Pairing(s): Austin (OMC)/Harry
Warnings: slash, EWE
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em - not making any money off 'em. Dern it.
Summary: Harry meets Austin Carlson, a friend/co-worker of Bill's, during fifth year. Sparks fly. This is the story of how they became a family.
Word Count: 16201 (overall)
Christmas time wasn't jolly this year. There was always an air of darkness in Number 12, Grimmauld Place, but the sadness engulfed all of the house's occupants. Everyone couldn't stop thinking about Arthur Weasley's near death, or about how close of a call it truly was.
If they had been even a minute later, Arthur probably wouldn't have survived. It had been that serious.
Bill and Charlie were there for the holidays. Harry wasn't paying attention to them, though. He only had eyes for the man standing next to Bill. Harry didn't really understand much behind the magic that surrounded Sirius's house, but he knew enough to know that not just anyone could see it, which made it a safe hiding spot for Sirius as well as the organization that met there. If the guy was allowed inside, he must have been trustworthy.
Harry's gaze kept straying to the guy – still didn't know his name – while wondering who he was. The guy was very good-looking. He had dark brown hair that went below his ears and bangs that kept falling into his eyes. His bright blue eyes conveyed his interest in whatever Bill was saying. The guy made animated gestures as if to get his point across, and Harry's heart seemed to pick up the pace at the passion the guy exhibited. Harry noticed the guy's muscular build. He wasn't as stocky as Charlie, but wasn't as leanly muscled as Bill. His muscles seemed to be a compromise between the two body types, and it looked good on him.
Harry bit his bottom lip. It wasn't the first time he noticed a guy's attractiveness. After all, when he first saw Bill, he couldn't help but notice the coolness of his looks. This was simply the first time that it affected Harry so much in a way that he felt flustered.
He wanted the guy's undivided attention, but he didn't understand why. He had never felt that way before, and it was confusing him. If Harry didn't know any better, he would say he had a crush, but that wasn't possible. He had a crush on Cho Chang, and those feelings were nowhere near what he was feeling now.
Besides, he was a guy. Harry didn't think there was anything wrong with being gay, but he also never experienced any kind of feelings that would make him question his own sexuality.
The guy and Bill were whispering heatedly, and Harry began to wonder if maybe they were a couple. He was unprepared for the spike of jealousy he felt at the thought. Okay, maybe I do have a crush, Harry admitted, at least to himself.
Bill grabbed the guy's arm and dragged him over.
Harry's eyes widened and he swore he heard his heart thumping. "Harry, this is Austin Carlson. Austin, this is Harry Potter. He's my kid brother's best friend."
"Hi." Harry shyly waved.
Austin grinned, blue eyes dancing. "It's nice to meet you."
There was an awkward silence. Harry searched for a way to break it and eventually came up with, "How do you and Bill know each other?"
Austin and Bill looked at each other and it was as if they were sharing a private joke. "We work together in Egypt. I decided to come with Bill to help with the war effort."
Harry nodded. He wanted to ask if he and Bill were lovers, but he didn't think the question was appropriate considering they just met.
"I'll leave you two alone," Bill said mysteriously.
"Bill's mind is a bit occupied," Austin said. "He has a crush on a Miss Fleur Delacour."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. "Really? I thought I saw the two of them making eyes at each other last year, and I'm usually oblivious to that kind of thing."
"Well, your hunch was right on the mark. He's totally gone on her."
Harry smiled. At least he knew Austin wasn't dating Bill. That didn't help him much, though.
"Bill hasn't talked much about you..." Austin trailed off.
"There hasn't been much interaction between us."
"You know, I think it's a load of crap that the war seems to be resting on a kid's shoulders. Why are you so important that you are in the front lines?"
Harry was trying to figure out if he had just been insulted.
Austin continued, "Someone your age is supposed to be having fun, dating, studying. Not worrying about living to see his 17th birthday."
