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The paper with Draco’s address burns a hole in Harry’s pocket the rest of the summer. Something’s changed. He should just fall back into his old life, but it’s hard to focus on faculty meetings. For once, he skives off. He orders books as if having them is the same thing as writing his next monograph and only comes on campus when he thinks his Dean might be moved to ask, with her signature brand of condescending concern, when Harry will take his research leave.

When autumn comes around, Harry teaches Introduction to Defensive Magic because no one likes to do it.

That's not entirely accurate. It is a mandatory course for Lexham and you get the expected assortment of students: Unspeakable candidates, aspiring Potioneers, Aurors looking to brush up their credentials to teach at their academy, magical barristers, a few students getting their glimpse of the famous Harry Potter, and people who haven't yet decided why they are here at all. Few see the course as necessary, so most faculty use their seniority to avoid teaching it whenever possible. Michael calls it a waste of valuable research time.

Not Harry. Every year he faces a new group and makes them do a simple shield charm.

"Why does it work?"

And they are off to an understanding of how even the simplest defensive spell is more complicated than Harry imagined when he first wondered about Expelliarmus. As a student in a similar course, someone asked why a Patronus was an animal and there was an answer. Nothing had gripped him like that moment. For the first time, it seemed the wonder of magic had been restored; it went so much deeper than he could have imagined. That's why he teaches.

It takes time to gather the courage to talk about Draco. He starts with Hermione.

"I have something to tell you."

“Is this going to be like when you were sleeping with Malfoy and we were all supposed to pretend we didn’t know because you were liable to have a breakdown if anyone looked at you funny?” Hermione says, focusing on making violent edits in red ink on a stack of parchment in front of her.

Harry thinks of several things to say including: how dare you, I did no such thing, who exactly is ‘we’? In the end, he settles on repeating, “Liable to have a breakdown?”

She looks up from her work and says, “Oh Harry.” She puts her quill down.

“To be fair,” Harry begins, “...there was a lot going on. This is completely different.”

Hermione waits.

"I ran into Malfoy this summer." He tells her but redacts the part where they fucked in Michael's hotel bed, although Michael hasn't stopped making fun of him for it.

“I figured something was different when you came back from the trip,” Hermione says. She returns to her neat evisceration of policy documents.

“What do you mean?” Harry asks, flustered by the implication that Draco had left something tangible behind on him, something one of his oldest friends could read on him. She pins him with a look.

“You seemed much happier, that’s all.”

The conversation with Ron is much easier.

“Draco and I…” Harry doesn’t really know how to end that sentence. Don’t say “fucked,” don’t say “fucked,” he thinks desperately. Draco and I hung out, carnally? Draco and I swapped body fluids? “...reconnected,” he finishes.

Ron looks gleeful. “You told Hermione first, right? She is going to be so mad she has to wear a full Cannons kit.”

“Were you placing bets?” The outrage is as genuine as it is reflexive.

“You were going to tell one of us eventually. Now, to be clear, when you say reconnected, you mean with Malfoy you're planning on re-dipping your quill in the inkwell?"

"Disgusting."

"Taking the Hogwarts Express to pound town?"

"Even more disgusting. Thanks, Ron."

“Fetching water from the local well,” Ron continues.

“I think we take turns fetching the water,” Harry says mildly.

Ron has never looked so betrayed. “Don’t tell me that.”

“You’re the one that brought up my sex life.”

"Well you're supposed to be coy about it and then complain he's come to work at your university and asks stupid questions at faculty meetings."

"That only happened once," Harry argues. "One very unfortunate time. And Tamar derails every single working group. He wouldn't know collegiality if it bit him, the fucking prick.”

"I cannot relate to these problems. I am happily married," Ron says in a deadpan.

"Yeah, yeah, rub it in, why don't you?" Harry jokes.

"So, Malfoy. Is this a fling, or are you all in on him?"

"He lives in another country," Harry points out sensibly. Ron quells that protest with a look. Couples can get to be too alike, in Harry’s opinion.

"I think there's something there," Harry admits.

