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"And then what happened?" Serenity was scrutinizing Evelyn's face, watching every movement in her hawkish way. 

 

They were seated in the shade of a large tree near the lake. A soft wind kept the air cool, and carried the distant sounds of the crowd from the Quidditch pitch towards them. The weather seemed to have finally broken, and Evelyn was pleased to have her first Scottish winter behind her. It had been bitter at times, and she had missed the comparably milder winters of Maryland. The sun felt nice on her skin. She shifted onto her elbows, closed her eyes, and leaned back into the sun to warm herself more. 

 

"No idea. My aunt came to the dorm to make sure I was okay, and she said she’d looked for Ellie, but hadn’t been able to find her. I stayed in my room the rest of the night. Everything that I know about what happened afterwards is second-hand information. Mostly from Hermione." 

 

"Have you talked to Harry?"

 

"Since then? No," she wove her hands through the grass and avoided her friend’s eyes. "I think he might have been avoiding me at first. Like the next day. And then maybe I was avoiding him, especially after the way Ginny's been acting towards me. He's got his first detention today, so I guess I'll see him later, but I assume his mood will depend a lot on the results of the Quidditch match."

 

"I'm sure," Serenity agreed, her face a mask as she observed Evelyn. "Christian said he would come get us when the game was over. He was going with Hermione." 

 

Serenity's tone was flat, her eyes moving towards the pitch in a meaningful way, and Evelyn resisted the urge to state the obvious: everything was a mess. 

 

 

Later that evening, Evelyn found herself sipping spiked punch near the large bowl in the Gryffindor common room. Hermione had insisted Christian and Serenity join them, and they made a quiet foursome in the otherwise boisterous room. Christian and Hermione were recounting the major plays of the game, and Serenity nodded along with interest. 

 

Evie tried to focus on their retelling, but she was listening sparingly. She couldn’t help but cast her eyes to the entrance every few minutes, searching for Harry. He seemed to be later than she would have expected, but it was hard to judge the time—and red and gold streamers hung across the face of the clock. 

 

“Evie?” Christian called her attention back to the conversation, studying her thoughtfully with his intelligent eyes. 

 

“I’m sorry, what were you saying? I was distracted.” She admitted, trying not to blush when she noticed Hermione and Serenity exchange a brief glance. 

 

“I was asking if you had competition like this at your old school—because you didn’t have houses, did you?”

 

“No, there really weren’t enough students for houses. Ivermorney has houses, but the Academy only has about a hundred students. We had Quidditch and Quadpot, but they were more like recreational leagues.” She over-explained, hoping to compensate for her lapse in attention. 

 

Christian began to deride Quadpot, and Evelyn took the opportunity to shut up before she could ramble further. The Academy, she thought, allowing her mind to wander. It felt so far away, and all the memories were rosy now. Despite their smaller numbers and lack of competitive sports, they had been skilled in celebrating. The Gryffindor parties were a close second, she thought as she scanned the crowd and smiled as Seamus and Dean sprayed more confetti out of the tips of their wands to the delight of some second years. She wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about the celebration though, and her eyes moved anxiously over the entrance again. 

 

As she continued to scan the room, her eyes moved over Ron and Ginny, who stood a few yards away from her foursome. Confetti dotted Ron’s hair. The two Weasleys glowed with victory. Ginny, especially, looked bright—and Evelyn thought she deserved it, considering her winning catch. 

 

Ginny caught Evelyn’s eye, and a brief sneer snuck across her face. Evelyn could feel the sharpness of her resentment from across the room, and quickly broke eye contact. 

 

“Woah,” Serenity said abruptly, breaking Christian off. 

 

“What?” Hermione asked confusedly, looking over her shoulder. 

 

“It was nothing—"

 

“Ginny just shot Evelyn the most disgusted look I’ve ever seen.” Serenity cut Evie off, and ignored the subsequent glare her friend shot her. 

 

“You’re kidding!” Hermione said hotly, looking again over her shoulder at the younger Gryffindor.

 

“It’s really not a big deal.”

 

“Didn’t she try to hex you in the corridor the other day?” Christian inserted casually, sipping his punch as if he had simply asked about the weather. Hermione looked aghast, her expression begging for Evelyn’s denial of the accusation. 

