Harry woke from a dream about a future he didn’t want with a heavy nosebleed and a tiny cat asleep on his chest, rising and falling with his breaths. He was sprawled across a faded red corduroy sofa that went with exactly none of the other furniture in Luna’s plant-filled living room. It was very soft though, which he appreciated in something he had been using as a bed for the last several weeks. The cat was soft too, along with being slightly mean and yet-to-be-named, although she was often referred to by Luna as ‘That Constant Source of Misery and Distress.’ Harry had laughed when she’d first used the moniker but then felt guilty about it pretty much every time since.
Harry tried to be gentle when he pushed her off his chest, propping himself up slowly onto one elbow. She hopped down to the floor, watching him balefully for a second before meowing pointedly, in a way that said forget this happened, we aren't friends. He made a face at her, which then transformed into a wide, jaw-cracking yawn. Harry felt very much as though his brain had melted sometime during the night. With his head spinning he lay back down again, screwing his eyes shut and regretting ever opening them in the first place. Harry hadn’t felt this rough in forever. A part of him revelled in that familiarity, but only for a second before he shut it down. Just because his entire life had been turned upside down and the contents thoroughly shaken out didn’t mean he wanted pain as a fucking constant.
It was about then that Harry realised that his nosebleed had been distracting him from the fact that he felt like throwing up. He carefully reached out a searching hand for anything nearby in which to contain it, trying to keep his body as still as possible. The hunt was ultimately futile and he hit upon three different ferns before he came to the conclusion that he might just have to make a run for the bathroom if he wanted to avoid Luna’s wrath. Not that he’d ever seen Luna in a mood even close to wrathful, but throwing up on even one of her numerous plants would probably do it.
The regularity with which this had been happening probably should have prepared him for a vomit-related scenario, but he couldn’t work up the energy to be angry at himself right now. Harry did however spare a second to mull over the fact that he could apparently feel the difference between classes of ferns now. That wasn’t… sad... exactly, but he was pretty sure it was somewhere very far away from being cool. Or in any way useful. Maybe if Neville dragged him to a Herbology pub quiz? He made a mental note to check at some point if they were even a thing.
Harry sank further into the cushions and weighed up the various pros and cons of ‘vomiting on his own chest’ as opposed to ‘fainting as soon as he stood up.’ Done with sulking, the cat jumped back onto the sofa and this time settled on his feet. Decision effectively made for him he took several very deep breaths. They might have been calming but he wasn’t sure yet. They weren't making him feel any worse though, which was the main thing. He groaned internally. Then he groaned outwardly, because he thought he might as well and then there was always a chance that Luna would hear from her room and come to his rescue. The cat proceeded to lick his foot in a contemplative manner. Harry proceeded to resign himself to his fate in an admittedly similar but much more angry manner.
Luna’s cat was obsessed with him and he suspected it was something to do with the fact that she never remembered to feed it and Harry did. Actually, it was only Luna’s cat by sheer virtue of the fact that it had turned up in her apartment on the day she'd moved in and refused to leave. Much like himself, he supposed. Luna, to the shock of just about everyone who knew her, was not a cat person. And as she’d told Harry multiple times, just because I’m too brilliant a human to put her out onto the street does not mean she’s my responsibility. This was usually followed by look, now you’ve got me assigning gender to animals or and it’s your turn to buy wine. Harry loved living with Luna but he had to admit she had a very bad memory when it came to whose turn it was to buy wine. Not that he could refuse her all the Merlot she could drink, being that she actually was a brilliant human, and especially when he was sleeping on her sofa rent-free. Plus she was very good about not telling anyone he was here, which he loved her for.
So, apart from the occasional cat related argument and a pretty massive amount of money spent on trips to the off-license, Luna was probably the best roommate he’d ever had. Not that that was a very high bar, since for most of his life he’d lived with A) The Dursleys - no question, the worst, B) a dormitory full of Gryffindor males - a step up from the Dursley household but often dismal, and C) his best friends in a tent in the woods - which would have been genuinely pleasant if Ron and Hermione hadn’t been in some weird, never-ending relationship limbo at the time. And if they hadn't been on the hunt for parts of Voldemort’s soul.
Harry’s nose had thankfully stopped bleeding by the time Misery and Distress had stopped licking his foot and moved onto her own. He was also pleased to note that the sickness had abated somewhat, and it seemed as though he was no longer in any immediate danger of fainting. Harry was used to the whole mess by now but it didn’t make it any easier. This waking up with his body on the verge of breaking business was getting pretty fucking old, pretty fucking quick, he thought to himself. And then he repeated it out loud because he had always liked the way that phrase had sounded, and because his skull was still feeling fuzzy and screwed-on-wrong.
This time it seemed saying things outside of his head had paid off, and he heard Luna utter a muffled "You’re still here?" from her bedroom next door.
“Luna, could I borrow you for a minute please?” He called, ignoring her question.
“Harry.” This had been uttered in a sarcastic tone that he’d never quite get used to hearing from her, but filled him with glee, and only really happened in special, woken-from-sleep cases, “It’s four in the morning.”
“I know, I know. But I had another of those weird dreams and I thought you’d like to hear about it?” His voice was hopeful. This particular dream wasn’t something he wanted to deal with by himself. He couldn’t even think about it by himself. Somewhere in the back of his brain he thought saying it out loud might make it seem less scary.
“You’re a weird dream,” she replied, apparently speaking into her pillow, muffled but still loud enough for him to hear. Harry laughed, then winced when the movement caused a dull ache in his head. Luna's floor creaked as she got out of bed.
As he listened to her weave her way through the foliage in between her bedroom door and where he was lying, Harry stared up at the dark blue ceiling. Luna had been bored one very rainy afternoon and made Harry go with her to the hardware store nearby. They'd come home with their feet soaking wet from mis-cast umbrella charms and then spent the rest of the day painting. Some of the blue had dribbled and dripped down from the ceiling onto the walls, in thin lines that they hadn't ever bothered to get rid of. Luna had also painted a sun, directly above where his head usually rested, laughing the whole time. Her feet balanced on the arm of the sofa as Neville held her thighs. He frowned at it. Harry hadn’t really been aware that Luna could do irony until then.
Eventually Luna turned up at the foot of the sofa and looked down at him, also frowning. She was wearing a Chudley Cannons t-shirt that came down to her mid-thighs. Her hair was loose around her shoulders. He eyed her suspiciously.
“You didn’t-- is that my top, Luna?” He hadn’t been able to find that particular one for a few weeks and he missed its presence desperately. It reminded him of Ron's bedroom, of the Gryffindor dorm, of the frantically moving Quidditch posters above Ron's bed. “I’ve been looking for that.”
“No, it’s Neville’s,” she replied, looking down at her front consideringly, “Ron gave it to him apparently and I’ve no idea why he doesn’t like it. Orange is one of the best colours,” she paused delicately, “Did you know you’ve got blood on your face?”
“Orange is definitely in the top five. And I know about the blood, yeah,” he said absently, then sighed a bit. The t-shirt was still missing then. Something dawned on him. “Wait, is Neville here right now? I thought he was supposed to be staying at his Gran's.”
“Yes, he slept over. I texted you about this last night, you know.” He reached under his pillow with one arm and dug out his phone. It was out of battery. Harry held it up to show Luna, who rolled her eyes but said nothing.
“I’m sorry," he said, "This phone is a piece of shit. Is he awake?”
“Yes! He’s fucking awake! This apartment is the smallest in the world and I can hear everything you're saying!” Neville called from Luna’s room, sounding very disgruntled. “Can I come and talk as well? Or is this some sort of secret roommate meeting? Because if it is then you’re being much too loud about it.”
Harry started laughing, and Luna only looked conflicted for a moment before she joined in, with her hand across her mouth. Neville groaned audibly and said something that sounded very much like hate you both.
Harry yawned again and sat up, in his own opinion managing it with aplomb, only feeling the tiniest bit like he was going to keel over. At this he tried standing up as well, Luna watching him apprehensively, and that was achieved with the same level of success. Harry stumbled unsteadily over to the kitchen door on the opposite side of the room, legs shaking, taking a detour to the entrance of Luna’s bedroom. Neville had every part of his body buried under the duvet except for one knee and he said nothing when Harry invited him out and asked if he wanted a cup of tea, only stretched a bit before collapsing onto the mattress again.
“He will,” said Luna, from where she was now perched on the arm of the sofa as far away from the cat as possible, her ankles crossed, “And so will I please, Darjeeling if possible. I think we've still got some.”
Harry nodded slowly, still mindful of his head, and gave one last look at the Neville-shaped mound of bunched-up fabric. Harry sincerely doubted that the conversation about to ensue would be one that Neville was fully prepared for, judging by the look of him. He dodged a hanging basket on his way into the kitchen, wrinkling his nose as the yellow flowers started whispering to one another. Probably about him.
Ever since moving in with Luna a few weeks ago (asking to stay one night after helping her with a shopping trip to Sainsbury’s and not going back to Grimmauld Place again, except for clothes. And one time, candlesticks) she had been helping him with the Weird Future Problem. That was the agreed upon term, but sometimes, just to himself, Harry referred to it as the 'Why The Fuck Does Trouble Follow Me Literally Everywhere I Go' Problem. Although that was a bit wordy to say out loud. He was honestly sick and tired to death of weird stuff going on in his head without his permission, and he had thought, at least, after Voldemort’s demise that might be one thing he could count on not happening anymore. Apparently it was not to be, which he should have been prepared for, because when had things ever really gone the way he wanted them to go?
The first time he had slept after the Battle he had woken up from the most vivid dream he’d ever had in his life. In it, Ginny had broken up with him one bright day at the Burrow. They had been sitting outside the house on a sweltering afternoon, sun beating down on his skin, grass soft on his back where his shirt had ridden up, a glass of very cold apple juice sweating where he rested it on his belly. The chattering sound of the wheat field nearby ringing in his ears. She’d said to him him: this isn’t working and I know this is difficult for you. He woke up with the feel of cold apple juice on his t-shirt from the jolt of sitting up too quickly. After that he kept having the dream, on and off, until a week later it had happened in real life and all he could think was I should have seen this coming, dream or not.
It was two days after the breakup that Luna had asked for his help moving things into her new apartment in Muggle London. And he had gone, eager for any distraction, eager to leave the stifling heat of Grimmauld Place. Its dusty rooms and endless, creeping corridors. Harry had taken one look at the flat and exhaled, releasing a breath he hadn't even known he'd been holding.
There was Luna; bright smile in a scottie-dog print sundress and yellow sandals, the sound of your favourite song given human form. There were the huge open windows in the living room, letting in the sunshine and the sounds of traffic and the sounds of people outside laughing. There was the smell of the pavement baking in the heat, and rosemary and tomato from the pizza place downstairs. There was Neville smiling at him shakily and holding a bright green fern (the first of many). There were the shiny, dark-wood floorboards that Luna explained had taken her days to sand and re-varnish by hand, and you’d better be careful if you take your shoes off Harry, they’re very slippery. There was do you want to come with me to Sainsbury’s? It’s a supermarket, Neville can’t because he’s getting dinner with Dean. There was Yeah, sure Luna and Where do you want these biscuits? and Would you mind much if I slept here tonight? And then there was Harry sleeping and sometimes not sleeping on a sofa for several weeks. And then there was Harry somehow becoming responsible for a cat that seemed to hate everything else in the entire world except for him.
Harry had dreamt of a car crash on the street outside the good sushi place, then watched it play out two days later in front of his eyes. That had been a bad weekend, one of his worst, which was saying something. Neville and Luna had alternated between tiptoeing around the place where he was curled up on the sofa and sitting with him, as he watched TV and ate chocolate digestives. Luna with her head on his shoulder and Neville holding his hand while they pretended to watch Star Wars but really just muted it and listened to Harry talk about how fucking unfair things were, and how fucking guilty he felt to think that when he was alive and whole and here talking to them and pretending to watch Star Wars. They stayed quiet and Harry knew they didn’t know what to say, which was alright since he wasn’t sure he would do any better in their position. Eventually Luna had asked, very quietly, if he wanted to talk to Ron and Hermione and he had replied, equally as quiet, not yet. Then he cried a little bit and hadn’t since.
After the Battle it became difficult to watch Ron and Hermione together. They were sad most of the time (everyone he knew now was sad most of the time) but they were less sad when they looked at each other and Harry didn’t know quite what to do with that. He guessed, in a resigned sort of way, that he was jealous of them. Of what they had with each other and the fact that it was Ron-and-Hermione now, sturdy and unshakeable, a lived-through-the-war relationship that had a whole future that wasn’t so close to his anymore. A future running parallel with his own but not so tied up with his, the way it used to be. Maybe after some time had passed he would feel better about that. Now though, so soon after the fact, he felt like something had been ripped away from him and left a gaping wound in his whole life. He knew it was irrational, but he still felt it. He felt it when he sat across from them at dinner in the Burrow, or when they walked up to sleep in the same room in Grimmauld Place. He knew they felt it too, a pressure that came from his stare, and he knew that they'd probably felt some relief when he slipped away, told them he was staying at Luna’s and that he would call them, then never got around to it. He didn't know when it had become hard to talk to them.
Even though the dreams had started while he was still living at Grimmauld Place, he didn’t realise they were prophecy until one came true. By that point he was itching to escape anyway, the thing with Ginny solidifying what he already felt. It was easy not to tell them about it, when he thought about their reaction. He knew they loved him, and he probably loved them more than anything else in the world, but they made him tired sometimes. It wasn’t their fault that Hermione’s well-meaning questions and Ron’s infallible ability to misunderstand any given situation made him exhausted, but it happened anyway. It wasn’t easy to tell them things like it used to be. Nothing was like it used to be.
One evening he had been half-watching Broad City and half-watching Luna paint his nails mustard yellow. Neville had just left to get them dinner; Lebanese food from a restaurant ten minutes away, and his stomach had been rumbling. ‘Luna?’ he’d asked, almost whispering, almost hoping she'd not heard him. But she'd looked up from where she'd been carefully applying the polish to his index finger, blinked a few times in a silent question.
He’d told her, then, that he had dreamt about his breakup with Ginny, that it had felt different from any dream he’d had, that he'd been able to remember every single terrible detail when he'd woken up. Then he'd told her about the other dreams he’d been having; a car crash outside their sushi place, a delay on the underground that made them miss the start of a film, her card being declined in a shop in Chinatown when they’d been trying to buy milk sweets. She'd tilted her head to the side, squeezed his forearm, and told him to keep her updated. Then she'd started on his next nail.
In the kitchen, Harry boiled the kettle and took three mugs down from the top cupboard that he could barely reach. He thought -not for the first time- about moving them all down to one he could access easier. Then, not for the first time, he resolved to do it later. He rifled through their tea drawer in order to find the Darjeeling that Luna had asked for. She hadn’t wanted it since they’d got some Chai from a speciality tea shop near Covent Garden so it was buried in the far back, next to some ill-advised mixed-fruit flavour shit that Neville had bought when he’d been drunk. Harry flicked the box disapprovingly. He washed his face in the kitchen sink while the tea brewed, then gingerly gathered all three mugs before stepping back into the living room, kicking the door shut behind him. The orange glow from the streetlamp outside the windows gave the whole room an eerie feel, it seemed larger than it was, more dark corners. As he neared the sofa he saw Neville wrapped in Luna’s entire duvet, spread out on one of the bigger armchairs. Luna was sitting on a cushion on the floor beside his feet, her head resting against his thigh. Harry handed them their tea to quiet thanks and put his own on the coffee table. He fell back down onto the sofa with a sigh, stretching his arms above his head and rucking up the duvet with his feet.
Luna was the first to speak. “I haven’t told anyone about it, Harry,” she said, either not knowing or not caring that a statement like that might invite questions.
Neville sat up straighter in his chair. “About what?” He looked down at Luna and then across at Harry. “About what?” He repeated. Harry could hear remnants of suspicion in his voice, leftover from the war. Harry had been hearing it in most people's voices lately.
Harry sighed again, stretched again, then braced himself for how ridiculous he was about to sound. “I can see the future?" Neville opened his mouth to speak but Harry continued in a rush before he could. "It happened for the first time right after the Battle, I have no idea how. It happens when I’m asleep, like, I dream about it. I dreamt about Ginny breaking up with me.” Neville had been there for the aftermath of the car crash day, but had probably just thought Harry was having a small breakdown. He hadn’t asked any questions, just as Harry hadn’t volunteered any information.
Neville was quiet for a moment. Then, “That’s… not normal.”
Harry laughed, and he tried to make it sound not-bitter but wasn’t sure he succeeded. “You don’t say?”
“No, not like, in a mean way. It’s just-- it doesn’t usually happen like that, does it? It doesn’t just... come to someone, out of the blue. There are ways of looking into the future but they all involve trying to look into the future. It doesn’t just happen randomly, except for the prophecies, but this sounds different. What are the dreams like?” Harry stared at Neville, somewhat speechless. Sometimes he forgot people didn’t panic when he told them things. Sometimes he had to remind himself that Neville was a war hero. Harry also had to remind himself, time and time again, that people were probably used to weird things occurring around him.
“They’re not like normal dreams. It’s like I’m actually there. Sometimes I have control over what I say, sometimes I’m just… trapped. Moving and talking like normal but not having any control over what happens. It’s fucking awful." He thought of the one time he’d woken up and hadn't been able to move. It had lasted for a full five minutes, until the grating siren of a passing ambulance had snapped him back into his body again.
“He gets nosebleeds afterwards, sometimes really bad headaches.” Luna informed Neville, who wrinkled his nose, silent.
“It feels exactly how you think it would feel, parts of your future trying to force themselves into your head at the wrong time.” Neville and Luna both grimaced when Harry said that, in sympathy.
“Have you told Hermione?” Neville asked. “Only it seems like she’d know quite a bit about stuff like this. Being that she knows quite a bit about everything.”
“I’ve only told you two.” Harry said, suddenly fiercely missing his best friend. “I think I might have to, though. Soon. But I want to do some research first.”
“What kind of research? Book research? You could try the library at Grimmauld Place.” Luna suggested.
Harry shook his head. “No, like, field research. I want to know if I can change it.” Luna looked confused and he tried to think of a way to put it. “Remember when I had that dream about the tube delay? It hasn’t happened yet, and I want to see if we can avoid it.” The dream about her card getting declined hadn’t happened yet either, neither had scores of other things, tiny things that he hadn’t thought worth mentioning. It seemed more important now to be in control, after what he’d dreamed of tonight.
Harry finally reached for his forgotten cup of tea on the coffee table, where it rested on an out-of-date copy of Time Out London. There was a pile of Metro and Guardian newspapers on the ground and he propped his feet up on top of them. He always brought them back when he’d been reading them on the tube. Riding the trains late at night hadn’t been something he’d grown out of.
There wasn’t a lot of floor space available in Luna’s apartment. The majority of it was taken up by her plants, with paths running through them like animal tracks. One from Luna’s bedroom to the bathroom, intersecting with the one from the sofa and chairs to the kitchen. There were rugs covering most of the places where they walked, Luna had been right about the slippery floors and Harry had fallen over three times before they took a trip to Ikea. That might have been the weirdest day of Harry’s life.
Beside the sofa where he slept there were stacks of books, all Muggle, mostly novels but with some history books scattered throughout. His laptop was pushed under the coffee table, perpetually out of charge, much like his phone. There were ceramic bowls filled with loose change, candlesticks he’d brought from Grimmauld Place at Luna’s request, empty coffee mugs with dried flowers. It was cluttered and messy but clean and bright and it felt like home. He was working up the courage to ask Luna if he could replace the current sofa with a pull out bed.
They drank their tea in silence for a few minutes, resting and comfortable. Maybe Luna had told Neville that being questioned made him feel anxious. The city outside the window seemed quieter than usual, the street outside was bare except for the occasional group of drunk teenagers walking home or to the next party. Harry could hear the wail of a police car in the distance and shuddered, he thought about how it was the worst sound in the world.
“Harry.” Luna was looking at him over the rim of her favourite Batman mug. “What was last night’s Weird Future Dream about?” Harry could hear the capitalisation. Luna was the only person other than Hermione who could do that, he thought fondly.
“Luna.” He looked at her over the rim of his own favourite mug, it was pink and had ‘Worlds best sister’ printed in a swirly font on the side. It was from one of the markets on Brick Lane. He studied a chip in the handle. “I’m not sure I know.” He looked at Neville, who smiled when he caught Harry’s gaze. His hand was on Luna’s head now, and he was curling her hair in between his fingers. Harry felt a hot spike of jealousy run through him, but when he shook himself the feeling disappeared.
The sun was just starting to rise, it didn’t feel real, them sitting here together at this hour. Harry felt like he could say anything and it wouldn’t have happened when the sun had fully risen. They were both looking at him, not expecting anything, not rushing him. He wanted to fall asleep again. Harry glanced at the houses on the opposite side of the road and he could see the reflection of his streetlamp in their windows, repeated over and over. The cat jumped onto his lap and he put his hand on her back, feeling her fragile spine through fragile skin. Harry, still staring out the window, staring at the sky now, told them.
He opened his eyes and stared straight ahead of him at an open window, it was pitch black outside and Harry couldn’t see the stars. He blinked a few times and took stock of which parts of his body he could still feel. His head was fuzzy, in a recognisable way, and he could sense a slick warmth sliding down his face. Dripping from his nose, over the curve of his lips and off his chin. His hands were fisted in sheets, and he knew, somehow, that he was sitting on the end of a bed. He felt silk on the back of his bare thighs and thought about how he’d never slept on silk sheets in his life. He knew this was his own bed, in his own bedroom, even though he’d never seen this place in his life. His eyes focused on a line of paint above the window like the lines in Luna’s living room, and he felt something inside himself unknot. Luna had been here, he was sure. Harry looked upwards at the ceiling, up at a whole galaxy of glow-in-the-dark stars, some of which were moving. He smiled. He thought of Luna. There was a print of a Klimt painting beside the window, above an ancient-looking chest of drawers. Harry didn’t know how he knew who Klimt was.
Harry was slowly regaining the feeling in his legs, but there was a silence in his ears that was absolute. Then, suddenly, he felt a weight on his knee, and looked down to see a hand resting there, cool and pale and soft. The fingernails were neat. Then there was the gentle touch of two fingers under his chin, tilting his head to look into the face of their owner. Then Harry couldn’t breath. He wanted to crawl backwards but his body wouldn’t let him move. All he could do was look at Draco Malfoy’s face, at the furrow between his brow where his eyebrows were caught in a worried-looking frown, at his mouth as it moved, saying Harry and then something he couldn’t catch and then Harry and then fuck. The hand under his chin dropped away only to softly wipe what he could only assume was blood from under his nose. The Malfoy he knew would never. Harry wanted to wake up. Malfoy bent down, kneeling beside the bed. He was wearing a grey t-shirt that was clearly too big for him and a pair of loose boxers in a garish tropical fish pattern. Boxers that Ron had bought Harry last Christmas. The t-shirt had ridden up and Harry eyes focused, quite without his brain's permission, on the expanse of bare skin. With a rushing noise, he could hear again.
“--ening, Harry? Can you hear me? Fuck. Should I call Granger? Harry snap the fuck out of this or so help me I’ll strangle you right now.” Malfoy sounded worried. More than that, he sounded panicked. Harry’s hand, moving of it’s own accord, reached up to touch the lines on Malfoy’s brow, smoothing the skin there. Malfoy deflated and then flashed him a smile, soft and tired. “Oh, thank fuck. You fucking scared me. I was this close to calling an ambulance. I still might, unless you fucking say something you arsehole.” Harry didn’t need an ambulance, he knew exactly what this was. Thrown by the familiarity with which Malfoy spoke to him, he shook his head. “Not good enough,” said Malfoy.
Harry gave up, and mimed writing on his hand. Malfoy looked at him for a long second, then nodded once and stood up gracefully, striding over to the chest of drawers Harry had previously noticed. He opened the second drawer down and pulled out a yellow legal pad and a black pen. He crossed back over to Harry, flipping through the notebook for a blank page before handing it over. The pen was a Mont Blanc fountain tip and Harry didn’t know whether to roll his eyes or to stab himself with it. He settled for the former. At this, Malfoy gave him a look. It was a look that was obviously practised and obviously familiar. He and Malfoy had looks, Harry thought, and this suddenly seemed like the hardest thing to deal with. It was so fucking intimate, the way that Malfoy said his name, the way he was dressed. The way he moved in what was clearly their bedroom. Harry wondered if you could go into shock in a dream.
I don’t need an ambulance was the first thing he wrote. Please don’t call Hermione was the second. He tilted the paper so that Malfoy could see it. At this he huffed with impatience and moved to sit next to Harry on the bed, their shoulders pressing together. “You need to promise me you’ll book an appointment with a Healer for later today, or a Muggle doctor. Either. I know you think you’re indestructible but that wasn’t a normal nosebleed. You couldn’t hear me.”
I don’t think I’m indestructible, Harry wrote, stung.
“Not the point. Not the fucking point. Just say yes, you stubborn shit.” Malfoy said, in a fond tone of voice that was totally at odds with the words coming out of his mouth. Harry didn’t know what to do. Out of ideas, he wrote I promise on the paper, and Malfoy breathed a sigh of relief beside him. Harry could feel it on his cheek.
This hasn’t happened before? He wrote, before he could stop himself. As soon as he’d done the dot of the question mark he knew it was a mistake.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean? No. This hasn’t happened before. Has it happened before? Is that--” Malfoy cut himself off, seemingly lost for words. He was frowning again but this time Harry didn’t touch him. It doesn’t matter, I just still feel weird. Malfoy looked at this and then at Harry again, he shook his head and opened his mouth to say something.
That was where it ended. Harry’s tea had gone cold by the time he finished, not once looking either of them in the eye. Luna and Nev were shocked into silence for what seemed like a full minute. Harry was wary, he knew exactly how this would go with Ron and Hermione, but Luna and Neville were uncharted territory as far as he was concerned.
Then, Neville spoke. “You’re telling us--” he cut off after this, shook his head sharply. “You’re telling us that you had a dream about the future in which you had a dream about the future. And Malfoy. Malfoy. I don’t know what to say mate, I didn’t even know you liked guys, let alone...” He trailed off and then laughed, but his laughter sounded angry. “Fucking Malfoy, Harry. You can’t.”
“I know that, Nev. You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. That's why I just said I need to find out if I can change it. Trust me when I say that I was exactly as shocked as you are.” Harry scrubbed through his hair with his hands, it was getting too long again. He wanted to end this. “Not about the guy thing, but… the Malfoy thing. Obviously.”
“Obviously,” Neville echoed, looking faintly amused. Harry rolled his eyes.
“Do you know how far into the future that was?” Luna asked slowly, her face impassive and more serious than he’d seen in a long while.
“No, Luna, I’ve no idea. I think-- he looked exactly the same, except for the clothes, I didn’t see a calendar or anything.” He replied, thinking desperately back to his dream. “He talked about Hermione like he knew her.” Harry couldn’t get his head around this fact either. That Malfoy might voluntarily speak to Hermione, that Hermione might do the same.
Luna just hummed and looked thoughtful, her eyes closed for a split second and then flashed open again. “I think that maybe now you’ve seen it, it might not happen. Do you know what I mean? The future isn’t set. I can’t really explain where I’m going with this, I’m too tired, sorry Harry.”
Harry thought about what she'd said. Could he have stopped Ginny breaking up with him? He supposed he probably could, on that day, if he had realised at the time what was happening. He could have never gone outside with her, or never gone to the Burrow. It would have happened eventually, something told him it was all but inevitable. This thing with Malfoy though, that could be different. Harry couldn’t imagine any future of his with Draco Malfoy in it. Even having seen it. It was one outcome out of many possible outcomes, and he clung to this. He would make the cinema on time. He and Luna would buy milk sweets using cash. He wouldn’t have anything to do with Draco Malfoy.
Five miles away from where Harry, Luna, and Neville were talking quietly in a flat just off Brick Lane, Draco Malfoy had just tripped over. He knew it shouldn’t be funny and he knew he’d probably ruined these trousers, but Pansy couldn’t breathe with how hard she was laughing and he couldn’t help but join in. It had been ages since he’d heard that sound and he couldn’t believe how much he’d fucking missed it. So if falling over was what it took, it was a sacrifice he would gladly make. Draco Malfoy had never been one for sacrifices, he was still getting used to them.
It was just him and Pansy now, everyone else from his year in Slytherin had either buggered off abroad or were still living in Wizarding Britain. A few days after the Battle, with his father back in Azkaban and Draco and his mother under temporary house arrest in the Manor, the family lawyer had turned up with an offer from the Ministry. He could go to Azkaban for one year or he could have his wand confiscated and be banned from all magical establishments, be banned from Hogwarts and a magical trace put on him. He wouldn’t even be allowed to apparate. Only allowed to return to his family home. A review of the terms after five years. At one point he wouldn’t have hesitated, but he’d seen what Azkaban had done to his father and he knew what it would do to him.