Harry shrugged. "Life's not fair. Why are you choosing to fight in the war? I know Bill came from Egypt because of his family. What's your excuse?"
"Does anyone really need an excuse to give aid? Besides, if You-Know-Who wins here, his reign will spread and no one will be safe."
Harry's eyes were drawn to Austin's lips when his tongue came out to wet them. It felt like something lodged itself in his throat, and he tried swallowing it down. It didn't work. "I've got to go." He escaped to the room he shared with Ron as his cheeks heated, and his pants seemed uncomfortably tight. He wondered if he was ever going to get used to this feeling.
That night Harry couldn't sleep. He tossed and turned for hours before throwing his blankets off of himself in defeat. H went to the kitchen, in the hopes of procuring something to drink. He was surprised to see Bill eating chocolate chip cookies.
With his mouth full, Bill lifted the plate, as if offering.
Harry stifled the laugh that bubbled up at the sight of cookie crumbs covering Bill's face. It completely ruined the image of cool he usually projected.
Even so, Harry gratefully took a cookie. He sat at the table as he bit into it, moaning appreciatively at the taste. I wonder if Austin likes cookies. And if he does, what's his favorite? Harry caressed the cookie.
"You know," Bill said, and Harry's eyes lifted up from the half-eaten cookie. "It's okay."
"What is?" Harry asked, genuinely confused.
"It's okay to be attracted to Austin. He's a good-looking guy, and he was flattered by the unwavering attention you gave him before I introduced him."
Harry didn't bother trying to deny it. "He knows? Was I really that obvious?"
"Kind of." Bill shrugged. "But you're young. With experience, you'll learn how to be more discrete."
"He was flattered?"
Bill chuckled. "Yeah, that was why I brought him over to introduce the two of you. You would definitely make a cute couple."
"So, he's..." Harry paused and furtively looked around before whispering, "...gay?"
"You don't have to whisper it," Bill mockingly whispered. Louder, he said, "There's nothing wrong with being gay. It's not a contagious disease that others will catch if it's talked about in a normal volume."
Harry still felt unsure.
"I'm guessing you never considered the idea you might be gay?"
Harry shook his head. "Austin is the first guy. Maybe I'm not gay, but Austin is the exception."
Bill looked away as he took a bite of another cookie. "That's possible I guess, but going gay for one guy is kind of cliché, don't you think?"
"Maybe, but it would be easier to accept if Austin was the only guy I was attracted to."
"Since when does the great Harry Potter do easy?"
"Being gay in the wizarding world is very similar to the Muggle world from what I understand."
"How would you know? I know your dad's knowledge of the Muggle world. I can't imagine yours being much better."
Bill smirked. "Austin is a half-blood and spent equal amount of time in the Muggle world that he spent in the wizarding world. His parents wanted to make sure he was well rounded. When he and I got closer, he told me all about the Muggle world. And before you ask, if I told dad the truth about some of those inventions, he'd be highly disappointed, so I simply let him ponder what they do."
Harry nodded. His mind had latched onto the fact that Austin was a half-blood as well. They had something in common. "Bill..."
The eldest Weasley son interrupted. "I know it's scary when you discover something you never realized about yourself. But most people in the wizarding world won't care who you love. There will be a few who have a strong opinion, but those people can be ignored."
"People might care more than usual because I'm the boy-who-lived," Harry bitterly said.
"Ignore them. They don't matter. As long as you find someone who treats you well, and someone you love, that's all that matters."
"Do you think I'd have a chance with Austin?"
Bill shrugged. "Maybe, but you'd have to tell him about your crush first."
"I thought he knew."
Bill grinned. "He does, but he likes to hear the words. It strokes his ego."
Harry's smile disappeared, and he knew he must look sad.
"Harry, no matter what, you won't be alone. We'll protect you from the naysayers that have a problem with a gay hero."
