A Private Oratory
Harry hadn't been much for company after the War. Going from being The Boy Who Lived to The Young
Man Who Lived had come with its fair share of interviews, cooing women, well-wishers, and the
recurring nightmares from his final confrontation with Voldemort. Which explained why his Friday
evenings were sacred, spent in ward 43 of St. Mungo's, with Draco Malfoy.
Who was in a coma.
"You're batty, mate," Ron said, staring down his cue at a particularly challenging shot
during their weekly get-together. Tuesdays found the two of them at the Selkie's Swim, enjoying a
few pints and Harry usually getting thrashed at snooker. "He doesn't talk back. Why d'you
keep going over there? I thought his condition was terminal."
"Yeah," Seamus chimed in, his brogue and enthusiasm undiminished despite having suffered
some particularly vicious hexes which left him with a limp and a rather faulty memory. "Even
Crabbe and Goyle don't visit the bastard."
"Crabbe and Goyle are in Azkaban," Harry reminded him, polishing the top of his cue
stick. "And the only reason he's in St. Mungo's at all is because he ended up defying his
"Why doesn't he visit him?"
Harry sighed as he blew spare blue chalk off of his cue. "Dead, Seamus."
"Right. I knew that."
"'Course you did, Finnigan," Ron chuckled. "What's my name?"
"Weasley. Ronald Bilius Weasley. I'm not an idiot, you know."
Ron grinned. "Just checking."
Harry shook his head. "He's comforting. I just sit." He leaned over the table, steadying
the cue stick in the crook between his thumb and index finger. "I don't have to explain, I
don't have to talk about how my day was-"
"We don't make you do that!" Seamus interjected. "Or do we?" He looked to Ron
"No. We don't," Ron reassured him.
"So why hang out with a slimy Slytherin who doesn't have anything to say?" Seamus
"Forget it," Harry said, making his shot. "You wouldn't understand."
The balls made a very satisfying cracking sound as they ricocheted soundly and one went sinking
into the corner pocket.
"Nice shot," Ron murmured.
"Good evening, Mr. Potter," the junior healer chirped cheerily at him. "Nice to see
"It's Harry. You can call me Harry," he insisted, brushing a rogue bit of fringe out of
his eyes. "Anastasia, isn't it?" he asked, confirming the name as he looked at her
nametag. "Nice to see you again as well." He smiled and began to turn from the desk.
"Your devotion is inspiring, Harry." She blushed slightly. "Mr. Malfoy doesn't
receive many visitors, and you're here regular as clockwork, so we healers-"
"We healers what?" Harry said, his voice heated. "Are assuming things that perhaps
we shouldn't be? Why is it that people think it's so odd to visit somebody who's in a coma?
Malfoy's not dead. He's just quiet."
The junior healer blanched under his barrage.
"I'll be going to his room now."
She nodded, silent.
Harry strode down the corridor.
"I've really been enjoying this, and while you might think it's certainly a flight of fancy,
there's a lot to it. Very dense. Think I'll start over and read it to you." Harry retrieved
his copy of The Lord of the Rings from a satchel and thumbed to the first page. "There's all
kinds of background stuff, languages and family trees and whatnot, but you don't really need to
know that to enjoy it. There is a dragon in the sort of prelude book, but I'm not going to read
that one. I think one dragon in my life is quite enough."
Harry looked over at Draco's calm face, undisturbed by how blank and unchanging the visage was.
Other people couldn't seem to understand why Harry was drawn to visit the disinherited heir, but
he had never been one to care much about what other people thought. Malfoy needed company, and
somehow Harry believed that he benefited from the shared time as much as his mute companion.
"You're quite the handsome devil, y'know," Harry said quietly, extending his arm to
brush the back of two fingers on Malfoy's cheek. He shook his head. "Good thing you can't
hear me," he mused, settling back into his chair. "I'm afraid if you heard the
compliment from me you'd probably want to run screaming from the room."
Harry raised his hand and cleared his throat behind it.