 

Evelyn squirmed under her friend’s gaze. All week, she had kept Ginny’s antics from her Gryffindor friends, relying on Serenity and Christian to air her complaints. That afternoon, Serenity had encouraged Evie to confide in Hermione at least, and she seemed to have taken the encouragement one step further by pointing it out herself. 

 

“I don’t really have any proof that her hex was meant for me. It caught Padma, so—maybe—"

 

Serenity’s well-placed eye roll told Hermione everything she needed to know. 

 

“Why didn’t you say anything? Harry will be so embarrassed; she’s acting so immaturely.” Hermione said matter-of-factly. 

 

“That’s half the reason not to mention it,” Evie admitted, “I don’t want to make things between them worse. And, really, it’s not a big deal. She’ll get over it eventually. I hope.”

 

Hermione didn’t seem satisfied, but she didn’t have a chance to rebuttal as the room had erupted into renewed cheers. Immediately, Evelyn’s eyes moved towards the entrance, where Harry had finally appeared. The crowd was practically roaring, and she noticed the team close in on him. Ron tipped the cup towards him, proving it was true, and sloshing butterbeer on the floor in the process. Harry clapped his hands together in disbelief as the team recounted the victory. His green eyes danced merrily, and the tension in Evie’s stomach relaxed as she saw his delight. 

 

Evelyn lost sight of him for a moment as the crowd swelled, but it parted in time for her to see Ginny move slyly towards him. They exchanged a few words and then it looked as if she might hug him, but Harry shifted back onto his heels and, with an awkward smile, he clapped her on the back instead. Harry was too nice, Evelyn thought as she continued to watch him move through the crowd. He found Dean, a safer conversation partner, and Evie turned her eyes back to her friends. Hermione, too, had been watching Harry’s progression through the room, and she seemed to have something on her mind as she exchanged a look with Evelyn. 

 

“The captain returneth,” Serenity said smartly, smiling openly at Evie.

 

“How has he been since the incident?” Christian asked, looking to Hermione for the answer.

 

“Quiet, angry, embarrassed. He hasn’t said much about it, but I’ve been trying to leave it alone.” Hermione said honestly. Evie knew it was difficult for Hermione not to insert herself, to pick and prod when she felt something was amiss, but she had been as reserved as she could be—especially since Harry had sacrificed his potions book. Evelyn had heard this all from Hermione, as she herself had kept her distance from Harry just as she’d told Serenity that afternoon. The friendly air that had been established between them had become charged after the attack in the bathroom and his subsequent breakup. She wasn’t angry with him, and the dark magic he had performed hadn’t scared her. She just felt like they needed space from one another, even though he hadn’t asked for it. The school had been rampant with whispers, and she didn’t want to make things worse for him. 

 

Serenity had joked earlier that day that she simply had cold feet now that he was single and she’d denied the accusation then, but, when he appeared at Hermione’s side and her stomach turned over, she thought smartly that she might have to eat her words. 

 

“Hey,” He said, grinning at the group of friendly faces. He rushed a hand through his hair in an obvious attempt to make it lay flat, but it only seemed to make it spring up more fully. 

 

“Hi,” she replied, suddenly stupid. It was the first time they’d spoken since the attack on Draco Malfoy, and her stomach twisted with the distance that had erupted between them over such a short span of time. Weirdly, she realized, she’d missed him. 

 

“What’d you think of the game?” He asked politely, his eyes focused on her completely, even as Christian and Hermione took up the response, echoing their earlier summaries and congratulating him. 

 

“You apparently shaped a brilliant team, but we weren’t there to witness it,” Serenity added, gesturing between herself and Evelyn. 

 

“Oh?” Harry’s brow crinkled for a moment, a thought flashing behind his eyes. 

 

“But, cheers to you, mate,” Christian offered good-naturedly, pausing to hand Harry a cup of the spiked punch and fill the others. They raised their cups, smiling and muttering another round of congratulations before drinking. Evelyn took hers down enthusiastically, letting the hot aftertaste of firewhisky smooth over the complicated feelings in her gut. 