"You should find out."

He writes Draco. Draco writes back and invites him for a visit after Christmas.

In Mid-December there’s a malfunction with something or the other—it involves a lot of complicated charmwork maintenance and Hermione looks like she could gut everyone in Transportation with the traditional sword she received at her induction as a Wizengamot member—so there are no international Portkeys until the New Year at least. Harry rushes down to the station.

“Train to Zurich is booked solid. Has been since October,” a woman at the ticket booth informs him. Not that he wanted to spend nine hours on a train.

Harry is going to fly to Zurich.

Which probably shows more than any other detail that he’d completely lost it. He's never been on an aeroplane before, but he pays the Ministry's Muggle Liaison Office to issue him a passport. They ask for a birth certificate and Harry doesn’t have one. He turns on the charm only for the administrative wix to say in a flat, unyielding tone, “Please request a new one from the Office of the Register in Vital Records.”

After running around, Harry has a burgundy and gold passport and a pamphlet that assures him his magic won’t short out the aeroplane on one hand and warns him not to dare use his wand on the other.

A week later he makes it to Gatwick and through security with a tiny wheeled suitcase he borrowed from Hermione.

No seatmate; Harry bought the other seat because he couldn't bear the idea of small talk. He doesn't want to make up a job at a muggle university to get someone off his case. He's too nervous to lie effectively.

During takeoff the flight attendant takes pity on him, so even though it's against the rules he spends it with his head between his knees until the swooping in his belly settles. It's nothing like a broom. And he feels viciously silly about how viscerally he reacts but he taps his leg more than once to make sure his wand is there, and distracts himself with packages of salty snacks and tiny cans of coca-cola.

He makes it all the way to Zurich. A cool, calm voice reads out announcements in Swiss-German in the Arrivals terminal. Harry finds it weirdly sexy instead of comforting. Not that he's an expert on their purpose—maybe aeroport announcements are meant to sound like an accidental Floo sex line call. He hasn’t flown before, after all.

He has told Draco he was coming, but it’s been six months. Maybe he shouldn’t have taken up the offer to stay. Especially because he could have changed his mind.

Except Draco is by the arrivals gate and beams when he sees Harry. Harry smiles back.

“Hi. You came,” Draco says. “I thought with the...” he glances around at the Muggles. “With the issues you wouldn’t.”

“I said I would,” Harry says.

There is a moment where Harry is certain he has misread this whole situation. Draco might consider him a platonic acquaintance that he had pity sex with. What if Harry’s flown all the way here to sleep on Draco’s flat’s guest bedroom or worse, a floor? But then Draco kisses him, like Harry’s been away at sea instead of a Portkey away. It's heady, possessive, demonstrative. Harry reminds himself not to cling.

Draco takes his suitcase and holds Harry’s hand as they get on a train and off, into the city centre and to his front door. Harry barely registers anything about the city. It’s mid-afternoon. Harry’s busy looking at the reason he is here, Draco in his blue jacket and earmuffs and no gloves, with the light snow carpeting the tops of buildings and the ground.

“Tired?” Draco asks. “Hungry?”

Harry ends up taking a quick shower and changes into joggers and a black long sleeve. Draco brings him a tomato soup which he eats at a kitchen table with geometric patterns on the mat.

The flat has a surprising primary colour scheme and when he remarks on it, Draco says, “The flat came furnished. Do you honestly think I bought a yellow couch?”

“To match your sunny disposition,” Harry says and this time Draco laughs. Harry missed the way his face lights up when he does now, the warm crinkle of his eyes. He wants to keep making Draco laugh.

“Do you want to go out or stay in?” Draco asks. Draco is beside him on the couch and before Harry can reply, he leans in for a kiss, slow and considered. Soon enough the question becomes moot because Harry lets Draco pull his pants halfway down and take his cock into his mouth like he’s been waiting for it. Harry rests a hand on the soft hairs on the nape of his neck and shivers.

Definitely not a platonic visit.

Draco takes his time. He brushes his cheek against Harry’s cock, lets the weight of it rest on his tongue, warm, wet and willing.

