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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 3:56 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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There was something magnetic about having Potter smile at him, especially when it was unrestrained as it clearly was now. It made Draco feel that he was finally doing something right, something that was real and proper.
It also helped when he received genuine praise for Potter, even if he wasn’t sure what to do with said praise.
It had been so long since he had gotten the idea to think in French that he hardly felt like he could take credit anymore. Even after the war, he had decided to stick to it, scared that Death Eaters would still be lurking around, wanting to prove and prod into his research.
To his own knowledge, it had never come that for, but having thought in French for a decade meant that it was a hard habit to let go of, liking to know that he had some level of privacy in his own head.
“No one was as skilled of an legilimens as the Dark Lord,” he stated, not really answering Potters question, which hadn’t even felt like a question in the first place, in the process.
He did in fact remember himself lying to the Death Eaters, having felt certain that his Occlumency would be strong enough to keep them out, and if not, then him thinking in French would. It had felt safe enough to lie, though he still could not explain exactly what had compelled him to do so.
“And I am a good liar.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:11 pm 

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The admission, however on topic it might have been, felt like a bold and definite claim for their conversation; Malfoy had spoken it with more conviction than he had when he admitted to be fluent in French. Knowing what he did about Malfoy's activities through out the war, Harry was inclined to believe him.
Feeling an equal sense of professional security in his own ability to see through charades, Harry had thought Malfoy to be genuine in their interactions, albeit reserved up until this very last moment. It made something within him flip, significantly more intrigued than affronted by the possibility that Malfoy had gotten a lie past him.
It was all a lot, all of the sudden.
"Better than he was at Legilimens," Harry agreed with a grin. The thrill of knowing Malfoy had outsmarted Voldemort at 16 had moments before been enough to make him laugh; now it showed on his cheeks instead. Nothing in his voice indicated that he was aware of the slight flush blooming across his cheeks. He was, of course, but he couldn't get himself to care enough about that to shy away from the conversation prematurely.
"I wasn't," he offered as a point of reference to Malfoy's capabilities, a glint of unabashed interest in his eyes. "But then again I'm shod at Occlumency and I don't speak French."


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:14 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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There was something freeing about talking about their actions during the war, even if it was all very abstract and just a very tiny part of it. Draco had never really gotten to think about what he had done or even why he had done it, but part of him knew that his actions had been driven by the fact that he actually hadn’t wanted the Dark Lord to win the war.
It was quickly becoming clear to Draco that while Potter likely was one of the most powerful wizards that he had ever met, he wasn’t particularly skilled, something that Draco couldn’t relate to at all. He had spent a lot of time honing his craft, doing what he could to stay safe in a house full of people who merely would consider him a casualty if something happened to him.
“I had to do what I had to do,” he stated with a soft shrug, not wanting Potter to feel sorry for him. It had been his own choice to become a Death Eater after all, even if he, of course, had gotten a push from his father to enter the order, the large scar on his right forearm reminding him of that every single day.
“If staying safe meant being a good occlumens then that was what I became,” he stated with a shrug, having always seen his life like that.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 6:36 am 

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Harry made an acknowledging sound, not sure he wanted to speak on that. In principle, Harry figured things could be simplified enough to fit Malfoy's clear cut definition of learning through necessity; in practice, Harry knew from experience that there were other factors in play. Privately, Harry wondered if Snape had taught Malfoy, too, and if he had been a better educator to him than he had been to Harry. Practicing Occlumency with Snape had been awful and invasive, and the experience hadn't been far removed from having Voldemort prodding in his conciousness. Harry didn't think it was time well spent, tempted to find the effort to have been wasted, even though it should have been a priority of his.
"Brilliant," Harry simply said with a smile, finding that that conversation was better saved for another day. Malfoy had done what Harry had failed to do, and that in and of itself deserved recognition.
Harry's attention was momentarly diverted by Coote apparating another bundle of letters on top of the already considerable pile forming on his desk. However tempting it was to engage in conversation, finding they were uncovering more shared experiences than he had been aware of, Harry was also technically on the clock, and essentially two hours late for work.
"Well done," he said as a parting remark, eyes back onto Malfoy. He had already taken another step away from Malfoy's desk, but his smile was bright and attentive. Regardless of how his addition sounded, Harry ment it ernestly. "You'll have to tell me more some other time, I'm dying to know in what other ways you outsmarted us."