 

Hermione squeezed Harry’s arm affectionately, setting her own cup down and asking him what had held him up in Professor Snape’s detention. 

 

“Other than the fact that he’s a mean old git?” Harry joked, his eyes back to Evelyn as frequently as he could allow. She just kept smiling at him, as all of her words had seemed to vanish. 

 

The group around her chatted on, but Harry grew quieter as he realized Evie wasn’t speaking much. His bright eyes, however, caught hers again and again as they continued to dart smilies back and forth to one another. 

 

Serenity eventually excused herself to grab butterbeers for the group, stepping to the other side of the punch bowl to load her arms with bottles. Evelyn watched her friend’s maneuverings, unaware that beside her Harry has closed the gap in the circle until she felt the warm pressure of a hand on her low back. 

 

She turned into the familiar palm, her eyes alighting on him. 

 

“Could we talk? For a second. Away from here, maybe?” He asked tentatively, the grin he’d been giving her back and forth across their conversation hovering uncertainly on his lips. Everything about his posture made it clear he feared she might say no. 

 

She hadn’t ever really been able to say no to him, she realized as she nodded mutely. The feeling in her gut was growing more jumbled, but her smile persisted as he pressed his hand more securely into her back and guided her through the crowd. Fellow Gryffindors continued to congratulate Harry, high fiving or clap him on the back as he moved past them. To his credit, he never let go of her.

 

When they finally made it through the portrait hole, the silence of the corridor was shocking. The flagstone all around felt cool, and in the spacious, quiet, empty expanse, Evelyn felt a little tipsier than she had in the common room. 

 

“What’s up?” She managed, forcing herself to look him in the face. 

 

“Not here,” he returned, his eyes sweeping the corridor quickly. It seemed empty, but they were very much exposed, and she instinctively knew that he’d prefer the quiet shelter of a classroom. She followed him as he found his way down the hall. He eventually selected a darkened classroom near the stairs with windows facing the Forbidden Forest. She’d never been in this particular room before, and the notes on the board suggested third-year curriculum. 

 

He moved into the room, heading straight for the far wall where the bank of deep-set windows spanned the stone. She followed him, making assumptions about the conversation they were about to have: an apology, him checking to see if she was okay, a request to resume their dueling. He cast a briefly nervous look over his shoulder at her, as if to check that she was still there, and then he leaned onto the windowsill. She took a position against the wall, leaning her shoulder into it and squaring herself to him. 

 

It was nice just to be in a quiet room with him, she realized, taking in the angles of his face in the moonlight. His glasses had slipped down the bridge of his nose while he looked through the window towards the forest, his lenses flashing in the white light of the nearly full moon.  She let the silence settle around them; she wasn’t in any rush. 

 

Eventually, he said, “I need to apologize to you. I should have never charged into that bathroom like that. I should have known better, should have gone for a teacher or something. At the very least, you should have gone for someone—I shouldn’t have involved you.”

 

She smiled sympathetically, “We charged into that bathroom together. You didn’t force me into anything; it was my decision.” Her smile widened as she added, “Plus, if I hadn’t gone in with you, my sister would have knocked you flat out. I don’t think you even saw her there.”

 

He shook his head at her words, looking disheartened, “I didn’t see her—but that’s not the point. I put you at risk because I wasn’t thinking. I thought I’d learned from what happened at the Ministry, and I haven’t. I could have hit you with that spell.”

 

“But you didn’t. And if you’d known what it did, would you have even used it?”

 

“Of course not!” He replied instantly, turning from the window to face her. 

 

“Of course not—because you’re a good person, Harry, and you fight fair.”

 

“I made you lie for me.” 

 

“And I’d do it again,” she said confidently, relishing the soft surprise that smoothed the worry lines on his face. “Because I believe you when you say you wouldn’t have used that dark curse if you knew what it was, and I believed you when you gave me your word you wouldn’t do it again. I believe you, Harry. You don’t have to apologize, not to me.”

 

He looked slightly less downcast than when he’d started, but not quite settled. She gave him a moment to digest his words, and eventually he continued. “There’s something else. Something I’ve been meaning to tell you all week, there was just never a good time.”

