Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue
Part One: Roses
The wind was bitter and unrelenting as Harry trudged up the craggy rocks, careful not to lose his footing and twist an ankle. If he got in trouble out here, who knew how long it would take before anyone could come to help, even with the aid of magic.
He was way out at the northern edge of the Scottish Highlands, towards the Orkney Islands, so far up that there was currently no sign of civilisation as far as the eye could see. Just rolling hills so high they could almost be considered mountains, covered with weather hardened heather and swathes of dull green grass that looked like it had been fighting it out for sunshine from behind the ominous clouds above. It wasn't raining exactly, but the air was heavy with moisture and it clung to Harry's clothes and skin. He'd charmed his glasses to repel the water so he could still see, which was fortunate as he persevered up what might generously be called a path, but was in all honesty just a goat trail that even the goats had forgotten about. Every step threatened to unsettle his footing and more than once he'd had to catch himself from a stumble.
"Fuck!" As if on cue, Harry's travelling companion gracelessly pin wheeled his arms as his feet threatened to betray him, but he managed to find his balance before hitting the dirt.
Harry smirked good naturedly. "I told you not to wear those boots Malfoy," he called over his shoulder, the wind threatening to swallow up his words. Malfoy heard him though, judging from the two fingers he flipped him.
"Sod off Potter," he shouted back, but it was lacking in any real rancour.
This wasn't the first time Harry had found himself working with Draco Malfoy; the Auror division often collaborated with others like the Curse Breakers, but this was the first time they'd been paired solely by themselves. Ron had had a field day at Harry's expense, but the truth was Harry wasn't all that bothered. Sure, on a personal level he'd much rather be working with his best friend or any number of his other colleagues, but Malfoy was good at what he did, and in all the years since they'd left school their animosity had dwindled considerably. Plus, Harry had to admit he was seriously easy on the eye now he'd grown up a bit.
"Oi!" Malfoy cried from behind him. "How much longer? And don't give me that 'we're nearly there' shit, you said that an hour ago."
That didn't mean they were necessarily nice to one another.
Harry stopped and pulled out his wand as well the map he'd been working from. It struggled against his grip in the fierce wind, so Malfoy came up alongside him and grabbed the other side to steady it into a relatively flat shape. Harry held up his wand and gave it silent commands, his cloak whipping distractingly around his ankles as the damp mist clawed at his face.
"I actually don't think we're far this time," he said loudly, even though Draco was next to him. He pointed at the map in the waning afternoon sun. It was only around four o'clock, but the light was starting to dip that time of year anyway and the grey omnipresent clouds gave the landscape an even gloomier tinge.
Malfoy looked from the map, up the hillside, and back to the map. "Yeah," he conceded. "I think you're right. It looks like it could just be over in that next valley."
Harry nodded and pocketed the map. He flashed a quick warming charm on himself and Draco before slipping his wand away again, and carrying on along their goat trail.
"Are we sure they're going to be there?" Malfoy asked from just behind Harry.
He shrugged. "We at least know they were here," he said, indicating their intended destination over the rise. "How else do you explain such wide ranging apparition restrictions? And if we can see anything once we'll get to the top, we'll know they made it unplotable – who does that to a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere?"
He glanced behind to see Malfoy nodding, hands shoved into the pockets of his tunic despite the risk of tripping. "I just don't want this to be a waste of time," he said, cocking his eyebrow.
Neither did Harry. "Hopefully we'll find something, if not actually the Pontiacs."
The Pontiacs – or 'Bonnie and Clyde' as some of Harry's other Muggle Born colleagues had dubbed them – were a couple believed to have originated in France but were now on a rampage around Europe, terrorising Muggles and the magical community alike with their violent and disrupting actions. They had a penchant for blowing stuff up; pubs, banks, buses – they'd even taken out a florists two weeks ago for some unknown reason – but while the Muggle media was scrabbling around trying to find a religion or political organisation to blame, Harry couldn't help but feel the pair were just anarchists. Revelling in their own chaos, unsettling the quiet that had befallen the wizarding world in the years following Voldemort's demise.
Harry despised them. The profile they'd built up suggested a man and woman who delighted in nothing more than their own amusement, their own power at being able to wreak havoc on innocent, oblivious people just because they could. They were cowards.
Harry had spearheaded the investigation, and this was the best lead they'd had so far, so it was natural for him to go investigate personally. But the Pontiacs had a nasty habit of leaving booby traps and unpleasant curses in their wake, hence why the Curse Breaker division had got involved. Draco Malfoy was one of their best, he had brilliant intuition. Largely, Harry suspected, because he was such a sneaky bastard himself. Harry would never admit this out loud, but his skills were invaluable, so he was happy to have him by his side as they inched their way closer to apprehending these fuckers.
Harry actually quite enjoyed the few chances he and Malfoy had had to work together, the odd social gathering they'd found themselves at. Harry had not forgotten what Draco had done during the war, what had been done to him; the good, the bad and the downright ugly. He knew what it was like to have other people manipulating you, and he was keen to let go of childish grudges and move on. Even if that did just mean a good professional relationship. And the chance to admire those outrageous cheekbones.
The two men reached the peak and looked down at the vista below. "Ha!" Draco exclaimed in delight, and jabbed a finger at the small spec in the distance that could very well have been a cottage.
Harry nodded. "Looks likely," he said, pulling out his wand and casting several spells to ascertain the situation. Malfoy did likewise, and they stood lost in their own magic for a few minutes.
"There's heavy fields hanging over the structure," Draco said as the wind howled around them, intensified at the naked tip of the hill. "Far too much dark magic for some old granny."
Harry concurred and began the decent, keeping his wand out this time as they approached the cottage. Who knew how far the wards stretched out?
The report had just started out as a missing person to begin with. A young witch was concerned that her grandmother had been uncontactable for too long. When the investigation had begun to dig, it became clear quickly that Mary Hathaway was not only unresponsive to attempts to communicate, but that her property had vanished off any kind of map. Then other reports began flying in of a surge of magical activity in the surrounding area where Zoe Hathaway swore her gran should have been living, and several grisly and inexplicable Muggle deaths had lead Harry to conclude this was an avenue his team was worth investigating.
He and Malfoy had apparated as close to the cottage's alleged location as they could, but Ms Hathaway was only able to give them rough directions as she always just flooed there herself. As they stalked closer and closer to the little house though, Harry began to feel sure they were on to something.
"Who the fuck would live out here?" Malfoy demanded, disgruntled as they approached. Twilight was hanging over their heads and there was no sign of life as the cottage crept nearer and nearer to them. No lights, no movement. Harry surmised there was no one inside or they were just hiding. In either case, he knew he and Malfoy couldn't let their guard down, there could be all manner of unpleasantness lurking around still.
"It's a good place to hide out," Harry replied. "If Hathaway is some paranoid recluse, it makes like much easier for the Pontiacs."
The path had widened and he and Malfoy were now walking side by side, wands out and alert, muscles tense. "I doubt it made life much easier for old Mrs Hathaway," Draco murmured.
Harry cast an invisibly spell on them both as they got closer. Some part of his brain twitched, thinking of the times he, Hermione and Ron would run around school under his dad's cloak, and he couldn't help but grin.
"Having fun Potter?" Malfoy drawled.
"Immensely," Harry replied, feeling the smallest twinge of comradery. His heart rate had quickened at the prospect of finding a lead inside the cottage, even if it was a small one. He wanted these two very badly.
Draco took the lead as they approached. Harry could feel several incantations looming over the property, but he followed Malfoy's lead as he dismantled them one by one. He didn't want to step on his toes, and trusted he knew more than himself in this instance. Even if he practically had to jam his hands into his pockets to stop himself interfering. This must how Hermione lived her whole life, he mused.
"There we go Potter," Malfoy goadingly. "All safe for the Chosen One to enter."
"I could have done that in my sleep," Harry griped, but Malfoy still looked smug all the same.
They crept towards the front door, which was innocuous looking enough. Harry was prepared to battle down the door, but it popped open at the turn of a handle. "That's a bad sign," Malfoy said with a raised eyebrow.
Harry met his gaze, exhilaration thrilling through him. "Let's see what's inside."
Harry cast the softest of Lumos spells as he stepped inside the creaking hallway. Shadows danced as he and Malfoy eased themselves inside, eyes wide for any flicker of movement. The cottage only held a few rooms, and a cursive look over determined that they were alone, at least for now. The living room was the first doorway on their right, and it was practically destroyed. Coffee table, sofa, bookcases, all torn apart and littered across the swirling floral pattern of the threadbare carpet. There was a single, neat blood splatter up one of the walls, the dried rusty brown droplets stark against the cream wallpaper.
"Bad sign," Malfoy repeated, and carried on up the hall. A glance into the bedroom on the left showed them a bed stripped of its sheets and not much else, and a bathroom next to that with white and paisley tiles and kittens adorning every ornamentation. The kitchen ended the tour of the cottage, with a back door leading out into the open Highlands. On the table was a large heart shaped box, its lid strewn on the side and half the chocolates inside gone. Beside this was an open bottle half full of flat champagne and two flutes with only the dregs left at the bottom of their glasses.
Malfoy inspected the bottle. "What a bloody waste," he muttered, before going on to inspect the rest of the room. "Do you reckon they got interrupted?"
Harry looked at the box of chocolates, then around the rest of the room and decided to drop the invisibility spell and turn on some lights as they were clearly alone. Several bunches of red roses peeked out from vases and lose petals had been littered on the counter tops. He thought of the florist that had been attacked, and touched one of the flower heads. It must have been enchanted to still be thriving, and even though its origins were undoubtedly dark, Harry couldn't help but marvel at its beauty.
"It was Valentine's Day on Saturday," he said. "About the time we started investigating. Perhaps they realised we got wind of them and legged it."
Malfoy sneered, a true lip curl the likes Harry hadn't seen on him for years. "Valentine's Day," he scoffed. "You really think they took time out of maiming and plundering for a bit of nooky nooky?"
"They're narcissists," said Harry with a shrug, documenting all he could with his wand. All the readings were already being relayed back to the Ministry in London. "I think they're exactly the kind of people to stop for a moment and bask in their own glory."
Draco shook his head. "Roses are red," he chimed in a mocking tone. "Violets are blue. I'm a mad psychopath, and you are too!"
Harry's mouth curled into half a smile, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he made his way back into the living room, standing carefully so as not to disturb any of the evidence. It was clear a great deal had transpired in this room. "Do you think we're looking at a murder here?" he asked aloud as Malfoy came in to join him.
He held his wand out and muttered a few spells as Harry waited. "There were some defensive spells cast within the last week," he said. "I'd say Mrs Hathaway put up a bit of a fight, but not much." He pulled a face. "Poor old bag," he said with a modicum of sympathy.
Harry had guessed as much. He supposed the Pontiacs had surprised her, disposed of her, then used her house as a hideout until they had been caught out. "We should check around back. See if there's anything, they might have even buried her for all we know."
He made to go for the front door, hand reaching out for the handle, when Malfoy startled him.
"NO!" he shouted, and Harry stilled, hand poised as his head whipped back. Draco's eyes were wide a saucers as he stood, frozen, hands up as if to grab Harry.
"What?" he hissed.
Malfoy slowly stepped forwards, his gaze never leaving the door, as he slowly began to swish his wand back and forth. "Fuck," he whispered. "Fuck, shit, bollocks, arse."
"What!" Harry demanded. Malfoy didn't answer him right away, just kept working his magic over the door.
"They jigged it," he said, dropping his hands and turning to Harry with a mixture of annoyance, despair and downright fury on his face. "They bloody jigged it. We can't get out."
Harry glanced at the door, then back at Draco. "How so? What happens if I turn the handle?"
Malfoy took a breath, then made a sound like an explosion at the back of his throat whilst blossoming his fingers out and flinging his hands apart.
"Right," said Harry, his innards clenching. "Big fiery death. Back door?"
Malfoy looked towards the kitchen and shrugged. "We can try, but I think it's the same. I think we triggered it when we entered, and now we can't leave."
Harry blinked. "What, ever?"
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Well yeah, I guess if there was literally no one else in the world. But lucky for us there are like seven billion people who are not in this house. I guess it's to stop people following them."
Harry ground his teeth and stomped back into the kitchen to check their other exit, but it yielded exactly the same results. "Cock it!" cried Malfoy in frustration. "Right, fine, let's check the fireplace, see if we can't contact anyone."
The settling sinking sensation in Harry's stomach really hoped they could.
Malfoy had deemed the fireplace safe to communicate but not to Floo. Harry wasn't surprised but he wasn't happy as he flung the powder into the flames before thrusting his head in.
"Ron!" he cried, looking out at the image of his partner engrossed in paperwork at his desk.
The redhead slopped his tea before snapping his head down at the grate. "Harry," he cried happily. "What's going on, you find the house?"
"Yeah we found it alright," he griped, then proceeded to explain everything that had happened. He could hear Malfoy's enraged pacing behind him, his knuckles cracking, his teeth gnashing.
"Hang on a minute mate," said Ron, hastily writing a memo. "I need to get a few more bods down here, that sounds serious."
"Tell me about it," agreed Harry.
"Roses are red," Draco recited behind his back. "Violets are blue. We're royally fucked, how about you?"
"Stop being a drama queen," Harry hissed at him.
Ron arched an eyebrow. "Malfoy?"
Harry nodded, and Ron shook his head in commiseration
Harry waited as the room filled up with a few more people, all asking questions to his head bobbing in the fireplace of his and Ron's office.
"What are they saying?" Malfoy demanded, but Harry waved him off, not wanting to have two conversations at once. But Malfoy was impatient. "Potter?" he snapped, and gave his leg a not so gentle kick.
"Malfoy!" Harry snapped, drawing his face back out of the flames, just as the head of the Automated Hex department was outlining his theorem.
The flames went out immediately, and the chimney bricked up, leaving both men blinking at it a little stupidly.
"Uh oh," said Malfoy.
"What do you mean 'uh oh?'" Harry asked, not liking the sound of it one bit.
Malfoy looked guilty. "Well I did think it was rather generous of those bastards to let us have access to the fireplace. Maybe they realised their mistake and blocked up the network as soon as your head was clear."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. "You mean, you think they're monitoring us?"
Draco looked unsure. "They could be. They could do that from literally anywhere in the world. Or it could be an automated reaction. I don't know." He started giving the fireplace another look as Harry fumed and debated the possibilities.
"You had to kick me, didn't you," he said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"You were ignoring me," Draco replied petulantly. "Did you at least learn anything?"
Harry sighed. "It doesn't look great, not at the moment anyway. The apparition distance looks to have increased, and there's probably more hexes around the perimeter now, so it's going to take several hours for anyone to get close to us."
Malfoy ruffled his hair and stepped back from the fireplace, careful not to step on any of the debris littered around the room. "Well," he said, brushing his hands and giving Harry an apologetic look. "At least we're safe for the meantime, as long as we don't try and leave, and they know we're here, so they're get to us eventually."
"Eventually?" Harry found himself repeating, his temper deflating into moroseness.
Malfoy shook his head. "Yeah, I guess we're stuck here for now. So…" He tilted his head to the side and considered. "Cup of tea?"
Draco was keeping himself busy, Harry noticed. Making tea for him and coffee for himself, flicking his wand about, documenting his readings, scribing a report, never standing still. Harry on the other hand had taken their temporary imprisonment a little calmer, working methodically through the small space of the cottage, recording his own findings as he slowly sipped his tea. It was only when he'd been half way down the mug that he'd realised Draco had remembered he took two sugars. How had he known that?
He came back into the kitchen where they'd set up camp in and around the roses, to find a fresh mug of tea waiting for him. "Thanks," he said with raised eyebrows as Draco sipped his own hot coffee, propped up against the counter, reading back his notes.
He looked up and blinked, until he realised Harry meant the tea. "Oh, no problem," he said. "I was thinking, how much do you think we can move stuff around?"
Harry considered, before fishing into his bag he'd dropped by the chair that he'd hung his cloak and jacket from. "If you let me take some photos," he said, pulling out his camera. "I can add some visual documentation to go along with our readings. We can't be expected not to touch anything if we're stuck here all night, and I doubt the investigation squad will pull much more than we already have."
Draco placed his parchment and mug down, and came over to inspect Harry's camera. "How's that work then?" he asked, curious. Harry offered it to him to take a look, a little proud.
"Hermione and I developed it," he said. Hermione had done all the tricky bits truth be told. "It's similar to a Muggle digital camera. It'll relay the images directly to the printer I've got set back up in the office. Quicker than owl post, sort of like a fax machine – you get the idea."
Draco turned it over in his hands, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Impressive work Potter," he said.
Harry liked the way that made him feel, but instead he rolled his eyes and feigned shock. "Did you just give me a compliment Malfoy?" he asked.
Malfoy's eyes sparkled as he handed the camera back. "Don't be ridiculous Potter," he teased. "We both know Granger would have done all the hard work."
"You got me," Harry said graciously, happy to give his friend her credit, and began to move around the room. "I don't think we should disturb the lounge. But I reckon we can clear some of the clutter out of here once I've taken some snaps."
"Oh thank Merlin," huffed Draco. "Do it fast, I want to evaporate all these bloody flowers."
Harry lowered his camera and took in all the dozens and dozens of roses. "I guess they are in the way," he said, only hesitating a fraction. "But, I don't know, maybe we could keep some of them, on the window sill?"
Draco gave him a wicked little grin. "You massive poof," he goaded, crossing his arms. "We're being held hostage by mad criminals, and you want to keep the place looking pretty."
Harry scowled and carried on taking pictures from as many angles as he could to get a good panorama. "Oh shut up," he said as he shooed him out of his way, but it was lacking in any real malice. In truth, he was pretty pleased Draco was ribbing him about his sexuality, it meant he was okay with it. In his experience when people stubbornly ignored it, then Harry had to watch his back. "They are beautiful, and it's not their fault they belonged to maniacs. It just seems unfair to destroy them."
Malfoy sighed dramatically. "Fine," he said magnanimously. "I won't kill your precious flowers, but at least let me tidy them."
Harry took a couple more snaps, turning on the spot, making sure he hadn't missed anything, before responding. "Okay," he said, smiling genuinely, making Draco roll his eyes.
"Don't go all doe-eyed on me Potter, people will talk." Harry chuckled and left him to it.
The bathroom and bedroom hardly had much worth noting, but Harry was just as industrious with his coverage, capturing every inch before moving into the corridor. "Weasley is going to be bored stiff looking at a million images of this old lady's plate collections and peeling wallpaper," Malfoy's voice floated out from the kitchen. Harry chuckled again.
"Actually the photos appear in a locked drawer," he called back. "I can tell no one's looked at them yet as my light's still red." He tapped the display light on top of the camera, even though Draco couldn't see. "It'll turn green once I opened the drawer. Things have a habit of wandering off if you're not careful in my department. He'll have to wait until I'm back with the key for all this excitement."
He wasn't sure what Draco was still doing in the kitchen as he moved into the living room, but it was put from his mind as he took in the scene once again. The truth was he was probably standing where an elderly lady was brutally murdered, and as much as Harry had learnt to insulate himself over the years against death's horror, he could at least be respectful whilst he was in here.
Sombrely, he spent the next several minutes taking extra care to capture every tiny detail of the aftermath in the lounge, then once he was done closed the door and took a breath, letting it go from his mind. There was nothing more he could do for her now, and he had himself to worry about.
He wandered back into the kitchen, curious to see what Draco had been up to, and preoccupied with how they were going to waste away the next several hours before help came. He stopped in his tracks when he realised what Malfoy had been busying himself with.
"What's this?" he asked.
Draco looked up from the chopping board. "What does it look like?" he said innocently.
He'd done a good job corralling the hoard of roses, lining up a number of the vases along the window sill like Harry had suggested, framing the view out into the night, clearing up the loose petals and vanishing the rest. He'd given the kitchen a quick clean, washed up the champagne flutes and slotted the lid for the chocolates underneath the box, clearing most of the room on the dining table. A cold looking tumbler glass with clear liquid, ice and lime was waiting for Harry where his tea had greeted him before, and Draco was stood at the counter by the hob, a flame going underneath a large pan, water bubbling away in another.
"Dinner?" Harry said, a little stumped.
Draco sighed and wiped his hands on a towel before picking up his own glass. "Well," he said, turning and facing Harry. "We're stuck here and I'm really quite pissed off about that. I don't like being told what to do, especially not by raving lunatics." Harry thought of Voldemort spending a year at Malfoy Manor, and figured that wasn't too hard to understand. So he nodded and Draco continued. "You said we were alright to move stuff around as long as we left the living room alone, so I thought, fuck it. The pantry is full, there's even gin and tonic, so I'm making the most of it and was generous enough to include you in my scheme." He winked at Harry and indicated his glass. "So drink your G'n'T and stop bitching."
Harry placed his camera down and picked up the tumbler instead. "I'm not bitching," he assured him, holding up the glass. "Just surprised. Cheers."
They clinked glasses, and Draco turned back to the oil heating in his pan, adding the onions he'd been chopping and making them sputter. He smacked the knife on the pan's edge to get the last few pieces off, then started on the garlic as the aroma filled the air. "This isn't a date though," he smirked, glancing over his shoulder, and Harry felt just a touch of heat rise in his cheeks.
"Of course it isn't," he scowled. "Don't be a prat."
Malfoy sighed. "I don't know Potter," he said in dreamy voice. "A handsome fellow like myself, cooking for you, all these bloody roses lurking about, I'd hate for you to get the wrong idea."
He grinned and Harry rolled his eyes. "Mind you don't cut your finger off trying to impress me like that," he retorted. "I don't tend to like blood in my…what are you cooking anyway?"
Malfoy shrugged and turned back to his work as Harry sat down, watching him with interest. "Just spaghetti bolognese," he said, taking a sip of his gin. "So, can I ask you a question?"
"You just did," Harry said playfully, helping himself to one of the chocolates on display in front of him. Of course he knew this wasn't a date, he wasn't stupid. This was actually a pretty FUBARed situation they'd got themselves in. But still, Draco had a point. A handsome guy was cooking him dinner, close enough to Valentine's Day for jazz, surrounded by red roses, a fancy box of chocolates at his fingertips. Harry understood what was going on, but that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy it.
"Hah hah," Draco replied, unwrapping a packet of mincemeat.
Harry took pity on him. "Go on then," sensing something personal was coming, and he was right.
Draco was side on to him at the counter, so they were able to see each other whilst talking. Draco gave him a sidelong glance and bit his teeth together before proceeding. "You came out of the closet a while ago yeah? Kind of a big deal, we all thought you were going to marry the Weasley girl." Harry was a little taken a back that Draco had concerned himself with his love life at all, but he had to admit he was right, most people had thought that.
"I just took some time and worked out this is who I am," he replied.
"Yeah," Draco carried on. "And that's fair enough, I'm all for that."
"Why thank you," Harry said and Draco rolled his eyes.
"But," he said as if Harry hadn't interrupted. "It was this big deal and then, well." He stopped stirring the meat for a minute, letting it sizzle with the onions and garlic. "I mean – have you even had a boyfriend since?"
