Chapter 1 : 1.
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Reality is a sliding door. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
It all starts one night when Harry wakes to the sound of waves crashing into a beach. He rolls over, the sheets brushing his cheek warmly, and wonders when he moved to his bedroom because he could have sworn he fell asleep on the couch last night.
Stretching, he spreads his arms out across the bed and nearly tumbles off the edge in surprise when his hand bumps into a warm lump on the other side. There is someone else in his bed. After a moment of complete panic, Harry realizes that the color of the sheets is all wrong, a deep burgundy instead of navy, and decides this must all just be a dream.
“Whaa? Wasswrong?” the body next to him mumbles and Harry looks more closely to see the sleep-mussed face of Draco Malfoy peering back at him in the dim light. Somehow, in that weird dream way, Harry is not upset by this at all. “Did you have another dream?”
Draco reaches over clumsily to brush some hair off of Harry’s forehead and Harry widens his eyes, trying to get everything to come into focus because for some reason, in this dream, he isn’t wearing his glasses.
The sound of the ocean is still washing across the room and he almost thinks that they must be near the seashore, when he sees that the noise is coming from a tiny black box on the bedside table.
Picking it up, he shakes it slightly. “What the hell is this?”
“Oh,” Draco yawns, rubbing at his eyes like a child. “I changed it from the jungle track because the frog noises were keeping me awake.”
Harry looks down at the machine again and recognizes it vaguely as one of those sound machines that was supposed to block out noise and help with sleep. He sets it back down gingerly. “Right.”
Draco smugly settles back into bed, and says in a sleepy voice, “The ocean is much more peaceful anyway. None of that wildlife rubbish like the jungle.”
Harry snorts, staring down Draco as he talks himself back into sleep. “The jungle is just… too many… bugs…”
Draco’s breathing evens out slowly and he lets out a sigh, flinging his arm out across the bed in his sleep and catching hold of Harry’s hip.
Harry freezes, suddenly very aware that he isn’t wearing a shirt. The outline of Draco’s hand, half on his skin, half on the waistband of his pajamas, is burning hot and he jerks away from it skittishly. It’s not being half-naked that’s the problem — in fact, that’s pretty normal sleeping attire for him — it’s that he’s in a bed, not wearing a shirt, with Malfoy of all people, and he’s being treated like the man’s own personal teddy bear.
Carefully, Harry tries to peel the hand off of him, lifting the fingers gently one-by-one, when Draco sighs again and shifts so that now it’s not just his hand, but his entire arm that is slung over Harry’s waist, all but pinning him to the mattress.
Harry lays there, cringing, as motionless as a block of ice, and realizes that there is no possible way he can move from here without waking Draco up. And the last thing he wants is for the other man to be awake and able to ask questions he has no idea how to answer.
Instead, he rubs his head back into the pillow, staring up at the ceiling blankly. The bed is actually quite comfortable, with the sort of flannel sheets he always likes to use in the winter time and Draco lying a little bit away like a human space heater, and Harry can feel himself starting to get drowsy again.
Good, he thinks. The sooner he falls asleep, the sooner he can wake up and this dream can be over.
Dimly, he can feel Draco’s breath brushing his cheek and Harry suddenly realizes what a strange dream this is to be having, strange even by strange-dream standards. But before he can get any further with that thought, his brain runs fuzzy and sleep takes over again.
The next morning, Harry finds himself in his own bed, navy sheets and miles of empty mattress beside him and decides that it must have been the extra spicy Indian takeaway that he’d had for dinner the night before.
It’s not the first time he’s had strange, disturbing dreams after all. It’s just that usually those dreams involved Voldemort and dying and not Draco Malfoy.
If someone had asked Harry what he thought his life was going to be like after the war was over, he would have told them that all he wanted was some peace. Truthfully, he had imagined finishing what he started by joining the Aurors, Ron by his side, as always, and someday, marrying Ginny and having a home, a real one, the kind he had never really had, and children, a family, together.
Somehow, things haven’t turned out that way. Ron, at least, is still there as his partner and best friend, but lately Harry sees him fiddling with the tiny black jewelry box that he keeps in his robe pocket and he wonders how much that will change once Ron and Hermione get married.
