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Photo Albums and New Beginnings

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“My son hasn’t done anything,” are Narcissa Malfoy’s first words.

Rather than inquiring about her husband or her, Harry holds up his wrapped package. “I have an invitation.”

To his relief, she doesn’t ask to see the invitation.

He’d received a letter reading, ‘Potter, my mother is throwing me a birthday party at the Manor tomorrow at seven p.m. If you receive an anonymous tip about any supposed wrongdoings on the part of my family, my guests, or me, would you kindly wait until my presents are unwrapped to make your arrest? And kindly inform Wealsey that the cake is reserved for attendees who actually bring a present.’

“Of course, you do,” Narcissa mutters. She accepts the gift and moves aside. “We’re starting off in the dining hall. Welcome.” He hands his cloak to a hired elf and smiles when the elf looks up at his scar in wonder.

Keeping his head down, he enters the dining room and lets his eyes discreetly scan the other guests.

Pansy Parkinson is playing with an owl and talking to one of the Carrow twins while the other twin is reading from her place on the ceiling. Millicent Bulstrode is talking to the Greengrass sisters. Theodore Nott is watching his daughter, Sara, play with Millicent’s cat.

He’s startled by the voice of Blaise Zabini quietly greeting, “Potter.” When he turns to look, Zabini hands him a goblet and sets a plate in front of him. “Here.”

“Thank you.”

Slowly, the rest of the room becomes aware of his presence, and he continues sipping his elf-made wine. He wishes Susan Bones had come so he’d have someone to talk to. Thankfully, however, it doesn’t take long for the others to relax and resume their normal activities.

After about ten minutes, Draco and Lucius Malfoy appear, and the latter immediately spots Harry and glowers. Harry gives him a cold look and continues sipping his wine.

After Draco kisses Pansy on the cheek and has a short, playful dance with her, he sits down. Then, his his eyes land on Harry, and he immediately tenses and makes to get up.

Narcissa quickly goes over and whispers to him.

He sits down but continues to keep his expressionless eyes on Harry.

Sara floats up to the ceiling and crawls into the Carrow twin’s lap just a few seconds before Daphne summons the book down. “Come on down, you two. Draco’s here.”

After everyone’s sat down, Lucius Malfoy stands and taps his goblet.

Harry doesn’t actively wish death on him (anymore), but remembering Trelawney’s fit about thirteen people and the first standing, Harry thinks he wouldn’t be too sad if, for once, she happened to get something right.

“My family’s been through a lot these past few years-” Trying to kill an eleven-year-old and several other students, trying to get a beloved pet killed, helping get my uncle killed, and trying to put an evil wizard in charge of the wizarding world, is Harry’s silent, bitter interjection–“but through it all, we’ve remained strong. Today, my son turned twenty, and it gives me more pleasure than I can adequately express to be here to celebrate that with our friends and family. To Draco.”

“To Draco,” everyone repeats and raises their glass to take a sip.

Spotting a nearby elf, Harry waves her over. “Would it be possible to get something non-alcoholic," he quietly asks. "I have to go to work at eleven, and I don’t want to risk it.”

Nodding, the elf takes his cup and waves her hand across it. She hands it to him, and taking a careful sip, he’s pleasantly surprised to find butterbeer. “Thank you,” he whispers.

Patting his knee, she curtsies before wandering over to Blaise and Millicent.

Soon, food appears, and as everyone eats, they talk about various misadventures Draco had when he was younger. Harry eagerly listens and even finding himself laughing a few times but finds it hard not to angrily interject when Dobby’s mentioned.

After the meal, Narcissa stands up. “Draco became a man a long time ago, but some part of him is always going to be my little one. Happy twentieth birthday, baby boy. You’ll never know how blessed your father and I are to have you. To Draco.”

“To Draco,” everyone repeats and again raises their goblets.

Harry watches a flushed-cheek Draco look down. Lucius clasps him on the shoulder, and kissing one cheek, Narcissa strokes the other.

Confronted with such a loving scene, Harry’s not sure what he feels. Watching devoted families has always brought a smile to his face to the point even the Durselys occasionally had such an effect on him. On the other hand, those times were rare, and the Malfoys are even worse than they were.

Everyone makes way to the parlour, and Narcissa says, “You’re not opening any of the presents until I get a picture with a smile, Draco.”

“Must we have this argument every year, Mother?”

“No,” she answers. “If you’d do as you’re told, there’d be no need.”

