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In the Early Hours

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December 1999

A dim streak of light breaks through the split of the curtains, casting just enough light for Harry to make out the shapes around his bedroom. He pulls his sheet up just a bit higher, watching as Draco Malfoy finishes fastening up his trousers. The silence of the room is becoming deafening, a roaring noise that is joining the pounding of his alcohol-induced headache that’s already starting to form.

Harry has no idea how to make this situation less awkward, so he remains silent as Draco finishes buttoning up his shirt.

“I should get going.” Draco jerks his head towards the door, his pale hair the most visible thing in the dark room.

“Yeah, of course.” Harry clears his throat. “Erm—thanks… it was fun.”

“Sure.” Draco snorts softly. “Well, I’ve got a Portkey to catch, so..”

“A Portkey?”

“Merlin… how drunk were you, Potter?” Draco exhales slowly. “Yes, a Portkey—I’m moving to Argentina for an apprenticeship.”

Harry presses his lips together searching for any memories of the evening. He remembers flashes of the night: the brightly-coloured lights flashing and roving over the crowd, Draco pushing Harry up against a brick wall a block away from the club, their bodies pressed together first at the club and then later tangled in Harry’s sheets.

“…for Ward Magic?” Draco prompts.

“Right, of course.”

“Do you remember any part of last night? You know what—it’s fine. It’s been ‘fun’” Draco opens the door and then pauses. “Good luck with your Auror exams next week. I’m sure you’ll do great.”

“Oh—erm, thanks—” Harry doesn’t remember having that conversation either. “Good luck with your—erm—apprenticeship.”

Draco huffs a quiet laugh. “See you around, Potter.”

The door falls shut with a small click, and Harry sinks back into his pillow. God, he needs to watch how much he drinks.

 

January 2001

Harry puts his empty glass down with a bit more force than necessary. He’d thought coming to a Muggle club would be the answer—get away from the press and everyone hounding him with questions or, worse, pity. But anger is still simmering through his veins.

He’d had this nagging feeling that something had been off for weeks, but he’d chosen to ignore it. And now, he feels like an absolute idiot. Jack had seemed perfect—maybe too perfect. He’d been kind, a bit funny, and more than a little ruggedly handsome. Most importantly, he hadn’t seemed bothered by Harry’s fame and had never treated Harry like he was someone to be revered. From the start, Harry knew he was ambitious—Jack had great plans to become an International Quidditch Correspondent. Even still, Harry never expected him to sell him out. Not like that. Not airing his dirty laundry all over the cover of the Daily Prophet. Harry hopes he chokes on his new promotion.

“Well, look who’s here…”

Harry spins to see Draco Malfoy sliding onto the stool next to him. Just what he needs. Another person who most definitely read the story. Everyone read the story. He could barely get through the ministry to leave work earlier. His face heats, anger boiling over.

“Come to ask personal questions? Ask how much of it is true? Or just gloat?” Harry spits.

“What?” Draco leans back, eyes wide.

“If you want to take the piss, just get it over with. I’m not in the mood.”

“Look…” Draco raises his hands. “I don’t know what you’re on about. I just got back in town—I just saw you at the bar and thought I’d say hello.”

Harry lets out a sigh and scrubs a hand over his face. “Fuck. I’m sorry—I thought you… Nevermind. I’m just having a completely shite day.”

“I can see that.” Draco gestures to the bartender, pointing at Harry’s glass and holding up two fingers, before turning back to Harry. “I hope you aren’t drinking something disgusting.”

Harry feels the corner of his lips quirk up—the closest he’s come to a smile all day. “Tequila. Double.”

Draco sighs as the bartender slides the two glasses in front of them, the clear liquid looking deceptively innocent. He pays and then holds up his drink with a raised eyebrow.

Harry grabs his drink and clinks it to Draco’s before downing it in one. Draco does similarly, grimacing as he swallows before letting out a harsh breath.

“Do you want to talk about it or dance?”

Harry’s body is already warm from the alcohol, and he wants nothing more than to forget about his shitty day. Plus, Draco’s fit, very fit if Harry remembers their one night together clearly enough, so it could be worse. He might just be the perfect way for Harry to forget about everything for a few hours. “Let’s dance.”

“Thank fuck for that.” Draco smirks as he slips his hand in Harry’s, pulling him towards the crowded dance floor.

Harry lets himself be manhandled through the crowd, getting lost in the music, in the feel of Draco’s body pressed against his. Harry isn’t sure why it helps. It shouldn’t—Draco isn’t his friend, isn’t even someone he necessarily likes as a person. But Draco knows him; Harry doesn’t have to put on a strong face, doesn’t have to care what Draco Malfoy, of all people, thinks of him. So they dance; they press and grind up against each other. They dance late into the night and then, once again, go back to Harry’s and fuck until the early hours of the morning, and somehow, it helps.

 

October 2001

It doesn’t take long this time. A short conversation about nothing in particular after running into each other in Diagon Alley, and then they’re apparating straight into Harry’s bedroom. Harry doesn’t even have alcohol to blame it on this time.

Harry pushes Draco up against the wall, pinning him with his body as he runs his hands down his sides. He loves this. With Draco, he can just take what he wants—not worry about what is expected, what the other person thinks of him or will think of him later. There will be no hurt feelings in the morning, no expectations going forward. No need to talk other than for the occasional dirty talk and to check for consent—and with Draco, it is always yes. Yes, harder… yes, faster… yes, do it. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world that feels like nothing but unreachable expectations.

Harry kisses the soft spot under Draco’s neck, relishing the shiver that travels through Draco’s body in response. “When did you get so gorgeous?”

Draco huffs a laugh as he slides his leg between Harry’s, pressing up just enough to pull a moan out of him. “I’ve always been gorgeous, Potter. You just weren’t paying attention.”

Harry chuckles as he trails kisses up his neck and along his jawline, murmuring against his skin, “I don’t believe you. Something must be in the water in Argentina.”

Draco snorts. “I haven’t been in Argentina for months. I’m working in Martinique—doing research.”

Harry pulls back, blinking. “Martinique?”

“In the Caribbean. It’s an island—does it really matter?” Draco pulls him closer, his cock pressing insistently into Harry’s hip.

“Not really.” Harry tilts his head back as Draco sucks on the side of his neck. “When do you head back?”

“Six in the morning, so let’s get to it if you don’t mind.” Draco rolls his hips, a smirk pulling at his lips when Harry shudders at the motion.