“Fuck,” Harry says. Draco teases but even he seems impatient; he applies himself in earnest, eyes closed, the heat and suction of his mouth perfect.

"Let me," Harry asks. Draco nods.

He pulls out and paints Draco’s cheek and mouth with his release, fist moving tightly. Draco’s eyes are still closed, lashes fluttering. He just...takes it and fuck, that’s hot enough. Harry sheds his shirt and wipes the worst of it off, then pulls Draco onto him.

"Come here,” Harry says, voice caught in a rasp, as if Draco was anything but eager to fall into him.

"Missed me?" Draco asks. He's teasing, Harry realises. He's being teased. Harry can taste his own release when he leans in for a quick kiss.

"I think you're the one who missed me," Harry shoots back. His hand pulls at Draco's cock with rough rhythm. Draco looks like he can't take anymore, but gives in to him anyway. Harry presses a gentle kiss on Draco's sternum and then mouths over each of his nipples. Harry's glad his mind is clear so he can feel the exact moment, the shiver and the letting go. Harry waits until Draco's eyes are open before licking off his hand. Not for the taste, but for the way Draco looks at him while he does it, a streak of possessiveness that he hasn’t shaken off in the intervening years.

"We're going out to dinner," Draco declares.

"We could order in?"

"You can't come to Zurich and only see the inside of my flat. I won't allow it. Dinner."

They walk to a nearby restaurant and while they are waiting for a table someone shouts 'Draco!' and four people call him over to their table nestled in the back. Harry hadn't thought about Draco's life here before, about his friends. They greet him warmly and Draco does in turn, heartily slapping a very tall man on the back and speaking in rapidfire German. Harry activates a translation charm just in case he'll need it to keep up.

"This is Harry," Draco says. "Klara, Fiona, Christophe, Jon," Draco points to each in turn.

They end up sitting with them, after Jon, the tall one, drags a table over.

"So you're Harry," Klara says. She lays one manicured hand on his wineglass and takes a sip out of it. Harry is reluctantly charmed by her audacity. "Too dry for my tastes. Draco told us you might visit."

"Yeah, here for a week." He takes his wineglass back and she winks when he drinks from it.

"He's very handsome," Fiona says to Klara in German. But Harry's charm is still active so he can't help but duck his head a little in embarrassment.

"No wonder he's still in love with him," Klara murmurs back. But Harry's not sure if that's an accurate translation so he tries not to react. Draco is fond of him. Love sounds like he's been pining and if there's one thing he's sure of it's that Draco hasn't been pining.

Draco relaxes with his friends and they switch to English, which seems like it's mostly for his benefit.

"Christophe works in quality charm assurance at a broom company. Jon works with me," Draco explains.

"Christophe, Jon, Draco, and I went to university together at the Techne in Athens," Klara chimes in. "I'm a Healer."

"I'm a researcher as well. And I met Klara through a matchmaking service," Fiona adds before Harry can ask how she fits in.

"Stop telling people that, you liar. The hospital is not where people find romantic partners." Klara says with an eye roll. "She broke her ankle."

"I found you, didn't I?" It sounds like an old argument and Fiona looks inordinately pleased with herself.

“You two also went to school together? Hogweiz?” Jon confirms.

Harry says, "Yes. Hogwarts."

"Ah, that's it. Hogwarts." Jon says, snapping his fingers with such enthusiasm he almost knocks his plate into his own lap.

Harry's bracing himself for the questions about their past, but instead, they ask him about his plans for the trip.

“Draco, take this poor man to Lucerne. It’s his first time in Switzerland,” Christophe interjects and Harry doesn’t miss Draco’s eye roll.

"Lucerne is a tourist trap," Draco says.

“Oh stop it, Draco. It's fun. He’s a professor, he’s off in the summers. He’ll come back and we'll take him to Lucerne then,” Klara says. Harry didn't remember agreeing that he was coming back.

Who was he kidding? He was coming back.

“You have to take him to Interlaken this time of year,” Fiona insists.