Harry laughed. He couldn't help it. Draco Malfoy really had been paying attention to him, and that made his skin tingle just a little.
"You don't have to answer," Draco mumbled, picking his spoon up again.
Harry waved his hands and took a mouthful of his gin. He figured they were probably off duty now, but it was still slipping down a little easy for his liking. "No, no, you're right," he said. "I was just surprised by your direct approach. It's actually quite refreshing."
Draco glanced at him again, and Harry swore he caught a look of relief.
"The truth is I've pretty much only ever dated Muggles, and there's never really been anyone serious."
"Muggles?" Draco repeated. Harry waited for the scathing comments, but Draco just thought on that as he started chopping a whole bowl of ripe looking tomatoes one by one. "How come?"
Harry shrugged. He had to admit he was relieved, he'd half expected a racist tirade, and that would have rather ruined this new version of Malfoy that had been emerging over the past few years. He considered that spoilt child he'd met at Madam Malkin's all those years ago, the boy that had insulted his best friends in his first breath on the Hogwarts Express. The haunted young man he'd become, forced on a near suicide mission to save him and his family from the darkest wizard of their time. Then finally of the man he'd repaired himself into the past few years, all the effort he'd made to put his past behind him and rebuild his integrity, to make amends and do some good in this world.
Yes, Harry was very glad he hadn't just destroyed all that.
"How many gay guys do you know?" he asked in response to Draco's question.
He picked up another tomato. His fingers were slick with juice, and Harry swore his mouth almost watered. He wasn't thinking about licking it off, he wasn't. "Err," said Draco, frowning. "I think Blaise said one of his mates has a brother…" he said.
"Exactly," said Harry practically. His gin was almost gone, and he got up to make himself useful and sort them both a refill. "So there's a simple question of limited availability in the wizarding world, I've barely met any other gays guys, let alone ones I'm interested in. But also, I'm, well, me," he finished lamely.
"The Boy Who Lived?" Draco supplied. "The Chosen One, The Great Saviour Of All Magic Kind?"
Harry huffed. "Yeah, that," agreed, twisting the cap off the gin and snagging Draco's glass to put another measure in. "I've been quite popular with romantic advances, you could say." The heat was rising in his cheeks again, but this time from embarrassment rather than anything else. "It was hard to tell who was being genuine, aside from Ginny. But unfortunately she wasn't what I was looking for in the end."
He decanted the tonic on top of the gin and refreshed the ice and lime, sneaking a look at Draco as he scraped the last of the tomatoes into the pan and gave it all a good stir. "So," the other man began, wiping his hands on the tea-towel again and rummaging through the spice rack for the right herbs. "By hooking up with Muggles, you got your anonymity back?" he guessed.
Harry smiled and pushed his replenished tumbler back towards him. "Yeah," he said. "Muggles have whole gay communities, pubs and bars and stuff, it makes it much easier to meet new people and I can just be…" he shrugged. "You know, Harry."
Draco was nodding to himself, pulling out oregano and basil shakers and giving them a sniff. "Yeah I get that, I do," he said, giving Harry a hint of a smile before turning back to his work.
Harry let him be for a while, stirring their meal and adding pasta to the boiling water. "How about you?" he asked after a time. "Is there a lady in your life that's got you so domesticated?"
"Yes," Draco replied, arching his eyebrow and giving Harry a scathing look. "My mother, and you best be respectful about her."
Harry felt a sudden flush of warmth in his chest. "You know I am," he said quietly.
Draco paused, turning to look at him in all seriousness. "Harry," he began, but Harry cut him off with a wave of a hand.
"I don't know," he said, feeling his throat clench ever so slightly. "If I ever thanked you and her. For saving my life."
"Are you mad?" Draco said, thinking to turn the heat on the hob down before grabbing a chair and sitting in front of Harry, the table corner between them. He stared for a moment, apparently searching for the right words. "You shouldn't be thanking us," he began. "I should be apologising. For all that…shit I put you through! I bullied you, I was disrespectful, I tried to trip you up at every turn. I was prejudiced and ignorant and mean, and I saw you, this – this golden boy, and I was consumed by jealousy and hate." He drew breath through his teeth. Harry was stunned. Where had this come from, how long had he wanted to get this off his chest? "And all that was before Voldemort came back. After that – the war – Harry I let Death Eaters into our school. I let myself be blinded by Umbridge, I hunted and punished other students, I forgot who I was in some quest for glory and power.
"And then there he was, the Dark Lord, living in our home, they all were, there was torture and murder and Dumbledore…I almost, I let Snape…" He gritted his teeth, and Harry didn't need any reminding of what he had seen, invisible and bound, of Draco atop that tower, sobbing at the prospect of taking their headmaster's life.
"So don't you thank me for not giving you up, or my mum for lying that you were dead. All we did was keep our mouths shut, you spent your childhood fighting against that monster whilst we were forced to fetch him tea."
Somewhere along the rant he'd become fixated on a knot of wood in the table and was scratching it fervently. Harry was alarmed to see tears pricking at the corner of his eyes, and he kicked himself for so suddenly turning the conversation down such a dark route when they'd been having a perfectly nice time of it.
"Hey," he said softly. Draco didn't respond, so he reached and covered his hand with his own, stopping the scratching before he made himself bleed. "Hey stop that, I mean it."
Draco looked up at him in surprise, his eyes bright. "I'm so sorry," he whispered.
Harry let go of his hand, not wanting to scare him off, but held his gaze. "I know you are," he said. "And you've got to hear me when I say I was in your debt, am in your debt, because you had the courage to lie, to protect me when I was vulnerable and literally thrown at your feet, even though it could have cost you both everything. I'm alive, so many people are alive, because of you; both you and you and your mum."
Draco stared into his eyes for several moments, and Harry did likewise, taking in the sorrow behind the slate greyness. "I've wanted to apologise so many times," Draco said thickly. "But words didn't seem enough. I never knew why you hadn't ever hexed me, why you would be polite to me, after…"
"After the battle," Harry supplied. "After school." Draco nodded. "Because you aren't the only one with horrid relations Malfoy. You weren't the first boy to be a prick at school. I understand you were manipulated and in the past few years I know you've worked hard to make amends. So please," he urged, taking Draco's hand again. "Please accept my gratitude. And I will accept your apology."
Draco blinked his eyes, lowering his gaze and taking a couple of very slow breaths in and out. "You would really forgive me?"
"I forgave you a long time ago Draco," Harry assured him, squeezing his hand before releasing it once more. "And it's okay to forgive yourself too."
"Don't know about that," he replied with just a twitch of a smile. Harry watched him a moment as he just breathed, trying to find his respite, weighing his options.
Then he took a shuddery breath and nodded, rubbing away the tears that had been threatening to spill with the heels of his hands. "Okay," Draco exhaled, then gave a nervous laugh, inhaling deeply and slapping his thighs. "Merlin Potter what have you done, you got me crying as well as cooking for you."
He laughed again, breaking the tension and Harry followed suit. "I do apologise," he said as Draco stood to go back to their food. "I just can't help it, I'm bringing out your soft side with my super gay powers."
Draco huffed, gave his eyes one last rub, then picked up his wooden spoon again, turning up the flame once more. "Don't tell anyone I'm a big wuss underneath, you'll ruin my reputation and I might be forced to punish you."
Harry couldn't help the fleeting thought that he wouldn't actually mind being punished by Draco Malfoy, but batted it down immediately. The moment they had just shared was important, and he shouldn't tarnish it with crude thoughts. It was a bit tricky though, as his heart was beating a little louder in his ears. He'd never expected such an outpouring from his old school rival, such honesty. He hoped he was capable of remorse, wished him to be a better person, but he wasn't convinced. Until now. Now he was looking at him with admiration that made his insides clench inappropriately.
Humility was pretty damn attractive.
Maybe he'd always been drawn to Draco in this way, he thought. Perhaps that's where the childish rivalry had stemmed from, the viciousness on the Quidditch pitch. Maybe Harry had been harbouring something a little deeper all this time?
Well, if that was the case, it certainly wasn't the same for Draco. He always had a new girl on his arm at whatever social gathering beckoned him, stunning witches dripping with wealth batting their eyelashes and laughing at his jokes. No, if he did have feelings for the blond Slytherin he was about to dine with, they would have to stop at friendship. Harry thought he was okay with that though, it was better than nothing.
"Speaking of your reputation," Harry said, keeping his tone light. "Who's the latest girl you've got on your arm? I'm assuming there is one."
Draco rolled his eyes and huffed. Dinner was smelling good and he fished out a loop of spaghetti and ran it under the tap. "I might be getting engaged, but you didn't hear that from me." He let the cool water drip off the pasta before tipping his head back and letting the long tendril slide into his mouth.
Harry might have to slow down on the gin if he was going to cope with seeing things like that.
"Uh," he said, clearing his throat as Draco chewed and swallowed. "To who? I didn't realise you even had a girlfriend right now."
Draco went back to the spaghetti, stirring absent-mindedly. "I don't," he said simply. "But she's a nice girl from a good family, and it would go a long way to repairing the Malfoy name to be tied to someone like the Greengrasses."
Harry couldn't help it. His mouth had dropped open. "You mean, like, an arranged marriage?" he asked in disbelief. Sometimes the magical community could be so old fashioned, but this was shocking even to him.
Draco tried to laugh it off though. "She's really nice," he said protectively. "Only a couple of years younger than us, clever, funny, and for some unknown reason she likes me. If I can help my family, my mother, our legacy, then I will."
"And love?" Harry couldn't help but ask.
Draco obviously decided the pasta was now done after the extra couple of minutes he'd given it, so took the whole pot and dumped it in the waiting colander over the sink. "Love is for fairytales," Draco said scornfully, shaking his head at Harry. "Sex is for grownups, and I'm sure that won't be a problem, she's lovely and I'm me." He gestured down his body with his free hand, and Harry declined to comment, swallowing more gin instead.
"I don't know," he replied instead. "I guess, I just hoped I'd find something more, I see other people have it – love I mean. Life's too short not to make the most of it."
Draco smiled at him, it was warm and amused, before hefting up the spaghetti and spilling the slippery ribbons into the meat sauce. "That is because you are a carefree bohemian, my friend," he said with a theatrical air. "And shall shag your way across the county, before no doubt meeting a dashing Muggle, who you will wow one day with your magical world and tales of thrilling heroics, whereas I shall do the right thing and have lots and lots of little blond babies, and teach every one of them to stay away from evil wizards, but most importantly, how best to wind up as many Gryffindors as possible whilst at school."
He grinned purposefully at Harry, then began dishing up their food on to plates. He seemed to believe what he was saying, but Harry couldn't help but feel a little sad for him. Is that why he'd not had a serious girlfriend as far as Harry had been aware, because he knew he would one day have to throw his lot in with whoever was the best option? They were only in their mid-twenties, surely he didn't have to give in just yet?
Harry blinked the thoughts away. He couldn't have Draco anyway, so what did it matter to him who he ended up with? It mattered, he realised, because he wanted him to be happy, after all the crap he'd been through. But he wasn't his keeper, so he breathed out and let a smile pick up his face as Draco place the plates in front of them.
"Wow, thanks," he said sincerely. "It looks great."
Draco sat down and held his glass up for another toast. "Roses are red," he said. "Violets are blue, here's to a bizarre night, between us two."
"That's getting really tiresome you know," Harry groaned, before giving in and chiming their glasses together. "To a bizarre night."
"I'm sorry," said Draco, clearing his throat. "But say that again?"
Harry felt maybe he'd made a bit of a mistake.
Dinner had been lovely, there was no other word for it. Harry had been sat with a man he didn't have to lie to for once; about magic, or who he was, and the honesty was refreshing. And after their somewhat emotional discussion earlier it seemed they both felt more comfortable letting their barriers down, so after all this time Harry was finally getting to know the real Draco Malfoy. He was quite funny he was pleased to discover.
But full of a good meal, a couple of gins, and legs tired from trekking through the Scottish Highlands meant Harry couldn't help but feel his eyelids dropping, despite the good company. Draco called him on it and he'd suggested he might take a nap, that they both could. After all, it would probably be another few hours before the Ministry got to them, and Draco had agreed.
Unfortunately there was only one bed, and even if they were able to repair the sofa that was part of the crime scene, it wasn't long enough for either of their legs. They could have conjured extra bedding for the floor, but in this poky cottage there wasn't all that much room to lay it.
So Harry had suggested maybe they share the bed.
"You know," he quickly backtracked. "We'd be clothed obviously so it wouldn't be, uh, weird, actually you know what?" He waved his hands at Draco. "Don't worry about it, I'll make a bed in the hall, it's fine."
"Wait, wait," said Draco rubbing the side of his head with one hand, the other on his hip. "I'm sorry, that was dickish of me, it's just taking a nap, like you said we'd be in our clothes and it's just to get our energy back. I'm making it weird, I'm sorry."
"Draco," said Harry. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable."
He stretched his arms out and made his shoulders crack. "Nah," he said. "I'm fine. As long as you don't ravage me in my sleep."
Harry felt heat rise on the back on the back of his neck. "Well, now that you mention it…"
Draco laughed and he hoped he'd covered himself okay. "We're professionals, it makes sense to get some shut eye whilst we can. You know when your lot and my lot get through those curses they're probably going to spend hours asking questions."
"Yeah," Harry agreed keenly. "I just thought it'd be good to be refreshed." In the same bed, one half of his brain purred. Shh! hissed the other half.
"Right," Draco said, collecting the dishes and stacking them by the sink. "I'll wash up, you find some clean bedding."
Between the two men and their wands it didn't take long to clean the kitchen and make up the bed, but then they were both in the bedroom, looking at the bed, and suddenly Harry felt awkward. Maybe he should be sleeping in the hall. Oh Merlin it was just for a couple of hours, he needed to grow up.
"I'm just going to go brush my teeth," he said, jerking his thumb out to the corridor and the bathroom.
"You have a toothbrush?" Draco said impressed.
Harry rubbed the back of his neck. "No," he admitted. "I've just got good at a very mild Scourgify with other people's toothpaste.
Draco's mouth quirked. "You are such a slut Potter," he said with a lacing of humour.
"Oh shut up," said Harry, turning to leave.
"Hey," said Draco, catching him back. "Show me?"
The corner of Harry's mouth twitched. "Will do."
He spent a bit too long in the bathroom he guessed, brushing his teeth, fixing his hair, looking in the mirror and sucking his stomach in. Get a grip! he yelled at himself. It was okay to want to look good for himself but nothing was happening between him and Draco. This was Draco Malfoy. Even if they were sort of friends now he was still the same guy who had done his best to make his school years hell. It would be a really bad idea and anyway he was straight.
With that Harry snapped the lock and re-emerged, heading back to the bedroom. True to his word, he showed Draco his variation on the scouring charm, and let him leave to take his turn in the bathroom.
"You are a professional Potter," he hissed under his breath as he stalked back out into main cottage. "Hold it the fuck together."
He decided it would be a good idea to throw up some alarm charms, just to wake them whenever their colleagues got within a mile or so of the place. He'd really rather not have Ron prodding him awake while drooling unconscious next to Draco Malfoy. So he prowled around the edge of the house for a while, erecting magic, careful not to touch any of the door or window handles.
Satisfied, he headed back to the bedroom and eyed the king size wearily. Was this really a good idea?
"If anyone asks," Draco announced as he walked back in the room, pointing a finger at Harry with a lopsided grin. "We slept on the kitchen floor. And we liked it."
"Yes," Harry replied. "Because I'm going to tell Ron and Hermione all about how you cooked me dinner and then we shared a bed. They'd ship me off to St Mungo's to get my head checked."
"Blaise and Pansy would do the same to me," Draco agreed with a laugh, casually undoing the top couple of buttons on his shirt and kicking off his boots. "You just better not snore."
"I've had no complaints so far," Harry quipped, much more confident than he felt.
Draco grunted and rolled his eyes. "Gross," was all he said as he made his way round the bed. Thanks to his training Harry had naturally taken the side nearest the door, placing his wand on the bedside cabinet, easy to reach in case of any trouble. He pulled his glasses off and set about unlacing his own Gore-Tex shoes, grinding his teeth against any lingering lusty feelings.
Draco sighed loudly and flipped the duvet over, throwing himself on the sheet and his arms behind his head.
Oh, thought Harry. We're getting under the covers? What did he expect? This was no big deal. This was fine.
"Don't hog the sheets," Harry warned as he tried to force his heart to slow down and lowered himself onto the bed, throwing the duvet over his body.
He was rewarded with a smirk. "I shall promise no such thing Potter," Draco declared saucily.
Harry groaned inwardly. Malfoy obviously had no idea the affect he was having on him. Damn him.
He flicked his wand to turn out the lights, leaving them with the moonlight spilling in from around the curtains and the door that they'd left a jar to keep an ear on the rest of the cottage. "Night Malfoy," said Harry.
"Night Scarhead," Draco replied sleepily.
From how groggy he felt when he woke up, Harry guessed he had fallen into a deep sleep. He peeked at the clock on the bedside cabinet and realised it had only been for a couple of hours, but that was fine, that's all he had wanted.
Then, he realised what must have roused him from his slumber. There was an arm draped over his torso.
For a second he thought his heart might have stopped, but as he shifted and felt the body curled loosely around him, he realised Draco must have spooned him at some point whilst unconscious. Harry couldn't help it. He laughed. There he was, worried about what he might do unwittingly, and yet it was Draco who had gone and snuggled up to him.
He was going to be furiously humiliated, and Harry couldn't help but enjoy that. He was going to tease him about this probably until the end of time. He shifted his weight to turn and look at Draco, and as he hoped his movement began to wake the other man. Harry knew he was probably grinning like a maniac, but he wanted to watch the horror on Malfoy's face when he realised he had tangled himself up with Harry Potter.
Slowly the blond opened his eyes and blinked, disorientated, taking in his arm slung over Harry's waist, his legs entwined with Harry's, their faces inches apart.
Harry waited. But as Malfoy focused and stopped blinking, realisation dawning, he didn't freak out and push Harry away like he'd expected. His eyes widened as shock shaped his expression, but he didn't move. He seemed to be thinking, rapidly, and Harry could feel the mirth dropping from his face. What was going on?
Draco's breathing was becoming heavier, his chest rising and falling under his rumpled white shirt, and his eyes were locked with Harry's. Then they dipped to his lips and back up again as the hand resting on Harry's hip curled slightly, gripping the soft fabric of Harry's t-shirt. He swallowed and licked his lips, and Harry felt like he'd been hit by a lorry.
Had he accidently got Draco Malfoy into bed? The seconds stretched out as Harry felt his own expression turning to shock. Did Draco want him? There was only one way to find out.
Carefully, he raised his right hand and brushed a lock of soft blond hair back from his face. Draco's eyes fluttered shut at the touch, but then opened again to meet with Harry's as he rested his fingertips lightly on his cheek.
Harry's heart was racing, blood was pumping hot through his veins and alerting all his senses fully after being dulled by sleep. They weren't the only thing waking up though, Harry could feel his cock press against his jeans as he realised he had maybe a moment or two more to make a decision.
He had Draco Malfoy in his arms; old nemesis, new friend, work colleague, supposedly straight, and yet he looked like he was waiting. Like he was mildly terrified, but also…hungry.
Harry made his decision.
He kept Draco's gaze as he leant forward, he could see he was trembling ever so slightly, before he closed his eyes and brushed their lips together.
A second passed, then another, and just when Harry was about to draw away, Draco Malfoy pushed back, kissing him gently and slipping his tongue out to taste his lips.
Harry didn't need any more encouragement than that. He rolled into him, thrusting his hand into his silvery hair as he kissed him eagerly as their tongues and lips worked desperately against each other, bodies coming closer together. He pushed his other hand between Draco's chest and the bed, wrapping around him and pulling him into Harry. He felt as Draco let his own hand roam from where it had been resting on Harry's hip, sliding over his t-shirt, running down his back and making Harry's skin light up with every touch.
As unexpectedly as it had started though, Draco suddenly jerked back, staring at Harry with real fear on his face. "What am I doing?" he whispered. "What the fuck am I doing?"
Harry swallowed, trying not to be hurt. "Nothing if you don't want to," he assured him. He meant it, if Draco wanted to stop he would respect that, they'd never mention it again.
He would absolutely have to take himself to the bathroom for a serious wank if that was the case though, as he was rock hard after just a minute of snogging.
Draco was looking at him intently, breathing deeply as he bit his bottom lip. Slowly he moved back in, tentatively sweeping his mouth over Harry's before finding his previous enthusiasm. Harry's heart soared as he let himself be kissed and caressed by this beautiful man, not quite believing this was where the night had taken them after their evening together.
He wasn't sure what was really happening, but as long as Draco was okay with it Harry would do whatever he wanted him to. Maybe he was just experimenting, or maybe this was the reason Draco had never really had a proper girlfriend. Harry knew whatever the case it might just be for tonight, he might have to pretend that this, along with their dinner and their heartfelt confessions, had never taken place. But that would come later. For now, he was going to make the most of every single moment.
He rolled Draco onto his back, straddling him without breaking their kiss, pulling his hands from where they'd been entangled in his hair and drifting them down his neck. Draco moaned into his mouth and Harry felt dizzy with desire. He trailed his fingers down his chest, finding his shirt buttons as Draco gripped his hips, their groins rocking slowly together. One by one, Harry slipped the buttons free, exposing Draco's lean chest, firm with sculpted muscles but not too bulky, just the way Harry preferred.
He broke the kiss, leaving Draco gasping and his hands running up Harry's back as Harry traced his mouth down his neck and along his clavicle, working the last of the buttons free. Harry had been lucky with his first few sexual endeavours, finding himself with men keen to show him what was good, what was possible, without expecting much in return from someone inexperienced like him. Harry wanted to give that to Draco now; he may have been with women but this had to be his first time with a man, and Harry didn't care if he did all the work, he wanted it to be good for him, wanted it to be special. Even if they only had this night together, Harry wanted it to be worth it.
He slid his hands down Draco's chest, moving to slip the rest of the shirt off over his shoulders, when he froze. His fingertips had graced over a ridge, slashed diagonally across Draco's chest, and, feeling like a bucket of cold water had been thrown over him, Harry pulled back suddenly, flicking the shirt aside and staring in horror and the long, slender scar that ran diagonally practically from Draco's shoulder to the tip of his hip bone.
The desire drained from Harry's body in a second. "Shhhit," he said emphatically. He had given Draco that scar, in their sixth year of school. It had been an accident, but, Merlin he had no idea it had maimed him like that.
"Hey," said Draco, sitting up when he realised what was wrong. "Hey, it's okay, Harry-"
But Harry was shaking his head, staring at the faint pink welt. "Draco I did that to you," he whispered, reaching tentatively forward, brushing it with his fingers. "I had no idea."
Draco scooped his hand up with his own, squeezing it tightly to get his attention. "Harry it's okay," he said, catching his eyes and holding unwavering contact. "It's a part of who I am."
Harry licked his lips. "I didn't know what that spell did, I would have never-"
It was Draco's turn to interrupt him this time. "Hey," he said firmly. "Do you know what I was thinking of doing in that bathroom, before you showed up?" He raised his eyebrows and placed Harry's hand back down on his chest, resting on the scar as he flattened his palm on top. "Much worse than this."