"When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his
Harry increased his visits to include Sunday afternoons as well as Friday evenings. Then he added
"I think you're becoming obsessed. No offense, of course," Hermione continued on
hurriedly, then tapped her fingernails against her front teeth.
"None taken," Harry growled into his filing cabinet, then, pulling out the first folder
he could find, he slammed the drawer shut. "Look," he began, dropping into his chair and
propping his feet on the desk, "you grew up in a Muggle household just like I did. Didn't you
read about those miracle cases when people came out of comas, years later?" He slouched
sulkily, using his crossed ankles as a pivot to twist slightly back and forth.
"What? So you think that because you go and read some arcane book to Malfoy three days a week
he's going to come out of a crucio-induced coma? And why are you so interested?" A feral
glint came into her eyes. "Oh," she purred. "It's all becoming clear."
"What's becoming clear?" Harry gave Hermione a piercing look.
"You fancy him." She smiled widely. "Now I understand."
"I do not!" he exploded. "I just don't like to think that somebody who stood up to
one of the highest-ranking Death Eaters and paid an incredibly high price would end up neglected
and forgotten at some ward in St. Mungo's. Even if that somebody is Draco Malfoy."
Hermione twisted her mouth to one side. "Hmph."
"I don't fancy him," Harry insisted. "But I do know what it's like to feel
neglected. Sure, he probably can't hear me, and were he awake, I reckon he'd prefer that anyone
else visit but me, but there y'go. Beggars can't be choosers." He shrugged his shoulders
while Hermione took a tendril of hair and stuck it in her mouth, sucking on it.
"Hmph," she repeated.
"Hermione, I really do have to get some work done." Harry looked meaningfully at the
folder he had pulled from his filing cabinet.
"Well!" she huffed. "If I'm merely an impediment to you doing work
"I'll come get you for afternoon tea, okay?"
She tilted her head as a smile blossomed across her face. "Fine." She glanced at the red
file folder. "Oh. Yikes. I'll leave you to it," she said, as she scooted out of his
Harry looked at the label, then hung his head in his hands. "Oh Merlin," he moaned.
Raising the Wand- Impotence in the Wizarding Community
"What do you mean, he's not here? He's in a bloody coma! I'm the only one who visits him! I'm
here every other day!"
The healer- senior, not junior- withstood Harry's onslaught with a stern expression until he
stopped gesticulating and finally took a glowering stance, hands firmly planted on the front desk.
"Were you family, you would have been notified," she stated primly, then stared with
growing disapproval at Harry's miscreant hands resting on her formerly body-parts-free counter.
Harry stood up to full height and glared at the senior healer. "Miss Mergatrude. I mean you
no disservice, but I must demand that you tell me who checked out Mr. Malfoy."
"Mr- " the healer started.
"Potter. Harry Potter," he fumed. "I'm sure you know the name."
The raised eyebrow was the only fracture in the healer's still-resilient exterior. "Mr.
Potter. While famous, and thank Merlin for that, you are still not family," she said,
emphasizing the last three words. She took a deep breath in through her nose and Harry was
reminded of a young version of McGonagall. "Mr. Malfoy checked himself out. This
"What do you mean he checked himself out? That's impossible!"
"No, it's not. He regained consciousness, we took several auralics and had to agree that he
appeared to be as good as new."
Harry gaped. "He's- he's- I've cured him!"
Healer Mergatrude fixed Harry with a stern look. "You've done a great many things, Mr.
Potter, but I would dare say that you could allow us healers a few victories. We've been here with
the Malfoy patient every day."
Harry slumped. "Can you at least tell me where he went? I'd like to - Well, I wanted to read
The healer sniffed. "As an of-age wizard, Mr. Malfoy was under no obligation to tell us where
he was going. I'm afraid that I cannot help you on that front."
Harry ran a hand through his hair. Even he was a bit surprised at his reaction. He didn't care
that much, surely. It was just Draco. Just the one person who asked nothing of him, whose company
he enjoyed, even if it was one-sided. Maybe, if Harry were honest with himself, he was a bit
insulted to think that his influence had made no difference over these months.
