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A Hyperactive Fruit, a Nasty Neighbour and a Love Story

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 The first time Draco Malfoy saw Harry Potter in those abhorrent clothes was on a dreadful and dreary Monday in the first week of August. If it weren’t for Potter and his ludicrously inappropriate fashion sense he would have forgotten the day in a week – after all dreadful and dreary Mondays featured aplenty in his life. Alas, Harry James Potter, hero extraordinaire, egalitarian philanthropist, and Witch Weekly’s Most Handsome Wizard of the Year – for ten years in a row – was currently – most un-handsomely – sprawled in the brown leather armchair opposite Draco’s office desk.

 Draco sized him up with a stern look. Potter at least had the grace to look somewhat sheepish. Too bad that there was still more confidence in his widely spread legs than Draco liked to see on a Monday morning.

 Especially after the kind of Sunday he’d just had.

 All due to Potter’s disruptive domestic life, of course.

 Draco’s eyes didn’t know where to settle. Potter leaned back. With too much confidence. Draco felt a great need to huff out loud but he restrained himself. Potter’s confidence (topped with a fair amount of indecency) irked him more than he would admit. His eyes inadvertently fell onto the muscular legs. They were clad in a soft grey fabric that stretched just so that it managed to simultaneously wrap and expose the parts of Potter’s body that Draco definitely shouldn’t be bloody staring at. He tore his gaze from Potter’s thighs and let his gaze slide towards Potter’s face. Or tried to. Since Mondays were his unlucky days, his eyes accidentally stuttered to a halt at Potter’s crotch. Merlin’s bal - No! No, no, no, no. There will be no thinking about balls, Draco told himself firmly and focused on cursing Circe’s tits instead.

 After a few failed attempts, he finally managed to tear his eyes away and settle them on a more appropriate part of Potter’s body – his eyes. Not that they made him any less uncomfortable, mind, but he couldn’t very well stare over the man’s shoulder; he was a professional after all. Draco tightened his back muscles in order to further straighten his posture. Let it not be said that a desk job was making him slump. Malfoys never slumped, not even when stuffed behind a haggard desk in the Department for Control of Magical Creatures.

 Especially not then.

 An overwhelming urge to clear his throat before speaking overcame him, but he fought it back for fear of letting out a very Umbridge-like sound. His throat felt uncomfortably tight and he couldn’t predict how high pitched his khm khm would have been should he risk the action. Instead, he laid both hands palm-flat onto the paper-strewn desk, assumed an expression of someone who was stoically waiting for the inevitable apocalypse and croaked out a warm greeting to his famous guest.

 ‘’Potter.’’

 Well, it was as poor a greeting as they came, but it would have to do. The less empty words said this morning, the greater the chance that he could get to his second cup of coffee before eleven rolled around. He inhaled deeply through his nose. Oxygen might help with the headache that was already starting to make itself known behind his temples.

 ‘’We have received no less than ten complaints from your lovely neighbour Mrs Margery Popkin, 9 Griffin street, Godric’s Hollow, over the course of the weekend.’’ He paused and continued very slowly. ‘’Let me clarify that: I received no less than ten complaints from Mrs Popkin over the course of the weekend. In Howler form,’’ he said with disgust.

 ‘’See, since there is no one in the offices on Sundays, all urgent cases are flown directly to me because the Department Head can’t be bothered with these meaningless unpleasant tasks. So, naturally, I, the Head’s Assistant, had to deal with your shit.’’

 His words seemed decidedly less professional now that they were out of his mouth.

 Potter was fidgeting with the hem of his long-sleeved top. A top that looked as if a homeless person had worn it, threw it away (because even homeless people had standards), and then another homeless person took the rag from a bin for his dog to lie on, threw it away as well (because even dogs had standards), and only then did Potter pick it out from the trash and decided it was as good a garment as any to wear to the Ministry.

 The bottoms, as outrageous as they were, managed to look slightly better than the top, and yet, they still didn’t fail to remind Draco of worn out pyjamas. He felt his lip curl in disgust. Honestly, there was a modicum of decorum one had to abide by when being summoned to the Ministry for a…well, not a hearing, certainly…but a- a scolding, absolutely. Circe, what has his life become? His job was to play the role of a disappointed parent. Even worse, he was determined to excel in it.

 ‘’So,’’ his voice was measured but he knew his eyes were betraying the fury he felt over his ruined Sunday. ‘’Howlers, Potter.’’

 The man in front of him shifted uncomfortably.

 ‘’No less than ten fucking Howlers. On a Sunday. Screaming at me and my mother, who I was visiting in our ancestral home. They should have been screaming at you.’’

 Potter was avoiding his eyes but he still had the ball - no bloody thinking about balls! - the courage to mumble, ‘’Oh, don’t worry, Malfoy.’’ His eyes flicked up. ‘’There was no need for Howlers. I was getting the full performance live.’’

 Draco’s cheek muscle twitched but other than that he ignored the remark and resumed. ‘’Not only did my mother drop the new china set she was levitating onto the table when the delicate voice of your neighbour pierced the salon, she also nearly had a heart attack when the blasted delivery bird perched itself on the back of the sofa just behind her ear when the Howler went off.’’

 Potter took a breath as if to say something, but Draco didn’t give him the opportunity. ‘’Not to mention the fact that the owl dared to enter through the bathroom window while I was taking a shower and proceeded to drop the blasted envelope into the toilet .’’

 Draco leaned forwards menacingly.

 ‘’Do you know what happens to a toilet when an unopened Howler is dropped into it? It explodes.’’ He slammed his palm flat onto the table. ‘’BAM! goes the toilet, along with the envelope, and makes the man in the shower startle so hard that he slips and cracks his head.’’ Draco lifted his finger and pointed it at the mostly healed scar at the top of his forehead.

 Potter looked torn between guilt and – amusement, for some reason. Draco couldn’t fathom why because there hadn't been a day in his life that he had felt less like laughing than today. He sent a murderous glare across the table and Potter quickly smothered the half smile that was starting to pull at his lips.

 ‘’Ah…I’m really sorry, Malfoy.’’ He did look sincerely sorry at least. ‘’It was never my intention to ruin your weekend. Also, please tell Mrs Malfoy, I deeply regret all the trouble I caused her. It won’t happen again.’’

 ‘’By Merlin's ball - tits! How am I to know it won’t happen again? Because the species’ track record assures me that it will most likely happen many, many, many more times.’’

 ‘’I mean, I wouldn’t risk swearing on Merlin's ball-tits. I’d hate for him to lose those.‘’ Potter smirked that stupid smug smirk that made Draco want to punch him as a child. Never mind. It still made him want to punch him. ‘’But, I am training him, ok?’’ Potter was adamant.‘’And he’s been doing well. He’s still so small, he’s bound to make a few mistakes.’’

 ‘’Mistakes.’’ Draco’s tone was dry. ‘’You sound like Rubeus Hagrid talking about his beloved Blast-Ended Skrewts. Potter, theft and vandalism aren’t just mistakes . You have been summoned here because your pet Niffler ransacked your neighbour’s house in search of her valuables. You are accused of being responsible for the theft of Mrs Popkin’s most prized items.’’

 Draco hardened his voice and continued. ‘’I have been screamed at for the entirety of Sunday because Mrs Margery Popkin’s - and I quote – treasures have been stolen, her precious fortune plundered from beneath her fingertips in her own home and her own body is now an empty vessel for the soul itself was ripped out of it by the dirty criminal’s claws .’’

 Potter snorted. ‘’One would think a Dementor had attacked her instead of a Niffler.’’

 ‘’This is not a laughing matter, Potter!’’ Draco’s voice came out rather more shrill than he’d intended.

 Potter, instead of looking concerned, merely leaned further back in the armchair, lifted one of his legs and propped its ankle on the knee of the opposite limb making him look as if he was lounging on a bloody beach in fucking Costa Rica instead of being …well, scolded in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures’ office.

 ‘’Did you know that my dearest neighbour, Mrs Popkin, is a fierce collector of – ah – the most unusual items?’’ Potter said casually.

 ‘’I don’t see how that is relevant to the matter at hand,’’ Draco answered in a disinterested tone, even though there was now a prickly feeling of suspicion raising the hairs on his neck.

 Potter just hummed and went on without batting an eyelid at Draco’s comment. ‘’And have you considered the fact that what my neighbour deems valuable, might not truly have any  real value to it except the value that old batshit-crazy old hag ascribes to the objects herself?’’

 ‘’Potter, even if you think the items aren’t valuable, you are not the one to decide what she can or cannot cherish and what she can or cannot regret losing possession of.’’ Draco firmly believed that items of sentimental value could be more precious than any gold. ‘’No matter what the items were, they were still taken without permission an-‘’

 ‘’It’s toothpicks, Malfoy.’’ Potter interrupted him. ‘’My Niffler stole her collection of toothpicks.’’

 Draco’s jaw fell open. There was no way he had endured nine fifteen-minute Howlers and one blown up toilet for that. Potter only smirked at the outrage that was etched on Draco’s face and went for the kill.

 ‘'Used toothpicks, Malfoy.’’

 ‘’That unhinged old shrew!’’ Draco yelled abandoning all pretence of professionalism. ‘’I received the first Howler at five in the morning! And you tell me it was because of used toothpicks?’’

 He could feel the colour on his cheeks rising. Oh, he was livid. Sundays were his days. The days when he allowed himself to do whatever he wanted, to indulge however much he desired.  Since his Sunday had been ruined, the entire week had been ruined right along with it and he now had to wait for six whole days for the world to right itself again with a proper, relaxing, incident-free Sunday.

 ‘’Yes, well…now you see why I’m not all that shaken myself. As far as I’m concerned, my Niffler’s doing her a favour.’’ Potter shrugged his shoulders. Broad shoulders, Draco noticed but refused to acknowledge.

 ‘’Yes, well, insane or not, Mrs Popkin is right about one thing-‘’ Draco looked at Potter in the way that someone with spectacles would; eyebrows lifted while stern eyes disapprovingly challenged him above the rim. Except that he had no glasses, and hence no rim, so he probably looked as if he was trying too hard, but a point had to be made. ‘’Nifflers aren’t pets. There are many animals that cannot be tamed, much less domesticated, and a Niffler is classified as TAP DAT. ‘Take As Pet, Don’t Allow Transgressions’. Which is something you are obviously failing to do. Besides, if the stories about Hagrid’s giant Acromantula are true, you should know better than anyone that some magical creatures are simply wild and should remain so. Preferably far away from people.’’

 Potter was unimpressed by his advice. He just stared defiantly back at him a small pout wrinkling his chin. ‘’I’m not giving up on my Niffler. I’ve been training him and he’s been doing extremely well. He hasn’t tried to steal a single shiny thing in weeks.’’

 ‘’And yet,’’ Draco interrupted him, ‘’its predilection for theft persists.’’

 Potter huffed and leaned forward in his seat, finally, finally , obscuring Draco’s direct view of his grey-clad crotch. He almost sighed in relief.

 ‘’I’m not giving up on my pet, Malfoy. No one, much less you, or that crazy gargoyle, can convince me otherwise.’’ Potter went from carefree to menacing in a matter of seconds. Draco had to admit it made his insides tingle. ‘’Besides,’’ Potter went on voice light once again, ‘’I don’t think it’s his predilection for theft that’s making him aggravate Mrs Popkin. I think that's due to the simple fact that I hate that bitch.’’

 Draco physically drew back. He wasn’t quite ready for such an overt show of dislike from Potter. The Boy Hero usually at least tried to be polite.  

 ‘’I suggest you start controlling your dislikes better then.’’ Draco leaned back in his high-backed chair, glanced down at the heap of papers on his desk waiting for him to sign them off and sighed internally. He glanced back up at Potter who was still staring at him and waved his hand carelessly. ‘’Go on then. You’re dismissed.’’

 Potter, though surprised by the sudden dismissal, stood up without a word. At once Draco’s eyes were again assaulted by the bulging grey crotch. Merlin’s frozen nipples, he could literally see - why would anyone? - this was just straight up unheard of! He was staring unblinkingly at the crotch in his direct view, unable to look away, when he heard himself speak with a voice that sounded strangely hoarse.

 ‘’Please, do refrain from wearing pyjamas to the Ministry next time, Potter.’’ He waved his hand at what he thought was Potter’s general direction but ended up being a blatant callout of the Chosen One’s cock. His eyes finally slid up to Potter’s face who looked unusually flustered.

 ‘’It’s not pyjamas!’’ His insistence was a bit too energetic for Draco to fully believe him. ‘’They’re jogging bottoms, Malfoy!’’

 ‘’People jog in those things?’’

 If Draco was appalled before, he was absolutely alarmed now. If everything was so – uhh - so apparent when merely standing still, what happened when people moved and - and things moved – and jumped – and – and – jiggled ?

 ‘’Yes…’’ Potter trailed off. He was looking at Draco as if he was the abnormal one.