Draco wasn’t under any illusions about his ability to cope with something like that. But neither was he under any illusions about the welcome he could receive if he chose to keep living in the wizarding world. He wouldn’t want to go back to Hogwarts, never mind the issue of him being let in or not. He knew that most people were going back, even his former classmates, they were calling it Eighth Year. Most people from other houses, that is. Slytherin was probably decimated at this point, only the younger years remaining. It made him angry when he thought about it so he tried very hard not to. In the end, it wasn’t much of a decision to make. He couldn’t go to Azkaban, he couldn’t live without magic, couldn’t live among muggles. One path was a little less likely to kill him though, so he took it.
He still had Pansy, who stayed with him a lot of the time. It had always been them and probably always would be. Plus, she didn’t really have anyone else. Together since they were children she wouldn’t let a little thing like banishment tear them apart. Sometimes when he looked at her his whole body hurt with how much he loved her, how much he ached for her to have everything she ever wanted. They weren’t in love but occasionally he caught glimpses of how easy it would be if they were. Now for example, drunk and laughing and falling over outside Harrods at four in the morning. Her face lit up momentarily in blue and red from a passing police car. It would be easy to kiss her now. Easy if either of them wanted it, that is. Draco was amazed at what he knew. Words like ‘police’ and ‘doctor’ and ‘escalator.’ Words that rolled off his tongue and sounded like a foreign language. Pansy’s lips were painted black. They smiled at him.
He smiled back, dizzy with the colours, then tried to stand and found that he couldn’t. They’d been drinking wine spritzers at the start of the night, he vaguely recalled, and then moved onto vodka as the evening progressed. That must be why he couldn’t feel his face. Pansy finally took pity on him and grabbed his arm, hauling him up, both of them stumbling back a few paces into the thick glass of the window display. She was stronger than her slight frame let on. Pansy let go of him and turned to look inside, sighing as Draco cooed at a pair of velvet trousers that were lit up with a dim spotlight. They were midnight blue and would look brilliant on him. He hadn’t realised he had said that part out loud until Pansy snorted with good-natured derision. He just smirked, not too drunk to realise she hadn’t denied it.
He lived a few minutes away in a tall, red-brick townhouse and back when he was still afraid to go outside, Harrods was the nearest place that sold food. It was obscenely expensive, all quails eggs and luxury chocolates and gourmet cheese, but money had never really been an issue in the Malfoy family. Cooking was, however, and Draco had done a lot of frantic googling while he learned the basics. Pansy had laughed airily, sat up on the counter drinking wine as Draco attempted to boil an egg, snarling at her when she dared to comment, snatching at her phone and threatening to boil it when she tried to take photos of him. I’d be impressed if you could manage it, honestly, she’d said. He’d had to go and lie down for a while.
Aurors had overseen his moving in. Two women had watched him, narrow eyed, as he tried to pack things from his room in the Manor. Officially, they were there to make sure he didn’t pack anything that could be described as a magical artefact. Unofficially, they were there to make him nervous. His mother was unhappy, sad and deflated in that big house. They closed up two whole wings together before he left. The bad ones, the ones that made them feel sick. The ones that had been all but destroyed. The portraits had seethed and hurled insults. Blood-traitor didn’t sting him as much as it used to. He didn’t know if he felt good or bad about that.
Knightsbridge was clean, tree-lined and leafy. He could stand in the middle of the park outside his house and not see houses or people. He could put his headphones in and not hear traffic or arguments or laughter or anything. Raised in Wiltshire and Scotland, Draco missed silence. At night in the Manor he could open his window and hear nothing. Nothing. Silence so oppressive he felt blanketed by it, safe in it. Silence so complete he thought he imagined it. It wasn’t so in Central London. He supposed he could have chosen another stately home, a non-magical one. Maybe one with farming land. When he felt like this he climbed up to the attic and out of one of the dormer windows. He sat on the roof four storeys up, the feel of the black slate tiles burning hotly through his t-shirt. He looked out across the city and thought about how somewhere in there, buried amongst the countless buildings, was Diagon Alley. It helped him breathe. He couldn’t go, but knowing it was there was enough. He didn’t know what he would do when it stopped being enough.
It was mid-May before he could stand to leave the safe enclave of the streets surrounding his house. He ventured into Belgravia, wide-eyed at the embassies and the luxury shops. He learnt words like ‘Christian Louboutin’ and ‘Hermes.’ He learnt how to use his newly obtained credit card. He went to Waitrose and bought things that weren’t quail’s eggs and truffles. He learned how to make pasta sauce from scratch. He was roped into conversation with his next door neighbour, a man called Alex who had three children and a husband and a very nice car who told Draco what his job was while Draco pretended to know what he was talking about. He talked to muggles in shops. He said things like keep the change and no that’s alright and I brought my own bag but still felt weird. It made him feel overbalanced and guilty on an hourly basis.
He grew comfortable with living in Muggle London, if not talking to people, and as he did Pansy did too. It was the end of June now and the city was hot on good days, stifling on bad ones. The garden at the back of his house was small but bright, with silver birch trees providing some respite from the harsh sunlight. They sat outside together that very morning and ate breakfast, Draco had tried his hand at an omelette. The french doors at the back of the house were thrown wide open and propped back with plant pots. The doors led into one of the living rooms, a huge space that ran from the front of the house to the very back. It was cool and shaded inside, the forest-green walls a soothing contrast against the blinding white of the patio stones. They spoke to each other softly and lazily, Draco watching bumblebees float from one flower to the next, Pansy with her eyes closed sipping orange juice.
It was a far cry from their current situation. He had been feeling unsettled all day and when Pansy had suggested they go out that evening he couldn’t say fuck, yes fast enough. He felt like he wanted to jump out of his skin. They used Uber and went to a bar in Chelsea where everyone had accents like his and everyone was rich. Before, it never really occurred to him that muggles could be rich.
A group of people their own age had tried to talk to him and Pansy, they were foreign students studying at Central Saint Martins. All of them were pretty and wealthy and young looking and they chattered amongst themselves in Japanese, laughing easily. Draco couldn’t remember the last time he had talked like that with his friends. Students in other houses in Hogwarts had and he used to think they were childish, laughing like they all knew the same secret. He was never jealous at the time but thought he might be now, in retrospect.
Pansy put both palms on the window and pushed herself backwards then started walking in the direction of his house. “Draco, I’m leaving you behind!” she called over her shoulder. He had to run to catch up with her, it was very undignified. She took his hand and threaded her fingers between his. “Food when we get back? We could get a takeaway.”
He frowned, thinking. “I don’t think anywhere will be open Pans, It’s four in the morning. I suppose I could make something if you want.” She laughed, apparently it came easier now she’d done it a few times.
“Babe, literally the only good thing about living in London is the access to food whenever you want it. How have you not worked this out yet?”
“Babe?” He parroted, his voice mocking. “Merlin, you’re far drunker than I thought. Tell me, when was the last time you called me that? Third year perhaps?”
“Perhaps?” Pansy replied in the same manner, her voice high. “You’re one to talk, you get about ninety percent posher when you’ve been drinking wine. I don’t even know how you manage it, frankly. And you stop swearing. It’s unnerving.”
“Fuck off Parkinson.” Draco said through laughter, with a grin that showed a lot of his teeth. It was her favourite of all his smiles.
“I could, you know, and then where would you be?” He wouldn’t be anywhere. He couldn’t imagine her not being near him. He couldn’t even think without her, probably. He didn’t say this out loud.
Instead he said, “Asleep I imagine, in my bed, like any normal person should be at this hour. You horrible wench.”
“We stopped using gendered insults.”
“Fuck, sorry.” She was right, they had agreed. “I can’t think of anything else.”
“Not my problem.” She sing-songed. He decided it was safer not to mention earlier in the day when she’d called him a dick for starting The Princess Bride while she was still in the shower. Films were weird. Muggles had places where you could go and watch them with other people, strangers. Maybe he could get Pansy to come with him later in the week.
They arrived on his front doorstep with no further incidents. As soon as they were inside and Pansy had kicked off her shoes she started for the kitchen. He followed, after picking her shoes up and putting them away in the cloakroom. Already on the counter were vegetables, chopping boards, and knives. He had no idea how she’d done it that quickly and Draco sighed as he envisioned the massive cleanup that would no doubt come after this. Pansy was rooting around in the cupboard under the sink and emerged, triumphant, with a deep saucepan. “Shakshouka!” she proclaimed loudly.
Draco blinked. “I don’t know what that means.”
“Me neither! It’s the name of a dish though. It’s basically the only thing I know how to cook apart from toast. Where are your eggs? Can you make me some tea? It looks like a dinner thing but you can eat it for breakfast.” She was looking around her as she turned one of the oven hobs on. Draco, still bemused, gestured to where the eggs were sitting beside the fridge and went to put the kettle on. Pansy piped up again, chopping a pepper very very slowly. “You can piss off now, I’ve got this. You’re going to cry with how good this is. Go put some music on or something.” She gestured with the knife still in her hand and he backed away slightly.
Draco decided to take her advice and ran upstairs to dig out his iPod. By the time he returned, the kitchen smelled like frying onions and Pansy had tied her hair in a ponytail high on the back of her head. He played Cat Power over the speakers and Pansy yelled at him until he put Manhattan on. They danced while the eggs were baking, she spun him around the kitchen, both still tipsy. The sun was just rising as they went out to the garden and sat on the edge of the patio to eat, the music still faintly playing from inside. Draco curled his toes in the dewy grass. He could already tell it was going to be a hot day.
Harry woke up again when Luna shouted something at him from the bathroom, her voice muffled by running water. It was still early but the heat was almost unbearable, and Harry opened the windows in the living room before he did anything else. Luna shouted again, still muffled, and Neville stuck his head out from her bedroom. “Mate I think she wants to talk to you.” Harry restrained the urge to ‘no shit’ because Neville was the most well meaning person on the planet and Harry wasn’t a monster. Instead he asked if Neville wanted breakfast, sure that he already knew the answer. “Yes, I’m bloody starved. Did you want to go to the cafe? I really feel like fried bread. Fried anything, actually.” Harry opened his mouth but was cut off from answering in the affirmative when Luna shouted once more, this time saying something that sounded like last chance. He hurried over to their shared bathroom, wrestling a clean t-shirt on as he walked.
Luna was sitting on the edge of the rapidly filling bath with her hand in the water. Harry knew immediately what was happening. She looked up at him as he went to the sink and started brushing his teeth. “There you are, I was calling for ages. I’m having a bath so if you need to pee, do so now.” She paused. “I can leave if you do.”
He spat toothpaste in the sink before answering. “Sorry, I was talking to Nev. I’m alright, thanks though. We’re going to the cafe to get breakfast, do you want me to bring you something back?”
“The cereal cafe?” She asked, clearly hopeful that the answer would be yes. As if the answer would ever be yes.
He snorted. “Luna, we took a vow. You know about the vow. You've been made aware of the vow. Multiple times, actually." Harry thought for a second, pushing toothpaste foam between his front teeth. "How would I even bring you back takeout cereal? It would get soggy," he thought out loud, not really needing an answer. "Anyway, we're going to the normal cafe. The nice, normal cafe where they charge nice, normal prices."
The cereal cafe was a point of contention between them. Harry and Neville were firmly on the anti cereal-cafe side and had promised each other they would never set foot in the place, no matter how dire the need for cereal, whereas Luna maintained she was officially undecided. Harry had often wondered how a person could be undecided about spending a whole fiver on a single bowl of glorified cornflakes, it was utterly baffling. A lot of the things that Luna did baffled him, if he was totally honest. Like the four hour baths, for example. Famous in their household for both their length and their regularity. Hence Luna asking him if he needed to pee. It could be several hours before he next got the chance.
"I think I'll just have some toast," Luna sighed, her hand trailing in the hot water, steam rising and making her hair frizz.
Harry finished brushing his teeth while Luna added herbs to the bathwater, making the whole place smell like lavender and sage and something akin to wet earth. The water turned green. He looked at himself in the mirror, thinking absently about growing his hair out even more. He smiled at himself and his teeth gleamed. Harry noticed how his skin was even darker than usual because of the sunny weather. He rinsed his mouth and put deodorant on, nodding when Luna asked if he was definitely done. Harry left just as she opened the bottle of tea tree oil, and the smell followed him out. He breathed deeply, he could drown in it.
They made their way to the cafe. Harry wasn't sure it even had a name. It was on the less busy end of Brick Lane but was still usually packed, mostly with locals. Neville liked it because of the waffles and Harry liked it because everyone was friendly and nobody knew who he was. He ordered their food while Neville fought his way into a table beside the window. He was tracing his fingers over a pattern in the surface of the formica when Harry joined him. The seats were red faux-leather and always sticky. Whenever any of them wore shorts it was a chore to stand up, the material peeling slowly from the backs of their legs. A waiter brought coffee over.
“So, I was talking to Luna last night, after we all went back to bed…” Neville started and then trailed off. He frowned, just slightly. “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about what I’m going to say, because it’s not what you think.”
Harry thought about all the times that Neville had looked this serious. It wasn’t a long list. “Am I going to need to cast a privacy spell for this?” He said in a low tone, only half joking.
Neville laughed. “You should cast a privacy spell before you say the words 'privacy spell.' No, anyway. It’s about Malfoy.” Harry raised his eyebrows and opened his mouth to say God, can we not? or Can we pretend I was just hallucinating? At least for half an hour, I don’t want to ruin my pancakes, but Neville spoke before he got the chance.
“You remember when Luna was kept prisoner, at Malfoy Manor? Put in the dungeons? I never know how to say it and not sound like we’re in a fucking... Medieval film or something. Anyway I don’t know how much she’s told you about it, but she doesn’t remember much. Maybe that’s a good thing. She… the stuff she does remember-- she remembers Malfoy coming to talk to her. Bringing her food, I think. She told me I could tell you about it, if you want to hear.”
Neville was ripping up a cheap paper napkin as he talked and the dust made Harry want to sneeze. He looked up and smiled broadly at someone over Harry’s shoulder, and said thanks mate when their food was put in front of them. Harry had ordered the chocolate chip pancakes that he usually loved. Right now though they were making him feel like a fucking child. He didn’t really want to cry in a public place.
“Why?” Harry sighed, and his voice sounded tired, even to his own ears.
Neville was digging into his waffles with strawberry syrup and answered with his mouth full. “I have no idea.” He swallowed audibly and drank half of his tea in one go. He ate like Ron sometimes and Harry didn't know if he missed it or not. “I mean, you know how I feel about Malfoy. It’s not-- I think he’s a terrible fucking human being. Luna feels… softer towards him. I think they wrote to each other a few times but I’m not sure what about, and she didn’t want to tell me in the first place but I was there one time she got a letter.”
“Okay… I just, I’m not sure what she wants here,” Harry pointed out, “I don’t think anything you could tell me would make me feel better about him. I know everything already, Nev. The whole fucking list. He was scared for his family, he was scared for his friends, he was mostly just scared for himself. He maybe saved my life, I definitely saved his life, he wasn’t going to kill Dumbledore. So fucking what? You know? I’m not even… I’m not even angry anymore. I’m just tired of thinking about him, he isn’t my enemy, he isn’t… anything, anymore. I was happy just to let it go and not have to think about that stuff ever again if I didn’t want to. And now it’s--”
Neville was nodding. “I get it. I think. You don’t want him taking up space in your brain.”
“Yes. I don’t want him to die or anything. If I were in a better mood maybe I would even say I want him to be happy, because… you know, I want everyone to be happy. I just… don’t want him to be happy near me. I don’t want to talk to him, or think about him, or see him because it’ll make me upset. And I’ve had enough of being upset to last me like, a million lifetimes. Maybe it sounds juvenile but I’d really like to just… ignore it until it goes away, please.”
Neville burst out laughing. “Okay, okay. Good plan, let’s do that. We can make a vow not to talk about Malfoy ever again. At least here, in our sacred breakfast place.”
“You’re the one who brought him up!" Harry argued, "I’ll take the blame for earlier because I really just wanted to tell someone about it. But in this instance I think I’m off the hook. Also yes I vow it, fine.”
“I also vow it. I also want to take this time to say that you can tell me and Luna anything, we love you a lot. Don’t roll your eyes, it’s true. We know that things between you and Ron and Hermione aren’t great at the moment and… I don’t know. You can talk to us. You shouldn’t ever feel bad or guilty for telling us stuff, or waking us up to tell us stuff.”
“Okay… I do though, sometimes. Feel guilty. But thanks for saying that. I also want to take this time to say that you and Luna mean a lot to me as well. And I know she knows but I’m going to tell her again when we get back.”
“Good. Okay. Friendship. Brilliant. What do you want to do today? I was thinking maybe swimming in the Hampstead Heath ponds? The weather’s good enough.”
Harry felt a lot lighter when he and Neville left the cafe. On the way home to persuade Luna out of the bath he tipped his head back, smiling, and Neville had to pull him out of the way of a gaggle of tourists. When they got back to the apartment Luna was listening to Trembling Bells at full volume and they had to shout to make themselves heard. Eventually she emerged, dripping wet in a towelling robe and smelling like vanilla. The bathroom was filled with steam and Harry could barely breathe when he went in there to get the sun cream. Luna always said that sunblock charms made her skin feel staticky. He put some drawstring shorts on, (“They have bumblebees on them! Neville look at Harry’s shorts. Yours are fine, yeah, but bumblebees.”) and changed into a white t-shirt.
The ponds were always busy in this sort of weather, so they apparated to a spot nearby and walked into the Heath, just in case. He was sweating already. Luna and Neville were holding hands beside him. She was wearing a light blue dress and looked beautiful walking under the dappled shade. He told her so. Then he told Neville that he looked nice as well, because he did and nobody had said it yet. Neville blushed and Harry tried very hard not to find that adorable.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been swimming. Maybe that time in the dead of winter, with the sword. He’d done nothing this summer, if he thought about it. The first week was sleeping. Sleeping with Gin and sleeping by himself and eating. They were the main activities. Then there were a few sort-of blissful days split between Grimmauld Place and the Burrow. Blissful relative to the two days after the breakup when he didn’t leave his bedroom. After that there was a little more stuff to do. He had gone with Luna to a lot of garden stores to find plants, he had painted that ceiling. He had learned to cook Tabbouleh which… hadn’t taken up as much time as he’d hoped actually. Then he’d thought about going to Beirut. Then he’d thought about learning to speak Arabic because his dad had been able to and he didn’t have much from his parents but that could be something.
They walked through The Heath, Luna and Neville went up ahead, chattering between themselves. Harry was still feeling uneasy from last night but it was easier to forget about it here, out of the jungle in Luna's apartment, with fresh air in his lungs. They were going to Neville's house for dinner tonight and would probably make pizza. They were going to the cinema later in the week. Tomorrow he was going to the big Waterstones in Piccadilly to pick up a book he had ordered in. He would get Luna to run him one of her baths. He allowed himself to feel content, before he saw Draco Malfoy and it all went to shit.
Draco thought about the last time he’d felt this hot. Fiendfyre, obviously. Fuck. He couldn’t even do relaxing right. Pansy dropped a strawberry Fab on his bare stomach and the feel of the cold, wet packet brought him abruptly out of his moment of self-pity.
“You owe me four pounds.” Pansy looked perfect, as usual. She wasn’t even sweating. And she was wearing a black kaftan over a black swimsuit. Draco rolled his eyes. Fucking typical.
“I’m not giving you money. You invited me on this date and now you’re paying the price. Literally.” He laughed at his own joke. Pansy’s demeanor became somehow colder.
“I don’t know why. Why did I do that? Literally all you’ve done is sit here and complain about the heat -which is fucking fine, by the way- and given me eyes until I bought you an ice cream. Do you know, that that was what one cost, by the way? This place is hell. Look at all these people. I’ve never wished you were allowed to apparate more. We could go to Brighton. I mean, we could still go to Brighton but it’s ages on the fucking train, isn’t it?”
Draco agreed. And if this was hell, then the London Underground was purgatory. He thought that metaphor was correct. It had taken them an hour to get here. An hour, and they were still in the same city. And they’d had to go on the Northern Line. It was hot and weirdly dusty and really disgusting. He'd seen a rat and his only reaction had been how has it not baked to death down here? Usually they got around in taxis but Pansy had insisted for some reason. Some reason like I’m interested! Merlin Draco, just go and put your bloody swimming shorts on and stop complaining. He did stop complaining, but only after he saw her making sandwiches and wrapping them in foil for a picnic. Pansy. Making a packed lunch. He wanted to take a photo for posterity but she’d threatened him rather graphically and he’d let it go.
They'd been here for a full hour and half but hadn’t even gone in the water yet, Draco sulked. What was the point of coming halfway across the bloody city? They might as well be in his back garden, all Pansy was doing was lying very still in a different patch of grass. “Pans?” Draco ventured.
“What?” She said flatly, and didn’t even look at him.
“You’re so fucking charming. Let’s go in the water. I finished my book.” At this, she turned her head and stared at him, sliding her sunglasses down her nose with one perfectly-manicured finger.
“You mean to tell me, Draco Malfoy, that when I said ‘don’t bring that book because you’re almost finished with it and we’ll be there for ages’ you… what? You ignored me? You didn’t believe me? You fucking prat.” She threw something towards him and it clipped his shoulder. Muttering under his breath he picked it up from where it had landed, open, in the grass beside him. It was a hardback book by someone called Jack London. The Sea Wolf. “There you go. I brought three with me. You’re fucking welcome.”
“This is a Muggle author.”
“Is it? I had no idea. We should burn it, in that case,” she deadpanned.
“I just… I didn’t know you read Muggle novels, that’s all. It’s not as though it’s a problem. I do as well.”
She rolled her eyes. “Not a problem, he says. Draco that’s maybe the most ironic thing I’ve ever heard come out of your mouth. You, telling someone that it’s not a problem when they read Muggle literature.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. It doesn’t matter.” He shook his head. She was right, probably. About something. She usually was. He read novels by Muggle authors and he read history books by Muggle authors and he listened to Muggle music and watched Muggle films. It started as a way of getting more familiar with the world in which he was supposed to be living. Like, revision, he supposed. Thinking about it like that made it easier, anyway.
He knew that he’d never made his own mind up about anything in his life, and that he used to be more content with that than he was now. For lack of a better idea he had googled ‘books to read’ and laughed at himself and then chose the first one on the first list he found. The Catcher in The Rye. Then he’d read all of the author’s other works. At the moment he was slogging his way, very slowly, through In Search of Lost Time.
“Hey. I shouldn't have said that.” Pansy’s voice was softer as she sat up and turned to face him. “I know you’ve been trying, please don't think I don't think that's a good thing.”
“We were really ignorant Pans," he said, looking up at the leaves in the tree above them and squirming his toes. "Deliberately ignorant, no less. Which wasn’t very Slytherin of us. I’m just… angry with us, I think. I’m angry that we never even tried to understand.”
“I know. We were horrible. You can say we were horrible.”
“We were worse than horrible.” He was worse than worse than horrible.
“We still might be. But at least we’re not just blindly following our fucking parents. Now finish the ice cream that I so generously bought you so that we can go in the pool.” She started taking her kaftan off and froze midway through, Draco watched as a look of horror dawned on her face. “Balls.” She looked panicked and started putting her kaftan back around her shoulders. Draco frowned and turned to where she was looking. “Draco. Fuck, no, don’t--”
He saw Lovegood first -she was wearing this pale blue summer dress that made her hair look like sunlight- and then Longbottom. They were holding hands and laughing about something. They were close, walking on a path that went directly beside where he and Pansy had their possessions strewn around. Draco couldn’t hear what they were saying but he didn’t know if that was because they were out of earshot or because his ears had stopped working. Blood rushed to his face. Then, with a sickening lurch, he went cold. Because Potter was with them. Obviously Potter was fucking with them because Potter was fucking everywhere. He was stopped a little behind them, digging through the satchel he had thrown over one shoulder. Draco watched, horrified, as he took out his phone and called to Longbottom and Lovegood to stop. They turned around and Potter took a photo of them. They were all laughing now, and Potter ran a little in order to catch up with them. He was wearing blue shorts and a white t-shirt and his hair was long. He looked… healthy. His skin -pallid the last time Draco had seen it- was glowing now and he’d gained some weight.
Draco turned back around to face Pansy, who was shoving their belongings into her backpack as fast as she could manage. He picked up the book she had just given him and held it for a second, unsure, before putting it into his own bag. Suddenly, from behind him, he heard laughter. Panicked, sort of hysterical-sounding laughter, but laughter nonetheless. Pansy stopped what she was doing and glanced over his shoulder. She looked like she was about to explode and her face was flushed. A deep, blushing red. Draco turned again, and couldn't make sense of what he was seeing.
Lovegood and Longbottom were staring at him and Pansy, the shock on their faces evident. The laughing was coming from Potter, although it sounded more… strained, than anything else. Draco caught him looking for for a split second before they made eye contact and Potter was away, swivelling and walking off in the direction of the ponds. Eye contact that was long enough for it to become clear that Potter was laughing at him. Draco heard him say something to Longbottom --so fucking typical, isn’t it-- before he had fully walked away. Draco felt a swooping sensation in his stomach that was horribly familiar, it spread until his whole body was humming with shame. Lovegood was walking over.
“Draco.” She tilted her head to the side and eyed him. The gesture reminded him of something and he thought abruptly of the Velociraptor in Jurassic Park, then shook himself. This was Lovegood. Luna. “You look a lot better than the last time we saw each other.” He shuddered, remembering. She’d always been kind.
“Lovegood. You--” Draco swallowed, his throat tight. The sound of Potter’s laughter was still ringing in his ears. “You look well, too. That’s a lovely dress.”
She looked down at her chest, as if to remind herself of what she was wearing. “Thank you. It’s from Topshop, do you know Topshop? We didn’t expect to see you here. Harry didn’t, even.” She smiled, slowly but brightly.
Draco didn’t know what to say. “Okay…” seemed like the safest option. His mouth was dry. He could hear Pansy resuming her packing behind him. He glanced in the direction that Potter had disappeared but he was out of sight.
Luna was still smiling. “I should probably go. It was nice to see you Draco, and you, Pansy. This weather is lovely isn’t it? See you soon! Careful of the dust.” When neither Draco or Pansy gave an answer she turned on her heel and joined Longbottom, where he had been standing this entire time at a safe distance. Draco watched them follow the path that Potter had taken in silence, until he was jolted out of it by Pansy, who had laid her hand on his forearm.
“Draco. Let’s leave. I don’t want to run into them again, okay?” Her voice was softer than he’d ever heard it, her face was cool again. He wasn’t really comforted by this fact. He wondered if he looked as dazed as he felt. Pansy handed him his rucksack and he shouldered it, then turned when she asked so she could wedge their rolled-up blanket into the straps at the top. She threaded her fingers through his and tugged at his arm until he started moving. They walked in silence back towards the train station, stopping only at an off-licence where Pansy bought a bottle of gin, stuffing it into her already full backpack. He tried not to think about Potter.
They were on the train before she spoke. It was almost full but they’d managed to find seats next to each other. Draco rested his head on her shoulder, whenever the train stopped at a station her hair swung onto his face. It smelled like coconut. “What the fuck just happened?” She asked, although it may have been rhetorical, her voice loud, pitched so he could hear it over the chattering that surrounded them. She sighed. “Lovegood is as fucking weird as ever.”
“Don’t say that, Pans. She’s the nicest out of the lot of them. You know, people would tell her anything, the way she goes on about nargles or whatever makes them think she doesn’t pay attention. But she’s very clever,” he said, still very much not thinking about Harry fucking Potter.
“You told her stuff.” In the dungeons, was left unsaid. It wasn’t quite a question.
“I… Yes, I suppose so. I told her I was scared, which seemed like a very big deal to admit at the time but must have been so fucking obvious to anyone who bothered to look. It’s a wonder she didn’t laugh in my face.”
“Merlin, wasn’t it so ominous when she said she’d see us soon. If she hadn't been smiling when she'd said it I think I might have pissed myself.”
“Yes, it was rather. She probably meant something by it, because it’s her, but I have no idea what.” He paused, “It wasn’t brilliant.”
Pansy bumped her head gently against his. “Draco, that might be the understatement of the year. It was fucking horrible. The way Potter was laughing? What in the fuck was that all about?”
She was going to make him talk about it. He could barely bring himself to be angry with her. “He was laughing at me, wasn’t he?”
Pansy turned her head minutely to look at him. “Well, no. He wasn’t laughing at anything you’d done. It was more… laughing at your presence? That sounds bad, it might have been the both of us. He doesn’t exactly have reason to like me either.”