Harry frowned, absorbing this, feeling his eyes flicking over Draco's face. "You were going to hurt yourself?" he said softly.
"Worse," said Draco, unapologetically. "You saved me Harry, in a strange way. Believe me you did. And now this," he pressed down with his hand, pushing the faint ridge into Harry's skin, before sitting up and shrugging the shirt off entirely, throwing it on the floor. "And this," he held up the Dark Mark tattoo on his left wrist. "Are a part of who I am, a reminder of everything I went through."
Harry swallowed, taking in Draco below him, baring his scars. Gently, he reached out and touched the tattoo, running his fingers over the slightly textured skin. Draco watched him as he thought, as he moved his hand back and traced the whole length of the scar on his chest. "You forgive me?"
Draco put his hands behind his back, sitting up fully and lightly touching his lips back to Harry's. "There's nothing to forgive," he murmured into his mouth.
Harry slowly let himself be kissed, the icy knot of guilt easing in his gut. He was stunned. Draco was carrying that around with him every single day, every time he looked in the mirror; Harry had branded him. Did he really see it as a positive? Had Harry really stopped him from self harming, or even taking his own life?
Draco slipped his hand into Harry's hair, stoking it, coaxing Harry away from terrible thoughts and back into bed. "Don't stop," Draco whispered. "Please don't stop Harry. I'm here, now. Make love to me."
Those four words sent desire cascading down Harry's body, chasing away old ghosts like a patronus dispersing dementors. Gradually he found his way back, running his hands over Draco's naked torso, exploring his body as his tongue explored his mouth and lips.
Harry had forgiven Draco for his indiscretions at school. Maybe Draco really did forgive him too.
He went to push Draco back down on the bed, losing himself in the embrace, but Draco had other ideas. He surprised him by slipping his hands under the hem of his t-shirt, cool fingers making him jump slightly as he touched his skin. He tugged at the top, pulling it up Harry's chest, breaking the kiss to yank it over his head and throw it on the floor beside his shirt.
Despite his noble declarations, Harry (and more notably his prick) couldn't deny his excitement at the prospect of Draco getting actively involved. It sparked the back fire in him that seeing the scar had diminished. Draco wanted him to make love to him? That's exactly what he was going to do.
Harry's jaw and mouth were actually starting to ache from the ferocity of their kissing, but he wasn't about to relent. He felt like a parched man discovering an oasis. Gradually, Draco leant them back again, his hands exploring Harry's body with growing confidence, making their way back up to his hair, running his fingers through before gripping firmly.
Returning to his original mission to make this the best it could be for Draco, Harry decided to step things up. He pushed his hand between their bodies, grabbing Draco's crotch to massage his evident erection through the material of his trousers. Draco jerked and shuddered, crying out through their kiss and pulling at Harry's hair. Yeah, he liked that.
He worked him a little longer, loving the solid feel of him under his touch, but soon Harry wanted more. He needed more. He angled their bodies, bringing his other hand in to help as he began to unbutton and unzip. Draco was making the most delicious, throaty sounds as he did this, and gradually he slipped Draco's trousers over his hips.
Draco took it upon himself to get involved, abruptly grabbing hold of the trousers and yanking them down his legs, shaking his legs free so now only his boxers remained. He chucked them to the side of the bed, all the while begging at Harry with his kisses, his mouth pleading for more of his touch.
The trousers discarded, Harry resumed his exploration of Draco's crotch, stroking through silky underwear, green of course, which made him smile as he kneaded his rigid erection. He was a good size; not too big, not to be dismissed, and Harry found his mouth watering. Little by little, he pulled back from Draco's lips, swollen and pink from where he'd pulverised them. He lingered with kisses down his throat, along his chest and abs, tongue giving little touches on the rougher scar tissue, following the soft golden trail of hair from his belly button down to his boxers.
Draco seemed to sense what was coming, and he wasn't sure what to do with his hands as he fluttered them from the mattress to his chest, down to slip into Harry's tangle of black hair, whispering sweet nothings into the blackness.
"Yes," he uttered, barely audible. "Oh yes Potter yes."
Harry nuzzled his face into the silk, running his nose up and down Draco's length, causing him to cry out, fingers jerking in Harry's hair. Carefully, he slipped his own fingers under the elastic of the boxers, feeling the heat of Draco's skin. He was still trembling, ever so slightly. He pulled them down, over his cock that bobbed as Draco shifted his hips eagerly, helping Harry strip him.
Now he was naked, completely, and Harry felt a thrill of elation. This man was all his, and he would do anything he wanted him to.
He traced his mouth back up his thigh, feeling the muscles contract as Draco writhed, pleasure noises catching in his throat, impeding anything intelligible. He wanted to savour the moment, but he didn't want Draco to think he was being teased. So as he reached his hips, Harry lifted his head, and glided his mouth, tongue and lips over Draco's waiting cock.
"Fuck, Merlin!" Draco hissed, rising his pelvis as Harry lowered his head, and Draco rubbed his hand through Harry's hair, encouraging him. Harry gripped hard either side of Draco's naked arse, giving himself purchase as he dipped up and down, swirling his tongue, loving every second.
Giving head was more important than sex in instances like this, he thought. It was about trust, true intimacy, and he rose his gaze to watch his man as he worshiped him. Draco was already looking down at him, he realised with a thrill, and he held his gaze as Draco quickly became undone, until he dropped his head back into the pillow, his fingers massaging through Harry's hair.
He didn’t want this over too quickly though, so he took one of his hands and gripped the stem of his shaft in a ring with his fingers, restricting the blood flow whilst he continued to suck like he was trying to swallow Draco dick all the way down his throat.
Draco let out some sort of unintelligible noise that let Harry know he was doing well, and he hummed against the tight, hot skin he was attempting to devour. “Potter, yes, Harry fuck!”
Harry continued, even though his jaw was starting to ache a little from the repetitive motion after all the kissing. He slowed the pace down, before speeding up, preparing Draco for the impending climax.
“I’m going to come,” he uttered, obviously on the brink, and Harry obeyed, letting go of his tight hold and allowing the blood to rush back all along the length. “Argh!” Draco wailed, digging his hands into the bed sheets, and Harry sped up one last time.
He jerked suddenly, but Harry was prepared, digging his fingers into his soft flesh, taking everything he gave him. He swallowed him down, salty and a little spicy, lapping him up as he rose up from his cock, licking up the stem, planting a swift kiss on the tip. Draco was gasping, shuddering as Harry slowly laced kisses up his abdomen, making his way back to his mouth.
"You taste good," he said, voice husky and he smiled down at his lover, sweeping a lock of hair from his face again, wanting to see his grey eyes unhindered. Draco stared back up at him as he tried to steady his breathing, taking long, slow breaths as his hands traced down Harry's cheeks and jawline.
"You should get the Order of fucking Merlin for that," Draco breathed, a grin spreading over his face. Harry snuck in for a kiss, catching up his mouth and bending it to his will, letting Draco taste his own, intimate, flavour.
"I don't blow just anyone, you know," he murmured between lips and breaths. "Give me a medal and everyone would want one."
"They can't have one, though," Draco said.
"You can though," Harry said. Lord he was losing himself, how was he ever going to pull back once the cold light of day hit?
Draco separated himself, leaning back on his elbows and considering Harry, before dragging his thumb along Harry's jaw and lips, into his mouth. "I want you to fuck me," he whispered.
Harry could have sworn he was in control of this little triste of theirs, but with those few words he found himself unravelling. "I am fucking you," he rasped.
Draco held his gaze, that tight fear creeping back onto his face. "Fuck me properly," he said.
He dropped his hand to Harry's inner thighs, where he was still wearing his jeans, and took a firm hold of his throbbing prick, pulling him closer. "I want you inside me," he said in hushed tones. He was begging.
Harry forced himself to sober up and concentrate, taking the back of Draco's neck in hand. That was more than fooling around. That was taking his virginity as far as he was concerned. "Are you sure?" he asked, running his gaze over Draco's face with intensity. "That might be too much, I mean, I am quite…" he bit his lip, feeling suddenly coy. "Big. We could try other stuff."
A beautiful look graced over Draco's face, a flurry of embarrassment and keenness and something adorable but indefinable. He nuzzled his face into the crook of Harry's neck, before sneaking a look, then averting his eyes again. "At home," he began, unsure. "I have, I mean like…I use…toys."
Harry snapped back and looked down at him. "You kinky bastard," he breathed, utterly delighted, before dropping back down to smother him in kisses, not relenting until both of them gasped for air. Draco Malfoy liked it up the arse. Harry felt like Christmas had come early.
“Hang on a sec,” he said, remembering one last practical action with his brain before his other head took over all thought. He wasn’t normally able to do this with his Muggle partners, unless they were pretty drunk and he could catch them when they weren’t looking. But it made such a huge difference he was keen to take advantage of the situation.
He grabbed his wand from the bedside cabinet and cast a silent spell over Draco, who jumped a little, no doubt at the tingling sensation he was currently experiencing in his lower regions. “Cleaning spell,” Harry said with a grin, casting it on himself too just in case. “Makes everything go a bit smoother.”
Draco nodded and smiled back, his skin glistening with a light sheen of sweat that Harry’s treatment of him so far had managed to illicit.
Harry barely paused as he rolled to his side of the bed, throwing open his bag and thanking whoever was out there listening for his own foresight to stash a little bottle of lubricant and pack of condoms in the back pocket. He was slick with sweat but ignored the slight chill that caught him as he scrambled out of the rest of his clothes, ripped the condom open, unrolling it on his waiting cock, then tipped a generous splash of lube over his fingers to massage over it.
He spun back around, and stilled at the sight that greeted him.
Draco had moved onto his stomach, and had nestled his head into the crook of his arm. His legs were slightly apart, bent and curled towards himself, looking more nubile and wanting than any angel ever captured in oil on canvas. His eyes were trained on Harry, his expression was submissive, ardent, and as naked as the backside he had waiting for Harry.
Harry flipped the cap back on the lube and dropped it by his pillow. Slowly, he crawled over to where Draco was splayed, pleased with the way his eyes lingered on his swaying cock. It's all for you, he thought.
He reached him and dropped his head, planting kisses along his spine as he slipped his fingers between Draco's cheeks, letting the gel spread from his fingers into his more sensitive areas. Draco gasped, and Harry reached up to lace his other hand over Draco's one gripping insatiably at the bed sheets, intertwining their fingers as he moved his body around.
Slowly, he pushed the first finger against Draco's entrance, making him moan. “Is that okay?” Harry asked, nuzzling into Draco’s soft blond hair, his own breath hitching along with the man’s beneath him.
Draco nodded. “Yes, Harry,” he rasped. “Fucking hell-” His face was screwed up in concentration, and despite claiming to be well versed in sodomy, Harry decided to go as slowly as possible, getting him used to the sensations he was giving him.
He worked gently, just up to his knuckle to start with, murmuring to Draco in assurance that he was right there with him and that he had everything under control. Draco whined and writhed under him as he eased his finger in further, and Harry shifted so they could kiss between gasping breaths. “Still good?” he checked, marvelling again at the angel of a man he was currently undoing with his hands and his lips.
“Incredible,” Draco breathed, trying to open his eyes, but he was so ladened down with lust and desire he could only last a second or two before clamping them shut again.
Harry heart was racing, his cock throbbing with the promise of what was to come. “You feel so good,” he said, his voice husky. “So hot and tight Draco, I can’t wait until I’m burred up to my hips in you, I want everything.”
Draco’s breaths were almost sobs, and Harry decided to stretch him out more before he picked up the pace and found his prostate. “Can I add another?” he asked, slowing his pulsing hand down.
Draco nodded. “Please,” he whispered, clutching Harry’s hand in a vice like grip. “Please Harry, it feels so good.”
Harry took his time kissing him again, relaxing him before pushing in a second slippery finger inside, and Draco rutted hungrily against him, mewling in a most delicious manner. “You like that, don’t you?” Harry chuckled, picking up the pace quicker this time.
Draco seemed incapable of much a response, only gasping “Don’t stop – don’t stop” into the crook of Harry’s neck.
“I’ve got you,” Harry soothed. “It’s okay, you’re doing so good, you look amazing, fuck.” Draco was a damp, shuddering mess beneath him, all his muscles contracting and flexing under Harry’s torturous ecstasy. He was tempted to angle his fingers to find Draco’s sweet spot, that bundle of nerves that would have him howling and unravelling in a matter of moments. But Harry’s prick was aching with desperate need, and he wanted as good a fuck as he was giving, so he held off. Instead he started scissoring his two fingers as he pushed in. “I’m going to have to add a third,” he said, knowing from experience that that’s what his partners needed to take him comfortably. “Are you ready?”
Draco just nodded frantically, so he didn’t waste any time as he added the last digit, pumping in a steady strong rhythm that had Draco alternating between growls, moans and the most scintillating little squeaks that always made Harry want to kiss him again and swallow them down.
“I want to fuck you now,” Harry gasped, feeling dizzy from just watching Draco unravelling at his touch. “Please Draco, please.”
“Harry I want-” he choked, clenching around his fingers with such strength Harry hissed, feeling his dick weeping pre-cum into the condom, desperate for attention after being neglected almost the whole night.
“What do you want?” he asked, slowing his hand down, preparing to slip it out. He wasn’t always one for much chat during sex, but Draco made him want to hear his own voice, to hear Draco’s voice, to prove this was really happening to his over-stimulated brain.
“I want you,” Draco cried, undulating his hips against Harry’s now leisurely pace. “Inside me. Now.”
How could Harry argue with that?He eased his fingers free and wiped them on the sheets on the side of the bed so he wouldn’t smear Draco with too much unnecessary lube. His chest brushed up against Draco's back, his mouth never leaving his skin, lips and tongue working over shoulder blades and neck as he carefully guided his cock towards Draco's entrance.
Their eyes met. "Ready?" Harry breathed. Draco nodded, so throwing all caution to the wind, he pushed forwards, breaking inside and feeling Draco envelope him.
"Fuck," Draco hissed, eyes rolling into the back of his head as he clenched Harry's hand with determination. Harry let him recover, before slowly pushing a little further, then back, then a little further.
"Is that okay?" he asked quietly. He was amazed he managed to get the words out. Draco felt firm and warm and everything incredible. He tightened and relaxed around Harry's cock as he began to pick up the pace, one hand wrapped in and around Draco's, the other balling the sheets for dear life as he nuzzled his face into Draco's back.
"Don't stop," Draco managed in a strangled choke. "Don't…don't stop."
There was absolutely zero chance Harry was going to stop now. He moved slowly and methodically for a few thrusts, enjoying each and every sensation. But then he bent down, wrapping his knees around Draco's hips, and began to ride him like a prize winning pony.
Draco shouted out, gnashing his teeth as the profanities flew, and Harry revelled in the fact there wasn't a single human being around to hear them for literally hundreds of miles. He could feel himself peeking, cresting the wave of his own ecstasy. "Come for me Draco," he breathed.
"Harry," Draco moaned, coming undone. "Harry I'm going to, I'm…"
He convulsed, screwing up his face and threatening to break Harry's fingers, which Harry might have minded if his whole world wasn't exploding with fireworks at the same moment. He snatched up his free hand to seize Draco's hip, burying himself as deep as he could go inside him as he came spectacularly.
He hovered on that moment of euphoria briefly, before collapsing and hugging a panting, quivering Draco into him. It was a good minute or so before he could form a coherent thought, and even then it was so drowned out by sated lust he couldn't trust himself to string a sentence together. Instead he slowly retracted himself from Draco, making him sigh and squirm, peeled off the condom then dropped himself back beside his lover, edging his face into the nape of his neck, trailing kisses along his skin.
"That was perfect," he said, dazed.
Draco shifted his weight so he could look at Harry properly. His gaze was weighted, and Harry felt his breath catch in his throat.
But then Draco ran his fingers along the side of his face, touching damp hair and sliding back to cup the underside of his head. "Perfect," he agreed.
Harry knew he had dozed off again in Draco's arms, so when he jerked awake to find himself alone panic was the first thing to shoot through him. In the split second it took him to realise and worry what had happened, if he was okay, he realised for the second time that night there was a reason he had come so abruptly back into consciousness.
His alarms were going off.
In one swift moment he scooped up his jeans, dragging them over his legs, thrusting his glasses back on his face and snatching up his wand, all in the space of a heartbeat or two. "Silencio," hehissed, and the bells and whistles ceased immediately.
The quiet that followed as Harry stepped bare-chested out into the hall told him two things. First, that Draco must have been in the shower as the water was running, and second: they were not alone.
There was a crash and a slew of angry words from behind the closed living room door opposite him. He might have hoped it was his fellow Aurors, but even through the door Harry could tell that the two heated voices were not speaking in English.
They were speaking in French.
He flattened himself against the wall, wand raised as his mind raced. The Pontiacs, it had to be. Why had they come back? Was Draco right, had they been monitoring them?
"Trouver cette femme!" the female voice barked, Marie Pontiac Harry guessed, getting closer to the door. "Je veux qu'elle meure."
The door opened to reveal just a glimpse of her husband Ourson, but Harry's spell was already flying through the air. "Impedimenta!"
The fugitive was fast though, they both were, and Ourson's shield charm had Harry's hex bouncing off the walls while Marie assaulted him with a nasty shower of sparks in a combination of jinxes. He ducked and rolled as the couple retreated back into the lounge, but Harry wasn't letting them get away that easily. He crashed through the door to find them waiting for him, either side of the room, and he spun on his feet, wand above his head as he battled back the barrage of spells.
"My love!" Marie cried to Ourson in a thick French accent as they apparently enjoyed themselves. "It is the famous 'Arry Potter! We are most 'onoured." For wanted fugitives, the Pontiacs had scrubbed up quite nicely in dress robes that looked like they had just come from a ball. Maybe they had? Harry had no idea where they'd been hiding these past few days. He still couldn't figure why they would risk coming back to the house when the Ministry was after them?
"Oh put a sock in it," Harry growled between curses, sweat pouring down his neck from exertion and concentration. His feet were bare and he could feel them getting torn up from the debris strewn over Mrs Hathaway's carpet. The pain wasn't helping him focus as the bombardment continued, and despite Harry's expert reflexes and wide range of spells, it wasn't long before a stunning charm clipped his shoulder, and he went flying into the wall, rattling loose several china plates that came crashing down alongside him as he hit the floor.
Before he could scramble back to his feet, Ourson Pontiac was also blasted into the air, and Harry whipped his head round to see Draco charge into the room, hair wet and also only clad in his trousers. Marie turned her attention to him with a shriek as they began to duel in earnest, giving Harry the chance to haul himself up.
She fended them both off for the first few volleys, but with her husband still on the floor defenceless it was only a matter of time before Harry was able to sneak an Incarcerous spell around her, snaking ropes around his limbs.
"Vas te faire encule!" Marie roared, strands of brown hair coming free of her elegant bun as she lunged at Harry and Draco, slashing viciously with spell after spell. The cottage seemed to rock under their feet but the two men stood their ground, shoulder to shoulder as they beat the lunatic before them down. Harry gritted his teeth, he just needed a shot, just one shot…
Draco feinted to his left, drawing Marie to him, so Harry dove to the right, arching his wand and blasting the witch into unconsciousness, sprawled on the ground.
Just like that the room stilled. With the couple both out for the count and on the ground, Draco and Harry drew themselves up and back, catching their breaths, staring at the criminals they'd managed to apprehend.
Harry was the first to move, darting over to Marie to check her pulse before binding her hands, gagging her and confiscating her wand. He did the same to Ourson, and only then did he realise Draco was watching him mutely.
Harry looked down at their captives, then back up to him. This really had been a bizarre night.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
His hair was still dripping, water running in little rivets down his chest from where he'd presumably jumped straight out of the shower, his charcoal trousers were dark with moisture as well and he'd also not put any shoes on. Both their feet had little smears of blood around the edges from the glass and ceramics they had stamped on whilst duelling.
Draco didn't reply. He just blinked, his hand gripping his wand tightly, his jaw set.
Harry felt a sinking sensation slip down his insides. Was Draco freaking out? Was he regretting what had happened between them? Harry tried not to panic. He knew this would almost certainly happen, he'd promised himself he wouldn't let himself be hurt by it. But he couldn't help but feel desperate for Draco to say something, anything.
His heart jumped as Draco opened his mouth…and then the alarms went off again.
Harry snapped his head up at the soft ringing, designed to rouse them from sleep, but right now they shredded Harry's nerves. Curse their timing. "The Ministry," he said, silencing them. Then he looked at Draco's naked torso, followed by his own.
Without a word the two men left their prisoners unguarded for a moment as they raced back into the bedroom, snatching up clothes, healing their cut feet before shoving their boots back on. Harry silently summoned the discarded condom and the lube, feeling a burn of shame as he hid them back in his bag, not caring about the mess they made. He could deal with Draco not wanting to repeat their encounter, or wanting to keep it private, but did he really have to ignore him? Make him feel like he'd done something disgusting?
He was debating whether or not to say something as he whipped the sheets from the bed and dumped them in a pile on the floor, when by the sound of it the front door burst open, accompanied by a chorus of voices.
"Harry?" Ron called out, and Harry left Draco in the bedroom without a second glance as he went to greet his partner.
Ron and several of their colleagues were already in the living room, staring impressed at the crumpled masses of the Pontiacs.
"Blimey mate," Ron said enthusiastically. "You've been busy."
You have no idea, Harry thought ruefully.
Harry wasn't sure how long he'd been standing around making his statement. It seemed like as soon as his finished talking to one department, another would pop up. He and Draco hadn't had a chance to get their story straight, so he was being as vague as possible about the hours they had spent in the cottage since their entrapment. It didn't help that the Curse Breakers had set up camp in the kitchen so Harry couldn't see what was going on.
He knew the case was more important, he knew he should have been jubilant that he'd finally caught his quarry after so many months of hard work, but he just couldn't shake the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, wishing he knew what Draco was thinking.
"Hey," said Ron, coming over and breaking him from his reverie. "I think we might know why they came back to the house." He waved a small roll of parchment that Harry guessed had just been delivered by owl.
That had been bothering Harry, and his interest piqued. "Why?"
"I reckon they didn't think it was you that poking about. I think they thought they were coming back for Mrs Hathaway."
Harry blinked. "Mary Hathaway? I assumed she was dead."
"Yeah," Ron said, pleased and handing over the parchment. "So did we. Turns out she's a tough old bird – she caused most of this damage when the Pontiacs arrived, before giving up and apparating away. Her handbag was like that one Hermione used when we were looking for the Horcruxes, she had an emergency tent stored in there so she's just been living out on the Isle of Skye."
"And she didn't bother to tell anyone about it?" Harry marvelled, shaking his head.
Ron shrugged. "Locals reported her earlier today, apparently, she can't see what the fuss is all about."
"But, the blood?" Harry pointed to the splatter up the wall.
Ron laughed. "Apparently, the handbag packs a mean swing as well as camping gear. The blood is Ourson Pontiac's according to her statement."