 ‘’You didn’t jog into the Ministry, I hope?’’

 ‘’No,’’ Potter said through a snort.

 ‘’Good.’’ Draco rested his eyes on the documents in front of him. He took hold of some papers and started haphazardly arranging them. ‘’Good.’’ A quick glance up. ‘’Do refrain from doing that in the future.’’ The pile he was making was a mess, individual sheets of papers sticking out at each end. ’’The running. And – and the clothes.’’ Circe, must he wave his hands at Potter’s crotch so much?

 ‘’Right.’’ Potter sounded amused. He ran a hand through his hair and pushed the glasses, which had slid down his nose, back up. ‘’Bye then.’’

 Draco barely spared him a glance as he said ‘’Yes, yes, goodbye.’’

 Potter was out of the office in a few quick strides, but Draco didn’t really notice because he was adamantly refusing to look up lest he end up staring at the shapely behind.

 

__________

 

It was Thursday afternoon when Draco saw Potter in those indecent jogging bottoms again. He had been having a relatively nice day at work – he only had some tedious interdepartmental paperwork to fill out, actually managed to grab some lunch and could even allow himself two coffee breaks. Just when he was thinking about wrapping up early for that day, a large brown owl flew in through the open door of his office. He knew that owl. And worst of all, he knew that red envelope. Intimately.

 He took a deep breath to brace himself and opened it. The now familiar infuriated screaming spilled out and started bouncing from the walls creating a horrible echo that would surely make his ears ring for hours on end. Draco wondered for the eleventh time in less than a week how Mrs Margery Popkin’s voice managed to sound so shrill and demanding while at the same time guarding its cringe-worthy nasal quality. In the next five minutes or so, he found out exactly how much of a nuisance Potter was (which Draco agreed with), how horrible his demon Niffler was (which Draco agreed with wholeheartedly) and how much he himself was incompetent for allowing Potter and his demon animal to continue terrorizing her (which he didn’t agree with in the least).

 In the following five minutes, after half the department had come to peek through the doorway to see if he was still breathing, he found out - in excruciating detail - what exactly transpired not two minutes ago on her property and how exactly that reflected on his department’s poor work. She then continued to befoul Potter’s name marking him as a self-serving uncouth individual whose achievements were blown out of proportion.

 Seeing that she saw fit to badmouth Potter, hero of the wizarding world, Draco could only be thankful that she didn’t know it was he, Draco Malfoy, former Death Eater, almost-killer of Dumbledore and universally disliked personality, who had been receiving her letters or she would have probably dedicated some choice words to him personally too.

 As soon as the screaming rang out and the ringing in his ears subsided to a faint chime, Draco sat down behind his desk and scribbled a quick letter to Potter demanding his immediate presence in the office. He sent it out with an express owl and set to waiting. Not ten minutes passed when Potter showed up at the door looking guilty. He was wearing those wretched jogging bottoms again, except that the fabric was a slightly deeper grey this time so Draco suspected (and hoped) it was a clean pair. There were beads of sweat on Potter’s forehead and his face was flushed.

 ‘’Good grief. Please tell me you didn’t run here?’’ Draco took in Potter’s appearance. The bottoms sat low on his hips but a comfortable jumper with a hood and a large pocket in front graciously covered up his crotch. Small mercies.

 ‘’No. No.’’ Potter shuffled in closing the door behind him. Probably for the best. ‘’I just…I was chasing after my Niffler.’’ He slumped into the armchair with an apologetic smile on his face. As soon as he settled down Draco noticed the fabric around his ankles was caked in mud and there were green grass stains on his knees. Draco stared at them unnerved.

 ‘’You’re dirty.’’

 ‘’Only when the occasion calls for it,’’ Potter said slyly. Draco’s head shot up just in time to see him wink. He almost choked on his own saliva.

 ‘’The occasion does not call for it, you indecorous wanker!’’ Draco took his job seriously and Potter kept showing up as if he was about to help Professor Sprout re-pot some of the most mutinous Mandrakes in greenhouse four. ‘’You could have at least changed into something clean!’’

 ‘’What,’’ Potter spluttered, ‘’you told me to come immediately or else my Niffler would be sent to The Welsh Dragon Sanctuary. As dessert for Frodo the dragon!’’

 ‘’I didn’t mean that literally,’’ Draco mumbled under his breath.

 ‘’Well, I’m not sure you realize but your letters can be pretty terrifying!’’ Potter pushed his hands deep into the overstuffed front pocket almost…protectively? ‘’And Frodo is a stupid name for a dragon.’’

 ‘’Thank you. I named him,’’ Draco said coldly.

 ‘’Frodo is a hobbit, Malfoy. From some Muggle books and movies. Besides Hobbits are short and ugly.’’

 ‘’I know. I’ve read and watched them all.’’ Draco knew he was lifting his chin rebelliously, which was sure to make him look childish, but he couldn’t help himself. ‘’And he was small and ugly when I saved him, so it befits him perfectly.’’ As if he had been transported to his mean twelve-year-old self he couldn’t help but spit out, ‘’Besides, you’re short and ugly too, so you better keep your mouth shut.’’

 Potter laughed. A deep sincere laugh that came from the bottom of his stomach and shook his shoulders. And lit up the room, Draco acknowledged grudgingly. ‘’Good point,’’ Potter said with a cheeky smile on his face that screamed he knew exactly how good looking he really was. Draco hated his new-found confidence.

 ‘’Frodo aside,’’ Draco firmed his voice, ‘’we are here because of your pet Niffler again. Not half an hour ago I received another Howler from dear Margery Popkin describing in great detail the crimes your animal committed. Care to elaborate?’’

 ‘’I…uhh…’’ Potter’s confidence waned and Draco felt like the world righted itself. ‘’I don’t really have anything to say. He stole her cat’s dry food and climbed onto the tree in my garden and - uhh - then he pelted her with the cat kibbles while she was gardening…’’ Potter shrugged.

 Draco was quiet for a few moments, mouth pressed into a thin line. He stared unblinkingly at Potter. He wanted him to feel uncomfortable and it was working; Potter was getting tenser and tenser by the second. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes avoided Draco’s. Just as Potter was about to open his mouth again, Draco spoke.

 ‘’You are lucky today. I can’t list this as an offence because your pet Niffler was on your property at the time of the assault. And one could simply argue that he kept dropping the kibbles on her by accident. Being pelted by cat food is simply too weak a case to pass as a crime. Besides, Mrs Popkin didn’t, in fact, say anything about stolen cat food, so I presume she hadn’t noticed.’’

 Draco sighed as he saw Potter smiling. Potter did something strange then. He gently patted his over-packed front pocket and muttered something like ‘good job.’ Draco disregarded it and moved on to chiding Potter in his speech, ‘’I must say that another such offence will lead to distinctly more severe consequences, Potter. So, I suggest you rein in…’’ he faded away as he thought he saw Potter’s pocket move. ‘’Rein in your mayhem inducing creature…’’ Potter’s pocket definitely moved again, ‘’or I’ll be obliged- DID YOU BRING THAT HAVOC-WREAKING BEAST WITH YOU?!’’  

 Draco could barely be blamed for shouting the sentence out so loudly; a long yellow snout had just peeked out of Potter’s bulging pocket.

 Potter just looked at him in an I-didn’t-know-I-wasn’t-supposed-to manner and proceeded to prod the drowsy Niffler out of the pocket. It was small. A little ball of puffy black fur with a long yellow snout that wiggled imperceptibly as it sniffed the air. Its eyes were half closed, fluttering confusedly when they took in the unfamiliar environment. Potter took his pet in his hands and nuzzled into the puff at the top of its head. His eyes settled back on Draco’s and he smiled. It was the stupidest smile Draco had ever seen. So warm and kind and trusting and free . Draco hated it because it made him feel strangely sad that he was missing out on smiles like that.

 ‘’Meet Mango.’’ Potter’s soft smile now stretched into a toothy grin. He extended his hands, golden forearms appearing for a second as the sleeves slid up, and Draco just had the time to spot a vein on his wrist before the Niffler was promptly dropped onto his office desk. It sat there scratching at its plump stomach with its tiny clawed paws all the while looking up at Draco with shiny black eyes. The more he looked at the creature the more Draco’s heart softened and a strong urge to coo at it overcame him. He snapped his eyes back to Potter, but he knew it was too late. He was smitten with the bloody thing.

 ‘’Mango.’’ At least the name was stupid if the animal was not. ‘’ You have no right to criticize any name I ever give to anyone or anything from now on. Mango,’’ he scoffed. ‘’And you complained about Frodo…’’

 ‘’His full name is actually Mango Lychee Watermelon.’’ Potter leaned forward in his seat and scratched the Niffler under the snout.

 A laugh escaped Draco. He swallowed it quickly. ‘’You just made that up.’’

 ‘’Did not. It’s in his papers and all. You should know if you had bothered to dig up his file.’’ Potter said almost offended. ‘’Mango Lychee Watermelon.’’ He proudly spread his hands as if to exhibit the brilliance of the animal on the desk.

 The Niffler had by now made it to Draco’s quill holder and was peeking into it even though his snout was getting in the way. Draco grumbled out a weak ‘no’ when Mango reached for one of his best quills. The furry beast pulled the feather out and started making his way across the table towards Draco dragging the long quill behind. When he got to the edge of the desk, he paused, looked up at Draco with those button eyes and swiftly jumped onto his lap. Draco, taken by surprise, jumped a little, but before he recovered the Niffler was already climbing up his front taking hold of his robe with three paws clutching the quill in the fourth. When he came level with Draco’s chest he raised his gaze - which, having turned mischievous, still retracted nothing from Mango’s cuteness - lifted the feather up until it was level with Draco’s mouth and gently tickled him under his nose.

 Draco puffed in surprise. The inhale that followed sucked the strands of the feather into his nose and he felt as if his whole brain squeezed into a tiny ball and then exploded back into full form as he sneezed heavily his entire body rocking forward and then back hard. When Draco opened his eyes, he saw that Mango had rolled down onto his lap where he was lying on his back, quill forgotten beside him, clutching his belly as tiny high pitched snickers escaped him.

 ‘’For fuck’s sake,’’ Draco muttered under his breath. As if against his own will, his hand went up and hovered above the fluffy black tummy. A long pale finger tentatively stretched down and tickled the warm black fur. Mango giggled even harder.

 ‘’He likes you,’’ Potter broke his (surprisingly long) silence. Draco had almost forgotten he was here. Almost.

 ‘’Yes, well…’’ Draco scooped up the chuckling Niffler from his lap and met Potter halfway over the desk, placing Mango into the sure hands carefully. He refused to acknowledge the shiver of longing that the brush of their skin sent down his spine. ‘’Make sure he starts liking Mrs Popkin too or else this whole debacle won’t end well for you.’’

 Potter frowned but said nothing.

 ‘’Well…Off you go.’’ Draco made a shooing motion towards the door. He couldn’t deal with these two nitwits anymore.

 Potter reluctantly stood up and half-walked half-shuffled towards the door. If he thought Mango’s charm would have them both off the hook, he was horribly mistaken. As Potter reached for the door handle Draco couldn’t help but glance at the joggers-clad arse. Fuck. It looked so tight. And strong. And that fabric left absolutely nothing to the imagination.

 ‘’Merlin’s swollen ballsack, Potter,’’ Draco spoke before he could stop himself. ‘’I can literally see your arse crack through those bottoms.’’

 Potter stopped, half turned, and looked Draco dead in the eye a terrifyingly self-satisfied smirk gracing his lips.

 ‘’That’s because I’m not wearing any pants,’’ he said slyly.

 Draco choked on his own saliva.

 The sly bastard had the audacity to wink lasciviously over his shoulder before he opened the door and was gone in a matter of seconds, leaving Draco red-faced, outraged and just a little bit aroused alone in his office contemplating Harry Potter’s naked butt.

 

__________

 



As was appropriate for Mondays, Draco was having a properly disgusting start to the week. He woke up at six and couldn’t get back to sleep even though it was an hour before his alarm clock was supposed to go off. Annoyed, because lying in bed wide awake had never been one of his favourite past time activities, he decided to at least make himself a nice hefty breakfast to, if at all possible, take off the bitter aftertaste of a poorly commenced morning. Of course, immediately after getting up, he tripped over his own slippers. Draco adamantly refused to take that as a sign that the day will continue to worsen and optimistically went about preparing breakfast – he opted for crêpes.

 Since he lived in a Muggle area on Primrose Hill and the Manor house elves only ever popped in from time to time, Draco had to take care of his own meals. He usually had no trouble with that, except, of course, today. He spilt the milk, got flour all over his trousers and when he flipped the first crêpe half of it landed outside the pan. Draco was done with the day merely an hour after it had even started. He managed to bake three battered looking crêpes and set to eating them at the small kitchen table along with a cup of fresh coffee. When he was halfway through his breakfast (without incident) and his mood was starting to pick up, the budding hope for a pleasant day slowly opening its petals, a tap tap sounded against the window.