“Right—yeah, okay…” Harry presses a bruising kiss to his lips, enjoying the intensity and roughness of it all.

It’s not like this with anyone else—not that he’s tried to date much after the Jack fiasco. But even when he tries for casual sex, muggle or wizard, it’s never quite like this. Hard, aggressive, almost vulgar. A far cry from the controlled and gentle sex he seems to have otherwise. And over the past year, when he’s alone at night, Draco’s slowly become the one Harry thinks about, reimagining their two nights together—the push and pull, the pure lust.

He presses his palms against Draco’s chest, pushing him into the wall, enjoying the power he feels before unbuttoning his shirt. He leaves sloppy kisses down Draco’s chest as he drops to his knees and wonders if Draco thinks of him too.

 

November 2002

Harry stretches out as Draco continues to kiss his neck slowly, his body languid from his last orgasm. He’s given up on worrying about what Draco and he are doing anymore.

Every few months over the past year, whenever Draco is in town for… whatever he is in town for, Harry really doesn’t know… Draco will come by Harry’s house, they’ll have sex, and then he’ll leave again. They rarely talk, and Harry knows almost nothing about the man and how he lives his life. He’s curious at times—usually, once Draco is gone and Harry’s had time to reflect on whatever they are doing. He doesn’t even really know if Draco is still the same arsehole that he’d been in school. It doesn’t seem like it—he is still biting and sarcastic but he doesn’t seem cruel anymore. Harry’s thought about asking, wondering if he should care more if Draco is fully reformed, but he never does. He isn’t sure he could bring himself to give this up if he isn’t.

Harry had spent the first few times wondering what was wrong with him, why he was hooking up—repeatedly—with Draco Malfoy. Besides the fantastic sex, that is. But these stolen nights are some of the only times in his life where he can let go. He’s able to stop worrying about whether he’s good enough, kind enough, or depicting the proper, upstanding Auror figure that everyone else expects. Instead, he can shove Draco roughly against the wall, kiss and suck bruises into his neck, take him roughly and then be taken roughly in return. And Draco wants it, needs it—maybe just as much as Harry. The freedom in it is too appealing, too addictive to give up. Draco seems equally content with their arrangement, probably enjoying the break from visiting his family or whatever else he is doing when he’s back in England.

Draco sighs as he drops his head back onto the pillow, his legs still tangled in Harry’s and both of them fully spent.

“Are you still in Martinique?”

Draco raises an eyebrow, his eyes full of humour. “You actually remember anything I’ve told you? I was becoming increasingly convinced that I was sucking your brain cells out of your cock.”

Harry laughs and smacks him on the arm. “Fuck off. I listen—when I’m not blackout drunk, at least.”

Draco hums. “How many times has that been?”

“That I was blackout drunk? Just the first time.”

“Well, thank fuck for that. And, yes, I’m still at the research facility in Martinique, for now.”

“Do you like it there?” Harry stretches out, propping his head on his hand. While he can’t find it in him to care much while they are having sex, every time Draco leaves Harry finds himself wondering what Draco really is doing, what his life is like.

“I do. It’s a good fit for now. What about you? How’s action-filled life in the Aurors?” The corner of his lips tugs up.

“It’s fine.”

“Just fine?” Draco raises an eyebrow.

Harry shrugs. “It’s you know… just dealing with a lot of shite people all the time.”

“Ah, yes, I could see that being a less than appealing part of the job.”

“It’s fine, though. It’s important work, you know.”

“Right, of course.” Draco clears his throat.

Harry can feel the tension building in the room. He also really doesn’t want to talk about his job. “You said you were doing research?”

Draco visibly relaxes and then nods. “I’ve been studying location-based protection magic and wards. There are different methods used in different areas of the world and different cultures, so my plan is to work with experts in different places to see where there are differences and what impact those differences have on the efficacy of the…” He stops and presses his lips together. “Am I boring you, Potter?”

Harry tries and fails to stifle the yawn that has been forming. “Just tired, sorry.”

“It’s pretty late. I’ll let you get some rest then.” Draco sits, pushing the blankets to the side before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He dresses in silence, and Harry wonders if he should offer that Draco can stay. It seems polite, but he can’t help but worry that it’ll be weird in the morning. In the end, he remains quiet and Draco leaves without another word.

 

April 2003

“Sorry, my plans ran late,” Draco says breathily, as he pushes Harry onto the bed.

“Okay?” Harry props himself up on his elbows, watching as Draco makes quick work of his buttons and strips off his clothes.

“I only have a few hours.” He climbs on the bed, crawling over Harry, his hair falling in loose strands over his eyes.

“I can make that work.” Harry reaches down, pulling his joggers and pants off in one quick motion.

Draco smirks as he lowers himself onto Harry. “I was hoping you’d say that.” 

He wonders if he should care more about being just a convenient fuck, but as Draco swirls his tongue over the head of Harry’s cock, he suddenly doesn’t have a single care in the world.

 

September 2003

Harry traces Draco’s abdomen, watching as the muscles ripple beneath his touch. He loves this—the languid, post-coital hours in the darkness of the early morning. After a particularly rough week at work, Harry had been more than a little happy to see Draco lounging on his sofa when he got home Friday evening. He’d long since opened his Floo to him. Draco had initially seemed concerned that he’d come over at an inopportune time—interrupting a date or something private—but Harry’d insisted he’d close the Floo for the evening if that were the case. Harry hadn’t bothered to add that he rarely has anyone other than Draco over anymore, at least not overnight.

Harry slowly maps out Draco’s chest and stomach with his fingers, keeping a firm enough touch to not tickle. Draco seems to be getting more fit every time Harry sees him—he wonders if he works out or is just active. There are probably lots of active things to do in the Caribbean. His skin is slightly less pale, as well, slowly building up a light tan from his time on the island.

“Do you swim a lot?”

“What?” Draco looks at him with a raised eyebrow that Harry is starting to recognise as his ‘Harry is being non-sequitur again’ look.

“What do you mean, ‘what?’ You live in the Caribbean; this is a reasonable question!” Harry laughs and flicks his stomach.

Draco huffs a laugh, swatting Harry’s hand away. “I swim occasionally. There are a few nice beaches that aren’t too far from my flat. Where did that question come from though?”

“Oh, well…” Harry runs his hand down Draco’s stomach again, a smile forming on his face. “I’ve just noticed you seem to be in good shape.”