 

She quirked an eyebrow at him, but stayed silent. 

 

He continued, “There’s been a lot of rumors this week—about the attack with Malfoy, and what happened after with Ginny. Most of them aren’t true, but there’s one that is.”

 

“Is this the part where you tell me that Draco Malfoy is indeed a vampire, and you saved me from his bite in the bathroom—but you weren’t able to save my sister?” She smirked. That was a real rumor that she had overheard a second year telling a first year at dinner the previous night. 

 

His serious face broke into a brief smile, “Not that one, no.” He was looking at her with a peculiar expression that felt familiar, one that she’d thought he had sent her way in the Room of Requirement before. “The one about you, about you being the reason Ginny and I broke up. That one’s true, and I thought you should know.”

 

He seemed to squirm a little in his skin, his hands tightening around the sill in a way that would have been discrete if she hadn’t spent so much time studying his movements in their duels. 

 

“Oh?” Was all she could managing, hoping it would be enough to spur him on. Given how Ginny had been behaving, the revelation didn’t surprise her—but at the same time she was, indeed, surprised. It was the strange feeling of hearing the words you wanted to hear, whatever that feeling might be. 

 

“You were part of the reason,” He corrected, rambling on, “I-I didn’t know how to tell you or Ginny for that matter. I wanted to at Christmas, but you left, and I didn’t have the nerve anyway. I thought you wouldn’t feel the same. And then when you got back together with him, and then I knew you didn’t—so I figured the feeling would go away, and Ginny was great, but it didn’t. Ginny could tell it wasn’t right. So, she knows now, everyone seems to know now. Everyone but you—so I had to tell you. Finally. I mean, like I said, I wanted to tell you... Now I have...” His voice had grown gruffer as he spoke, his eyes hardening under his glasses and his hands moving about awkwardly as he struggled for his words. But, even as he tried to pull up his defensives in preparation for assumed rejection, his face was open and she knew he was being honest. 

 

A missed connection, she realized, they had been feeling the same. She hadn’t been wrong. An electrifying relief filled her, and she realized that she wanted to kiss him—and that, for the first time since she’d met him, there was nothing stopping her. No girlfriend, no inconvenient interruption, no amnesia charm, no traumatic events. 

 

Plus, he had done just about everything but say that he wanted to kiss her himself—that he felt it, too—and she wasn’t daft enough to let the opportunity pass her by. 

 

She took a minute step towards him, emboldened by the way the moonlight lit up the happy surprise that glimmered in his emerald eyes and the way his pupils dilated as he realized she was purposefully closing the space between them. She was almost sad to lose sight of those eyes when she closed her own and leaned into his lips. She kissed him softly at first, tentatively, as if she couldn’t quite believe that she’d finally had the chance. Then he applied the faintest pressure back, as if to say yes, it’s true, I felt what you felt, and then all precaution and pretense were gone. 

 

The electric relief bubbled in her gut, expanding and intensifying as her body leaned into his. The space between them disappeared, and his hands found her hips as one of her hands slipped to the side of his face and the other rushed into his hair, her fingers tangling into the wild, inky locks that she adored. At one point, they pivoted, and he leaned her back gently into the wall, her skin against the cool stone as his lips continued to move against hers. His tongue slipped daringly against her lower lip, and she invited it in, deepening the kiss. 

 

Her whole body felt easy in his hands, which eventually moved from her hips to the bottom hem of her top, where his fingers played flirtatiously but never moved beyond. She wondered briefly how far he had gone with Ginny, but lost the thought as his tongue slipped further into her mouth. 

 

They broke apart a moment later, each gasping for breath and staring intently at the other. He smiled at her dumbfounded as she self-consciously ran a hand through her hair, reveling at her own boldness (and secretly pleased that she hadn’t left that part of herself back in the States). As she straightened herself, she noticed that his glasses had fogged over slightly, and she giggled softly as she stepped back towards him and reached up to push his frames gently up the bridge of his nose. 

 

“Sorry about that,” he muttered, sheepishly fingering his glasses.

 

“Don’t be,” she said softly, “I like them. I like you.

His grin widened into a more natural smile, and his hands moved back to her hips. “You do?”

