After an awkward few minutes of Potter being too shocked to do much of anything, and another even more awkward hour of Potter attempting to chat with Draco's friends in the boy's dorm room while they remained painfully guarded yet still very noticeably amused, Potter blessedly excused himself back to the Gryffindor house.

While he admittedly was starting to enjoy his more intimate sessions with Potter, spending time with their mouths primarily used for talking was something Draco was still struggling to get through. He hated being this version of himself, so dependent and weak, and especially in front of his friends. They knew too well of his true strength of course, but it still left him with a bitter taste in his mouth, and Potter's babbling and clumsy departure did not come soon enough.

He sighed. If only Potter was the sort of person to fall only for someone's looks. No matter, it had to be done.

"Well, that was…" Blaise said bemusedly, shaking his head.

"...An experience." Daphne finished. Pansy snorted, looking like she wanted to say something a bit more honest, but Draco piped up before she could.

"It definitely was. Did you know Harry has a particularly good invisibility cloak?" He asked, his use of Potter's first name and not fully relaxed posture a good enough hint for all of his friends to stay in character. He needed to discuss the characters they would have to play with them soon, for this to truly work they would all need to show some level of tortured insecurity as well to have Potter start to trust them all, but it would have to wait. He wouldn't put it past Potter to stick around to hear them gossip about him. Draco wouldn't be fully at ease until the next morning.

"So that's how he got in." Pansy grinned. "I was wondering whether you snuck him in somehow. Still, you too seemed to be having a lot more fun than we did any time you and I kissed."

"That's not difficult. He's much more manly than you are, Pans." Draco said, full of his trademark smirk. Pansy scowled, but there was no venom in it.

"Honestly, that sounds like a You problem, Draco." She said, one eyebrow raised, cool and arrogant. "But if you'd rather be snogging some Chosen boy I will not fault you."

"So very kind of you." Draco retorted with a roll of his eyes, before their conversation turned to other topics for the rest of the evening.

Draco spent the next few mornings carefully crafting the public versus private image of all his friends in preparation for Potter's next impromptu visit, and then next few evenings in empty classrooms spelled carefully shut with Potter, doing their schoolwork in between heated make out sessions.

He was careful to bring out the well practiced guarded-but-happy expression he had been working on every time Potter looked up at him from his books, and by the wide grin he received in return it was believable. It took a lot of concentration for him to act so insecure after spending so much of his life training any and all insecurities out of him, but Potter was believing every second of it, and doing his best to show Draco that he cared and he was there to support him.

It made Draco want to take a cold shower more than any of the fake flirting and fooling around ever could.

By the time they reached a calm Saturday afternoon just a few days after Potter's spontaneous visit to the Slytherin dorms, he brought up the subject of going public once more.

"I really want to make sure you're okay with it." Potter said for what felt like the millionth, but was likely just the third, time. "I just don't want this to come out by some other means and make things a hundred times worse, but I won't if you're not ready."

"It's okay." Draco said in what he hoped was a meek, but reassuring tone. "As long as you're not expecting me to suddenly change how I act in public."

"You can keep your mask on. It's okay." Potter said with a comforting smile, not realising that the mask he was talking about was much closer to Draco's true self than this cowering mess was.

Draco took a long breath, letting it shake a bit, then looked into Potter's eyes. "Okay Harry. Let's do it."

Potter smiled a big goofy smile, getting out of his chair to sit on Draco's lap, hands cupping his face.

"This is going to be hell." He said softly, inching his mouth closer to Draco's. "But so worth it for this."

As their lips met, Draco couldn't help but reflect those words were just a little too fitting to his own situation as well. As absolutely soul destroying it was to have to spend so much time hanging around with Potter, it was made just bearable in those moments when they wouldn't have to speak at all.

He kissed back slowly, letting their bodies melt together on the uncomfortable chair and enjoyed the last moment he would have of this before everyone in the school would be imagining the scene along with them.