Harry puffed out a breath. Well that was something. He felt much better about having wild sex in her bed now she wasn't dead. Actually, maybe that made it worse.
Urgh, the whole thing was making him feel tired and irritable. He just wanted to get away from this place, away from Draco. If he wasn't even going to look at him then he'd rather just not be here at all.
"Do you think we're done here?" Harry asked his superior Kingsley Shacklebolt. The older man thought a moment and flicked through his notebook.
"I think you can relieve yourself for the night," he conceded. "We can carry on with the rest."
Harry gave him a nod, grateful, and turned back to Ron. "See you tomorrow?" said his partner.
"Tomorrow," Harry agreed. "Though I might take the morning off, get some sleep. Give my love to Hermione?"
"Always do," Ron said, clapping his shoulder.
As he walked out into the corridor, Harry couldn't help but glance towards the kitchen. As luck was have it Draco was facing his way, with various people talking around him but he was still, perched against the counter top. Their eyes met for just a moment, but there was no emotion behind Draco's grey ones, and he quickly dropped them to the floor again.
Harry squashed down the hurt and frustration. Fine, he promised himself he wouldn't be mad, so he wasn't.
Well he was, but maybe by tomorrow afternoon he might convince himself otherwise.
He seized his cloak and his bag before heading outside. Morning was threatening to break over the horizon and Harry sighed before twisting on the spot and apparating away.
He landed in his dark flat, and without bothering about anything else just sunk into the sofa, rubbing his hands over his face. He sat there alone for a while, chewing his lip, still sore from the force of Draco's passion. After a while he decided he was just sad. And disappointed. The sex had been incredible, yes, but for Harry, to share something like that with someone who actually knew who he was was unique. He just wished Draco respected him enough to be decent, he wasn't stupid, he didn't expect him to be his boyfriend or something ludicrous like that.
Even as he thought it though, he knew that wasn't entirely true. He wanted to see Draco again, he wanted to spend more time with him.
Instead, he stood once again, deciding not to sit around and mope. He needed distraction, so until sleep came to him he thought he may as well be useful. He threw his satchel over his shoulder again, and turned to the fireplace, chucking in a handful of Floo powder. "The Ministry," he said. "Aurors Division."
The flames sped him away, and he was soon walking the familiar but quiet corridors of his work, letting himself into his and Ron's office. He could at least get his report down on parchment.
He flicked the lights on and settled down at his desk, but he couldn't seem to bring himself to start writing anything. Perhaps if he looked back over his readings.
He thought suddenly of his camera, and with a jolt realised he couldn't remember picking it up before he left. He quickly pulled open his bag to check, but as he feared it was missing. He let out a frustrated sigh, dropping the satchel back down on the floor. He was sure someone would have picked it up, he'd track it down later, he was just irritated about the inconvenience.
He guessed he could still look over the photos he took earlier though, so he pulled his keys out from his pocket and unlocked the drawer where they would have appeared.
He had indeed taken over a hundred of the various aspects of Mrs Hathaway's cottage, and he intended to start sorting them by room so he could work on making his observations. But he very quickly realised that the newest half a dozen photographs had not been taken by him.
He let the others slide back into the drawer, and spread the six new ones out on his desk, careful to keep them in order, his heartbeats speeding up. They were of words, hanging in the night air, written in fire with a Flagrate charm Harry assumed. The handwriting was elegant and looping, but Harry could still make out what had been said, four short lines on each picture:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Last night was incredible,
So I want to thank you.
Your heart is red,
And my blood runs green.
But I think there is more,
To us than there seems.
You showed me a part,
Of my soul that I missed.
You woke it from slumber,
The moment we kissed.
I know this is new,
But we can go slow.
See day by day,
Where it might go.
Old school rivals,
A thing of the past.
I have a feeling,
This new phase might last.
The morning has dawned,
You've opened the doors.
I'll give you my heart,
If you trust me with yours.
Harry stared, his hand over his mouth, blinking back the tears that were threatening at the corners of his eyes.
"I was wondering," a voice from the doorway began, making his head snap up. "How long I'd have to wait. Before you checked your drawer."
Draco Malfoy was propped up on the frame, Harry's camera and a single red rose hanging between his slender fingers. He tapped the green button, which showed that Harry had seen the pictures he'd obviously taken.
"Hi," said Harry softly.
"Hi," Draco said back. He was still in the same shirt and trousers that Harry had relieved him of a few hours ago, his blond hair was tousled, he face pensive. "I'm sorry."
Harry wasn't sure what to say, so he looked back down at the collection of photos. He felt rather than saw Draco push off the door frame, then walk towards his desk, pulling up Ron's chair so he could sit facing him, leaning his elbows forward on his knees. He placed the camera on the desk, but kept the rose between his fingers, careful to avoid the thorns.
"I freaked out," he said simply, and Harry dared to look up and meet his eyes. "I didn't know what to say and I had about a million thoughts going round my head and I couldn't work them out and things got crazy so I just chose not to say anything at all, and I'm sure that was confusing and hurtful." He swallowed and looked down at the rose. "But I'm starting to get them straightened out now."
Harry traced his finger along the edge of the last photo. "Do you really mean this?" he said, indicating the poem, not trusting himself to look up and just pulling at the corner of the image.
He felt Draco's hand touch his knee, drawing his attention. "Yes," he said. "I do." He smiled shyly, and held the rose out to Harry. "I saved one for you," he said quietly. "I told them it was evidence."
Harry carefully took the flower. "It is evidence," he said meaningfully. Of us.
"If you'd like," Draco carried on, his fingers caressing lightly on Harry's jeans. "You could come over to my place. We could talk?"
Harry considered. This could be complicated, this could be a bad idea, it could all end in heartache and scandal.
But if it was anything like last night, it could also be absolutely amazing.
"When?" he asked.
"Now?" Draco suggested hopefully.
"Sounds good to me."
Seven Months Later
Part Two: Violets
Without a doubt, Harry's favourite time of the week was Sunday mornings. After the pressure to get through five days at work, then the inevitable blow out of Friday and Saturday nights, Sunday morning was when the world didn't expect anything of him. When he could just lounge around in bed with endless cups of tea, maybe listen to some music as he flicked through the papers, finding his calm again as he prepared to start the week's routine over.
And lately, he'd not been the only one in the bed.
"Are you finished with the Quidditch pages yet?" Draco asked as he nuzzled into the side of Harry's arm.
Harry swatted him playfully on the head with the newspaper. "No," he said, opening it back up with a smirk. "And don't you go trying to steal them off me, I've been wanting to read about Ginny's game against Puddlemere since yesterday."
Draco was quiet for a while, snuggled up on Harry's hip under his arm, playing with the toggle on his pyjama bottoms. His breath was soft on Harry's bare torso, his fine white blond hair tickling his abdominals. Harry thought maybe he was dozing off, but then he should have remembered that Malfoy didn't do well with being ignored.
Harry only raised an eyebrow down at his man as his hand started trailing up and down the inside of his leg, but Draco didn't look up at him. He just carried on as if nothing was amiss, so Harry did likewise and tried to read the match write-up. It was a little difficult though, and he found his eyes roaming over the same sentence three times.
He could feel Draco smile against his belly as he shifted his body weight under the duvet, hand creeping up towards his crotch as he began to touch light little kisses on the skin just above his waistband.
Harry felt his eyes fluttering closed. "Oh you're a bastard," he breathed. Draco just looked up at him with a wicked grin, before diving under the cover, throwing it up over Harry's chest.
"Draco," he half protested, but he really didn't mean it as he felt his lover's hand begin to massage his cock through the soft cotton of his PJs. He let out a moan and tried to drop the Sunday Prophet to the floor, but instead succeeded in scattering several pages across the wooden boards.
In truth he was thrilled. It wasn't often Draco took the initiative in the bedroom like this, and Harry found himself slipping down his pillows as Draco pinged his pyjamas over his cock, and wrapped his hot mouth over it.
Harry let out a gasp and grinned, biting his lip as he snaked his hand under the duvet to run his fingers through Draco silky fine hair. "Hm baby," he breathed, shutting his eyes and feeling awash with sensation.
It had been a little over six months since they had been trapped alone in the Scottish Highlands, and still Harry marvelled at this beautiful man he'd managed to ensnare into his bed, into his heart. How could it be that out of everyone, it was Draco Malfoy that had been the only person he'd ever allowed himself to grow close to, that he'd entwined his life with?
He'd often thought of the look on his younger self's face if he were to ever travel back in time and tell him.
Draco was picking up pace and Harry gasped. "Yes," he murmured. "Oh yes, like that."
Harry had been delighted to teach him all he knew about being with another man. He'd never had sex with a woman, but he didn't have to to know the mechanics of it all were more than a little different. He could tell Draco was mimicking him now though, copying the way he pleasured him, wanting to make him feel the same way. Harry liked being the dominant one in the bedroom, but he couldn't deny it was nice to be surprised, to lie back and think of England for once.
"Harry mate! You home!"
The two men jumped so violently Harry swore his cock had been snapped in two. He cried out as Draco came flying back out from under the covers, wiping his mouth, looking utterly horrified. "What the hell is Weasley doing here?" he hissed, panicking.
Harry coughed and tried to swallow, but his body was spasming at being so close to coming and then having it shocked away in an instant.
He thought for an awful moment Ron was going to open the door.
"Hang on mate!" he called back, voice thick with arousal and horse from the ensuing disbelief at being interrupted mid blow-job. "Fuck!" he snarled as he remembered, turning to Draco who was still waiting anxiously in front of him for an explanation. "I said I'd help him go shopping for Hermione's birthday present, he wasn't supposed to be here until midday."
"It is midday," Draco shot back, pissed off as Harry kicked out of his pyjamas, willing his erection to go back down. "Why didn't you tell me, you know he can't see me?"
Harry couldn't quite ignore the familiar sting as Draco began scrabbling around for his t-shirt, moving to stand in the corner of the room beside the wardrobe, hiding his presence if Ron were to just poke his head in.
"I'm sorry," Harry said miserably, yanking clean boxers on and forcing his cock into the first pair of jeans he found lying around on the floor. "Look we'll go, you can hang out here and I'll be back in no time, he'll never suspect a thing." He snatched a jumper from one of the drawers and dashed over to where Draco was standing, arms folded protectively over his chest. He cupped his jaw with his hand and tried to placate him with kisses.
"Okay," Draco sighed, reciprocating the motion. "Sorry, I just freaked out. I'll watch DVDs or something, just warn me if you bring him back home again."
Harry gave him a long hard kiss, filled with promises of picking up where they'd left off. "Just keep your wand away from the TV," he said playfully, ruffling his hair. "I don't want to have to buy a new one. Again."
Draco pushed him away with a glint in his eye, and smacked his arse. "Go," he said. "Before Weasley barges in here hoping to catch you wanking."
Harry smiled, but there was a tugging at his heart that wouldn't quite go away as he opened the door and stepped out into the main body of his flat, closing the door behind him.
"Finished wanking?" Ron quipped with a grin, putting the lid back on the biscuit tin and shoving a whole ginger snap into his mouth.
"Very funny," Harry said, rolling his eyes but also praying his boner had subsided enough not to be noticeable in his jeans. "You ready to go?"
Ron shrugged. "Whenever you are mate," he said, then nudged Draco's expensive Italian loafers, discarded by the sofa and causing Harry's heart to skip a beat. "Nice shoes by the way," he said.
It was a good job Harry wasn't hiding a girl in his bedroom, as even Ron would notice if there were a lady's paraphernalia littered about the place. But the fact was Draco's had bits and pieces all over the flat, least of which were the shoes Ron had managed to spot. "Er yeah," said Harry, shoving his feet into his trainers and grabbing a jacket off the peg by the door. "Got them on a whim, on sale, they pinch a bit." Stop talking! his brain yelled. "So you're sure you want to go to Oxford Street, there's perfectly good Muggle shops here in Bristol?"
Ron shoved his hands in his pockets. "Actually I think it's Carnaby Street we want, they've got cool shops Dean said. Or Covent Garden – they're near each other yeah?"
"Yeah," said Harry distractedly, concentrating very hard on not looking back at his bedroom door, imagining Malfoy pressed up against it, listening to their every word, heart in his mouth. "Shall we go?"
Harry tried to enjoy the day out with Ron. It was quite cute trying to keep a lid on his enthusiasm for regular Muggle oddities like card machines and clothes mannequins. After several years together he was determined to get Hermione something special for her birthday, hence thinking outside the box and forcing Harry to help him go Muggle shopping.
But try as he might, Harry's mind kept drifting back to Draco, and the knot in his stomach got tighter and tighter as the day went on. Because there was just one downside to dating Draco Malfoy: they were literally the only two that knew about it.
At first Harry had agreed. The idea of trying to explain what had blossomed in those few hours they were stuck together in that cottage, of their incredible night of passion that grew quietly but strongly into a genuine relationship, it was mind boggling. "Hey Ron!" he imagined himself saying as they perused over shoes and jewellery. "Guess who I'm shagging? Yes, the last person you'd ever think of on the whole entire planet!"
But as the months passed Harry found himself ready to have that conversation, ready to argue and fight and explain that he'd actually fallen in love with the boy he'd spent his school years thinking he hated. The thing was, Draco absolutely disagreed.
Harry didn't doubt he cared for him, that he was committed to what they had together, but for him, it was enough. He seemed terrified of exposing themselves to the rest of the world for scrutiny, and wanted to hide away in their protected little bubble.
It may have been safe, but Harry wasn't sure if it was healthy. He was getting too accustomed to lying to his friends, his best friends, turning down dinners and drinks and any number of other social activities for no apparent reason, unable to explain that there was a very good, very blond, very nubile reason waiting for him at home.
So by the time Ron had finally found a gift, and then dragged Harry into a pub for one pint that turned into three, Harry apparated back into his front room with a bit of a storm cloud over his head.
Draco was draped over the sofa, a large bowl of popcorn on the floor, some silly romantic comedy on the TV. "Hey!" he cried delighted, pressing pause and jumping up to give Harry a hug. "You pick me up anything nice?" He winked, he was joking, but Harry felt it was very much the wrong thing to say in that moment.
He sighed, tired, goaded by the beer swilling round his empty stomach. "How could I buy you something with Ron around? I don't have a boyfriend, remember?"
Draco sobered up instantly, pulling away and blinking. Harry immediately felt like a twat, and wished he'd never said anything.
"Harry-" Draco began, but he waved him off.
"Sorry, forget it, I've got a headache from too much cheesy store music."
But Draco looked hurt. "Harry do you want to talk about it?"
He pulled off his jacket and hung it up. "I just can't stand this lying, it's getting to me, I understand where you're coming from, I just…" He trailed off, toeing his trainers off without bothering with the laces. Shit, he hadn't meant to have this conversation, he wasn't ready.
"Harry you know how I feel," said Draco quietly. "People won't understand."
"You mean your father won't understand," said Harry, rubbing his forehead. "Because that's what it comes down to doesn't it; there couldn't possibly ever be a gay Malfoy."
Draco's face darkened, and Harry realised he'd pushed one of his pressure points. "And that's exactly one of the reasons I don't want to tell anyone," he said, crossing his arms. "I don't know if I'm gay Harry, I don't. And trying to tell my father that, that I'm just fucking you and not even sure if I like any other men, he'll lose his shit, he won't listen to any reason."
Harry tried not to rise to the bait, but honestly, he knew this had been brewing for a while. "Just fucking?" he repeated.
"That's not what I meant," Draco began, but Harry cut across him.
"No but that's what this is, isn't it? You're too ashamed to come out and commit to this, because for you it's just a phase, an experiment."
"Harry that is not fair," Draco snapped.
Harry rubbed his fingers into his eyes. "You know why I never got serious with any of those Muggle guys – and believe me, there was more than one I wanted to get serious with." It was cruel, but Harry couldn't help but feel a small sense of triumph as pain flickered across Draco's face. Good. A little jealously proved at least he did care at some level. "Because I refused to be a part of a relationship built on lies. And yet here I am, neck deep in bullshit! It's making me sick!"
"Oh we can't all be brave Gryffindors," Draco crowed, stomping around the coffee table. "I'm not like you, I have hundreds of years of family history hanging over my head! We've barely managed to scrape back any kind of reputation after the war, my father's not long out of Azkaban, and you want me to behave like some sort of rebellious child, running round telling everyone I'm a magnificent poof when all I know is I want to be with you, that you make me happy. Isn't that enough?"
He came closer to Harry, the hurt clear in his eyes, but Harry had hold of his stick and he was going to beat his point home regardless. "Draco I love you. I love you." He ran his hand down the side of his lover's face, caressing his cheek. But the words hung there and Draco looked away, biting his lip. "But there's only so many times I can say it and not hear it back." Harry heard the tremor in his voice, and he pulled his hand away.
"There's only so many parties I can go to and endure people ribbing me about my single life, asking why I don't have a boyfriend. Christ, Ron's pissed off with the amount of times I've blown him off, but I swear Hermione starting to suspect I have a drug problem!" He ran his hands through his hair and took a step back. "I just don't see why we can't start coming out, gradually. It doesn't have to be a big scandal, but the way we are now makes me feel like it's some dirty little secret!"
Draco scowled. "I'm not doing this to make you feel bad," he berated. "Do you think I enjoy lying, sneaking around? I barely see my friends anymore, I'm always here, they're asking questions too. But I don't know what to tell them yet, not right now. Can't you just give me some more time, wait until I feel like I'm ready?"
Harry was shaking his head though. "How much more time do you need?" he demanded. "How much more proof do you need that this is real, that what we have is important? When will I be good enough for you to admit that this isn't just some fling?"
Anger flashed across Draco face. "You know it's nothing like that, it's not that I don't think you're good enough, that's fucking stupid – you're Harry Potter. I'm not good enough for you!"
"Urgh!" Harry let out an exasperated cry and flung his hands out. "And I've told you that's ridiculous. You are the only person I have even been with seriously, the only actual relationship I have to my name. Do think I'd do that for anything less than love, that I think you're anything less than worthy? I'm sick of constantly being made to feel ashamed instead of proud!"
"Harry I don't know what to say," Draco snapped, side stepping Harry's point. "There's certain pressures on me, responsibilities that I'm not willing to throw away just yet, not when I don't know you won't realise you could be with someone better – you'll move on with your life, and I'll have wrecked everything – again."
Harry stared at him mutely for several seconds. "There is so much fucked up with that statement I'm not sure even where to begin."
"But how about," he cut across. "These responsibilities you can't throw away?"
Draco wrapped his arms around his body, swallowing and looking up at Harry with guilty eyes. Disgust welled up in Harry, no doubt what he was talking about.
"Fucking hell," he breathed. "You're still considering that sham fucking engagement, aren't you?" When Draco didn't answer Harry felt his temper rocket. "Are you shitting me!" he yelled. "You're stringing me along, knowing you might just drop me for some girl mummy and daddy have picked out for you!"
"I'm not stringing you along!" Draco yelled back. "But let's face facts, this is the longest either of us have been in a relationship, it might not last, people break up every day. And while you'll just find someone else, if I've come out as being with you, with another man, no respectable pure blood family will let their daughters anywhere near me!"
"So your argument for keeping this secret is that it might not work," Harry snarled. "Even though I am telling you point blank that keeping it secret is killing me and I'm not sure how much longer I can do it!"
"So you'd just out us," Draco said, stunned. "Against my will?"
Harry felt his insides run cold. "No Draco," he said. "I'd never hurt you like that. But," he felt a lump rising in his throat. How had they got here so fast, everything was fine this morning? "I guess I'm saying I can't stay in a relationship built on lies."
Draco just looked at him, not saying anything for so long Harry could swear he felt fissures cracking in his heart.
"You're breaking up with me?" he asked in a small voice.
Harry balled his fits. "I don't want to! Fuck that's the last thing I want! But Draco I can't hide behind secrets any more, and I'm certainly not going to hang around whilst you decide whether or not this is worth it, or whether you should just go for the safe option and marry some girl you barely know!"
Draco rubbed his face and paced towards the fireplace. His distress was awful to witness, but Harry knew he was right, he couldn't pretend any more, he couldn't let himself be treated with any less respect than he deserved.
He watched Draco turn back around. "So you're giving me an ultimatum?"
"No," cried Harry, then thought about it. "Maybe, I don't know! I just know I can't carry on like this, something has to change!"
"I can't," Draco pleaded. "I can't, please don't make me."
Harry pressed his fingers to his temples. "Maybe we just need some space," he said. Perhaps that way Draco would see sense, if he had a few days to himself to see Harry's point of view.
But Draco just paled, mouth slightly parted in shock. "You are breaking up with me."
"No," Harry began, but Draco was already spinning around the table, snatching up his loafers and shoving them on his feet.
"Fine," he growled. "Fine, just bloody fine."
"Draco wait," Harry said. "Don't go, we can talk, we're too angry right now."
"Damn right I'm angry," Draco uttered, marching off to the bedroom with Harry in his wake, grabbing up his bag, throwing in whatever possessions he laid his hands on first before seizing his wand from the nightstand. "It's so fucking easy for you, you're still the golden boy, doing whatever the hell you like, no consequences."
"Easy!" Harry exploded, crossing the line he swore he never would. "Easy is sitting by and letting evil creep over you like a plague. My life has never been easy Draco Malfoy!"
Suddenly he was that boy again, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, tears running down his face, and Harry wished he could snatch the words back. But he couldn't, and with his jaw clamped tight Draco shoved past him, throwing his coat over his shoulders.
"Don't worry Potter," he sneered, striding to the apparition point in the centre of Harry's living room. "You won't have to lie any more. I won't bother you again."
And with a swift turn of the feet, he vanished into thin air, leaving Harry all alone, wondering how the hell everything had gone so wrong, so fast.
The first few hours passed in a numb blur. Harry had collapsed onto the sofa, still warm from where Draco had been lying, and stared at the ceiling as his thoughts whirred like an angry bee hive. He hadn't meant to start the fight, he hadn't, but now it was done he couldn't bring himself to regret what he'd said.
He'd known that Draco was nervous about exposing themselves by coming out as a couple, but the fact he was still hanging on to this possibility of marrying someone just because his parents wanted him to? That was what left Harry feeling truly sick to his stomach.
He would come around, he insisted to himself. He had to. Everything they'd been through couldn't possibly just go up in smoke because of one argument. Draco would calm down and see sense, Harry had to believe that.
It was this that persuaded him off the couch a few hours later, by which time the sun was setting and the TV had had enough of being on pause for so long and turned itself off. Harry went to his spare room where his grouchy owl Mildred was sat on her perch. "You alright to take a message for me?" Harry asked, his voice hoarse and taut. She seemed to sense he wasn't his usual self, as all she did was scowl and stick her leg out. She didn't even try to bite him.
"Draco," Harry scrawled hastily. "I'm sorry, I didn't want to hurt you. I'm here when you're ready to talk."
He resisted adding any notes of love or affection beyond that, in case the message was intercepted. Despite his anger he meant what he said, he wouldn't out Draco against his will. He just had to hope his patience was enough.
Harry didn't receive a reply that evening, which he wasn't all that surprised by, but it lead to a fitful night's sleep. He would never consider not going into the office, but he couldn't help but wish he could have Sunday over as the alarm went off and dragged him out of bed.