 The cup of coffee that was on its way to his mouth halted in the air. He closed his eyes; took a deep breath. A tap tap against the window never boded well for him. He turned his head sideways - slowly - as if trying to procrastinate the inevitable sighting of a nervous owl. The owl was large and brown and exceedingly familiar and, worst of all, it was jumping from foot to foot in distress because a large red envelope tied to its left leg was already starting to smoke. Draco slammed back into reality which didn’t care much for procrastinators, shot out of his chair, jumped to the window and swiftly opened it to let the owl in.

 Unfortunately for him, Howlers these days were really lacking in quality and as soon as the owl tried landing on the table the envelope went off. In a flurry of feathers, bird screeches and Margery Popkin’s howling Draco had the mind to grab for his wand and cast Silencio on the apartment. Since he was trying to save the flailing owl he didn’t manage to catch more than a few angry words in the ruckus. Namely, the words: Niffler, devil, gnome and mutiny, which in itself told him very little of the situation except for the fact that Potter was seriously fucked.

 When the screaming stopped and the owl stopped flailing he checked it for any possible injuries. It seemed fine, so he let it fly to the dark corner at the top of the cupboard. He would leave it there, Mrs Popkin be damned. The owl needed some rest. Besides; no owl, no screaming letters, Draco concluded as he quickly dressed, fastened his dark blue cloak and Flooed to the Ministry to write another, even more foreboding, letter to Potter.

There were only a couple of people already in the offices since it was still a good half hour before nine when the majority of the Ministry started filing in. He crossed the hallway in long strides, sparing not a glance for his colleagues, and slammed the door of his office open. Another quick stride in and he froze in his steps. Potter was already sitting in his usual armchair cuddling a dirty and exhausted Niffler in his lap. He looked up but didn’t meet Draco’s eyes. For the first time he looked worried.

 ‘’Potter,’’ Draco greeted not unkindly. ‘’I see you spared me the need for another threatening letter.’’

 Potter didn’t respond but merely continued to scratch Mango behind his tiny ears. He was wearing jogging bottoms again, Draco noticed from the corner of his eye as he slowly marched behind his desk and waited for the chair to slide out on its own – one of the perks of being the Department Head’s Assistant. He sat down and the chair slid back. Silence weighed down on the room.‘’I have no idea what the Niffler has done this time,’’ Draco used his professional voice, but it slipped as soon as he continued with the next sentence, ‘’mainly because I was too focused on my fucking breakfast getting swamped by a swirl of feathers due to the exploding owl on my fucking kitchen table.’’

 It was only then that Potter lifted his head, concern clearly etched on his face.

 ‘’Oh for Circe’s sake, Potter. The owl is fine. I was using a hyperbole to prove my point.’’ As Potter didn’t seem to get the clue that it was his turn to start explaining what happened, Draco supposed he should forgo poetic devices and start asking straightforward questions.

 ‘’What transpired this night that has Mrs Margery Popkin’s knickers in a twist again?’’

 He leaned forward settling his weight on the elbows propped on the table. This position did, in fact, make him slump slightly, but he was past the point of caring. Potter fidgeted with his sleeves, bit his bottom lip, looked down at the Niffler in his lap, and a half-amused half-guilty smile ghosted over his face before replying.

 ‘’Uhh…Mango sort of started a Godric’s Hollow Gnome rebellion.’’ He patted the creature in his lap on the head – the mole-like creature had by now become more alert, even though his eyes were still drooping. ‘’He sort of banded together a small army of gnomes from the local gardens and…well, you see apparently magical gnomes have tools.’’ Potter was starting to wave his hands around wildly during the explanation.

 ‘’So, they have shovels and the like; hoes, hammers, mallets. But they’re small tools. Little.’’ He felt the need to show exactly how little. With both his hands. Draco had never seen a less eloquent person in his life.

 ‘’And…well…I don’t know why precisely -’’ Potter shrugged. Draco had never thought inarticulateness could be charming. It was on Potter. ‘’- but Mango kind of led his battle unit into Mrs Popkin’s garden to…well to destroy her own army of Muggle garden gnomes. You know the ones made from clay.’’ He ended with another shrug and a sheepish smile.

 Draco closed his eyes for a few seconds. To collect his thoughts (and sanity). When he opened them again his sight was blurry.

 ‘’Your pet Niffler. Banded together. An army of gnomes. To destroy your neighbour’s clay garden gnomes. With their tiny shovels. And hoes. And mallets.’’ Draco wondered what his life had become for the umpteenth time that day as the entire scenario of Potter’s story rolled out in his head. A Niffler holding a shovel, with a hundred gnomes behind him, running towards Muggle red-cheeked clay creations in red hats. Then the Niffler comes up to a small, homely, grandfather-lookalike, possibly holding a lantern while smiling jovially, and smashes the kindly face in with a hard swing of a shovel.

 ‘’What on earth is wrong with that creature, Potter?’’

 As soon as the words were out of his mouth Mango perked up turning his head in Draco’s direction and looked at him with those wondrous black eyes. Draco instantly felt as if he was the biggest scum on earth for having even assumed anything was wrong with the Niffler. His feeling of self-worth further descended into an abyss of self-loathing as the little furry ball stood on his legs and lifted his arms towards him - like a child who wanted to be carried would. Draco felt himself crumble from within.

 Potter, noticing their non-verbal exchange, lifted Mango up and placed him onto Draco’s table. As soon as he was near Draco, the small chubby animal scuttled onto Draco’s left forearm, which was resting on the table, and wrapped itself around it like a koala wraps itself around a eucalyptus tree. Mango pressed his face gently against the spot where, Draco was acutely aware, his Dark Mark rested underneath the layers of cloth. He felt a lump the size of a tennis ball lodge itself in his throat as his entire chest constricted and he fought not to let tears flow into his eyes. Such a meaningless touch of a creature that couldn’t even talk, and yet, it felt as if it was the whole wizarding world offering its forgiveness. Draco was having difficulty breathing, he was overwhelmed by the feeling of freedom that was slowly spreading from his chest to his entire body. The freedom was coming from within and he realized it wasn’t the world who was forgiving him - he was forgiving himself . In a stuffy office, on a dreadful Monday, because an animal was hugging him.

 ‘’Mango Lychee Watermelon,’’ he huffed. It sounded croaky. ‘’You exotic fruit basket.’’

 He looked up at Potter, who was observing the exchange with knowing eyes. The lump in Draco’s throat enlarged further; he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Potter’s green ones. There was an understanding there and it made Draco want to run away and hide because it felt as if Potter was ripping right into his soul, baring it, exposing it and accepting it. Potter, in his old battered glasses, with his messy black hair and a horrible fashion sense. Potter with his earnest smile, his stupid recklessness, his infamous stubbornness and a heart so big he could even fit caring for Draco in it.

 ‘’He can be really gentle.’’ Potter’s voice barely carried to Draco’s side of the desk, it was so quiet. Mango, as if trying to prove him right, gently squeezed Draco’s forearm with his tiny claws.

 ‘’Potter. I know. But this is my job,’’ Draco heaved a heavy sigh. He was exhausted. ‘’I can’t let him continue ransacking the Godric’s Hollow neighbourhood. It is my job to prevent that.’’ Draco rubbed his face with his free hand. ‘’Why is he only targeting Mrs Popkin out of all your neighbours?’’

 Potter’s eyes shifted and he suddenly looked extremely uncomfortable. At first, he looked like he wouldn't say anything of the matter but then his tense shoulders relaxed slightly as he let out a dissatisfied grunt. ‘’Because she’s a right cunt, that’s why.’’

 He crossed his hands over his chest. Despite the seriousness of the situation Draco couldn’t help but notice Potter’s T-shirt had ridden up exposing a sliver of golden skin on his stomach. Involuntarily his eyes slid further down to Potter’s sinful joggers.

 ‘’She-‘’ Potter drew attention back to his explanation,’’ Do you not read the Prophet? She’s the one that gives out the details about my life to them. She even takes bloody photos sometimes. She was the one that outed me to the whole wizarding world!’’

 That took Draco by surprise. He knew that Margery Popkin wasn’t famous for her charm, but he had never imagined she was such a bitc – wait.

 ‘’She outed you to the entire wizarding world?’’ Did that mean? No. Potter couldn’t- could he be?

 ‘’I know right.’’ Anger made his eyes darken. ‘’An utter cunt.’’

 ‘’But. How? What do you mean she outed you?’’ Draco still didn’t quite believe it meant what he thought it meant.

 ‘’Wait.’’ Potter tilted his head. ‘’You seriously don’t know?’’

 Draco shook his head slowly.

 ‘’Oh, the Prophet had a field day with it. A field month.’’ A hollow laugh escaped Potter. Draco could hear the hurt in his voice. ‘’Malfoy, that old hag literally took a photo of me and my...well me and some bloke shagging. On my kitchen table. She took a photo through my own damn window. And sent it to the Prophet.’’

 For a second Draco was deeply sorry for having ditched the Daily Prophet as his morning reading material. But then he saw the sad curve of Potter’s mouth.

 Potter laughed self-deprecatingly. ‘’ I didn’t leave the house for a month.’’There was a moment of complete absence of thought in Draco’s head before a thousand of them exploded all around his brain at once. Two thoughts were louder than others and they tried their best to outshout the other. There was the one that was screaming; I’m going to fucking kill that bitch. I’ll smash her head with every half-whole clay garden gnome she still owns, and there was the second one that sounded way less murderous but made up for it with uncontrolled hysteria; Fuck. Potter likes men, Potter likes men, fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck. I’m fucked. Because Draco knew that with this information, he would never stop hoping. He would hope and desire and want and there was nothing more horrible than wanting what you couldn’t have.

 He opened his mouth but only a gurgle escaped him.

 Potter frowned. ‘’Don’t make this weird, Malfoy?’’

 ‘’Weird?’’ The word was so high-pitched it could pass for a squeal. For fuck’s sake was he a ten-year-old pre-pubescent boy?

 Potter’s eyebrow lifted quizzically. Curiosity flicked like a shadow across his face. Draco would have given half his Gringotts’ vault to know what he was thinking.

 ‘’I didn’t mean to imply anything, Potter.’’ Draco tried for professionalism again. ‘’I’m not against banging men on a kitchen table.’’ And, as he was wont to do around Potter, failed miserably.

 Potter’s eyes shone wickedly and an incorrigibly cunning smile curled his lips.  ‘’I know.’’ He almost purred.

 Then he winked. Slowly. Seductively.

 Draco’s stomach dropped and his body instantly felt hot right down to his toes. Potter had no right to look like that. So composed and so…so self-satisfied at Draco’s gayness. Potter was still looking at him knowingly as he relaxed back into the armchair. He carelessly extended his fit legs and crossed them at the ankles. Those damned jogging bottoms . Draco’s robes felt stuffy, his collar too tight. Mango was still lying on his arm, gripping his wrist hard while dosing off, completely unaware that all that Draco could think about were Potter’s (clearly) mango-sized balls.

 Potter stretched. His hands flew up in the air and stayed there for a second flexing until he dropped them, propping the back of his head with them in an image of leisurely carelessness. Draco gulped. He was starting to suspect Potter was doing these things on purpose.

 ‘’So…’’Potter said offhandedly, after the display of let’s-pretend-I’m-casually-stretching-when-I’m-really-just-trying-to-awaken-Malfoy’s-gay.

 ‘’So…’’ Draco took over. What was he supposed to be doing already? Oh, right. He was in his office, quite unsuccessfully reprimanding Potter.

 ‘’So,’’ he started again, his gaze dropping down to the Niffler on his arm. His long yellow snout was lying on the top of Draco’s hand. He was snoring lightly.

 ‘’You can’t take him from me.’’ The carelessness was gone from Potter’s face. He looked dangerous, a haunted but determined glint in his eyes. It reminded Draco of Potter from the Battle of Hogwarts. ‘’I’d rather move to a secluded island than have him taken from me. I owe him that much.’’

 ‘’You owe him?’’ That surprised Draco. Although, maybe it shouldn’t have; after all, he knew Potter was attached to his friends, even his friend’s pets. It was no small wonder he’d be attached to his own pet as well, but to owe something to his probably no more than four-month-old Niffler?

 Potter nodded. ‘’Yeah, I owe him.’’ He rubbed the back of his neck with his palm. ‘’You know when I said I didn’t leave my house for a month. I meant it. I was only starting to accept my sexuality when I was outed so publicly. One would have thought I’d be used to it by now, but this was more personal than ever before. Besides I thought it would end, you know, after the war. I thought I’d finally be able to live in peace.’’

 Draco knew that very well. He’d had the same aspirations. One could even say he had succeeded, as long as one didn’t read the Daily Prophet, of course. According to them he was killing young kittens and poisoning children in his past time. He nodded but said nothing.