Draco thought back to the way that Potter had looked at him. That less-than-a-second when he’d seen into his eyes. He had been panicked. That much was obvious. Actually, Draco didn’t know if it was obvious. It was to him, but that might just be because of the amount of time over the years that he’d spent watching Potter. Most of the time Draco just saw him being a fucking prat, but he noticed things too. Like the way that Potter chewed on his lip when he was stressed. Or the way that his shoulders curved in on themselves when there were too many people around. Or the way his eyes looked when he was worried about something. Briefly, Draco entertained the idea that Potter might know as much about him as Draco knew about Potter. Probably not. Although there was that whole following business in Sixth Year.
Pansy was saying something. “--our stop… Draco? Stand up. This is our stop.” He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands before getting up just as the train came to a standstill, stumbling before grabbing onto a handrail to right himself. They made their way through crowds of tourists to their next train. Pansy kept a tight hold on his hand the entire time, as though he was a toddler. When they were sitting down again she pulled the bottle of gin out of her backpack, opened it, and took a swig. She handed it to Draco, not even grimacing.
He just shook his head. “I don’t want to drink.”
Pansy raised her eyebrows. “That’s-- I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that, actually.”
He snorted. “Oh ha ha. As if you’re any better. I feel a bit sick from last night still, if you must know.” He stretched his arms and leaned his head back against the window behind them. Draco quite liked the Piccadilly line, they had very weird seat fabric. “Also do I look like the type of person who would drink straight gin out of the bottle on public transport?” he continued.
She eyed him consideringly, eyebrows still raised. “Like… right now? Or generally?” He elbowed her in the side as she started laughing. She took another long drink of the alcohol. Draco looked around him, this train was even busier than the last one, but nobody was looking their way. “Oh lighten up Draco. You look like a puppy just died in front of you. You’ve always been this way about him."
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked her, tiredly, knowing full fucking well what she meant.
“You’re both obsessed with hating each other. And I think we should talk about it, because hate never did you any favours. And in this case… I think that you can’t afford it. I know you, you’ll say it’s fine but you’ll fucking… stew in it, and you’ll overthink it, and then we’ll be having this conversation in a month’s time when you get too drunk. So I think maybe we should get it over with now.“
She took a deep breath and then continued. “You’re-- these past few weeks you’ve been happier than I’ve ever seen you, and I know you didn’t want it to be under these circumstances, but it’s been good for you. And then it-- you’re going to just lose it, because of him. Because of one fucking second where you saw him and now you’re like… this, again.”
Draco thought about it. It had been really easy, since the end of the war, to obsess over what he had done. Easy to think for hours on end -usually while he was trying to sleep- about what he could have done differently. Easy to relive every mistake he’d ever made. Easy to sit in it. And seeing Potter had made him feel it all, only amplified.
He was the Golden Boy, the Chosen One, he was laughing with his friends in dappled sunshine like the war had never even happened. Skin golden brown, teeth shining. He looked happier than Draco had ever been or ever would be. Did Potter feel guilty? Did Potter have nightmares? Once, Draco wouldn’t have thought so, but nobody could come out of a war like that and not.
“You’re not sure you deserve what we have.” Her voice cut through his thoughts.
“What do we have, Pansy?” he said in a derisive tone, but it didn’t deter her.
“Happiness.” Draco opened his mouth to say something but Pansy kept going. “No. We do. Not all the time, but enough of the time. Enough of the time to say that we’re happy, in general. Which I know is more than you ever thought you would get. You feel guilty. And you feel like you deserve unhappiness. But Potter doesn’t have a monopoly on happiness, Draco. He’s not the only one who gets to move on.”
He buried his face in her hair. He didn’t want to say it out loud because it sounded, well… like it sounded, and then Pansy would shout at him. But Draco knew that he didn’t deserve to move on. Not in the way that Pansy was talking about anyway. She held him closer. “You did awful things. The Ministry punished you. You’re living with that punishment. You’re trying to be better. That’s it, Draco. Listen to me, you deserve to move forward as well. You deserve the chance to not be shitty anymore. Just forget about him, please.”
“I’ve been trying. Let’s not talk about it anymore, alright?” Her grip on him didn’t let up but she nodded.
Draco stared at the underground map on the opposite side of the carriage and tried to go back to not thinking about Potter. He studied the names of the stations. Knightsbridge, that was his. Sometimes Hyde Park Corner was his if it was a nice day and he wanted to walk a bit further and look at the houses. He felt fond about both of them, which was something he'd never imagined for himself. And if he didn’t know better then Draco might think there was magic at some of those stations. Crystal Palace, Theobalds Grove, Gallions Reach. Sometimes he loved London so much he felt hungry for it, felt like he could consume it.
He saw it, then smiled. “Do you think wizards live in Wandsworth Road, Pans?”
“I think you’re reading into it a bit much, actually,” she said, her voice quiet and tired, but laughed all the same.
Harry heard Luna and Neville shouting after him and he slowed his pace through the trees until they’d caught up. He was still laughing a little bit. They looked worried and Harry thought that he would be too, in their shoes. “That happened a lot sooner than I expected.”
In truth, up until the exact moment he had seen Malfoy sitting there, bare-chested and flushed with heat, he had been hoping he was making the whole thing up in his head. Or that maybe Luna had been right and seeing his supposed future had changed it. Maybe this had changed it. He felt a little more cheerful at the thought.
“Really? I’m not that surprised.” Luna sounded cheerful too, but he thought it was probably for a different reason.
“I mean… yeah. I thought-- hoped, that it would be on more of a… year, two-year, timeline? I was really counting on the fact that I would have a little more time to prepare for… whatever that was. I knew in an abstract way that we probably would meet, but this just takes the piss, doesn’t it?”
“You laughed at him. You laughed in his face. Mate that was brilliant,” Neville interrupted, sounding cheerful as well. Great.
“Was it? Was it brilliant? I wouldn’t say I’m too worried about what Draco Malfoy thinks of me but… he definitely thinks I’ve gone mad.” Maybe that would change the future. This whole fucking thing had probably messed with it right good.
“He said he liked my dress,” Luna piped up.
Harry rolled his eyes. “It’s a lovely dress, we’ve been over this haven’t we?”
“Shut up Harry. You’re just pissed off because Draco looked fit and you’re angry that you liked it.”
Harry had to stop walking so he could laugh more effectively. “Luna you are so far off the mark there I don’t even know where to start.” He paused then. Thought about Malfoy, his pale skin and his white-blonde hair. He thought about finding Malfoy attractive and no, no no no. Definitely no. “Yep. I just thought about it and you’re definitely wrong.”
“Well, it was worth a try.” She didn’t seem put off in the slightest.
“What do you mean you thought about it?” Neville asked, sounding a lot like he didn’t want to know the answer.
“I thought about fucking him.” Harry said, turning and looking Neville in the eye.
Neville goggled. “Did you!? This morning you-- ”
“No! Merlin. No.” Harry cut him off before laughing again. “Your face though.” He snorted.
“You love it.”
“Stop flirting, I’m right here.” Luna said. “Or… keep flirting, but at least don’t leave me out.”
Neville held her hand and then visibly thought about it before taking Harry’s as well. “So shall we forget that happened and go swimming now?”
Luna said No at the exact moment Harry said Yes, but he said it louder and then they took a vote. Harry and Neville won. Luna caught him in the water beside one of the jetties and asked if he was okay. Really okay? He had to think about it. It wasn't as bad as he thought, seeing Malfoy. Earlier he had been sure it would make him upset, but he was surprised to find that it didn't. It was just... nothing. No anger, no sadness, just a healthy appreciation for the way the universe loved throwing things at him that he was ill-equipped to deal with. Harry made an effort then to feel some negative emotion at seeing him, just to try and weigh the odds in favour of not ending up with Malfoy, but he wasn't able to manage it as well as he'd like.
Harry had been dead on his feet when he'd arrived back at the apartment last night. Exhausted, and a little too drunk to apparate, he had taken the train home. Luna and Neville had decided to stay over at Nev's house for the night and she had given Harry permission to sleep in her bed. Actually, it wasn’t so much ‘permission’ as it was I insist, really, just don’t bleed on it. He had almost, almost given up halfway through changing the sheets but the lure of a real place to sleep got him in the end. He had collapsed immediately after putting the last case on the pillow, barely enough energy to wriggle out of his trousers and shove them off the side of the mattress. Luna didn’t have a bed frame for some reason that he couldn’t ever remember but sounded absolutely nonsensical the one time she’d explained it to him. He did remember nodding along absently, watering the plants while she sat cross-legged on the sofa and went into a lot of detail about the dangers of being too far off the ground. And possibly something about coloured metals.
For a while he had been wanting to ask Luna if he could put a real bed in the living room but now he was debating whether she would be more likely to say yes if he suggested a mattress. It was the next morning and he was sitting on the kitchen counter eating scrambled eggs on toast while waiting for his laptop to turn on so he could look at the Ikea website. And google book signings Waterstones Piccadilly. He had had another Future Dream last night but thankfully woke up without any of the usual symptoms, including the nosebleeds. It had been short and succinct. Functional, almost. Harry had been standing in a half-hour queue surrounded by infants because of a book signing by a children’s author. He shuddered. It was at times like this he was at least a little bit grateful for what was otherwise a huge fucking annoyance. He thought about how huge fucking annoyance actually might have been a huge fucking understatement.
Eventually his laptop turned on and with his mouth full of toast he quickly found out that the signing was at two. Harry looked down at the clock in the corner of his screen, it was almost nine. He felt very uneasy at the thought of having to leave the house early in order to be somewhere and resolved to go later in the evening. Since moving in with Luna, midday had somehow become early. He swung himself off the counter and went into the living room, carrying his laptop in one hand and his plate in the other, unexcited about the idea of spending the whole day by himself. His phone was buried under one of the sofa cushions and took him about three minutes to find. He dialled Luna’s number, studiously ignoring the fact that he had seemingly become reliant on her company.
She picked up with a muffled “What?”
“Harry how is it that you manage to wake me up even when we aren’t in the same apartment?”
He hadn’t thought of that. “I hadn’t thought of that. What time are you coming back?”
She sighed. “I don’t know, not anytime soon. Why? Are you at home?”
Did she mean the apartment? Was he allowed to call it home? Technically this was temporary, even if he wanted to live here until the day he died it wasn't as though the one-bedroom situation was sustainable on such a long-term basis. “Yeah I’m-- Yes. I’m at home. I’m just bored without you guys. What am I supposed to do all day? I’ve finished all my books.” He didn’t care that he was probably whining.
“I can’t believe you’re calling me so I can schedule your day. Take a bath? You can look in my room for books. Also, you’re by yourself for at least six hours, just think about all the wanking you can do without us there to disturb you.” He heard an angry sound of protest in the background that must have come from Neville. Luna started laughing. “You’re such a prude," she admonished, and it definitely hadn't been directed at him.
“Well, this has been supremely unhelpful," Harry decided. “What did I even wake you up for?”
“Sometimes, just occasionally, I want to hex you so much I think I could die from it.”
There was a scuffling sound down the line and then Neville came on. “She doesn’t mean that really. I think our lives would be pretty dull if we knew exactly when we were going to wake up each day.” He sounded drunk still, but Harry appreciated the sentiment and said as much. “You’re very welcome Harry Potter. By the way, if you think you’ll be bored all day then you should take a bath. That’ll kill about five hours if you do it right.”
Harry hummed in acknowledgement of this very wise statement. “I’ll see you later Nev, will you pass me back to Luna?” When he heard a long-suffering sigh on the other end he surmised that Luna was listening again. “Will you walk me through the bath process?”
She perked up when he said this, and told him to go into the bathroom and look under the sink, sounding less annoyed by the second. “There’s a wooden box there, do you see it? Okay that has all the stuff in it.” Harry opened it and saw that it was full of tiny vials labelled in Luna’s neat, block-capital handwriting. He felt very apprehensive suddenly. “So I’m going to tell you the best stuff for restlessness and you’re not allowed to argue. Turn the hot tap on. Only the hot tap. Now isn’t the time to mess about with cold water. You want steam. Oh, close the door to the bathroom. First look for the elderflower extract and put two drops of that in. Then three drops each of pine, lavender, and Floridian turtle grass.” Harry did as he was told.
Before Luna ended the phone call Harry had stirred the bathwater fourteen times widdershins with a yew branch and put in some unlabelled yellow substance that turned the whole thing a pale, sunrise pink. It was a process and he wasn’t surprised that Luna spent upwards of three hours in here every time if this was the type of prep work she had to do. He went to grab a book off Luna’s shelf and put it within reach on the closed toilet seat before he eased himself into the hot water. He lay his head back and looked at the ceiling, then closed his eyes. He drifted, breathing in the scent of pine needles and fresh air. Eventually his mind came back to what Luna had said earlier.
Harry couldn’t actually remember the last time he had got himself off, although it was probably back at Grimmauld Place. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to, it was just that he always felt… weird, doing it if Neville and Luna were in the apartment. Which they usually were. He’d found that he didn’t really need to, there was always something else going on, something fun to focus on, and it had sort of taken a back seat. Plus, he couldn’t exactly do it on the sofa in the living room. He thought about it. Luna and Nev would be away for ages, she’d said.
Harry arched his back a little bit, testing it out, feeling the muscles there stretch pleasurably. Then he ran one hand down his stomach, touching his soft belly and the trail of dark hair that led from his navel to his crotch. As he combed his fingers through bathwater-wet pubic hair he could feel himself get harder. Harry brought his other hand down and wrapped it around his hardening shaft, running his thumb over the tip, smearing the small amount of precome there. His whole pelvis ached and thrummed with the feeling and he let out a low moan as he started tugging in earnest now, gripping his cock tightly. It didn’t take much in the end, it had been such a long time. He came, gasping desperately and thinking of nothing in particular beyond how good it felt, splattering on his chest and dripping over his fingers. He wriggled his hips, feeling sated and warm. The bathwater was still hot and he sank down in the pink liquid, up to his chin, rinsing the white streaks off his body. More often, he thought. He would do this more often. Baths and wanking. Preferably at the same time.
When Neville shook him awake a few hours later he had a fond look on his face and he was sitting on the edge of the mattress. Harry could hear music spilling in from the living room and the light in the room was soft. He could feel the sharp edges of a book digging into his thigh and he maneuvered it out from under himself, tossing it aside with a frown. “What time is it?” He asked Neville, blearily. “I was reading.”
“You were sleeping,” Neville corrected, then twisted his wrist to look at his watch. “And it’s just after six. Were you passed out this whole time?”
Harry turned his face into the pillow and shook his head. “I was supposed to go to the bookshop,” he groaned, and situated himself more firmly under the duvet, pulling it up to cover his whole body. He felt Neville lie down beside him.
“What time does it close?” Neville whispered.
“Ten,” Harry said, also whispering.
“We brought back dinner, you can leave after you’ve eaten.”
Harry heard the door of the bedroom open and the music became louder, and then dulled again as he heard it click shut. Footsteps sounded until he felt another weight on the bed, this time at his back. “Is he okay?” Luna’s voice was low and gentle.
“He can hear you,” said Harry and Neville at the same time. Harry felt Luna tug at the duvet until his face was exposed, he turned over and looked at her. She was wearing black jeans with ripped knees and was holding a white box and a wooden fork.
“We got Thai,” she smiled and handed it over when he thanked them and sat up, rubbing his eyes. He felt very safe in her room, in her bed, eating food they’d bought for him while they sat there and talked about Beyoncé’s newest album. They’d thought about him when he wasn’t there, they wanted him to be happy. The thought made him want to cry. What did he ever do for them? Apart from annoy them and feed the cat when Luna didn’t remember.
“I can cook dinner tomorrow night,” he offered. “What do you feel like?” They argued over the various merits of potato salad until Harry had finished eating and stood up, pulling on his trousers. “I’m going to Piccadilly, you guys need anything while I’m out? Or… did either of you want to come? It’ll be fun?” He said, hopeful that at least one of them would take him up on the offer.
Luna just snorted though, from where she was now lying down with her head on Neville’s stomach. “Piccadilly? In the height of summer? Fun? Harry Potter, think of all the tourists.” She looked at him. “You’ve got to do some things by yourself otherwise you’ll end up never leaving this flat, not even for Sainsbury’s.”
He was thinking about the tourists, and how much he hated them. Well, not tourists specifically because that was unfair. Just crowds, he hated crowds and he felt better if someone was with him. Luna saw through him though. And she was right. He sighed, rolling a cuff onto his trousers and pulling his boots on from where he’d left them last night. “Yeah, I know. You want anything?”
They both declined and he left the flat, accidentally slamming the door behind him and cringing at the sound. He was down two flights of stairs before he heard Luna’s voice calling his name. He leaned over the rails and looked up the middle of the stairwell. Her hair was hanging down, tendrils framing her face. “What?” He shouted up at her.
“Neville wants chocolate! From the Whole Foods if it’s still open? You know the coffee one he likes?”
Harry did. “It won’t be open,” he warned Luna. “But I’ll get something.”
“Thanks! Love you. See you later.”
“Love you too,” he called, and watched her face disappear over the side of the banister. Their apartment was on the top floor and he ran down two more flights of stairs before emerging from the building into the evening heat. It was pleasant out and not too busy as he turned the corner and walked under the railway bridge towards Whitechapel. He loved this part of London, everyone had colourful hair and wore tote bags and denim jackets and he felt comfortable there. He knew he could have afforded a house for himself somewhere else, somewhere like Chelsea or Kensington. He and Luna had gone to Notting Hill once and looked at the creamy white buildings that looked like they had been carved out of marble, or built using meringue. He stared at them and knew that he could buy one like that. With a snap of his fingers. That sort of wealth made him feel uneasy though, and he had never really got used to having it himself.
He got on the tube at Aldgate East, it smelled simultaneously like bleach and piss and he couldn’t imagine anything else. He sighed when he saw the next trains, getting into the city was always a fucking hassle. There wasn’t an easy way to do it so he changed at Embankment, stepping out of Piccadilly Circus just before eight.
He weaved his way through the flow of people, with a detour to check that Yep, Whole Foods was closed and then another detour to a corner shop where he bought Neville a bar of Dairy Milk, a pack of Maltesers, and a KitKat. Because he was a good friend and it wasn’t fancy coffee chocolate but it was the best he could do.
The Waterstones was blissfully empty, quiet and book-smelling with only a handful of people browsing. He went over to the desk and spoke to a guy called Mark who was Harry’s age and attractive. Harry watched him as he pulled up the book Harry had ordered in, looking at the way his muscles moved under his dark skin. Harry shook himself internally, there was no need to be creepy about the whole thing. After he'd paid and smiled and watched a smile dawn in return he made his way up to the top floor.
It was even emptier up here in the History section. Harry could see one woman beside the books on Irish Independence, leaning over to put another hardback on top of the already quite high pile she’d accumulated. He could relate. If there was one thing Harry could justify spending money on it was books. Books and food. Food and books. And wine for Luna.
The shelves were brightly lit and clean and he thought nothing could be further from the library at Hogwarts. Although that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He cut through Early English Christianity and walked over to the Ancient Civilisations section. Specifically Classical Civilisations. Specifically specifically the fall of the Roman Republic. That was his favourite thing to read about, that and Greek tragedies.
There was someone already standing beside the shelves and as Harry got closer he saw bright hair and an oversized t-shirt, dark shorts and what looked like Doc Marten sandals, and Draco Malfoy’s steady hands holding a book on Rome. Harry froze, obviously, and then thought about turning around and just… leaving. And then he thought about how he shouldn’t let Malfoy chase him out of his third-favourite bookshop. And then Malfoy was turning around at the sound Harry had made walking up and his choice was made for him.
“Following me again, Potter?” Malfoy drawled, sounding half-hearted and tired about the whole thing. Tired, but still with enough energy left to be rude. He didn’t even sound shocked. Harry was shocked and he could see the bloody future.
“Oh fuck off, Malfoy,” Harry said, not exactly viciously, but not not viciously either. He was surprised at how fucking over this he was. He told himself it wasn’t Malfoy’s fault. Except it was actually, for being a shit all his life.
Then he got the opportunity to be surprised by Malfoy as well, when he just rolled his eyes, turned back towards the shelf and continued reading the back of the book he was holding. His shoulders had tensed up when Harry had told him to fuck off, and they weren’t relaxed now.
After a second he turned back around, fixing a determined gaze on Harry again. “Are you just going to stand there?”
“No,” Harry answered brusquely, and started over to the shelves, coming to a stop right beside Malfoy. He willed himself to focus on the books. He wasn’t even looking at the right bit, this stuff was all about the empire. He wondered how long he would have to stay there to make Malfoy think he wasn’t following him, that he really was there by accident. Would he have to buy a book? He wanted to buy a book but Malfoy was standing right in front of the ones he was interested in. Of course.
He took a book off the shelf and turned it over, pretending to be engrossed in Nero. He glanced over at Malfoy, saw the title of the book in his hands, and before he could stop himself he said “You shouldn’t get that one.” Then Harry cringed. Fuck. Fuck. That was a conversation starter, wasn’t it? He absolutely did not want to get into a conversation with Malfoy. He cursed himself and his inability to ever just shut the fuck up.
“What?” Malfoy was saying, watching him now with an expression on his face that Harry didn’t know how to interpret. From context, he assumed it was annoyance. Maybe a little disgust mixed in there for good measure.
“It’s just… That book isn’t very good. If you’re interested in that time period you should get…” He paused and reached past Malfoy, who took a sharp step backwards, “This one.” Harry grabbed a thin paperback and held it out, and when Malfoy didn’t move to take it he awkwardly rested it beside his shoulder on the shelf. “The author is really good. Explains stuff really well…” He trailed off, feeling a little sick.
Malfoy sighed. “What’s wrong with this one?” He shook the book he was holding very slightly. As soon as those words were out he looked like he regretted saying them.
“Nothing’s wrong with it. It’s all… factual. But that’s all it is. It’s boring. It doesn’t matter, you might like it. Get both, I don’t know.” Harry was rambling now, and Malfoy was looking at him like he was a wild animal and maybe he was.
He was here in a Muggle bookshop giving Draco Malfoy advice on Literature. He would laugh again if he didn’t feel so oddly nervous. Malfoy just looked at him. His t-shirt had long sleeves that were rolled up over his wrists. It was totally inappropriate for this weather and Harry knew why he was wearing it. Harry knew about the things Malfoy wanted to hide. Harry wondered why he bothered, it wasn’t as though Muggles would know what the Dark Mark signified. He realised that he could have seen it at The Heath yesterday, if he had waited longer, or even looked.
Suddenly Malfoy nodded decisively and reached past Harry. He took the book Harry had suggested from where it sat sideways on the shelf, then started walking away as though he had run out of patience. Maybe he had. Harry watched him pick up his backpack from where it rested on an armchair and felt the sudden urge to stop him. “Malfoy,” he called. Malfoy stopped in his tracks but didn’t turn around and Harry searched his brain desperately for something to say. “Are you going back to Hogwarts?”
Malfoy spun around to face Harry again. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” He hissed, and then continued before Harry could say anything or even open his mouth. “I’m literally not doing a fucking thing. You started talking to me and I didn’t even say anything and then you just-- ”
He cut off abruptly, his eyes narrowed, and Harry didn’t know where this reaction had come from. “Fuck you, Potter. And stop fucking following me, it was pathetic then and it’s pathetic now,” he finished. Harry was stunned for a second, and before he could think of anything to say Malfoy was walking swiftly towards the stairs. He abandoned the books on a nearby table before he rounded the corner and was out of sight.
If it was anyone else Harry would have gone after them. He would have gone after them and asked them what he’d done to make them so upset, and then apologised because he didn’t like having people upset with him. This was Malfoy though, former Death Eater, former school bully, former person who'd had Luna in his dungeons. That last one… wasn’t strictly Malfoy’s fault, he had to admit. But still.
What had he done though, to make Malfoy so angry with him? If anything, Harry should be the angry one. Harry should be the one who was bitter and mean. But he never could do bitter. He couldn’t even bring himself to be rude to Malfoy anymore, beyond the initial ‘fuck you’ which he knew, as he was fucking saying it, was a bad idea. Instead he had done things like save Malfoy’s life and talk to Malfoy about books.
Even right now Harry wasn’t really angry. A little bemused maybe, a little sad about how much that outburst had reminded him of being at Hogwarts. A little pissed off that Malfoy maybe wasn’t such a shit anymore, right up until that last bit. Harry suddenly wanted out of this schoolboy nemesis bullshit, but he didn’t know how. He didn’t know how and he was worried that the further he got from hating Malfoy the closer he would get to that future he had seen. That future with a soft and rumpled Malfoy fresh from their shared bed. That future where he had presumably got over all the things that Malfoy had done, all the things he had said. Harry was fucking terrified of it.
Draco knocked on the door of one of his guest rooms, the one that Pansy always stayed in, the one he should probably stop calling a guest room and start calling her room. There was no answer and he knocked a little louder. “Pans? Can I come in?” He felt shaky and wrong-footed. He heard her call out a soft yes and he pushed the door open. It was dark and he didn’t turn the light on.
“Draco? What’s wrong?” she said from the bed, “Nightmare?”
He snorted. “It’s only about half nine, I haven’t even been to sleep yet.” She didn’t say anything but reached out an arm towards him. He took it as an invitation and shuffled out of his clothes until he was just wearing a t-shirt and boxers, then slid into bed beside her after shutting the bedroom door. The sheets were cool and crisp and she threw an arm over his waist.
“What’s happened?” He marvelled at how well she knew him. Could she hear it in his voice? Had she seen it in the way he stood?
“I saw Potter again. He asked me if I was going back to Hogwarts.” Draco closed his eyes and felt Pansy tug him a little closer.
She sighed, it might have been sadly. “Oh.” He had always liked this softer version of her, although it was the awake, perpetually-alert and aware version of her that he loved. “And what did you say?”
He grimaced. “I said What the fuck is wrong with you? And then I asked why he was still following me, and then I... said he was pathetic.”
Pansy laughed, which he hadn’t expected. “Good. Why would he say something like that to you? I thought he was supposed to be noble or something. Or at least not a total arsehole.”
“Or something.” Draco echoed, thinking about it. “I shouldn’t have got so angry. It was just like our entire time at Hogwarts all over again." Potter shouldn’t have that effect on him anymore. It wasn’t like people hadn’t said worse things, at him or about him, and he could always control himself. He couldn’t around Potter though.
“We were talking about books.” Draco continued. “Or… he was talking about books and I was listening and wanting to get out of there. I was just going when he said that. I honestly think it may have been a joke. But I just snapped. I reverted back into someone I’m not anymore.” He paused. "I just want to be mean to him. I hate that about myself and I try not to and then he comes out with a thing like that. He's just... careless."
“I think that in this case you were well within your rights to tell him to get fucked, actually.” They were both silent for a few minutes and Draco was almost asleep before she spoke again. “Do you really think he’s following you?”
Draco turned over to face her and she blinked at him, looking worried. Actually worried. It sort of melted his heart a little. “No,” he said, and smiled. “I don’t think he’s following me. I think it’s a bad coincidence, that’s all. You saw how shocked he was to see us yesterday.”
“Two days in a row, though? Seems like..." She yawned widely, "...More than coincidence.” Her eyes were closed and her voice was getting slower and slower. He chose not to answer, and let her fall asleep instead.
The way that Potter had looked at him had been bewildered, and Draco knew he wasn’t being followed. This didn’t feel like it did last time, in Sixth Year, both of them full of opposing intent. Both of them malicious, both of them desperate for different things. Draco saw his own feelings mirrored in Potter’s face and he knew that this was something else. Potter may have touched on a sore spot with his Hogwarts question, and told him to fuck off, but that was all par for the course for the two of them.
What was unfamiliar was Potter telling him which book to buy, what was unfamiliar was the idea that Potter might be interested in the same things Draco was. The idea that Potter was interested in anything except general antics genuinely hadn’t occurred to Draco before. And Potter had been awkward, standing there and looking at Draco while pretending to read the back of the same book for four whole fucking minutes. It was weird, the whole situation, and Draco promptly resolved to stop thinking about it and follow Pansy into sleep.
“No he can’t do anything like that, no magic. I don’t know the details but he can’t go to anywhere Wizarding and I’m not even sure he’s allowed back to his home,” Luna said. Harry couldn't focus on anything else except for how bad the alternatives must have been for Malfoy to choose a life without magic. Harry couldn't imagine.
“Oh fuck,” he breathed, wide-eyed. “Oh fuck. Why did nobody tell me?” Harry looked at Neville accusingly but he just held his hands up and glanced wildly over at Luna, where she was stood on the other side of the kitchen, apparently hoping she might chime in.
“We just… assumed you knew?” Neville replied, when nothing was forthcoming.