He used to think that once Ron and Hermione got together, it was only a matter of time until he and Ginny did the same. He had spent the last months of the war sustaining himself purely on the memory of her eyelashes, each freckle that dotted the bridge of her nose, the smell of her scarlet hair, the press of her hand against the nape of his neck as they kissed. And it was just — he had never considered any other option. Harry had never anticipated that a year after they had moved in together, their flat a warm, cozy home in London, Ginny would be furiously packing a suitcase, yelling that she couldn’t do it anymore. He was different now, she shouted. She didn’t know him — maybe she never had — and she couldn’t live up to the perfect image he had built of her in his head. No one could fill that vision of perfection, Ginny said, and nearly spat the word in his face.
She had left that night, in spite of the rain pouring down outside, and Harry spent the next hour systematically smashing every breakable item left in their apartment. Picture frames, vases full of flowers and water that soaked the floor when they shattered, plates he and Ginny had picked out together — and then the whole next morning he put everything back to together in the hopes that she might come back.
She didn’t and Harry watched numbly as all of her things were packed away into boxes, the pile by the door growing and growing until the flat felt cold and empty and nothing mattered to him very much.
Post break-up, Harry whittles the hours away at the Aurors, working each case with mindless intensity, before coming home to his barren apartment and eating takeaway at his dining room table alone. Hermione tells him he should get some pictures for the walls or maybe a plant to take care of, something. Harry agrees but then just ends up spending hours at the decorating store staring at pictures, unable to choose one because they all look the same. Ron is concerned and says he should go out and meet some new girls, and he tries, but it seems impossible to find someone that doesn’t want him just because he’s famous and so Harry ends up spending his evenings at home, reading his old Quidditch magazines over and over until he thinks he must have them memorized.
He never wanted it in the first place and sometimes Harry wonders idly how things would be if he weren’t quite so famous.
It happens again.
This time Harry wakes up alone, but before he even opens his eyes, he knows something is off. There is a certain smell about the sheets, or maybe it’s the way he is lying on the side of the bed. After Ginny left, Harry had forced himself to sleep in the middle to help him forget how big the bed seemed without her. Now, he is laying off to the right, his arm dangling over the edge, and he can hear the faint sound of the shower running through the open bathroom door.
Harry has the fleeting thought that maybe it’s someone different in there — that perhaps this is just some kind of recurring dream and his mind will just fill in the blanks with different people he knows.
But even as he thinks that, Harry knows in a way he can’t explain that it is Draco in the shower, and he starts to freak out a little.
Rolling out of bed, he snatches up a picture that is resting on top of the dresser. It is of him, grinning from ear to ear, face lit by the light of the candles that are stuck in the birthday cake before him, but beside him, arm slung around Harry’s shoulders to pull their cheeks close, is Draco Malfoy.
“You’re up early,” a cheerful voice comes from the bathroom doorway and Harry whips around to see Draco, back in his pajama pants and rubbing his wet hair dry with a towel. “I wasn’t aware you knew that 7AM even existed.”
When he doesn’t respond, Draco just keeps smiling and smiling at him, full of teasing and he’s wearing glasses and Harry doesn’t know how to react at all. After a moment, the grin drops from Draco’s face and he walks towards Harry, looking concerned.
“Are you okay?”
This scares him about a hundred times more than the teasing and Harry shakes his head wordlessly, rooted to the spot in some kind of nameless horror. Draco reaches a hand out and he starts, backing away slowly and then nearly bolting into the bathroom.
He fumbles with the knob for a moment, locking the door, and slumps against it. Then he realizes he’s still holding the picture of them together. It falls out of his shaking hands onto the floor, thankfully landing on the rug rather than smashing to pieces on the blue tile.
Looking in the mirror, Harry can see his own face, white-lipped and damp, parchment-skinned, and feels the bottom drop out of his stomach. He pushes his sweaty hair away from his forehead frantically, but the reflection staring back at him doesn’t change: his scar is gone.
“Harry?” His name is accompanied by a knock this time and then Draco says more softly, “Did you have another nightmare again?”
Yes, he thinks. The most horrible nightmare.
There is a pause and Harry’s heart leaps to his throat as he realizes he’s said that out loud.
“I think you’d better skip work today. I’ll owl them to let them know you aren’t coming. I have appointments until four this afternoon. Are you going to be okay till then?”