 ‘’I didn’t leave the house for a month. I received so many letters and Howlers that Hermione had to put up wards to prevent owls from accessing the house. Hermione and Ron and the Weasleys, they were worried about me. Worried that I would just close myself off to the world. And I would have.’’ His eyes were so earnest. Draco couldn’t believe Potter was pouring out his heart to him of all people. He didn’t know how to react, so he just sat there and listened.

 ’So, Hermione and Ron brought me Mango. Well, Hermione wanted to buy me a Crup, but Ron told her I wasn’t basic like that .’’ Potter chuckled. ‘’Mainly he just wanted to help Bill who found a baby Niffler in a vault at Gringotts. They recently had a Niffler infestation and he supposed the Goblins killed his mum.’’

 Potter took a deep breath. ‘’So, really, Mango sort of saved me. He got me going again. At first, he kept plundering my house. So I was forced to start training him. Then we...became friends.’’ He reached across the table and, with a tip of his forefinger, softly scratched the Niffler between the eyes. When he drew back his fingers brushed against Draco’s hand.  Involuntarily, an image of them holding hands entered Draco’s mind; one pale, long-fingered and hesitant, the other brown, smaller but sure. His heart squeezed at the image.

 ‘’Unfortunately,’’ Potter continued, ‘’Mango is too smart for his own good. I could never hide my dislike for Margery and he picked up on it quite fast. Everything escalated after he’d seen her spying on us through our window again. So, really. it’s her own bloody fault. Nosy hag.’’ Potter went quiet, possibly expecting Draco to say something.

 Draco was experiencing another internal fight. On one hand, he would have loved to help Mango smash those clay gnomes all over again; on the other hand, it was his duty to resolve the issue. And yet, he couldn’t find it in him to separate Potter from his pet. Besides, he himself came to be quite smitten with that nuisance of a creature. He looked at Mango again. He was so chubby and fluffy that he was spilling down the sides of Draco’s arm. Draco sighed defeatedly. He lifted his head and assumed the strictest expression he could muster.

 ‘’You will go and knock on Mrs Margery Hopkin’s door and beg her for forgiveness.’’ Potter opened his mouth to counter him, but Draco merely lifted his forefinger and repeated, ‘’you will knock on her door. And beg her for forgiveness.’’ Potter grudgingly closed his mouth. ‘’You will then kindly invite her to accompany you to a Muggle shop where they sell those grandfather looking gnomes and you will buy her every single gnome she desires.’’

 ‘’Will not!’’ Potter indignantly jumped in his seat.

 ‘’If you want to keep Mango, you will,’’ Draco said calmly.

 Potter huffed like an annoyed bull. Draco understood perfectly why Potter found it hard to even talk to his neighbour, much less spend time asking her for forgiveness. But Draco hoped it would appease Mrs Popkin. Especially after she got her clay creations back. 

 ‘’Fine.’’ Potter crossed his arms as if his body felt the need to oppose his words. ‘’I’ll do it.’’

 ‘’You will also talk to Mango here. I think he’s very intelligent and I believe he will understand that should he do something silly again…’’ Draco drifted off. He knew Potter understood that the possibility of him losing his pet would increase dramatically. ‘’I will probably have no choice but to take the case to my superior. And I don’t know what would happen then. I mean... you are the Chosen One, but still. The matter will be out of my hands.’’

 ‘’Yeah.’’ Potter loosened his arms and got to his feet. Instead of confrontational he now looked defeated. ‘’I’ll make sure there are no further incidents. I just wish the old hag would do the same. I’m tired of reading about my neglected garden in the paper. Last time they wrote a quarter of a page about my wilting lettuce. ’’ Potter smiled self-deprecatingly.  

 Draco hoped the lettuce was the only thing of Potter’s that was wilting. Then again, the jogging bottoms were a testament to the fact that his fears were unfounded. He spied himself eyeing Potter in the prohibited area again and quickly tore his eyes away deciding to settle them on the warm weight on his arm. He scratched Mango between his ears and slowly lifted his arm so that Potter could pry him off. Potter leaned down to gently unclutch the Niffler’s claws from Draco’s robe. He was so close all of a sudden, his eyes not on the animal but on Draco, looking him over his spectacles making Draco’s throat close up and his heart beat furiously. He gulped heavily and licked his lips nervously. Potter’s gaze immediately fell to his mouth. They stood there for a few moments until Potter gave out a surprised yelp.

 Draco jumped becoming aware of his surroundings once again. Potter was nursing a minor scratch on his hand. He had squeezed Mango too hard while he wasn’t paying attention, so the Niffler, looking rather dishevelled now, reiterated with a warning. Potter was already murmuring his apologies into the black fur a guilty look on his face.

 ‘’Well,’’ Potter threw a smile at Draco. If Draco wasn’t mistaken Potter looked slightly flushed. ‘’We’ll get going then.’’ His eyes turned serious. ‘’Thank you, Malfoy.’’

 Draco merely nodded. He didn’t trust himself with words just yet. Potter returned the nod and awkwardly waved over his shoulder already on his way to the door. Hand on the doorknob, he stopped again. 

 Draco, who was watching him go, found his voice and asked, amused, ‘’What now, Potter?’’

 The man turned slowly, lips pursed mischievously. ‘’I was just waiting for you to compliment my joggers again,’’ he answered with a cheeky smile.

 Fucking tease.

 Well, two could play this game. Draco felt his left eyebrow rise as he let the corner of his mouth curl into a flirtatious smirk. He saw Potter swallow heavily at the look on Draco’s face.

 ‘’Oh, yes. Almost forgot to say. They bring out your cock really nicely.’’ Draco drawled huskily. ‘’The fact that you usually forgo pants... just accentuates it that much better.’’

 Potter froze in place as if not quite sure what he had heard. When it seemed to register in his brain he flushed furiously and a strained sound escaped from his throat.

 ‘’Uhh,’’ He grappled with the doorknob. ‘’Thank you,’’ he got out breathily, ‘’Thanks.’’ He waved gracelessly again and was out the door in no time.

 Draco allowed himself a self-congratulatory smile. Check. Mate.

 

__________

 

 It was early Friday morning, only three days after he’d last seen Potter. Draco was still cocooned in the comfort of a senseless dream when his eyes flew wide open as a sudden frightening realization made him sit up in alarm. He missed Potter . He wanted to see him again, even if that meant having to deal with his pet’s antics. Hell, he missed that fat fruit assortment too. This did not bode well for him. He hoped Potter would keep Mango in check, but that meant that he wouldn’t be coming by Draco’s office anymore, which meant Draco had no excuse to see him again. Though, even if he had one, it wasn’t like Potter was particularly keen on spending time with him. No, missing Potter was not good .

 Rather than ponder on his misfortune, he pushed the matter to the back of his mind and went about his day. At the office, he had a ton of international forms to look over and those always took the longest. Officially, they had to be filled out in two languages - the language of origin and English. The fact that not every ministry official across the world had a good grasp on English meant that a lot of translation spells still had to be used to ensure the proper understanding of a document.

 The need for the translation spells increased dramatically when one received a stack from the French Ministry of Magic. The French, as always, assumed the rules didn’t apply to them and didn’t even bother filling out the forms in both languages. They just wrote everything in French and sent it out for others to deal with their laziness. As much as Draco liked to pretend he was a worldly person, he barely knew ten words in French and he couldn’t even pronounce those ten correctly. Luckily, the French ministry official who had filled out this batch of papers didn’t waste his time with long wordy sentences and got to the point right away. Italians, for example, always had so much to say that the corners of the forms were all covered in cramped writing, arrows pointing to which section continued where. Unfortunately, the arrows usually crossed and one had to practically decode the damn text. And even then it barely made any sense.

 Right in the moment when Draco turned a page, someone knocked at the door. As Draco called out a ‘Come in!’ his favourite person in the Department banged open the door. A blustering, awkward and always frowning young witch stepped in carrying a letter. Mina was a perpetually annoyed person, but she had a heart of gold which she dutifully used in her passionate and relentless fights for creatures’ rights. When she came into the department, she immediately latched onto his colleagues’ unfair treatment of Draco himself and started countering their bias whenever anyone dared say something cutting. At first, Draco avoided this unexpected crusader for his rights – it made him feel as if he was one of her beloved creatures at the edge of extinction; perhaps a Welsh Troll or an Irish Grindylow – but he soon came to appreciate her as a person and a friend.

 Mina dropped the letter in front of him, saying it had just arrived, leaned over his desk to peek at the French document he was just translating, pointed out he had translated an entire section wrongly, warned him to renew the translation charm and swaggered out.

 As the door closed behind her, Draco took the letter into his hand. The writing seemed familiar, but he couldn’t quite put the finger on where he’d seen it before. He opened the letter glancing at the bottom; it signed off with Best, Harry. Disbelieving, his eyes jumped back to the beginning;

 

Dear Malfoy,  

I don’t really know why I’m writing to you since the fact that we haven’t been summoned to your office is a testament enough that Mango is doing great. Yet, somehow, I still feel the need to tell you: Mango is doing great. He even befriended Mrs Popkin’s cat Lemontart and now parades the neighbourhood with her begging for treats at every house on the street – I worry he’ll get overweight, but then again he’s still growing. Oh, also don’t worry about the Muggles seeing my Niffler. I know it’s not precisely by the rules, but they know him already anyway. I told them he is a baby platypus.

 ‘’For fuck’s, sake, Potter.’’ Draco shook his head and tried not to think how many statutes and decrees Potter was breaking. Not precisely by the rules, an understatement if there was one.

 Anyways, I guess what I wanted to do was thank you for your advice. I really think you were right. Mango is quite intelligent and I think he understood that he can’t continue with his misbehaviour anymore. Well…I still spied him peeing into Mrs Popkin’s potted plants but, hopefully, that’s not a transgression?

 So, basically, thank you.

 I hope I don’t see you in your office anytime soon, but maybe I will see you somewhere else?

                                                                   

                                                                     Best,

                                                                   Harry

P.S.: I think Mango misses you…

P.P.S.: I went gnome-shopping with Mrs Popkin. Her garden is now richer for exactly 37 creepy clay gnomes. Also, she is a bloody nightmare. We were in that store for 5 hours, I don’t know who hated her more in the end, me or the sales people…

 

 Draco finished reading. Then he read the letter again. And again. When that didn’t help him divine the point of the letter he opted for simply staring at it blankly for five minutes. He then shook out of the stupor, wondered loudly what exactly Potter thought he was doing and when he didn’t come up with an answer he stared at the letter some more.

 After he could no longer handle looking at the words he folded the paper and stared at the wall opposite him instead. What was Potter thinking? Was Draco supposed to respond? Was he just giving him an update on the situation? Why did he write maybe I will see you somewhere else? Why did he put the question mark at the end of the sentence? Of course, Potter won’t just happen to see him somewhere else, what were the chances of them just stumbling upon each other?

 In the end Draco decided not to respond. In case he changed his mind during the weekend he would send out his response on Monday morning and tell Potter the letter got lost in the Department’s mailbox and was delivered to him late.

 He spent the entire weekend pondering the issue. During lunch with mother, during supper with Pansy, during sleep, during the morning wank, during breakfast, until he could no longer handle the pondering and decided to write back first thing the following morning. He arrived to work on Monday so preoccupied with the thoughts of the letter that he had entirely forgotten that Mondays were supposed to be the worst day of the week and was abruptly reminded of that fact when his eyes fell on an old hawk-eyed lady sitting in his office. There was no doubt in his mind that he was about to be introduced to Margery Popkin herself.

 After the initial shock made him halt, he composed himself and turned to slowly close the door. Sadly, the closing of the door didn’t take all that long no matter how slowly you did it and he was again forced to look at the mean wrinkled face.

 ‘’I assume you are Mrs Margery Popkin?’’ He tried to pull his most professional expression.

 She looked at him from under her bushy eyebrows, which were perched so unnaturally high on her forehead that they were almost completely hidden by the most over-adorned hat he had ever seen in his life. There were apples and pears in it.

 ‘’And I don’t need to assume anything,’’ she said in a horribly nasalised drawl. ‘’I know exactly who you are.’’ Her eyes narrowed as she spat. ‘’Death Eater scum.’’ Draco would be lying if he claimed it didn’t make him blanch.

 ‘’Employing Death Eaters, now are they? First they unrighteously acquit them and then they even give them jobs .’’ she continued sizing him up from head to toe and then let her eyes rest on his left arm lip curling in disgust. Draco pressed his lips together to keep himself from spitting out some choice words himself. ‘’How low the Ministry has fallen... No wonder it took you so long to put that Potter and his monster in order. Incompetence at its finest.’’

 Dear Snow White with all her seven bird-brained dwarfs, Potter was right, Mrs Margery Popkin was an utter cunt. Draco took a slow calming breath.

 ‘’I was under the impression the issue was resolved?’’ Draco dearly hoped Mango hadn’t fucked up because Margery was exactly the kind of person to raise hell if anything happened again. She could probably even succeed in getting Draco sacked.