"I am sorry, Mr. Potter." The healer seemed to have picked up on Harry's constrained
distress, and she spoke more kindly. "If he was someone close to you, I have no doubt that
you'll be able to find him again."
The tops of Harry's shoes had never appeared so interesting. He stared at them, contemplating this
turn of events and the fact that he was absolutely, passionately, desperate to find Draco Malfoy.
And he wasn't sure why. Except that he truly, madly, mundanely missed him.
"I had only started 'The Scouring of the Shire,'" Harry said weakly.
It took two months, twenty-three days, fourteen hours and forty-two minutes for Harry to find him.
"Malfoy!" Harry enthused when Draco answered the door.
"Potter," Draco drawled.
Harry willed his knees not to turn to jelly. Draco never spoke back, of course. Or hadn't. Now he
was glad that had been the case or there might have been some explaining to do.
"Not your charity case. So pleased that you visited so much when I was indisposed. Now I'm
making a new life. You're not a part of it."
The door shut.
"Oy!" Harry beat on the wooden surface.
The door opened. Clear grey eyes gazed fixedly at him.
"Didn't my visits mean anything?"
"I don't remember." Each syllable was carefully clipped. "I was in a coma."
"How'd you know I visited, then?"
Draco let out a small sigh. "The healers were quite keen to tell me. Both about their
miraculous skills, and also that a particular, and particularly famous, young man, chose to spend
an inordinate amount of time visiting. As I said. I'm not your charity case, but thank you so much
for seeing me when apparently no-one else cared."
This time Harry was ready, and had his foot near the doorframe. The forceful impact still hurt.
"What're you doing, Potter?"
"Not allowing you to shut your door in my face, yet again, you ingrate."
"Ingrate?" Draco sneered. "As I remember, which I don't, I didn't have any choice
in the matter. Now. Good day."
"Don't you want to know how it ends?" Harry yelled as the door shut firmly. He waited.
The door didn't re-open. "Well? Don't you?" he shouted at the shuttered windows.
Resounding silence answered him.
"FINE! Because who else would read to you, you pompous, ungrateful arse? Nobody! That's
Harry stormed away from the flat.
Eleven days later, Harry received an unexpected parchment from an unknown owl. It had passed
security clearances, so he wasn't worried, but it was still odd. Finely scripted penmanship in a
beautiful sepia ink gleamed from the paper.
You're right- no one else would have taken the time to
visit as often as you did,
much less continued to read to me. My apologies.
Yes, I do want to know how it ends. And begins.
It's all a bit vague.
Being unconscious, and all that.
"Now what?" Harry questioned himself, trying to will away the betrayal of his racing
pulse. "Didn't you want him to respond? C'mon. You faced down Voldemort. This is just Malfoy.
It's just a book."
Actually you know you do fancy Malfoy, his traitorous conscience reminded him. You miss his
presence, and while his appreciation is lacking, you're still hopeful that you've made an
impression on him as he's unwittingly made on you.
"Arrrgh!" Harry said out loud, startling the owl, which hooted in affront. "Oh.
Sorry." The owl looked knowingly at him, then began to preen its feathers. "A
Harry found an unbroken quill and piece of parchment. To his dismay, all of his papers had the
words 'From the desk of Harry Potter, Order of Merlin, Junior Undersecretary, Unsolvable
Mysteries' on them, but he decided maybe it wasn't a bad thing for Draco to see that he had a
title and had made something of himself. In erratic scrawl, he penned:
Dear Draco, Tuesdays are snooker night. Selkie's Swim. Just leave your ego at home as otherwise
I'm sure Ron will stomp on it.
p.s. Thanks for the owl. Hope to see you Tuesday.
Reasonably satisfied, he tied the note to the owl which then left his office, disturbing several
memos that had been winging their way toward him. Oh Merlin, he suddenly thought. Ron and Seamus
will be there. I'll never see him again after this. Bugger. Nice one, Potter.
Despondently, he looked at his calendar. Four days before he got to see Draco socially for the
first and surely the last time. Well, he'd certainly known disappointment before. He pulled a file
on unexplained outbreaks of emmalexis creeper and tried to absorb his attentions in it.