Harry wasn't sure what he was going to do about Austin. He might ignore his feelings, or he might get brave enough and admit them out loud to the man. Harry didn't know, yet. He was just glad that he wouldn't be alone. Everything else would work itself out in time.
Austin and Bill decided that Harry needed training. If he had any hope of surviving the war, he needed to know both offensive and defensive spells. Dumbledore should have been training Harry before now, but since he hadn't been, they had a lot of ground to cover.
Austin decided that Harry should also know basic healing. If he gets an injury on the field, he might be able to fix himself up that way.
The first week was a disaster. Harry got hit with a spell and something called a keloid developed, which made his whole face swell up and hurt with a needle-like pain, or at least that's how Harry described it. If it hadn't been so frightening, it would have been hilarious with the way his face puffed up.
It took them calling in Professor Snape for help, but they were able to figure out the right potion to get rid of the truly frightening face. Harry went to bed right away, drained after the fear was eliminated.
Harry and Austin continued getting to know each other during breaks from training. Harry learned all about Austin's family. It was pretty cool that his muggle mother was so accepting of the wizarding world, after the acceptable period of denial that is. Austin had been lucky for his mother. Some half-bloods weren't as lucky. For example, look at Tom Riddle. And then there are other muggles who would never accept magic as normal. His aunt, uncle, and cousin represented those muggles.
Harry told Austin about his early school years, at least what Bill hadn't known. Anything Bill knew, Austin knew.
"I guess you were trained a bit."
Harry simply looked at him.
Austin raised his hands, already placating him. "I didn't say it was a good training method, but it was probably Dumbledore's way to train you."
"He couldn't have found a safer way?" Harry asked, deadpan.
Austin shrugged. He couldn't really judge Dumbledore since he didn't really know the man, but he honestly didn't like him. He seemed to have treated Harry horribly, and that's not even talking about leaving him with abusive, neglectful, and magic-hating relatives. Soon, Harry would be of age, and he wouldn't have to answer to Dumbledore any longer. That was definitely something to look forward to.
Austin just had to help Harry survive to that age, though. Not an easy task when one had a megalomaniac after them.
One day, they get on the subject of relationships. It happened when Austin decided to tell Harry about his first girlfriend, who he only dated because he wanted to get closer to her hot brother.
At Harry's look of aghast, Austin raced to explain. "I was 14 and stupid."
It didn't exactly make it better, but Austin truly hadn't known any better. He hadn't been out to his parents yet, and he didn't have the bravery to go after the guy without the cover of dating his sister.
Of course, the guy was totally turned off when he discovered Austin's dupe, and he was lucky to not get hexed or his face smashed in, but it was a learning experience.
Harry told him about his problem with Ginny.
Although Austin met Ginny, he hadn't really interacted with her. Most of his attention had been solely focused on Harry.
"Ginny has a crush on me – I guess that's the nice way of saying it – she's obsessed. She grew up on stories of the boy-who-lived, and I think she fell in love with me before she met me. I'm not sure she knows how to separate hero-worship from genuine feelings. The worst thing is I think everyone expects us to get together. I look like my dad, except for my mom's eyes, and Ginny has an uncanny resemblance to my mom. It would be like history repeating itself." Harry was looking at his hands the whole time.
Austin ignored the clench of his heart at the thought of Harry getting together with Ginny. He had no right to be upset. "You shouldn't be with someone just because people expect it of you."
"I know you're right, but it's hard going against what everyone wants."
"You have to," Austin implored. "You deserve happiness, probably more than anyone I know. After everything you've been forced to endure, you deserve the chance to be with someone you truly love."
"You really think so?"
"Of course," Austin answered firmly.
Harry bit his bottom lip, a trait Austin learned exemplified Harry's uncertainty. "Okay. Then, I have something to tell you."
Austin gestured in the universal symbol of 'go on.'
Harry admitted shyly, with hooded eyes and red cheeks, "I have a crush on you, and I'd really like to be with you."