 

“Yes,” She was happy to confirm, smiling back at him, “A lot. For months now. Why do you think I spent the beginning of term avoiding you? Seeing you with Ginny killed me.”

 

“But, I thought,” he paused, leaning back. His hands tightened on her hips as some unsavory thought crinkled his brow. “I thought you were back together with that guy.”

 

“What guy?” She asked, confused, her mind briefly flickering back to the moment earlier when he’d said a similar thing. She’d ignored it then, but it was clear the idea distressed him. 

 

“That American guy, the one you’re always writing. The one in the picture.” The last phrase was added hesitantly, and a look passed over Harry’s face that she was shocked to register as jealousy. 

 

“Do you mean Theo?” Evelyn asked, laughing aloud before she could stop herself. She quickly clamped a hand over her mouth, and took a beat to compose herself. When she spoke again, it was with a smirk that she couldn’t repress, “We’re just friends—I’ve been relying on him to give me advice from a male point of view. Advice about you.

 

Harry visibly blanched. “You can’t be serious.”

 

She nodded, shrugging and smiling and shimmying closer to him so that the tightness in his hands relaxed. She moved one hand to his chest, where it rested flat against his heart—in a way that she’d always wanted to touch him but that had never been appropriate before. “He knows me really well, and I trust his opinion. He did kiss me while I was in Maryland,” Harry’s hands tightened on her hips again, “But, I told him that it was like a goodbye kiss. There wasn’t anything there anymore. My life’s here now, and I’m not interested in him like that. I’m interested in you like that,” she smiled reassuringly. “He’ll be pleased after these months that I’ve finally gotten my moment with you.”

 

“A moment? Was that all you wanted?” Harry’s brow wrinkled, and there was a playful mixture of flirtation and fear on his face. 

 

“If I’m being honest, no. It’s not all I wanted, but I didn’t want to assume anything, Harry. If I had my way, I’d get a lot more moments.” She admitted, leaning back into the way and bringing him with her. 

 

She looked up at him fondly, delighted to see a smile break across his face. He closed the space between them, and she loved the newfound confidence with which he kissed her. Between kisses, Harry managed to whisper, “You’ll have your way, as often as I can allow it.”

 



"Slow down," he hissed, gripping his side with a painful wince.

 

She stopped her natural impulse, which was to glare at him, and instead gave him a terse smile and slowed her pace. He was still paler than normal, but Madam Pomfrey had cleared him to leave the hospital wing on the condition that he returned once a day for fresh bandages and dittany. His wounds had been caused by Dark Magic, and while they were healed, they were still raw, tender, and at risk of reopening. 

 

With all of this in mind, Elizabeth was trying to be patient. Draco has been immediately suspicious of her cheery demeanor and excitement when she arrived at the hospital wing to escort him back to the common room. She had listened with a kind smile as the insipid matron listed all the necessary steps that they were to take to ensure Draco continued to heal properly and with minimal scarring. She had even thanked the woman before taking Draco’s arm and helping him through the door. 

 

In the corridor, he had shaken her off with a scowl and demanded, "What the bloody hell is wrong with you?!"

 

She had responded coyly, the saccharine smile she had held for the matron dropping from her face, "Can't I just be happy to have you back, safe and sound?"

 

"Drop the shit." He had spit out, looking injured and pale. He had good reason to be furious with her—for her toying with him just then, for how she had reacted to finding him with that ghost again, and for sending excuses with Hera and Rhett instead of visiting him herself. After what she’d whispered to him on the bathroom floor when she thought he’d die there, she was sure he’d thought she’d at least visit. 

 

But she hadn’t visited, not once. She’d been too busy. 

 

"As you wish, darling," She had said sweetly. The pet name had made his eyes bug out a bit, and a piece of his perfectly coiffed hair fell out of place. She couldn't help herself—she was in a good mood. She had added, "This way,” and led them through the corridors expertly and at a speedy clip until the pain in his side caused him to object.

 

He huffed beside her, walking at a slower pace and looking more disgruntled with every step. She still felt thrilled and ignored the way he eyed her suspiciously, saying nothing. He knew where she was taking him; he was deeply intimate with this part of the castle.