It takes several tries, but when Draco does finally give a proper smile, Harry finds himself staring. He’s seen Draco smirk and put on cold, haughty smiles before, and in second year, when Ron accidentally cursed himself to vomit slugs, Malfoy had laughed uproariously.

This smile is different. It’s small and slightly goofy looking. With his teeth showing and the loopy quirk of his mouth, it makes him look like a normal, approachable bloke.

“Open mine first, Draco,” Pansy orders. She hands him a small, baby pink package.

Harry wonders if, perhaps, he should just quickly remind everyone there is an auror in the room and a person deciding not to have their presents opened until later isn’t illegal.

Draco carefully opens the package to reveal a golden scorpion Harry recognises as cologne dispenser. Draco positions it over his left wrist and pushes the tail down. A small amount drifts out from the now-opened mouth. He sniffs his wrist, and then, gives a one-armed hug to Pansy and kisses her head. “Thank you, Pansy.”

“Me, Mummy, and Dad’s next,” Sara insists. She holds up a wrapped present and a bag. “Bag’s from Mummy and me, and the book’s from me and Dad,” she informs him.

“Thank you,” Draco says. Setting them down, he tugs her one of her unplaited pigtails.

The book turns out to be a new Alchemy textbook, and the bag contains a snow globe. He shakes it, and light, non-cold snow falls gently from the manor’s ceiling.

Excitedly showing him how it works, Sara informs him, “It also does rain and makes stars and balls of sun come. Daddy got me one for Christmas, and I told Mummy you’d like one, too. You can tell it how long you want it to do things. I don’t need a nightlight when I have the moon and stars inside.”

“This’ll come in handy,” he tells her. “Thank you. Tell your mum I’m impressed.”

She nods and crawls back into her father’s lap.

Blaise gives Draco the newest in his line of chameleon robes, and Millicent gives him a gift certificate to Blaise’s store. The latter causes judgemental looks from both Blaise and Draco.

She shrugs. “I believe in certificates only.”

Shaking his head, Draco sets the robes and certificate down and shakes Blaise’s hand before giving Millicent a mildly dirty look.

Harry frowns and wonders if Millicent was officially invited or if Blaise had been told, ‘Bring your hag-blooded girlfriend if you must’. Or, maybe, knowing what little he does of her personality, she didn’t want to come but had been convinced.

From his view, there’s nothing wrong with a gift certificate, and Zabini’s chain sells good-quality, somewhat pricey stuff, too. He knows Fleur absolutely adores their scarves.

As Draco opens a joint gift from the Carrow twins, Daphne leans over and whispers, “She must’ve bought it from one of the clerks who didn’t know her. Blaise wanted them to do a joint gift, but she refused.”

Ah, Harry thinks but is quickly distracted when he realises Draco’s newest gift is a set of blood quills. Blood quills are legal with the only restriction being a person must be overage to buy them, but to give them as a birthday gift?

His hand itches, and he briefly scratches it.

Draco shakes both the twins’ hands, and then, opens Astoria’s present. Everyone gasps and crowds around when he carefully withdraws a dazzling mermaid-tear pearl. “It’s from my friend, Kyla, in Calais,” Astoria informs the room. “She was quite happy to give it to me,” she proudly adds.

Mermaid-tear pearls are rare and often the product of kidnapping and emotional cruelty, but some people, usually aquamagizoologists such as Astoria, befriend a mermaid who’s so happy for their friend they’ll cry, willingly make a pearl out of it, and give it to the person as a sign of hopefully everlasting friendship.

Harry wonders if the rumours of Draco and Astoria dating are true.

After the awe has died down, Draco opens Daphne’s to find a pair of omnioculars.

“This is from Auror Potter,” Narcissa says.

Harry shifts uncomfortably as everyone but Sara glances at him.

Carefully, Draco unwraps the plain brown paper.

Once, at Hogwarts, Harry had been looking through the photo album Hagrid had given him during his first year. Draco had been wandering around sans Crabbe and Goyle and spotted him. He’d expressed admiration for the album and tried to talk to Harry about it.

Harry remembers thinking the other boy was genuinely interested, but he’d quickly convinced himself Malfoy was just trying to take the mickey, told him to sod off, and left the courtyard.

In all honesty, Harry’s aware this is probably a terrible gift. Either Draco won’t understand, or he’ll take it as an insult. The undeniable fact, however, is Harry has no idea what would make a good present. He knows Draco’s interested in Alchemy and modifying magical objects, but this knowledge doesn’t particularly help. Harry has no interest in such things and is unwilling to ask Hermione or Arthur Weasley for advice on the matter. He doesn’t know if Draco is still interested in Quidditch or not.