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 9:23 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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It was with a certain sense of loss that Draco acknowledged that Potter had to go back to work. He knew that they actually had to do work here, after all they had a case to solve and Draco was keen to figure out what was actually going on.
However, he had also really enjoyed their talk, finding that there really was no one that he was able to talk with like that. It was something special that he could only share with Potter, having never considered that maybe Potter would be the only one who would properly understand him.
“That will be my pleasure,” he sad with a soft smile, genuinely looking forward to actually getting to talk with Potter again. It was like the night before really had moved their relation at a rapid pace, the two of them suddenly becoming something that were a lot more like friends.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 10:57 am 

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_________

The simple tidbit that Malfoy's thoughts were in French had had consequences beyond what Harry could have ever expected. Primarily because he was unable to picture the way Malfoy's voice sounded when speaking French, something that had completely clouded any othee obligations Harry had for the day.
Harry had on several occasions caught his attention drifting, eyes leaving his work in favour for Malfoy's quarter profile. The offset between their workspaces left Malfoy always just within Harry's line of sight when he was sat working at his desk, something which hadn't been an issue until today.
Harry had been unable to stop thinking about how it would sound were Malfoy's thought to fill the room. He imagined it to be like Fleur's French language Wireless playing in her kitchen, a soft buzz of a foreign language to fill the void without distracting.
It had crossed Harry's mind to try and confirm that expectation, but he knew his Legilimency to be even shoddier than his Occlumency. While he had successfuly bested Snape, Harry was certain it would be pointless; there was no doubt in his mind that Malfoy was absolutely masterly, his thoughts completelt sealed from outside observers.
Instead, Harry had considered if Malfoy would speak his usual speculations in French, were Harry to ask him to. A continuous stream of conciousness, Harry had only realized his mind had wandered as he realized he's been admirering the pensive slope of Malfoy's furrowed brows. Harry had nearly knocked his inkwell over when he startled returned to his work.
All in all, it had been a rather disasterous workday.

As the afternoon came to an end, Harry had relaxed back into his chair, turning his quill between his fingers. Not for the first time, his eyes were on Malfoy, absentmindedly watching him work.
Harry had finished his work, and time he excused his wandering eye by the fact that he was simply allowing Malfoy to finish for the day in his own pace. Harry had no issue waiting, able to entertain himself by quietly observing Malfoy's work; this time around, Harry's attention was intentionally directed at Malfoy's hands.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:10 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The work day went by in a blur to Draco, having allowed the work to consume him and the entire day, just like her normally did. It was the one thing he could count on to feel somewhat normal to him, even if everything was weird between himself and Potter, the work would always help keep in grounded in their purpose and now allow himself to get too caught up in everything.
Throughout the day however, Draco had felt certain that he could feel Potter looking at him from across the room, but he never caught him in it, so it stayed at just the suspicion. It was part of the reason that it was better to just focus on his work and not let himself get distracted.
Just because he and Potter were slowly starting to become friends didn’t meant that Draco had to suddenly overthink their relation. He should just take it easy and let it develop as it did, there was no reason to rush anything, much less a realisation about possibly feeling something different towards Potter.
Once he realised that the hour was getting late and that he had reached a point in his research where a break would make sense, Draco put his quill away and glanced over at Potter. This time, he was getting confirmation that Potter was indeed looking at him and Draco had no idea just how long he had been staring.
He felt the heat reach his cheeks and he just had to hope that it didn’t show as an actually blush.
“You know, you can just say if you need something,” he stated, breaking the hour long silence that had fallen like a thick blanket over the study. It was their routine to talk very little while they worked and it was something Draco cherished greatly, but he also didn’t want Potter to feel like he couldn’t ask him of things. “You don’t have to wait for me to realise that you are looking at me, because that way you might be waiting hours.”