“Oh,” Draco replies, his eyes lighting up. “You were just admiring me? Go on then.”

Harry laughs before he rolls over on top of the other man, pinning him down and roughly sucking and nipping down the length of his neck. “Somehow I don’t think you need any more reassurance.” He kisses his way down Draco’s muscular and lean chest.

“Well, feel free to just admire my body with your tongue then.”

Harry smiles against his skin and then proceeds to do just that.

 

February 2004

“How long do eggs take, Potter?”

“They’re going to take a lot longer if you keep complaining.”

Draco pulls himself up to a seated position on the counter; the joggers that he borrowed from Harry are sitting dangerously low on his hips. Harry briefly considers letting the eggs burn so he can pull the joggers down and suck Draco off right there. But then his stomach growls, and he remembers the task at hand.

“So, how’s the research coming?” Harry asks as he pulls a couple of plates down from the cupboard, lining them up on the counter.

“It’s going well. I’m actually wrapping up my time at the facility I’m currently at. I accepted an offer in Singapore that starts next month.”

Harry turns off the hob, glancing up at Draco as he piles the scrambled eggs onto the plates. “Oh, yeah?”

“It’s a good opportunity. I won’t bore you with the details.” Draco smiles and slides off the counter, grabbing one of the plates from Harry. They walk over to the table, both sitting at one end.

“I don’t mind,” Harry says as he forks his eggs.

“Yeah?” Draco glances up. “Well, they have a whole set of protective spells that pull from ancestral magic to strengthen them.”

“Like blood wards?” Harry has stumbled on some pretty strong wards in older homes over the years as they rounded up the last of the death eaters.

“Sort of, but it works a bit differently. It works through family ties, but not just blood relations. Those married into the family or adopted can pull from the ancestral magic as well. It doesn’t have to be formal, even—which might be the most fascinating part of this magic. It seems to understand the intent from both sides of the connection.”

“What do you mean?”

“Okay, so for example, you consider the Weasleys your family, right? That’s who you’ve said you spend Christmas with and other holidays?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

Draco nods. “Right, so since they see you the same way, you’d be able to pull from the Weasley family ancestral magic if you were using this type of magic, and it would work as if you were a blood relative. You’d also be able to still pull from the Potter ancestral magic—it wouldn’t limit you to just one family, but it could weave through all your familial ties.”

Harry chews his eggs slowly as the thought rolls around his head. There is something to the idea that’s comforting, even if it isn’t a type of magic that he’s familiar with in England. Knowing that there is magic out there that would recognise his bond with the Weasley’s is validating in some way.

“It’s nice isn’t it?” Draco asks.

Harry looks up to see a small smile on his face.

“To think that maybe we can choose our family. That it could be just as real.” Draco’s smile turns wry, and he clears his throat before grabbing his plate and standing. “Are you done?” He gestures to Harry’s empty plate.

Harry can only nod. The lump forming in his throat is growing too large for words to escape.

Draco sets the dishes and pan washing with a flick of his wand and then clears his throat again before turning back to Harry. “I should get going. It’s a bit late and I still need to pack.”

Harry wonders if he could ask him to stay, even just a little longer. But in the end, he only nods. “Right, of course.” Within a few minutes, Draco is dressed and Harry’s standing in front of him by the front door.

“See you around, Harry.” Draco leans in and presses a soft kiss to his cheek. A moment later, the click of the door echoes in the silence of the house. Harry stands unmoving for several minutes before he can pull himself back to the kitchen to finish cleaning up.

 

August 2004

Harry looks up at the ceiling, dimly lit in a blue-ish white from the streetlights outside his bedroom window. His chest is still tight. Normally, a couple of hours of energetic sex with Draco would make his worries and stress fade into the background. But his chest feels as heavy as ever.

“You want to tell me what’s going on?”

“What?”

“You’ve been in a bad mood all night.”

“I have not.” Harry flips over on his side to face him.

Draco huffs a laugh. “Sure. You’re absolutely fine. We can try to keep having sex until you’ve worn yourself out too much to care, but I need a minute to recover here.”

“It’s just work. It’s not a big deal.”

“Okay.” The corners of Draco’s lips quirk up.

Harry’s jaw tightens, his body tense. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

Draco presses his lips together, his expression turning serious. “Right. Of, course.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“It’s fine. I have to get going anyways.” Draco swings his legs over the edge of the bed and grabs his clothes from where they are strewn on the floor. He dresses quickly and is out the door before Harry can even decide if he should apologise.

After it becomes clear that Draco isn’t coming back, Harry flops back on the bed, pressing the palm of his hands into his closed eyes. Fuck. He hadn’t meant it like that, but what is he supposed to say? It’s not like that with them. They don’t have the kind of relationship where Harry can come home and talk about a bad day at work or how he doesn’t know what he is doing anymore.

It isn’t Draco’s business, anyways, Harry thinks bitterly. After all, they aren’t anything to each other, are they? Just a convenient fuck when Draco’s in town. He turns over and shoves his pillow under his head before falling into a restless sleep.

 

November 2004

Harry presses Draco up against the wall, peppering him with kisses. “I wasn’t sure you’d come back.” No matter what Harry has tried to convince himself over the past few months, he’s been worried that he wouldn’t.

“Don’t I always?” Draco sighs.

Harry wonders if he should be concerned that Draco doesn’t sound happier about it but he’s quickly distracted as Draco’s hands wander lower and they otherwise occupy themselves for the night, leaving little room for other thoughts.

 

March 2005

“I should go.” Draco stands, stretching his long limbs.

“Why do you do that?” Harry props himself up on his elbow, watching as Draco searches the floor for his discarded clothes.

“Do what?”

“You know… leave like this—so abruptly.”

Draco pauses before looking over, a black sock still in one hand. “It’s not like you want me to stay.”

Harry opens his mouth but the argument catches in his throat. Does he want him to stay? He doesn’t even understand what they are doing. And, if he’s honest with himself, he isn’t sure if he wants Draco to stay the whole night. Would it be awkward when they woke up? Would they have anything to say to one another in the bright light in the morning? But, then again, would it be so bad if he didn’t rush for the door every time?

But before Harry can try to articulate any of that, Draco nods as if he’s just confirmed something. “Right. See you next time, Potter.”

Harry watches as he walks away, the door slowly closing behind him with a click. Anger slowly builds even in the swirling confusion. After a minute of unsuccessfully trying to gather his thoughts, he drops back onto the bed and grabs a pillow, covers his face, and screams into it.