Work was busy so kept his mind occupied. Ron asked once if he was feeling alright, but seemed satisfied with Harry's explanation of a headache. Since they had begun their relationship, Harry had only bumped into Draco twice at work; however that didn't stop him from jerking his head up hopefully every time someone walked past their door. He was being foolish. Draco needed more than a few hours to think about everything, he would just have to wait.
But as the week stretched out, Harry's anxiety became almost unmanageable. This was the longest they'd gone without talking to one another since the cottage, let along seeing each other. So come Thursday Harry found himself penning another note, urging Draco to get in touch so they could work things out.
They barely had any mutual friends and didn't work in the same area of London, so it was hardly surprising that another week went by and Harry had neither sight nor sound of the man he considered to be his boyfriend. Several more notes went un-replied to, and Harry threw himself into work, staying late in the evenings and putting extra effort into old cases he'd dismissed previously as unsolvable. Anything to keep his mind free from dwelling on sparkling grey eyes and soft blond hair.
His bed felt massive, and Harry taunted himself by sleeping on Draco's side in one of the t-shirts he'd left behind, even when it no longer smelled of him or his aftershave anymore. After another week he got into a bad habit of falling asleep on the couch in a bid to avoid that numb emptiness of waking up alone and bereft.
He forcibly limited the amount of notes he wrote, no more than three a week, no matter how bad it got. He kept telling himself, every time he let one fly with Mildred, that this might be the lucky one, that Draco would have had enough time to think by the time this one reached him.
And before he knew it a month had passed. Then two, and his hope was starting to dwindle. Surely Draco couldn't avoid him forever? Maybe the time had come to show up at his flat, bang down the door, neighbours be damned?
In the meantime, Ron and Hermione had finally convinced him to come round theirs for dinner one Wednesday evening, and Harry had grown so accustomed to his dark moods he figured he could put on a brave front, just for a few hours. He saw Ron at work obviously, but it was much harder to get away with these things around Hermione.
The world didn't revolve around Draco bloody Malfoy, so Harry had found himself standing outside their semi-detached house in Berkshire, clutching a bottle of Pinot Grigio and reminding himself to breathe. These were his best friends in the whole world, he had neglected them horribly over the past several months since Valentine's, and he needed to make up for it.
"Harry!" cried Hermione as she flung open the door and enveloped him in a hug that was more hair than arms. "It's been forever, come in, come in!"
During the course of dinner and listening to Ron and Hermione banter back and forth, Harry realised he should have done this much, much sooner. He had blamed Draco for keeping him apart from his friends, whereas the truth was in his absence Harry had still imposed the same restrictions on himself. He could feel himself relaxing and coming back out of his shell after a couple of glasses of wine and several belly aching tales of what the rest of the Weasleys had been up to lately. Harry showed them pictures of Teddy and Andromeda, telling them about how his godson was getting on now he was enrolled in the local Muggle school, and they all passed anecdotes around about mutual work colleagues and old friends from Hogwarts.
When they'd had desert, Harry had found himself trapped by a fat and still rather intimidating Crookshanks settling on his lap, so Ron had cleared the plates while Hermione fixed them up cups of tea. She floated the crockery back in to the dining room and chatted to Harry about the latest reform she was working on, when Ron came back in with a pile of mail in his hands, opening it whilst listening to his fiancé talk proudly about her work.
"Anything interesting?" Hermione asked him as she finished her story and tried to force French fancies upon Harry, who was finding it hard to resist.
Ron arched an eyebrow and started dividing up the letters. "Bill, bill," he said, tossing them in one pile. "For you, for me, junk, bill – oh?" He paused on an unusual looking silver letter with grand black writing on. "It's addressed to both of us?"
"Looks like an invitation or something," Hermione suggested as Ron ran his finger along the edge, cracking the wax seal.
"Yeah it is," said Ron, pulling out a rectangle of stiff card. "Blimey, Draco Malfoy's got engaged."
Harry felt his whole world plummet away from him in one swift motion.
"Really?" said Hermione.
Ron frowned as he read the information on the card. "Yeah, to some girl named Astoria Greengrass?"
"Oh," said Hermione thoughtfully. "She's Daphne's younger sister isn't she – she was in our year."
Ron gave her a blank look and shook his head. "Anyway, they're having a big engagement party on Saturday, no clue why we're invited – maybe they're literally inviting everyone, trying to look impressive."
"Harry?" Hermione's voice cut through uncertainly. "Harry are you alright?"
The cat had leapt from his lap, and Harry was currently gripping onto the edge of the dining room table, pretty certain it was the only thing stopping him collapsing onto the floor. Blood was rushing through his ears, it felt like a whistle was screeching inside his skull. He'd done it, he'd fucking done it.
"I don't," he stammered. "Not feeling so-"
He jumped from the table, and raced towards the downstairs loo, banging the door open and slamming it shut as Hermione and Ron called after him. He only just got the toilet seat up before his dinner came flying back up his throat, and he retched noisily as his body shook and tears crept from the corner of his eyes.
How could he have been so stupid! He had thought Draco needed time, space. He should have gone slamming on his door after his first message had been ignored, he should have tried harder, he should have done something! But now it was too late. He'd announced his engagement to that girl and it was all over.
Harry had let the only man he'd ever loved slip away.
"Harry!" Hermione shouted, banging on the door. "Harry are you alright!"
"Give us a sec," he croaked back, flushing the loo and rinsing his mouth out with water. His hands were shaking but he tried to steady himself as he took several breaths in and out, then opened the bathroom door. "I think maybe I had a dodgy sandwich at lunch," he said meekly as Ron and Hermione's worried faces greeted him. "I wasn't your cooking I swear."
Hermione hugged him and fetched him some water, while Ron asked if he wanted to help him apparate home.
"Nah," Harry said, managing a ghost of a smile. "I'll be alright, sorry for cutting the evening short."
It wasn't until he was back in the dark of his living room did he begin to cry.
He crumbled onto the sofa, curling into a ball, letting the sobs wrack through his body. Angrily he yanked his glasses off and let the tears seep into his sleeve, cradling his head, his sides cramping as he struggled to breathe. He wasn't sure when he'd last cried this hard, after the battle of Hogwarts maybe? That one night several days later when it had finally hit him and he gave up being strong for the first time in years and just let it all go.
He'd been with Ginny then. He had thought he was in love and she had held him and soothed him as he grieved for all the people who had fallen in his wake. But this was a different kind of grief, he realised as he shook and clenched his fists. Different to the terrible depths of despair that came from knowing loved ones had been snatched away by death.
This pain came from knowing that Draco would rather live a lie, would rather marry someone he didn't know, let alone love, than be with him. He had chosen reputation over happiness, and it killed Harry knowing he was out there in the world, unhappy because he felt his duty to the Malfoy name was more important than Harry's love.
Harry tried to slow his shaky breathing down, smearing tears away in his attempt to calm down. Snatching his glasses up he pushed himself unsteadily off the sofa, and picked his wand off from where he'd dropped it on the table. "Revelio," he said angrily, flicking the spell over the flat, catching all the little trinkets he kept hidden away, even from Draco.
Photo frames came into sight, collections of seashells, postcards, and on the centre of the mantelpiece, a single red rose, charmed to stay fresh and standing proudly in a slender crystal vase. Harry had hidden his mementos from the world, afraid anyone would catch him and Draco out on their secret. He'd shown Draco whenever he added something new to his collection, but for the most part it had all stayed secret.
Harry swallowed thickly as he moved into the bedroom, eying up the six photographs in the multi-frame, all containing words inscribed in fire; Draco's poem to him after their first night together, the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for Harry. "I'll give you my heart, if you trust me with yours," Harry said aloud.
He let out a roar of frustration and balled his hands in his hair. He had trusted Draco with his heart, and he had been too scared to trust him back. He had sabotaged the best thing either of them had ever had by being selfish and stupid!
Harry wanted to throw something, but instead he dropped onto his bed and screamed into the pillows, thumping at the mattress until he felt the anger dissipate. Turning onto his back he breathed deeply, in and out, pressing his palm against his forehead.
A sensible part of his brain that was still functioning remembered it was odd that Hermione and Ron had got an invitation to the engagement party. As if sleepwalking, Harry rose from the bed and scooped his mail up from where Mildred deposited it on the small table by the front door. Sure enough, a silver envelope was waiting for him, and the sick irony of it made him actually laugh out loud. He opened the damn thing without any ceremony, eyes dancing briefly over the details of the night. The only thing that really sunk in was that the invite was addressed to him and a plus one. Draco was telling him to bring a date to his fucking engagement party.
Well, Harry wasn't sure about that, but with a savage sense of resolution he made up his mind. He would be there on Saturday night.
Even if it was probably the worse idea he'd ever had.
He took it back. This was definitely the worse idea he'd ever had.
After weeks of time feeling like it was going backwards, Saturday snuck up on him with a kind of malice, and Harry found himself staring at the mirror on the inside of his wardrobe, hoping it might help him out.
His reflection just shrugged and ruffled his hair, as if to say I dunno mate, this was your stupid fucking plan.
He was meeting up with Ron and Hermione in less than an hour, and at this rate he was going to be late. In the past couple of days he'd heard from Luna, Neville, even Seamus and Dean to say they had all also had been invited and were looking forward to a school reunion of sorts. Harry tried to bolster his spirits and remind himself seeing his friends more was a big part of what their break up had been about, but he still couldn't quite shift the nausea in his guts.
Ginny had a match and couldn't attend, which was a shame as Harry could have really used her support. After being done with her heartbreak, Ginevra Weasley had become quite enamoured with the idea of a gay BFF, and if anything her and Harry's relationship had gotten even closer. He would have really appreciated her candour right now about his current panic regarding his outfit, but unfortunately she was off in Germany with the Harpies and that was that.
So Harry was left to stare, feeling inadequate, as he demanded to himself exactly why he was going through with this in the first place.
He knew the answer though. He wanted to see Draco. Even if it was painful, terrible, destructive, he had to see him and try and talk to him, ask him why he was doing this, why he hadn't even returned one of Harry's letters.
Harry decided to have a shower, then pick out what he was going to wear. He scrubbed every inch of his skin viciously, then took great care to shave closely afterwards. Draco preferred him smooth, whereas Harry didn't mind a bit of stubble. He knew he shouldn't be thinking what Draco would like, but he couldn't seem to stop himself.
His mind wandered as he dragged the blade across his throat, thinking how after that first night Draco had freaked out and not talked to him. He should have understood that was a sign of things to come, that it was a foreshadowing that Draco would never jump in with both feet. Maybe they could have saved each other a whole load of fucking heartache.
Harry dressed in black trousers, white shirt and black cravat. He couldn't help but add some colour with the silly Quidditch socks Draco had bought him for his birthday, the ones with broomsticks and snitches on. He knew he was only asking for trouble but he so desperately wanted to feel a connection with Draco again. Besides, he thought, slipping on his polished black leather boots, no one else was going to see them. They might just bolster his courage somewhat.
Then came the dress robes. He considered going traditional, formal, but Harry knew what he wanted to wear, even if this really did get him in trouble.
Draco's main present to him in July had been an exquisite robe in the new style that was only just becoming fashionable outside of Italy. More like a tailcoat, it fastened across the chest with four buttons in a square, then dropped by the hips to sweep all the way to the ground. It complimented a more modern, Muggle style of dressing underneath, hence Harry's choice of the suit, and did extremely flattering things to ones arse. His was in an iridescent green with teal and gold thread woven through the intricate pattern which could have been mistaken for floral at first glance, but was in actual fact a series of Hungarian Horntails writhing in and amongst one another.
Harry didn't want to wear it because he didn't want Draco thinking he was desperate, but at the same time he knew nothing else he owned made him look half as good.
Looking at his watch he only had five minutes before he needed to apparate, so he decided he didn't give a flying fuck what Draco thought if he wasn't going to give him the respect of treating him like a human being. And if he changed his mind and did decide to talk to him…well maybe he would think it was romantic. It was only desperate if Harry let it be.
He slipped it on and felt a flutter of gratitude towards his reflection as he gave him a thumbs up, before closing the wardrobe and taking a quick detour to the bathroom. A combination of a bit of wax and patience had lead Harry to get a reasonable handle on his hair after all these years. It was still stubbornly trying to impersonate a wild hedge, but at least it was glossy and had some sort of organised shape to it.
Washing his hands he popped his head in to say goodbye to Mildred. "Wish me luck?" he said half-heartedly. Mildred hooted back in a manner that clearly translated as 'Shan't.'
With the silver invite burning a hole in his pocket, Harry took a long breath in and out, before turning on the spot, and vanishing into the ether.
He raised a hand to wrap his knuckles on Ron and Hermione's front door, when it suddenly opened anyway, revealing Hermione's anxious face. "Oh good, you're here," she said, attempting to smile. "We have a bit of a – wow." She took a little step back and admired Harry. "You look amazing."
Harry rubbed the back of his neck. Well that was a good start. "Thanks," he said bashfully. "So do you." She was in a cobalt blue strapless dress that synched in at the waist and ended just above her knees. A second layer of blue gossamer material started at the waist, then dropped in a dipped hem to just below her knees at the front, then by her ankles at the back. Combined with hair that must have taken hours to tame and a simple diamond necklace, she looked very elegant indeed.
She shook her head and remembered what she had been saying before. "Bit of a problem, need your help."
She ushered him in where Harry followed the sound of pacing and muttering into their living room. Ron was already dressed in his favourite black robes with gold piping that he'd worn to all his brother's weddings so far, and his head snapped up when Harry entered.
"We can't go," he said, eyes wide as if this was obvious.
"Right," said Harry, trying to sound neutral. He really didn't want to have to go without his best mates to back him up. "Why's that?"
"Did you look at the invite?" Ron asked as Hermione came to place a soothing hand on his shoulder. "It's at Malfoy Manor."
Harry glanced at Hermione. "Er, yeah," he said. "Draco's parents are hosting it."
Ron looked dumbfounded. "Don't you remember what happened the last time we were at Malfoy Manor!"
Harry frowned. Until realisation set in, and his face fell in horror.
He'd been so wrapped up in his own love-sick worries he hadn't even thought about the fact that they were going back to the house where Hermione had been tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, where Dobby had died saving them, where Luna had been held prisoner.
But before he could say anything, Hermione was already replying. "Ron that was years ago," she said, cupping his face in her hands. "It's fine, I'm fine."
"Well maybe I'm not bloody fine!" Ron shot back. "I had to listen to you screaming. Why does it matter so much, it's just Malfoy, I was alright going for a bit of a laugh to see old mates, but not there, not in that place!"
"Ron's right," Harry said hastily. "We should just forget about it, it's not worth it." He felt sick with shame. He was pining over some guy who had, as Ron had quite rightly reminded him, stood by and let one of the people he loved most in the world be tortured.
Hermione had a determined look in her eye though. "Well," she said carefully. "Maybe I want to go back. Maybe I need to. What happened there was awful but it's in the past and we should be concentrating on the future, not letting anything hold us back."
Harry frowned at her. "You want to go back," he clarified. "For closure?"
She nodded. "And it's not like Draco had any choice in Voldemort taking over his house." Even after all these years, Ron still flinched at the use of You-Know-Who's real name. "He's moved on, you guys work with him right. He's building a new life for himself so I want to go for that too." She looked to Harry for agreement. "You know, for moral support."
Ron blinked at her. "You are aware you are talking about Malfoy right? Guy you punched in the face, let the Death Eaters into the school, tried to kill Dumbledore, stood by Voldemort at the battle-"
"Hey, that's enough!" Harry heard himself snap. Then he froze. It wasn't his place to defend Draco, he didn't deserve it, but to hear Ron talking about him like that... "I just mean…" he flailed. "That's not the point. He's not a bad guy, but I don't care about that, I care about you two. We don't have to go if you don't want to, but if you do I'll support you."
Hermione looked up at Ron. "I want to go," she said. "Please."
Ron frowned at her, then at Harry, before sighing. "Okay, if you think it's a good idea. But I reserve the right to freak out and demand we all leave."
Harry gave Hermione a piercing look. "I agree. We can leave at any time."
Hermione seemed pleased though. "Excellent," she said, grabbing a travelling cloak from off the side of the sofa. "Luna and Neville and the others would be so disappointed anyway. We can just go, see how we feel, then head home whenever we feel like it."
She smiled at Harry and nodded, before heading out the front door to their apparition point. Harry raised an eyebrow at Ron who just shrugged. "If she reckons it'll be good for her, that's okay with me. I just think it's weird we've been invited to a party by Malfoy in the first place. Hey – do you reckon this has something to do with you getting stuck with him in Scotland?"
Harry swallowed. "Maybe," he said. "Come on, let's follow Hermione before she leaves without us."
As they materialised in front of Malfoy Manor Harry shot Hermione a questioning glance, but she seemed perfectly fine. A little nervous perhaps, but certainly not panicking or turning to run.
Flaming torches lined the way inside, and house-elves in neat tea-towel uniforms stamped with the Malfoy crest bowed and took Hermione's cloak.
"I hope they're treating them better than they treated Dobby," she hissed, her mood suddenly darkened.
"Oh no, Draco's quite a stickler for the sanctions you helped pass," Harry jumped in, then realised, once again, he was defending his ex a little more vehemently than he should have been.
He lamented sadly, at some point in the last few days, he had been mentally referring to Draco as his ex. It felt like hatchet in his chest, but it was probably best considering he was about to see him parading around with a girl he intended to marry on his arm.
He balked. This was a horrendous idea. He should just leave, now. But Hermione had taken his house-elf comment to heart, and slipped her arm through his and beamed at him.
Ron grunted and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Since when did he become Draco?" he asked them both.
"Because there are several Malfoys," said Hermione casually as they followed the crowd into the ballroom. "And it makes me think of his father. It feels more natural to call him Draco."
"Hm," was all Ron said.
They were soon distracted by champagne bought to them on trays, and vol-au-vents filled with all manner of delightful concoctions. Music from a string quartet filled the air, and Hermione was steering the two men around as she found several people she knew to introduce them to. She didn't seem bothered at all by being back in the Manor. Harry guessed it was maybe because it was the other side of the house where everything had gone down, but also perhaps because the entire place had been renovated and scrubbed clean of Dark Magic. It was part of the conditions of Lucius' release from Azkaban, but he'd heard it from Draco that Narcissa had been fastidious in the act of reclaiming her home back from the Death Eaters that had infested it.
"Luna!" Hermione cried in delight, and they made their way over to where their good friend was being twirled around dreamily by a bohemian looking chap who was regarding her with adoration.
"Hermione!" she beamed, spiralling out of the man's arms to embrace her. "Ronald, Harry." She hugged them with equal affection, and Harry felt himself calm for the first time all day. "I'd like you to meet Rolf, he's my dancing partner."
Rolf grinned. "Amongst other things," he grinned, and gave them all firm handshakes. "Rolf Scamander. Luna's vastly inferior other half."
Harry hadn't realised Luna had a boyfriend, but he had kind eyes that made Harry think she'd found a good one. The gaggle chatted amiably for a while, soon to be joined by Neville and his wife Hannah. Harry drained his champagne flute a little too quickly, and almost immediately found it replaced by an eager house-elf. He did a reasonably good job paying attention to the conversations going on around him, and allowed himself to be distracted by several work colleagues passing by wanting a quick catch up. But his eyes were obsessively scanning the room, looking for that beacon of shining blond hair. Draco's height normally made him pretty easy to spot in a crowd, but even when Harry suddenly did spy him he still wasn't ready.
After almost two and a half months Harry couldn't quite comprehend what seeing his former lover was doing to his body. He stiffened immediately, gripping the once again empty glass so tightly it was in danger of breaking. Draco was half way across the room, smiling and talking with guests, oblivious to the hole Harry was boring into his skull. On his arm was presumably Astoria Greengrass, but Harry could only catch glimpses of rich brown hair in ringlets as the people around them waxed and waned.
Another helpful house-elf switched over his glass, and he found his name being called to pull him back into the conversation, drawing his attention away from Draco but not dimming the pain in his chest much. He could feel Draco's presence behind him like a flame, hot on his skin. What was he going to say? Of course he would be attached to Greengrass the whole evening, what had Harry been thinking?
It was like being a part of a slow motion car crash. Is was only a matter of time before Harry was going to have to confront the man he loved and look his new girlfriend in the face. He bit his lip and blinked his eyes. He could do this, he would show Draco he was strong. He didn't want his fucking pity.
Luna spotted a friend of her father's and pulled Rolf over to say hi. Neville and Hannah chatted to Harry for a little while until Susan Bones came and dragged them away, leaving Harry with just Ron and Hermione again. He felt maybe they'd paid their dues; said enough hellos, shown their faces around the place. He was just about to voice that maybe they could call it a night, after all what good would really come from confronting Malfoy here in front of everyone? When Hermione's eyes went wide, looking just over his shoulder.
His insides went cold.
He turned around and there she was – Astoria Greengrass. Her beauty up close was ethereal. Almond shaped eyes so icy blue they gave Harry a chill. High cheekbones, a heart shaped mouth, all framed by the lacquered chocolate ringlets that Harry had glimpsed from across the hall. Her pale lavender gown was exquisite and clinging to her figure in all the right places.
She was currently brimming with excitement as she dragged Draco over towards them, and Harry scrambled around mentally to try and collect his thoughts in time. The trouble was, he only had a matter of seconds to process what Draco was wearing; black shoes, charcoal trousers, white shirt, silver waistcoat, all of that was fairly standard.
It was the tailcoat robe in almost exactly the same design as Harry's that practically stopped his heart. Of course Draco would have bought one for himself, the only difference being his was a dove grey with jade and black running through the peacock feather pattern embroidered across the material.
They matched. They looked like a fucking couple.
If Astoria noticed though, she didn't say anything. She came to a halt in front of the trio almost out of breath from her exertion and grinning ear to ear. Draco gave Harry only the briefest of glances, but at least he had the decency to look mildly horrified.
"It's so nice to finally meet you!" Astoria cried, sticking her hand out for Harry to shake. He didn't really see much of an option other than to take it – she had a very firm grip. "I'm Astoria, though I suppose you've guessed that." She winked at him and squeezed Draco's arm, who gave her a pretty authentic smile back.
"Harry," he said softly to him.
"Draco," he managed in return, shrinking imperceptibly back towards Ron and Hermione. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he said to Astoria.
"Oh I've heard so much about you!" she enthused. "I know we were at school together for a while, but Draco talks about you all the time and it's different to finally have the chance to say a proper hello." Draco talked about him? Harry thought. All the time?
He wondered what the hell he had to do to get the ground to swallow him whole.
He tried his best to keep his breathing regular and gave Draco an appreciative smile, like they were just mates, and he was happy to be meeting his fiancé and that she'd heard a lot about him. He hadn't actually thought Draco would talk to Astoria about him though, did he even know he was doing it? Oh Draco, Harry thought, lump in his throat. Is this what you really want?