Austin felt like laughing, but he held it in. He had a feeling if he let it out, Harry would most definitely take it the wrong way. Instead, he tried his best to let Harry down gently. "Harry, your cute, and brave, and funny, and loyal, but –"
"But, you're not interested," Harry interrupted with a sad tilt of his lips. "It's okay. I figured that, but I just had to try anyways. I don't want to die with regrets."
"Okay, first of all, you're not going to die. I don't want to hear any of the talk, got it?"
"Good, second of all, I wasn't going to say I'm not interested. Not at all."
"Really?" Harry asked hopefully.
Austin nodded before he reluctantly continued. "I'm sorry to dash your hopes, but there's still a 'but.' I am interested, for all of those reasons I named, but I could never consider being someone before they become of age in the wizarding world. I have never dated anyone under the age of 17, and I'm not planning to break that self-imposed rule, no matter how much I may want to." He paused, and then almost as an afterthought, added, "I really, really want to."
"It's okay, I understand." Harry grinned mischievously. "Are you saying you might still be interested when I'm 17?"
Austin smirked. "Yes, I am, but you have to survive the war first. Ready to train?" He asked with a wiggle of eyebrows.
Harry positively beamed. "Definitely. I have some new motivation when it comes to the war.
"Good, let's get started then."
They stood up from the floor and got at a ready position. It was time for some dueling practice.
When the final battle was over – AKA Voldemort defeated – Harry didn't bother doing damage assessment. His job was officially done. He'd let other people worry about the reparations.
His biggest concern was finding Austin. Not a day went by where he didn't think about Austin at least a little bit. It didn't help that they were constantly pushed together for training. Apparently, Austin had a lot of skills that was necessary for Harry to learn before he faced off against Voldemort.
True to his word though, Austin never made any real moves on Harry. There was slight flirting, but nothing that would sacrifice Austin's moral code.
Harry turned seventeen, but Austin still didn't make any move. Harry would have thought that Austin's feelings had passed if he didn't catch Austin checking him out every now and then with a look that could only be described as lustful.
Harry didn't make any move to bring up their non-relationship either. He decided that waiting until after Voldemort was gone for good was the best course of action.
Now that had finally come to pass, so his next task was to find Austin and figure out what they were to each other. Harry sincerely hoped that they were something, but he'd accept it if they could only ever be friends. He wouldn't be thrilled with the prospect, but he'd accept it.
His eyes were currently doing a frantic search of the landscape, looking for a very familiar person when Ginny threw her arms around Harry. She started chattering, but he really wasn't paying attention as he tried politely prying her arms from around his neck. His ears managed to catch something along the lines of 'now we can get together since it's no longer dangerous for me.' Harry heart nearly stopped at the sentiment behind Ginny's words.
Harry was through with being gentle as he pushed her away. "Ginny, I didn't decide to not be with you because of the war."
She opened her mouth, most likely to argue back.
Harry rolled his eyes. She always thinks she was right; it didn't matter the subject. "No, don't even. I wasn't with you because I didn't want to be with you. I don't like you like that. I've never liked you like that, so you need to get over the idea of becoming Mrs. Harry Potter and move on with your life because that fantasy is never going to come true." He paused to take a breath. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm on a mission to find someone."
He left her then with her mouth still agape, confusion vivid in her eyes.
Harry ignored the slight guilt that was eating away at him. He never led her to believe that he felt anything but friendship for her. If she saw more, it was all in her mind. Maybe he should have stated clearly when she was dropping hints that he wasn't interested – that was his fault – but she shouldn't have assumed they'd get together after the war. At least now she could move on with her life. Hopefully she'd move on with her life and not cling to the idea that Harry would come around and see her as the perfect partner.
Even if Austin turned him down, that would never happen.
He saw many people he knew, alive thankfully. He knew there would be deaths that would hit him hard and he'd worry about that later on. He just needed to find Austin. He finally did, and like always, Austin was with Bill.