“You just assumed I knew.” Harry said flatly, and wrinkled his nose. That… was probably fair actually, he thought reluctantly. He’d sort of set a precedent with Sixth Year when it came to finding out what Malfoy was up to. “I didn’t know. Fuck. I can’t believe I said that,” he said, and started laughing a little hysterically. “No wonder he looked like he wanted to hex me. Or, you know, not hex me. Punch me in the face. Shit,” he said one more time, with feeling. Harry wondered when laughing had become the go-to reaction for every time he felt nervous about something.
“Are you having a breakdown?” Neville asked, sounding vaguely panicked.
Harry stopped for long enough to say “No, I don’t think so.” He blinked, realised something. “Oh God, he probably thought I said it on purpose. Like, to fuck with him.”
“What does it matter? It’s Malfoy.” Neville said, very firmly indeed, as though there was no room for argument in his statement.
Harry supposed that there probably wasn't, but he had a go anyway. “Neville I’m not cruel, and I think what I said probably came across like I was trying to be an arse. If I’d known, then I wouldn’t have said anything. That’s all I’m telling you.” Harry sobered. “I didn’t want to start a fight, you know.”
Neville looked sort of guilty, which wasn’t at all what Harry had been aiming for and made him feel bad. “I know you’re not cruel. Can I just ask though, what do you want, mate? The other day you were saying you want nothing to do with Malfoy and now you’re worried about offending him? Where’s that coming from?”
“I have no fucking idea,” Harry whispered, as he stared at the kitchen cabinets over Neville’s head. Then he snapped his gaze back onto Neville and straightened his shoulders, his voice steady with conviction. “No, scratch that. Remember when I said that I didn’t want to see Malfoy because it would make me upset? Well, now that I have, I’ve realised it doesn’t. So, that’s happened. And what do I do with that? I feel totally fucking lost without that feeling, because I assumed that was the emotion that was supposed to be there… do you know what I mean? That or anger, or hate, or any number of other sad things. And then I realised that it was such bullshit to feel something because you’re maybe supposed to feel it.”
Harry stopped for a long second, lost for words. “I… I guess that a lot of the time I wish that things were how they used to be, but this isn’t something that falls into that category. I’m just tired of having enemies. Maybe I don’t think Malfoy and I could be friends, and I know that right now I can’t imagine being with him, but I think I’d like to see if it’s possible for us not to argue anymore. It might not be, and he’s probably still awful, but I imagine he can’t be exactly the same now that he’s living like a Muggle, right? Plus, clearly my ‘ignoring it until it goes away’ plan isn’t going to cut it.” Harry took a deep breath. “I’m going to see him again. I haven’t like, seen it, but I know it’s coming, and I think that when I do I’m just going to apologise for what I said.”
Neville frowned, mulling over this statement. “What makes you think you need to apologise to him? He should be the one to apologise to you. After all the shit he’s done? You don’t owe him anything.” Harry was a little put off that that was the part Neville chose to focus on.
Anyway, Harry knew that, obviously. But he couldn’t help feel guilty about the look on Malfoy’s face when Harry had asked that fucking question. Harry didn’t want to put a look like that on anyone’s face ever again in his life. He’d done enough horrible, distasteful things to last a lifetime and he was so done with being mean. Even to someone like Malfoy who was the person in the world who most warranted it. Actually he was a little further down the list than that. Harry had to remind himself that Malfoy hadn’t ever technically killed anyone. And then he felt gross because not killing someone when you had the chance wasn’t really the most redeeming quality a person could have. It might have been Malfoy’s though, but he didn’t know. And even though not knowing things didn’t make him restless in the same way it did Hermione, he still wanted to find out. Find out and not find out, because being interested in Malfoy was dangerous. Being near Malfoy would hurt him. But Harry had been wounded countless times, killed and come back; Malfoy was a potential surface wound, nothing more.
He wanted to tell Neville all this but didn’t think he could explain it in a way that would make sense. So instead he just shrugged.
“Harry I think you should do whatever you want. If you feel that Malfoy deserves an apology, then you shouldn’t wait for one from him before you say anything. If the world worked like that it would be a horrible place. No offence, Nev.” Luna said, from behind where Harry was sitting cross legged in his favourite spot on the kitchen counter.
Neville leaned back against the opposite counter, his arms folded. “None taken. I still think that you shouldn’t feel obligated though.”
“I’m not going to do it because I feel obligated. I’m going to do it because I’m sorry. I wasn’t at the time but I am now.” Harry said seriously. He wanted Neville to understand.
Neville nodded slowly. “Alright then. Merlin you’re both so bloody nice all the time.”
Harry laughed. “I did tell him to fuck off. So not that nice."
“You’re kind though. Kinder than you have any right to be, considering all the stuff you’ve been through.” Neville was earnest suddenly. Properly properly earnest and Harry didn’t know what to say. He was touched, though.
“Thank you, Nev.” He kept it simple and Neville smiled at him and Harry smiled back and how could he ever doubt that Neville was one of the best people he knew? He changed the subject with a deep breath. “So… TV day today because of this weather, park tomorrow if it’s better, museum the day after… and then I’ve been wanting to go to the cinema if you guys are up for it? Sound good?”
He didn’t dream about the future for five more days.
When Draco woke up he was still in Pansy’s bed; she had vacated some time in the night, apparently. He stretched his hand over to where she had been lying and the sheets felt chilled. Some time a while ago, then. He stretched, yawning, and moved his neck around until it clicked satisfyingly. Something was weird, he thought, but he was still muddled from sleep and couldn’t work out what it was. The feeling itched at the back of his neck until he suddenly realised it was raining; a heavy, beating-against-the-windowpanes type of rain that was the first of its kind that summer. He thought back to The Manor and his bedroom there, imagined it was September and he was home in his bed, angry about not being able to play Quidditch. He gave himself exactly three minutes to fantasise before he shook himself properly awake, before he brushed his homesickness to one side and out of the way.
He got up slowly and wandered downstairs, still in the clothes he had slept in. Pansy wasn’t anywhere in the house, unless she was being exceptionally and unusually quiet, but then he found the note that she had left in the kitchen and he understood. It was right beside the apples, because those were the first things he went for on mornings when it rained, and Draco marvelled at her.
Draco, It was raining when I left and probably still is now, I used your laptop to look up the weather forecast because you STILL DON’T HAVE A TV and it will be all day. I left it in the living room on charge. I got an owl from my mother and she wanted me to go and visit, I wouldn’t have gone except that it’s raining and I hate being cooped up here with nothing to do (GET A TV.) l will be back this evening though so don’t worry. I didn’t want to wake you. Text me or call me if you need anything, or if you want me to come back early. I know I already said but p lease don’t worry . And don’t just sleep all day because it makes you testy and we’re going out for dinner. Love, Pans. PS. BUY A TV (maybe today? Where can you buy TVs? Do some research, you love research)
Draco rolled his eyes, not really marvelling anymore. Of course she pissed off back home without even telling him. He felt a momentary rush of panic. She was out of his sight and anything could happen. She could never come back. She could die and would anyone even think to tell him? He quashed these feelings as quickly as they had overtaken him. It wasn’t as bad as it used to be, the whole Pansy leaving thing. Draco thought back, cheeks warm with shame, to the last time she’d gone home for more than two nights. It wasn’t a pretty image. Draco had ended up calling her and practically begging her to come back; there’s nothing to do here without you and I’ll buy you a whole box of those macarons from Ladurée. Draco had been lying through his teeth and he suspected she knew. Not about the macarons, he had bought those, but about the reasons he wanted her there. Reasons that started with 'she's the only person I talk to' and ended in 'what if she leaves for so long that she realises I'm shit company and that she's better off without me?'
When Draco was thinking more rationally he could remember the way she looked at him, so unwavering, so focused. She looked at him like nothing could distract her. He thought about all the years they’d been friends and all things they’d done and not done together. He thought about the odds of them both living through that war, and how fucking small they had been. He thought about the fact that they were still here, still together, and he felt calmer. Us, she had always said, as though that word meant something different to her; like it was something precious and secret. Us, he repeated back to her, and to himself, until it became less than a word. They would last forever.
Recently though he’d been thinking about trying to get to know more people than just her. Lessen the burden, almost. Draco had thought about it and came to the conclusion that they would have to be Muggles. His knee-jerk reaction was to balk at the idea and he hated himself for that. He had to talk himself out of his old habits on a daily basis. Once, a week after he’d moved in, Draco had gone into a shop and cringed when someone touched him, not because of the touch itself, but because it had been a Muggle. He remembered his father and how Lucius would have used words that Draco couldn’t even think about anymore without feeling sick. Draco went home angry at himself and sat with his fists clenched until he could talk himself down from punching a wall or something.
Where would he meet Muggles? He saw them all the time but never in a capacity that would encourage conversation. A bar? Draco supposed that might be possible. A bookshop? That wouldn’t be so bad. But then what would they talk about? What would they have in common? Would they be able to sense the fact that he had spent most of his life not caring if they lived or died but actually erred on the side of wanting them not to live. And if they couldn’t, how could Draco hold a conversation with a Muggle and not collapse under the weight of looking at them and thinking once I might have laughed at your death, and I don’t even know you. Sometimes when he was out walking he would look at people on the street or in a cafe and think you could all be gone and I would have been part of it.
Draco spent the day reading and sleeping, even though Pansy had told him not to. Maybe because she told him not to and try as he might Draco was still that kind of person. He killed time attempting a lasagne for lunch and sat under one of the dormer windows in the attic to eat it, straight out of the dish, listening to Youth Lagoon and watching the rain on the glass. When he woke up Pansy was calling him from somewhere in the house and it was dark outside. His back was stiff after lying on the wooden floor and he raised himself onto his elbows carefully. She shouted again.
“Up here!” he called back, wincing at a twinge of pain in his neck. He heard loud steps as Pansy ran up the flight of stairs; they stopped a second before he heard the door creak open. A rectangle of light from the landing slipped across the floor as she opened it wider, and he watched its progression across the faded floorboards with interest.
“What are you doing up here?” Pansy said, out of breath. Her hair was pulled into a high ponytail but strands were escaping around her temples, catching the light and glinting softly.
“I fell asleep.” He reached for his phone and unlocked it, then paused the music that had still been playing quietly. Draco looked up at her again. “How was it?”
She laughed and made her way over to him, then knelt and pushed her hand through his hair. “You’re dusty,” she said, then made a face when he started brushing his shoulders off. “It was fine, you know what she’s like.” Draco did, unfortunately, because horrible is what Pansy’s mother was like. “She wants me to visit more. She did not approve of what I’m wearing. She doesn’t like that I spend so much time with you now that you’re ‘disgraced.’” Pansy put her fingers up in air quotes when she said that last word but Draco just snorted, amused.
“Tell her I'm still rich.”
“I’ll have you know that I did, Draco Malfoy, and it made absolutely no difference. She told me to try and talk you into buying me some more appropriate clothes.” Pansy’s face twisted at that. ‘More appropriate’ meant ‘robes.’ Even if she had wanted them Draco wouldn’t have been able to buy them anymore. “Anyway I promised her I’d visit again in a few days, so I’ll have to do that. Do you want to go out to dinner? I thought we could go to the Mexican place in… where is it, Tottenham Court Road?”
“Oh, you mean D.F?” Draco mused on that for a second, luxuriating in the feeling of not having anywhere particular to be, not having anything pressing to attend to. “Tottenham Court Road is the nearest tube station, let’s just take an Uber though,” he said, picking himself up off the floor and giving Pansy a hand up. He shook his foot out from where it had gone slightly numb.
“Uber,” Pansy repeated, rolling the word slowly out of her mouth, stretching the sounds out. “What did we ever do without it?” She sighed.
“We apparated,” Draco answered dryly, but she just rolled her eyes and went to put her shoes on.
He didn’t see Harry Potter for three more days.
“Shit. Shit shit shit,” Draco said under his breath, ignoring the look given to him from the woman with a toddler on her lap sitting opposite. He looked at his watch, and then at his phone. They both said the same thing, unfortunately. Ten past six. Draco said shit again one more time for good measure and narrowed his eyes when the woman coughed pointedly. The film was supposed to start in twenty minutes and he was still underground, trapped on this fucking train that had been stopped just before this fucking station for -he checked his watch again- seventeen minutes. Unavoidable delays, the disembodied voice had said. What did that even mean?
Draco didn’t know anything about the underground but he was sure they must use magic. How did the trains all fit? And if they didn’t use magic then did that mean there were just holes riddled through the ground underneath the city? How did it not collapse? Oh, he thought queasily, thinking about that while trapped down here was definitely a bad idea.
Pansy was at her home again, for the evening this time, wearing some plum dress robes that had made Draco break out in peals of laughter when he'd caught sight of them. He had been in a good mood when he'd left the house after that and started walking to the tube station. It had been raining earlier and the pavements were still slick as he made his way down the streets, weaving in between people taking their dogs out for an evening walk. He had waved at his next-door neighbour without even thinking. The air was chilled from the downpour and he had thrown on a jacket as he was leaving the house, a choice that he was currently regretting. Contrary to the cool weather, the underground was still overheated and clammy, as if leftover from the previous day. Draco had taken off his coat straight away but couldn’t do much about his long sleeved t-shirt. He looked around. The carriage was almost empty, with a group of teenagers at the end passing around a water bottle that definitely didn’t contain water. He hesitated, and then rolled up both of his sleeves to the elbow, folding his arms just in case anyone saw the mark there. The woman across from him didn’t even look.
Draco breathed a sigh of relief as the train jolted into movement again, accompanied by an apologetic announcement. He hadn’t been to the cinema before and had actually done research beforehand, while Pansy watched the laptop screen over his shoulder. No, I’m not going, looks horrid she had decided, after seeing some photos of grinning Muggles in a movie theatre. Fine, I’ll go by myself he had replied petulantly. Draco had wanted to arrive early so he could scope the place out, watch other people buy their tickets and follow their lead, but this delay had set him back significantly. As soon as the train pulled into the station he was up, shrugging on his coat and talking the steps on the escalator two at a time. He thought back to the first time he had done this, standing on the wrong side and getting shouted at by men in suits. Literally shouted at. It had been utterly ridiculous.
It was drizzling again by the time he arrived at the door of the building and pushed it open. He looked at his watch, out of breath. Ten minutes late. Draco swallowed nervously and looked towards the cash registers, the girl behind the counter was staring at him with a bored look on her face. He was the only person there. So much for learning by example. He straightened and strode over, looking at the list of film times on the back wall. Confidence was probably key here. He smiled at the girl, widely. “Hello! I’d like a ticket please.” He tried to inject some measure of enthusiasm into his voice.
She just looked at him, he could feel his smile wavering. This wasn’t going at all like it was supposed to, what had he done wrong? She sighed after a moment. “What film?” Oh. Oh. That made sense.
“Um… The Lobster, please,” he said, and waited while she tapped something into the screen in front of her. Then she turned it around to face him and he had no idea what he was looking at.
She put her finger on the screen in what he assumed was a significant manner. “The red ones are taken.” Draco looked at it, then back at her face. Fuck. This was… he genuinely had no clue with this one.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” he said apologetically. Confidence was not the key, maybe politeness would help more.
She sighed very deeply. “I know, they just introduced it. You have to pick a seat now. Ridiculous, if you ask me.” He nodded sympathetically, totally lost. “So the red ones here are taken, the grey ones are free. I’d go for this one if I were you.” She tapped on one of the images and it went red.
“Yes,” he said, utterly bewildered. Was he like this the first time he’d gone into a shop? He couldn’t remember, maybe he’d blocked it out.
“Okay, I think the adverts just finished so you should be fine. Anything else?” Draco looked around. What else was there?
“No, thank you.” That was probably safe. She took his money and handed him a printout, then pointed towards a wide entrance that said Screens 1-3. Someone in a uniform stopped him as he tried to walk through it and asked for his ticket. Draco frowned in confusion. “I just bought it, over there.” He pointed back towards the girl, who gave him a sarcastic wave.
The someone who stopped him - Jayesh, his name tag supplied- smiled, and Draco softened. “Yeah I know mate, still have to see it.” He plucked it from Draco’s hand and scanned it, then ripped it in half and and handed some back, grinning. “Screen One, Seat 12F. It’s on your left there, enjoy it.” He winked. Draco blinked at him for a full five seconds. This was so weird.
Draco managed a thanks and a smile, then went to the door that had a huge 1 printed on it. He stopped for a second and then looked down at his ticket. 12F. Was that code? Why was everything in Muggle London code? He pushed the door open, it was heavier than it fucking looked. The room was dark and nobody was talking and he could sense everyone looking at him. There was a loud rustling and a muffled swear towards the back but Draco couldn’t see who it had come from. He could see letters though, lit up on the floor, and numbers on the arms of the seats. He smiled. Seat numbers, of course. This was going brilliantly, Draco was practically an expert. He hurried up the steps to the row of seats that were marked with F, then frowned and peered into the darkness, seeing an empty seat with a thrum of satisfaction.
Draco was just wondering how he could possibly get past the six people between him and his seat when all of them stood up at exactly the same time so that he could squeeze past. Had that been synchronised? How had they known? Was this some weird custom he wasn’t aware of? It definitely was.
He was still standing as the screen went bright and spilled light over the face of the person next to him, who was currently looking up at him with a rueful smile. Which was a weird reaction, Draco thought, since he personally had chosen 'shock with a small dash of panic.' Someone in a row behind hissed at him to sit the fuck down, so Draco did. Right next to Harry Potter.
He felt a weight on his shoulder, and then heat at his ear when Potter leaned over and whispered, “Still not following you.”
Draco clenched his jaw. “Shut the fuck up,” he said in a low tone. Not low enough apparently, and Draco felt a kick at the back of his seat. He turned around and bared his teeth. The foot retreated. He wasn’t in the fucking mood; he considered leaving but then decided that no, Potter wasn’t going to ruin his enjoyment of this experience. Dialogue started playing and he snapped his attention back on the screen. He could feel Potter’s presence beside him, even though they weren’t even touching. Draco edged himself away from Potter anyway, for good measure, and settled in to watch the film. By about halfway through, Draco was overheating. He had thrown his coat on in a hurry when exiting the train and forgotten to roll his sleeves back down. How could he take his coat off now, with the risk that Potter would look over and see the Dark Mark on his arm? Draco considered going to the bathroom but he didn’t want to disturb the people next to him. He gritted his teeth and got hotter.
As soon as the film ended he stood up, his body humming and sort of sweating and definitely ready to leave. The people in between him and the exit were taking their time, putting on coats and picking up handbags and Draco was honestly about to scream when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around, because what else could he do? Potter was standing up now, closer to Draco than he was comfortable with. He took a surreptitious step back and bumped the woman who was next to him. She huffed in annoyance but he didn’t pay attention. He looked at Longbottom and Lovegood, the latter who had a grin on her face. He smiled back weakly, then turned his attention to Potter.
“What? The other day wasn’t enough for you? Going to gloat some more?” He sneered. He knew he was sneering, and Draco hated the way that the sound came so easily to him. He wanted to smother those words, but it was Potter, and he never could do anything sensible around Potter.
Potter had the grace to look somewhat guilty. “No, of course not. Listen I--” he cut off and looked around at the emptying cinema. He chewed on his lip and Draco rolled his eyes, made to turn away. “Can we talk?” Potter asked, in a rush, and Draco had to stop himself from laughing.
“Can we talk? Merlin, Potter, what do you imagine it is that we have to talk about?”
“I want to apologise,” Potter said, seriously. So seriously that Draco believed him, and raised his eyebrows. Potter was trying to say sorry. To him. Had he walked into a parallel universe?
“Okay,” he said with a wry laugh. “You’ve apologised. Until next time. Lovegood.” He nodded at her and walked away.
He made it a few meters down the street when he heard his name being called. Well, not his name, his surname. He shuddered, it had been a while since he’d heard it. Draco kept walking. It was drizzling now and he pulled his collar up, hunching his shoulders. It wasn’t that long a walk back to the train station, thankfully. He heard a cry of Malfoy again, and was determined to ignore it until he felt a hand on his shoulder. He spun around. Potter was out of breath from running and his hair looked wild. “Don’t touch me,” Draco hissed, shocked. Potter put his hands up in surrender.
“Sorry, sorry. But I really did want to talk to you,” he smiled at Draco, again.
Draco sighed, clearly running away wasn’t going to work. He sidled closer to the building next to them for a bit of shelter. Potter moved in the same direction. “Talk, then,” he offered, defeated.
Potter looked surprised. “I was expecting a bit more of a fight.” Draco said nothing but arranged his features into something he hoped said I can fucking give you one. “Right. Right, listen, about last time I saw you, at the bookshop. What I said was out of order, and I didn’t know about… your sentence. And I don’t want you to think I said it because I was being spiteful.”
Realisation dawned on Draco. “Oh. I understand. You can’t bear the thought of anyone thinking badly of you. So you’re apologising to assuage your guilt, not because you feel I deserve an apology. Well it doesn’t matter anyway, because luckily for you I also feel that I don’t deserve an apology. So you can piss off.”
Potter frowned. “That… might be part of it, actually.” Draco wanted to laugh, he wasn’t expecting Potter to actually admit to it. “But I really am sorry.”
Fucking hell, this was painful. He had no idea what Potter wanted and it killed him when he didn’t know what people wanted. Draco looked at him, he was dressed in jeans that were rolled up around the ankles to show his socks. Socks that had alligators on them. He had on a green cable knit jumper that had a hole in it, showing his bare skin. He wasn’t getting rained on and Draco assumed he had cast an umbrella charm. Draco missed them, he supposed he could buy a real umbrella but they were ridiculous and went against all his principles. Potter stared at him, earnestly, just waiting for Draco to reply, and Draco felt suddenly and surely that he needed Potter to know that things were different. That he was different. So he spoke without thinking.
“I shouldn’t have reacted like that.” Potter’s eyebrows raised and Draco continued before he could say anything. “Regardless of whether or not I was offended, it was the wrong thing to do.”
Potter’s mouth was open a little bit and Draco could see the shock on his face. Merlin, this had been a bad idea. It wasn’t like he wanted Potter’s approval. It wasn’t as though he was doing the things he was doing so that he could then say to Potter look, I’m not such a bad person, I’m not the ignorant child I used to be anymore. He felt a hot spike of shame in his stomach and suddenly wanted to take it all back. Make it so that it was still his. Potter could think what he fucking well wanted.
Draco could see Longbottom and Lovegood waiting by the entrance to the cinema, watching them. Potter was looking at him, though. Draco felt tired, wrung out, maybe he didn’t need Potter’s approval but neither did he want outright animosity anymore, so he left the words where they were. Not quite a sorry, but close. He supposed he had grown up.
“I have to go,” Draco said finally. Potter seemed lost for words, but nodded.
Draco turned, and was walking away when he heard Potter call after him again. “See you around, Malfoy.” He didn’t bother responding.
Harry had a little bit of a panic when he tore his eyes away from Malfoy's retreating back and went to rejoin Luna and Neville beside the entrance to the cinema.
“I’m definitely fucked,” he told them solemnly.
To their credit, Luna and Nev didn’t even flinch. “What did he say?” asked Luna, very gently.
“Um, he said that he didn’t think he deserved an apology, and then he sort of maybe apologised to me . And he was kind of mean still but not in a terrible way like it used to be.” Harry thought he’d summed it up pretty well. He breathed very deeply and put a hand on Neville’s shoulder to steady himself. “So. To recap, as I put it so eloquently just a second ago, fucked .”
Luna started laughing and then tried to smother it. Harry lifted his hand away from Neville’s shoulder and replaced it with his forehead. Neville smoothed the hair on the back of his head. Merlin, one not-quite-sorry-but-almost from Malfoy and he wanted to follow him around and find out everything about him. This was like Sixth Year all over again. Except Harry didn’t think Malfoy was up to anything evil this time . Sort of the exact opposite, actually.
“Why… why is that a bad thing? That doesn’t sound bad. Unexpected, maybe, but not bad. ” Neville sounded wary and Harry could sympathise. He imagined this was not the type of thing Nev had imagined when he found out Harry had moved in with Luna. He had probably expected more movie nights and games of exploding snap. Fewer crises about Draco Malfoy, less crying about the future.
“You’re right Neville,” Harry said brightly. A little too brightly, judging by the look on Neville’s face. “It doesn’t sound bad. I think it sounds brilliant actually and I suppose I should tell you both right now that I’ve decided that Malfoy isn’t evil anymore. That hypotheses is based on little-to-no evidence and we should all be very worried about me. Anyway this is the part where the word fucked comes in, because now I want to find out.”
“Um. Find out what?” Harry could hear Neville frowning.
Harry huffed with impatience. “Like, find out what he’s up to. Where he lives now. Why he was at the cinema. What he thought of the film. If he actually is different or if i’m just inventing it.”
“Oh,” Neville replied. Harry thought that was probably about right.
Let’s go home and talk about this,” Luna suggested and they didn’t need to take a vote this time to agree. They apparated back to the flat and Luna made Harry a huge mugful of vanilla Rooibos with almond milk and two sugars, and he gulped it down frantically while they sat opposite him in wide-eyed silence. Presumably they were thinking of something to say.
“ I think he’s changed, and I think if you want to, you should find out for yourself,” Luna said finally. Harry mulled it over. It was helpful, in line with his plans and everything, but admittedly he had been wanting something more along the lines of don’t go near him, for your own good. Where was Hermione when you needed her to talk you out of an ill-advised plan? Harry looked into his empty mug. He knew exactly where Hermione was.
“I know I’m pretty vocal about how much I dislike the guy, but I’m not going to try and stop you from doing anything. I just think you should be very careful,” said Neville, calmly. For fuck’s sake. Why were they so supportive?
Harry let out a very high pitched humming noise and buried his face in a pillow. He felt someone come over and wrestle it away from him. He gave up and fell flat onto his back. He looked up and saw Luna’s face hovering over him. Fuck it, he thought. He would do what he bloody well wanted for once in his life. Just because he was scared about the future didn’t mean there was any reason for him to act as though Malfoy was still a dick when clearly Malfoy was operating at about forty percent of his former dick-levels. Or whatever. Harry just tried to think about what he would be doing if he couldn’t see the future, and then felt better when he realised he would probably be being nice to Malfoy. Because being an arsehole to someone had never really come naturally to Harry, he’d always had to work at it a bit.
It was two days before Harry saw him again, on the tube at five in the morning. Which was surprising for many reasons, best of all being that the tube was barely even running this early. Harry hadn’t been able to sleep, which had been happening more and more lately due to Dream Problems. He had slipped out of the flat quietly and gone to the nearest station feeling very restless, changing trains until he had eased out of the feeling a little. It was at Finsbury Park that he got onto what he thought was an empty carriage and saw Malfoy there, eyes closed and headphones in. He was leaning his head back against the pane of the window, throat bared. Harry blinked and took in the long lines of his torso, the way he was spread out over the seats as if he didn’t give a shit. Which… he probably didn’t. He was wearing fancy-looking wool trousers and a navy jumper. Harry wanted to remind him that it was summer, Malfoy, you prat. Harry suddenly felt scruffy in the jogging bottoms he had worn to sleep in and a white t-shirt that had a hole in the armpit. It wasn’t a problem, really, he just wouldn’t raise his arm.
Harry sat across from him and felt uncomfortable after about one second. Now that he was here, what did he do? Was it weird to just watch Malfoy and wait for him to notice. It definitely was. Was it more or less weird to like, say hi? He didn’t feel that they were at that stage yet. Fucking hell, he should have changed carriages when he had the chance. There were better times to do this than when he was still half asleep and dressed in what were basically pyjamas. Fuck it though, he thought, too late now.
Before he could overthink it anymore he slouched right down in his seat, extending his leg out. The seat fabric was rough against his exposed skin. He kicked Malfoy very gently in the shin with the tip of his shoe, then sat up hurriedly when Malfoy’s head jerked away from the window. Malfoy looked angry for a split second before he rubbed his brow with the back of his hands and closed his eyes again. He had no visible reaction to seeing Harry again, which to be perfectly honest, Harry was a little unnerved by. Draco Malfoy had been many things but difficult to read had never been one of them. His emotions were always out there, Harry thought. Then Malfoy took his headphones out and Harry heard a Nicki Minaj song spilling from them. He was kind of delighted by this, actually. He had to almost physically stop himself from making a comment on it.
Malfoy spoke first and Harry didn’t know what he’d been expecting but… this had not been it. “Potter! This is starting to become creepy, you understand. You may not know this, being as you act as though you were raised by wolves, but following people around is usually considered to be quite bad manners.”
Harry took a second to process the pure irony of Malfoy lecturing him on manners before he replied. “Haven’t we already covered this? And how do I know you’re not following me?” Harry said in feigned outrage.
Malfoy rolled his eyes in response. “How do you think I would go about doing that, now that I can’t do magic anymore?” Harry was sort of impressed at the ease with which Malfoy had said that. Harry was very, very certain that if he were banned from doing magic then he’d probably still be cry-eating in bed at this point.