 ‘’So, did something happen?’’ he inquired again.

 She turned away from him clutching her bright red purse in her lap. He took that as a cue to sit himself behind his desk taking great pleasure in the fact that she was forced to look at him again.

 ‘’Yes, the issue is resolved.’’ She looked almost sad that that was the case. Probably because she enjoyed wrecking people’s lives. ‘’In fact, I would like to put it on record that I am beyond grateful - ’’ it came out reluctantly, as if it went against her very being to be saying these words, but she barged on anyways, ‘’ - to Mr Potter and his lovely pet.’’

 Draco’s eyebrows flew up. What brought about this drastic change in attitude?

 ‘’Before I go any further, I demand Mr Potter be present to our conversation.’’ Her vowels were so dragged out that they sounded as if someone had squeezed the sound through an out of tune horn. ‘’Do be useful and summon him here.’’ How somebody with a voice like that could sound so demanding was beyond him.

 He said nothing, but scribbled a quick note on a scrap of parchment and called for Mina. He practically begged her with his eyes to send off the letter for him - he didn’t dare leave the hag alone in his office for any length of time. When Mina saw who he was dealing with she took the letter without a word and hurried off. Apparently, Margery had quite the reputation in the magical world.

 What followed were fifteen of the most excruciating minutes in Draco’s life. Mostly because Margery Popkin insisted on having the most intense staring competition Draco had ever been trapped in. She gawked at him over her crooked nose, her yellowish eyes watery and piercing at once, her lips alternatively curling up and turning down depending on whether she thought of something contemptuous or distasteful. Draco didn’t dare tear off his gaze for fear of being pinned as weak, so he held onto the ghoulish eyes for dear life.

 Mrs Popkin, he noticed, horribly resembled Neville Longbottom’s greatest fear from his Hogwarts days. She looked exactly like a mix of Augusta Longbottom and Severus Snape, except that neither of them had ever incited such hatred in Draco. Hatred and spite were what spurred him on in the glaring competition as he made his lip curl in an attempt of a cold smirk. His whole face felt tight and his right eye was starting to twitch when the door burst open and a flushed Potter practically ran in.

 ‘’Mango didn’t do anyt-!’’ Potter shouted but cut off mid-sentence upon noticing his neighbour. His gaze darkened, his magic thickening the air, and Draco was abruptly reminded of the fact that this man was the Dark Lord’s vanquisher. Something in his stomach stirred restlessly. Draco wasn’t able to ponder on his rising arousal for very long, the drawling voice soon reminded him that Margery Popkin was still in the room. That killed his arousal quickly enough.

 ‘’Oooh. Mr Potter!’’ Mrs Popkin positively crooned and Draco snapped his head towards her. She was now smiling a horribly sweet smile and her voice was dripping with politeness. What the-? ‘’I am so happy to see you. Is your adorable companion with you?’’

 Potter shook his head; a no. He looked absolutely stunned and kept glancing from his elderly neighbour to Draco as if to try and discern from Draco’s face what was going on. Unfortunately, Draco was none the wiser. His lack of wisdom didn’t, however, prevent him from noticing that Potter wasn’t wearing joggers today. Draco felt a twinge of disappointment, but it was remedied by the fact that Potter looked more delectable than ever. He was wearing form-fitting black jeans, a dark green shirt and a black waistcoat with shiny golden buttons. A beautifully woven black-grey cloak was thrown over his arm and there were heavy but not inelegant boots on his legs. He looked as if he was heading to a date. Draco’s heart fell.

 Mrs Popkin took no notice of Draco’s internal crisis and launched into her explanation.

 ‘’Mr Potter, I must say that your Niffler has caused me much grief over the past few weeks and I was ready to take further measures when I heard Mr Malfoy hadn’t taken the matter to his superiors. I take my quiet personal life very seriously, you see.’’ Potter looked from her to Draco incredulously. Draco saw that he had started to mouth ‘quiet personal life’ in disbelief but changed his mind.

 ‘’But today,’’ Margery Popkin continued, ‘’I witnessed the most extraordinary occurrence that made me forgive all your past sins.’’ Sins? Oh, she didn’t , Draco fumed inside. He knew exactly what she meant with those ‘sins’ and it was most certainly not anything Mango had done. ‘’Your pet Niffler, saved my beautiful, precious Lemontart -’’ her voice broke and her eyes turned watery. ‘’My lovely kind Lemontart was attacked by Olive Blimperton’s ugly violent mongrel. And your darling Niffler saved her.’’

 Mrs Popkin was now actually wiping tears from her eyes while Potter was staring at her open-mouthed. She sniffled and clutching her purse closer to her chest. ‘’Do you know how he did it?’’ Potter shook his head again. ‘’He pulled out my toothpicks from his pouch brandishing them at the attacker, bravely chasing the dog off. With my most prized toothpicks , Mr Potter. He saved my little Lemon with my most beloved items in this world.’’

 Potter stared at her dumbfounded. Mrs Popkin was waiting for him to say something but Potter just looked at her in astonishment and whispered in awe, ‘’Like Wolverine.’’

 Draco didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and neither, it seemed, did Mrs Popkin. When Potter was unforthcoming with an explanation she quietly stood up, visibly trying to regain her composure and said firmly, ‘’You and your pet are forgiven for any past and future misdeeds. I will be forever grateful. There is nothing your Niffler can do to me now, that will outweigh my gratitude for his bravery. My little Lemon is all I have left.’’ She looked horribly sad in that moment, old and frail and as if the weight of the world was crushing her. In a room with three people, she looked alone. Lonely. When nobody said anything she made for the door. It was then that Potter finally woke up from his stupor.

 ‘’I...I don’t know what to say. Thank you.’’ He looked as if he himself was surprised that he had spoken up. Mrs Popkin nodded, opened the door and when she was already on the hallway Potter stopped her. ‘’Mrs Popkin, if you want - ’’ he swallowed visibly and threw Draco an I-hope-I-don’t-regret-this look, ‘’- you can come by for tea sometime. Bring Lemontart along, Mango loves to play with her.’’

 Mrs Popkin looked even older in that moment. Ancient. She nodded, distressed, eyes big and watering, this unexpected kindness shaking her. ‘’I - I might just.’’ With a small smile and another shaky nod she was gone.

 Potter turned back to Draco. ‘’Well, I was not expecting this coming here today.’’

 ‘’Neither was I,’’ Draco said. ‘’Just for the record, she hasn’t entirely converted to a saint. She spared you today, but she had had a go me before you came. There’s still hope she manages to rescue her nasty reputation.’’

 Potter smiled. ‘’At least it looks like I’ll be able to live in peace. She can be nasty to other people all she wants. I dare bet that Olive Blimperton and her dog will be her next target.’’

 Draco laughed. ‘’Probably. At least my department has nothing to do with dogs. By the way, Mango and Lemon? What is this? An Exotic Fruit Import Society? You and Mrs Popkin might just hit it off.’’

 ‘’Oh, shut up.’’ It was Potter’s turn to laugh. It was strange. Potter was still here, standing just inside the doorway, lingering. He looked reluctant to go. His mouth opened as if to say something and promptly closed. A slight breeze blew through the open door and Draco got a whiff of a musky enticing perfume. Definitely a date, then. The day that Potter put on perfume for everyday occasion was the day Draco will start wearing those horrid pyjama-looking jogging bottoms.

 ‘’Don’t you have a date to go to?’’ As soon as he realized that his brain was having him vocalize his thoughts, he looked away from Potter’s elegantly dressed figure and opted to stare at the desk instead.

 ‘’Date?’’ Potter seemed genuinely surprised. Draco raised his eyes to pointedly look at the fancy clothes. ‘’Oh, this.’’ Potter waved at his attire. ‘’I do actually own decent clothes too, you know.’’

 ‘’I don’t doubt that at all. You just never wear them.’’

 Potter chuckled and Draco couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that it was him that caused it. It was a wonderful sound. ‘’Fair enough,’’ Potter’s grip on his cloak was slightly too tight. He looked nervous.’’I’m actually going to Ginny and Luna’s wedding. Whole day event. And don’t ask me why it’s on Monday. Everyone asks that. There’s no answer. It’s Luna and Ginny we’re talking about. When have they ever done anything normal?’’

 Draco didn’t know them well enough to answer that question. He supposed it was a rhetorical one anyway. He was on the verge of shooing Potter out of his office; it was unnerving, the way he stood there clutching his cloak tightly and opening his mouth like a witless fish.

 ‘’You mentioned dates,’’ flew out of Potter’s mouth too fast and too loud. ‘’I…’’ Potter’s knuckles were turning white, his grip on the cloak was so strong. ‘’I was wondering… would you...?’’ He trailed off.

 Draco stilled. He didn’t even dare think of what that small flame of hope that burned in his chest wanted him to think. ‘’Would I what?’’

 ‘’For god’s sake,’’ Potter sighed deeply. ‘’Just take pity on me already, don’t you see I’m a nervous wreck?’’ the flame of hope in Draco’s chest burned a little brighter as Potter’s hand shot through his somewhat styled hair ruining it in a second. It looked better. More Potter.

 ‘’I wanted to ask you if you’d go on a date with me someday? Next week perhaps. Or this week. Or tomorrow?’’ Potter sounded hopeful, if horribly ineloquent.

 ‘’I…’’ Draco thought his chest might have just caught fire as the hope became a reality. It felt like a forest fire consuming him, burning inside him and even though Draco wasn’t fond of fire at all since the disaster in the Room of Requirement he wanted nothing but to jump headlong into this one.‘’Yes.’’

 ‘’Yes?’’ Potter grinned, relieved. No one’s smile should ever look so happy and so free. Especially not because of him .

 ‘’Yeah,’’ Draco’s throat caught at the sight. He felt warm all over. He was sure his cheeks were flaming. ‘’Tomorrow. Seven pm. I’ll send you an owl with the location.’’

 ‘’Brilliant.’’ There it was again; the open smile, the kind that hid nothing, the kind that not only bared Potter’s soul but made Draco want to bare his as well.

 

__________


 

 It had been a month after Draco had last seen Potter in his jogging bottoms and he was slowly coming to the realization that he missed the garment dearly. Admittedly, the first time they went on a date and Draco saw Potter in his smart clothes, he thanked all the gods and goddesses that he hadn’t come to the five star restaurant in those rags, but now, after a good number of dates, he had come to miss the relaxed look on him. That wasn’t to say Potter wasn’t able to pull off the smart clothes; he looked delectable in them. So delectable, in fact, that the Prophet felt the need to write about his newly-exhibited sense of style daily.

 The first few dates were awkward. Awkward to the point that Draco was prepared to throw down the napkin halfway through dinner, exclaim that this was never going to work and leave the restaurant in order to spare Potter and himself some sense of dignity. But somehow, Potter always managed to babble out something stupid that got the conversation going again. Once it was ‘’I never knew lobsters had this many legs,’’ which made Draco snort a very uncharacteristic snort - the ugly kind, the kind that went up his nose and made him sound like a pig. Then, other times, it was Potter blatantly calling him out; ‘’Stop looking so constipated just because we haven’t said anything for twenty seconds, Draco.’’

 Potter insisted on calling him Draco now and Draco, too, was trying hard to call Potter by his first name, but habits die hard and he was largely unsuccessful. Potter, no, Harry liked to rub that in his face, but he didn’t realize he got it wrong a lot himself and ended up calling Draco Malfoy half the time.

 A lot of the discomfort was due to the journalists who had taken to following their every step. This meant that they kept being accosted by the flashing camera lights when walking down the street. Not that the general public showed any less interest. People kept staring, they would start approaching them and then changing their mind when they saw Draco. It was obvious that they all wanted to talk to Potter, but were at the same time repelled by Draco - a fact that Potter enjoyed immensely only because he then didn’t have to deal with them. 

 They decided they wouldn’t be hiding their...Draco hesitated calling it a ‘’relationship’’, but since the English language didn’t offer a better alternative that’s what he was forced to label it. Potter had been outed already and neither of them cared about the opinions of others enough to be deterred. Surprisingly, Harry found a great deal of amusement in the articles the papers were printing about them; the imbecile had actually renewed his subscription to the Prophet. When they were walking past a newsagent's on Diagon Alley one morning - Potter was taking him to the Weasleys’ joke shop - Harry stopped at the kiosk grabbing the daily edition of the paper grinning happily at the photo of them on the front page.

 ‘’Look, we made the front page again!’’ There was amusement in his voice as he waved the Prophet in Draco’s face, delighted. ‘’They titled the article: Is the Malfoy Heir the Chosen One’s New Horcrux?’’ He laughed deeply, chuckles shaking his shoulders. ‘’What does that even mean ?’’

 ‘’I’m sure you’ll find out since there’s no way I can prevent you from reading it when you go home.’’ Draco tried to sound annoyed, but there was something horribly similar to affection colouring his voice as he tried to slap the journal from Harry’s hands. Potter was too fast though and he was already turning the pages.