If Bill hadn't been happily married to Fleur, Harry really would be suspicious of their relationship. The two of them always seemed to be together.
Conversation between the two of them ceased when Harry approached. Harry first hugged Bill, letting his familiar outdoorsy scent wash over him.
Bill was the only one who knew about his feelings for Austin, besides Austin of course. It kind of made them closer than they would have normally been.
Harry trusted Bill enough to talk about the confusing things he was feeling for Austin. With Sirius's death and Remus almost never available, he didn't have a real paternal figure that he explicitly trusted. That was where Bill came in.
Despite Bill's deep friendship with Austin, Harry knew whatever he told Bill would stay between the two of them, just like whatever Austin told Bill Harry never heard. Bill had become Harry's sounding board, his confidant. It was one of the best things to happen to him if Harry was completely honest for himself. Besides meeting Austin of course.
They got closer after he married Fleur because she still loved Harry so much after he "rescued" Gabrielle. Fleur didn't care that her sister had never been in any real danger. All that mattered was Harry hadn't known that to be true, and he still brought her to the surface, despite what the mermen wanted.
He relaxed as Bill's arms held him securely. If anything had happened to Bill, Harry truly didn't know how he'd survive without his calming presence in Harry's life.
Bill eventually pushed Harry away gently. He winked as he stepped back, and Harry forced his eyes to the person he had simultaneously been looking for as well as dreading to find.
Austin's blue eyes were tender in their perusal of Harry. It was as if Austin was silently assessing Harry's body for damage, and Harry didn't totally hate the feeling of being on display for him.
Harry had a strong urge to hug Austin, whether it was as a friend or a boyfriend, but he wasn't sure if that would be okay. He shuffled his feet, waiting for some kind of sign. He got it when Austin pulled him into a hug and held him close.
Harry gulped as he felt the hard lines of Austin's amazing body. As Harry rested his hand on Austin's stomach, he felt the muscles there tense before relaxing.
Harry wondered if he made Austin as nervous as Harry often was around the older man. He liked the idea of Austin being as nervous as Harry; it made him feel good.
He listened to the strong heartbeat, its reassuring rhythm reminding him that Austin made it out of this war alive and pretty much unscathed.
Austin's strong fingers tangled in his hair as he yanked Harry's head back. Harry thought Austin was going to kiss him. He wanted Austin to kiss him, and he nervously wetted his lips in anticipation. Instead, Austin placed a gentle kiss on Harry's sweaty forehead.
Harry tried to fight the frown, but it was difficult. A forehead kiss! What a let down!!
"So..." Austin's voice was nonchalant. "Would you like to go on a date with me?
Harry answered with a beaming smile before shyly kissing Austin's cheek, all the while blushing ferociously.
Harry didn't know how to dress for his first date with Austin. All the man said was to dress comfortably. His comfortable clothes were scruffy, so that wouldn't work.
Hermione decided they were going shopping to get Harry nice looking clothes that were also casual. After all, as the heir to both the Potter and the Black fortunes, he could afford to splurge a bit on new clothes.
The night of the date came after too long of a wait. At least the wait was too long in Harry's opinion. He was wearing a nice pair of black jeans and a light blue shirt. Harry had considered green to bring out his eyes, but Hermione told him that it wasn't necessary. His eyes were already pretty noticeable. There was no need to emphasize them even more.
Harry was pacing as he anxiously waited for Austin's arrival. He had known and had feelings for Austin for over two years. Now, when he finally had a chance, Harry wished the time for the date hadn't come despite how excited he had been.
It wasn't that Harry didn't want to go out with Austin because he did. It was that Harry was afraid that Austin would have a lousy time and decide he only wanted friendship. The idea that Harry could be the one to decide friendship was the best course of action didn't even cross his mind. He didn't want Austin to lose interest, but Harry didn't know how to keep him interested through their first date.
Austin was older and more experienced. What did Harry have to offer the other man?