"I'm sure he told you all my terrible secrets," he said, and couldn't help feel a tiny bit of satisfaction as Draco's palled slightly. He instantly felt ashamed. He wasn't here to taunt Draco, he was just tormented by the idea of him chatting away to this girl about him, because he loved Harry but was still marrying her. It was fucked up, and Harry guessed he just wanted Draco to acknowledge that, even on a small scale.
"Oh no," she said sincerely. "It's all good, I promise." She scrunched up her nose and Harry tried his best to hate her, but she wasn't honestly what he'd been expecting. He'd been imagining some stuck up cow like Pansy Parkinson, not this energetic and affectionate girl.
She turned to Hermione and Ron expectantly. Harry thought she must have known who they were too, most people did, but she cast her eyes up to Draco and raised a brow.
"Darling," he said, recovering himself. "This is Ron Weasley, Harry's partner in the office, we work together occasionally."
She took his hand and shook it like she had done Harry's. "And your brother George runs that amazing shop in Diagon Ally doesn't he? I bet you boys were a handful for your mother!"
"You have no idea," Ron chuckled with her.
"And this is Hermione Granger," Draco continued, before raising is eyebrows. "Or is it Weasley now as well?"
Harry stiffened, eyes on Hermione for her reaction. "Well," she said graciously. "We are going to be getting married in a few months, but it'll be staying as Granger."
Draco smiled at her. Not that phoney crap he was giving most people Harry realised, but that look he let slip out when he was sincerely pleased. "As well it should," he said.
"How very modern of you," agreed Astoria. Harry was surprised. Most people gave Hermione an earful for that, telling her it was disrespectful to Ron, asking what would happen when they had children. Harry almost wanted to curse the pair of them for their understanding response.
Hermione was obviously pleased too as she smiled, taking Ron's hand to squeeze it. "Thank you," she said. "It's important to me."
"Well I'm glad you're doing it then," Astoria said. "Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And Harry's going to be best man?" she asked Ron with interest.
"Of course," said Ron proudly. "Only so many times a bloke can save your life without earning the right to tell embarrassing stories on your wedding day."
Astoria laughed and winked at Hermione. "Oh, that reminds me," she said, turning to Draco. "I was thinking, seeing as you boys get on so well, you should definitely ask Harry to be one of your ushers." She faced Harry again, eyes all eager. "I love that you two are friends now, and I think it would be good to shake up the wedding party with at least one non-Slytherin, who better than Gryffindor's most famous alumni!"
Harry was pretty sure this was what being hit by a wrecking ball felt like. He couldn't help but flick his eyes up to Draco, who had lost all composure and looked like he might be sick. At least he and Harry agreed on one thing, but Astoria was waiting for an answer, hands clasped in front of her chest.
"Of course," he stuttered. "I'd be honoured."
His eyes couldn't seem to leave Draco's as she squealed in happiness. He wasn't sure if Hermione and Ron could see it too, the hurt, but Harry could. There was something like an apology hanging there, but Harry didn't see what else he could say.
He had just agreed to be a groomsman for Draco Malfoy. Draco, who Harry had shared a bed with almost every night for over half a year. Draco, who had told him secrets that he'd never told anyone else, who bought Harry silly presents for no other reason than to see him smile, who wrote him poetry and bought him roses and made him tea and had let him shag him six ways from Sunday and begged and pleaded for more. Draco Malfoy, whom he loved.
Draco looked like he might have wanted to say something, but Astoria's head whipped around, and Harry blinked and realised Narcissa Malfoy had just called her son's name. "Oh your mother wants you," said Astoria, before turning back to Harry and the others. "It was so lovely to meet you all," she said, already pulling Draco away. "We'll come back later for a proper chat, I promise."
Harry managed a stiff nod, as Draco let himself be steered away, giving Harry one last look over his shoulder. That was it then. It was over, done. Harry could feel his insides collapsing like a house of cards.
Hermione waved at them as they were swallowed up once more by the crowd, and Ron blinked, perplexed. "Well, that actually wasn't horrible," he said. "Malfoy was civil and that girl seemed pretty cool."
Hermione however, dropped her smile as soon as they were out of sight and spun to catch Harry's arm, eyes wide with concern as she took a breath in and out. "If you want to get out of here, we'll cover for you."
"W-what?" Harry stammered, looking between her and the point at which Draco had slipped away from view. "What do you mean? I'm fine."
She glowered. "Harry," she said firmly, but there was kindness there too. "You have never treated me like an idiot before, please don't start now."
He held her eyes for a few seconds, then could feel what was left of his resolve crumbling away. She knew. Hermione knew. How much, for how long and what precisely, Harry wasn't sure, but enough that she understood what was left of his heart was breaking into dust.
There was a tinkling of a spoon on glass, and they looked up to see Draco and Astoria had joined Narcissa and Lucius on the stage where the string quartet had been playing. They were quiet now though as the elder Malfoy called for everyone's attention, and began to make a toast.
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered to Hermione.
"You've got nothing to be sorry for," she insisted, looking up at Draco then back to him. "But tormenting yourself is only going to make it worse."
Ron frowned at them, diverting his eyes away from the stage. "Hey," he said, concerned as Lucius droned on about family pride. "What's going on? Harry, you alright?"
He swallowed. He could feel the wetness pricking at the edge of his eyes, and he clamped his jaw together to stop it from trembling. If he walked out of here, that was it, it was all over, he might as well admit defeat. But what was his other option? he reasoned as he looked up at the stage, seeing Draco's hand wrapped around Astoria's. She seemed like a lovely girl, and he wanted what was best for his family.
Harry should just get out of there, remove the complication, let them have their happy ending. He thought ruefully back to his and Draco's final argument, how Draco was convinced if they broke up Harry would just pick up and move on with his life, while Draco's would be ruined.
It very much felt like the other way round at that moment.
He looked back at Hermione, and gave her a single nod, closing his eyes in a meagre attempt to halt the grief from washing over him. He felt Hermione throw her arms around him and he returned the embrace one handed, the champagne flute still gripped in the other.
"Harry," Ron whispered as they pulled apart, his face awash with concern. "Mate, what the hell's going on?"
"I'll explain later," Hermione told him softly as Harry thought fuck it all, and downed his champagne in one. He would find a house-elf to give the empty glass to on the way out.
"Thank you," he said thickly to Hermione, then gave Ron's shoulder a slap. He hated not explaining to his best friend, but he couldn't, not right now. Hermione would fill him in on whatever she knew, and then tomorrow he could spill his guts to them both and hope they didn't think he was the world's biggest fool.
He started pushing his way through the throng back towards the exit, the only person apart from the staff moving, everyone else giving their full attention as Lucius made them laugh with some quip about grandchildren.
The voice rang out like a bell, and the ballroom really did fall deathly silent, even the house-elves stopped what they were doing to look up. Harry's blood ran cold as, a few seconds later than everyone else, he too came to a halt. Fear prickling up his spine, he slowly turned around, unsure of what he would see.
Draco was staring directly at him. He had dropped Astoria's hand and was now instead half reaching forward.
Reaching for Harry.
His heart exploded in his chest. What was happening?
"I'm sorry," Draco said. His voice wasn't loud, but the atmosphere was so tense a pin could have been heard dropping. Harry felt fresh pain flicker through him, assuming Draco was talking to him, but in the next heartbeat he turned to look at Astoria and his parents.
Lucius was forming a very dangerous frown, but Draco didn't address him. Instead he took his mother's hand, holding it across Astoria. "I'm so sorry," he said, shaking his head. "I just wanted to do what's right, I wanted to make you proud, but I can't, I can't do it, I'm sorry."
He inhaled and grabbed Astoria by the shoulders as Harry watched on in mute horror that he daren't let blossom into hope. "You deserve so much better," he said, planting a swift kiss on her cheek. "I'm so sorry."
In one fluid motion he spun and leapt off the stage to a chorus of gasps. The room was silent no more as voices began hissing whispers and calling out questions. "Draco!" barked Lucius aghast. "Draco get back here this instant!"
But Draco wasn't listening. He was marching through the crowd that was parting for him like the red sea as he picked up his pace. Marching straight towards Harry.
He didn't allow himself to think. He could only feel his feet as they started to move of their own accord, propelling him towards the direction Draco was headed. More voices began to shout as they got faster, the glass slipping from Harry's fingers and fracturing on the ground as Draco pushed through the last few bodies, and went crashing straight into Harry.
The cacophony of sound that assaulted Harry's ears might have been deafening in any other instance, but Harry barely noticed a thing as he kissed Draco with such ferocity he could feel his teeth bruising his lips. Hands in hair, bodies entwined, wet tears glancing off of skin.
It only lasted a second, before Harry felt Hermione yank him away. "What are you waiting for!" she yelled, half angry, half delirious as the two men spun apart. Lucius was clambering down the stage, ranting and raving. Everyone around them was hollering in shock and disgust, camera flashes were going off and Ron looked like he was about to pass out. And on the stage, Narcissa had grabbed Astoria's shoulders, hugging the girl to her body as she looked like she was about to cry.
But Astoria…Astoria didn't appear all that unhappy. In fact, she caught Harry's eye as he stared up at her. And she winked.
Hermione's voice brought him back to reality. "Go!" she shrieked, shaking his shoulders with a manic grin on her face. "Get out of here, now!"
Harry didn't need telling twice. He grabbed Draco's hand and raised his eyebrows. Draco nodded once.
The pair tore through the ballroom, running past most people too surprised to stop them amidst a hail of outrage and one or two wolf whistles. "Whoops!" he heard Hermione cry loudly behind them, and he spared a second to look round and see several floating platters of entrees and trays of champagne had flipped over spectacularly, covering multiple guests with their contents, causing them to flail around in revulsion and block Lucius' attempts to reach the two fleeing men.
Harry burst through the ballroom doors, their boots clattering across the entrance hall as he gripped Draco's clammy hand for dear life and hauled him out the front door. Several house-elves squeaked in their wake, and a couple who had snuck outside for a cigarette jumped in alarm, but Harry didn't even think about pausing until they had ran far enough to apparate away from Malfoy Manor.
"Home?" he gasped, wrapping his arms around Draco's waist as he placed his hands on Harry's chest. He looked shell-shocked and trembled against Harry's body, but he managed to nod in reply.
"Home," he said, his face splitting into a smile full of relief.
Harry had left a couple of lamps on, so the flat wasn't totally dark when they apparated back into his living room. Even before they had fully finished turning, Draco was throwing his arms all the way around Harry's body, burying his head into the crook of his neck, shaking and gripping him tightly.
They stumbled and bashed knees into the coffee table as Harry hugged him back, steadying them, rubbing his hands against Draco's back and making soothing noises. "Shh," he whispered as Draco cried, running his hand up his neck and stroking his soft hair. He had him back, he couldn't quite believe it, Draco was in his arms again. "Shh it's okay."
"Harry I'm so sorry," he gasped into his skin. "I fucked everything up, please forgive me, please."
"Hey," said Harry, drawing back and cupping Draco's chin, forcing him to look him in the eye. "Hey, stop it, everything's fine."
Draco was one of those infuriating people who looked beautiful when they cried. It was like he just blinked and single tears appeared on his long lashes, only to fall gracefully in a single trail down pale cheeks. Harry had closely resembled a red-faced snotty gargoyle the night he had learned of Draco's engagement.
Draco took firm hold either side of Harry's face, anger and pain clear in his expression. "It is so not fine," he insisted. "I put my family name before everything, again, and now I've made it all ten times worse! I just saw you walking away and I lost it and I realised I couldn't bear to let you go and I understand if you hate me but-"
Harry needed to stop him talking, so he did the first thing that came to mind and nipped in for a slow, long kiss. He traced his fingertips over Draco's features, re-learning them all again, every line, every curve, pouring all his love and heartache into this one reassuring act.
Draco began to relax under his touch, letting himself be moulded by Harry. His hands skimmed down Harry's shoulders, up his back, running through coarse black hair. "Draco," said Harry after a while, when he felt less tension in his body. "Do you want to be with me?"
"Yes," Draco replied immediately, emphatically. "But-"
"But nothing," insisted Harry. "I want to be with you, I have done since Scotland, I don't want anyone else."
Draco tried to still his shuddering chest, taking slow breaths in and out. "But the way I treated you?" he said, his grey eyes wet and fearful. "How can you trust me? I was scared and I just fell back into old defensive behaviours, I thought I was doing the right thing, saving us trouble down the line."
"I know," Harry assured him, rubbing the back of his neck. "I know, and I'm not going to tell you the last few months haven't been hard, that you didn't break my fucking heart." Draco grimaced, clamping his jaw as he tried to turn away, but Harry pulled him back. "But I get it, I get you were scared."
He waited until Draco opened his eyes again, making sure he had his full attention. "But what you just did," he carried on. "Was one of the bravest things I've ever seen you do. It was certainly the most romantic, most dramatic." He grinned, and was delighted to urge a hint of a smile from Draco's lips too. "It was incredible."
"It was stupid," breathed Draco, running a hand through his own hair, giving himself a blond halo.
Harry nudged him with a shoulder. "Maybe there's a little Gryffindor in you after all," he said.
"There's been a lot of Gryffindor in me, if I remember correctly," he shot back, giving Harry a wet and shaky smile that just about melted his heart. Harry barked out a laugh and yanked him in for another cuddle, kissing his way up his throat, along his jaw until he found his mouth, claiming it again for himself.
"Fuck I missed you," he murmured when they came up for air.
"Are you sure you don't hate me?" Draco's voice was small.
Harry sighed, and decided they'd been standing long enough. He took both Draco's hands and lead him over to the sofa, flopping his body into the crevice and pulling Draco down so they were lying together, Harry wrapping his limbs around Draco's slightly taller form, nuzzling his nose into his hair and along the side of his face. "I never hated you Draco," he said in hushed tones. "Not really. I was hurt when you cut me off dead though," he sighed honestly. "You never replied to any of my letters."
Draco was shaking his head, screwing up his eyes as fresh tears leaked out. "I was such a coward," he said, voice wavering slightly. "I thought I could just forget the whole thing, behave like the good son I was supposed to be. If I had replied to any of your notes, even just to tell you it was over, I knew I wouldn't be able to carry on."
"Maybe," said Harry gently, easing his fingers through Draco's hair. "That should have been a sign you were doing something really fucking stupid."
Draco laughed, grabbing Harry's hand to bring it to his lips to kiss his knuckles. "Turns out I'm stubborn too. Maybe I really am a bit Gryffindor after all?"
"Outrageous," Harry admonished him. "You're my sneaky little Slytherin, you keep life interesting."
Draco sighed against him. "I guess tonight definitely qualifies as interesting."
Now it was Harry's turn to laugh. "For someone shy about coming out of the closet," he said, hoping he wouldn't upset him. "I'm pretty sure there's going to be a picture of you snogging The Boy Who Lived on the front cover of every newspaper in Europe tomorrow morning."
Draco groaned, and shifted his weight so he was facing Harry. "Are you mad?" he asked, biting his lip.
"Are you kidding?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow. "I think it's bloody marvellous. I told you I was proud to be with you, that I wanted everyone to know we were a couple." He brushed a lock of hair back from his face, exactly the way he had done on that night in Scotland when he'd tested the waters to see what Draco really wanted.
It turned out, he really wanted Harry.
Draco's face dropped though as something occurred to him. "Astoria," he said, dismayed. "Oh Merlin, she's going to hate me, breaking her heart in front of all those people."
Harry didn't answer right away, he just frowned and replayed his memories, making sure of what he was about to say. "You know," he said after a moment or two. "I'm not sure she was all that heartbroken."
Draco blinked at him. "I just humiliated her," he said flatly.
Harry chewed the inside of his cheek. "How did you feel when she asked me to be an usher at your wedding?"
The fact that their faces were only inches apart made it easier for Harry to understand the depth of Draco's reaction. Once again he looked physically sick, and his hands clenched around Harry's body. "It felt cruel and awful," Draco said quietly, eyes downcast. "Even though she didn't know what she was doing, it was seeing your face that finally made me realise I was making the biggest mistake of my life."
"I think," said Harry carefully. "She knew exactly what she was doing."
Draco's eyes snapped back up. "What?" he said sharply.
Harry shrugged awkwardly from his position on the couch. "You're right, that was it for me, the idea of having to not only watch you marry someone else, but be a part of it, I couldn't escape fast enough. And it pushed you too, made you act."
"But she was just being nice," Draco insisted. "She is nice, and I just dragged her through a false engagement for no good reason."
Harry shook his head. "I'm not denying that," he said. "Obviously you know her better than me, but I saw something, right after we kissed, and it just made me think." Draco raised his eyebrows expectantly. "She winked at me. She looked sort of happy, and she winked."
Draco pulled a face. "She winked, and that makes you think she purposefully pushed us into making complete tossers of ourselves."
"Why, you think she was any less forced into this marriage than you?" Harry questioned. "Maybe the fact that you talked about me 'all the time' made her twig that perhaps your heart wasn't in it, and she decided to take matters into her own hands."
Draco had the good grace to look sheepish, and Harry guessed maybe he was more than a little aware of how much he had talked about him to Astoria. "Because she winked?"
Harry nodded. "Because she winked."
Draco looked stunned, then frowned for a moment as he considered. "Well I'll be damned," he said. "Maybe you're right."
"I'm always right," Harry teased.
Draco blew out an exaggerated breath. "That is a theory I would definitely like to contest," he said.
"You'll have plenty of time for that," said Harry, giving him a little kiss. "So. How are you feeling now, really?"
"Shocked," Draco admitted. "This is not how I saw the evening ending."
"That's sort of our style now," Harry told him with a grin. It slipped though. He wasn't going to jump the gun, he wanted to make sure before getting his heart broken once again. "But – in a good way I hope? I mean, if you're having second thoughts, we can talk about it? Just because people know doesn't mean-"
"Shut up," said Draco, launching in for a fierce kiss, attacking Harry with his tongue, trapping his bottom lip with his teeth. "Don't be stupid. I just threw us both under the train, there's no getting out of this now Potter, you're mine."
Those words lit Harry's skin on fire like electricity. "I'm yours," he agreed between breaths and kisses.
After a time, the two of them gradually relented their passions, snuggling deeper into the couch, limbs entwined, foreheads resting together. "I'm worried someone's going to come looking for us," said Harry without opening his eyes.
Draco groaned. "Tell them to piss off if they do," he mumbled, making Harry chuckle.
But he was serious. "I'm surprised your father hasn't come banging on my door demanding I release you from whatever love potion he undoubtedly thinks I've got you under."
That got Draco's attention. He blinked and moved back to look at Harry properly. "Shit, yeah you're right," he said, massaging his temple. "I absolutely do not want to deal with that tonight."
Harry ran his hand along Draco's side, feeling the embroidery of the magnificent tailcoat he still had on, coming to rest on his hip bone and rubbing his thumb in circles. "How would you feel about going away for the night – it's not even ten o'clock yet, I could get us a reservation somewhere?"
Draco frowned slightly at him. "Like, a hotel?" Harry nodded.
"We're a real couple now," he said, feeling himself smile. "We can be seen in public all we like."
Draco's eyes had some of their sparkle back. "We might get recognised though," he said. "Someone could tell my father and we'd be back to square one."
"Not if we went to a Muggle hotel?" Harry suggested.
Draco thought on this, nibbling on his lip in a way that flipped Harry's insides. He wanted to do that for him, but he waited patiently as he watched his lover mull it over. "I'd like that," he said shyly after a while. "Somewhere new and different, so we can start fresh, as a real couple."
Harry kissed his forehead. "You stay here, I'll sort it all okay?"
Draco laughed at him as he clambered awkwardly over him, but Harry wouldn't let him get up. He looked so small and fragile, curled up on his sofa with his tear stained face, and Harry crouched down to plant some kisses on his cheeks before going to get his phone. "Stay," he warned Draco, jabbing a finger at him as he left the room.
Draco smirked and flipped him the bird. "Fuck off Potter," he said fondly.
Harry had had a plan a while ago for a Christmas present for Draco, and having spent the last several weeks thinking he wouldn't be able to give it to him, Harry figured it was okay to go for it even though it wasn't quite December yet. Whilst he dialled the hotel he'd had in mind, he brewed the kettle in the kitchen, making Draco peppermint tea. The woman he spoke to on the desk was most helpful, assuring Harry that his few special requests were no trouble at all.
Whilst he was on hold he padded back into the lounge and placed Draco's mug in front of him with a warm smile, his heart fluttering as he looked up at him from where he was still lying on the couch, one of the cushions hugged to his chest. "Thank you," he mouthed silently.
Harry walked back out again, fishing his Muggle credit card from his wallet in the bedroom to confirm the reservation, then jamming the phone between his ear and shoulder, leaving both hands free to start packing a bag.
He had moved all of Draco's things from the bathroom into his drawer when he had thought he wasn't ever coming back. He'd contemplated binning them, but was extremely glad now that he hadn't. He scooped up all his products and toothbrush, as well as his pyjamas and some Muggle clothes. As he closed up the call he fished out a similar selection for himself, then crawled under the bed, selecting some choice items that he felt might come in handy, stashing them separately in the bag's front compartment.
Harry was probably all done and dusted after ten minutes or so, and was glad to see when he walked back into the living room that Draco was standing, drinking his tea, looking the brightest he'd been all night.
"You kept it," he said, nodding over his shoulder as he turned to look at Harry. He indicated the single rose in the slim vase on the mantle, a sweet smile creping on his lips.
"Yeah," said Harry, very glad he'd decided to stop hiding all his mementos from their time together so far. It was the rose Draco had saved from the cottage, the one he'd shown up with at Harry's office. To him, it symbolised the moment their relationship was born. "I kept some other stuff too."
Silently, he dropped his bag on the floor, took Draco's hand, and started leading him around the flat. He'd told Draco he was doing this, he'd shown him most of the bits and bobs before he'd hidden them from sight, but Harry was starting to realise by doing so he'd probably encouraged Draco's paranoia. He should never have indulged it, he should have shown him how proud he was all along, then maybe they could have avoided this painful debacle of the past few months.
They finished in front of the photo frame in the bedroom containing Draco's version of the Roses Are Red poem. He reached out and touched the frame as Harry snuggled into him.
"You sure you're okay with going away?" he asked, worried he was putting too much on him in one night. "We can always just hide away in the bedroom and put a Muffliato charm on the front door?"
But Draco was shaking his head. "I don't want anyone to be able to find us," he said, moving around so Harry was wrapped in his arms as well. "I want to have this moment, just us two. Then tomorrow we can deal with as much drama as the world can throw at us."
Harry leant in and rested their foreheads together. "My thoughts exactly," he said.
As beautiful as they were, Harry had agreed when Draco suggested they change out of their robes. "I couldn't believe it when I saw you," he'd said, hanging his up in Harry's wardrobe. "We might as well have worn a flashing sign saying 'We're a fucking couple.'"
Harry leant him his black three-quarter length coat, which was just about passable as stylish and therefore not likely to make Draco spontaneously combust. He then threw on his other jacket along with a scarf and a beanie hat, and they were ready to go.
He'd looked up the best place to apparate to, but was still relieved when they appeared in London and there was no one in the little alley to see them. They were surrounded by corrugated metal sheets and floodlights, holes in the ground and barriers with yellow and black hazard warning stripes painted on them.