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 6:05 pm 

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The way Malfoy broke the silence of the room startled Harry enough for his expression to waver. He struggled to differentiate if Malfoy was peeved at Harry's attention, or if he was being perfectly civil and Harry had just been caugh gawking, something which felt embarrasingly juvenile and like it should be cause for irritation.
In the Wizarding World, it always felt like there was a possibility of your own thoughts being not only audible but loud to others. Harry paused for a moment, trying to gauge Malfoy's reaction. While none of Harry's thoughts had been explicit or inherently inapropriate, Harry would certainly prefer not having to justify them to the subject matter himself.
In the end, Harry just smiled, resting on his laurels and the expectation that he hadn't misconstruded their budding friendship.
"I don't need anything," Harry reassured, gentle and amicably. Part of him felt like Malfoy didn't know it was past six. "I've finished my work."
No matter Malfoy's gracious attempts to be a good hosts, the fact remained that there was no true neutral ground for Harry to retract to. The kitchen wasn't the Ministry lunch hall, and Harry didn't dare leisure in neither the dining room nor the mantle room without Malfoy. While Harry could certainly spend the afternoon in his room, Harry found that he'd rather spend his time with Malfoy, even if the other was deep at work.
"Did I interrupt you?" Harry asked, some surprise visible in his eyes. His hand stalled, as if fearing picking at the feather had been loud enough to distract Malfoy from his work. Perhaps Malfoy hadn't spoken up because he was done for the day, but because Harry had been a nuisance; suddenly feeling struck, Harry's smile faltered, unexpectedly hurt. "I can wait elsewhere."


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 10:38 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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There really was something about the way that Potter tried to save himself from having been caught staring, probably because he had just been zoning out and that his gaze had accidentally landed on Draco. It really wasn’t a bother, Draco knowing full well that he manor was intimidating, no matter how long Potter had been staying at it. It only made sense that he would want to wait for Draco to get done with what he was doing, before attempting to leave the study for the day.
“It’s alright, I am at a natural break,” he stated, not wanting Potter to feel like he was being a bother. It really was no big deal after all, in fact, Draco was almost thankful that there was someone around to take his mind off work at times. He knew that he needed to be better to eat and in general just do things that wasn’t burying himself in whatever research he was fixating on at the time.
“Are you hungry?” He asked, having little to no appetite himself, but wanting to be a good host to Potter, he always made sure to eat all meals with him. “Do you want to go to dinner?”

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:54 am 

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Through no fault but his own, Harry thought Malfoy had just asked him out. It immediately made his brows quirk with surprised interest, before it was replaced with a grin, catching himself in the misinterpretation. There was nothing about Malfoy's phrasing that inherently justified that Harry had gotten that impression, and Harry knew it had entirely been his own derailed train of thought to blame. It was completely nonsensical to read anything into it.
"Uh, yeah," he responded, sheepishly humoured by the way his mind had filled in the blanks.
He abandoned the quill, instead folding his arms across his chest.
"Are we going out? Am I allowed to leave?" Harry asked in an attempt to correct the narrative, more of a joke than a question as the smile continued to toy at the corners of mouth. He needed to justify Malfoy's choice of words some way or another.
These last few days, Harry had stopped spending time trying to estimate how long he had to stay at the Manor, and Harry wasn't blind to the fact that it was because he had started finding real company in Malfoy. It made the loss of his regular day to day start to feel less severe, but it wasn't a lie to say Harry had started to itch for a change in scenery.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:17 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Deciding that he needed to stretch his legs, Draco got up from his seated position, realising just how long he had been sitting only after getting up. He didn’t mind working long days, but in a way it was probably better that he had Potter around to remind him of doing the things that needed doing to continue living.
“Grown tired of Coote’s cooking?” He asked with a warm smile, figuring that Potter was likely to be joking around. He knew what the situation was after all, so there really was no reason he would be asking about it like that.
Instead, Draco was trying to wrap his head around the fact that they were probably friends, in their own way, and that that was how friends talked to each other.
“We can move to an entirely different room if you’re tired of the kitchen too,” he suggested, deciding that it was easier to just joke around. “Merlin knows that the manor has plenty.”