“There’s a Muggle version of a tracking spell, it’s called a tracking device. Have you seriously never seen a spy movie?” He found it very easy to believe that Malfoy had never seen a spy movie. Actually, up until Harry had seen him in the cinema he would wager that Malfoy didn’t even know what a film was.
“What’s a movie?” Malfoy deadpanned and it was so unexpected that all Harry could do was laugh. “Although, I must admit that sounds like a much more effective strategy than just sitting around on trains twenty-four-seven and waiting for you to show up.” Malfoy continued, with an innocent look on his face, and was he joking ? Christ, he had just made a joke. Harry blinked and tried to think of a response.
“Malfoy,” Harry said, “this is very weird.” Oh well that had gone brilliantly. This is very weird. Fucking hell.
“I’m well aware,” Malfoy replied, as though he were speaking to a child. And usually Harry would be offended but he just wasn’t. Malfoy continued, “I think I’ve been awake for too long, am I hallucinating? Are you real? Why aren’t you insulting me yet?”
“I could ask the same thing of you,” Harry pointed out, not wanting to smile but doing it all the same.
“I’m too tired for insults, much as it pains me to admit.” Malfoy slumped back in his seat again and crossed his ankles, he was wearing the same sandals that Harry had seen him in at the bookshop. Sandals and trousers and a jumper. Weird. Didn’t he own shoes? “What are you doing awake at this hour, anyway?”
“Sometimes I can’t sleep so I ride around on the trains until I’m tired again. I’ll have to get off soon, the commuters start flocking on in about half an hour and then it’s just stressful.” Harry punctuated this statement with a yawn and Malfoy just nodded, as though that made sense. “You know, I didn’t peg you for a Nicki fan.” He gestured to where Malfoy’s phone was resting on the seat, beside his thigh.
“I love Nicki, actually,” Malfoy replied, then he paused, as if thinking about what he’d just said. He went a little red. Harry felt weirdly… melty at this, although he tried not to be. Malfoy was on the underground. Malfoy was a Nicki Minaj fan. Malfoy had not not apologised to him the last time they’d seen each other, and now Malfoy was talking to him like he’d never wanted to kill Harry. So odd .
“Yeah?” Harry prompted, “which is your favourite?”
“Are we seriously doing this?” Malfoy replied, looking at Harry as though this was the first time he’d ever seen a human before and it wasn’t what he was expecting. Harry nodded silently, and put on his encouraging face. “Of course, of course we are.” Malfoy said, bewildered. He looked up at the ceiling. “It’s Four Door Aventador, if you must know,” he said resignedly.
Harry nodded sagely, considering this. “It’s top three, I’ll give you that.”
“I… where does it rest in the top three? And what are the other two?” Malfoy looked actually interested now, like he was conducting research or something. Or just conveniently forgotten that he was having a conversation with someone he hated. Wait, did he even hate Harry anymore?
“Well, I think that the top three all have equal standing. So it’s Four Door Aventador, Grand Piano, and Trini Dem Girls.” Harry paused for a second. “They’re all from The Pinkprint, obviously.”
Malfoy raised his eyebrows and scoffed. “You’ve got to be joking. Grand Piano over Feeling Myself? Potter, Beyoncé appears on that track. Beyoncé.”
Harry found himself in the unique position of being unsurprised that Malfoy knew who Beyoncé was. “Just because something involves Beyoncé doesn’t mean that it--”
Harry was cut off suddenly when Malfoy raised his hand and closed his eyes, sucking in a deep breath. It was very melodramatic. “Do not finish that sentence, unless you want me to start with the insults.” Harry reconsidered. It was very, very melodramatic.
“I genuinely don’t want you to start on the insults,” Harry said seriously, and then decided that this was as good a time as any to potentially fuck up this whole banter thing they had going on. “Can I ask you something?”
“Why the fuck not?” Malfoy still had his eyes closed but they flickered open when Harry started talking again.
“So… you were in a cinema, ” Harry said, unable to come up with anything more intelligent.
“Yes,” Malfoy agreed. “Was there a question there, Potter?” Harry wondered if the tone he had said that in was the verbal equivalent of an eye-roll.
“ Why were you in a cinema?” Harry ventured.
“I was watching a fucking film, why on earth do you think?” Malfoy snapped. He paused for a second and visibly reconsidered, then visibly softened. “I… was just interested, I suppose. You know, I’d never actually been to one, it was very surreal. The girl at the counter asked where I wanted to sit and I had no idea what she was saying, and then some man took my ticket and ripped it in half, can you believe that? Why? It was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. Bar this one of course,” he said, and gestured expansively around the deserted carriage. This one meaning this conversation.
“Can I ask you another thing?”
“Could I stop you?”
Harry ignored him. “ Why were you interested? As in, why all the Muggle things? I thought you would just-- I mean, I didn’t--” He cut off, unable to finish.
“Didn’t what, peg me as a fan?”
“Something like that,” Harry admitted.
“You know I’m living as a Muggle now,” Malfoy started. It wasn’t a question but Harry nodded anyway. “Well, that’s what Muggles do, isn’t it? Go to the cinema, travel on underground trains, go to the park, go to the shops. I might have to do this for the rest of my life, Potter. Think of that. It just seemed foolish to try and keep living as if I were in the Wizarding world when I’m not allowed to set foot in it. I have no ulterior motive here.” Harry found himself believing that.
It was addictive, the feeling of Draco Malfoy telling him things in a soft voice early in the morning. Harry felt like he was taming a wild animal, or petting a cat that hated everybody else. This train existed outside time, that was the only explanation for why Malfoy was having a civil conversation with him right now.
“You hated Muggles, in school,” Harry pointed out. That was probably the wrong thing to say and Harry wanted to swallow it back down without Malfoy ever hearing it. He wanted to know , though, so he was pushing his luck.
“I know that, Potter. But in case you hadn’t fucking noticed, we aren’t in school anymore. We both lived through a fucking war and you’re not the only person who’s changed,” Malfoy’s voice was fierce and low, and Harry didn’t doubt his sincerity for a second. “I don’t… I don’t owe you an explanation, actually. And I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m not bringing up all the awful things you’ve done in the past,” he said pointedly.
Harry blinked. The things I did in the past were awful, is really all he was able to take from that. Harry wanted to catch hold of the tiny bit of information Malfoy had just given him and pull . Until everything spilled out and he knew it all. “You… you think the things you did were… awful, then?”
Malfoy looked at him incredulously, and then spoke as though he felt very sorry for Harry. “Of course. Of course I think they were.”
Harry wanted to cry. Of course, Malfoy had said, as though Harry was foolish to ever think the opposite. He was standing on the edge of a cliff. “So why did you do them?” The thing was, is that he knew why Malfoy had done them. Malfoy had done them because he was -used to be?- a bad person and he didn’t give a shit about anyone except himself and his family. And Harry desperately wanted Malfoy to give him a different answer. Anything. He didn’t even have to believe it.
He had expected Malfoy to be angry at the question but it didn’t seem as though he was. He just stared at Harry, as if deliberating whether or not to answer. Then he shook his head slowly, sadly. “I know what you want, but I can’t give it to you. I’d like to stop talking about this,” he said, more softly than Harry had ever heard him speak. Harry felt like the guilty one out of the pair of them, which was patently ridiculous. He nodded.
“Alright. Let’s-- what did you think of the film?”
Draco was hallucinating. Because Harry Potter hadn’t just asked him how he felt about war crimes and then when Draco didn’t answer, changed the subject to that film we saw the other day, together. He was still looking at him though, expectantly, and Draco was tired enough that talking to Harry Potter about anything seemed like a good idea. “It was strange, wasn’t it? I don’t think I liked it very much. The actor was good though, the main one, I don’t know his name. Did you like it?” They were back on safe territory and although Draco was rambling, he felt relieved.
“Colin Farrell. And no, I hated it. The worst thing was is that I knew I hated it because I’d watched it before, but Luna wanted to see it and it was the only showing Nev could make so I sucked it up,” Potter replied, sounding very put out.
“How is Lovegood?” He hadn’t owled her in a while, he would have to do that. No, not owl, send her something in the post. Or text her. Would it be weird to ask Potter for her number? Yes, he decided, it would be.
“She’s really good,” Potter said, fondly. He was smiling. “I live with her now, in her apartment. It’s only a one bedroom so I sleep on the sofa. It’s a really nice flat though, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Brick Lane but it’s on one of the side streets around there, in one of the older buildings. We have wood floors and everything,” he finished, sounding genuinely proud of that fact. Draco thought there were probably worse things to be proud of, like tiles, for example. He shuddered at the thought.
“Wood floors are lovely, I have polished concrete in my kitchen though. Have you ever seen that? It’s beautiful.” Draco decided to stop thinking about how surreal this whole experience was and just go with it.
“Whereabouts are you living now? Not… at the Manor, I assume?” Potter asked him, hesitantly.
Draco shook his head. “No, not the Manor, I’m only allowed back on supervised visits. I live in Knightsbridge, actually, near the station. Do you know the area?”
Potter laughed. “Of course you live in Knightsbridge. Sometimes I actually forget that you’re the richest person on the planet. Why the fuck do you live there ? It’s just old people isn’t it? Old, rich people? Not much to do.”
“The houses are nice,” Draco replied defensively. “And when I was choosing somewhere to live it isn’t as though I knew very much about Muggle London, I just picked the house I liked the most.”
“I literally can’t believe you just picked the house you liked best. That is the most ridiculous thing ever. Houses there go for like, thirty million, Malfoy,” Potter said, grinning as if this was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
Draco frowned. “I don’t know how much it went for, they just showed me photos and then I chose it. I didn’t realise it cost quite that much. Why on earth would a house cost that much? It’s only got six bedrooms.”
“Because you picked Knightsbridge. There are embassies there,” Potter said, as if that meant anything to Draco. Apparently his confusion was evident because Potter took pity on him. “Houses in central London are all expensive, but you picked like, the fanciest area. Where Luna and I are it’s people who’ve lived there all their lives. Students. Normal people, you know?”
“Well apparently not, ” Draco snapped. Potter laughed, and it didn’t feel as though he was making fun of Draco for something, it felt as though he was laughing at a joke Draco had made.
“Do you live with Parkinson? I saw her with you the other day.”
“I suppose so. Technically Pansy still lives at her family home, but she spends most of the time at my house. Her mother’s not very nice.”
Potter fiddled with a strand of cotton that had come loose on the hem of his t-shirt. Draco was pleased to see that Potter looked characteristically not-put-together. It was comforting, in a way. “Are you and her--” There was a question in his voice but he seemed unable to finish.
“Are we… dating? In a relationship? Fucking? You can say it, Potter. I believe in you,” Draco said dryly, and took pleasure in the way that Potter looked at him and spluttered, actually spluttered, when Draco had said the word fucking. “Oh for Merlin’s sake, we aren’t, not that it’s any of your business. We’ve been friends for too long, it would be like having it off with a sibling.” Potter made a face.
“You were dating though, weren’t you? Ages ago?” Potter said, sounding very much like he was trying to be casual.
Draco still didn’t see how that was any of his business, and only replied in the spirit of this unspoken truce they’d created and that Draco had actually probably only made up in his head. “Not really. Not properly, anyway, I think it was just convenient, since she already knew everything about me. We’re just-- it’s only platonic now,” Draco paused. “What about you and littlest Weasley? Is that still a thing?”
Potter snorted in amusement, “Littlest Weasley. Cute. No, she broke up with me actually, a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t ever anything serious between us, and it was a little on-again-off-again, but I did like her. I was like… not that sad about it though? Like, a little sad, but not that sad, I wasn’t heartbroken or anything, so it was probably a good thing. We weren’t anything like Ron and Hermione, you know?”
Draco could not imagine what was making Potter volunteer all this information. It was utterly baffling. Draco was fully baffled. “Oh are they actually together now? I called that ages ago, you know.” Draco said, and then remembered it had been while he was bullying them. Relentlessly. He winced. The look on Potter’s face told him that Potter hadn’t missed his slip-up. Draco tried again. “Do you remember when I teased you about girl Weasley back when we were what… twelve? Do you think everyone could tell where that was going to go, or just me?” Potter smiled and Draco made a mental note of this reaction. Teasing Potter: acceptable, teasing his friends: unacceptable.
“Well I didn’t know where it was going to go. Maybe it was just you, or maybe we’re all just really predictable.”
“Frankly, Potter, you are the least predictable person I know. Case in point: this entire conversation,” Draco replied absently, looking at the underground map over Potter’s head. “My station is next,” he informed him, then wriggled his shoulders and got to his feet, stretching. These seats were more uncomfortable than they looked. He glanced down at Potter, who was watching him intently. “I assume I’ll see you again soon?” Draco said, and was only half joking.
Potter pulled his feet up onto the chair and crossed them, pulling on the laces of his trainers, then nodded. “I think it’s probably unavoidable,” he replied, no hint of a joke in his voice.
Draco widened his eyes. What the fuck did that mean? “I believe that you aren’t following me, just so you know, but you cannot say things like that,” Draco stressed. “Do you not know how odd that sounded?”
The train came to a stop as he finished talking and Potter took a sharp breath in as though he wanted to say something. Then the doors opened and Potter just closed his mouth and shrugged. “Give my regards to Lovegood,” Draco told him, and rolled his eyes when Potter merely hummed in agreement. He stepped off the train and spun around on the platform to watch the doors close behind him. There was a look on Potter’s face that Draco didn’t know how to interpret, his eyes were soft and the corners of his lips were turned up slightly, until he was almost smiling. Draco stepped backwards away from the train when it slowly started to move, Potter watched him until he was out of sight, and Draco did the same.
On his way home Draco stopped at the entrance to the park in front of his house and leaned back on the railings. He looked up at the sky but couldn’t see anything except for the thick foliage above him. He thought back to the conversation he’d had with Pansy after the cinema, when he’d told her that he hadn’t wanted Potter to change his mind about him. That he was fine with Potter thinking he was still like he used to be, happy with it, even. She’d asked why, genuinely confused. Draco had given her half of the truth. I don’t want him to get the impression that I’ve been doing the things I’ve been doing for… favour, or anything. Or to get my sentence reduced, maybe. I know it sounds dire but the reason I want to be a better person is just… because I want to be a better person. Not to impress anyone. Least of all Potter.
He hadn’t known what he would do if he ran into Potter again, right until he opened his eyes and saw him on the train and a part of him still wanted to spit vitriol. He’d rubbed his brow and willed it away until the part of him that wanted desperately to be good won over, and so he had been. While he had been talking to Potter he’d felt totally untethered from his past self, untied from the person who used to have an indifferent attitude towards torture and who’d used slurs that put a heavy pressure on the back of his skull when he thought about them now. Draco had presumed it would be the absolute opposite, that he wouldn’t be able to bear looking at Potter for all the thoughts of murder and anger and hate. He’d felt that before, after the park. Maybe it depended on his mood, or the time of day, or what he’d eaten.
So he gave up, standing there in the watery morning sunlight thinking back on his conversation with Potter and the look on his face as he had stared at Draco. It hadn’t been approval, but it had been close. He gave up on wanting Potter to believe he was still the indifferent boy he’d been because it was an exercise in futility, if he really thought about it. This was Harry Potter, the epitome of goodness and lightness and forgiveness, and if he saw something in Draco then Draco wasn’t sure he could persuade Potter out of it. And Draco could talk all he wanted about Potter’s opinion not mattering to him, but he knew in the back of his brain that it was a lie. Such a lie. Potter’s opinion had always meant something to him, and it probably always would. Draco wasn’t such a glutton for punishment that he would try and deny something that was so true, especially not anymore.
He gave up thinking that he didn’t want to see Potter again.
Harry was in Fortnum and Mason buying fancy tea for Luna. Currently, he was in the biscuit aisle, and he was trying not to have a heart attack at the fucking prices. Actually it was more like biscuit section, because this shop was too posh for something as common as aisles. Twenty-six whole pounds for a pack of chocolate chip shortbread, they could fuck off with that thank you very much, Harry thought. He looked down at a scrap of paper in his hand and there were three things written on it. Very Nice Hummus. Tea for Luna - possibly that Earl Gray (sp? Grey?) one she had last time. Those almond biscuits that are like speculoos but aren’t. It was all in Neville’s handwriting. Harry thought it might be Earl Grey . He should tell Neville for next time. Also, Neville was not great at writing lists, this was something he hadn’t realised before. His hand, not controlled by him, went to a shelf and picked up a box of red biscuits that Harry closely inspected. Clearly future him didn’t have any fucking clue whether these were the almond biscuits that were a lot like something else, either. Harry wanted to roll his eyes and found that he couldn’t. He sighed internally. This happened sometimes, rarely, that he would be in his body in the dream but unable to control it. Sort of just… along for the ride, like a very very immersive film or something. These were hands down the worst type.
He tucked two packets of biscuits under his arm, having come to the conclusion that they were right. Or good enough, anyway. He wandered over towards the fresh food section and picked up a pot of Hummus from the highest shelf. It was very nice, Harry noticed, impressed. It had whole chickpeas in it. He would have to come and get some when he got back into his real body. As he was reading the ingredients he felt a hand brush his hip very gently and Harry started. Both in real life and… mentally, he supposed. He turned to see Draco Malfoy standing in front of him with a wicked grin on his face. Harry could feel his own mouth stretch into a smile that matched.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this, Potter,” Malfoy said. His teeth were gleaming in a way Harry thought was very unfair. Also he was flirting. This was quite possibly the very last thing Harry needed right now.
“I think it makes things interesting. And actually now that I think about it, so do you, otherwise you would give me your bloody phone number, wouldn’t you? Or like… your email, even.” He was flirting back, wasn’t he? He was. He definitely was. Albeit in a very strange way.
Disaster on all fronts. That was his official review of this particular Weird Future Dream. Zero stars out of ten.
“Your phone is perpetually out of charge. I have no idea why I would do such a thing,” Malfoy replied haughtily and then sniffed. Actually sniffed. Posh wanker.
“Maybe I’d charge it if I had your number.” Oh as if he would ever say something like that. To Malfoy, of all people. Harry hadn’t imagined it would be possible but that comment had somehow put an even wider smile on Malfoy’s face. Merlin. He’d never seen Malfoy arrange his features into anything that wasn’t either a smirk or a frown, it was quite nice.
“You’re right, I do quite like it. What are you here for?” Harry showed him the list and Malfoy frowned. “It’s spelled G-R-E-Y, will you tell Longbottom that?” Harry nodded, apparently future-Malfoy could recognise Neville’s writing. Or maybe it was a process of elimination type thing. Harry zoned out for a second thinking about that, then came back in time to hear Malfoy finish speaking. “--and also vegan ice cream, don’t even ask, Pansy wanted it. Want to help me find it?”
“I can’t think of anything I’d like more,” Harry heard himself say in a very sarcastic manner, but then started walking in what he presumed was the direction of the frozen aisles anyway. Malfoy told him to fuck off under his breath, but followed.
The shop was deserted. They stopped beside a huge, gleaming freezer. Malfoy put his hands inside it for a second and then touched Harry’s neck, not at all hesitantly. His hand curved until the pads of his fingers were pressed against Harry’s spine. Harry flinched away from it at first, startled by the sensation, but then laughed. It seemed as though this was something that had happened before. Malfoy put a cold hand on his jaw, then, and Harry didn’t move away this time. He smiled actually, and put one of his own hands, the one not currently supporting hummus and biscuits, onto the side of Malfoy’s neck. He rubbed his thumb over the soft skin underneath Malfoy’s ear and felt Malfoy’s heartbeat at his palm. Malfoy stopped smiling. He took his hand off Harry’s face, gently, and moved to kiss the spot where it had just been. His lips felt like they were burning. Harry ran his own hand around so that it was cupping the back of Malfoy’s head, his fingers scratching through the short hairs there. He shuffled his feet closer and smiled against Malfoy’s cheek when their bodies pressed together. Malfoy’s breath was slow and Harry could feel it, against his cheek, moving his hair. He closed his eyes and felt Malfoy turn to kiss the side of Harry’s mouth where it was curved upwards. His lips were soft and warm and firm. He wasn’t even moving and Harry’s brain had already turned to goo.
Malfoy pulled away, just the tiniest bit, just so Harry could feel lips moving against his own as he spoke. “I’ll give you my phone number, Potter,” he whispered. “Seeing as though you asked so nicely.”
Harry woke up sweating in a tangle of sheets, and blankets, and pillows. He put his hand to his face and was relieved to feel that there wasn’t any blood this time. He could feel the echo of Malfoy’s lips on his own. He breathed steadily, in and out, and then he got up and went to Luna’s bedroom door. He knocked softly. Neville opened it and his eyes widened when he saw the look on Harry’s face. “What’s happened?”
“House meeting,” Luna had said from her bed, when Harry had taken a deep breath and told Neville he made out with Malfoy in a dream and didn’t hate it.
That had been ten minutes ago and Harry had only agreed because he’d liked the way her voice went serious when she said House Meeting like that. It made him think that she’d have good advice and a serious plan. It made him think maybe someone was being sensible about the whole situation, even if he wasn’t. At the moment though, he was less sure, because for eight of those ten minutes Luna had been drawing charts and muttering to herself, breaking the silence only by asking Harry things like are you having mixed emotions about this? Actually no, don’t answer, I need silence if I’m going to concentrate.
He sighed and looked around the kitchen for something to do. Neville was playing a game on his phone, Harry watched him enviously and thought about what Malfoy had said in the dream, your phone is always out of charge. The possibility that Malfoy might one day know things like that about him made Harry feel jittery and nervous. And not in an entirely bad way, kind of like he wanted to crack his knuckles, crush something up in his bare hands, feel something smash in between his fingers. He wondered which plant would be the most satisfying to break apart. Maybe one of the aloe veras? Maybe he would accidentally brush against the yellow one that Neville had said never to touch because human skin made it turn to very fine dust. Why did they even have a plant like that? It wasn’t even nice, he thought resentfully as he looked over at it’s disgusting leaves. It looked like normal plants look when they’re sick.
“Nev, where’d you get that dust plant?” Harry asked, and waved his hand in the general direction of where it sat being gross in a glass cabinet. And what would that dust feel like against my fingertips?
Neville looked up from his game surprised, then confused. “What, the harenam?”
Harry just looked at him in a way he hoped would convey the fact that he would have said the name if he’d known the name.
Neville grimaced. “You’re going to make fun of me.”
“Neville! I would never,” Harry lied, trying to look sincere. Neville snorted.
“I have a plant exchange with some other amateur herbologists.”
“Oh my God,” Harry choked. “I thought you were going to say it was a present from Professor Sprout or something. That’s just… I can’t even make fun of you for that Nev. It’s too dorky to make fun of. You’re just making me want to hug you.” He tried to stop laughing.
“Laughing counts as making fun of,” Neville informed him dryly.
“It’s so cute Nev. Can I come next time? I want to meet your plant exchange friends,” Harry told him. “Have them over here next time, please. Please. Like, for me.”
Neville smiled. “You’re such a dick. Why do we hang out?”
“Because I live with Luna. Literally the only reason,” Harry deadpanned.
He turned his attention to Luna, who was painting something with glitter glue now for some fucking reason. He thought it best not to ask. “Oi, Luna, can we stop using the term ‘mixed emotions’ please. It gives me the heebie jeebies.” She didn’t look up.
“Heebie jeebies. Now who’s a fucking dork?” Neville snickered beside him.
Harry turned and narrowed his eyes. He was just about to retort when Luna looked up from whatever it was she was doing. “Can we not have an argument? Even fake ones make the plants sad.”
Harry narrowed his eyes at Neville. “It’s still you,” he whispered.
Neville grinned and raised his middle finger. “Is this yours?”
“I can see you, you know?” Luna sounded pained. “I’m in the same room. Also you’re both dorks, chuck me that highlighter Harry. ”
Harry looked at the massive pencil case that was currently sitting on the table in front of him, immediately daunted. He started digging through it and eventually emerged with three possible candidates for that highlighter. He held them up. “Which one?” Luna just gazed at him, unblinking. Harry shrank back a bit. “There’s… There’s three, so. Which one did you want?” She narrowed her eyes. “What’s happening right now? Is there some sort of highlighter etiquette I’m not versed in?” He was regretting his offer to be ‘in charge of stationary’ right about now.
“Harry I don’t think it’s possible for me to love you any more than I do, but when you do things like suggest I use a yellow highlighter, I just… I feel like you don’t know me.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Why do you have them when you’re not going to use them?”
Neville crowed beside him, sounding gleeful. “Ooh, wrong question there mate.”
“Blue,” Luna said tersely, not deigning to answer. She caught it one handed out of the air when Harry threw it. He raised his eyebrows but didn’t comment.
“What are you doing, Luna?” he asked, not unreasonably. He’d thought there might be more structure to a house meeting. Not that he was about to voice this concern
She held up two pieces of paper, both of which had colourful charts drawn onto them. There was a perhaps an overly liberal use of glitter, but Harry felt she’d made it work. “This,” she said, nodding her head to the one on her right, “Is our new and improved chore rota. Neville’s on it.”
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased my petition to have him added has finally been approved, but I was under the impression we would be talking about… you know, the thing?”
“I’m multi-tasking. Now shut up, we’ll get to your problem in a minute. This is going on the fridge and I’ll put those star stickers beside it, you know how it works. If you look closely you’ll see that I’ve also included ‘buy more star stickers for the rota’ in the rota. Oh, if you want to change the type of stickers we use then you can address the request to me in writing. The only thing I’ll veto are ones with cats on them. Dogs, however, are encouraged. Any questions?”
Harry and Neville looked at each other, eyes wide. They shook their heads and Luna made a noise of satisfaction. She stuck the rota to the fridge with a sticking charm. When she came back she was holding another chart up. “This one is a little more complicated. Here, as you can see, is where you, Harry, write down any meetings you have with Draco in real life, and this row is for where you write about dreams. There’s also a space for you to write down which emotions you’re feeling about said meetings and dreams, because Merlin knows Neville and I are finding it hard to keep up. We’ll keep it on the fridge for easy access. Any questions?”
Neville immediately bent over laughing. Harry had lots of questions, actually, but he was focusing all of his energy on not punching Neville in his handsome face. “You made me a Malfoy chart?”
“Yes. Should I put it above or below the rota? Below, I suppose, since you’re a bit shorter.”
Neville laughed harder and started to sound like he couldn’t breathe. Good. Harry kicked him under the table. He wanted to tell Luna to set fire to the chart, but he had to admit it might be a good idea, plus she’d clearly put a lot of work into it.
“I’ve put in the first ones for you but left the emotion spaces blank for you to fill in later since obviously I’m not inside your brain. Shall we do the most recent ones together?” She asked brightly. Harry nodded warily. “Alright, perfect, so when you saw him yesterday morning on the underground, what were your main feelings? Primary only at this stage please, we’ll move onto the lesser ones in a second.”
“Um,” Harry said blankly, wracking his brain. “I suppose… surprise? Is that an emotion?” Luna nodded and wrote it down, gesturing for him to keep going. “I guess it was because he was being quite nice to me. Not fully nice, obviously, but generally not doing things like calling me names or trying to hex me. Also we talked about Nicki, which… I already told you. That was definitely surprising. Another one might be… I don’t know, interest? Anticipation? Is that weird? I came back and I was kind of looking forward to the next time we would meet.”
“This is going to be really useful,” Luna decided, “Anything else?” She looked at him expectantly.
“Not really, I guess I keep thinking about the dream more than anything.”
“Okay, well we can move onto that if you want?” Luna looked ready, her pen poised, and Harry caught a quick flash of Hermione in the gesture. His insides curled.
“Luna, I honestly don’t even know where to start.”
Harry led the way. He weaved around the circular tables and in between the booths and avoided the knots of people chattering. They’d done something to the lights, he noticed absently, something to the shades maybe, everything was red . There were candles on every tabletop and he tried not to think about how that was such a fucking safety hazard in a bar like this. He looked over his shoulder to check that Luna and Nev were following, winking when they both grinned at him. Harry swung open the door into the back room and held it for them, music spilling in from the stage at the far wall. He let them walk ahead and kicked the door closed once they’d gone though. The set had already started and the crowd was heaving and pulsating. The room smelled like sweat and alcohol. He saw a sharp movement in the corner of his eye and turned his head, quickly enough to catch sight of a girl in the corner bending over to throw up into a plastic beer cup that her friend was holding out. He winced. This place was fucking dirty, but it was an institution, and Luna had never been here. He felt her catch hold of his arm and drag him into the crowd after Neville. He laughed. His whole body was warm and buzzing and he felt a sudden fondness for these two people who had let him slip so easily into their lives.