For a long moment, Draco simply looks at the album. Then, his slightly goofy, approachable smile appears, and he walks over with his hand offered.

Shaking it, Harry reflects, if Draco had smiled like this when they were eleven, he might have been tempted to shake it. He wouldn’t have after the insults Draco hurled towards Ron, but he’d have been tempted.

“Thank you,” Draco says.

“Here, darling, open my present, and then, you can do your father’s,” Narcissa says.

Hers turns out to be the newest broom on the market, a pair of dragon skin boots and gloves, and a worldwide season pass.

Harry barely manages not to roll his eyes. He’s been told he spoils his friends (he doesn’t believe this), but even if this is true, Malfoy likely gets gifts like this every year. He’s twenty, now. How many more years is he going to get everything he could possibly want?

“As you all know,” Lucius starts, and Harry resists the urge to snap the ministry isn’t unjustly spying on the Malfoy family, and so, no, he probably doesn’t know, “I haven’t been happy with my son’s plans to take a year off to travel the world. However, he’s determined to do so, and I need to accept that. I’m officially giving him my blessing.” Handing a mokeskin pouch with Draco Lucius Malfoy sewn in black into it, he says, “I hope this proves to be a good experience for you. Remember, no matter where you go, the love of your mother and I will follow you.”

Harry officially feels horrible for his earlier wish towards Lucius Malfoy. The fact he’s an evil man will always be indisputable, but this drives home how much he and Narcissa truly love their son. Harry also realises the deeper meanings most of the gifts have taken in light of the fact Draco will be leaving soon and wishes he’d known so he could have gotten a more appropriate, useful gift.

“Thank you, Father,” Draco says. He gives Lucius a brief hug.

He opens the pouch and withdraws a tent, a compass, a medikit and book on illness and injuries, a cauldron, a year-round ticket for the Knight Bus, a portkey to the Manor, a pouch of floo powder, and a camera.

Harry can’t help but be grateful for the last. Maybe, there’ll be an actual use for his gift, after all.

“I want a picture of everyone,” Draco declares, and Harry starts to move back to make sure he doesn’t accidentally get in it, but Daphne grabs him.

Noticing, Draco says, “You too, Auror Potter. You’re part of my last night in England.”

Once several pictures have been taken, the cake’s brought out, and Draco says, “Potter brought a gift, and I’m a man of my word. Let’s let him have the first piece.”

“Only if I get a bigger piece,” Sara declares.

“That sounds good,” Harry agrees. He tells the serving elf, “Just a very small piece for me, please.”

Once the party starts to disperse, Harry asks the elves if he can help with the cleaning.

Leading a frowning Draco over, Narcissa says, “Take my son for a walk, Auror Potter. He’ll try to pack if I let him go to his room. He always forgets things when he does. It’s better to distract him for long enough to let the elves do it.”

“Alright,” Harry agrees.

Sighing, Draco summons a knit cap, and Harry tries not to show his surprise.

He’s used to only seeing halfbloods and muggle-borns with them.

An elf hands them their cloaks.

Once they leave, one of the peacocks repeatedly steps on Draco’s foot.

“Er,” Harry says. He’s unsure what to make of Draco’s calm, motionless stance and wonders if he should draw his wand.

“Give it time,” Draco tells him in a bored voice. “This one stole some of my cards. Because I’m a reformed citizen who doesn’t use any Dark magic or physical violence, I’ve put a spell on the pond so that it can’t see its reflection. As soon as I get my cards back, it gets its reflection.”

Harry stands awkwardly as the bird steps on Malfoy’s feet, headbutts his legs, and tries smacking him with his feathers. Eventually, it snaps its beak and wanders away.

“Why would it want your cards?”

A shrug is his only answer, and he doesn’t bother asking how the bird stole them or if there isn’t an easier, faster way for Draco to retrieve them than just waiting for the bird to return them.

They walk in silence for a bit before Harry says, “I’m sorry for crashing your party, Malfoy.”

“I’m glad you came, Potter. The famous Harry Potter showing up will no doubt make my family very important once it gets out. Why did you come?” 

The truth is Harry has no idea. He’s been a bit lost lately.

Obviously deciding not to pursue it, Draco asks, “Want to find a pub and have a drink?”

“Will that be okay with your parents?” The Weasleys have never tried to control where their adult children still living at the Burrow go or how long they’re gone, but they do want to know where the person will be and how long they’ll be there. And he knows how protective Narcissa Malfoy is.

“It’ll be fine,” Draco answers.