 ‘’Amazing! I even made it to the gardening section today! Just me though.’’ He looked at Draco almost apologetically, as if Draco wanted to be in the gardening section of the Prophet, before clearing his throat and reading in a very serious voice. ‘’After Margery Popkin’s public letter of complaint (which we published in the Gardening Ghouls column this June) in which Mrs Popkin pointed out that Harry Potter’s wilting salad is harming the reputation of the entire Godric’s Hollow neighbourhood, we have now received another letter from her - this one written in a completely different tone. This time, Mrs Popkin praises Mr Potter’s orderly garden and even goes as far as to call it exemplary and fashionably modest. However, she would still like to emphasize that, although, often, less is truly more, she feels like a clay garden gnome or two wouldn’t hurt. She is thinking of gifting him some for Christmas.’’

 ‘’Oh, for Merlin’s sake!’’ Draco huffed finally tearing the Prophet from Potter’s hands and placing it back in the rack. ‘’You have to stop inviting her over for tea. This is getting ridiculous.’’ He pulled Potter away from the kiosk and practically dragged him down the street.

 ‘’Where’s your joy, Malfoy? I’m getting gnomes for Christmas!’’ Potter intoned with such childish excitement that he almost convinced Draco of the authenticity of his passion for the clay creations.

 ‘’We’re having Mango smash them. No mercy.’’ Draco realized he was still clutching Harry’s wrist even though he was no longer dragging him down the street. He reluctantly let go.

 ‘’We are?’’ Potter stopped walking and turned to face him. His eyes were sincere, hopeful.

 Draco remembered that Christmas was still far away.

 ‘’Yeah.’’ He said, a tad breathless. ‘’We are.’’

 He got a brilliant smile in response.

 A few days later they were at a Muggle restaurant. They had become tired of the stares and opted for a nice restaurant near Primrose Hill where Draco lived. Harry was elegantly dressed once more and he looked good enough to grace a Muggle fashion magazine cover, and yet, all the while, Draco couldn’t stop wishing he was in his comfortable jogging bottoms again.

 ‘’I miss those horrid joggers of yours.’’ Draco supposed honesty didn’t hurt from time to time.

 ‘’I knew you secretly loved them!’’ Potter looked victorious as he pointed his fork at him accusingly.

 ‘’Yes, well...they’re quite...compelling.’’ Draco raised his eyebrow in an if-you-know-what-I-mean gesture.

 ‘’You could come by my house this weekend. I’ll wear them.’’ Harry had the nerve to wink. ‘’We’ll go flying, it’s supposed to be sunny. Then we’ll make lunch, play with Mango, hide from Popkin’s Omnioculars...’

 ‘’Oh, she’ll be needing those? Will we be shagging on the kitchen table?’’ Draco smirked and was pleased to notice Potter swallowed heavily.

 ‘’Maybe.’’ The husky quality of his voice sent shivers down Draco's spine. Potter’s eyes darkened for a few seconds before he broke his gaze. ‘’No, honestly. Come over for a casual Sunday. It’ll be fun.’’

 Draco’s chest squeezed at the image. A homely, casual Sunday with Potter. The implications of that....It wasn’t just about dating anymore. It was about Potter - Harry - accepting him into his home. A warm feeling overcame him; it felt like sunlight pouring into his stomach. A dangerous feeling. But one he couldn’t resist.

 That was how Draco ended up in full Quidditch gear on Potter’s front step on a sunny Sunday morning. Summer was starting to slip into autumn. The leaves on the two big oak trees in the garden were starting to yellow, but the weather was still warm, safe for a cold breeze that blew around the corner every now and then. When Potter opened the door, he was in his Quidditch gear too, but since Godric’s Hollow was a mixed neighbourhood and they couldn’t very well march through the town with brooms slung over their shoulders (even though Nifflers could apparently traipse around it freely), Potter ushered him in. He took him to the back of the house where a large back garden opened up to a green field that, save for a few scattered trees, seemed to stretch on for miles.

 ‘’Hey,’’ Potter said and bumped his shoulder into his as they were walking across the field. ‘’I’m glad that you’re here.’’

 Draco glanced at him sideways; Harry almost looked shy, uncertain, eyes on the grass shoulders a bit tense. So, Draco wasn’t the only one who was nervous.

 ‘’Hey,’’ it was his turn to sway sideways towards Harry bumping into him lightly. It was a very Potter way of communicating and he felt a bit silly doing it, but strangely nice too. Liberating in its carelessness. ‘’I’m glad I’m here too.’’ He sent a small smile Potter’s way. Harry really liked it when he smiled. He never told him, but Draco noticed, so he tried to smile more. It wasn’t really hard anyways. As much as it worried him some days, it was extremely easy to smile around Potter.

 ‘’Besides,’’ he said haughtily in an imitation of his Hogwarts days’ drawl, ‘’I’m always glad for an opportunity to outfly you.’’

 Potter snorted. ‘’Outfly me? You never have and you never will.’’ There was a competitive twinkle in his eyes.

 ‘’You kept falling off your broom, Potter. You’re not that good a flyer.’’ Draco was trying to sound very serious and he was only half succeeding, but Harry was still getting riled up. Oh, this was fun, Draco thought as Potter spluttered.

 ‘’Seriously? I always fell because of...because of unfair reasons!’’ Potter was playing along, it seemed. Their bickering was working; the competitive tension was mounting. ‘’I still managed to catch the Snitch most of the time!’’

 ‘’Oh, yes the Snitch. Alas...the statistics of falls and broom control…’’He trailed off shrugging regrettably.

 ‘’Oh, shut up!’’ Potter was laughing now. ‘’You dressed up as a Dementor . Extra, much?’’

 Draco nodded smartly. ‘’Never let it be said that I don’t keep up with the fashions.’’

 ‘’Oh, I didn’t know losing was fashionable.’’ Potter jibed, straddling his broom.

 Draco sent him a dirty glare, mounting his broom too and kicking off in tandem with Harry. He would never admit it, but he wasn’t quite as practised with it anymore. He still flew occasionally, but without a real challenge the flying had lost a bit of its charm. But if Potter excelled in anything he excelled in bringing challenges back into Draco’s life and Draco ended up flying like he hadn’t flown for ages; recklessly, freely, without a thought in his head. Only emotions and sensations mixing with each other creating a vortex of exhilaration. The feel of wood in his grip was grounding him. The feel of the wind in his hair, rushing past his ears in a roar, taking him far away.

 He didn’t know how much time had passed, the thought of competition, of outflying each other had left them as soon as they were in the air and they just flew and flew together until Potter’s breathless call to land registered in Draco’s head. He briefly wondered if he even still knew how to do it. Yet, land he did, but when he dismounted his legs felt wobbly and putting one foot before the other had never felt quite as alien. They had to have been in the air for hours. Potter was smiling outrageously, his golden skin making his white teeth stand out even more, his round glasses slipping down because there was sweat running down his nose. He just stood there, windswept, out of breath, happy. In love with life.

 He looked like Draco felt.

 They quietly made their way back to the house, their shoulders bumping as they walked. Once they were inside, Potter threw himself on the couch and vowed to never get up again. Draco coldly let him know that he wasn’t touching him with a ten foot broomstick if he smelled like that and went to take a shower while Potter shouted instructions from the couch; where the towels were, where he could find (Potter’s) clothes to change into, and finally, where the bathroom actually was. When Draco came out of the shower dressed in Harry’s fresh jeans and T-shirt that left him feeling distinctly out of place, Potter gave in to Draco’s prodding and ducked out of the room to (finally) take his shower leaving Draco sitting in an armchair in the living room getting accosted by the attention-needy Mango.

 The puffy NIffler, who had been very disappointed at being left inside while Harry and Draco were outside flying, seemed intent on showing Draco that he, too, was excellent company. Draco was so busy charming colourful bubbles for an enthusiastic Mango to pop mid-air that he barely noticed Potter return. When he finally lifted his gaze Potter’s fit figure was leaning against the doorway and there was a wistful smile on his face. Draco’s gaze lingered on Potter’s expression for a few seconds before his eyes were ripped away from it, almost by an unnatural force, and settled almost - but not completely - unwillingly on Potter’s choice of casual wear. Or rather the crotch area of his jogger-clad lower body. Potter was keeping his promise. Draco swallowed heavily. He had apparently forgotten just how detailed the outline of Potter’s cock was in the grey fabric. Or perhaps Potter had just opted for a really tight-fitting pair today, just to rile him up.

 The tension in the room was mounting and Draco’s lips were suddenly so very dry. He didn’t know for how long he had been staring. It could have been seconds or minutes for all he knew, and yet, he still wasn’t able to tear his gaze away, even though he could just sense Potter starting to smirking smugly. Thankfully, Mango was the hero who saved Draco from his perversions when he petulantly slapped his wand arm which lay limp in his lap producing no more bubbles for the Niffler to play with.

 ‘’Mango!’’ Potter chided. The Niffler froze looking at him guiltily. ‘’Don’t be rude. You’ll have plenty of time to play in the kitchen. We’re making ham and cheddar muffins for lunch!’’

 ‘’We are?’’ Draco asked, but his question was drowned out by an excited squeal coming from the black ball of fluff in his lap. Mango got onto his hind legs and was clapping his clawed paws together like a seal and then proceeded to roll down Draco’s legs onto the floor where he picked himself up and awkwardly ran towards the kitchen.

 Draco raised his eyebrow at Potter. ‘’He sure seems excited about baking.’’ Draco was wondering exactly what Potter had meant when he’d said there would be plenty of time to play in the kitchen. A kitchen didn’t really seem like a safe playground space.

 ‘’You think this is ‘excited’ ? Wait till we start.’’ Harry shook his head in fond exasperation and made his way across the sitting room towards the kitchen. Draco got up and followed cursing Potter’s jogging bottoms all the way. He would be damned if Potter didn’t shrink this pair.

 The kitchen, much like the rest of Harry’s house, was very open, roomy and well lit. Sunshine was streaming in through two big windows whose windowsills featured some rather unkempt flowers. The cupboards were a soft red-brown colour of cherry wood that gave the room a cosy atmosphere, contrasted, on the other hand, by the image of productivity that the multiple pans, pots and jars on the shelves represented. The whole house was very Harry , Draco observed. Orderly in a cluttered way, striving for comfort but also unable to keep still; moving and breathing and living its own happy life. Draco never wanted to leave.

 Mango was already expectantly waiting for them on one of the chairs at the kitchen table. He hadn’t been able to get farther than the chair it seemed, though he was quite adamantly showing that the table was his main destination. Potter obliged him and lifted him onto the spacious woody surface. He took a few steps to the counter to fetch an orange and gave it to the Niffler whose eyes were now gleaming with joy. Despite the snout, he still managed to look as if he was smiling.

 ‘’He really likes peeling oranges.’’ Potter shrugged as if it was an everyday occurrence and pointed in the direction of the pantry. ‘’I’ll just go grab the ingredients.’’

 Draco didn’t know how someone’s collarbones could look so pretty on a mere shrug, but Potter’s did and Draco just wanted to kiss them and nibble his way up Harry’s neck until he made his way to his mouth. Ugh, how disgustingly sappy he was getting. He looked at Mango to distract himself and almost giggled out loud when he saw his chubby body wrapped around the orange rolling this way and that most definitely not peeling it. Then, his eyes were drawn to the end of the table by a large moving picture that was spread over the front page of a newspaper. He inched closer and, as he had expected, was met with a photo of himself and Harry on the front page. He immediately recognized the moment it had been taken - it was the day that Harry took him to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes but had to, despite Draco’s annoyance, stop at the newsagent's to look at that day’s edition of the Prophet. The photo had Harry enthusiastically reading from the paper, a stupid grin on his face, while Draco rolled his eyes until finally tearing the paper from Harry’s hands and dragging him away.

 It was such a simple moment, silly even, and yet, it hit Draco like a bludger to the stomach. A glance at the photo and he knew exactly why Harry liked looking at them so much even if it meant putting up with the senseless articles. The words, someone else’s words, you could laugh off, brush off, but the photos told the truth, no words needed, it was Harry and Draco themselves who were telling their story. There was genuine joy exuding from them, a quiet companionship, fondness in the roll of Draco’s eyes, affection on Harry’s face as he let himself be dragged out of the frame. They looked like they knew each other inside out. It all looked so easy, so effortless, and the fact that, looking at their history, it shouldn’t have been this way, made it so much more, well...more precious. The photo looped once again and Draco still started and stared, watching himself with a frightening, but thrilling, realization that this is what it looked like to be in love.

 He heard Harry come out of the pantry. ‘’Sorry. Couldn’t find the cheese for the longest time,’’ he was saying as he placed an armful of ingredients onto the table. ‘’I keep having to hide my good cheese because Ron plunders my pantry every single time he comes over. Hid it so well, I couldn’t find it mysel-’’ he trailed off, mid-sentence, when his eyes fell onto Draco, who was still staring unblinkingly at the page before him.