 

May 2005

Harry stares at the dark ceiling, unable to look at Draco as he asks, “What if I did want you to stay?” He’s spent quite a bit of time preoccupied with that question over the past couple of months.

Draco sighs beside him. “In some hypothetical scenario?”

Harry presses his lips together, exhaling loudly through his nose. “Why are you always so difficult?”

“In what world did you expect me to be easy, Potter?”

Harry can’t stop the snort from escaping. “Well…”

“Not like that, you absolute git.”

Harry yelps as a pillow hits him in the face. He wrestles it away and knocks Draco upside the head, causing his hair to stick upright. Shaking with laughter, Harry tries to block a counterattack, the darkness not doing any favours to his already poor vision. After a few minutes, and no clear winner, Harry drops back onto the bed, gasping for breath. Draco slides to the edge of the bed, a soft smile on his lips.

“You don’t have to go.”

“Don’t ‘have to?’”

“I want you to stay,” Harry blurts out.

Draco turns away, not answering immediately. Harry feels his cheeks heating and is grateful for the darkness of the room, mentally kicking himself for the suggestion.

“You sure?” Draco finally asks, sounding hesitant.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Harry’s not sure. Not really. But for as much as he’s not sure he wants him to stay, Harry knows that he hates it when he leaves.

After a moment, the bed shifts again as Draco lays back down and then scoots towards Harry with a hesitation that he never has during sex. Harry tries to relax his body, not show the growing unease he is feeling as well. He’s so sick of worrying about what he should do, what he should want. He wants this—to sleep next to him, to have that closeness he so rarely gets to experience in his life. He reminds himself that this is Draco; Harry can ask for what he wants with him. Because that’s what Draco does for himself. So, he throws an arm over Draco and pulls him close. Draco relaxes against him almost immediately.

“You better not hog the covers,” Draco says, his voice muffled in Harry’s shoulder.

“No promises.” Harry huffs a laugh as he tries to tamp down the feeling that this situation is getting away from him. Not that it was ever really under control…

 

October 2005

“Are you sure you know what you are doing?” Draco peers over Harry’s shoulder before poking the mixture in the bowl.

Harry rolls his eyes, wondering how he got talked into midnight baking. “Yes, I’m fully capable of making basic chocolate chip cookies.”

“Is it supposed to look like that?” Draco slides around him, leaning over the counter.

Harry smacks his hand with the wooden spoon when he goes to poke it again. “Have you never seen dough before?”

“I’ve seen dough.”

“Have you seen cookie dough?”

Draco sets his jaw.

“Oh my god.” Harry laughs. “Do you cook at all?”

A faint tinge of pink creeps up Draco’s cheeks and nose. “There are plenty of restaurants in Perth, I’ll have you know.”

“Perth?” Harry freezes. “I thought you were in Singapore.”

Draco frowns. “Not since last year.”

“You didn’t tell me.” Harry tries to keep his voice light, but his stomach clenches tightly. Harry isn’t sure why this sets him off-kilter. They rarely talk about anything consequential, usually more interested in getting straight to the bedroom, but whenever Harry’s thought of him, wondering what he’s up to, he’s been imagining him in Singapore.

“I’m sure I told you.”

“I’m sure I would have remembered that.”

Draco’s eyes search Harry’s face, and Harry can feel his own face burning, so he turns back to the dough and continues to stir it a little harder than strictly necessary.

After a long moment, Draco clears his throat. “Well, I’m in Perth now, and they have plenty of restaurants.”

“Right.” Harry keeps his focus on the dough as confusing emotions whirl through him. Then Harry feels warmth against his back as Draco moves behind him and wraps his arms around his waist.

“Sorry. I really thought I’d told you.”

Harry nods and lets out a breath. “It’s fine.” He feels himself relax and lean back against Draco’s warm chest. It’s not like Draco owes him anything, not really. It was just a surprise.

Draco props his chin on Harry’s shoulder. “It’s nice there. You could—you could visit sometime if you wanted. I have a decent flat.”

Harry glances over in surprise. “Yeah?” He turns the idea over in his head. That is… something else, isn’t it? Not quite what they are doing, but he finds himself liking the thought. “I’ve never been to Australia. I’ve never been out of the country, actually.”

“What? Not once?”

“Nope.”

“How is that possible?”

Harry feels himself bristle but then picks up the dough-covered spoon, turning and pointing it at Draco. “Says the man who doesn’t know what dough looks like.”

“I know what dough looks like!” Draco laughs and then yelps as Harry flicks his wrist sending a glob of dough straight into his hair. Harry shakes, laughing as Draco’s eyes widen in shock. Draco slowly raises a hand to pull it out but only manages to smear it over more hair and part of his forehead.

Harry doubles over with laughter.

“Fuck off!” Draco laughs. “Hey, Harry—”

Harry looks up just in time to see a handful of flour coming toward his face. “Fucker!” He whirls around, searching for something to retaliate with. He then feels another lump of flour hit his back as Draco cackles behind him. Harry quickly grabs an egg, hiding it in his palm before turning around and slowly moving towards Draco, putting on his best bedroom eyes.

Draco watches him warily but leans in as Harry wraps his free hand around his hip, pulling him tight. Harry presses a kiss to his lips, snaking his other hand up Draco’s back and neck until it’s near his head. He’s unable to sustain the kiss for long, his lips pulling into a wide smile as he breaks the egg straight onto the top of Draco’s head.

Draco shrieks and Harry tries to move fast, but Draco is faster, grabbing him around his waist with one arm while grabbing the entire bowl of flour with the other. Harry laughs and coughs, choking on the cloud of flour in the air as they both fall to the floor in the tussle. Warmth fills him even as they lay on the cold tile floor, catching their breaths, both unable to stop laughing every time they look at one another in their floury, egg-covered mess.

 

April 2006

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Harry sighs and buries himself deeper into the blankets. He knows that once again he’d been pissy for most of the night, and irritated, and biting, and maybe a little rude. And it’s not Draco’s fault. “Not really.”

Draco rolls his eyes. “Let me rephrase. Would it help to talk about it?”

Harry makes an annoyed noise and flops back onto his back. “Probably. But I don’t want to.”

Draco chuckles. “Well, that’s quite the surprise. Normally, you’re so very talkative about your life.”