 

"What's this about?"  

 

"It’s a surprise," she replied, the door appearing in front of her as she stopped pacing. She gave him a playful look over her shoulder, and he followed her through the door. Inside, she threaded her arm through his and allowed him to lean on her a little as they moved towards the cabinet. 

 

Draco was beginning to grumble, “I’ve only just been released. I don’t want to work on it right now—no one should expect me to.”

 

She ignored him, letting her eyes shift over the piles of forgotten and lost items. She was nearly beside herself as they approached their destination, but she could feel Draco tense beside her. He was becoming increasingly agitated.

 

They reached the cabinet, and she took a step forward, tapping her wand against its door. Then, she stepped back to her place by Draco’s side. He looked paler than when they’d left the hospital wing, and they waited in silence in front of the cabinet—Draco increasingly agitated and Elizabeth nearly giddy.

 

Just as she was beginning to doubt it would work again, the sound came: a hollow thud from inside, a rattling scrape, and then a sharp creak as the door flew open despite its hinges’ creaking protests. Inside stood Borgen's young assistant, flushed. 

 

"There ‘tis, miss. As promis’d." He said, stepping from the cabinet and adjusting his belt. He looked relieved. 

 

"Thank you," she said softly, shoving a galleon into his hand. "Take this and get back. Tell Borgen I'll expect a full report on your trip and, pending your results, the Dark Lord may be sending a few messengers through the shop."

 

The assistant nodded curtly, stepping back into the cabinet and closing the door behind him with a swift click. She paused for several seconds and, after she thought he might be gone, opened the door to reveal the empty cabinet. Leaving it hanging open, she turned to Draco and raised her eyebrows. 

 

"There it is," she said, "Your surprise."

 

He took a step forward, transfixed by the empty space within the cabinet. He ran his hand across the edge of the door, leaning in to examine the seams. They were both so intimately familiar with this piece of furniture that she wasn't sure what exactly he was hoping to find that he hadn’t seen a thousand times already. 

 

After a few long moments of silence, she added, “After what happened, I came here. I wanted to do this for you. I was,” she paused, unsure of her next words. Draco’s eyes moved to her face, taking in her hesitation without emotion—though she thought for a moment she saw something sharpen in his ice blue eyes. “I was angry and scared. I couldn’t fix you, but I knew I could fix this.”

 

"You did this for me?” His question came quietly, and the sharp edge of his earlier protests was gone.

 

"Your family will be safe now, Draco. We can put our plan into action. He'll be thrilled with you." She looked straight ahead at the cabinet as she spoke, and tried to keep her face blank. She didn't want to look at him for fear that he might be able to ascertain how much she cared.

 

"And you. He won't believe I did this, not after everything."

 

"He will," She said assuredly, still fixing her gaze ahead. "All it needed was a bit of Charms work to patch the path between the two. They were spells we'd discussed using—the ones we'd found in your father's library for building pathways, the Fabricae Tempus charm, and those variations on portkeys. You would have done them if you hadn't been attacked. It was your plan, from start to finish." She insisted, trying to keep her tone nonchalant.

 

He shifted beside her, taking her chin in his hand as he'd done before and forcing her to look at him. He hadn't touched her like that since the holiday, and she hated the way her breath caught in her throat. Her lips drew a thin, dissatisfied line across her face, but her eyes betrayed her. She could tell from the way his blue eyes burned into her. Of all the reactions she had expected him to have, this quiet intensity hadn't been one. He assessed her, reading her despite her coldness. The last time he'd been this close, she had pulled away. She had been cruel because of her uncertainty. She had feared he was too weak to complete the task, to accept her help. Even more, she had feared her Lord wouldn't want him for her. But, how could that be now? Could there be another worthy of her? Yes, he had struggled to accept her, fought against her, fought with her—had bent under the emotional strain—but the cabinet was complete now. He had struggled, yes, but he had persevered. He had done the research, proposed the solution, been certain even against her bitter skepticism. She had only implemented what he had already proposed. She had played her role, and her Lord would be pleased.