Tuesday found Harry shouting the second round of pints when a surprisingly sultry voice said into
his ear, "If you spent more time focused on your stick's trajectory and less on watching the
door you'd have a far better game, Potter."
He couldn't help himself, but Harry shut his eyes for a moment and leaned back slightly, trying to
breathe in Draco's scent. "Malfoy. You showed."
"Of course. How could I turn down the opportunity to show up a couple of Gryffindor war
Harry whirled around, the acerbic retort on his lips when Draco continued, "Desk jockey
though you may be, seeing you in those trousers is enough to make me wish I were an inbox on your
desk. They are in use at the Ministry, I assume?"
Harry swallowed. "Yes. Mine's pretty empty at the moment," he confessed.
"Good. I hate to be crowded."
Harry appraised the blond man, who offered to take the drinks over to their table. "So.
Thanks for showing up. I hope you're not here solely out of guilt-induced obligation,
"Not at all," Draco said, scooting past Harry in close enough proximity so that Harry
could notice and appreciate the other man's well-tailored form. And the bag over his shoulder.
"What is that?" Harry asked, picking up the remaining glass from the bar and following
Draco, who had obviously seen the impossible-to-miss towering form of Ron Weasley waving madly
from the other side of the room.
"You have your own?" Harry was shocked.
Draco turned briefly and cast a wicked grin. "I have many skills that you can only begin to
guess about, Potter."
Harry almost fell over his shoes and was recovering with the grace of a thestral on rollerskates
when Draco turned around once more. He spoke so quietly that Harry could barely hear him above the
din of the pub.
"Reading aloud is not one of those, however. Your talents in that field are unparalleled, and
I do hope you'll indulge me later."
The grin escaped from Harry quite despite himself.
"I need to know what happens to those hobbit-creatures," Draco said with exaggerated
concern as they approached the table. "Seems I absorbed a lot despite not really being there.
Ah. Weasley. Finnigan. Prepare to meet your doom."
"Do what?" Seamus exclaimed. "Who's this?" he jerked his thumb at Draco.
"Malfoy. You know that." Ron cuffed Seamus on the shoulder.
"Right," Seamus sniffed, then took a long pull from his newly-delivered pint.
"Don't think I can stand you."
"Nor I you," Draco said, placing the triangle over the balls on the table. "Let's
"So. You had almost finished reading me this monstrosity before I so rudely woke up and left
the sanctity of St. Mungo's," Draco said.
His voice was deeper than Harry had remembered; caramel-like in its tone, though still with an
edge. Burnt honey, perhaps? Was there such a thing?
"Potter? Do you often find yourself falling into a daze?" Knowing suggestiveness danced
in Draco's eyes as he turned the heavy book in his hands.
"No," Harry replied, chastened. "Suppose I'm a bit distracted."
One light eyebrow quirked on Draco's face. "Well, you did invite me here to your flat."
"Yes I did," Harry said, his voice belying his own surprise that he had done so.
"But you don't really want me to read to you, though. Or do you?" Harry was genuinely
puzzled, but the feelings rapidly turned into a low throb in his groin as Draco approached him
with the book. "And what made you change your mind? About having me in your life, I
"My, my," Draco said, his breath so close to Harry's ear that Harry had to suppress a
shiver. A flash of 'Merlin, I could reach out and touch him,' raced through him, giving him
goosebumps under his jumper. "So many questions. Think I'll have to sit down first."
He handed Harry the book, then strode the few steps it took to get to the small couch, and dropped
gracefully into it. Harry followed.
"I would love for you to read to me. I've been reading to myself, which, in contrast to
before my time at St. Mungo's, remains most unsatisfying. It seems that your time with me must
have had something to do with that."
Harry plunked down in the seat next to Draco, covering his lap and a most unfortunate burgeoning
embarrassment with the massive tome.
Draco gently cleared his throat. "As for why I changed my mind, well, I think it was your
earnestness. And the fact that I know full well how long it must have taken you to find me.