“Shut up.” Harry lightly smacks Draco’s chest with the back of his hand. “It’s just…” He takes a deep breath, trying to gather his thoughts. Draco isn’t wrong; Harry knows he needs to work through this. He is miserable more often than not these days. But this is Draco; they don’t do this—share feelings and secrets. Not that he’s been confiding in anyone recently.

“You don’t have to talk to me, but— it just seems…”

Harry turns back over, bracing himself. “What? Just spit it out.”

“You just seem unhappy.” Draco presses his lips together.

Harry lets out a rough breath. He doesn’t know what he has expected Draco to see in him, but that wasn’t it. Once again, Draco isn’t wrong. Harry wonders how it was that this person who he only sees every few months at the most sees through him so easily. Even his friends seem to buy his everything-is-fine act most of the time.

“I know it’s not really my business—”

“No,” Harry interrupts. “It’s okay. I’m… I don’t know— I hate my job.”

“Okay…”

Harry scoots up in the bed to a seated position, grabbing a pillow and holding it in his lap. “I know I shouldn’t.”

“Who says you shouldn’t?” Draco pulls himself up, sitting back against the headboard next to Harry.

“Well, no one is saying that exactly…” Harry sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “But you know what I mean. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing and—”

“Harry—

“And I’m good at it—”

“Harry— Can I just—” Draco takes a sharp inhale. “Look, I know this isn’t my business; we’re not, you know…” Draco waves his hand in the air, seemingly unable to articulate what exactly they are or are not. Harry can relate. “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that there are no ‘shoulds’ in life.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve just got this one life, and it’s yours and yours alone. And if you live it by other people’s ideas of what you should do, you’re not really living your life then are you?”

Harry tightens his grasp on the pillow. He wants to argue, but something in the idea feels important, maybe a little like hope. “Is that why you’re doing what you’re doing?”

“In part.”

Harry glances over to see a serious expression on Draco’s face. “Do you like it? …What you do?”

Draco meets Harry’s eyes and his expression softens. “I do. It’s fascinating. It’s not perfect, obviously. I need to move often to really conduct research in the way I want, but… it’s good for me, I think.”

Harry nods. He is growing to hate that part of Draco’s job—the constant leaving, the constant moving. He knows he could visit; Draco has invited him. And Harry loves the idea of going somewhere new, of seeing another part of the world for once. But every time he thinks about it, he panics that it will be awkward or that Draco hadn’t really meant it when he had invited him or that it will change this thing they have, somehow messing everything up, and Harry just can’t do it. So, instead, he just quietly hates that Draco lives so far away and keeps it to himself, along with the rest of the things that he’s unhappy about in his life. This is safe. He knows how to do this. And somewhere, deep down, he’s also happy for Draco—that he’s out there living his life. That he’s happy. One of them should be happy, at least.

 

September 2006

As Harry closes the door to the oven, he hears the tell-tale knock at the door, and a smile curves over his lips. Given the protections on his house and the fact that his friends tend to either use the Floo or just barge in, there’s only one person that can be. Harry takes the steps two at a time and pulls open the door. Draco smiles as Harry steps back, letting him in.

Before the door can click behind them, Harry’s got him pressed up against the wall. “I just put dinner in the oven, so we’ve got an hour,”

Draco laughs against Harry’s lips, and it takes them no time at all to head upstairs and find more than a few things that they can do to pass the time.

An hour later, quite dishevelled and wonderfully relaxed, they make their way back downstairs just in time for Harry to take the roast out of the oven. It would’ve been too much food for just him, anyway, and he’s more than a little warmed at the idea of having someone to share it with this evening. They set the table with both place settings at the one end of the table. Harry then opens a bottle of wine as Draco fills him in on the advances he’s been making with his research and his job prospects.

“And this new position would have any necessary travel funded as a part of it.”

“So, you’re moving again?” Harry pours each of them a glass of wine and sits down, his knee brushing against Draco’s.

“Already did. I just put my stuff in storage for a while, since I’ll mostly be living out of my trunks.”

Harry’s stomach clenches. He doesn’t understand why it bothers him so much every time he hears about something major in Draco’s life after the fact. “Ah, that sounds like a good opportunity.”

“It is.” Draco flicks his wand over the roast, thinly slicing off several pieces and levitating them to Harry’s plate before repeating the motion for his own plate. “So, how about you? What’s been new in your life? How’s work?”

“Oh, well, I quit my job.” Harry spoons some potatoes onto his plate.

Draco pauses, his fork halfway to his mouth. “You quit?”

Harry shrugs. He’s pretty sure it was the right thing to do, but he thought he would feel less stressed, less adrift after quitting. Instead, he’s still got that same nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach—that he should be happy now, that he should know what he wants to do with his life, that his life should feel full, instead of always just a little empty. Either way, he knows he doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s got enough of that from his friends, who are always checking in, always worried. He knows they mean well, but it’s all a bit too much.

Not wanting to think about it all for a second longer, he takes a breath and changes the subject. “So how often will you be back then? With the new job?”

Draco chews his food slowly and then takes a drink of his wine. “I’m not sure. I’ll still have time off occasionally, of course.”

“Will you be back for Christmas to see your mum?”

Draco glances up at Harry before focusing back on his food. “She moved to France years ago. I usually visit her for a day or two for Christmas at the villa.”

“Oh,” Harry replies. The unmoored feeling that Harry gets whenever he finds out yet another thing he doesn’t know about Draco’s life swirls through him. “That’s nice.”

Draco hums in noncommittal agreement and they finish their meal quietly.

 

November 2006

Harry stares at the shaft of dull light coming through the curtains, his head resting on Draco’s chest as he comes down from a rather spectacular orgasm. The sex is always so good. It’s all so good, really. And that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Because when Draco’s here, Harry feels anchored, he feels calm and like he can take on the world. That’s wonderful and great, except that when he leaves or when Harry’s reminded of just how much he’s not really a part of Draco’s life, it sets him adrift again.

He also finds himself thinking of Draco more often than not. For the past two months, Harry’s been rather preoccupied with the new information he’d learned during his last visit. He’d just assumed Draco was coming to England to visit his mum. Harry’s not sure why it should matter, but he doesn’t even know what Draco’s doing here. With no job to distract him now, the preoccupation has only has gotten worse. Harry finds himself constantly vacillating between irritation at Draco for never telling him about his life and irritation at himself for never asking.

And he knows if he doesn’t ask now, he’ll spend the next few months obsessing even more. “So do you stay in the Manor by yourself then?”

“What?”

“You said your mum is in France, last time you were here.”