Draco had known that Potter would spread the news Sunday morning, it had been why they had deferred their usual Sunday morning kitchen date to Sunday lunch, but even if he hadn't it would have been strikingly clear the second he stepped into the Great Hall for breakfast. The hostile silence fell across the room, as all eyes turned to him. He walked calmly over to the Slytherin table and took a seat between Daphne, who smirked at him, and Theo, who just nodded a small greeting.

He helped himself to a couple of pieces of warm buttered toast, took a bite and slowly chewed, swallowed, before raising his glance to the Gryffindor table. Potter was staring at him, of course, and offered Draco a tiny but very real smile from across the hall. Draco stared at him a little bit longer, then raised his head a fraction of an inch in response before returning to his breakfast.

It was all that was needed. The entire room burst into a series of hushed whispers, students scurrying up and down the long tables to gossip to anyone and everyone that would engage with them. Quieter but equally earnest mutterings were going on from the staff table, few of the teachers composed enough to not at least turn to their neighbor in confusion.

Angry, sinister looks were darted toward Draco from every angle, small snapshots of plots to distance the two, break them up or just plain break Draco flitting in and our of earshot from the clusters of furious students.

Draco ate his toast.

He had to carefully avoid many attempted spells cast his way as he made it back to the Slytherin dorms, and again as he snuck to the kitchens for the Sunday outing that had become tradition over the last few weeks, and luckily managed to avoid all but a ridiculous hex to cover his face in pimples by the time he reached their little table.

Potter looked at him, aghast, but Draco merely pulled his wand to reverse the affects of the hex, returning his face to its unmarred glory.

"I'm so sorry, Draco, this is so much worse than I expected."

"It's fine, Harry." Draco said, forcing his features into a look that was both vulnerable and brave. "A few angry children won't be the end of me. Not when I have you. How did everything go in Gryffindor?"

Potter sighed, still looking worriedly at Draco. "Not great. There was a lot of shouting. A lot of… really horrible things being said. About you, your family, me and my ability to make rational decisions about my own life."

Draco reached over the table to squeeze Potters hand reassuringly.

"At least it's done now." He said calmly. "And you're right, it would have been so much worse if they found out a different way."

"I know." Potter groaned. "But all of my classes and meals are going to be a nightmare from now on, and so many assholes will be trying to hurt you."

"Don't worry about me, Slytherins can take care of ourselves. I can't do much to help out in classes, but at least for meals you can sit with us. Most of my house doesn't like you, but they also don't really care that much. I'm sure you'll have a much better time of it with us."

And as much as Draco would hate having to keep up this act even more with Potter hanging around him all the time, at least it would benefit the plan.

Potter smiled and nodded, looking visibly less stressed as the house elves walked to their table with their lunch. Conversation shifted to easier topics from then, and Potter did join the Slytherin table for dinner, looking quite the odd one out sandwiched between Draco and Blaise in relative silence as they all got through their meal. He gave Draco the briefest peck on the lips before they went their separate ways for the evening, causing Draco to touch his lips softly as Potter walked away and another ripple of unease through the student body.

It wasn't until Draco was comfortably back in the safety of his own common room, laughing with his friends about the ridiculous act he put on after his first public kiss from the great Chosen One, when the letter he was expecting came for him.

It was cleanly wax sealed with the Malfoy family crest, and contained only one sentence in the elegant script of Lucius Malfoy.

Evidently, the letter read, a conversation is in order on your return.

Draco pursed his lips, and showed the letter to his friends. All these weeks of planning and flirting and Occlumency lessons had led to this one, carefully printed sentence.

He hoped it was worth it.

A/N: And just like I promised, a few short days (and seven long years) later here is the next chapter! Wow that is an embarrassingly long hiatus, huh?

Now that I'm apparently locked in my tiny apartment for the next month at least, I thought I would give this fic another crack. I don't know how far my momentum will carry me, or if I have anyone still around to read this new chapter, but I've been wanting to get back into writing for a few years now and I'm so happy I did at least this much. I have also written a scene quite far into the future, so hopefully that will drive me to write all the bits in between.

Let me know if anyone has actually read this, and whether I should try to keep going with this fic. If you did get all the way to here, thanks. I don't know where you came from and how you found this, but I appreciate it nonetheless.