They find a quiet pub, and Harry orders a cup of tea. Shooting him a questioning look, Draco orders a glass of ale.

“I have work at eleven,” Harry explains.

They sit in a booth.

“I read about you and the Weaslette.”

“Don’t call her that,” Harry snaps. “And yes, we broke off our engagement. It was amiable enough, but I’ve moved into my own flat. I imagine any of the reasons you read are bloody off-the-mark.”

“I’m just surprised you hadn’t gotten married years ago and already popped out one or two.”

Sighing, Harry resists the urge to order something stronger. It’s a personal rule of his not to turn to alcohol when he’s going through a rough time. He’s never had a problem, but he’s seen too many people who have; good people, and once they managed to get on such a road, it took a lot to get them off it. Some of them are still on it, and it’s something he’s had to grudgingly and painfully accept. 

“You’re not the only one,” is his bitter reply.

“I won’t ask.” Draco takes a drink. “Thank you for your gift. I’ll be sure it doesn’t go to waste.”

“Why’d you send me that owl? The ministry hasn’t been bothering you, your family, or anyone there.” Before Malfoy can answer, he says, “And don’t give me any rubbish about Sara Nott. She moved a bridge. A non-magical bridge in a muggle city. Auror Savage played with her until Susan finished her surgery and came to talk to us. Nott paid the fine when he got back from Romania, we put it on Sara’s file, which will be sealed once she’s seventeen, and aside from all the damage control we had to do-”

“I’m leaving tomorrow,” Draco interrupts. “I’ve haven’t talked to you since that last day at Hogwarts. I felt an urge to send you an owl, and that’s the only thing I could think of.”

“A simple, ‘I’m having a birthday party. Would you like to come?’, was too hard?”

“What would your reaction have been to that?”

When Harry stops to think, he has to concede Draco’s point. “Fair enough,” he mutters. “So, you’re free to tell me to shove it, but are you and Astoria dating?”

“We did,” Draco answers. “For a bit. When I come back, if she hasn’t found someone, we might get married. We’ll never be in love, but we’ve become very good friends.”

“Huh,” Harry says.

He’s still not completely sure why he and Ginny broke up. They were good together, and then, they weren’t. They tried to work it out, they really did, but eventually, it came down to Ginny handing her engagement ring to Hermione and telling her, “Find a way to put it to good use.” Soon after, the Weasleys had helped him move into his new flat.

He still loves her, and they still floo over to talk to one another about difficult cases and tough matches, but he doesn’t really miss being her boyfriend. She’s tentatively dating a reporter from The Quibbler. It’s nothing serious, but he’s been over at the Burrow for dinner a few times.

“Just as a person having a drink with you, not as an Auror, why do you want to travel the world?”

For a long moment, Draco nurses his drink. “I suppose it’s time to grow up.”

Harry stays quiet.

“It’s not just wanting to maintain the status quo or any of that, Potter,” Draco says. “There are compelling arguments against blood mingling and letting eleven-year-old muggle-borns into wizarding society and giving them full rights when they turn seventeen. As for families like the Weasleys, they have plenty of options for family planning. Most of them are free and easy-to-obtain. Yet, instead of planning, they just kept having these children they couldn’t adequately support. My feelings towards all that are likely never going to change.”

“But,” he continues, “growing up, I thought my father was one of the most intelligent, powerful wizards in the world. He was never wrong, and he’d never be on the wrong side. I still love him, but the war proved he’s a weak coward.”

“He’s your dad,” Harry offers. He’s not sure he can defend Lucius Malfoy. As far as he’s concerned, Draco’s words are too mild to describe the man.

“As I said, I still love him.” Taking a drink, Draco says, “I was a git in school. A sadist, more than one person has called me. I don’t care if you or the rest of the wizarding world forgives me or not, but I want to find out who I really am. No parents to hide behind, no name, no blood status.”

“That’s- admirable, Malfoy,” Harry sincerely tells him. “I hope you’re happy with what you find.”

Draco raises his glass, and Harry taps his cup against it.

Back at the Manor, the peacock drops some cards on the ground, and before Draco can pick them up, Harry sees there’s several of him along with one of Dumbledore, one of Salazar Slytherin, and one of Bowman Wright.

For lack of anything more coherent, he inquires, “Should I be concerned?”

Draco glares at the peacock. “Fine,” he snaps. He stalks over to the pond.

Harry’s not surprised when the peacock ends up pushed inside as its admiring its reappeared reflection. Thankfully, it quickly resurfaces and deliberately shakes the water off in Draco’s direction.