"How romantic," Draco drawled. "You've brought me to a construction site?" He raised an eyebrow and looked at Harry, who just chuckled.
"They're still moving everything around with the station and new cross-rail line – look up."
He squeezed Draco's hand as they both craned their necks. And then Draco took a step back, his head falling back even further. "How high is that building?" he cried.
Harry was glad he was impressed. "It's the Shard," he explained. "The tallest building in Europe."
Draco looked back down at him. "Is that our hotel?" he asked a little stunned, and Harry was very glad he had such a huge overdraft on his credit card. To see that look on his boyfriend's face before they'd even got inside was worth it.
The fact he could call him his boyfriend again was even better.
"It's a lot of things," Harry said, leading them out of the alleyway to a more busy street with plenty of Muggles walking by, making the most of their Saturday night. "But yeah, our hotel's part of it. You impressed?"
"No," said Draco, smirking at him.
Harry rubbed his thumb on the back of his hand as they made their way up a flight of stairs towards the base of the skyscraper. It probably wasn't wise holding hands in public in late night London, some homophobic drunk might have tried to start something. But Harry was on cloud nine, and willing to lose his Auror's licence by hexing someone if they so much said a word to him.
But they made it through the front doors without incident, and Harry had to stop and marvel himself at the huge expanse of the Shard's lobby. It was all marble floors and modern art and square chandeliers dripping with crystals.
"Harry this is beautiful," Draco said quietly.
Harry glanced over at him as they headed to the front desk. "I didn't think I was going to get this moment with you," he said just as softly. "I thought I'd lost you. I wanted it to be special."
Draco was quiet as Harry confirmed his reservation, and the clerk sent them over to the bank of elevators to head up to the thirty fourth floor where Shangri La had its own reception for them to actually check in.
The lift doors closed and Harry turned so he was in front of Draco. "Hey," he whispered. "You've got that guilty look back again?"
"Because I'm feeling guilty," Draco mumbled.
The lift was moving so fast Harry's ears popped and he guessed they were nearly at their floor, but he went in for a kiss regardless. "Everyone makes mistakes," he said, wishing he hadn't dampened the mood. "Please don't be sad. I'm so happy right now, I want you to be too – we make mistakes and we learn from them, that's what's important."
Draco took a deep breath and managed a little smile as the doors opened with a ping. "Okay," he said, almost managing conviction.
They checked in with the woman Harry had spoken to on the phone, before heading back into a different set of elevators that took them up another several floors. Harry twirled their key card between his fingers, and stopped when they got to the right door.
"Um," he said, suddenly feeling shy. "Close your eyes for me?" Draco laughed but did as he was told, and Harry quickly slipped the card into the handle, making the lock click and swinging the door inwards. He darted in a few steps to slot the card into the holder by the door, enabling him to turn the lights on and survey the scene. It looked better than he'd hoped, but nerves still fluttered in his stomach.
He was torn between wanting to surprise Draco with a romantic gesture and not overwhelming him, but he figured he'd wasted enough time being too coy and just hoped he wasn't going overboard.
"Harry?" Draco growled, getting antsy standing in the corridor with his eyes shut, so Harry nipped back and gently entwined their fingers, walking backwards and pulling Draco forwards.
"Keep them closed," he whispered, freeing one of his hands to close the door with magic and throw up a few protective and silencing charms.
"If I trip Potter," Draco threatened idly. "I swear…"
Harry stopped when they were in the centre of their suite's living area and took a deep breath. "Okay," he said, mentally crossing his fingers. "You can open them."
He'd not turned all the lights on, just the side lamps to give the place atmosphere. Still Draco blinked, adjusting his eyes before widening them.
The windows were floor to ceiling, all along the outside walls, offering a dizzying view of night time London hundreds of feet below. Their suite was furnished in warm cream and bronze colours with a plush lavender carpet and decals of blossom branches creeping up the wall panels. The living room held a large squishy looking sofa, a heavy wooden desk, glass coffee table and a TV almost as big as the wall itself. To the right of the door there was an expansive bathroom with a standalone bear claw tub, and next to that, with the same awe-inspiring windows as the lounge, was the bedroom, filled with a bed so large it was near enough as big as Harry's whole flat.
But he suspected that wasn't what Draco was gawping at. Because, as per Harry's request, littering every surface of the room there were at least a dozen vases, filled to the brim with purply-blue flowers with delicate petals and dark green leaves fanning around the lip of the vases like a bowl, clutching the flowers up in a bulbous formation. On the table was a large box of heart shaped chocolates, waiting next to which were two icy cold tumblers of gin and tonic.
Harry could feel his lips press together anxiously as he watched Draco take it all in. He wanted to ask if it was too much, but he clamped his teeth down on his tongue, letting Draco absorb the moment.
"Violets," he breathed after what felt like forever.
"Yes," Harry whispered.
Draco turned his head, this way and that, taking them all in. "Roses are red," he said, coming back to face Harry, his expression lighting up with a grin. "Violets are blue. I was a fucking idiot, to ever leave you."
He seized Harry, delving in for a ferocious kiss, one hand in his hair, the other palm flattened against his back, pressing their bodies tightly together as Harry reciprocated, dropping his overnight bag and wrapping his arms tightly around Draco's body.
"It's not too much?" he gasped between crushing lips and tongues.
Draco began to slow down, his kisses becoming more tender. "It's perfect," he said, inhaling slowly, running his thumbs along Harry's jaw line, pressing their temples together and sighing. "It's ours, it's us, but…grander. Like we're coming out to whole world."
Harry broke into a ridiculous grin that he was sure Draco could feel where they were cheek to cheek.
"Yeah," he said happily. "That's sort of what I was going for."
He eased them apart, shirking out of his coat, hat and scarf, and Draco followed suit, getting comfortable in their home for the night. Harry scooped up the tumblers and handed one to Draco, chinking them together in a toast. "To a bizarre night," he said warmly.
They stood by the window for a while, arms around each other's backs, sipping their drinks and mulling over what they could see from their magnificent view. The train tracks snaking out from London Bridge station below the building made Harry think of veins pulsing towards a heart, beating life into the rest of London.
Draco turned his body slightly, nuzzling into Harry's side, his fingers running gently up and down his back, lips tentatively finding the soft skin of Harry's neck, the tip of his ear lobe. Harry sighed, light with contentment. He leant in closer, feeling the tension mounting between them, his heart speeding up slightly, his breaths becoming deeper. "I want you," Draco murmured against his skin. "Salazar it's been too long."
Anticipation rippled through Harry's body, and he drew slightly back. He didn't say anything, just took Draco's hand, his silver eyes blazing in the soft light of the hotel room as Harry held them unwaveringly. He wet his lips, walking backwards into the bedroom, feeling like they were on the edge of the world with the windows looming protectively beside them.
"I had an idea," he said nervously as they stopped in between the glass wall and the bed.
Draco placed his tumbler on the bedside cabinet and traced his fingers softly from Harry's shoulders down to his elbows and up again. "Yes?" he asked, his voice husky.
Harry was very much in two minds about what he wanted to say, but he'd hit the mark with the flowers and the hotel – hell – even his decision with the tailcoat arrHHrobes had sort of panned out. But he was still unsure.
"You can say no," he said, awkwardly putting his own gin and tonic on the chest of drawers.
Draco smiled and kissed him lazily. "Can't say no if I don't know what it is," he pointed out.
Fuck it, Harry thought. What was the worst that could happen?
"I want to show you something," he said shakily, Draco still distracting him with loving kisses and roaming hands. "Thought maybe I could prove something."
"Prove what?" mumbled Draco from the vicinity of his collar bone.
"That I trust you."
This caught Draco's attention. He pulled away from Harry's neck, and looked up at him with a guarded expression. "You trust me," he said. It wasn't a question exactly.
"I think," said Harry carefully. "That we got in this mess, because there have been some issues hanging around us. And I want to prove to you that I'm not holding back, that I'm not afraid. I was afraid, until about an hour ago. I thought you were going to break me beyond repair."
Draco swallowed, and made to separate himself from the embrace. But Harry glanced his hands up his chest, around the back of his neck, slipping his fingers through that soft hair that made him weak at the knees, and Draco stilled, looking up at him from a bowed head with reproachful eyes.
"I was afraid of living my life without you," he carried on, hearing the quiver in his voice, his fingers rubbing minute circular patterns through Draco's hair. "I want to show you how much I will be with you, I want to give you everything Draco, everything I have. I want to show you I can throw myself at your feet when I am most vulnerable, and have no doubt that you will save me again."
"Harry," Draco replied softly, and he could see the fear on his face. This is why Harry knew something like this had to happen. Because Draco did not believe he had faith in him, he thought himself unworthy and that threatened to break Harry's heart all over again.
"I trust you, I trust you," he told him softly.
"How can you?" Draco replied, his hands balling into fists, Harry's shirt bunched in between his fingers.
"Because your virtues out way your failings," he told him firmly. "Because if you had anything left to prove to me I wouldn't have let you into my bed. Or my heart."
Draco bit his lip and looked down at their shoes, taking a long, slow breath in. "What do you propose?" he asked in little more than a whisper.
"Make love to me," said Harry, before he could lose his nerve. "I trust you with heart, body and soul. I want to do whatever you want, be whatever you want. I want to prove to you how safe I feel with you, I want you to be in control, I want to satisfy you as intimately as you want, as much as you want." Draco had gone quite still, his vision lingering somewhere around Harry's chest, eyes wide and apprehensive. But Harry pulled his fingers through his hair, along his jaw, cradling his face and tipping his gaze back up to meet him.
"If you're not ready for it," he said. "I will take you, hard. I will poor all my desire and love into you and make you breathless for more. But if not tonight, I hope there will come a day when you feel you can take me; that you can ring me out and make me scream your name because there will never be anyone else who can love me like you do, that there will never be anyone else who I will surrender too, freely, and trust my body with like I do you."
Draco gulped, visibly, trembling under Harry's gaze and touch, and suddenly Harry knew he had pushed him too far. He was being selfish, grasping for assurance that the past few months would never happen again. He should have waited, this wasn't fair – Draco had been wrung out this evening, and here Harry was begging him to sex him when he probably just needed familiarity, for Harry to make love to him like they always did, he needed safety, security-
"I'll do it," Draco's voice rasped.
Harry blinked. "No," he said, backtracking, pulling him in and kissing him earnestly. "No you don't have to, not tonight, you don't-"
Draco grabbed his hair and gripped tight, forcing Harry to look at him, his eyes ablaze. He looked shaken, scared, but he also looked determined. "I'm not losing you again," he said, his voice low. "I won't. I want you. You're," he faltered, and Harry could see the pulse flickering in his neck. "You're mine Harry Potter. You're mine and I want to claim you."
Harry, suddenly, felt nervous for a whole different reason. "You already have me," he said, but Draco was looking at him with intensity.
"What's the matter?" he breathed, leaning in to Harry's neck, whispering in his ear. "Sacred Potter?"
Something akin to an inferno lit up through Harry's body as he tried to jerk back and look Malfoy in the eye, but he grabbed Harry and yanked him back into a kiss that robbed him of his breath let alone his sight and sound. "You," Harry gasped, as soon as he could scramble for air. "Wish."
Draco pushed them against the chest of drawers, and Harry heard the ice in his discarded drink rattle against the glass. Draco's breathing was quick and deep, and soon he had to draw back, resting his forehead on Harry's as he searched for his composure. "I want this," he said shakily. "Do you still want this? Will you give yourself to me?"
Something coiled in Harry's gut that he honestly wasn't sure he'd ever felt before. He was mildly terrified, mostly turned on to within an inch of his life. "I'm yours," he said, running his fingers over skin and hair and clothes. "I trust you."
Draco took a deep, steadying breath in, eyes closed, hands holding on tightly to Harry's hair and shirt. "Okay," he said, breathing out again. He opened his eyes, bright with intensity, and Harry saw there was still fear there, as well as determination. "Okay." He gave a small smile, and rubbed his thumb along Harry's lower lip. "Fuck, I'm not sure what I'm doing," he laughed.
Harry laughed with him, feeling his nerves ease just a tiny bit. "Whatever you want," he assured him, feeling warm and prickly all over his skin. "Whatever makes you feel at ease."
Draco nodded, contemplating. "I might put some music on?" he suggested. But Harry remained mute, going against a lot of his base instincts. He had promised submission, and he was going to stick with it, for Draco.
The blond Slytherin laughed again, a little self-conscious. "Right," he said, stepping back from Harry and the chest of drawers. "I'm putting some music on."
Harry watched as he disappeared back out into the living room, then exhaled quickly, rubbing his eyes under his glasses and shaking just a little where a stood. This was fine, this was good!This was exactly what he wanted. But still, it was brand new, and his nerves were rattled; he was promising his obedience to another human being, so they could do whatever they wanted with him.
In the fraction of a second it had taken for these thoughts to filter through, he forced himself to relax again. This wasn't just anybody, this was Draco. And he was doing this to prove that he felt safe, that he trusted him wholly and completely. What was the point if that wasn't true?
Draco came back into the room, holding his iPod that Harry had bought him for his birthday, unwinding the headphones, pulling them out of the socket and glancing cautiously at Harry. He hadn't been sure about buying him the magically modified music player, Draco didn't seem massively keen on Muggle music after all. But having been introduced to the basic concept, and shown where and how he could listen to and upload new music, Draco had become obsessed, insatiable. His music collection had probably surpassed Harry's own in the few months he'd been able to work on it.
Draco placed his player in the docking station that was common in every room of their suite. Their magical presence was weak, so it didn't interfere with the electrics and Draco was able to get the music playing without any trouble.
An electric guitar bass, funky and sultry, began to drift over the room. Not so loud it would disturb the neighbours (even without Harry's silencing charms), but loud enough to seep through Harry's skin and soak him with reassurance. "Playlist?" he asked as the drums kicked in, knowing how Draco liked to clump his music together in emotive spurts.
"Yeah," he said shyly, picking up his G'n'T for a sip and giving Harry half a smile. "They're songs that remind me of fucking you. I haven't had a chance to listen to them in quite a while."
Harry felt like his bones had gone to jelly. Well, he wanted Draco in charge, he was doing a pretty stand up job of it so far.
"We should probably have a safe word," he said, trying to be sensible as he thought back to his one or two other experiences like this.
"Safe word?" Draco repeated, taking another mouthful of his gin and tonic. He rested the edge of the glass of his bottom lip and Harry almost groaned audibly at what that made his insides do.
He nodded. "In case one of us feels out of our depth, we can say it, and the other knows to snap out of whatever is happening. It's part of the trust thing."
Draco eyed him, something almost feral in his gaze. "You've done this before," he said, his pitch hitting something very low in Harry indeed.
"Once or twice," Harry admitted. It had been fun, but it had been with strangers. What he and Draco were proposing made those memories pale in comparison.
Draco was looking at him thoughtfully, and he darted his tongue out to wet his lips before taking another sip. "How about 'Violets'?" he asked.
Harry hadn't been entirely sure about covering the suite in flowers – Draco had teased him mercilessly about that last time after all. But in that moment as was very glad that he had. He thought maybe Draco understood exactly what he'd been trying to convey by picking the other flower from that irksome rhyme he'd managed to turn into their romantic anthem. "Violets," he repeated with a little nod.
Not sure what else to do, he grabbed his own drink back from the drawers and took a gulp, his heart racing, trying not to let his mind run away with him. A part of him wanted to flip this, he wanted his dominance back, but instead he forced himself to calm and turn to Draco, who had perched on the edge of the enormous king-sized bed.
It was high, so Draco's toes just rested on the carpet, and he leaned forward, elbows on knees. He swivelled his arm so his right hand, the one nearest to Harry, was reaching out whilst still leaning on his elbow, and his fingers curled a couple of times in quick succession. "Come here," he said softly.
Lust outweighed Harry's apprehension. He trusted Draco, he was giving himself to him. So he encouraged his heart to slow, took another swig of gin and moved carefully over to stand in front of him.
His knees were touching Draco's, and gently, the other man took his glass from his hand, leaving him standing unsure in front of him. He remained still, eyes on Draco as he slowly ran his hands up his shirt sleeves, fingers trailing cautiously through the folds of his cravat.
"Astoria and I," he began, but Harry cut him off sharply.
"I don't want to know," he insisted. She seemed like a nice girl, but he wanted absolutely zero imagery of her and Draco's time together.
"Nothing happened," Draco insisted calmly but firmly, undoing Harry's tie. "Nothing. I never cheated on you, I swear on my mother's life."
Harry looked down at him, their eyes locking as the silk of the tie unravelled and slipped to the carpet. "Good," said Harry honestly, and Draco inhaled and smiled.
"Guess that was another sign I was doing something really fucking stupid," he said, cocking an eyebrow.
"You said it," Harry quipped, feeling more at ease with Draco's confession and insistence on making jokes.
He pretended to scowl, hands moving to Harry's top button. "Shut up," he said petulantly. "I'm trying to seduce you."
Harry bit his grinning lip and couldn't help but let his eyes flutter closed. He was in safe hands.
Methodically, Draco loosened the buttons, one by one, fingertips skimming over the skin on Harry's chest that was sensitive with goose bumps. He pulled the shirt up from his trousers, releasing the last of the buttons and slipping his hands over Harry's shoulders to push the garment down to the floor.
His mouth found his way to Harry's abdominals, kissing up his rib cage as Harry tried to keep his breathing steady, forcing his hands to stay down. He was Draco's, he wouldn't do anything until he said so, not tonight.
Draco's lips found Harry's nipple on the left, and Harry wasn't prepared for the little graze of teeth that made him jump. He could feel Draco smile against his skin as he continued to kiss and suck, pearling the nipple under his tongue into a hard nub. Hands caressed along his hips, up his sides and around his back as Draco switched and focused on the other side of Harry's chest, giving the same attention to that nipple too. He blew on the wet, sensitive skin as it rose, making Harry shiver.
"Harry?" Draco whispered, causing him to open his eyes as he leant up and kissed his mouth. "I want you to touch me," he said breathlessly.
Harry didn't need telling twice. He entwined his fingers through Draco's hair, pulling them closer together with an appreciative moan. Draco's hands however were busy with his belt, fumbling with the clasp before whipping it free from his hips and slinging it to the carpet with abandon. Next came the trouser button and zip, and Harry helped by kicking off his boots, meaning as his trousers were pushed to his ankles they could also be kicked off with little regard, leaving Harry in just his boxers and…
"Fuck," muttered Draco, suddenly seizing Harry by the waist and twisting him onto the bed in a fluid motion that almost cost Harry his glasses. "How do you manage to make those bloody socks sexy?"
The Quidditch socks, Harry remembered a little disgruntled. The ones he assured himself were fine to wear because no one else would see them.
"Oh shut up," he grinned as Draco loomed over his body, straddling him with intent. "You were the one who bought them for me."
"Yup," Draco agreed, coming back in for a thoroughly decent snog. "So I guess it's all my fault."
Harry had his arms up and hands resting on Draco's shoulders. He managed to toe off the offending socks, but he couldn't help but feel Draco was secretly pleased he'd been caught out wearing them.
Now all that remained were the boxers. His mostly naked body ground against Draco's slightly coarse trousers, his silky waistcoat, the soft cotton of his shirt, revelling in the sensation of skin on material. He keened as Draco pulled his lower lip between his teeth, then began the slow and torturous process of working his mouth and tongue and lips through the centre of his chest, past his navel, trailing the soft hair that paved the way down to his pulsing groin.
Harry tangled his fingers in his own hair as he felt cool air on his most sensitive parts, feeling the elastic lift from his hips and be dragged down his legs, leaving him totally naked, vulnerable to Draco's scrutiny. Kisses fluttered up his inner thigh and Harry couldn't help but gasp; he'd done exactly this for Draco their first night together. Except, he'd been conscious of not letting Draco feel like he was being teased, and had got down to business pretty quickly. It seemed Draco had other plans…
His fingertips were lightly trailing along Harry's skin, soft touches across his abdomen and his hips and Draco worked his mouth along Harry's right thigh. Lips and tongue massaged their way torturously closer to his crotch, making Harry shudder, his breathing hitching.
"Draco," he shuddered, gripping at his wiry hair, eyes screwed up behind his glasses. He forced himself to calm a little. He knew what was coming, and the fact it was going to take a little longer was actually sweeter, because it forcibly reminded Harry that in fact, they had all the time in the world now. They were back together, and if the evening so far was indication, they were better than ever.
Harry pushed into Draco's touch, realising for the first time ever, he was allowing himself to get lost in the fantasy of their future. A future that included loved ones, of facing the world with bare-faced honesty, of becoming a part of a couple, a unit, together-
All coherent thought dropped from his brain as Draco's fingertips skirted up the length of his cock. "Ungh!" he cried out, jerking his body forward involuntary before flopping back into the mattress. Draco's breath was heavy against his thigh, his cheek resting there as he ran his hand gently up and down Harry's length with maddening restraint.
"I forgot," he murmured, gripping with more intensity and making Harry grit his teeth in pleasure. "The amazing noises you make."
"Nuh-uh," Harry gasped, biting his lip against the grin forming. "You're the noisy one."
"Really?" Draco asked, and Harry could practically feel the eyebrow lifting as he removed his hand for a horrible moment, before replacing it with his hot, wanting mouth.
"Fuck!" Harry cried, arching his back, abandoning his own hair in favour of running his hands through Draco's, encouraging him as he bobbed up and down, taking him deep into his throat.
Harry had thought that morning in his flat, when he'd been trying in vain to read the Quidditch pages, was going to be his last memory of he and Draco in bed. Whatever else happened after this, knowing that was not in fact going to be his last blow job from his infuriating, but adorable boyfriend, it made him push back into Draco's mouth.
If it made him gag at all, he recovered without faltering, continuing with a rhythm that Harry could feel was shredding him to pieces.
But just as he could feel his climax building, Draco slid off, causing him to grimace and vault up. "Wha-"
Draco was scrambling at his top button. "No, I want," he said, trembling. "Together – help me-"
Harry didn't need encouraging. He sat up all the way, and two pairs of hands fumbled with his shirt and his waistcoat, peeling off the clothing, leaving Draco's chest mercifully naked and Harry forgot his own want, attacking those perfect abs and the scar that sliced him diagonally in two, kissing down it as the two of them struggled with the belt buckle. "So fucking happy I've got you back," Harry mumbled into Draco's mouth, making as short a job of his trousers as he had done to Harry.
Draco pushed him back on the bed, only his boxers remaining, having already disposed of his of his shoes and socks with the skill of an escapologist. "You're stuck with me, Potter," he growled, grinding their hips together as he lavished him with kisses that left them both struggling for breath.
"Okay," said Harry, willing to admit defeat.
"Did you pack-?"
Harry didn't need him to finish. He threw his left hand out towards the living room. "Accio bag!" he gasped, not needing to bother with his wand, and the rucksack flew into his waiting grasp. "Front section," he breathed, shoving it towards Draco, so glad he decided to crawl under his bed for those extra items.
Draco ripped open the zip and took in the contents. "Well you were planning on quite an evening," he teased.