“Oh,” Draco replies, his voice surprised but soft. “I stay in a hotel. Not really interested in spending time in the Manor.”

“A hotel?”

“Yes? You know… those buildings where you can rent rooms.”

Harry huffs a laugh. “I know what a hotel is, you git.”

Draco laughs softly, his chest rumbling under Harry’s head.

“You know… you could stay here. If you want, I mean.” As he asks the question, it seems so much bigger than what it was in his head. Harry squeezes his eyes shut, glad that Draco can’t see his face in their current position. It seems like a lifetime ago that Harry had been worried about him staying the night. It’s never been awkward. Not once. Harry never ceases to be surprised at how easily Draco slips in and out of his life, like he’s always been there. And he supposes that in some ways, he has been, at least for the majority of it at this point. And for as much as he wasn’t looking for a relationship with the man—isn’t looking for a relationship, Harry knows that’s not what they do, not what this is—he still finds himself missing him more often than not these days.

After a long minute, Draco replies, “I wouldn’t want to impose.”

“You wouldn’t be,” Harry insists, trying to not sound too hopeful.

“Maybe,” Draco says, noncommittally.

Harry nods slightly to himself. He thinks he already knew that would be the answer, and he tries to not be too disappointed. He really needs to get a grip—at most they’re friends-with-benefits. So, it’s no use daydreaming about how nice it would be if Draco stayed longer, if he came back more frequently, if they were something more... That was never the deal.

 

New Year’s Eve 2006

Harry bounds back upstairs to where Draco is waiting for him in the bedroom. Neither of them had got more than a couple of words of greeting out before they stumbled upstairs, quickly getting one another off. But he knows he needs to Floo his friends to let them know he isn’t coming before they send out a search party.

“Okay, all set,” Harry says, out of breath from the stairs as he closes the bedroom door behind him. Draco is stretched out on the bed, his skin glowing in the dimly lit bedroom. “Just needed to let my friends know that I can’t make it tonight.”

Draco frowns. “If you have plans, I can go, Harry.” He starts to sit up, but Harry climbs on the bed and pushes him down before he can make it too far.

“I’m pretty sure I’d rather see what plans we can come up with.” Harry straddles Draco, his knees bracketing Draco’s thighs, a grin spreading over his face. It’s only been a couple of months, but it feels like it’s been longer this time. Harry doesn’t want to miss a single minute.

“Are you sure? It’s New Year’s Eve—I shouldn’t have assumed. Won’t your friends miss you?”

“Shut up,” Harry says with a laugh as he leans over, kissing him soundly before trailing his lips over his jaw and neck. “I just told them I wasn’t feeling well.”

“Right, of course,” Draco says quietly.

Harry can feel as the air becomes tense, and he’s not sure what just happened. But he doesn’t want to stop and think about it for too long; he just wants Draco. So, instead, he focuses on sliding down Draco’s body and making him forget about whatever it is that’s bothering him. Harry’s got a feeling it’s going to be a happy New Year.

 

March 2007

As they sit at the kitchen table finishing up their breakfast while Draco complains about the latest hotel he stayed at in Rome, Harry finds himself distracted by how much he loves these little moments. Lazy mornings in bed, Harry cooking breakfast while Draco animatedly talks about his research, laying on the sofa and listening to a Quidditch match together before Draco has to catch his next Portkey. It’s not often—Draco doesn’t usually stay long enough for that—but Harry’s heart aches from it. It’s like finding the thing you’ve always wanted, that you never even knew was the missing piece, and then being told that you can’t have it.

“I’m just so sick of hotel rooms,” Draco sighs and pushes his now empty plate away.

“Couldn’t you do some of your work without travelling? Like when you’re analysing the data?” He’s been wondering about this for a while. It seems like Draco’s work has been getting to the point where he needs to start doing something with all the research he’s collected.

Draco shrugs. “I suppose.”

“It just seems like you’ve got a lot of the research already collected at this point. Couldn’t you even move back here for part of the year?”

Draco clears his throat before taking a sip of his tea. “I don’t know. It’s not really my home anymore.” He pauses as if choosing his next words carefully. “I’m not sure there’s enough left for me here anymore… You know?”

Harry tries not to let that sting. But it does. It stings when Draco says things like this; it stings that he never writes to him; it stings when doesn’t tell him about important things or leaves abruptly. It stings when he leaves at all. Harry gets up and takes his plate to the sink, looking for something to do.

Harry sets to washing the dishes, opting to do it by hand to give himself something to do.

“Why aren’t you ever in a relationship?”

Harry freezes and looks over his shoulder. “What?”

Draco’s expression is unreadable. “Every time I come here, I expect that it’ll be the time you’ll tell me to leave because you found someone and you never do.”

“Okay…” Harry turns back to the dishes, unsure of what to think of this question. He knows that they have no obligations to each other, that Draco might… probably… dates and spends time with other men. Harry’s probably just one port among many for him. But it hurts too much to think about, so he usually tries not to.

“Isn’t that what you want?” Draco asks. “It just… it seems like that’s what you want...”

Harry clears his throat, trying to dislodge the lump that’s formed there. He knows why he’s not dating, why he’s not even trying. No one else understands—his friends worry and ask questions often enough. But deep down, he had hoped that Draco understood. But now, this whole line of questioning just reminds him how much this whole thing is really just a facsimile of what he really wants. Of what he wants with Draco.

“Sorry—it’s not really any of my business. I was just surprised that you haven’t found someone yet.”

“Maybe I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet,” Harry snaps as he grabs a dirty pan from the hob and starts to scrub vigorously.

“Right.”

Harry hears a scraping as Draco stands up behind him. “I should get going.”

“Sure.” Harry doesn’t turn around.

 

June 2007

Harry runs his finger along the swirling black lines on the centre of Draco’s back. The tattoo is in stark contrast to the paleness of Draco’s skin. As he traces the design, Harry tries to push down feelings of jealousy that are bubbling in his gut. He’s jealous that he’s only just seeing this now—completely healed and a done deal. He’s jealous that he wasn’t there when Draco decided to get one, when he chose a design, when he went to get it. It’s a stark reminder that he’s not really a part of Draco’s life. He wonders if he went alone or took a friend. He wonders who the first person to see it was. He knows he doesn’t have any rights to Draco, any right to any expectations of him, and it burns.

He knows this isn’t healthy. It’s time to end this. He just has no idea how.