After fifteen minutes those two people were gone, lost in the crowd, and he’d given up finding them. He felt his phone buzz in his pocket and wriggled it out. Meet u on the tube afterwards m8, the last train is like 5 mins after the set ends so we have 2 run for it. He rolled his eyes and sent Neville a reply. Not sure I want to still be friends with someone who says ‘m8’ tbh. He laughed when a response came in almost immediately. Luna says ur a dick tbh.
He’d had a beer and a cider spilled on him and was feeling pretty disgusting by the time a girl with long braids stumbled against him, pouring vodka and coke all over his sleeve. Harry had apologised to her, for some reason, smiling when she laughed. That was at about the point where decided he might be a little too tipsy to attempt a wandless cleaning charm. He elbowed his way over to the bathroom. The sound of the crowd and the band outside were muffled as soon as the thick door fell shut behind him. He went into one of the stalls, then put the toilet lid down and sat on it. Harry cleaned himself off with a few drying charms and tried to brush the wrinkles out of his shirt where he’d been a bit over-zealous. The material was hot to the touch, like it had just come out of the dryer. He held it away from his skin and read the graffiti on the walls while he waited for it to cool down. A lot of drawings of dicks, a lot of phone numbers, a lot of very specific and actually quite graphic insults about Tories. He approved.
He was standing on his tiptoes and peering into the crowd, seeing if he could catch a glimpse of Luna and Nev, when he saw Malfoy standing at the bar with Pansy Parkinson, head tilted back in laughter, hands cupped around a pint of something golden. It had been weeks. So many weeks that he’d actually lost count, except that now it was halfway through August, so definitely a lot. That many weeks of not seeing Malfoy and now here he was. In the Amersham Arms. In New Cross. Fucking hell, had he got lost? Had he been looking for a cocktail bar in Chelsea and given the wrong address to his driver? Harry literally could not fathom what Malfoy was doing at this gig, wearing those dark velvet trousers that made his legs look long and lean and fucking incredible. Harry tried not to swoon. Instead, he hid behind a group of Goldsmiths students and just stared at him for a bit, feeling intensely creepy.
Harry watched Malfoy smile and mouth you’re fine, it’s fine at a woman who had knocked into him with a tray of shots and then apologised. He watched the pink and purple lights from the stage play over Malfoy’s straight nose and his high cheekbones. He saw the way Malfoy was standing beside Parkinson, as though she was at the exact centre of the universe. Harry thought back to his dreams, and the way that Malfoy had been gentle when he touched Harry. He knew , then, that Malfoy had changed, or would change, or was in the process of changing.
Harry knew, with the same surety, that he wanted to be there for it. He wanted to watch as Malfoy unfolded himself and shook out the parts that were cruel and mean and hateful. He wanted to watch for the moment when Malfoy’s limbs and heart and brain and muscles moved in a way that wasn’t heavy with unease and anger. He wanted to see a thousand more easy smiles on Malfoy’s face, it wouldn’t even matter if he hadn’t put them there himself. He wanted to see Malfoy bloom with laughter.
Harry wanted to tell him that he still hated the things Malfoy had done and would never forget them, not to be cruel, but because now he thought that Malfoy would never want to be with a person who forgot about things like that.
“Potter, where are your fucking friends?” Draco asked wearily, for the third time. Draco caught hold of the shirt Potter was wearing and tugged on it, sharply enough that he moved his head up from where it had been lolling against the brown bricks on the outside of the pub. He looked at Draco’s chin for a second, in an almost contemplative manner, and then screwed his eyes shut. Draco flicked Potter on the forehead. That made him open his eyes, he thought with satisfaction.
“Hi,” Potter said. Fondly. Which was very fucking unnerving. And didn’t answer his question even a little bit.
“Hi,” Draco agreed, “Where are your friends? You said you came with friends.” Draco reconsidered for a second, maybe that was the wrong thing to ask of someone who had so clearly lost their friends. “Who? Who did you come with?” He finished, pleased with himself and this clearly superior strategy.
Potter blinked. Wrinkled his nose. Then promptly started to fall over. Draco was a little shocked at this, he had always imagined Potter being the type of person who was able to hold their liquor. He was so… steady, normally. If Draco was going to bet on which of them would be a worse drunk, he honestly would have bet on himself. He grabbed Potter quickly, and pushed him bodily against the wall, shooting a thankful glance at Pansy when she moved to help.
“I panicked when I saw you,” Potter told them. Draco wasn’t totally sure which of them Potter had been addressing, since he’d shut his eyes again, but he could have taken a pretty good guess. “I did that. And so then it was-- I had some drinks. I think maybe that vodka was involved. The gold one? You know?” Draco did not know, and he was just about to voice this when Pansy spoke.
“The gold flake one?” She sounded cheerful. She was enjoying this far too much, Draco thought, because it seemed to him that Potter was about one sharp movement away from vomiting on the both of them.
Potter snapped his eyes opened and grinned lopsidedly. “Yes! It’s awful, isn’t it. Like…” He paused. Draco and Pansy waited expectantly for him to continue but that didn’t seem to be in the cards. Potter deflated. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. And no. Draco was not equipped to deal with a drunk Harry Potter who was just about to get into the apologetic stage of the night, because next was crying. And he’d be fucked if he was going to let Potter weep on -or anywhere remotely near- his shoulder.
“No. Stop. Look at me, don’t say sorry. Actually, stop talking.” Potter snapped his mouth shut and looked at Draco, wide-eyed.
He turned to Pansy. “Well? Any bright ideas?”
She grinned. “Nope.” She popped her lips at the end of the word, happily. “This is your good-Samaritan show, Draco. I am merely along for the ride. The very entertaining ride.”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re mixing metaphors,” he replied grimly.
Potter started struggling out of their grip, and they let him go, stepping back. After a long wrestling match with his back pocket, he produced a phone with a triumphant noise. It was buzzing. After about ten seconds of Potter being unable to open the lock-screen, Draco huffed and snatched it away.
“Hello? Po-- Harry’s phone.” He shuddered a bit. Harry. Weird.
“Harry! Got your text mate, we’re on the tube! Which carriage are you? Like… front or back?” Longbottom. This was great, wasn’t it? Now he’d have to talk to Longbottom .
“This isn’t--” Draco cleared his throat. “This is Draco. Malfoy.” He heard a gasp on the other end of the line and had to restrain the urge to say something about it. Because really. A gasp. He wasn’t a fucking Bond villain. “Anyway Potter is here with us, that is, Pansy Parkinson and myself. He’s quite drunk, I’m not sure-- If you give me your address then I’d be happy to call a taxi for him.” Pansy scoffed, but he chose to ignore it.
“Draco, this is Luna, is Harry all right? Where are you all?” Draco breathed a sigh of relief, Lovegood he could deal with. Lovegood was pleasant to a fault.
“We’re still at the venue. We saw him when we were coming out and he… well, he seemed in quite a bad way, so we stopped.” He decided to leave out how it had been after much deliberation and a pretty heated argument.
“Is that Luna? Can I--?” Potter reached towards Draco and flapped his hand around. He hadn’t sobered up in the slightest, Draco was displeased to note. He handed the phone over before Potter could poke one of his eyes out.
Potter listened for a bit and then started talking. “Lu! Where… Yeah I know… I’m so sorry,” Draco sighed, this had been a mistake. “Yeah… Of course I do, that’s not a nice thing to say… Love you both.” He then finished the call, to the shock of both Pansy and Draco. He pocketed his phone again, after a similar struggle to the first time. Draco watched him with barely concealed rage.
“So?” Pansy prompted.
“So?” Potter looked at her, nonplussed. Draco clenched his fists. “Oh!” Potter exclaimed, “Dray Lane, near the Rough Trade. Don’t laugh,” he warned, quite sincerely. Draco couldn’t have, anyway, since he didn’t have the faintest idea what Potter was talking about. He watched him slump back against the rough surface, and Draco winced at the thought of what that must be doing to the silk of the shirt Potter was wearing.
“Is that… a secret message or something?” Pansy wondered aloud.
“It’s his fucking address, Pans,” he replied, already wandering off to call a taxi. “Don’t let him fall over,” he warned, and pointed at her.
He stared at Potter while he called a taxi, he supposed there was no point being subtle when Potter was falling asleep. And Draco honestly didn’t know how he was managing it but Potter looked genuinely attractive right now. It was almost insulting, really, because Draco imagined he didn’t look nearly so good, and he was the one who could stand upright. Potter was literally lounging against a wall, falling-over drunk, his hair messy and tucked back behind his ears, and he was still so fucking fit. Unfairly fit. Soft-looking and sturdy. Draco traced the line of Potter’s jaw with his eyes. Not being able to see Potter’s eyes made it easier to look at his face, the brown of his skin wasn’t so glowing, his eyelashes weren’t so dark. His features were normal, like that, and then he’d open his eyes and you’d get it. Potter’s eyes were fucking otherworldly.
They waited for the taxi to arrive and tried not to let Potter pass out as he alternated between staring intently at Draco and staring intently at the ground, which Draco was a little uncomfortable with. Especially as the expression on Potter’s face when he looked at Draco was so warm. Draco didn’t think he’d ever been looked at like that, except by his mother, maybe by Pansy. He tried to ignore it, turned his face away from it.
Eventually the taxi showed up and they were left with the task of wrestling Potter into the car, which was easier said than done, because at some point he’d grasped Draco’s hand tightly and now wouldn’t let go. After some strategic poking Pansy managed to free him, and they swiftly slammed the door before Potter could manage to escape. He stared at them through the window with a wounded look on his face. Which was a huge overreaction, Draco thought, since it wasn’t as though Potter really liked them very much.
Where were Lovegood and Longbottom in all this? That’s what he wanted to know. Sure, they’d arranged to meet Potter on the tube, but why had they left him in the first place? It was irresponsible, Draco thought, leaving Potter to fend for himself when he so clearly had the mental capacity of a small toddler as soon as he'd had a few drinks in him.
Draco tried to ignore Potter, who was gently knocking on the glass. Pansy was laughing, obviously. The taxi driver rolled down his window. “He’s not going by himself, guys.”
Draco tried to interpret this and failed, sending Pansy a panicked look. She promptly intervened. “He’s fine! Look at him, conscious and everything. Anyway we don’t live with him, so, I fail to see how that would work,” she finished decisively. “Potter,” she then called, “Potter! Tell this gentleman where it is you live.”
Draco watched, incredulously, as Potter actually managed to tell the driver his address. Unfortunately, the man wasn’t having any of it, which Draco could respect since he would have had exactly the same reaction. “Look guys,” the driver said, sympathetically, which was nice and everything, but didn’t exactly help their situation, “He’s passing out, I’m not a babysitter, and I’m not cleaning up vomit, either. So you can come with him or you can figure something else out.”
“Fuck it,” Pansy decided, in a tone Draco didn’t like the sound of. She opened the door of the taxi and pushed Potter over to the far side, then gestured for Draco to get in. He did, sliding up next to Potter in the back seat, who promptly rested his head on Draco’s shoulder. Draco elbowed him in the ribs and Potter backed off. Draco wasn’t emotionally prepared for this. “Change of plans, we’re going to Pont street please, Knightsbridge.”
Draco let out a shocked noise, one that he would probably deny later. “Pans, there is no fucking way we’re bringing Harry Potter back to my house. His friends will think we’ve murdered him. No. Veto. I’m vetoing this idea.”
Pansy ignored him and reached over his waist to tap Potter on the shoulder. “Potter. Give me your phone.”
To Draco’s amazement -although at this point maybe things should just stop surprising him- Potter handed over his phone without any complaint. He just watched silently as Pansy flicked through his contacts. She started a call and gave the phone to Draco. Lovegood picked up on the fourth ring. “Harry?”
“No, this is Draco. Again. We…” He shot a desperate glance at Pansy who just looked stern in return, “He couldn’t really go back by himself, so we’re taking him back to my house. I just thought I should let you know?” He tried not to turn it into a question but failed at the last second. Draco felt reasonably sure that Lovegood would never allow what was about to happen to actually happen. He was immeasurably comforted by this fact.
Lovegood was silent for a minute, except for some frantic whispering down the line that Draco couldn’t make out. Eventually she came back on. “That’s fine, thank you Draco. That’s very kind of you and Pansy both. Make sure he pays his share of the taxi, won’t you?” Well, Draco thought, fuck, and also he didn’t really know what to say to that. He imagined it probably wasn’t the most pressing issue, but didn’t have the energy to argue. “Yes, I’ll do that. Talk to you soon, Lovegood.” He hung up.
“I’m staying at yours?” Potter suddenly said, from beside Draco, sounding very morose. “Are you sure that’s okay? Because I don’t want to inconvenience you.”
Draco chose to ignore the fact that Potter could apparently use words like inconvenience when he was half-asleep and fully-drunk. “Is that alright with you?” He replied, thinking maybe they should have asked first. Potter laughed for an entire minute and then collapsed, with his face against the glass pane of the window. Draco took that to mean Yes, I’d like nothing more than to be your guest, and I shall receive your hospitality graciously.
Potter was asleep when they arrived outside the house, and Draco shook him awake with more force than was maybe necessary. Potter blinked up at him through his glasses. New glasses, Draco noticed, wondering why he hadn’t seen them before. They were circular still, but bigger than his last pair, with thin wire frames. They suited him. “Are we here?” he asked blearily, looking over Draco’s shoulder at Pansy, who was holding the door open.
Draco chose not to answer and instead got out of the taxi, watching as Potter clambered out behind him, managing not to fall on his face. They walked up the steps to Draco’s front door, and Potter put a hand on Draco’s shoulder to steady himself. This time he didn’t push Potter away.
“Fuck me, ” Potter said, when they entered the front hall. Pansy snorted from where she was taking her shoes off. “This place is a fucking palace, Malfoy.”
Draco supposed he should be relieved, since that was the first indication Potter had given that he knew who Draco was. “Let me show you to your bedroom,” Draco said, instead of replying Yes, I fucking told you it was nice, didn’t I?
“Guest bedroom,” Potter whispered. Draco suppressed a groan. This is what he had to deal with. Nonsense is what he had to deal with.
“Well, I’m off to bed! Night Potter! Sleep well, night Draco, I’ll see you tomorrow evening,” Pansy said chirpily, and kissed him on the cheek. He nodded, still not totally over the fact that she had let Potter into his home.
Potter gave a half-hearted wave, then groaned and bent over suddenly. “I need to lie down. Lie down or vomit. Lie down would be better.”
Draco couldn’t help but agree. He tugged Potter until he was standing and led him up the stairs to the first floor, opening the doors to one of the guest rooms, the nicest one after Pansy’s. Potter immediately headed for the bed and sprawled over it, not even kicking his shoes off. Draco narrowly avoided screaming.
“Potter, listen to me, because this is important,” Draco said, and waited until Potter pushed himself up onto one elbow and looked at him before continuing. “You can’t do magic here. Nothing, alright? Because I’ll get in trouble if anyone does magic in the house. Even wandless magic. Do you understand?”
Potter nodded and slumped back onto the bed. Draco supposed that was the best he could hope for. He turned the light off on his way out of the room. “Night, Malfoy,” he heard softly from the bed.
“Goodnight, Potter,” he replied.
Draco thought it might be impossible to be angry at Harry Potter for more than three minutes at a time. He’d managed it well enough back at school, but that was before they knew each other. Now if he got angry at Potter it would be like kicking a puppy.
He thought about having Potter asleep in his house, feeling comfortable under his roof. He found himself looking forward to the morning, when Potter would be awake and alert and witty and they could talk to each other. Draco had seen something in Potter’s face tonight, in his glorious eyes, and knew that they were creating something amongst themselves. It was such a fucking relief, that feeling, when so many of their previous interactions had been based on destruction, and death, and leaving nothing where before there was something.
“Morning,” Harry said, then winced as the knife Malfoy had been holding clattered to the floor with a sharp noise. “Fuck, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Malfoy turned around and grabbed the knife off the floor before throwing it into the sink. He leant back against the wooden top of the kitchen counter and folded his arms. “Hungover?” he asked, and Harry suspected he was being smug about it.
Harry took a quick stock of his body. His head was aching, his limbs felt… mushy, somehow, and he was pretty sure he was still a little bit drunk. He snorted, unattractively. “I feel like shit. What time is it?”
Malfoy reached for his phone where it was sitting face down on the counter-top beside him. He squinted and held his hand over the screen to block out the harsh sunlight that was streaming in from the windows at his back. “Seven thirty,” he smirked, “I thought you’d be passed out until at least this afternoon.”
Harry groaned. “That’s what, four hours sleep? ” Why did he ever think going out last night would be a good idea? “Are you not hungover?” he asked Malfoy. Who wouldn’t be, of course, standing there all tall and fresh-looking and pretty, while Harry was still in the outfit he’d worn last night and had just brushed his teeth using his finger. Malfoy pushed a strand of hair out of his face and Harry tracked the movement with his eyes. Malfoy’s hair was kind of excellent now, Harry thought, he’d cut it since school and stopped gelling it to death, it looked soft and white and Harry wanted to run his fingers through it.
Malfoy scoffed. “I had about two beers, Potter, so no, I’m fine. Thank you for your concern.” He swivelled back around and got a new knife out of a drawer at his hip. “Do you want tea? Also you can sit, if you want.” He gestured towards some wooden bar stools.
Harry smoothed his hand over the curved back of the chairs before he sat down. “These are really nice. Actually, your whole house is really nice,” he told Malfoy, who was now slicing a banana. “And yes, I’d love a cup of tea, please.”
Malfoy abandoned the chopping and went to fill the kettle up. “You said that last night.” He laughed, once, quickly. “Well, no, I think the exact word you used was palace.”
Harry put his face in his hands. “Of course I fucking did. Drunk me was right though, it’s definitely palace-adjacent. I mean, I’ve told you I’m living on a sofa, right?”
Malfoy laughed again, not unkindly, and Harry was struck by how fucking domestic this whole setup was. “Yes, you told me. I’m still not sure why you’re doing that.” He pulled some bread out of the toaster, moving it between his hands quickly before he dropped it onto a plate. The kettle stopped boiling and he got two mugs down from a top cupboard that Harry would never be able to reach. He wondered why everyone in the world seemed to keep their mugs in a top cupboard. Surely you would keep something useless in there, like an egg poacher or an apple corer.
“At first it was to escape from the Burrow and Grimmauld Place, as awful as that sounds. Now it’s just because I like it there, and Luna likes me being there. It’s fun, and it’s easy, which makes a nice change from,” he paused, and searched for the words, “Everything…”
Malfoy nodded and bit his lip. He watched Harry for a second, then placed a mug of tea and a plate in front of him. Harry blinked at it. “I suppose I should have asked you what you wanted,” Malfoy said worriedly. “You don’t have to eat it. I can make something else.”
Harry shook his head. “You made me peanut butter and banana on toast,” he said, failing to keep the note of fondness out of his voice. “Thank you.”
Malfoy looked at him, as though he had been about to snap at Harry but then decided at the last second not to. “Yes,” he replied, “You should eat it. Do you want to sit outside?”
Instead of waiting for an answer he put his shoulder against a glass door and heaved it open, then moved a plant pot with his bare foot until the door stayed pushed back against the wall. Harry followed him and stepped out onto the patio. He could feel the heat through his socks and wondered how it was Malfoy could bear to walk on it. Malfoy led the way through the grass until he came to a set of wrought-iron garden furniture in the shade of a huge tree. It was early enough in the day that there was still dew underfoot, and Harry’s socks became soaked by the time they both sat down. Harry mused for a second on how surreal his life had apparently become, and then got distracted by how delicious the toast was.
“Did you like it, last night?” he asked Malfoy, through a mouthful of breakfast, “The gig, I mean.”
“It was vile,” Malfoy said shortly, and then softened at the look Harry gave him. “It was. Utterly vile. Did you like it?”
“Oh, up until the point where I did vodka shots with a group of students from LCF, you mean?” Harry laughed. “I should not have done that, you know, I should have just walked away when I found out what uni they went to.” Malfoy was silent and baffled-looking, so Harry elaborated “I mean, people from that university have a reputation for being a bit wild.”
“Ah,” Malfoy said, and took a bite of his own food. Unlike Harry, he swallowed before speaking again. “I’ve not even heard of it.”
“Lots of people who go there live around where Luna and I live. I’m not even sure why, since their college is in Oxford Street. I think it’s because we live in like… an arty area. As horrid as that sounds.”
“Is it an arts university?” Malfoy asked.
“Um, I’m not sure what courses they do or anything, but LCF stands for London College of Fashion, so I guess so. Luna was looking into doing a print course there, but it’s difficult for people with Wizarding qualifications to get into a Muggle university.”
Malfoy frowned. “I never even thought about that.” He sighed, “I was thinking about doing it. Going to university.” He looked at Harry uncertainly, and when Harry raised his eyebrows in encouragement, he continued. “I don’t need to, obviously, since money won’t ever be a problem. I did think-- I thought I might be bored, though, for my entire life, if I didn’t do something. And I always liked learning.”
Harry wanted to fucking hug him, but settled for smiling instead. “That sounds brilliant, I think you should go for it. What course would you do?”
Malfoy shook his head, eyes wide. “See, that’s the problem. I don’t even think I’m qualified to get on a course at university. I mean, the curriculum in Hogwarts was so different to the curriculum in Muggle schools, I looked into it, before you ask. I wouldn’t know anything. However, I think… if I could, then I would be interested in doing History.”
Harry thought for a second. “I could research it for you, if you wanted, how your O.W.L.S would transfer into the Muggle version. There’s probably some sort of certificate you can get, I don’t… I actually have no idea. And then you could go to a college? It’s like a step in between uni and school? Then you could go straight from there into a Muggle university.”
“Ugh, imagine all the revision I’d have to do in order to catch up with my classmates,” Malfoy said, and wrinkled his nose. “Although it’s not as though I have anything else on my plate.” He yawned, and stretched his hands out in front of him. “Are you going back to Hogwarts?”
Harry laughed. “No. I’m not, Hermione wanted us all to, and I think she will, but Ron and I aren’t. They offered us all places in Auror training, like, no questions asked. And I think Ron is taking them up on it, but I couldn’t fucking stand it. I never want to hear another dark spell for as long as I fucking live. So I’m still undecided, still thinking about it.”
“Well, you’ve got a lot of time,” Malfoy pointed out.
Harry nodded, and they were both silent for a minute while they finished their tea. Harry couldn’t imagine what had possessed Malfoy to let him stay here last night, but he was grateful anyway.
He stretched out a muscle in his neck. “Hey,” Harry said, and Malfoy looked up from where he was brushing his fingers over a dent in the table-top. “Thanks for last night. I was such a mess, sorry you had to deal with… all of it.” He made an expansive gesture.
Malfoy snorted. “It wasn’t that bad, you didn’t even throw up. You were basically like Pansy on a good night.”
Harry laughed, not sure if he was supposed to or not, but Malfoy didn’t look angry. “Where is Parkinson, anyway? Wasn’t she here last night?” He thought she had been, but also thought he couldn’t rely on his patchy memory.
“She was, yes. Pansy left this morning to spend the day with her mother. She absolutely hates it, but then I tell her she’s lucky she doesn’t have to arrange appointments to see her family and she feels bad and goes,” Malfoy said, smirking.
Harry wasn’t really sure what to say in response to that. “Don’t you like having her around?”
Malfoy let out a short laugh, “Yes, I do like having her around. She… she doesn’t like it, but also she likes complaining about it. It’s one of those situations where she’d be unhappy without it, I think,” he finished, then frowned. “Also… today was a bit different, I think she was worried about having to talk to you when the both of you were sober, to be quite honest.”
Harry thought about Parkinson standing up and shouting, telling the whole school they should give him up to Voldemort. “It’s not like it made any difference, I gave myself up in the end.”
Malfoy stared at him for a second. “You-- Do you ever think maybe you’re too forgiving, Potter?”
Harry laughed. “No, definitely not. If anything it’s the opposite. With Parkinson though, it was like… one thing out of many possible things that could have killed me, during the war? Obviously it was a bit shit, you know, your classmate wanting to give you up to a dark wizard, but I had to deal with far worse that day. That hour, probably. And it wasn’t… it didn’t seem like a serious threat, I don’t know.” Unlike some of yours, Harry thought, and knew Malfoy was probably thinking the same.
“A bit shit,” Malfoy echoed faintly. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”
Malfoy held up a hand. “Please, please don’t. You have no idea how odd it is to hear you say sorry to me.”
Harry wanted to apologise again, he didn’t even know what for, but he stopped himself.
Malfoy took a deep breath and looked him in the eyes. “I know you’ll probably hate this, but I’m about to say thank you for saving my life, is that alright?” Harry widened his eyes, then nodded. “Thank you, Potter, for saving my life. I’m sure I didn’t deserve it but it was really fucking decent of you to do it regardless.”
Harry was suddenly so sick and tired of being thanked for things like ‘killing someone’ and ‘not letting me burn to death.’
“Of course you deserved it,” he said tiredly, looking across the lawn lit up in the sunshine. “Just because you were-- because you did the things you did, doesn’t mean you deserved to die. Anyway,” he finished, “You saved my life first. So. Thank you.”
“I barely saved your life, Potter. That barely qualifies,” Malfoy said sadly. And Harry hated that he’d made the both of them sad, dragged them into this conversation. He looked at Malfoy’s grey eyes and remembered when he’d seen them up close, looking at him, knowing he could end Harry’s life there and then, but choosing not to.
“You knew, then, that it was me,” Harry said, not really a question.
Malfoy answered anyway. “Yes, Potter, I knew it was you. You were my worst enemy, even if I wasn’t yours, I knew you like the back of my hand.”
Harry closed his eyes, Malfoy was giving this to him so freely, he wanted more. “Why did you do it?”
“Even after everything I don’t think I could have watched you die in front of me. I mean, even if at one point I thought I wanted you dead, I didn’t then,” Malfoy said quietly.
Harry’s insides shrivelled. Malfoy had wanted him dead. He knew that, so why did it feel like this? Like he could barely fucking breathe. And he was a fucking hypocrite, because he’d thought the same exact thing about Malfoy, had almost actually killed him, once. Even if it was by accident.
He opened his eyes, when Malfoy spoke again. “Does it scare you, hearing that?”
“Yes,” Harry told him, honestly. “Of course it does." Everything about Malfoy scared him, really.
Malfoy replied calmly. “We both did really terrible things to each other, Potter, some worse than others, but I’m sick of doing awful things to you.”
It was half an hour later when Harry finally worked up the courage to kiss him, in the front hallway of Malfoy’s house. It had never taken Harry that long to work up the courage to do anything , and he couldn’t decide if that was a good omen or a bad one. Harry had been lacing his shoes up, ready to leave, but then took them off again when he knew what he was going to do. Malfoy was talking about an exhibition he wanted to see and Harry was trying to pay attention but was really thinking about how weird it would be to kiss him when Harry had his shoes on and Malfoy was barefoot. He felt like if their situations were reversed then Harry would be uncomfortable about that. So he stood in his socks on the cold terracotta tiles and hid his shaking hands behind his back and watched Malfoy, who was leaning up against the staircase and gesturing as he spoke.
When Harry said I like you, because he wanted Malfoy to know that, to not have to guess at it, he stopped talking about the exhibition and just blinked, his eyes wide open. Then he laughed, nervously, and said what, and it wasn’t a question. And because Harry couldn’t fucking afford to be less than straightforward about this, he clarified not just as a friend, but also as a person I want to kiss. Malfoy looked fucking terrified, but Harry didn’t even have enough time to worry if there might have been a gentler way to say it when Malfoy pushed off the banister behind him and crowded Harry against the wall. He loved the way that Malfoy believed him, immediately.
Harry’s heart fucking stopped when he felt Malfoy’s hands on his waist, and felt Malfoy’s nose against his neck. He had to rethink everything he’d ever thought about touching someone. He didn’t even have a frame of reference for what was happening right now. Malfoy had never been a person for touching, he had been a person for fighting and duelling, and now they’d forgone that for fucking caresses and Harry didn’t know how he thought he’d ever be prepared for it. Malfoy was irritable and angry and aggressive, and now he was soft, curling his body around Harry’s, melting against him. It was overwhelming, but because overwhelming didn’t mean bad, he wriggled his arms around Malfoy’s waist and listened as Malfoy said this is such a fucking bad idea.
Harry was halfway through saying yes, I fucking know, let’s do it anyway, when Malfoy kissed him, softly. It was weird, how he seemed surprised at first. As if Malfoy had known theoretically where this was going, but didn’t know, up until the exact moment that Harry opened his mouth and put his teeth around Malfoy’s bottom lip and bit down, slowly. Didn’t know how fucking good it would feel, until Harry put his hands on Malfoy’s hips and tugged him closer so that they were flush against one another. Malfoy broke away for a second and gasped, when Harry did that. A proper gasp, one that almost short circuited Harry’s brain with how much he wanted to hear it again, preferably with Malfoy naked and Harry’s hand wrapped around his dick.