"Draco," Harry growled, unsure if he was boneless or stiff as a board against the pillows. "If you don't get back to my dick in the next five seconds-"
Draco snorted, pulling a pump-action bottle from the bag and dropping the rest to the floor. "Such a baby," he sighed, launching in for another snog as his hands got busy removing his last remaining article of clothing and popping the lid off the lube.
"My baby," he rumbled into Harry's ear as his slick hand wrapped back around his prick, working the gel along him lovingly.
"Yours," Harry agreed wholeheartedly, lifting his pelvis to encourage Draco's touch. He massaged him a little longer, before moving to tend to his own cock, Harry unable to stop himself drinking in the delicious sight of his lover pleasuring himself, watching as his eyes fluttered closed at the sensation.
Draco took the briefest of moments to wipe his hand off on the side of the bed, before crashing his weight back into Harry, slamming their bodies together and undulating his slippery cock against Harry's, causing the most beautiful friction that Harry practically yelped at. He dug his fingers into the flesh of Draco's hips, losing himself in the motion as they worked together, lips fighting for dominance with such force Harry was left dizzy and fighting for purchase. "Draco," he whispered, over and over. "I think I'm going to-"
"Wait!" Draco gasped. "Wait for me, wait, please!"
And Harry did as he was told, taking a deep breath as Draco continued to grind into him, catching up, searching for the release Harry was holding onto.
"Come on baby," he whispered, hands pressing grooves down Draco's back. "Come for me."
A tortured nod signalled he was close, and Harry let himself pick up the pace again, feeling the pressure build explosively in him, until there was nothing but gnashing teeth, sheets gripped in iron fists, anguished cries, and then boneless bodies slumping together, bellies warm and slick with the result of the passion.
Harry shuddered, his breathing slowing down as he hugged Draco into his side. As the aftershocks stopped raking through his body, he cleaned their mess with a flick of his wand before discarding it again, leaving them dry and snug as he slowly ran his fingers in circles on Draco's back.
He was sure the novelty would wear off eventually, but having convinced himself this would never happened again, he felt like he was currently floating on a cloud of euphoria, two feet above the rumpled bed sheets. "You're perfect," he murmured into blond hair.
Draco chuckled and shook his head into Harry's neck, but didn't say anything to contradict him. Instead, he began languorous kisses along Harry's collar bone, trailing up his neck to find his mouth. "You tired?" he asked.
His tone made Harry pull away and look him in the eye. "No," he said, excitement flurrying through him.
"Well," said Draco hesitantly but with a hint of determination. "You packed such a nice bag, it would be a shame not to put some of it to use…"
One wrong look from Harry would shatter this, he knew. So he didn't say anything to begin with, he just shifted a little so he was more under Draco, back flush with the bed and the duvet they were still on top of, and looked up at him. "I'm yours," he said softly. "I'll do anything you want."
That made Draco's eyes dilate, breath hitching. He leant over the side of the bed to rummage in the bag's front compartment, pulling out Harry's fluffy handcuffs that had started out as a joke present from Seamus Finnigan, but had actually been put to good use more times than his Irish friend would ever care to find out.
Again, without a word, Harry just kept Draco's eye contact, shuffled his shoulders down a little against the pillows, and raised his hands above his head, crossed at the wrists.
If Draco had ever played around with cuffs before, it hadn't been with Harry. But at seeing his willingness he seemed eager to keep going, transfiguring the regular headboard of the bed into wooden slats, giving him something to loop the short chain around as he clipped the ends around Harry's waiting wrists.
"Violets?" he checked.
Harry felt a spike of panic as the restraints went on, but at Draco reaffirming the safe word he felt the calm settle on his chest before he'd even really had a chance to register it. "Violets," he said with a little nod. He knew what they were doing, he was fine.
There was a welcome basket of home comforts courtesy of the hotel on the cabinet nearest to them, wrapped in cellophane and until now complete ignored by both men. But Draco flicked his wand again and the packaging came undone, letting him pluck something nestled between the bath robes and slippers. A grey and black, soft looking, sleep mask. "How about now?"
Harry was intrigued to find himself not only unfazed at the idea of being blindfolded, it actually made his heart skip a little beat. He allowed half a smile to creep up on his lips, and closed his eyes voluntarily. "Surprise me," he said, delighted at how much he meant that.
The next thing he felt was his glasses slowly, but gently, being slid off his face. Then Draco hooked the eye mask over his head and positioned it with care so it sat comfortably. "Okay?" he asked, and Harry nodded.
A swift kiss landed on his lips. There was a pause, and then it came back again, more invasive, parting his mouth with a sturdy tongue. Even this had Harry's heart racing with the added sensation of limited movement and sight. He really was Draco's right then, having almost no control over his own self.
"Give me a sec," Draco breathed, and then his weight lifted from the bed, leaving Harry trussed up and naked. He indulged in another one of those long breaths, every inch of him desperate for an indication of Draco's return. He was safe. He was Draco's. It was okay.
It wasn't long before the bed shifted again, signalling Draco was back, perched on the edge of the bed. Harry bit his lip as he felt Draco's hand cup his jaw. "Okay?" he asked again.
Harry nodded. "Perfect." The hand was gently removed, leaving Harry tingling in anticipation, until another soft touch graced the side of his face. A subtle scent also tickled the back of his throat, and he realised what was caressing slowly down his skin were flower petals.
Draco must have fetched some of the violets from the living room, and Harry keened at the thought. He couldn't believe he'd ever been nervous about organising them, they were his and Draco's signature, what had brought them together. Two different species, that belonged in the same love story.
Harry relaxed as Draco dragged the petals down his neck and up his right arm. He could feel from the way the bed was shifting his body was hovering above him, his free hand resting the other side of Harry's torso. Harry imagined how he was watching him, studying him, and it made the stroke of the flowers even sweeter against his skin.
When he'd played around with those couple of guys before, he'd thought it had been all about their dominance. Now he understood, it was all about his submission. Maybe this would be as beneficial to him as it would to Draco; there was something remarkable about letting go, relinquishing control.
The violets skimmed over the sensitive areas of his palms and fingertips, trailing back down his left arm and along his collar bone. "You have such a beautiful body," Draco murmured, following the flowers along Harry's sternum with chaste kisses.
"It's yours," Harry breathed, already feeling his arousal re-building from their previous excursion.
The flowers disappeared but the kisses worked their way back up, along collar and neck and jaw. "No," said Draco reaching his mouth. "I'm just borrowing it. I'm its custodian." The words vibrated through Harry's mouth as he succumbed to the kiss, wanting to feel Draco's skin against his own and raising his chest in search of more contact.
But Draco drew back, breathless and laughing softly. "Not done with you yet," he teased. Harry gave him a little whimper of protest like a puppy, and he laughed again. He didn't leave the bed though, and Harry heard a subtle chink from the cabinet to his left.
He gasped suddenly as freezing droplets landed on his chest between his pectorals, the cold and wetness a sharp contrast to how soft and warm he'd been feeling. Draco's tongue came next, licking up the icy gin. "I thought you looked thirsty," he taunted. Then the coldness touched his lips, and Harry realised he was running one of the ice cubes along the edge of his mouth.
"See," purred Draco as Harry tilted his chin to lick and suck at the cube as well as Draco's wet fingertips. "Thirsty." He replaced the ice with his mouth, hot on Harry's cool skin, hand drifting down to Harry's right nipple, sliding the melting ice over his hard nub and making it numb.
Harry shuddered against Draco, letting the coldness wash over him as Draco bruised his lips with his own. Just when the ice was starting to feel painful, it was dragged across to give the other side the same treatment. He broke off the kiss and moved to suck of the cold nipple instead, teasing it once more with his teeth.
Harry was definitely hard again, his cock feeling hot in contrast to the iciness trailing over his chest. This hadn't escaped Draco's attention apparently, as he began easing his hand and mouth downwards, skimming Harry's belly button, trailing wetness through the soft line of hair.
Harry screwed up his eyes against the soft material of the mask, panting heavily as the ice found its way along his length, making him grit his teeth as he fought between pleasure and pain. Despite the fluffy covering, the handcuffs still bit at his wrists as he jerked and pulled against the restraints, making them jangle against the modified bed posts, but he didn't want Draco to stop. He didn't want any of it to stop. He felt dizzy, like he was outside of his own body, floating high above and watching.
"Please," he found himself whispering, not sure what he was asking for. "Please Draco."
The ice had practically melted, and Harry felt the last sliver disappear between his and Draco's skin. With that, Draco lifted his touch away, and Harry bit his lip in anticipation, feeling the weight of the bed shift as Draco crawled back up to nuzzle his face into the side of Harry's neck.
"I want to play with my favourite toy," he said tentatively. "Would you like that?"
Harry knew exactly what he was talking about, but they'd never used it on him. "For me?" he clarified, and little breathless, and Draco nodded into his hair. He turned his head slightly, leaning into Draco. "I'd like that," he said, his voice catching a little.
He felt Draco move again, reaching back for the rucksack. Harry waited a few moments, shivering in anticipation, skin chilled from the ice but also hot with desire.
The next thing he felt was Draco's slick fingers slide gently between his legs and he gasped as he stroked him tenderly before carefully slipping a finger inside him. It had been a very long time since Harry had bottomed, and he'd forgotten how mind-blowingly good the sensation was of feeling someone enter him. Draco had never done this with him before, it was always the other way round, and for the first time since they'd started he wanted to take the mask off, and the cuffs. He wanted this to be something they shared together.
Draco eased another finger in and he moaned, pushing against him as he moved slowly back and forth, preparing Harry, scissoring the fingers more and more. "You ready?" he asked.
Harry nodded, playing along with the game a while longer. Draco's favourite toy was the gayest little vibrator Harry had ever seen, and he constantly delighted in laughing and teasing him about it. It was pink and sparkly – sparkly! Harry liked to pretend he was offended he had to use it when Draco was in the mood. But as the subtle tell-tale buzz sounded, and Draco pushed it gently against and inside him, he thought maybe he'd have to take some of his words back.
He arched his back and neck into the mattress and pillows, gasping in pleasure. He felt full, but not too full, and the vibrations were driving him crazy within seconds as Draco rubbed the toy back and forth. Harry forced himself to relax though, he didn't want to come too soon, but Draco didn't exactly help with that when he wrapped his other hand around his cock, giving it a quick squeeze.
"Want you," Harry uttered. "Want to touch, want to see."
Immediately, the vibrator slipped out of him and Harry heard it bounce on the floor as the buzzing stopped. Draco scrambled up the bed, yanking off the eye mask as he kissed Harry's lips and ran his fingers through his hair. "Glasses?" he asked, popping open the cuffs, but Harry shook his head, grabbing forwards as soon as he was free, pulling Draco flush against his body, wrapping them together, becoming one.
"No just please, I want – want you."
There was another splash of lube, and then, for the first time, Draco eased himself into Harry, hot and tight and perfect. Harry cried out as they tumbled back down to the bed, hands digging into Draco's shoulders as they began to rock back and forth. "Harry," he groaned.
"So good," Harry whispered between kisses. "Yes, like that – ah!" He wasn't going to last long, but it didn't seem Draco would either, so he didn't try and hold onto his building orgasm. "Going to-" he gasped.
"Me too," Draco cried, impossibly picking up the pace even more, shattering Harry into a million pieces, their screams mingling as the world fell apart around them.
Slowly, Harry blinked his way back to reality, Draco collapsed on his chest, still inside him, their wetness seemingly everywhere. "You okay?" he whispered shakily.
"Fucking fantastic," Draco mumbled into his chest, making Harry laugh.
After a while, he pulled tentatively out of him, and Harry rolled over to get his wand and clean them up. The floor was littered with all the various items they'd been playing with, but the only thing left on the bed was them, so Harry yanked up the sheets so they could get under the covers. "Come here," he said warmly, and Draco snuggled up to his side as they enveloped themselves in the soft, fat duvet.
They were a tangle of limbs and slowly rising and falling chests. "How do you feel?" Harry asked after a while, stroking the silky blond hair he wasn't ashamed to admit he'd missed keenly.
"Amazing," Draco said, but with a hint of caution as he looked up at Harry through coppery lashes. "Was I – was it okay?"
Harry blinked at him. "Draco," he said sternly. "That's probably the best sex I've ever had in my life. You're incredible."
Bashfulness swept over Draco's face and he buried it again in Harry's shoulder, making him grin. "I got a bit caught up in the moment," he admitted from the crook of Harry's neck.
"Well, good," Harry told him. "That's sort of the point. And now I know what you're capable of, don't think you're going to get away with me doing all the hard work anymore." He poked him in the ribs, making them both laugh as Draco rose his head to look at him again. "I mean it," Harry said, a little more serious. "I want you making love to me. I'm yours, just as much as you're mine."
Draco stroked his hair, rubbing it between his fingers. "Equal partners," he agreed.
It wasn't long before tiredness overcame them, and they nestled down into the multiple pillows hotels always thought it was necessary to give people, looking out over the whole of London as they dozed off.
"Harry," said Draco in such a small voice, he almost missed it.
There was a pause, filled with only soft breaths and fingers trailing along skin. And then…"I love you."
Harry squeezed his eyes even tighter together, emotion welling up in him. "I love you too," he said thickly.
Harry awoke suddenly to a soft knock at their door. Wintery sunshine was streaming through the floor to ceiling windows, illuminating the city as it too roused from its Sunday morning slumber. The knock came quietly again, and Harry slipped out of bed, leaving Draco looking untroubled and oblivious.
He pulled on one of the complementary dressing gowns, marvelling at how soft and fluffy it was as he padded over and opened up the door to their hotel room.
"Mr Potter?" A petrified looking bell boy stood on the other side, trembling in the corridor with wide eyes and a stack of mail clutched between his hands.
"Yes?" he replied, raising an eyebrow.
"These, uh-" He held out the letters, and Harry eyed them up dubiously. One or two were definitely quivering as much as the hands that were clamped around them. "They came to the front desk, by uh, I mean…They were dropped off by birds."
Harry raised both his eyebrows at that. "Owls?" he guessed.
The bell boy gulped. "One looked like an eagle," he stammered.
Harry sighed. He should have known it was too much to ask that they be left alone. If he had learnt one thing from his acceptance into Hogwarts, it was that letters would always find you, no matter how hard you tried to hide. At least it was just a bit of mail, and not an actual Lucius Malfoy or anything.
He held up a finger to the teenager and darted back into the room for his wallet. "I'm very sorry about that," he apologised, giving him a hefty tip and removing the envelopes from his hands. "It shouldn't happen again," he said, hoping that was true.
He kicked the door closed and made his way back into the bedroom where Draco had woken, presumably at the sound of the voices in the hall. "Morning," said Harry affectionately, dropping the post on the cabinet and slipping back into bed.
Draco smiled sleepily, curling into Harry's side and rubbing his face against the robe. "Cuddly bear," he muttered, clearly still half asleep.
Harry laughed and ruffled his hair, making a mental note to tease Draco about being soft on him once he was properly awake. Sadly he didn't have to wait long for that though. "We have mail," he said neutrally.
Draco pulled away and looked at Harry, then at the stack of letters he had brought in. "Oh," was all he said.
Harry though had already steeled himself, so he hopped back out of bed briefly to fetch the other dressing gown for Draco to put on, then collected the letters as he got back under the covers. "I think we should just face the music," he said, fishing out the bright red howler and reinforcing the sound proofing on the room with his wand. "It'll only get worse if you wait."
Because of course it was addressed to Draco, and Harry would have bet his life savings on who it was from.
Draco swallowed and took the letter in his own hands, meaning Harry could put his right arm around his shoulders and squeeze, bracing him for what was about to hit. Draco slid his finger under the sealed flap, and tugged it free, releasing the magic.
"DRACO LUCIUS MALFOY!" his father roared, making both of them jump no matter how much they had been prepared. "YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THIS FAMILY, YOU HAVE BROUGHT SHAME DOWN UPON US THE LIKES WE HAVE NEVER KNOWN!"
Harry thought about the fact that Lucius had thrown his lot in with the most heinous wizard who'd ever lived, and doubted that very much, but of course that didn't stop the voice from blaring.
"HOW COULD YOU! WITH *HIM*! IN FRONT OF ALL THOSE PEOPLE! YOUR FACE IS PLASTERED ALL OVER THE PAPERS LIKE SOME COMMON WHORE! YOU ARE *NO* LONGER A PART OF THIS FAMILY, DO YOU HEAR ME? YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN SET FOOT IN THIS HOUSE, YOU WILL BE STRUCK FROM THE WILL AND YOUR NAME ERASED FROM OUR HISTORY!"
Harry blanched, but Draco was watching the talking envelope with a steady gaze, no emotion flickering over his face.
The voice coming from the howler dropped dangerously low, and somehow, that was worse than the bellowing. "You will have nothing, I will make sure of that; no job, no money, no allies. You have made this bed, with the boy that took everything from us. So be it, you shall reap what you sew, and it will be a cold day in hell before I ever see or speak to you again. I no longer have a son."
The letter exploded into flames, and the ashes drifted gently down to the duvet, where Harry quickly vanished them before they could do any damage. He heart was in his throat, he was almost too scared to look at Draco, not sure if he should wait or speak first.
Draco though, blew out a deep breath and rubbed his jaw. "Well," he said with something resembling cheerfulness. "That could have been worse."
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Really?" he asked, unable to stop himself. "How?"
Draco laughed, thankfully, and let Harry pull him into a hug. "I wasn't really expecting him to do any less," he admitted, and Harry felt a knot of selfishness twist in his gut. All that time he'd been pressuring Draco to come out of the closet, this is what he knew he'd be facing.
"I'm so sorry," he said.
But Draco just shrugged and gave a shaky sigh. "He can't get me fired," he said stubbornly. "No matter what he thinks, he just doesn't have that kind of power anymore."
"And I'll support you," Harry added hastily. "If you need, in any way I can."
Draco stoked his arm. "I know," he said, more subdued, Harry's chin resting on his head. "But I don't need your money, I pay for my flat, and like I said I'm sure I still have a job."
Harry was stroking him back; his hair, his face, his collar and his neck. "I mean," he said softly, picking his words. "I'm just…here. Right next to you, and I always will be. Whatever you'll have to face, I'll be by your side. And if anyone has a problem with this, us, they'll have to deal with The Boy Who Lived first."
Harry felt a smile on his chest, even through his dressing gown. "Careful Potter," Draco said, a hint of strain in his voice but also humour too. "You're starting to sound like a celebrity, throwing your weight around like that."
"I'll go full diva if anyone dares to try and fuck with the man I love," he growled, only half joking. He wouldn't use his name for hardly anything, but he would if it would spare Draco unnecessary pain. He meant that with everything he possibly had to give.
Draco raised his head and kissed him delicately, showing his appreciation as best he could. Harry imagined he must be so torn up inside, and he made a promise to himself to make sure that his sacrifice would be worth it, that what they had would be worth it.
After a time Draco sighed. "Shall we see what the rest have to say?" he asked, resigned to the task.
Luckily, Lucius' seemed to be the only howler. There were several more letters in various shapes and sizes, addressed to Harry as well as Draco. He decided to go next, attacking a couple which he was unsurprised to discover were from reporters begging for interviews. "Urgh," Harry said in disgust. "Vultures." There were probably more of those in the pile, so he searched for any familiar handwriting.
"I think," said Draco, beating him to it. "That this one's from my mother?"
Harry looked down at the black envelope and elegant silver writing. "You don't have to," Harry began, but Draco shook his head and tore it open, shaking the single sheet of parchment out and unfolding it carefully in his hands.
There were only a few lines, and Harry averted his eyes to give Draco some privacy. But it wasn't long before Draco was holding it in front of him, silently asking him to read it.
"My darling Draco," it began, and Harry couldn't help the shimmer of hope in his chest.
"All I ever wanted was for you to be happy. I wish you had told me sooner. If this is what your heart truly desires, then I will support you.
Your father is mistaken. We owe Harry Potter a great deal indeed, and I will state here and now I find him worthy of your affections.
Do not worry yourself too much about your father. I know what his letter contained and I will do my best to speak reason to him.
There is no power in this world that could make you no longer my son.
As Harry finished reading he realised Draco was doing his best not to cry, but Harry couldn't be bothered with any of that. "Come here," he instructed, turning and pulling Draco to nestle his head into his neck, fingers massaging his back and his scalp, kissing his forehead as Draco shook. Typical it was kindness, not cruelty, that had broken him.
After a time Draco calmed, and Harry suggested he took the burden of continuing to open their mail, despite who it was addressed to. More reporters from all over the world were offering frightening amounts of money for exclusive interviews, but Harry just dropped each of these on the floor with distain. But then there was one from Astoria Greengrass that simply stated: "Thank you for not breaking either of our hearts."
Draco sniffed and wiped his eyes as Harry showed him that one. "Guess you might have been right," he said with a watery laugh.
Harry had saved the few with familiar handwriting until last, and opened letters from Luna, Neville and Ginny all expressing their surprise but also their congratulations. George Weasley had a few delighted words to say about the senior Malfoy's loss of face, but even then said he'd get his mum on making Draco a Christmas jumper while she still had time.
"One of those hideous, scratchy creations you wear around the house?" Draco cried in mock horror, but Harry could tell he was secretly quite flattered.
And then, Harry opened the letter he'd purposefully saved for last.
"Dear Harry and Draco," wrote Hermione, the only one to address them as a couple.
"You are complete idiots. If you don't think I worked out months ago what was going on, you both deserve to have your Ministry licences taken away. You could have avoided a lot of bother if you'd just been honest with us or at the very least yourselves, but I'm glad everything is finally out in the open.
Ron is a bit shocked to say the least, but he's actually coming around to the idea already, which surely proves to you that anything is possible.
I hope that you've been able to sort out any grievances by the time this letter reaches you. Harry, I never want to see that depth of sadness on your face again if I can help it (so Draco, please hear my friendly but firm assurance that any more broken hearts will not be tolerated.) And Harry, you be nice to Draco too, he was very brave last night and I'm proud of him for what he did.
Now, I shall be cooking dinner on Tuesday night, I expect to see you both at seven o'clock sharp with some extremely good apology wine.
Warmest love and affection (and patience),
Harry waited until Draco looked up. He was pretty sure he was reading it twice, maybe three times. "Bossy, isn't she?" he said finally, and Harry laughed.
"And right," he sighed. "Nothing gets past her, I should have known."
Draco bit his lip. "She really wants us round for dinner?" he said, looking back at her writing. "And Weasley?"
Harry imagined Ron might take a little persuading to let a Malfoy into his house, but if anyone could do it, it was Hermione Granger.
"Yeah," said Harry, scooping up the letters and piling them back on the cabinet. "We're a package deal now. We do things together."
They wriggled back down into the bed, arm in arm, chest to chest. "Together," Draco repeated.
Harry smiled, thinking of the implications of what that really meant. He was whole again, the world made sense once more – or didn't, he mused, thinking seriously about who he was actually holding in his arms.
But it made sense to them, and that's all he cared about. No more lying, no more feeling ashamed. In fact the world was probably going to get substantially more complicated, but Harry didn't care, because they were back where they belonged.
"Together," he promised.