Before Harry could work himself up to an even greater frenzy, his wards went off, signaling that Austin had arrived. Harry took a deep breath before exiting the small house he had bought for himself.
Austin smiled as his eyes roamed Harry's body. His eyes took on an appreciative light, making Harry breathe easier.
At least Austin doesn't think I look disgusting. Out loud, he asked, "Where are we going?"
Austin smiled. "You'll see," he said mysteriously.
Harry frowned. He was not used to trusting anyone but Hermione, Ron, and Bill, but he guessed he had to ignore his usual mistrust. Besides, Bill trusted Austin, and Harry trusted Bill. So therefore, by default, Harry should trust Austin. "Okay," he answered uneasily.
He closed his eyes for side-along apparition. When he opened them, they were in an alley.
"We're in the muggle world. I thought our first date should be as private as possible, without the noisy population trying to butt in."
Harry nodded. He had been thinking the same thing, but didn't have the courage to request a muggle-style date even though he knew Austin was a half-blood. He was glad Austin had been thinking the same thing.
They nonchalantly exited the alleyway, and Harry looked up at the name hanging above the Entrance. "The Pit?"
"It's a gay bar," Austin elaborated.
Harry didn't know about this. He had never been to a gay bar or gay anything. He had been too busy fighting a war to experiment with certain aspects of his sexuality. If Austin thought he'd enjoy himself there though, maybe he would. He just had to go inside with an open mind.
Austin held out a hand, and Harry hesitantly took it. He allowed himself to be led inside of the crowded building. He blinked as the loud music almost immediately overwhelmed him.
Although it was only a bar, many of the people were dancing. If one could call it dancing. To Harry, it looked more like sex with clothes on. Harry blushed as some of the guys rubbed against each other. He definitely wasn't used to such blatant displays.
Although Harry was of age in the wizarding world, he wasn't in the muggle world. He had some months before he turned 18.
Austin leaned close to whisper in Harry's hair. "I picked this particular bar because not only is it for gay guys, but they won't card you here."
Harry knew that wasn't good business sense, but he wasn't going to argue since it worked in his favor.
Harry didn't have any experience with muggle beer so he allowed Austin to order for him. He quietly thanked the bartender, blushing when the sexy redhead winked at him.
Austin quickly pulled him away, glaring at the bartender. Harry felt a thrill at the possibility that Austin could be jealous.
That thrill didn't last long. It ended when some tall blond came over – and completely ignored Harry – to flirt with Austin. Harry tried to not let it get to him, but when Austin didn't tell the guy to get lost, Harry couldn't help but allow doubts to seep in.
Did Austin find the blond attractive? Was he already regretting bringing Harry to the bar? Was he thinking about how to politely ditch Harry?
Harry was so lost in his thoughts he didn't even notice when the blond left until Austin took his hand. Harry looked up to meet Austin's warm blue eyes. "Sorry about that. I tried being polite, but that doesn't always get through thick skulls. I'm sometimes forced to be blunt about my desires."
"And what are your desires?" Harry whispered. He really wasn't used to feeling so insecure.
"You're kidding me, right?" Austin incredulously asked.
Harry looked down, unable to meet Austin's eyes.
"Harry." When Harry didn't look up, Austin forced his head up with a finger to his chin. "Listen to me. The only guy I'm interested in is you. I don't need or want some random guy's flirtation." He paused, and as to emphasize the point, he added, "I'm not interested in anyone but you."
Harry smiled, feeling relieved. "I'm glad because I'm not interested in anyone but you either, and it's been that way for over two years."
After they finished up their beers, Austin pulled Harry onto the dance floor. Harry blushed as Austin thrust against him.
Harry hid his face in Austin's shirt, too embarrassed to meet his eyes, especially when he felt himself harden. He knew Austin could feel his excitement and didn't know what to do about it.
Austin's lips brushed against the shell of Harry's ear and he bunched Austin's shirt with clenched fists. "Don't feel embarrassed. I love the fact that I turn you on; it's intoxicating." Austin thrust forcefully against Harry's pelvis, and he felt Austin's arousal.