Once its gone, Harry starts, “So-”

“When I was eleven, I met this little boy. We were in a robe shop. He had messy hair, taped together glasses, and beautiful green eyes. I didn’t know how to talk to children my own age, and so, I found myself babbling."

"He didn’t seem to like me, but I thought that, once we got to Hogwarts, I’d find him and keep trying. I don’t know why. Sometimes, children just get inexplicable cases of puppy love based on the simplest of things. And then, I found out this boy was the bloody saviour of the wizarding world, and the fact he wanted nothing to do with me not only hurt, it made me, for the first time ever, wonder if maybe, everything I was so sure about was wrong.”

Before Harry can respond, Draco sighs. “Goodnight, Auror Potter.”

Not giving time for sense to come, Harry pulls Draco into a kiss.

Eventually, they pull apart, and Harry finds his whole body tingling with power and energy.

He’d never thought about kissing or doing anything else along those lines with Malfoy, but in sixth year, he’d come to the realisation the others were right about his obsession. He didn’t know about homosexuality until a few years into Hogwarts, and he accepted it easily. However, he reckons getting to teenagehood thinking only of girls with boys and men with women the thought he might possibly be different had never entered into his mind, especially when his first crushes had been on girls.

What does this make me, he wonders.

He did fancy Cho, and he thoroughly enjoyed his less-than-innocent activities with Ginny.

“I’m still leaving tomorrow, but would you like to come in?”

Harry decides he can go through an identity crisis later.

“First, you should know that, while I’ve had sex before, it was with a woman. I’ve never done anything, not even kiss, another man until now. And if that isn’t a dealbreaker, should we go to my flat instead?”

“I don’t care, and no, here’s closer. However- damn it, don’t you have to go to work in about thirty minutes?”

“I can make a floo call and tell them I’m taking a personal day. I doubt there’s going to be a wave of dangerous crime if I take the night off.”

They go inside, and a different elf takes Draco’s cloak. When he tries to take Harry’s, Harry explains, “No, thank you, I’ll hang it in his room.”

Giving them a knowing look, the elf shakes his head. “Lobby take sir’s cloak and keep it safe until sir calls. No need for Head Master and Madam to see.”

Harry parts with the cloak.

Grabbing his hand, Draco says, “You can call from my room.”

Draco’s room is surprising, but from Harry’s seen tonight, it fits him.

It has a poster of his favourite Quidditch team, some newspaper clippings on the walls, and pictures of different transportation methods. There are pictures of flying, unmanned brooms, of cars, trains, dragons, ships, the Knight Bus, carpets, and even one of an aeroplane. The floors are hardwood oak, and the ceiling’s enchanted to reflect the sky outside.

His window turns black when Harry looks at it. He tries the dresser mirror, and it gives a distorted reflection. The desk has numerous drawers, and the top of it contains a notebook with a lock on it, several textbooks, a wireless, and a cordless lamp providing the room with adequate light. Fitting effortlessly under the desk is a large easy chair with wheels underneath it.

Finally, he lets his eyes fall on the thing he’s most curious about. The bed is thankfully big enough for two adults and perfectly made with brown sheets and pillowcases.

Draco opens a drawer and withdraws a package of floo powder. “No need for a fire.” He gestures to the fireplace.

After he’s called in and given his excuses, he looks at Draco.

As if sensing his sudden shyness, Draco tells him, “We have all night.” Casting a silencing charm over the room and a locking charm on the door, he says, “Let’s take time to see where this goes.”

“Brilliant,” Harry answers.

In the morning, Draco heads off any awkwardness by saying, “I’ll owl you. You can decide whether what I send you is the truth or a brilliant embellishment.”

Shaking his head and remembering how Draco used to amaze half the class and irritate him when they were younger with grand stories, Harry kisses him. “I think I’d like that. Thank you for the night, Malfoy.”

“Thank you,” Draco says. “When I come back, let’s get another drink. If one or both of us have found someone, it can just be a friendly catching up drink. If we haven’t, well, we can decide then if it’s more.”

“That sounds good.”

There’s a knock on the door.

“It’s Breeky, sir. She is wondering if he and any guests he might have would like some breakfast?”

Summoning a pair of pants, Draco waits until the sheets fully cover Harry’s bottom half before slightly opening the door.

After they eat, Draco sneaks him outside. “Be seeing you, Harry.”

“You too, Draco,” he says.

He chances a quick kiss before leaving.

As he walks away, he’s unable to control the smile he feels spreading across his face.