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:59 am 

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The first odd phrasing Harry could dismiss as chance or accident, but the second seemed like too much of a coincidence. It made Harry's heart flip, suddenly aware of the possibiliy that he hadn't been mistaken, or at worst been imagining things. The notion that Malfoy might have expressed harbouring a school boy attraction to Viktor Krum was still fresh on Harry's mind, though he was suddenly at a loss whether or not it was spoken out if conversation or because Malfoy wanted him to take note of it. It was hardly a secret that Harry had been with men after his divorce, but Harry didn't consider himself to be out in any official capability, and he hadn't expectef Malfoy to know that.
In a split second decision, Harry decided to lean into it.
"Aren't they mostly bedrooms?" Harry asked, a wide enough smile on his lips to remain his plausible deniability.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:30 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Potter’s comment was all it took for a soft blush to reach Draco’s cheeks, unsure what he had just implied, but Potter had clearly heard something different than what his intention had been. He was glad that he was standing though, because then there was a chance that Potter wouldn’t notice his blush.
“I-“ he started, unsure how to continue of the tangent that he had accidentally gotten them on. It was weird and Draco had no idea how much of their interactions was just what was to expected from friendship and how much of it was Potter messing with him.
“Let’s just stick with the kitchen, yeah?” He ended up on, figuring that that would be a satisfactory conclusion to their conversation.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:58 am 

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Harry couldn't help but laugh. There was no malice in the sound, but Malfoy's stuttered reply was an explicit sign that Harry had overreached, and the ridicule of the situation had gotten to him.
Malfoy was beautiful and terrific company, and here was no doubt in Harry's mind that he found him attractive, and yet there was nothing about the rejection that made Harry cringe with embarrasment; over the course of the last few weeks, Harry had learned that Malfoy was a terribly good sport.
"I like the kitchen," Harry assured, as the laugh turned into a toothy smile.
He uncrossed his arms to stand, stepping away fron the desk. His eyes had dipped as he pushed the chair in, but found Malfoy when he continued  "And I think Coote's food's excelent, especially compared to what Kreacher usually serves me. I'm not complaining at all."


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:13 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Dinner had gone without any further slip ups from Draco’s side. In fact, they were right back to small talking and just having a good time together, sharing war stories without getting each other down. It made Draco realise once again that Potter likely was the only person who truly got him, which was something that he had never really known before.
There was also just something a lot simpler about talking over a shared meal, something that Draco also couldn’t remember the last time he had allowed himself to do. Something about Potter just made it a lot easier for Draco to calm down and just share from experiences he never got to share with anyone, because nobody would understand just what he had had to do.
It was also easier for Draco to actually eat when it was an event rather than just something he had to do to stay alive. It wasn’t something he wanted to think too much about, but he was absolutely certain that he had gained weight in the time that Potter had been staying with him.
“I honestly don’t think it was the smart, I was just following every single impulse that came to me,” he stated with a shrug, having returned to how he taught himself to think in French to keep the Dark Lord out of his mind.
“You know, when you want to survive, you figure things out.”

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:44 pm 

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Harry hummed, more out of interest than relatability. While he agreed, the more they got to talk about it the clearer it becane that they had had to survive similar things in distinctly different ways. What had kept Malfoy safe under his particular circumstances were hardly applicable in Harry's, but it only seemed to make matters that much more interesting.
He had leaned forward, table manners to the wind; both his elbows were on the lip of the table, utensils interrupted by Malfoy's words but still in his hands.
"You had terrific impulses, then," Harry smiled, finally accepting the fact that their conversation was more engaging than the few bites of the artichoke salad Coote had served for their side. He placed the knife and fork back against the china.
"I relied entirely on the impulses of others," he said, and on reflection, that had teally been the case. They hadn't won because Harry was a strategic genuious, but because they were predestined to.
He relaxed back into the chair, bringing his glass of watee with him for a drink. His brows furrowed for a moment, a reaction to his words before he ever spoke them.
"Snape spent weeks trying to teach me," Harry shared, though he expected that particular anecdote to be familiar to Malfoy; not becauuse Harry had shared it before, but because Malfoy had assumingly lived through it himself.
A smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. "Occlumency, that is, not French. And mind you I applied myself harder than I've ever done before, if only out of spite."
Harry still remembered Snape's taunts during thise late night classes, but he hesitated to share, expecting Malfoy's memories od their late prodessor to be more favourable than Harry's. "I don't think it was of any use, though. Voldemort was so far in my head I think it was way beyond the point of keeping him out."
There was no immediate trauma to Harry's voice at  that recollection; in fact, a smile pulled at his lips unwillingly. "I've often wondered if it was even Legilimency; that maybe we just shared a brainwave, and he had to endure me gushing about Cho Chang for the better part of fifth year just as much as I had to dream about snakes."