He licked into the the inside of Malfoy’s mouth, feeling Malfoy’s tongue against his own, and it tasted like peanut butter and the peppermint tea they’d both been drinking earlier. It was fucking addictive. Harry could literally do this forever, he thought. He could kiss Malfoy until his lips went numb and then keep going. Malfoy apparently thought the same thing, he kept making these little noises in the back of his throat and then cutting them off halfway through, like he didn’t want Harry to hear them. They were both gasping for breath but neither of them broke away until Harry slipped one of his hands underneath Malfoy’s t-shirt to feel the hot skin there and Malfoy groaned and separated them, his hands on Harry’s shoulders. He rested their foreheads together and panted wildly in Harry’s face, his eyes wide and darkened with arousal.
“Terrible idea,” he murmured, and Harry had never thought he would hear Malfoy’s voice sound like that.
“Well I’m not going to fucking talk you into it,” Harry replied, laughing.
“Will we have to call each other by our first names now? Because I’m not sure I can do that,” Malfoy told him, smiling against Harry’s lips. “And you don’t have to talk me into a fucking thing.”
Harry shuddered when Malfoy started kissing his way down the side of his face, open-mouthed and hot, until he reached his neck. Malfoy pulled sharply on the neckline of his shirt with one finger and sucked a deep bruise onto Harry’s collarbone. “This isn’t going to be hate sex. I like you too, this is going to be like-sex.”
“Is that where this is going?” Harry breathed, and felt Malfoy laugh quietly against his neck. “I only ask because I should probably shower, beforehand. Also I’m wearing the same clothes I was last night.”
Malfoy bit his shoulder softly and hummed in acceptance. “I think we should do this another time, then. You can come to that exhibition with me.”
Harry snorted, because it wasn’t a fucking suggestion. “Are we going on a date? Us, on a date?” He whispered.
“It's probably going to be a disaster, are you free on Wednesday?” Malfoy whispered in response.
Potter had left his house in a daze and Draco had felt it. Neither of them had been able to stop smiling, really, although it wasn't as though Draco had been trying to hide it. Once upon a time, he never would have let anyone see him like that. Happy, open, almost vulnerable. Now though, he didn't give a flying fuck. Let Potter look, it was because of him anyway.
Potter had been pressing firm kisses against Draco’s mouth right up until the exact second he had departed, as though he couldn’t get enough. He had looked back over his shoulder, once, swiftly, grinning at Draco, who had been standing on the front steps of his house. Potter’s hair had been whipping in the breeze and Draco had seen him wave, then run a hand through it, scraping it out of his eyes. One kiss, two civil conversations, and Draco had wanted to call Potter back right then and kiss him until they couldn’t even stand up anymore. He wanted to bask in Potter’s presence. As he had watched Potter walk away Draco could still feel his skin buzzing where they’d touched. On his hips, his hands, his lips. For a split second he had thought he’d imagined it, but shook the feeling off when he saw Potter’s shirt ripple as he turned a corner and disappeared out of sight. The shirt Draco had just been holding in his fists.
They had arranged to meet the next day and Draco hadn't been able to imagine why they’d done that, when he was back inside his house and itching to see Potter again, to touch him again. He had gone upstairs to have a shower and had ended up wanking himself off to the idea of Potter’s hands on his body, it had been quick and effortless and had made his legs shudder with the force of it. He had never even thought about it before. Never even allowed himself to imagine that Potter would be interested, and up until the point where Potter had said I like you, Draco hadn’t been interested either. And then it was blindingly obvious. Potter was aggravating and infuriating. And sincere. And fucking brilliant. And then all Draco had wanted to do was be around him, tell him things and listen to him and be with him. It had dawned on him suddenly, of course he wanted to kiss Potter. That was the only logical thing to do here, wasn’t it? It was the next step, it was the end of hurting each other and the beginning of the exact opposite.
“How much do I owe you?” he heard a low voice say, and felt one of the tickets he was holding be plucked out from between his fingers. Draco looked up and saw Potter grinning at him, wide and happy, as though he wanted nothing more in the world than to see Draco's face. This wasn’t going to be awful, he decided right then. This was going to be easy.
“Hm?” Draco said, absentmindedly staring at a lock of Potter’s dark hair that was escaping from the loose bun on the back of his head.
“For the ticket, Malfoy. How much do I owe you?” Potter said slowly, with a lazy smile, and Draco got the impression Potter knew exactly what was distracting him.
“Oh,” Draco snapped his gaze onto Potter’s face, “Nothing.” When Potter frowned in consternation, Draco continued. “It’s nothing because I have a membership. I’m allowed to bring someone in for free, before you get all pissy about not being allowed to pay.”
Potter sucked on his teeth as though he was trying hard not to smile. “I wasn’t going to get pissy,” he said.
Draco raised his eyebrows. “Don’t even try to deny it because I see right through you, Potter. I already know what I’m getting into with... this,” he pointed out, making an encompassing gesture on the last word.
Potter smirked, and Draco hadn’t ever seen anything like it. “Oh? What do you think you’ll be getting into?”
“Shut up,” Draco told him. “I know what I’m signing up for. Splitting bills down to the last penny, twee coffee shops, probably there’ll be small animals involved at some point," he paused. "Dating you is going to be like dating a Greta Gerwig movie,” Draco surmised.
“I love Greta Gerwig. Don’t you dare say anything mean about Greta Gerwig,” Potter said, as though he’d been personally offended.
“Of course you do,” Draco replied easily, “Boys like you always love Greta Gerwig.”
“Boys like me,” Potter scoffed. “Fuck off,” he said, but he was grinning again. “At least my things are all nice. And I don’t mean to be rude but you’re probably the weirdest person in the world to date. It’s just going to be museum after museum after museum, isn’t it? We’ll probably go and look at some ruins at some point, if you’re feeling extra romantic.”
“Well your theory is already incorrect because we’re on a date right now and it isn’t a museum,” Draco pointed out, also smiling. “The ruins though, that’s definitely happening. Tell me, have you seen Stonehenge?”
“No. I am drawing the line at standing stones. Prehistory is the worst . You could at least take me to something medieval. Maybe a nice Cathedral?” Potter said hopefully.
“Don’t worry, I’ll think of something,” Draco assured him.
Potter just rolled his eyes and changed the subject. “So, what’s this exhibition we’re seeing?”
“I was telling you about it the other day,” Draco told him, confused.
And Merlin, this was already going so well, because directly after he finished talking he had the distinct pleasure of seeing Potter blush. “I had other things on my mind,” he mumbled.
And of course, Draco thought. “Other things like making out?"
“Exactly like making out, as it so happens Malfoy,” Potter replied, without a hint of his previous embarrassment. “Just tell me what the bloody exhibition’s on.”
“Tell you again, you mean,” Draco teased, and ducked out of the way, laughing, when Potter went to elbow him. “It’s just the Summer Exhibition, they have it every year. It’s lots of different artists and there’s sculpture and architecture and photography, it’s very good.” Draco paused for a second. “Or… it’s supposed to be very good, I don’t know for sure because for obvious reasons I’ve never been before.”
Potter nodded and looked around the room where they were standing. “This place is quite fancy, yeah?”
“I suppose so,” Draco agreed, “There’s a member’s room, we can go in later if you feel like hanging out with a bunch of old people.”
“Oh my God, Malfoy. I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that this entire time,” Potter said, and it was intensely sarcastic. “Anyway no, I was just wondering because I’m trying to gauge whether or not this is the type of place where we’d be told off for making out.”
Draco widened his eyes. “Making out, yes, definitely. These don’t look like the type of people who would react well to me sucking on your neck,” he said, frowning. “But,” he sighed, feigning hardship, “If you’re asking if you can kiss me then the answer’s yes." And he was trying quite desperately to keep his voice sounding casual.
Potter didn’t reply, just leant over and kissed Draco soundly on the mouth. It was over before Draco could figure out a way to make it last longer. Potter smiled happily at him and Draco wanted to see that look on his face all the time.
“You look good today, by the way,” he said to Draco, offhandedly.
Draco looked down at what he was wearing. His stomach twisted when he thought about the amount of time he’d spent picking out this outfit. The wool trousers, the loose shirt, his second nicest pair of shoes. He glanced up at Potter who was staring at him appraisingly, as though he wanted to eat Draco alive. “Thanks,” Draco replied, “So do you, obviously,” and then blushed pretty much immediately, at that last word, hoping that maybe Potter would miss it.
“Obviously?” Potter said gleefully. No such luck there then. “You think I obviously look good.” But he was flushing as well, and he was teasing but there was no bite to it.
Before Draco could say something like yes, obviously you’re the fittest person I know or have maybe ever seen, Potter kissed him again. He had to tilt his head up to meet Draco’s lips, and his mouth was warm and soft. It was slower than last time, lasted a few seconds longer. Draco tried to imagine where this easy affection had come from and couldn’t find an answer before Potter put his hand on Draco’s neck and his mind went pleasantly blank.
Potter pulled away looking slightly flustered, which was fucking brilliant and an excellent look on him. “We should go and look at paintings now,” he told Draco, trying to be firm but unable to keep a small waver out of his voice.
Draco agreed, because if they didn’t distract themselves soon he would honestly drag Potter to one of the numerous toilets and ravish him in one of the stalls. And he wouldn’t even feel guilty.
They were quiet as they walked around the exhibition space, occasionally Draco would talk about a painting he liked and Potter would nod in agreement and then say something like I don’t know much about art. Which every single time made Draco warm inside with how Potter had nevertheless agreed to come to an art gallery with him. Draco was standing in front of an abstract painting in vivid colours when Potter walked over from where he had been standing on the opposite side of the room. His shoes squeaked on the wooden floorboards and he rested his head against Draco’s shoulder, eyes on the painting.
“Are these all contemporary artists?” he asked quietly, since the rest of the room was relatively silent. There weren’t nearly as many people as Draco had been expecting.
“I believe so. They’re all for sale,” he told Potter, in an equally soft voice.
Draco could feel the movement of Potter’s jaw when he replied. “Do you like this one?”
Draco considered for a second, looking at the canvas in front of them and concentrating on that instead of how Potter smelled like laundry detergent and cloves. “I do, actually. I used to be a huge snob about abstract art. As in, I didn’t think it was real art or whatever. Never mind what I thought about portraits that didn’t move. This particular one is lovely, though.”
Potter nodded his head in agreement. “That doesn’t surprise me,” he said, about the snob comment, but Draco knew he didn’t mean anything by it. And anyway, it was true. “I like the colours,” Potter ventured.
Draco stared at the bright blues and oranges. “Me too,” he agreed. “What’s your favourite colour?” Draco thought he might already know the answer. Potter was such a fucking Gryffindor.
“Purple,” Potter replied easily, and alright, apparently Draco didn’t know. “I don’t like wearing it though, doesn’t suit me.” Draco found that very hard to believe, being that Harry Potter was the type of person who would look good wearing an actual bag of rubbish. “What about you?”
Draco hummed, stalling. He considered trying to get away with a lie but then caught himself and said “Green, actually. But not Slytherin green, kind of a nice sage green, do you know what I mean?” quickly, before it could fully sink in.
Potter nodded against him, and obviously didn't give a shit about what a massive cliché Draco was. “I always hated Slytherin green, it reminds me of like… horrible satin curtains or something.”
Draco snorted. “I think they wanted it to be elegant but I find it so tacky. Also, I detested wearing it when we were at school, it washes me out like you wouldn’t believe.”
“You remember I went to school with you, right?” Potter asked.
“What? You did? Were you in my year? What house were you in?” Draco let the sarcasm seep into his voice.
Potter huffed in laughter and Draco felt the brush of it against his neck. He shivered. “Gryffindor, but that one was a close call.” And Draco had no idea what that meant.
“The sorting hat wanted to put me in Slytherin,” Potter said, then raised his eyebrows when Draco jerked his head sharply around to watch his face, looking for a lie. “Okay first of all don’t look at me like that, and second of all the hat only said I’d do well in Slytherin or… something similar, I can’t exactly remember.”
Draco frowned. “You’re serious," he said, then snorted when Potter didn't say anything. Of course he was fucking serious. Could Potter even lie?
"How could it have thought you’d be good in Slytherin?" Draco wondered aloud, "We’d have eaten you alive.” It might have been worse than eating alive, now that he thought about it.
Potter hummed noncommittally. “I don’t know, I don’t think it would have been as bad as all that. But I loved Gryffindor, I’m glad I chose it.”
And Draco’s mind was fully blown. “What do you mean?” he asked, kind of hating how curious he sounded.
“I mean like I literally asked to be in Gryffindor and the hat was like sure thing, whatever you want man. Whenever I tell people they think it’s really strange but I didn’t even realise it was that out of the ordinary until I told Ron and Hermione and they said it wasn’t at all like that for them,” Potter finished, shifting his head so that it lay more comfortably against the soft material of Draco’s shirt. Their arms brushed together and Draco succumbed to the urge to hold Potter’s hand. He threaded their fingers together, it was so much easier to talk to each other when Draco could feel Potter warm against his side, could remember how it felt not to touch him. It made Draco want to do everything in his power to keep Potter here and with him and pressed up against him.
“Do you want to go and get something to eat after this?” Draco asked after a few more minutes of comfortable silence as they moved between rooms. They were looking at a perspex architectural model and Potter was bending down to peer into one of the tiny windows. He hadn’t let go of Draco’s hand.
He straightened, then tugged gently on Draco so they could cross around to the other side of the model. “Yeah definitely. I’m starving, I didn’t eat today because Luna and I haven’t been shopping in ages and the only thing in the house was some curry Neville didn’t eat last night.”
“What kind of curry?” Draco asked, inspecting a tiny copper wire tree.
“I think it was a chicken Balti, but I can’t eat that because I’m a veg,” Potter replied absently, already wandering towards the next model, this one a tiny high-rise populated with tiny model people.
“You’re a what?” Draco laughed.
Potter frowned, as though he was mentally replaying everything he’d just said. “Oh shut up,” he said after a second. “I’m a vegetarian .”
“I didn’t know that,” Draco told him, which, obviously he didn’t know that. Why the fuck would he know that? They hardly knew anything about each other. “When did that happen?” he asked.
“I don’t know why you would, ” Potter grumbled in reply. “Meat eaters are the worst,” he said, rolling his eyes. “No I’m fucking with you, it was only when I moved in with Luna, because she’s one and I felt awful about cooking bacon in her house. And now I like it.”
“Hm,” Draco said. “I don’t know if I could, raised on meat and all that,” he gestured with his hands.
Potter laughed, “I was too though. Well, in Hogwarts I was.” Which Draco didn’t quite understand. He didn’t have time to ask about it before Potter was hurriedly saying “Do you know any good restaurants around here?”
Draco frowned.“What kind of food do you like?” he asked, distracted, because he did, but he didn’t want to take Potter somewhere he might not enjoy.
“Um… anything really,” Potter replied, which was pretty fucking unhelpful. He must have realised that though, because he elaborated a second later. “My favourite is Lebanese food, they have some really good stuff. There’s this one thing, Batata Harra? Have you ever had it? It’s potatoes and peppers with spices and it’s so good. And then just… anything. Pasta, pizza, sushi, you know, the usual stuff,” he explained, with a wriggle of his shoulders. Draco wanted to put his hands on them.
“Do you speak Arabic?” Malfoy asked, surprised, when Harry thanked the waiter by saying shukran. Then Harry laughed because that phrase was like, the second thing he had learned after hello, my name is.
“No. Oh my God, no. I’m trying to learn it though, but it’s really, really difficult. I’ve sort of given up hoping I’ll ever be able to write it. Being able to hold a conversation would be good though,” he said, as he raised his eyebrows and smiled briefly at the waiter who had put a mug of hibiscus tea in front of him. He watched as Malfoy did the same, eyes grateful.
“How are--” Malfoy started, and then abruptly cut off, coughing, when he took a sip of his drink. He made a face, “Potter, this is fucking horrible, I’m sorry.”
Harry started laughing and pushed the dish of sugar over to Malfoy’s side of the table. “You need a shit-load of sugar in this. Like, three teaspoons minimum, would be my advice.” Malfoy started loading sugar into his tea and Harry looked around him at the walls of the restaurant. “This place is nice,” he said, staring at a dark green plant that stood out against the orange walls. Luna would like it here.
Malfoy made a noise that sounded like agreement. “I’ve never been before but I pass it all the time. Pansy has, though, and she said it was good." Malfoy stopped talking as he took another sip of the improved tea, humming in contentment. "Although I think she had something with beef, so I hope the vegetarian food is as nice,” he continued, looking at Harry in a worried manner. Which possibly made Harry melt a tiny bit inside.
"Middle-Eastern food is usually quite good for it, actually. Plus I’ll basically eat anything with hummus in it,” he told Malfoy, skimming his hand over the shiny surface of the wooden table.
Malfoy wrinkled his nose, “I had caramelised onion hummus the other day because it was the only type left in the shop, and it was the most repulsive thing I’ve ever tasted.”
Harry laughed. “Yeah that sounds rank,” he agreed, “But I hate the kind that has those flavours in it, except maybe the lemon and coriander one, have you had that?”
Malfoy was about to answer but then leaned back slightly from the table so that his meal could be placed in front of him. “Thank you, this looks amazing,” he told the waiter, and then paused until they were alone again before saying “Yes? I can’t really remember though, usually I get the nice one with the whole chickpeas in it.”
“Oh!” Harry said, changing the subject. “I did that thing, I talked to someone in the Ministry and it turns out they have an agreement with the Muggle government that you can get fake documents saying you got GCSEs if you want to go to college. How weird is that?” he said, through a mouthful of halloumi. “That they will forge documents for you. Anyway there’s this form you fill out, and you send them your results, and they’ll do it for you. The guy I spoke to said it would take something like three weeks, which is loads of time if you want to get into a college this September.”
Malfoy put his fork down, frowning. “You’re joking,” he said flatly. And Harry couldn’t think why he would be.
“No…” he said, slowly.
Malfoy shook his head. “I talked to one of my case workers about it and she told me they only do it in special cases, and that I wouldn’t be a special case. That’s actually what she said, verbatim,” he said, sounding confused.
And Harry was trying to remember now exactly what the person he’d spoken to had told him, if maybe he’d remembered it wrong, but no, he’d taken notes and everything. He got out his phone and let out a tiny shocked noise when it turned out there was almost full battery. Neville must have put it on for him. Malfoy raised his pale eyebrows, questioning. Harry scrolled to a photo he’d taken of the page in his notebook with all the information from the call. He angled it so that Malfoy could see.
“I wrote down exactly what they said, there’s a number you can call,” he said, pointing. “And there’s the name of the person I spoke to, they were really helpful. Maybe you should just go around your caseworker?” Harry mused.
Draco bit his lip softly, and Harry remembered when he’d had it in his mouth. “I just don’t understand why she wouldn’t tell me. It’s bullshit.”
Harry wrinkled his nose, “I know. I mean, I think I know why she didn’t, obviously. But it’s still fucking unfair and awful. You could complain, maybe get a new one?” He suggested, not really thinking that Malfoy would ever do that.
“She didn’t tell me because I was a Death Eater, you mean,” Malfoy said, looking down at his plate intently.
And Harry nodded even though Malfoy couldn’t see. “Yeah, I think so. It’s not the type of thing someone can…” He paused, lost for words, but Malfoy was shaking his head.
“Don’t, I already know. I’m not going to say anything, I’ll just go straight to the other department,” he said, then visibly regrouped, sitting up straighter and digging around in his backpack. He pulled out his phone. “Will you read out that number?” he asked, then glanced up and smiled softly once Harry had told him. “Thanks for doing that, you didn’t have to.”
“Well it would have been shit if I hadn’t, wouldn’t it?” Harry said, not quite sure if they were at the joking-about-it stage but going for it anyway.
Malfoy just stared at him, long enough for Harry to start feeling self conscious about it. “Come to mine after this,” Malfoy suggested. And Harry felt his face heat at the implication. He nodded, and saw Malfoy’s eyes soften around the corners.
They were kissing before Malfoy even opened his front door, fumbling with the keys while Harry licked into his mouth. Neither of them could fucking wait. He backed off a little bit when Malfoy made a noise of frustration, and pressed firm kisses against the corner of his mouth instead. They smiled against each other's lips when Malfoy fucking finally got his front door open and pulled Harry inside by his wrist. Once the door was closed Harry found himself being pushed up against it, Malfoy mouthing at his neck, his jaw. Harry wanted to crawl inside Malfoy’s body and live there. He felt breathless, both at the making out and at the fact that him and Malfoy were on the same page. They finally wanted the same things, and it was going to be brilliant.
“Here?” Malfoy panted. “Or the living room?” He licked the skin under Harry’s ear. “Or my bedroom?” He bumped Harry’s nose with his own, and how the fuck was Harry supposed to do things like think and form sentences when that was happening?
“Um,” he tried. “Fuck.” Because Malfoy had just bitten gently at the junction of his neck and shoulder. “Your bedroom?” Which was a nice thought, but it wasn’t as though they would actually make it there. Not at this rate, anyway.
Harry was proven wrong when Malfoy pulled away abruptly and led him up the stairs as though he hadn’t just had his hand in Harry’s back pocket, hadn’t just been cupping Harry’s arse and breathing heavily against his skin. They reached a room Harry had never been in, hadn’t ever even seen inside. He didn’t get a chance to properly look around before Malfoy flopped backwards onto his all-white bedspread and pulled Harry down to lie on top of him, promptly putting his hand back in the pocket of Harry’s trousers and grinning like it was such a fucking pleasure to have Harry here.
“You’re really fucking fit,” Malfoy told him, sounding hardly very breathless at all. Harry wanted Malfoy to swear maybe around fifty percent more, because it was obscene, listening to Malfoy say words like that in his posh-as-shit accent. “How did it happen?” Malfoy wondered out loud, sounding honestly bemused. “Seriously? When did it happen? How did I miss it? Take these off,” he said, about Harry’s glasses, apparently. And he didn’t even wait for Harry to answer before Malfoy gently removed them from Harry’s face, frowning. “Fuck. Better.” His words were punctuated with a kiss on each of Harry’s now-exposed eyelids. “Merlin, I like you so much,” he breathed, eyes closed, as though he wanted to tell Harry and not tell Harry at the same time.
Harry smiled and moved his head backwards to survey Malfoy, who opened his grey eyes widely, blushing. “I like you too,” Harry said, “Obviously.” Malfoy rolled his eyes then, at that, but he had this pleased little smile on his face that Harry wanted to see forever. “You’re really beautiful, obviously,” Harry said, sincerely, and Malfoy just took a shaky breath in, saying nothing. Harry kissed him again on the lips, slowly and gently, and Malfoy moved his hands from Harry’s back pockets to his waist. He circled his fingers over Harry’s shirt for a second, before dipping underneath and rucking it up so that he could get his palms on Harry’s skin.
Harry had never felt so fucking good about anything the way he felt about Malfoy’s white hair splayed out on the duvet underneath his skull. Harry put his hand on the back of Malfoy’s neck, just above the collar of his shirt, and smiled at the velvet feel of the short hair there. Malfoy smiled back, broad and easy, and Harry thought this might be the nicest thing he’d ever done.
He lost track of time somewhere between Malfoy stripping both of their shirts off and Malfoy slotting their hips together, moving up against Harry in small circling movements, both of them panting for breath. He could feel Malfoy, hard, pressed up against his own erection. Harry braced one hand at the side of Malfoy’s face and leant back some, getting a better angle.
“We should take our clothes off,” Malfoy said, almost firmly. Harry didn’t think he could form a proper sentence at this point, instead he just nodded and moved to unbutton his trousers, pulling them down his legs and wriggling his feet out. He’d had to roll off of Malfoy to achieve that last part and used his new vantage point to watch Malfoy strip. His skin was pale and the light blonde hair on his legs was glittering in the sharp sunlight. Harry put his hand on Malfoy’s calf, which shivered slightly at the touch. They stared at each other, Harry’s hair had loosened from the tie on the back of his head and was spilling over his face, he felt wild, every bone in his body felt heavy with anticipation.
“What do you want?” Malfoy asked, in a whisper, and rolled Harry over until his back was pushed against the mattress, a warm body pushed against his front. And Harry wanted everything, but he thought that Malfoy meant specifically now and sex-wise. And then he tried really hard not to say you, even though it was true.
Malfoy brushed a strand of hair out of Harry’s face, dragging his warm fingertips over Harry’s forehead. Harry leaned into it. Which was when he saw the Dark Mark, standing out against the otherwise delicate skin of a white forearm. Malfoy froze and started to pull back, which was so far away from what Harry wanted right now.
“I knew it was there,” he said, for lack of anything better, and because he wasn’t going to say it didn’t matter. Or that it was just a scar like any of his. And he wasn’t going to pretend the tattoo didn’t scare him a little bit.
Mafoy closed his eyes. “It’s different.”
“I know,” Harry said, “It’s not exactly easy to look at, but seeing it doesn’t change how much I want you.”
Malfoy blinked his eyes open at that and studied Harry's face. He seemed to find something he wanted there, in Harry’s eyes, because Harry’s mouth was quickly caught in a burning kiss.
“What do you want?” Malfoy repeated, more desperately this time. “Because I’ll sort of do anything,” he told Harry sincerely. Harry took a deep breath in, filling his lungs with the scent of Malfoy’s shampoo, the pear he’d eaten earlier, clean sheets.
“I want you to fuck me,” Harry leaned in, and said against his cheek. Maybe it was too soon for that and maybe Malfoy wouldn’t want to. But all he could focus on was the thought of being filled, of having Malfoy inside him, of hot hands on his hips. “Or…” he paused, looked at Malfoy’s soft lips, imagined the opposite, the heat of Malfoy’s body, opening him up, making him fall apart. “Or the other way, I’m not too worried about which of us does the actual literal fucking,” he decided.
Malfoy looked bereft, when he said “I don’t have any condoms. I really fucking want to, either of those things, both of those things, but…” He trailed off, and Harry tried to rearrange his brain for long enough to think about what those words meant.
“We can’t use protection spells,” he realised. Malfoy shook his head silently. “That’s okay,” Harry assured him. “There’s really so much stuff I want to do with you,” he said, with a smile, and felt a hot spark of pleasure when Malfoy simultaneously blushed and ground his hips, once, deeply, against Harry’s.
It was an indeterminate amount of time later that Harry found himself kneeling over Malfoy, who was sprawled back on the mattress, legs parted, with one hand on the soft skin of his stomach and the other hand steadily working Malfoy’s dick. Which was nice, currently red and flushed and hard, Harry thought. And Malfoy was nice too, moaning softly with one hand stroking absently through Harry’s hair, hair that had recently come undone. He arched his hips and Harry took more of him into his mouth, his length heavy against Harry’s tongue. He pulled off messily, licking a wet stripe onto a prominent vein on the underside of Malfoy’s dick. He pumped his fist and listened as Malfoy gasped, and said his name. Fuck, and Potter, and there, and no, oh my god, the other there, and yes. Harry had just sucked one of Malfoy’s balls into his mouth triumphantly when Malfoy went non-verbal, communicating solely in soft grunts and aborted moans. It was all very weird, seeing him like this. Also brilliant, and the hottest thing Harry had ever done.
When Malfoy was about to come, he fluttered his eyelids and stretched his ankles out, flexing his feet. He also tapped Harry on the shoulder with his whole hand and said I want to come in your mouth. Which Harry felt he could definitely accommodate. When Malfoy actually came, it was amazing. He arched his hips off the mattress, made this long, broken, sound that Harry would probably be hearing for the rest of his life, and spilled thickly onto Harry’s tongue. Which wasn’t excellent , because it tasted gross, but also was excellent, because it was Malfoy, and because Harry had made it happen.
When Harry came it was onto Malfoy’s stomach, to a continuous refrain of yes, Potter and come on, Potter and you look so fucking good like this, I want you to come on me. Malfoy was wanking him firmly and Harry had rested their foreheads together so he could stare into his eyes like a fucking nerd. Malfoy was smirking and contented-looking, watching Harry’s lips part as he gasped and asked, “Can you do that--” talking about a wrist flick Malfoy had done a second ago that had made his legs weak. Malfoy could, and he did, until Harry couldn’t think anymore. His orgasm was slow, sweet. It started in the base of his spine and spread until his whole body was humming, until his blood felt like it was made of syrup, until his limbs were shaking and all he could focus on was the feel of Malfoy’s hand around his dick, the other on the small of his back. Malfoy kissed him gently on the temple and whispered that’s it, that’s so good .
And Harry hadn’t ever really been verbally encouraged into an orgasm before, but it was sort of brilliant, actually. Harry loved hearing Malfoy talk about how much he wanted it, how much he wanted to make Harry feel good. It was like magic, between them. Easy as breathing. Something Harry didn’t think he would ever get enough of. He collapsed bodily onto Malfoy, who let out a huff of surprise but still snaked his arms around Harry’s waist and pulled him closer, smearing come between their bodies. Which was going to be so fucking nasty to deal with later, but apparently neither of them wanted to move away from each other for long enough to clean up. Malfoy hummed into Harry’s neck, against a lovebite he’d left there as they’d made their way upstairs earlier.