Dedication like that is rare." Harry watched as Draco brushed imaginary lint from a knee of
his trousers. "Even though I do truly want to start over after the wretched War, so many
people are still trying to use me. All you wanted to do, so I hear, was spend time with me. Though
I must admit to being a bit insulted that my company was so compelling when I was unable to talk
Draco gazed at Harry, who blurted out, "You don't think I'm a perv, do you? It wasn't
anything weird. You were calming."
"I was immobile."
"But not dead. Just quiet. And you'd sacrificed yourself. I couldn't stand the thought of you
just sitting there, no better than a potted plant or something."
Draco licked his bottom lip, then bit down slightly, pondering. "That's incredibly generous
"Wasn't generous at all," Harry insisted, nudging at the book. "And I'd remembered
stuff from some ridiculous Muggle magazines my Aunt Petunia used to read about people coming out
of comas. Plus you're certainly not an eyesore."
Draco tilted his head, a slow smile blooming in the corners of his mouth. "Are you saying
that you think I'm attractive, Potter?" His gaze raked over Harry slowly, making Harry feel
both desired and foolish.
Harry decided that brazen was the best approach. "Yes, Draco," he replied, then moved
the book over to the cushion on his right. "Call me a bloody idiot, but just your voice has
this effect on me." He waved vaguely over his lap at the obvious arousal there.
"But when you visited, I wasn't saying anything." The grey gaze wandered briefly to
acknowledge the goings-on of Harry's lap, then politely returned to Harry's face.
"No. I was comfortable around you. You let me be just me. I mean, Ron does that too, but I
don't fancy him." Harry paused for a moment as his brain caught up with his mouth. Oh fuck.
"I mean, sure we had a rivalry in school and all that, but after you stood up to the Death
Eaters, there was this weird respect for you, and oh, bollocks. You've always known that you're
"Pity that you've not always known the same about yourself." Draco took a deep breath,
and Harry watched his chest rise and fall.
This is a nightmare, Harry thought, staring at the few shining hairs revealed underneath the
unbuttoned top of Draco's shirt. All of a sudden Draco's comment registered in his addled mind.
"Draco. Did you just say I'm attractive?"
There was a sigh. "This from the savior of the wizarding world. As a person, and an
eighteenth generation Slytherin currently sharing the cushions with probably an eighteenth
generation Gryffindor, I'm afraid that I just don't know you very well, but your brain's response
time does seem to be appallingly slow for someone so talented."
The tension was excruciating, yielding to heated bliss. Harry had had some practice kissing, but
Draco had evidently had more. Their lips met, then pressed, and then there was an indefinable
amount of time in which they tried to topple each other on the couch as their tongues met, and
searched, and swept through eager mouths. After a while, Harry found himself stretched out on
Draco like a dog on shady ground; his feet were braced against Draco's shoes, and he held Draco's
long fingers in his hands, undulating slowly against the other man's hips, nuzzling and sucking
the side of his neck, the jawline with almost imperceptible coppery shadow, then back to his mouth
where the now-familiar tongue teased and welcomed and Draco was arching up into him, and
"Are you sure you want me to read to you with your head in my lap?"
"Only after you clean yourself up, or I will indeed think you're a perv, as you put it."
Draco said satedly, eyes half shut. "But I do want to hear how it ends."
"It's a long chapter!" Harry called over his shoulder, padding barefoot to his toilet.
"I have all night," Draco replied.
Harry stopped, then walked back, leaning against the doorframe that opened into his small living
"Just one night?" Harry tried to convince himself that he didn't actually need Draco,
but he most certainly had his hopes set on seeing the sexy young man again.
"I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to seeing me around, Potter, unless I've
completely misread you." Draco snorted, and pulled an early edition Hermione Granger blanket
over his nude figure. "Pun intended."
Harry grinned, teeth sparkling in the dim firelight, his arms crossed his chest. "Good. Just
don't go running when I start reading The Silmarillion. Though I think you'll like it, especially
since that one is much darker. More dragons."
"Merlin," Draco moaned, hefting the knitted throw over his face. "Let's just finish
the one, first, okay?"
"Definitely," Harry exhaled softly.
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