Harry finds his input can be minimal when they start bickering over his itinerary except to answer periodically with things like "yes, I like chocolate." Draco puts a hand firmly on Harry’s thigh, but leans in to squabble like it’s some tradition of theirs. It’s warm and the food is excellent and he feels at ease.

When the bill comes, Draco smirks as Jon opens an empty billfold. Again, this seems like a long standing argument because Jon frowns good-naturedly. “It was my turn.”

"My mistake. We already paid. We'll see you at New Year's with everyone," Draco says.

“Nice to meet you, Harry,” goes the soft chorus of voices when they leave.

This time there is no scenic route. Draco Apparates them straight to his street, pausing halfway to kiss Harry with one hand on his lower back and the other on Harry's cheek.

It all feels very much like having a boyfriend.

“I like your friends,” Harry says.

"If you come back they’ll drag you all around the country.” Draco flops onto the couch. Harry hasn't realised they were at the stage of speaking in the implied future and it's almost an invitation.

“I figured we would talk before bed," Draco says, seeming ready to give Harry what he'd wanted earlier. Conversation is not what Harry really wants now.

"Fine. You didn’t write back after October,” Harry says, sitting on Draco's outstretched legs even though it’s childish and there’s enough room to sit beside him. Draco huffs but they are still tangled up in each other when he shifts around.

"Didn't I tell you this is all on your terms?"

"Why would it be on my terms?"

"Because it always has been? You sound surprised."

"You said that last time, and I don't get it. You started this in '99 and—"

"What do you mean I started it?" Draco says. "You came up to me the first time. You followed me into the men's."

Harry's world tilts sharply on its axis. The memory is a blur, but Harry has to admit he always assumed Draco was the one to initiate their fling.

"You were flirting with me before that," Harry says defensively.

"I told you to fuck off," Draco says.

"Like I said, flirting," Harry insists.

"You were drunk, and you backed me into the bathroom stall. And you said, 'I heard you're gay. You're very good looking. I think I might be gay.' And then you kissed me."

Belated embarrassment burns in Harry's cheeks. He's grateful it's not visible at times like these.

"I did not," Harry says, out of some desire to preserve his honour. "And if I did—which I don't believe—you still took me up on it."

"I was eighteen. No one had ever shown me their cock before, and I was tipsy. Of course I took you up on it."

"I thought you had done…things before…" Harry trails off at the arch in Draco's eyebrow. Harry has been walking around with this misperception for more than a decade. He hadn't written because he kept resentment tucked in his front pocket like a little keepsake. And for the first time, he understands Draco must have felt like Harry only wanted him for one thing.

"I had a very good imagination," Draco says. Harry had been convinced he was barely interesting enough to keep Draco's attention, but in retrospect that must have been tactical. Certain things click into place.

The roughness the first time they had a bed, and Harry had gasped into Draco's mouth as Draco slid home. Draco had murmured 'sorry' rubbing soothing circles on his thigh and kissed him deeply. Harry assumed he was the clumsy one. The shock of pleasure that bloomed on Draco's face the first time Harry had worked up the nerve to touch him after thinking and dreaming about it.

"Yeah. I remember," Harry answers. He remembered how right it had felt, how strange and abstract desire had seemed to him until he had someone he really wanted. Draco. Wanted in a specific way that felt urgent rather than requisite, didn't make him feel guilty, wasn't just okay. Even now it feels like he is attuned to Draco in some way.

"I told myself if you knew how much I wanted you, you wouldn't want to anymore. Silly." It's an admission along the lines of what they started in Montreal, and Harry takes it to heart.

"Very foolish," Harry agrees with a grin.

“I’m not making that mistake again.”

Maybe it was best that they became who they are, but they wasted so much time. They could have had this earlier, maybe. Even if Harry isn't sure what this is.

But that statement doesn’t lead anywhere. Draco reads to him aloud, and Harry puts his head on his chest, settling against his heartbeat. And he’s still confused about what this all means, but it’s a good sign. They fuck the next morning again, half-asleep.