He nods and Draco must be able to hear the sound of his head moving against the door because he quietly says his goodbyes and Harry hears his footsteps begin moving around the bedroom again.
Sliding down to the floor, Harry wills his heart to stop racing. He doesn’t understand why this is freaking him out so much, except that it’s Malfoy and it all just feels so incredibly real.
After a few moments, the noises from outside the door stop and Harry decides Draco must have left for work by now, making it safe to venture outside the bathroom again.
Taking the picture frame in his hands gingerly, as though the way their faces are pressed happily together is going to rub off, Harry sets it face down in its place on the dresser. Next to it are a few jewelry cases Harry opens to find a large collection of expensive watches and decides that this stuff must be Draco’s.
Along with the watches are several cards he seems to have saved. One of them, a Christmas card, is from Harry and he frowns at the note inside, a teasing joke followed by an almost sentimental comment about how long he and Draco have been together and how happy he is. Putting it down before he can burn a hole into it from staring at his own signature, the same in every way as the one he wrote everyday at work, Harry picks up the next one and nearly drops it out of shock. It’s from Ron and Hermione, which, as it’s in Hermione’s neat script, isn’t much of a surprise, but the message in the card is addressed to both him and Draco. He scans through it quickly. It’s a cheerful note, Happy Christmas and New Year’s, blah blah, full of wishing that Harry and Draco might come over and visit them more often and Harry has a hard time taking it all in.
It’s not just the fact that Ron and Hermione and Draco all seem to get along in this dream that is so baffling; it’s that he and Draco seem have been together so long here that people have started sending them joint cards — like an old married couple.
Harry backs away from the dresser and the cards and picture like they’re radioactive.
Desperately, he tries to remember the Occlumency training Professor Snape had given him years and years ago. It’s not that Harry thinks someone is messing around inside his mind but maybe he’ll be able to gain a little control and wake the hell up. He closes his eyes and tries to empty his mind. It isn’t as difficult as he remembers it being when he was a teenager, the sort of weirdly blank feeling calming his anxiety, and Harry opens his eyes again.
If anything the whole scene just seems even clearer. Harry feels like he can see every rumple in the sheets, every speck of dust floating through the air and catching the sunlight that is filtering through the window. He can smell everything too — the coffee sitting out in the kitchen, the damp, soapy smell from the recently used shower and underneath all of that is something more mysterious, like a combination of Draco’s natural smell and that of his cologne.
It is too much.
Harry skitters out into the living room and is assaulted with more pictures, with their shoes lying mixed together next to the front door and the blankets tangled on the couch like they had been left over from him and Draco cuddling.
He feels sick to his stomach. Even in his mind, his subconscious, how could this be his life?
The bile is creeping up his throat, saliva disgusting and tangy on his tongue and Harry dashes back to the bathroom. His toothbrush is in the holder next to Draco’s and there’s only one bottle of shaving cream and one tube of toothpaste and Harry finds himself heaving and emptying his stomach into the cold basin of the toilet.
Sitting back, disgusted, Harry can feel himself sweating and everything seems to spin a bit. Maybe if he just laid down for a while…
Harry’s cheek rubs softly against the bathroom rug and he takes a deep breath, shutting his eyes. The lights behind his eyelids are dimming, dimming, dimming until it all goes dark and thankfully, he can almost feel himself sink down through the floor, out of the dream, and back into sleep.
A/N: I was trying to write more Help Wanted, and then this happened, somehow. This Drarry has consumed my life for a month and a half and I can say with confindence that it is all Melissa’s (witnesstoitall) fault. I mused, ‘what if Harry had really crazy dreams? But no, I shouldn’t write it. I’m already doing too much.’ But then she said, ‘OMG DO IT I DARE YOU TELL ME EVERYTHING.’ And that is how Drarry came to be. I know, another WIP. But this one is already complete! It tops out at somewhere over 18k and is in seven parts. It should all be up soon.
Thank you to Melissa, my most amazing friend, for pushing me into this idea, to my best beta, Janechel, for fixing all my silly mistakes. And a million thank you's to my peeps, you know who you are, for putting up with my crazy, all the whinging and insanity over the past month and a half.
I hope you’re all willing to go down this road with Harry and I. It’s not AU, if you don’t want to look at it that way. Or is it?
Disclaimer: The wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing you recognize.