. Harry just wants a cup of tea, and that must be too much to ask. He stares back at Malfoy, ignoring the glare that Malfoy shoots his way. Malfoy clasps at the cup and saucer in his hands as though Harry's going to snatch them away.

"What are you doing lurking down here anyway?" he shoots back, not really curious but playing along as required.

"I don't lurk anywhere, Potter," Malfoy says. "You're the one who's uninvited."

"I didn't know I needed an invitation to get something to drink." Harry's not concerned with whatever nonsense Malfoy's drinking, but no one could ignore that pile of white foam, and pink and green cubes for very long. "Not that I'm interested in whatever you're getting up to, Malfoy, but what exactly are you drinking?"

It's surely just the dim lighting in the hallway, but Harry would swear that Malfoy's face colours slightly.

"It's nothing," Malfoy says, attempting to hide the saucer, but having nowhere to get away from Harry's persistent gaze.

"Doesn't look like nothing to me," Harry insists, leaning forward on the step, trying to get a better look and moving into Malfoy's space. "I'm not trying to steal it away from you. I'm just curious. Is that... is that whipped cream?"

"Well," Malfoy replies darkly, glaring at Harry as though he's taken the last piece of pie. "If you must know, it's hot chocolate. I'm having problems sleeping. Not that I would be telling you this if I were at all in my right mind."

"As opposed to being in your left mind you mean?" Malfoy confiding in Harry? His sleep-deprivation must be serious indeed. Harry feels something almost akin to empathy, and if it were anyone else, he might actually say so. Funny how it comes out anyway. "I'm sorry to hear that you're not well. Have you tried counting sheep?"

"Yes, because singing nursery rhymes just doesn't do it for me anymore." Malfoy's voice isn't quite as sharp as Harry would expect. Evidently whatever's wrong is taking its toll.

"There's no need to bite my head off, you know." Harry isn't really acting surly. At least he hopes not, because when has he ever been surly or petulant? Next he'll be pouting. Anything more out of character and he'll start begging Snape for that Drought of Living Death. Merlin, if this is how he feels after just one night without sleep, he can't imagine going on for another.

"If you ask for Bippy, she'll be sure to sort you out," Malfoy sighs, finally allowing Harry to get a good look at the dark brown liquid in his cup. It looks quite appealing. Harry was actually going down get himself some tea, but perhaps he'll take Malfoy's advise after all.

Surely the world is ending.

"Can I pass now?" Malfoy says, with the tone of someone who has been greatly tried and just can't be arsed to put forth any more effort.

"Right," Harry moves to the side, allowing Malfoy to pass, and he doesn't hold his breath when he gets a good look at Malfoy's green and white striped pyjamas. The thought of Malfoy sleeping doesn't wake him up more than he already is. "For what it's worth," he adds as Malfoy pauses and turns to look at him wearily. "I hope you feel better."


IV. The End of the Line

One would think that after six years Harry would at least know the way to the Charms classroom, but yet again he finds himself lost and that's just wrong. There's really no other word for it. Harry knows second years with better directional skills that him, and no one ever hangs about by the Hufflepuff dorms, even the people who live there. He can't even say he was just following the flow of traffic.

The only reason Harry actually knows where he is because of that date that he had with Susan Bones, and didn't that just go horribly? But honestly, Harry only did it as a favour to Neville because she wouldn't leave him alone. Who would have ever guessed that Neville Longbottom would become the sixth year Lothario? Certainly not Harry, but, then again of all the things that Harry guessed on, at least he always knew that Malfoy would corner him one day.

He's just surprised that there's not wand at the ready.

"A bit out of your way isn't it, Potter?"

"Ah, Malfoy, I was wondering when you'd turn up. Look, if you're planning on hexing me, can we get on with it?" Harry says, resolved to whatever his fate happens to be. "I've got a class to get to, and some variation on the Furniculus curse isn't going to amuse Professor Flitwick when I'm already late for today's quiz." Normally, this would be the diversionary tactic for Harry to pull out his wand to defend his honour or some such nonsense, but they're in a corner. The spells are only going to bounce off the walls and things will just get ten times worse.

Today, Harry just can't be arsed. He doesn't know when he became so bloody passive-aggressive. Apparently neither does Malfoy. "I didn't know you had added prescience to your list of abilities. Short though it may be," he says, advancing on Harry, as Harry rather obviously doesn't pick up on the hint for him to move towards the wall.

"They were more than enough to catch the Snitch against you, three weeks ago," Harry says blandly, waiting for Malfoy to get to the point. It's always the same conversation, same thing, different location.

"Your egotism astounds even me," is the acerbic reply.

"This is coming from you of all people?" Harry's almost incredulous with disbelief. This is Malfoy, Draco Malfoy who's made an art of sneering and scowling and just being horribly unpleasant to everyone. It must be impossibly hard work to maintain such an appearance all the time. Something like being forced to play the proverbial favorite son without being consulted at the start.