"Should we use..." Draco sounds mildly embarrassed to ask but it should have been a discussion yesterday.

"We can. But we don't need to," Harry says.

“Spell then,” Draco says.

“Lazy,” Harry accuses, but he can’t resist the way Draco watches his hands when he does wandless magic. Draco narrows his eyes when he notices the magic pass over him.

“That’s how it’s going to be, hm?” But Draco is already pressing into him leisurely and bracing one hand on his knee. It's been a while. Since Montreal. He's slow like he knows.

He imprinted on Draco and now it takes so little for Harry to say "please, God please, I am, I am. Yours, please." And maybe he's forgotten because this exact combination of fondness and competitiveness and roiling feelings and rushing endorphins is just Draco and he likes this best.

"I never—" but whatever Draco's about to say he cuts it off before he can finish the thought as they lie in sticky exhaustion before Harry relents and cleans them off. Harry might feel eighteen again but his back certainly doesn’t agree.

They nap for a bit before Draco makes them get up for real.

They get to a lot more of Zurich than Harry expected. In the warren of streets that make up the Old Town, Draco shows him the International Wizarding Standard clock and a bookstore that claims to have specialty books in Defence but is no better stocked than a Flourish and Blotts.

“Are you actually disappointed?” Draco asks, with an incredulous expression Harry doesn’t need to turn to see.

“The third edition Caddel isn’t exactly rare,” Harry mutters in annoyance.

“Poor thing,” Draco responds and presses his lips to the back of Harry’s hand. It's a little mocking, but Harry's heart hasn’t taken the memo.

They eat lunch in a restaurant Draco declares has the best rösti and for all Draco’s teasing, he lights up when they get to the Historic Potionsmasters Guild, a tidy brick cottage with tiny placards and proudly displayed vials and decanters. On one wall is a vial of every potion ever patented in Switzerland and Draco sounds almost shy as he points out the ones he contributed to.

"You did that," Harry says, a little wonder at a dense smoky mist in a vial labelled Elixir Industries - D. Malfoy, J. Strauss, M. Birchmeier & Associates. He’s seen the potion before, but he never realised it was his work.

"Well it's a team of researchers and we were building on Wolfsbane but—"

“You should be proud,” Harry interrupts. Draco’s expression is not one Harry’s ever seen before, as if he’s seeing Harry for the first time.

“I…I am proud of my work,” Draco says, meeting his eyes with that soft look before turning away.

It feels good to be together. It feels like everything he’s ever wanted when they’re lying in his bed, planning for when Harry’s going to visit the Defence Institute for a guest lecture in the new year. He did the same talk in Montreal, but this one’s shorter and if he gets anything more than a smattering of bored graduate students, he’ll be surprised.

“I’ll come watch you,” Draco says. All of Harry’s friends came to the pub after his viva voce examination, which isn’t quite the same thing. His Dean thinks it’s a sign of involvement to pop in every term. His colleague Michael comes to his lectures just to pick a fight afterwards. Hermione comes on occasion, and Ron, but no one just comes to watch Harry for the hell of it.

They run out of places to talk about and Harry looks at Draco again until Draco scrunches his nose.

“Stop staring,” Draco grumbles, shifting his weight to tip his head back against the headboard.

“Can’t help it.” Harry rolls over a little so he can look up at Draco.

“I look the same as back then. You look the same as back then,” Draco says, with a dismissive slash of his hand.

"No, you don’t. You know that’s not true.You got this." Harry touches the tiny silver hoop in Draco's nose gently. He liked it in Montreal. He likes it now.

"It was after a breakup and I had to deal with it somehow," Draco mumbles.

"Must have liked him a lot," Harry says. He wonders if he sounds as jealous as he feels.

"It was obviously you, you muppet," Draco says, burying his face in his pillow. "You're so embarrassing."

“I wouldn’t know that,” Harry protests. “We never talked about it.”

“We never talked about a lot of things," Draco says evasively.

"You were important to me," Harry says. An understatement. Draco still is. He's here after all, excavating the one obsession he'd never got over, even in bitterness.