 

She opened her mouth to speak again, but the words never crossed her lips as his fingers tightened around her chin and yanked her to him. His grip was firm, shifting into her hair, the roots of her hair pulling against his callous palms and the breath escaping from her lips against his with delight. His fervor was so much so that his lips crashed sloppily against hers, missing her mouth slightly once and then again as he overcorrected. She found her body curling into his instinctively, closing the distance between them. His other hand moved to her lower back, and he grinded his hips against hers. They weren't being nearly as tender as Madam Pomfrey had warned them to be, but Ellie refused to be the first to pull away. 

 

She loved how he moved against her so expertly—his tongue, his arms, his hips all working together to excite every fiber of her. She craved him, had been craving him, and finally, here, was her fix. Something in her belly happily tightened and released as he reached down and lifted her from her feet, her legs responding without thought as they wrapped around his waist. She could feel his muscles flex against her body, and was almost disappointed when he placed her on an antique chaise nearby and pulled away. 

 

"Are you okay?" She asked, her eyes shifting over his abdomen in search of blood. She worried that she'd gotten carried away with herself or the excursion had opened one of his wounds, but she didn't spy any red spots on his white shirt. 

 

"Yes," Draco said with quiet confidence, and she noticed a steely look in his eyes that he hadn't had before as he leaned back into her. His lips were on hers again, and he deepened the kiss with renewed energy. That brief moment flashed in her mind, as Elizabeth pondered the change that had occurred in him—and how she felt it in the way his hands gripped her hips. He looked different, she thought as they separated again, this time to remove each other's shirts. The scars form Potter's attack shone pearly and pink in the light, scattered across his abdomen, chest, and arms. Despite the scars, he glowed with the realization of a year's worth of work. He was confident again of his ability, and the way his hands moved across her most sensitive spots proved it. She thought back to the moment the young assistant had stepped out of the cabinet, and how immediately the haunted look that had settled around the edges of Draco's eyes had dissipated. He had seemed taller when he had turned to kiss her shortly after that. He knew what he wanted now, and she was prepared to give it to him—she was starting right then with her fingers digging into his strong shoulders and his breath on her neck.

 

“Yes,” she whispered back, echoing his words but with a meaning altogether different as the rest of their clothes were removed. It may have been her imagination, but her word seemed to echo across the vast room of lost things. Yes, yes, yes rippling away from her. 

 

Her skin tingled under his touch, and with every caress, every thrust, every exhale she could feel him returning to the man she’d first encountered. He was more himself in that moment than he had been in the last few months as they’d struggled to find the last missing piece to repair the cabinet. 

 

Some time later, their bodies broke apart satisfied and panting. There wasn’t quite room for both of them on the chaise, and they fumbled about self-consciously, disentangling their limbs and their clothes. She realized she wanted to leave before the awkwardness of what they’d just done settled in, and she rose to her feet and gestured for him to follow her out. Before she could get too far, however, he reached her and again took her chin in his hand and forced her eyes to him. 

 

“Elizabeth—"

 

“What?” She interrupted slickly. She didn’t want to discuss what they’d done or what it meant right then, and the look on her face must have conveyed that, but he didn’t back down from her.

 

“The cabinet. Thank you for that. You fixed it, and I—"

 

“We fixed it, Draco. Together.” She reiterated, leaning into him and planting a small, reassuring kiss on his cheek. She kept close to his body, familiar with it now in a way she’d never thought she’d be. Her head dipped against his chest, she added, “We can do the next part, too. Together. We can kill Dumbledore.”

 

In the silence of the room, the wild beating of his heart in her ear was deafening.

 

 

 

 

 

Author's Note: Thank you to all of the readers who have not only taken the time to read this while I've been on hiatus, but who have been good enough to leave reviews. I know it's been some time; last summer, I took on a number of freelance assignments and then started a new full-time job—and have given a lot of energy to work. With our stay at home order still in effect, I've had time to come back to this story, and to get back into writing. I'm about fifteen chapters ahead of this, and have the story roughly sketched out from there. I've also been working on a tangential project that I'm excited to share with you. If I can ask for it, please keep leaving reviews! They do encourage me to post more frequently—and honestly give me a bit of delight during a time when my anxiety keeps me on edge. xx, Antigone
 

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