 

September 2007

Harry opens the door. Draco stands before him in a light jacket, his hair falling loose around his temples. He looks happy, carefree, and Harry’s chest tightens. It’s time. He’s spent the last two months rehearsing this, playing it out in his head. It’s led to more than a few nights of him falling asleep, eyes red-rimmed, with a half-drunk firewhiskey bottle on the coffee table.

“Hey,” Harry says, stepping back to motion to Draco to come inside. “Erm—can we…” He gestures to the sitting room, and Draco follows, a frown slowly curving over his lips.

Harry takes a deep breath, gripping his hands together as he starts to pace in front of the fireplace. Draco looks increasingly worried and Harry knows he just needs to get it over with. This isn't healthy. Probably for either of them.

“What’s going on?” Draco finally asks, when Harry’s paced the length of the room again.

“You’re right.” Harry stops pacing and faces him. “…about what I want, I mean. I think—I think we can’t do this anymore.”

Draco’s jaw tightens, and he nods. “Did you—Have you—I mean, are you with someone now?”

“What? No. I just…” Harry runs a hand through his hair. Everything about this feels as awful as he imagined, and his stomach clenches tightly. He sighs and looks at Draco, feeling his shoulders sag as exhaustion settles over him. “I’m sorry, Draco. I can’t do this. This isn’t what I want. I want someone I can come home to. I want breakfast on the weekend, every weekend, not just a few times a year. ”

Draco nods again. He doesn’t look surprised.

Harry’s heart breaks a little. He’s not sure what he expected, but he realises that he hoped, just a little, that Draco might fight for them. He blinks back tears, and continues, “I don’t—I don’t want to be someone’s convenient fuck when they happen to be in town.”

“Right.” A flush creeps over Draco’s face, but his expression is unreadable. “Of course. I’ll go.” He turns and then pauses, and Harry’s heart stutters. He wants to step forward, wants to grab Draco’s shoulders and spin him around and scream at him. Wants to tell him to stay. But he doesn’t, and Draco leaves without another word.

Harry stands frozen in the middle of his sitting room, feeling like the world has just crashed down around him. He feels so very dumb. Who falls for someone they only see a few times a year? Draco never misrepresented what this was, and while Harry could have never known how much he’d grow to care for the man, he knows he should have ended it years ago.

 

December 2007

Harry makes his way through the crowds of shoppers in Diagon Alley, coming to a halt when the family in front of him stops abruptly to point at a shop before discussing whether they do, in fact, need to go into that shop. Christmas music is playing at a distance, but Harry has never been in less of a mood to celebrate. Unfortunately, he’s still got Teddy and Hermione to shop for, so he drags himself to Flourish and Blotts, hoping the bookstore will be slightly less busy than the toy store.

The bell chimes overhead as he pushes through the door, and a blast of warm air hits him in the face. Fortunately, the store is relatively quiet. Harry lets out a long exhale and heads over to the back corner of the store to find the magical theory section, and then pulls a piece of crumpled paper out of his pocket, smoothing it out and squinting to make out his own handwriting. It takes a few minutes, but he’s able to locate the two books that Ron had suggested for his wife. Harry shoves his shopping list back in his pocket and glances at the shelves as he makes his way back to the counter.

A crisp moving photograph on the cover of a book catches his eye. The Wandering Wizard’s Guide to Paris. Harry sets the heavy theory books down on a nearby shelf and picks up the guide book to thumb through it. The photographs in the book are in full colour, moving images showing people wandering the streets of Paris. Harry wonders if travel might be a good idea.

He’s tried to stay busy. He’s started volunteering at Neville’s charity, helping young wizarding children learn how to work with magical plants. While they’re learning some helpful skills, the charity exists more to help the children connect with other children in the community. The work has been nice—much less stressful than working as an Auror, but Harry still feels adrift. He tries to imagine himself in the photos of the travel book. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery for a while; it certainly can’t hurt.

He puts the Paris book on top of the magical theory books and then runs a finger along the spines of the other books on the shelf. Harry decides that he’s particularly interested in Egypt or Russia, at least not right now. Then, he stops. Singapore. Harry presses his lips together and picks up the book.

His chest tightens as he flips through the book, taking in the photographs. He imagines Draco in the restaurant on page four, in the shop on page seventeen, in the street at night with the city lights bouncing off his hair on page thiry-eight. He knows Draco hasn’t lived there for some time now. He has no idea where he is these days—if he’s still primarily travelling, if he’s taken another research position somewhere.

Harry closes his eyes and tries to breathe past the lump in his throat. He misses him so much.

He’d known it was going to hurt. He’d known it the minute he started falling for the man—his heart was never going to escape unscathed. But a part of him had also questioned how much he could really miss someone who was barely in his life. As it turns out, knowing that Draco isn’t coming back makes every day feel just a little more empty. Harry’d also thought it would get better with time. And perhaps, it still will, but it’s been nearly three months, and his heart still aches sharply from the loss. The worst part of it might be that no one even knows. How can his friends console him for a breakup from a relationship that they never even knew he was in?

Harry shoves the Singapore guidebook back on the shelf and leaves the Paris book behind for good measure, as well. Once he pays for Hermione’s books, he can’t find the energy to do any more shopping, so he heads home and collapses on his sofa, exhausted in every way. He’ll try the shops again tomorrow. But for now, he lays down, pulling a thick afghan over himself and wondering if he’ll ever feel okay again.

 

New Year’s Eve 2007

The fire crackles in the hearth as Harry pours himself a large glass of firewhiskey and sits back on his sofa. He’s in no mood for celebrating. He had managed to get through Christmas, and if he’s honest with himself, it hadn’t been completely terrible. Being around friends and family was nice, and he knows that’s probably a sign that he needs to do it more.

But it was also hard in ways he hadn’t expected. Seeing Bill and Fleur, George and Angelina, Ron and Hermione, Percy and Audrey… all the happy couples, paired off. Charlie was alone, like Harry, but that didn’t stop Harry from honing in on everyone else, every look at their partner, every touch… It had been hard enough to know that he wasn’t going to be able to manage New Year’s Eve. So, he had made his excuses, knowing that his friends, at least Hermione and Ron, had seemed to know that something was up. He knows he’ll tell them everything eventually, but right now, it’s still too raw.