Harry gasped. He closed his eyes tightly against the need that he felt stirring in his lower stomach.
"You're not alone in what you're feeling," he whispered huskily in Harry's ear.
Harry stood on his toes and allowed his lips to lightly brush Austin's neck. "I'm glad." He wrapped his arms around Austin's waist and allowed himself to just have fun without caring about how he looked to Austin.
The rest of the night went by fast. They ended up eating at the bar. Harry very rarely had muggle food, but he really did love the taste of it. Like with the beer, he allowed Austin to order for him, and he wasn't disappointed with what he got.
He laughed at Austin's jokes. He blushed when he got food on his cheek, and Austin wiped it away with a thumb, and then sucked his finger clean.
When both became drowsy, and after Austin determined that Harry hadn't drunk enough to limit his apparition ability, the popped to Harry's house separately.
Harry thought he should invite Austin in, but he wasn't sure if that was proper protocol for a first date. He definitely wanted Austin to come in; he had been half-hard all night, but he didn't want to put Austin on the spot either.
Dating was so confusing.
Austin walked Harry past the wards, to his door, and Harry held his breath. He hoped Austin would ask to come in.
Instead, Austin lightly stroked his cheek before leaning down and gently kissing Harry on the lips.
Harry returned the kiss, standing on his toes to try to get closer. He moaned when Austin's strong arms came around Harry's body, pulling his body close enough that there was friction. Austin nipped playfully at Harry's lips.
Harry opened his mouth and allowed their tongues to come out and play. As Harry's hands moved down from Austin's neck, his fingers brushed Austin's nipples through the thin shirt.
Austin's groan reverberated through the kiss. Harry's hand continued to trail down to Austin's pants, and he slipped his fingers beneath the waistband, but his hand was quickly caught as Austin tore his lips away.
Austin's breathed unevenly. "No matter how much I would love to continue where this is going, we can't."
"Why not?" Harry asked breathlessly. He kissed Austin, but once again, Austin moved his lips away. "Austin, I want this," Harry reassured him.
Austin nodded. "I know you do, and I want it to, but you're more than just a quick fuck. I want to take it slow; you deserve slow."
Although Harry wasn't happy with it, he did appreciate the sentiment behind Austin's decision. "Okay, I guess." He knew his displeasure was apparent when Austin laughed, but it didn't bother him.
"Don't feel bad. You're not the only one that's going to suffer due to my decision."
They kissed one last time, but Austin very carefully made sure it didn't grow too passionate.
When Harry was inside his house, he smiled dreamily as he made his way to his room. He undid his pants and got into bed, already touching himself. As his hand slid over his cock, and he brought himself to quick release, it was Austin's face he pictured.
In the afterglow, he wondered how long Austin planned to wait before taking their relationship to the next level. He hoped it wasn't too long.
The two of them went on a few more dates in the muggle world before they went public in the wizarding world.
Like Harry had expected, there was a public outcry about the new relationship.
The Daily Prophet ran articles continually. Harry refused to interview with them after the defamation he suffered from in his fifth year, so it was only speculation. It didn't mean people didn't believe it, though.
They pondered about how an unknown wizard could capture the attention of the boy-who-lived. They questioned whether potions or spells were involved. They also considered the possibility of blackmail.
When neither Harry nor Austin defended their relationship, even with Austin being attacked, they wondered why such an experienced man would want a mere child. Harry rolled his eyes at that. He could take down a Dark Lord, but he was still considered a child. They thought Austin was after Harry's money, or wanted fame and prestige that came with association to Harry.
They media didn't take into count that Austin still worked, and although he didn't have a lot of money, he did earn a decent living.
Still, Harry and Austin didn't defend their relationship. Both of them hoped that if they didn't add fuel to the fire, the wizarding world's interest would die quicker. They were wrong.