 ‘’Oh,’’ Potter breathed and stepped up to him. His chest brushed against Draco’s shoulder. Draco leaned back just a little. ‘’Is everything okay?’’

 ‘’We look good together.’’ We look in love.

 ‘’Yeah. Yeah, we do.’’ Harry laughed, a bit breathless. He was standing so close that Draco felt the puffs of breath hit the back of his neck. It sent a shiver of want down his spine.

 ‘’It’s weird.’’ Draco finally lifted his head looking up at Harry’s green eyes smiling behind the glasses.

 ‘’So weird.’’ Harry was nodding. Draco’s gaze dropped to his lips. His wonderful, red, wind-chapped lips.

 ‘’But nice.’’ Draco was surprised to find out it was he who had said it. His brain was blank, the only thing registering was the slow but steady approach of Harry’s lips.

 ‘’So nice.’’ It came as a whisper against Draco’s mouth before their lips finally touched.

 They had only kissed twice before, once in a dark alley before apparating home where they shared a quick stolen kiss before separating, and once at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes where Potter impulsively snogged Draco against the shelf of Exploding Snap cards until one set went off right next to Draco’s ear making him startle so hard he almost broke both their noses.

 This kiss was different though. There was no need to hurry, no need to be secretive. Draco darted his tongue out and licked at Harry’s lips. With a sharp intake of breath, they parted letting Draco in. Draco turned so that their bodies could align, chest brushing against chest, their thighs pressed together. The joggers’ thin fabric let Draco know exactly how turned on Potter was getting. Harry’s hand slipped into Draco’s hair and he pulled him even closer, their tongues dancing in an intoxicating dance as Draco’s hands slid behind Harry’s back. He lifted up his shirt just enough to brush his thumb against the soft warm skin before the hands dipped lower cupping Potter’s ass. He squeezed hard, pushing their groins together and moaned in Harry’s mouth as the hands in his hair tightened and Harry ground against Draco wantonly. Harry pulled back slightly biting Draco’s lip before Draco took matters into his own hands again and kissed him deeply. This time harder, more hurried, less controlled.

 Kissing Potter was a challenge of its own. It went from intense to soft to passionate to comfortable and all Draco could do was follow the flow. He was about to suggest they postpone lunch and continue what they started in a horizontal position, when he heard something fly through the air and out of nowhere something wet and sticky hit the side of his face.

 ‘’What the-?’’ Draco broke off the kiss, looking at Potter who was just as surprised as he was. He sported a bit of orange pulp on his cheek. In unison, they turned their heads towards the table, where Mango was standing covered with pieces of orange that he had exuberantly dismembered. Upon seeing their annoyed stares his small eyes widened apologetically.and then, involuntarily, he trembled as if overcome by a hiccup. A giggle escaped him. Horrified, he slapped his tiny hand over his snout, but in the same moment a piece of fruit just had to fall from Draco’s hair onto his nose and another, louder and terribly restrained, giggle escaped the tiny furry body. No matter how much the Niffler tried to hold his snout together squeaky giggles kept shaking him and before long Potter and Draco were chuckling too, chuckles and snickers slowly picking up in rhythm until they grew into full-blown laughter.

 There they stood, their shoulders shaking, Mango doubling over, Harry gripping Draco’s arm so hard it hurt until, tears in their eyes and stomachs hurting, Harry finally wiped away his tears of mirth and said through his dying giggles, ‘’Okay. Enough. My muscles are cramping.’’

 ‘’Yes. Mine too.’’ Draco took a deep breath his abs unclenching just a little. ‘’Besides, I’m hungry and we have muffins to bake!’’

 ‘’Yes, yes let’s get our asses to it!’’ Harry clapped his hands encouragingly and turned towards the ingredients he had brought.

 Draco could name at least ten things he would rather get Harry’s arse to doing, but he kept quiet because he suspected the man already knew. After all, Draco did fail rather spectacularly to be discreet around Harry. As much as things have changed between them from their Hogwarts days, this one hasn’t.

They went about preparing the ingredients, Draco insisting that they measure out everything according to the recipe, Potter insisting that he knew it by heart and didn’t need to measure anything. Draco got so annoyed that they decided to make two batches of muffins, one batch of salty ham and cheddar muffins and one batch of sweet chocolate pecan muffins that Draco was responsible for. At least that way they would end up with something to eat if Potter ended screwing up his batch. Mango kept trying to ‘help’ Draco by taking this ingredient or that and trying to throw it in the mix until Harry brought the creature a cutting board, a large knife and an onion ‘to play with’. The Niffler’s eyes lit up like the lights on a Christmas tree as he took the knife from Harry’s hands waved it around animatedly.

 Draco raised his eyebrows, looking between Potter and the Niffler sceptically. He hoped Harry knew what he was doing especially knowing Mango had a bit of a violent streak. Seeing his doubtful expression, Potter just waved his hand and continued dicing the cheddar cheese.

 ‘’Don’t worry, we do this all the time,’’ he muttered offhandedly, right in the moment when a loud slam came from the side. A delighted Mango, holding the knife with both hands, had just managed to split the onion in half.

 ‘’Right,’’ Draco said worried nonetheless. As adorable as Mango was, the excitement with which he tore things apart was...well slightly worrying. Still, Draco couldn’t resist smiling when he looked at the pure unadulterated joy on the creature’s face.

 Draco shook his head and went about measuring the sugar. They quietly worked together - well, not really quietly - Mango was making quite a lot of noise slashing the knife through the air and slamming it on the unsuspecting onion again and again, but there was something comfortable about just being able to be busy together without talking. It was frightening really, how Harry could make Draco feel right at home, how he just let him in his life and never really seemed to think twice about it. Draco glanced at the messy haired man. He had flour on the tips of his hair and he was pretty sure there was egg yolk on his blue T-shirt. His chest ached at the image. All this was so fresh. It seemed like Potter had just popped into his office yesterday, hell, it seemed like just a week ago Draco had thrust his hand out and was denied a friendship. And yet, here they were all those moments making them who they were now, all those moments, even the terrible ones, ones he didn’t even want to think about in the light of day, bringing them to this calm moment. To this moment of happiness.

 Potter lifted his head,  and Draco got a distinct feeling that he too was thinking about the same things. A crooked half-sad, half-happy smile turned up his mouth acknowledging the past while cherishing the future. Draco smiled back. He heard a loud sniff come from the side; Mango had mostly succeeded in chopping the onion. Of course, there were more bits on the table than on the actual cutting board, but he did his work well. There were a few large bits that he still intended to chop, but his tiny black eyes were watering so bad that his snout was completely wet. He sniffed again blinking away the tears.

 ‘’I think he likes to chop onions purely because he thinks he’s punishing them for making him cry,’’ Potter spoke up amused. ‘’He still hasn’t figured it out that they only make him cry after they’ve been chopped.’’

 ‘’You silly little pest,’’ Draco muttered. He extended a hand petting the Niffler on the head. Mango leaned in and sort of chortled happily - Draco supposed that was the equivalent of a cat’s purr. The poor thing looked so exhausted.

 Mango breathed in deeply finding some new energy reserves and set to cutting the last bit of onion with renewed vigour. Before long Potter’s muffins were in the oven a delicious smell overflowing the kitchen while Draco mixed the last of his chocolate drops into his mix. Soon it was his muffins that were on the way to the oven and Potter’s were out, the look and smell of them making Draco’s mouth water pathetically. Because they were too hungry to wait, they ended up eating all the ham and cheddar muffins before Draco’s batch even had a chance to rise. They made tea while they waited and when the sweet muffins were finally done they went to settle in the sitting room leaving Mango in the kitchen after he had passed out from exhaustion and was now snoring lightly spread-eagled on the table.

 Potter settled in the armchair this time, setting the plate on the table while Draco levitated the tea onto it and took a seat on the sofa.

 ‘’Good god,’’ Potter sighed. ‘’I don’t think I should eat more than one,’’ he said while already reaching for the plate.

 ‘’Your own fault,’’ Draco said after swallowing a bite of his delicious muffin. ‘’You ate three-quarters of the baking tray yourself. I’m starting to think it’s not Weasley who’s to blame for the pantry raiding.’’

 ‘’Oh, shut up.’’ Harry sipped at his tea. ‘’Flying always makes me so hungry.’’

 As his eyes fell on Potter’s ridiculously spread legs, Draco could easily think of some other exercise-like thing that made a man very, very hungry. Of course, his oversharing brain had to go and babble it out loud like it always did with Potter.

 ‘’I can think of something else that makes a man very, very hungry,’’ was what came out of his mouth and he could have beat himself up with a stick for it. Merlin’s saggy balls - he supposed he could let himself think about balls now - that sounded like some horrible porn pick-up line. It didn’t help that he was staring directly at Harry’s crotch while he said it. But then again Potter was giving him quite the view.

 Harry, unsurprisingly, didn’t mind his crudeness in the slightest. A sly seductive smile spread over his face. ‘’Oh, definitely,’’ he replied. And then the bastard licked his lips teasingly and slowly but deliberately spread his legs further apart. Draco felt heat climb its way up his neck. The fucker.

 ‘’You fucker.’’ Draco had had enough. Those tight bloody fucking joggers and Potter’s bloody fucking teasing. Draco could only handle so much of it. All thoughts of tea and muffins abandoned, he felt his eyes narrow as his nostrils flared.

 ‘’You teasing fucker,’’ he said in a low voice, standing up slowly and making his way to Potter. He looked at him as if he were prey that had been escaping Draco for the longest time and he finally had it where he wanted it. When he was finally standing above Harry, looking down at him, he swiftly pulled his wand from the pocket of his jeans and vanished the teacup Potter was clutching in his grip. He saw Harry swallow heavily. Draco ran his eyes over his body once again, sweeping over the broad shoulders, the pulsing vein in Harry’s neck, the way his chest rose and fell, until settling, for once unapologetically, on Harry’s crotch.

 One step closer, and he was between Potter’s spread legs. He looked up, staring at the wide blown pupils of the green eyes and dropped to his knees without preamble. A sharp inhale came from above him, but Draco barely heard it. His hands were already on Harry’s knees, sliding up his thighs, doing what they wanted to do since the first time Potter showed up in his office. He could see Potter was already getting hard. A mere touch, a look, and his cock was filling. It satisfied Draco immensely. He smirked. When his hands were at the top of Harry’s thighs he squeezed them hard, before lazily lowering his head to the outline of Harry’s swelling cock. He leaned down, just a little bit further, until - yes -. he was mouthing the shaft through the fabric. He let Potter enjoy the sensation for a second or two, before lifting his mouth off, hovering just inches away from the straining cock. Potter’s hands were gripping the armrests tightly.

 ‘’Tell me the truth Potter,’’ he whispered. ‘’Do you enjoy buying clothes that are too small for you or was a Shrinking charm or two involved in the making of this pair.’’ He glanced up at Harry’s face, which flushed furiously his eyes avoiding Draco’s.

 ‘’Uhh,’’ Potter could barely get anything out. ‘’Shrinking charm.’’ It came out as an almost incomprehensible mumble. He at least had the grace to look sheepish.

 A self-satisfied smirk spread across Draco’s face. ‘’I’m flattered, really.’’ And without further ado, he bent down to the now fully erect prick and breathed a moist heavy breath on the head through the layer of cloth. Potter shivered and moaned softly. Draco wasted no time reaching for the waistband of the joggers, with a bit of Potter’s help, pulling them off just low enough that Harry’s heavy leaking cock sprung out.

 The cock before him was...beautiful, for a lack of better description. It curved just slightly to the right, the foreskin pulled back just enough to let the tip of the head coated in precome peek out. Draco’s mouth watered at the sight. Holy fucking Merlin’s saggy tits was a line that kept looping through his head as he realized he was finally, finally going to taste Harry. He lowered his head darting his tongue out to lick at the slit. Harry moaned so loudly that it rung in Draco’s ears. He licked the head tentatively, dipping behind the foreskin until he pulled it back revealing the cock in all its glory. He licked the vein that ran on the underside of it before finally swallowing Harry whole, lowering his head towards the curls on Harry’s groin. His throat worked when it made way for the intrusion, but Potter was moaning so beautifully that Draco had no choice but to go all the way. He rose up sucking, licking, nibbling slightly. Hands tangled in his hair, while Harry started to curse as his hips involuntarily buckled. And then Draco swallowed him again, and despite choking slightly every time, he did it again and again and again, until Harry was pulling his head up, off his cock, gripping his hair painfully.

 ‘’No, no, no, no.’’ Potter was muttering as his cock finally popped out of Draco’s mouth. Draco could feel his lips were swollen red. ‘’I don’t want to come like this,’’ Harry said, completely dazed as he stared unblinkingly at Draco’s lips.