Harry takes a long drink and contemplates his New Year’s resolutions. He’s never been particularly big on the tradition, but if there was ever a year that he needs a fresh start, this one’s it. So, he promises himself two things. First, after tonight, he’ll start hanging out with his friends again. He knows he’s been making things worse for himself by isolating himself. Second, he’ll travel. Even if it’s just to Paris for a weekend. He knows that he needs to start doing things for himself, and a bit of travel seems like a good place to start. Then, after another long drink, he makes a wish. He’s not even sure if New Year’s is for wishing, but as the fire whiskey burns its way down his throat, he closes his eyes, and he makes a wish from somewhere in his broken, shattered heart that he’ll find someone this year. Someone who wants to share a life with him, who wants to stay for breakfast every weekend, who won’t leave.

Harry blinks a tear away as he opens his eyes and lets out a rough exhale. That’s enough of that, he thinks. It’s time to move on. He leans over and sets the crystal tumbler down on his coffee table.

Just as he starts to pour himself another drink, a loud knock reverberates through the room. Harry startles and looks towards the front door. Harry knows it's not Draco, but it’s hard to push down years of conditioning. As he makes his way to the door, memories flash through him of similar knocks on the door, of so many reunions, of soft kisses and rough ones too. He shakes his head, trying to dislodge those unhelpful thoughts as he gets to the door. He then takes a deep breath as he opens the door, trying to school his facial expression into anything other than terribly depressed.

Regardless of the series of thoughts that just ran through his head, Harry still freezes, doorknob still in hand and his jaw falling open, when he sees Draco on the stoop. He’s bundled up in a navy blue coat with a grey scarf wrapped around his neck. The lights from the street lamps reflect off his light hair.

Draco’s eyes widen slightly as his eyes meet Harry’s, and there’s a long moment of silence. “I wasn’t sure you’d be here,” Draco eventually says.

“What?”

“I thought you’d probably be out with friends. I mean—I’m glad you’re here, I just thought maybe this was a dumb idea and that—Sorry, I’m rambling.” Draco presses his lips together and then shoves his hands in his pockets.

Harry tries to get his brain into working order, but it won’t stop spinning. Draco is here; he’s here, and Harry has no idea why. He clears his throat, stepping back. “Sorry—come in.”

“I shouldn’t—I think I should just—” Draco lets out a breath. “Sorry, just… I’m not very brave, and I think it’s best if I just say what I came to say here and then I can run away if it goes badly.” He lets out a huff of a laugh, and Harry doesn’t know how to respond as hope, fear, and anxiousness all swirl through him.

“Okay,” Harry says, carefully.

Draco nods and then pulls his shoulders back, looking like he’s preparing for the worst. “I want to be with you. I know I was the one who kept leaving, and I don’t know if it would’ve been different if I’d stayed or if I’d been here. And I don’t even know if you want me…” Draco lets out a small, unhinged laugh as he runs a hand through his hair. “But since September, I’ve been trying to convince myself that it’s fine and that I can live without you, and maybe—maybe I can if I have to, but the truth is, Harry, I don’t want to.”

It’s all Harry can do to not burst out laughing in relief, certain that a response like that will send Draco running for the hills. So instead, while he tries to remember how to speak a single word, he leans forward, grabs Draco by the sleeve of his coat, and pulls him up the step. He puts a hand on either side of Draco’s face—afraid that if he doesn’t hold tight, Draco will disappear—and then kisses him soundly.

He feels Draco’s hands slip around his waist, gripping him tightly.

Harry’s chest sings in relief; he’s so happy he could cry. Eventually, Harry pulls back, his eyes tracing every feature of the other man’s face. He has been so afraid he’d never get to do this again, never see the light blue specks in his grey eyes, never see the small lines that have only recently started forming in the corner of his lips.

“I missed you so much,” Harry says when he finally gets his voice back. “I always miss you. Every time you left, every time you were gone.”

Draco lets out a breath and his face breaks out in a smile even as his eyes become wet. “Yeah?”

“I don’t even care if you have to travel. I can make it work,” Harry continues, a smile spreading on his face. “Or I can visit, actually visit this time. I don’t care, Draco. I just want you.”

Draco laughs wetly. “If it’s okay with you… I’d like to stay.”

Harry grasps his hand and pulls him further inside. “Stay.”

 

December 2009

The shutter of the camera clicks several times in quick succession before Harry refocuses the lens on a statue just beneath the small waterfall. After he’s sure that he’s got a good shot, he wanders down the stone path, enjoying the sunlight on his face as he looks at the architectural features throughout the estate’s gardens. It isn’t quite warm yet, but the Italian sun does well to cut the chill—a welcome escape from the dreariness of England this time of the year. After a few turns, he finds himself at another water feature, this one with an ornate bubbling fountain. He spends a minute framing the shot through the viewfinder before taking several more photos.

Harry vaguely registers the sound of footsteps on the path behind him.

“Hey,” a quiet voice greets him.

Harry turns, pressing the shutter to take several quick photos before Draco can put on a cool, detached expression for the camera.

“You’re an absolute menace with that thing,” Draco says, shaking his head as he huffs a laugh.

Harry smiles as he fits the lens cap back on. “How were the ruins?”

“Good, actually.” Draco wraps his arm around Harry’s waist and plants a quick kiss on his cheek. “I’ve got some inscriptions to translate when we get home, but I think I’ve got something here, so I think we’ll be all set to leave in the morning.”

“Let me get a few more photos, then, before we head to dinner.”

Draco drops his hand from Harry’s waist, slipping it into his hand as they head down one of the many paths of the garden.

Mostly they spend their time at home these days, Draco’s set up an office and lab in one of the many extra rooms in 12 Grimmauld Place, and Harry continues to volunteer with Neville’s charity, learning more about magical flora by the day. Draco still needs to travel occasionally, tracking down new leads on potential research or meeting with experts around the world. But now when Draco leaves, Harry comes with him. He spends his days seeing the local sights—some common and touristy, some hidden gems that only the locals know about. He takes photos and writes down his experiences. Sometimes these get published as a travel column in the Quibbler and sometimes they don’t. He spends his days abroad seeing new things and unfamiliar places, but the rest... the rest he spends with Draco. They go to interesting restaurants and stay in posh hotels and little known bed and breakfasts. And on the weekends, they have breakfast together, regardless of where they happen to be in the world.

Harry squeezes Draco’s hand as they approach a larger man-made pool with several fountains shooting water high above it. Some days, it’s hard for him to believe that he has this—this life with Draco. It hasn’t come easy, taking them nearly ten years to get there, after all. But as far as Harry is concerned, every single day has been worth it.