"It wasn’t less for me than it was for you. You act like it was,” Draco says. “That was separate from going back home.”

Draco needs Harry to understand, he realises. It's as tense as he's ever seen him at present, hands clenched, mouth set.

"I know that now.” Harry waits a few beats. “You're not used to talking about this, are you?"

"I don't talk about the past much with anyone. I’m not hiding it or anything. They all know, but it's always been easier to keep moving forward than looking back."

“Am I just a reminder then?"

"No. You were a good part.” Draco swings his legs over the frame to stand. “We should eat.”


New Year's is a house party. It reminds him of Montreal again, but they walk in the door together.

Someone asks about Harry's work. He's learned to tease out genuine interest from polite inquiries so he mainly talks about teaching.

“What do you think of them changing it from Defence Against the Dark Arts?” Fiona asks him.

"Well defensive magic is a fairer description I think. The categorisation of magic is tricky and not everything that's considered Dark is evil," Harry says, diplomatically.

"Come on, this is bullshit. You don't think that,” Jon says, tipping his glass towards Harry. "Some magic is evil."

"Some magic is definitely evil. But for most things, it's almost always the application. You can hurt someone seriously with an ordinary spell too. I study practical defence, but a lot of defensive magic comes from the same roots as the spells themselves, just applied differently. Blood replenishing spells came from exsanguination spells."

He almost wishes he had a whiteboard to sketch it out.

"My Harry is very clever," Draco says fondly. His Harry. How could Harry get back on a plane hearing that?

The gang arrives with some extras. Christophe's brother is good-looking in an unsettling way, but he spends so much time derailing every conversation to talk about independent self-regulated Wizarding currency that even Harry pretends that he needs to pee just to escape him. Draco is polite and stands by a potted ficus until Harry finally stages a rescue.

"I need to borrow him for a second, sorry."

Harry drags them down the hall into a guest room and closes the door.

"He could talk the ear off a Hippogriff," says Draco.

"Are you sure you weren't interested in Wixcoin's future?" Harry teases. They do kiss then, but it's a meandering kiss for the pleasure of it and it winds down easy.

"Don't you wish we could have had this before?" Harry’s lips are barely parted from his.

"I don't think we could have had this before," Draco says. It’s probably true. Better to have come back together now than it would have been before.

He lets Draco lead him back out.

At midnight he doesn't hesitate to sweep Draco into a big showy kiss. They leave before one because it’s tipped the line from fun to tiring and Harry's eyes are fluttering shut.

"Christophe's brother likes you," Harry says. He kicks off his shoes in the entryway. Draco snorts.

"Christophe's brother is straight."

"It wouldn't be the first time someone's looked at you and realised they had something to figure out," Harry jokes and Draco throws his head back and laughs.

"So you'll come every six months to scare him off." Draco's tone is light, but Harry knows what he's asking.

"Better make that quarterly," Harry says. "Next year I'm on research leave, though."

Draco is very still when he says, "Really?"

Time to play all his cards. "I was offered a visiting fellowship at the Institute here. I’m meeting a few people when I go." Harry reveals.

"Will you take it?" Draco asks, careful.

"Should I? How long will you be in Zurich?"

"Is that how you're deciding?" Old Draco rears his head once again. Harry can hear the gears turning, but he finally feels the heart behind it. There's a part of Draco that expects Harry not to factor him in, not even after these past few days. The part that thinks their story is to be forever walking away from each other.

"Yes, Draco. That's how I'm deciding," Harry says. He squeezes Draco's hand and drops it.

"I didn't want to be tied down before." Draco taps his fingers on the table nervously. "But I like it here. I was thinking of buying a flat. And it would be easier if you stayed with me rather than finding your own flat. The rental market is awful."

Harry tries not to smile.

"Only if there's a yellow couch," Harry says, because he can't help himself and he likes the way Draco is trying to contain his smile.

"We could have a year at least," says Harry. "If I don't have to fly I could make it over more often even after I go back to Lexham. If you wanted. We could try."

"I think we could have so much more than a year, Harry."