 Everything was a haze. Draco didn’t even realize he was rising to meet Harry when their lips crashed together, opening up immediately in a wet hungry kiss. Potter pushed him a little, up, until they were standing and Draco was being pushed backwards towards the sofa. They wrangled out of their T-shirts on the way and Draco only had a moment to marvel at the sense of his naked chest brushing against Harry’s before his legs hit the edge of the couch. Potter pushed him down and he ended up lying on his back.

 Without pause, Harry straddled him, leaning down again capturing Draco’s mouth as their clothed cocks rubbed together. Harry rocked in his lap making Draco moan into the mouth above and only then did he realize that he too was rock hard. For gods know how long. His prick was throbbing when Potter’s mouth made its way down his neck past his collarbone and onto his chest. Messy hair was falling in a halo around Potter’s head whose ministrations faltered for a moment upon seeing the scars. His eyes flicked to Draco’s mouth opening, then abruptly closing. Instead, he just bent his head never taking his eyes off Draco’s and licked a strip along the ugly marks on his skin. Draco’s chest constricted. He was finding it hard to breathe. Harry kept showering his chest with kisses. His hand slid up Harry’s back, caressing, feeling the muscles shift, tense and loosen, until it came to rest on the back of his neck.

 He pulled his head up so that their mouths were inches from each other. Potter started lowering his head, immediately going for the kiss. Draco’s fingers tightened their grip in the dark hair forcing him to stay still until, finally, his pupils, blown wide with lust, flicked up from Draco’s mouth to his eyes. Draco brought his other hand up until it rested against the hollow of Potter’s neck.

 The green in the eyes above him all but disappeared as Potter’s pupils went even wider. Draco brushed his thumb over the vein before squeezing gently making Potter inhale sharply through his nose. He could swear he felt Harry’s cock twitch against his stomach. Draco gave a breathless laugh.

 ‘’You like that.’’

 Potter only swallowed hard in response. What a feeling, being able to feel the throat working in the palm of his hand. Draco pulled Harry’s head in - slowly - lips almost touching - but not yet. Shallow breaths were mixing in the air between them, when Draco’s hand around the back of Potter’s head let go and made its way down between their bodies, brushing across Potter’s chest, across one nipple and then the other. The puffs of breath ghosting against Draco’s lips quickened and, then, when his fingers were just at the waistband of Potter’s joggers, the breath hitched, before Draco finally dived lower cupping Harry’s cock through the grey fabric again, never once taking his eyes off the green ones. Potter was so hard. When Harry let out a low moan on a particularly well-placed squeeze, Draco finally pulled his head down swallowing his mewl with his lips.

 He dipped his hand behind the waistband again grabbing Harry’s cock without hesitation. He stroked it - lazy strokes - he couldn’t have Potter coming too soon. He broke off the kiss tilting Harry’s head just enough to easily reach that soft spot where the jaw connected with the neck. He bit it, sinking his teeth in the flesh gently at first, licking it and then biting hard. Potter groaned and thrust hard into the loose grip that Draco’s fist was making around his cock.

 ‘’Let’s -’’ a gasp, ‘’-get rid of these. They’re getting in the way.’’ Harry gestured at their bottoms.

 ‘’No,’’ Draco protested, voice hoarse. No, that just wouldn’t do. He rather liked Harry in the jogging bottoms. Rather liked might have been an understatement. He had a fetish as big as Pansy’s ego on the blasted garment. Harry’s inquiring eyes flew to his. ‘’Leave them on.’’ Draco insisted.

 Harry’s eyebrows shot up knowingly. He wiggled them teasingly. ‘’I knew you had a thing for my joggers.’’

 Well, Draco thought, you didn’t exactly need to be a genius to figure that one out. He didn’t have much time to ponder Potter’s observational skills, though, because he was too preoccupied with the well-known devilish look in Harry’s eyes. That never boded well for Draco. Or it boded excellently for him, really.

 A wicked smirk on his face, Harry leaned back practically sitting back on Draco’s thighs. Draco’s hand slipped out of the joggers and he immediately felt a pang of regret at the absence of Harry’s cock in his palm. He didn’t have time to grieve, though, because Potter, the teasing fuck , was apparently adamant to put on a show. His hand was sliding across his own chest, its goal purely to torment Draco. He pinched his nipple. Hard. While biting his lip. Draco had half the mind to flip them over and fuck him senseless that very second. But he was too busy watching the hand’s path down Potter’s toned stomach, down until he placed his hand where Draco’s mouth was not long before, palming himself through the joggers.

 There was a wet spot on the fabric and the fact that he didn’t know if it was his mouth that had left it there or if it was Harry’s precome turned Draco on immensely. Harry slid his palm over his cock time and again, squeezing a bit every now and then, his breath hitching as he continued staring directly into Draco’s eyes. Mesmerized, Draco barely noticed Harry’s other hand stretch out extending to the side until a bottle came zooming across the room and slapped into the palm of his hand. Lube. Draco’s mouth was as dry as a desert. Fuck. He looked at Harry’s lust blown eyes. Did that mean?

 Harry wasted no time pouring lube onto his fingers as he reached behind himself sliding his hand under the joggers, and hissed when, Draco supposed, the chilly lube made contact with his hole. He watched Harry completely dazed, his own cock, which was no longer trapped beneath Harry’s ass was making an obscene bulge in Draco’s jeans. Harry gasped, that must have been one finger inside, Draco thought, the fact that he didn’t know exactly what was going on was making him heady. Harry’s free hand landed on Draco’s thigh, just above his knee, giving him leverage to rock firmly back on the finger in his ass. Or was it two? It could have been two what with the way the beads of sweat were gathering at his temples and the way he hissed every now and then.

 Harry was now rocking back and forth, loosening himself up and Draco couldn’t resist pulling down the joggers - yes, just a little bit lower - only low enough to free Harry’s cock. Dear Merlin, Potter’s cock was absolutely leaking . Draco gave it a pull or two, before dipping below cupping Potter’s balls. Harry whimpered. The whimper turned into a loud groan as Draco pressed gently on his perineum. He massaged it for a few seconds but then his hand tentatively slipped farther back, until his forefinger made contact with Harry’s stretched rim,  until he felt Harry’s fingers fucking in and out of his own hole.

 ‘’ Fuck .’’ He had never seen or felt anything hotter than this in his entire life. ‘’Fucking fuck .’’ Potter’s eyes were on his, wide blown, full of heat as he felt Draco feeling him fucking himself. In and out, his fingers slid, and for the first time in his life, Draco thought the stories about coming untouched could be true. He thought he would come right then and there the image of Potter fucking himself on his own fingers forever imprinted on his eyelids.

 ‘’Fuck me.’’ Harry’s voice was a breathless demand. ‘’Please - fuck - fuck me.’’

 ‘’Vanish our clothes.’’ As much as Draco wanted to be able to do it himself, he couldn’t without a wand.

 Harry didn’t even need to wave his hand; Draco’s jeans just suddenly disappeared as did Harry’s joggers and they were finally naked Harry’s finger’s stalling inside him as he saw Draco’s cock lying against his stomach.

 ‘’Shit.’’ Was all that left Potter’s mouth as he sat there in his lap immobile, watching Draco coat his cock in lube.

 As soon as he was done, Harry moved placing himself above him. The head of Draco’s cock nudged at the rim. He felt it give in as Harry let gravity do it’s work sliding slowly down the length.

 ‘’I’m not gonna last long,’’ Harry whispered and Draco wanted to tell him he wouldn’t either, because the heat around his cock, the tightness clenching him, was making him lose all brain function, but no words came out, safe an absolutely embarrassing whine as his cock slid all the way in his balls making contact with Harry’s ass.

 Harry lifted up sliding back down. Draco pulled him forward, capturing his mouth in a filthy tongue-fucking kiss. He thrust up as Harry slammed down until they found a rhythm rocking together. He was gripping Harry’s hips with both hands as his eyes fell on Harry’s neglected swollen cock swaying up and down in tandem with their movements. He grabbed it, fisting it hard, not paying any attention to Harry’s ‘too soon, too soon, I’mma come, I’mma come’ . Draco just wanked him faster, fucked him harder, their foreheads pressed together, their moans becoming one prolonged sound as their breaths mixed. The cock in his hand twitched and Harry breathed another helpless ‘I’mma co-’ and he was coming, hot spurts coating Draco’s stomach as he swallowed Harry’s moans with his open mouth.

 As Harry continued to whimper, Draco found the strength to flip them over. Harry’s back hit the pillows, miraculously without Draco slipping out, and Draco positively bent him in half pounding into him with abandon. Harry was still riding the last waves of his orgasm gasping at every thrust that shook his body. Draco couldn’t have held back even if he wanted to, he thrust and thrust, slamming into the pliant body below him until he was gasping, moaning, whining.

 ‘’Harry, Harry, Harry , fuck, fu-’’ His hips stuttered. ‘’Fu-uck .’’ One last deep thrust and he was coming, coming inside Harry, feeling his come coat the walls within as he whimpered from the force of his orgasm. He kept clutching onto Harry for dear life while bliss washed over him and all he could do was feel .

 Harry was caressing his hair through Draco’s tremors, his eyes still unfocused from the pleasure. Draco, collapsed onto him, out of breath, sweaty, sticky and exhausted, a gasp of a laugh escaping him when Harry groaned, disgusted, as the come on Draco’s stomach made contact with his skin.

 ‘’Shut up, Potter, that’s your body fluid,’’ Draco mumbled into Harry’s shoulder. The chest under him shook with chuckles, but Harry was waving his hand already and a fresh magic swept over them and between them spelling away the mess.

 Though Potter’s shoulder was slightly bony it was also pleasantly warm and Draco never wanted to move. He was starting to doze off when he heard a distant plop from the kitchen followed by the sound of tiny claws on the parquet. He didn’t have to wait long before he felt a scratch on his arm which was hanging off the side of the sofa. Tiny claws enveloped it and started making their not-too-gentle way up his arm. It looked like Mango didn’t appreciate being left lying in a pile of chopped onion on the table. Once on the couch, Mango nestled closely to the other side of Harry’s neck. He sighed in blissful contentment practically chittering as he tried to squeeze even closer to them. Good thing Mango was forgiving.

 ‘’Come here you tropical fruit salad’’ Draco sighed as he pulled the fluffy beast into a one-armed embrace.

 

__________

 

 Draco woke up early on a Christmas morning, enveloped in warm arms, with Harry’s head buried in the crook of his neck his hair tickling Draco’s chin. He still wasn’t quite used to waking up out of his own bed despite sleeping over at Harry’s more and more lately. They’d spent a wonderful Christmas eve together. Harry had invited the whole Weasley family along with some other friends like Patil and Longbottom to his house in an attempt to relieve Mrs Weasley of cooking for such a large crowd. It only half-worked since she still insisted on coming by early to help them with the preparations and ended up basically taking over the kitchen.

 The Christmas dinner was...unusual, but nice. A lot of noise, a lot of stilted conversations on Draco’s part, but also a lot of laughter, a lot of good food and a lot of warm goodbyes when they had all left. Draco smiled remembering how Harry had looked; surrounded by family and friends who loved him his eyes were gleaming with happiness and joy the whole evening.

 Draco, unable to sleep, extracted himself slowly from Harry’s embrace, while also being careful not to jostle the Niffler sleeping at the foot of the bed. He got up to see if any snow had fallen during the night as the forecast had promised. He threw on a warm cardigan wrapping himself in soft warm wool and went to the window looking down on the street and the front garden below. There was only a smattering of snow outside, but there were many - wait. What was that?

 Oh.

 Oh, no.

 Draco snorted. Oh, Potter will lose it . He snorted again, louder this time. His eyes swept over the garden once more. Every inch of it was covered with small bearded statuettes in various positions wearing pointy red hats with various props in their tiny hands. If he wasn’t mistaken, quite a few of them were sporting round spectacles and a drawn-in lightning bolt on their foreheads. Someone went as far as to colour the white hair black. Oh, this was rich.Some of the clay gnomes were even spilling through the garden gate onto the pavement since there wasn’t enough room for all of them in the garden.

 ‘’Harry!’’ Draco called beginning to laugh out loud. He stepped to the bed and shook Harry by the shoulder. ‘’Get up, Potter, you have to see this.’’

 Harry’s eyes flew open. ‘’See what?’’ he asked groggily. ‘’Is it snow?’’ He sat bolt upright childish excitement written all over his face.

 ‘’Better.’’ Draco said trying to suppress the undignified giggles.

 Harry jumped out of the bed stepping to the window. As his eyes fell on the garden below, his mouth fell open and he gaped at the flood of red pointy hats from above.

 ‘’Oh, my god.’’ He blinked once, twice, three times. ‘’People actually ...?’’ He shook his head.

 ‘’Look closely. There are some that look just like you.’’ Draco supplied delightedly. He couldn’t help but be a little mean sometimes.

 Realization dawned on Harry’s face as he looked closely. ‘’Oh. My. God. ’’ He took a deep breath.

 ‘’Mango!’’ Potter called determination taking over his face. ‘’Wake up! We’ve got some work for you to do!’’