They were many angry witches and wizards. Some of the more vapid ones threatened to perform an apotropaic ritual. After all, anyone who captures the sole attention of Harry Potter, hero of the Wizarding World, must be using evil means.
There were witches who tried to kiss Harry and wizards who flirted. Harry saw witches hit on Austin with the hope of breaking them up. As if Harry would ever think Austin would cheat. The man was too honest, and even if he wasn't, Bill would kill him and Austin knew it. That was enough of a threat to keep him in line.
They tried to keep their dates a secret, but they were continuously interrupted. Even their dates in the muggle world ended prematurely due to crazy witches and wizards. They got weird looks from muggles when they saw the group following the two of them. One would think that witches and wizards would be a tiny bit more discreet. The Statute of Secrecy was going to go out the winner if they kept it up.
Harry was sure Austin, who was used to a quiet existence where his life was splashed in the tabloids, was going to get fed up.
Harry feared the day where Austin was going to gently break up with him. He knew it would be gentle; Austin didn't have it in his heart to be cruel.
Harry thought the day was drawing closer as Austin withdrew into himself. He went to his number one confidante, that wasn't Bill, for advice. "Hermione, what do I do?"
Hermione shrugged. "This is a tough one. It's obvious you two really like each other, and you're so adorable to watch."
"Um... thanks." Harry scratched the back of his head. "That's doesn't help me, though. Austin is going to break up with me. I just know it."
"Maybe you should speak to him. Tell him how much you really like him and don't want to lose him. Ask him to ignore the nosy press and try to make the two of you work."
"How can I do that to him? He doesn't deserve the headache that comes with dealing with this. I'm going to let him know he can end it."
Harry got up to leave, but Hermione's hand on his arm pulled him back down. "You came to me for advice, but then you completely ignore what I have to say? Why come to me in the first place?"
Harry smiled wanly. "I'm not sure. All I know is I have to let him go. This isn't fair to him, and when you truly care about someone, you let them go."
Hermione allowed him to leave. He flooed out, ignoring her worried gaze.
That night Austin came over for dinner. Austin wasn't as withdrawn as usual. He kissed Harry so hard that he felt it all the way down to his toes. He was also kept in constant contact with Harry, whether it was holding hands, a hand resting on a thigh, an arm around a waist, or legs wrapped around legs under the dinner table. All of that didn't deter Harry from his plan, though.
As they finished up their treacle tart, Harry nervously cleared his throat. "Listen, I know it's been hard being with me. Trust me, I understand it completely. I'll understand if you want to end it. Frankly, I wouldn't even blame you. It would just be another thing the media ruins."
"No," Austin said firmly.
"I said 'no.'" He paused as if he was weighing his words. "Truthfully I did consider breaking up with you. I'm not used to having my every move dissected."
Harry nodded and stared at his hands that were busy playing with his fork.
Austin took the fork away before gripping his hand. "But then I realized how much I like you. I waited over two years to be with you, and I don't want that wait to be for nothing. You're worth the hassle."
Harry smiled. "Really?" he breathed.
Austin's answer was to stand up while still holding Harry's hand. "May I have this dance?"
Harry silently nodded and allowed himself to be pulled into strong arms. Dancing was so much better when he wasn't forced to lead. Harry thought back to the Yule Ball and shuddered.
Austin's eyebrows raised, and Harry shook his head. That was a story for another time. He laid his head on Austin's chest and swayed to the quiet music.
When he felt the night was drawing to a close, instead of allowing Austin to kiss him goodnight and leave, Harry led Austin to his bedroom.
Austin seemed hesitant.
"Austin, I'm ready. I want to feel you, all of you."
That seemed to be enough of a reassurance because Austin gently pushed Harry down onto his bed. He shucked off his shirt and trousers, wearing only boxers.
Harry was nervous, but he was ready. As Austin leaned down to mesh their lips together, Harry closed his eyes and allowed him to forget everything that wasn't Austin.