Harry shivered. It hadn't been his best idea to venture into the snowstorm without gloves or a scarf, or even a hat for that matter. But he'd felt the need to leave his office so desperately, so acutely, that he didn't care in the moment. Who did his Auror partner think he was dumping all the paperwork on him and then just disappearing to go on holiday?
Harry's teeth rattled from the cold that seeped through him. He knew that he overreacted... probably. He also knew that he hadn't slept properly for weeks and just felt so off . Ron thought he was lonely. He himself thought he should never have started with the Aurors in the first place. He was so sick of running. Running towards his death, running from Voldemort, running after criminals. He was just tired.
He tried to wrap his jacket tighter around himself, tried to ignore how damp his fingers felt and how his hair hung from his scalp in wet strands. He was walking along a street of shops and cafes, all trying to barricade themselves from the weather. He didn't give them any mind. This was an identity crisis of epic proportions, Harry mused, and no hot chocolate in the world could help him with that.
He stopped short when light flooded his vision, coming from his right, seemingly out of nowhere. A shopfront appeared but it seemed unnaturally alluring to Harry. Weirdly bright. He wondered if it was under a Fidelius Charm because it certainly looked that way, but he hadn't cast any spells himself or had even known that this was here. He looked around himself to check if there was someone else who could have triggered the charm that revealed the café he was now looking at. Lost and Found it read above the door in large loopy script.
Harry chanced a look inside and found people sitting at tables, enjoying hot beverages and pastries and he felt a strong tug in his midsection towards the door. As if his legs had grown a mind of their own, he opened the door and stepped inside only to be greeted by...
He blinked at the man behind the counter and took and his breath hitched. When he'd stormed out of his office, he never would have thought to bump into Draco Malfoy, working in a hidden café no less. He took in Malfoy's easy expression, the hair that fell around his face in soft waves and the apron that was littered with snowflakes that read 'Just like us, you are unique' . The word 'cute' popped into Harry's head at the sight and he immediately tried to shake it off.
He couldn't help but gape at his former school rival until Draco walked towards him and looked him disapprovingly up and down.
“You're wet. Not only will you drip all over my floor but you'll get yourself a cold if you're not careful.”
Before Harry knew what was happening, Malfoy had gotten out his wand and cast a drying and warming spell over Harry.
“Why don't you find yourself a table and I'll be right with you.”
Was he dreaming? Harry shook his head and pinched himself, but the scene didn't change. Dutifully he walked over to the nearest table and let himself plomp onto the armchair that seemed to expand to accommodate his needs and sighed in contentment. As odd as the whole situation was, the warmth of the cafe and the softness of the chair let him relax almost instantly. He closed his eyes. Just for a second , he told himself firmly. He only opened them again when he heard the sound of porcelain next to his ear. Draco had put a large mug of hot chocolate, complete with whipped cream, marshmallows and sprinkles in front of him. Harry's mouth instantly began to water.
“You haven't even asked me what I want.”
Draco smirked at him and Harry was reminded of their school time, when Draco's expression would have infuriated him.
“It's not about what you want, Potter. It's what you need . And you are clearly in need of hot chocolate.”
The smirk turned into the soft smile again and Harry couldn't help but blush.
“What happened to you?” he asked, immediately thinking the question might be rude.
Draco chuckled and sat down in front of Harry, keeping the till in his eyesight.
“I got lost.”
Harry just looked at him, not understanding what that had anything to do with...well, anything.
“After the war... I got lost. I didn't know who I was anymore, I didn't know who I wanted to be I just knew who I didn't want to be. I didn't want to be... what I've been. And when I realised that nobody would hire a former death eater... well,” he looked around himself proudly, “I came up with this.”
Harry followed his gaze and took in the other patrons, most of them sitting at their tables alone, emerged in a book or in one case, even snoring softly.