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:06 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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It was extremely interesting to Draco to hear what Potter had actually done to eventually defeat the Dark Lord. Even all these years after, there was very little information public about what had actually gone down in the time that Potter had been gone from the public eye.
Even if he was just learning through tidbits that Potter thought to share while they were talking, Draco still hung onto his every word. It felt so natural to just share stories like this, something that still seemed so high stakes to talk about, even now that both of them knew that it was completely without stakes for them to talk about now.
“You were always a lousy student,” Draco stated with a crooked grin, having always noticed that Potter only seemed to be excelling when Granger was pulling him up.
He was unable to stop himself from chuckling at the idea of the Dark Lord having to listen in on Potter agonising over Cho Chang for an entire year. It was something that served to lighten up their conversation and Draco enjoyed knowing that it hadn’t been easy for the Dark Lord either.
“But I am glad that you managed to torture the Dark Lord as well.”

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 5:04 pm 

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Harry made a face, though the smile spreading across his lips served as proof that he couldn't entirely disgaree. In those particular circumstances, Harry had done the bare minimum to get by academically and he could argue he wasn't alone to blame. But, to be fair, not even he could picture himself veing a model student, even withdrawing childhood trauma and the war.
"I think I always were," Harry grinned. "Arguably since I was born."
He hadn't failed to notice how Malfoy still adhered to arbitrary titles. It was unlikely Harry would ever comment on it, realizing that he had been casually airing his grieveances about Voldemort for the past two decades; it was entirely possibke Malfoy hadn't spoke about him at all since the war.
"How was it living with him?" Harry instead asked, crossing his arms across his chest to stop himself from fidgetting through Malfoy's reply.
There was an easy smile to his lip. He had asked because he wanted to hear a sob story or unpick Malfoy's healed trauma; Harry had lived with Voldemort in his head for years, but he struggled to conjure him as a literal housemate.
"If you don't mind me asking."


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:03 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The question caught Draco a little off guard, unsure what kind of answer Potter was expecting from him.
There was no way that Draco would be able to make it fun and lighthearted, but then again, they really didn’t seem to shy away from any topic whatsoever, so maybe Potter genuine wanted to know what living with the Dark Lord had been like.
“Terrifying,” he stated, unsure how else to really explain what it really had been like.
One thing had been to answer to the lord, doing the jobs that he wanted to get done and help their cause. However, sharing a home with him had been exhausting in a way that Draco had never known before. When you were suddenly afraid that your every thought was being broadcasted, you started closing yourself off and disappear from the world.
“When you live with someone who is also in your head like that, you start become hyper aware of what you’re thinking at all times, even if I felt certain that he didn’t understand,” he elaborated, still remembering the feeling with terror. “It wasn’t completely baseless, I did see him punish someone for having thoughts that he didn’t approve of.”

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 1:50 am 

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Harry understood the trauma to be entirely different when there was a physically short distance between action and punishment. Harry hadn't had a moment to himself those last years of the war, but at the very least the damage that followed of that was either emotional or self inflicted. Malfoy had truly spent his summers under brutal conditions.
Harry made a point of not letting any pity show on his expression. He didn't feel any, only a deep sense of pained sympathy.
"Does that linger in the house?" Harry instead asked. He had already asked about Malfoy's living arrangements, but it bore repetition, especially now that Malfoy had grown likely to answer the question genuinely.
"Because you were barely in custody after the war," Harry said, the brief furrow of his brow halfway a question, no longer honed on the details of Malfoy's trial; he had once been. Harry had zoned out of existence the months following the Battle, but Malfoy and his mother's trials were among the few moments Harry knew he mentally showed up to, feeling like he had debts to be repaid.
"Did you choose to come back?"


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