"Don't you ever get tired of this?" Harry asks randomly, dropping his books with a thud and waving his arms around like he's attempting to take flight. Judging by the rather odd look Malfoy gives him, perhaps their conversation has taken a turn into unchartered territory. "You and me," Harry points at Malfoy to emphasize his point, but Malfoy's so close that Harry winds up poking him in the chest. "All this nonsense with you hating me and me hating you. I don't hate you, you know. Despite whatever you might believe," Harry continues onward as fast as possible, not sure what exactly he's planning on saying. "I know we've never quite gotten off on the right foot, but -- but that doesn't mean that we couldn't... bloody hell. I don't know. Work with me here, would you?" He finishes quite abruptly and not a bit confused.

"I see," Malfoy advances into Harry's space, reaching out and removing the finger, which Harry's been resting on his sternum for the duration of his diatribe. "And is this the part where I'm supposed to say that I don't hate you either, and in fact fancy you madly and am willing to give up everything I have for you?" Malfoy's quite calm, and his voice is very even, if he weren't breathing directly into Harry's face, Harry might think he were listening to a recording over the wireless.

Malfoy has a very small nose, quite pointy as a matter of fact. Staring at it makes Harry cross-eyed. "That's not what I said," he begins before Malfoy reaches up and silences him with his hand. There's arching of eyebrows and mass amounts of confusion as Malfoy leans as far into Harry's space as is humanly possibly without climbing into Harry's skin, and then there's kissing.

Harry's never kissed a boy before; he's never kissed a girl either. Kissing Malfoy does nothing to clear up the questions about Harry's sexual proclivities; it only goes to show that Malfoy's not a bad kisser. Not that Harry has anything to compare it to.

Upon reflection, Harry supposes they must look rather odd, because there's Malfoy very much not touching Harry except for the hand under his chin to guide Harry's head, and there's Harry, arms flapping in the wind with inexperience. For a first kiss, Harry could've had better coordination, but it's not as though he had advance planning. Really he can't be blamed if his glasses get steamed up and clatter to the floor. At some point Harry thinks he should open his eyes, but all he can focus on is a great big pale blur with shiny gray stones for eyes.

It's only when Malfoy pulls his mouth away, and Harry's left gasping like his gillyweed ran out underwater, that he remembers where he's at. A random Hufflepuff could come along at any moment, and yet he doesn't care because Malfoy is licking at his jaw line and nipping at his ear. He can feel their stubble rubbing together, and it's... it's good. It takes Harry several seconds to understand what Malfoy's whispering in his ear. "It's never going to happen, Potter. You might as well get over it now."

And with that, Malfoy turns around and walks away. Leaving Harry high and dry, and very much alone.


V. The Line Extension

Harry corners Malfoy after dinner two days later, and it's nowhere near as easy as it sounds. First, he has to lose Ron and Hermione, but without acting like he's ditching them, and then he has to actually get hold of Malfoy, and that's a job and a half in and of itself. Truth be told, Harry's been doing something extraordinarily close to stalking, and it takes him so much effort in the end, he wonders rather idly if Malfoy even uses the loo by himself.

Not that Harry actually likes Malfoy or anything, but he just needs some clarification, because Malfoy did snog him, of that much he's sure. All the same, catching Malfoy at the top of the stairs to the dungeon is incredibly stupid on Harry's part. At least he can admit that. It's only a matter of seconds before Minion #1 and #2 come skulking along.

"I want to talk to you," he whispers from behind a coat of armour, which raises its left arm to allow Harry to talk from under its armpit.

"I was wondering how long it would take you, Potter." It's no figment of Harry's imagination that Malfoy looks supremely pleased with himself. Stupid git. Harry doesn't have to do this, but judging by the number of trips to see Bippy in the 48 hours maybe he doesn't have too much choice.

"We need to talk," Harry says, attempting to step around the coat of armour before it sticks out its left leg and trips him. Stupid Slytherin armour. Harry stumbles, and nearly falls to his knees in front of Malfoy, but at least he's able to reserve some semblance of pride.

"There's nothing to discuss," Malfoy responds, looking anywhere but at Harry.

"You -- you snogged me," Harry points out, rather plainly.

"Yes, and your point would be what?"

"That you snogged me."

"I'm so glad to see that your grasp of the obvious is complete," Malfoy offers with an smirk, as he reaches up to brush invisible dust from his robes. "And now if you'll excuse me, I have people to do and things to see."

"This isn't over you know," Harry calls to Malfoy's back as he decends the dungeon stairs.

"Of course it's not," Malfoy stops, and turns towards Harry. "You wouldn't be Harry bloody Potter if you gave up so easily, now would you?" Malfoy says with a wink before turning, and leaving Harry standing on the steps.

As he watches Malfoy's figure disappear, Harry wonders, for the first time, if they've started something they won't finish or if this is actually the end of the line.


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