“What... what exactly is this?” Harry couldn't help but ask. He felt like he'd fallen into the Muggle story where the girl fell into a hole and emerged in Wonderland. Was this his Wonderland? A warm café and a smiling Draco Malfoy?
The smile widened into a grin and Draco held his hands out, indicating the whole café.“This, Potter, is a place for everyone who feels lost. Call it a sanctuary for the confused and lonely,” he explains proudly.
Harry thinks about it.
“That sounds... sad.”
Draco stares at him, the smile vanishing.
“Well, it appeared for you, didn't it. Are you sad?”
Harry swallowed and slowly lifted his hands to wrap them around his mug, revelling in the heat coming from it.
“But you're lost.”
Harry thought about the frustration he felt about being with the Auror department, of coming home to his flat alone every night, his nerves on fire and nothing to do but to sleep.
“Are you?” he countered.
The smile was back.
“That's why I'm here, Potter.”
“I thought you're here to provide for other people who are lost.”
“That doesn't mean that I have to have myself figured out. Now drink your beverage, it's getting cold.”
Harry lifted the mug to his lips and took a sip, closing his eyes as the rich flavour of the hot chocolate filled his senses.
“This is lovely,” he muttered after swallowing.
Draco still smiled.
“You have a little...”
He indicated Harry's top lip where he figured must be some whipped cream trapped in his mustache. He wiped at it and Draco laughed.
“You're making it worse,” he grinned and leaned over, thumb extracted.“Here, let me.”
Harry had never been this close to Malfoy. He could count every single eyelash from where he was sitting while Draco's pale thumb stroked his olive-coloured cheek. Was it just him or was this going on too long to be simply a clean-up job?
His heart jumped at the thought. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd been caressed. Probably by Ginny in the direct aftermath of the war. He didn't regret the split. He hadn't then, and he didn't now, almost 7 years later, but it had been a long time since...
“Ron thinks I'm lonely,” he just blurted out and Draco stopped in his tracks. Harry hoped that he wouldn't retract his hand while simultaneously trying not to lean too much into the touch.
“Does he now?” Draco asked, and pressed his hand closer, cupping Harry's cheek.
“Blaise reckons the same thing about me.”
“Are you?” Harry didn't know why he asked and he hoped that Draco wouldn't ask him back because he had no idea how the answer to that question looked like.
Draco smiled. “Why don't you find out?”
Harry's mouth dropped open. What the hell were they doing?
“You've changed,” he decides to say.
“So have you,” Draco counters and finally sits back in his chair. Harry tries to pretend to not feel the loss of the warm hand on his cheek.
Draco nods. “Me neither.”
He didn't really know why he asked. Had no idea what came over him. Maybe it was the brilliance of the hot chocolate that once again flooded his mouth.
“Do you want to maybe... do something?”
Draco arched an eyebrow.
“What kind of something?”
“Go out for coffee? Or...” he grimaced as he looked around, “dinner?”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“I suppose I am.”
“Are you asking me out on a date because Weasley thinks you're lonely?”
Harry shook his head.
“I'm asking you out because I want to get to know the lost and found Draco Malfoy,” he started blushing, “and because I like the way your hand fits perfectly to my face.”
They sat in silence for a while, Harry's heart beating loudly against his ribcage.
Draco leaned forward once again.
“Do you want to know what I think also fits perfectly?”
Harry nodded slightly just before Draco brought his hand up to grab Harry's neck and bring him forward in a soft tugging motion, fitting their lips together in a slow embrace.
“You taste of hot chocolate,” Draco said while Harry remarked, “That does fit perfectly,” and the two of them grinned at each other giddily.
“See,” Draco said as he stood up and brushed off his ridiculous apron, “you did come here because there was something you needed to find.” He winked and started walking away.
“I'm getting off at 6,” he threw over his shoulder in a nonchalant manner that reminded Harry so much of the Draco he was familiar with, the Draco he knew, and he had to smile.
Maybe he was lost and maybe this was just the beginning of being found.