Harry thought back to the last time he’d done this with a guy, then the last time he’d done this with a girl. It had been good, although it had always been good for him, luckily, but it hadn’t been like this. It hadn’t ever been in sunlight so bright that Harry could see every single detail of the person, even without his glasses. It hadn’t ever felt like this, like the easiest thing he’d ever done and the most serious thing he’d ever done, all in the same moment. A lot of the time he’d been tipsy, there had been things like rooms spinning and do you want to come back to my halls? And it had been fun, obviously, but he’d never imagined how much more fun it would be like this. Middle of the day, alert and wide-eyed, mostly silent except for the sound of traffic outside and their low sentences.
“You should stay,” Malfoy said into Harry’s hair. Harry smiled, because Malfoy was lovely, wasn’t he? How could someone be both so terrible and so fucking lovely?
“It’s like, two in the afternoon,” Harry told him, and smiled again when Malfoy just nodded. “Do you want to sleep?” Harry asked.
Malfoy groaned deeply and snuggled further down into the mattress, “I want to do that again, right this second,” he sighed. “Practically speaking though, we should have a shower.”
Harry hummed in agreement, for both those things. He didn’t move though, because this was maybe the most content he’d felt in a really long time and he wanted to lie here being soft for a little while longer. Malfoy wriggled until his face was at Harry’s collarbone and then kissed it, once, twice, gently. Then he fell asleep.
“Malfoy,” Draco heard, and felt a hand on his bare upper arm, shaking him gently awake. He blinked blearily and squinted in the near-darkness at Potter, who was currently kneeling on the bed next to Draco and holding a phone to his ear. Draco shifted minutely under the warm duvet and turned his head into the pillow, utterly unprepared for how attractive Potter was looking right now, all… dishevelled and glow-y.
“Yes?” He sighed, trying to burrow his face as far as it could go into the soft sheets. “What time is it?” Draco asked, voice muffled. And Merlin, Potter was here, wasn’t he? They’d had sex, and it had been brilliant, and Potter had stayed afterwards, even though it had been mid-afternoon and probably had stuff to do. Maybe had stuff to do. Surely had something else to do that wasn’t laze in bed with his former mortal enemy.
“About eleven,” Potter whispered, which was nice but also pointless, because Draco was already awake, wasn’t he. “At night,” he clarified after a small pause.
Draco snorted and didn’t say anything. Of course at night. It was dark out, wasn’t it? He lifted his head momentarily from the pillow to check, yes, definitely night time, before slumping back down again.
“Why am I awake right now?” He heard himself ask, not unreasonably.
“Well…” Potter said, “It’s a bit weird…” Then he trailed off and apparently couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Draco was honestly about one hundred percent too tired for this odd, mysterious, ambiguous Harry Potter, and Draco had mind to tell him so. Also he needed a shower -which was mostly Potter’s fault- so Draco wasn’t exactly feeling very endeared towards him right now. Except he was, actually, due to the aforementioned fact that they’d just had sex. That afternoon. And also due to the fact that Draco was having very warm, wriggly, feelings towards Potter at the moment. Feelings that made him want to drag Potter into his bed and cuddle him until he shut the fuck up.
Instead though, he just asked “What in the world does that mean, Potter?”
“Yes, I’m telling him right this second,” Potter said, which Draco suspected might have been directed at the phone attached to his ear. Then, “There’s a lunar eclipse,” Potter informed someone, probably Draco. And now Draco had to answer.
“Alright,” Draco said, determined to try and ignore Potter until he just came the fuck out with whatever it was he wanted.
“Luna wants to know if we want to go and watch it, she and Nev are going up to the Heath, to the observatory there,” Potter said quietly.
Draco moaned. And then moaned again for good measure because he had been fucking right, hadn’t he? About the dating-Harry-Potter thing? Because now Harry Potter, whom he was dating, wanted to go and stargaze with him. Fine, Draco thought, this is just something I’ll have to come to accept, isn’t it? ‘Weird shit’ is just something I’ll have to come to terms with.
“Let’s watch it from my roof,” Draco suggested hopefully, not exactly expecting Potter to be very eager about the idea. He had to try though, because Bargaining and I’m a Malfoy and Having the upper hand and all that rot. If Draco properly thought about it, he found the idea that he might be the one with the upper hand in whatever this was to be absolutely laughable. It was Potter, really, who had Draco wrapped around his fucking pinky. Because right that second Draco was deliberating what coat he would wear, and wondering about how cold it might be outside, and what tube line would get them there fastest.
“Yes!” Potter said, really bloody enthusiastically, and alright then, the roof it was. “That sounds amazing,” he continued. “Are you sure we’ll be able to see it?”
Draco definitely wasn’t. “No…?” he replied.
Potter snorted again. “Good enough,” he said, and slithered off the sheets into an upright position. As he circled around to Draco’s side of the bed he said “Did you hear that?” into his phone, and then paused, and then “I’ll see you tomorrow, love you, thanks for the tip.”
Potter hung up and chucked his phone onto the bed beside Draco’s toasty, duvet-clad feet. “Earlier was brilliant,” he whispered happily. And although Draco hadn't the faintest idea which part Potter was actually talking about he was inclined to agree anyway, about the whole lot.
“Ugh,” Draco said instead. “It was fine.”
“Shut up,” Potter grinned. “Let me onto your roof,” he said, and kissed Draco on the forehead. On the fucking forehead. Draco very much wanted to cry with happiness but thought that might A) be very uncouth, and B) scare Potter off.
“You make it sound so romantic,” Draco grumbled, before pushing himself up and the duvet to one side, not missing the appreciative way that Potter’s gaze raked over his naked body. He smirked, and Potter, apparently done with things like being coy, or blushing, just smirked back. The prat.
“It’s not going to be romantic, Malfoy. It’s going to be very scientific,” Potter said, as he handed Draco a pair of pants to put on, watching as he did so. Potter was already dressed, in the same trousers he’d been wearing earlier, and the same shirt, which was peeking out of the collar of a very warm-looking jumper. Goodness knows where he’d got his hands on that, because Draco certainly wouldn’t own anything in such a ghastly colour. Sludge, is what he would describe it as. Although obviously Potter was pulling it off.
“Tell me literally one fact about astronomy and I’ll give you five Galleons,” Draco said, rifling through a chest of drawers for his most comfortable sweater. He rethought that last bit. “Fuck, no, pounds. I’ll give you five pounds. Quid, if you will,” he finished, tugging something black and soft-feeling over his head.
“I would, maybe,” Potter mused. “But you certainly shouldn’t. Not with your accent.”
“What’s wrong with my accent?” Draco asked, looking up from pulling on a pair of socks. “I have a lovely accent.”
“No, no, you do,” Potter assured him, and Draco deflated slightly. Of course he did. No need for a panic. “It’s just very incongruous when you say things like quid, or… I don’t know. There’s others, I can’t think of them right now.”
Draco raised his eyebrows, “Incongruous,” he echoed, “Good word.”
“Thank you,” Potter allowed. “Two things, though.” And Draco braced himself. “Firstly, five Galleons is a lot different than five pounds, and you know it. Secondly, Earth and Mars are the only planets with tectonic plates. So you owe me a fiver. I’ll take pounds because I’m nice.” He smiled.
“The only planets that we know of,” Draco pointed out, and watched, fascinated, as Potter’s eyes widened.
“Have you ever got high?” Potter asked, “Because I feel like you’d be really good at it, you already have the requisite topics of conversation all lined up.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Draco informed him. Potter snorted unattractively, but Draco still held his hand when he led him out of the room. “Roof time,” he said. “You’d better make this good, Potter.”
“How the fuck am I supposed to make a Lunar eclipse good?” Potter asked. “It’s maybe the thing in the world I have the least control over.”
“Not my problem,” Draco said, and thought of Pansy. That was her favourite saying. She was so great, getting out of his hair when he wanted to have gentleman callers over. Or the equivalent of gentlemen callers, he allowed. But specifically, Harry Potter.
He was probably going to buy her something really nice, for that. Because she actually was a bloody saint, wasn’t she? For putting up with this whole ridiculous situation. Draco and Harry Potter. Harry Potter and Draco. Draco didn’t think he would ever get any more used to the idea than he was in this exact moment. Which happened to be not at all.
When they finally got out on the roof -Potter being of no use in the attic, almost as if he’d never opened a dormer window in his life- they slid along the cold slate tiles until they reached a bit of flat roof that was out of sight of his neighbours windows. He and Pansy had tried to brighten it up a little, put a few potted plants out there and such like, as well as a tomato plant that was doing extremely well considering Draco never remembered to water it. He inspected it, tuning Potter out as he waxed rhapsodic about how bloody brilliant this all was. The fruit was almost ripe.
He held his hand out to Potter. “Smell,” he instructed, and rolled his eyes when Potter looked at him apprehensively. “Don’t be a prat,” Draco sighed.
“Oh my God, I love that,” Potter said, when he caught the scent of the vine on Draco’s outstretched fingers. “It reminds me of cooking when I was younger.”
Draco smiled. “It reminds me of home, we had a lot of different varieties in the greenhouse at the manor. When we were small Pansy and I always used to sneak out there in between meals and steal them.”
“How long have you know Pansy?” Potter asked, situating himself beside some daisies and leaning back against the slanted roof, watching the sky. Draco gazed upwards as he answered, looking for the moon.
“Since we were little. Our parents were friends, so we had playdates together and things like that,” he said, leaning out over the side of the roof to look in the direction of the city. Draco saw it then, glowing low and heavy over the tops of the nearby buildings. He lay down on his back and rested his head on the parapet, then gestured for Potter to come and lie beside him, wishing desperately for a cushioning spell.
“I don’t have any friends from when I was that age,” Potter told him, lying down, making Draco’s muscles tense every time an errant limb brushed against him. He put his head next to Draco’s and made a satisfied noise at the view. “My oldest friends are literally Ron and Hermione, and that’s only by default because I met them first. Oh, and Neville, actually,” he paused, “Gin, as well, I met her then.”
“You met me that day, too,” Draco pointed out, a little bit hurt, a little bit unsure if he should be or not.
“No,” Potter laughed, and Draco could feel it against him. “Do you not remember?”
Draco frowned. “Clearly not, since I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he pointed out.
“We met in Madam Malkin’s before school even started, I think we were both getting our robes fitted. You were a tosser, obviously,” Potter said.
“You’re kidding,” Draco replied, although he didn’t imagine that Potter would be. “I can’t believe I don’t remember that,” he mused, thinking back to when they were both eleven, back to when he was still a shitty human being. “I was a tosser most of the time at that age.”
“Yeah. I remember, weirdly enough” Potter said wryly.
“So you’ve known me longer than you’ve known the other two members of your Holy Trinity.”
Potter snorted, “Yeah, if you want to put it like that, sure.”
“I really do want to put it like that,” Draco smiled, “Nothing gives me greater pleasure than putting it like that.”
“Shut up,” Potter said, through a smile, as if Draco would do any such thing.
“So apart from Weasley and Granger,” Draco started, “Who would you say your best friends at Hogwarts were?”
“You don’t know?” Potter said, sounding surprised. And alright, clearly this would be the moment they started talking about just how much Draco had spied on him over the years. Draco instantly regretted his question.
“Of course I do,” Draco told him. “I just thought you might like to tell me. That’s how conversations work, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept.” It was just possible that Potter might be distracted by mild insults.
“Alright, fine,” Potter said, sounding put-upon, which there was really no need for. “I suppose… Neville, and Dean and Seamus. Luna? But that didn’t happen until a bit later. Honestly, it was mostly just Ron and Hermione.”
“Not… Ginny?” Draco asked, feeling a little uncomfortable about bringing up Potter’s ex-girlfriend as if it was a normal topic of conversation. Although… it might be? Draco didn’t have much experience in the area. He wouldn’t mind in the slightest if Potter wanted to talk about Pansy, but didn’t want to assume that everyone felt the way he did about that sort of thing.
“Not really,” Potter answered, slowly, as if he was genuinely considering the question. “We were friendly, I suppose, but never really what you would call friends. She was in a younger year, obviously, and I don’t know. We sort of went straight from being really fucking awkward around each other to being… together.”
Draco bit his lip absently, “Do you miss her?” he asked, because he had clearly taken leave of his senses.
Potter turned to him with an expression that suggested he thought the exact same thing. Then he laughed. “No?” he tried, “Actually, yes, but in a haven’t-seen-her-in-months kind of way. Not because I still want her.”
Draco smiled, slowly, so that Potter could see it. “You want me,” he said, not a question.
Potter rolled his eyes but then said, “Yes,” simply and directly, and Draco felt fuzzy.
“Can I ask you something?” Draco ventured.
Potter laughed and turned his face to Draco’s, dark hair spilling over his forehead. “Yeah,” he said, in the same way someone else might say obviously.
“What… um--” Draco stopped and wrinkled his nose, because he’d already fucked up what should be a really simple question. “Are you gay?” he asked, finally.
“No,” Potter replied easily, which Draco had thought might be the answer, but hadn’t wanted to take for granted. “Are you?”
“No,” Draco answered. “No. I’m bi.”
“Okay,” Potter said, “I’m fine with talking about it, obviously, but was there like, a specific reason you wanted to know?”
“No,” Draco replied automatically, and then winced. “I don’t know why I said that, because there was, actually,” he said, then wiggled his shoulders in an almost-shrug, a parody of a shrug, “I was just… I was interested in knowing which of your friends were aware of it.”
His stomach clenched at how formal that had sounded, but Potter didn’t seem to mind, just said Oh like he was surprised, and then thought about it silently for a second. Draco thought there might be no point assuring Potter that he needn’t answer if he didn’t feel like it. Draco suspected Potter might be getting very good at only doing things he wanted to, considering the circumstances.
“Hermione and Ron know, they were the first people I told. And Gin, and pretty much all the rest of the Weasleys. Nev and Luna know, I told them more recently. Other than that, I don’t think there’s anyone else. It’s not like it’s a secret or anything but… I don’t like telling people, because I hate the way it makes it seem like straight is like… the default setting or something.”
“Right,” Draco said. “Well,” and then, “I agree.”
Potter smiled, “What about you?”
“Well,” Draco said again, on an exhale, and hated the way it sounded as though he was about to monologue when the fact was that his list only consisted of four people. “Pansy, Blaise, Theo. My mother.”
Potter nodded, once and slowly, accepting this information. “Was everyone… okay about it?” He asked, and Draco just knew that what he meant by ‘everyone’ was ‘your mother.’
“Yes, actually,” Draco said, although that wasn’t strictly the truth. Not all of it, anyway. “I think she was just glad that I made it out alive.” Which was closer.
“I have no idea what my parents would have thought,” Potter said. “Everyone tells me they would have been fine with it, which I think is a nice thing to believe, so I do.”
Draco closed his eyes, because even though his mother had said I suppose you can still marry a girl, then, at least he had her.
Potter seemed to sense that Draco wasn’t about to offer any more thoughts on the subject because all he said was, “This light pollution is awful, isn’t it?”
Draco followed his gaze upwards to the orange sky, it was a clear night but there wasn’t a single star visible from where they lay. “You could see the Milky Way from the grounds of the Manor. Barely, and not like in some places, but still,” he said quietly.
“You miss it.”
“Not as much as some things,” Draco said, meaning magic, and my wand, and Hogwarts, and horribly enough, Potter, my father.
“I don’t know how you’re doing it,” Potter said, because even though Draco hadn’t said it out loud Potter had still heard it.
Draco sighed, because he didn’t know either, exactly, it was just something he had to do. “There isn’t an alternative,” he said, after a second of thought, giving the short answer.
“No, I mean… How you’re so calm about it all,” Potter elaborated.
“There isn’t an alternative,” Draco repeated. He didn’t have a choice, in any of it. It was stay calm or go entirely mad, and it wasn’t as though there was any real contest there.
Potter was silent and Draco thought he might be about to do something like apologise, again, and Draco wanted to quell it before they could do the whole ‘it wasn’t your fault’ and ‘no, but still’ thing.
“Are you scared?” Draco blurted out into the silence, before he could stop himself, or think of anything else to say.
Potter looked over in confusion, a stray strand of his hair brushing Draco’s cheek. Draco barely resisted the urge to catch it in his fingers. “Of what?”
“Of this,” Draco said, meaning them. “Of starting something between us?” He leaned his forehead against Potter’s shoulder, just wanting to be close to him, not even pretending to give a shit about the eclipse anymore. Not even bothering to pretend that he didn’t want Potter, desperately. Potter shuffled closer and was a warm weight against Draco’s side.
“I guess so, yeah,” Potter said quietly. “Are you?”
Draco laughed, and it was harsh in the relative silence. “Fucking terrified,” he answered, and he didn’t need to list the reasons why, they both knew them off by heart.
“But we’re doing it anyway, yeah?” Potter asked, like it wasn’t even a real question, like he didn’t even have to think about it. As though all he’d ever wanted was Draco and it hadn’t so much as occurred to him to be wary. Draco looked at Potter then, splayed out beside him, and thought this, this is why. This thoughtless rushing into something because you didn’t have a better reason than it felt good was something Draco wanted to be around, had never understood, had never really felt in himself but loved in another person, loved how it made him seem calm and considered in comparison.
Draco hadn’t really known, before this second, what had drawn him to Potter. Aside from the fact that he was nice, and fit, and was so clearly (so inexplicably) into Draco, and Draco was selfish and wanted someone who wanted him back, and hadn’t known he’d wanted that someone to be Potter until those words in the hallway. I like you. Easy. Effortless. As if liking Draco was a foregone conclusion.
And Merlin, Potter was so fucking nice, wasn’t he? How did he do it? Because right now Draco was having a sudden, familiar urge to just rip them both open and root around in the muck, pull everything awful inside them out into the cold air. He didn’t want there to be any secrets still lurking under the surface, ready to crack through into their lives at an inopportune moment sometime in the future and poison them both, waiting to make them hate each other all over again.
He thought back to that time on the tube when Potter had asked him why he’d done all the things he’d done and Draco hadn’t been able to answer. Because Draco had known what Potter wanted to hear, and hadn’t thought he could bear to see Potter’s face when he wasn’t able to give it to him. Now though, Draco couldn’t bear the thought that Potter might not know something like that about him.
Draco sucked in a deep breath, tucked his face even closer to Potter’s still sleep-warm skin. “You know that I… believed in all of it, right? What Voldemort was doing? It’s awful, but it’s the truth. And it’s the truth, of course, that I was a coward who never questioned anything in his life. Who did what he was told, right up until the fucking end of it. Right up until the point where it made me sick, that I couldn’t even think with how scared I was." Draco paused for a second before continuing. "I just… I want to impress upon you that I wanted to do the things that were asked of me.”
“Don’t,” Potter said, and Draco hated how his voice sounded rough and sad and kind of angry and not at all surprised. He didn’t move away, though.
“You can’t even fucking listen to it,” Draco said bitterly, and he was ruining everything, like he always ruined everything. And what he had really meant was You can’t even fucking listen to it, so what are we doing? If you can’t hear it about me how can you stand to be around me?
“Well why are you fucking saying it?” Potter asked, cutting through Draco’s thoughts. “I mean, most of the time I have little-to-no idea what you’re thinking but this… this is just taking the piss, actually.”
“I want you to know. I don’t want there to be any room for--” Draco stopped talking, thinking of the right way to put it, “Alternative interpretations of my previous actions,” he settled on, and heard Potter let out one short huff of laughter.
“What does that mean?” Potter said, resignedly, and Draco answered even though he suspected Potter already knew exactly what that meant.
“It means that it’s important to me that you know exactly the type of person I was.” Draco said firmly.
Potter sat back a little at that, and Draco itched to pull him closer again. “I’m not going to forget, Malfoy,” he said, and his tone sounded like he was trying not to be cruel. “It’s really not something I’m going to forget.”
“Alright,” Draco said evenly. “Because I don’t want you to go around thinking I’m someone I’m not.”
“Oh my God,” Potter said, wide-eyed, with a hint of amusement in his voice, “There is absolutely no danger of that.”
“I--” Draco looked at him, confused. “Okay?”
“Listen,” Potter said, in a tone that left no room for argument. “I want to ask you something, but you don’t have to answer.”
“Okay?” Draco repeated, and wanted to laugh because he didn’t think Potter would ever make him do anything he didn’t want to do.
“At what point did you stop… wanting to do the things that were asked of you?”
Draco hadn’t not been expecting that, but he still had to pause for a minute to collect his thoughts, find the real answer amid everything in his brain saying lie, he won’t want you if you tell him the truth.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, “I didn’t want to murder anyone, and there were… specific points where I went against what was expected of me,” Like when I didn’t give you up to Voldemort, “But in general? I suppose it wasn’t until after it was all over, until I took a step back and fucking thought about it, you know?”
“Yeah,” Potter breathed, “I think I knew that.” He snapped his eyes to Draco’s. “I get the feeling you have no idea why I like you, and I know you’d never ask me but I want to tell you, anyway. That I tried quite hard not to and I still managed it. I like you, and I think you’re interesting, and attractive, and quite smart, and I definitely don’t think you’re the nicest person ever, but I think you’re decent, now. And I like that you’re trying very hard and questioning the things that you were always told.”
“You like that I try hard,” Draco echoed weakly, literally unable to come up with a single other coherent thought.
Potter shot him a small smile, and continued. “People forget sometimes that I also did things that make me sick to think about. Like…” he shook his head, searching for words, “I don’t even know. Countless fucking things that if I dwell on for too long make me want to crawl under a very soft duvet and never come out. I just think it’s unfair, on both of us actually, to assume that I’m automatically exempt from feeling bad or guilty just because I was on the… right side, or whatever,” Potter said, grimacing, then took a deep breath, and all Draco could do was feel terrible, because it had never crossed his mind that Potter might feel that way.
“We’ve both done some really awful things,” Potter said quietly, “But that isn’t to say that I don’t think we both deserve to be happy, because I do, and I think we could make each other happy. Because I know you, I know the things you’ve done, and I still want you. And because we both need more than someone who’s just going to tell us that we were children, that it wasn’t our fault, that we were both manipulated, that we’re blameless. Some of it’s true, yeah, but really we both made choices and we both had to live with them, and now we’re both trying to be better than we were before. Do you-- Do you get where I’m going with this?”
“Yes,” Draco started, and only took a split second to focus on how Potter smiled, at that, before he spoke again. “You know when sometimes you feel insecure and you want someone to reassure you but you don’t want to ask for it? So you just stew for ages and get angry?”
Potter looked bemused, but he said “Yeah?” nevertheless.
“Okay,” Draco said, “Because I’m like that a lot. Also I’m rude, you probably knew that. And I can be very mean, but I’m trying not to be.”
“Yeah,” Potter said, smiling, catching up. “I can be both those things, also stubborn. And judgemental sometimes.” Draco nodded. “You know,” Potter said, conversationally, as he moved onto his side and pressed a hand flat onto Draco’s stomach, “None of this sounds like anything the old Malfoy would have said.”
Draco stared at Potter unblinkingly. He was lying on the hard roof with his horrible soft jumper and his messy soft hair, sleepy and rumpled, and Draco wanted to touch him, everywhere, and never stop. “I was so fucking tired of being that person, Potter,” he breathed.
“I just…” Draco said, wildly, “I look at you now… and I don’t ever want anything bad to happen to you. I have no idea when I changed my mind about that but I’m so fucking glad I did. It’s like I never want to be mean to you, I don’t ever want to be the person who makes you sad or angry, or who hurts you.” He took a deep breath, slowing down, “It sounds… unrealistic, I know that, but I want it,” Draco finished, not even certain that it was unrealistic anymore. Because Draco wanted Potter. And Draco had said all those awful things and Potter still wanted him in return, hadn’t left, had barely moved an inch.
“I’m glad I changed my mind about you, too,” Potter told him, as he moved to straddle Draco’s thighs, leaning down until Draco’s face was framed with dark hair. “Let’s never be cruel to each other ever again,” he said, then kissed Draco’s cheekbones, one after the other.
Draco slid his hands onto Potter’s warm waist. “Let’s argue with other people, not with each other,” he said.
“We deserve something good,” Potter whispered against Draco’s temple. And Draco believed him, how could he not?
“Okay,” Draco replied, “Okay."
They were in Draco’s bedroom, clothes off, moon entirely forgotten, and Draco was considering. Potter had just offered to go out and buy some condoms, had offered to leave Draco and instead go and stand under the shaky fluorescent lighting in the aisle of a nearby Tesco, clearly recently dressed, recently kissed, to pick out whatever box of Durex he thought Draco might like. So Draco thought he should probably refuse, partly because of that awful visual, but mainly because he wanted Potter with him, on top of him and under him, not on the other side of the room trying to will down an erection so that he could leave the house with minimum embarrassment.
“No,” he gasped, “No, that’s okay. I can--” He cut off when Potter stopped sucking on the side of his neck and started moving down the bed, pressing kisses onto his chest, his ribs, his stomach. Draco could feel Potter’s smile every time it touched his heated skin and Draco was overwhelmed with the thought that he’d made Potter smile, by doing nothing. Draco touched him, hesitantly, running fingers through his tangled hair, gathering it into a loose knot on the back of his head and letting it fall out again, repeating that motion over and over.
Potter grinned up from where he was now mouthing at Draco’s hipbone, his face this fucking close to Draco’s dick, and Draco could barely remember what he’d been saying. “I can buy some, for next time. I should have got some and I don’t know why I didn’t, I suppose it felt silly to assume that that’s what we were going to be doing. But I really should keep some in the house anyway, it’s not as though Pansy’s going to use-- Oh, fuck,” Draco practically whimpered, because Potter had just wrapped his hand loosely around Draco’s dick and kissed the flushed tip, more softly than he would kiss Draco anywhere else, his eyes flickering downwards, his fingertips trailing in Draco’s pubic hair.
“Oh fuck,” Draco repeated, as he watched Potter open his mouth and take him inside properly, and felt the wet heat envelop him slowly, gradually. He arched his back almost unconsciously, spine curling, pleasure sparking across his hips and inside his belly. Potter made a muffled noise of satisfaction, and Draco felt the head of his cock touch the hard roof of Potter’s mouth.
“Is this okay?” Potter asked, when he pulled off with a ridiculous slurping sound that was so hot, and Draco didn’t even know how to answer that, because it was the best thing he could ever remember feeling. “Do you want to come like this?” Potter then wanted to know.
Draco’s cock visibly twitched when he felt the cold breath of Potter’s words against his wet skin. Draco nodded, ready to agree to almost anything, but then rethought immediately and shook his head, grabbing at Potter’s shoulders, coaxing him up the mattress. Because even though a pretty significant part of Draco’s body was literally inside Potter, he still felt too far away. And all of this was quite frankly the most ridiculous, amazing thing Draco had ever done, so he wanted to see Potter’s face when he came, because why not? Draco kissed him, open mouthed and with his hands on Potter’s cheeks, his teeth grazing against Potter’s bottom lip. He felt Potter’s hands in his hair and jerked, slightly, when Potter’s hips dipped down to rest flush against his own.
They moved against one another, breathless, Potter a heavier weight than Draco had imagined. Draco stopped and leaned away, stretching. “Like this,” he said, reaching across to the second drawer down in his bedside table for lube. “Like this,” he said again, as he coated his hand with it, then both of their erections, moving rhythmically upwards against Potter, grinding against him, shocking Potter into a soft moan. “Yeah?” Draco asked with a sharp exhale of breath. “Is this good? You can come like this?”
“Yeah,” Potter said after a minute, “Yes. This is--” he cut off, dropping his head to Draco’s shoulder as their cocks slid together, hands everywhere. “I’m not going to last,” he breathed, “Fuck.”
“I want to,” Draco told him, panting for breath, “As soon as the condom situation has been resolved.”
Potter laughed shakily, “What else do you want to do?” he asked, and put a warm hand on Draco’s arse, pulling their bodies more firmly towards each other.
“Um,” Draco said, trying desperately to think, “I like being fingered? I think--” He cut off, then, because Potter had just come, releasing hotly between them with a barely stifled groan. Draco squirmed against the slowed-down, lazy movements of Potter’s body, desperate for friction, desperate for anything
“One second,” Potter said, and kissed him briefly on the corner of his mouth, “One second, sorry.” And Draco wanted to tell him he had nothing to apologise for but couldn’t, because Potter was wriggling a hand between their stomachs to grip Draco’s cock firmly, biting against the soft skin of his neck. “God, you’re so hot,” Potter murmured, and Draco was inclined to take him at his word.
“Merlin,” Draco said, and laughed, then stopped laughing and moaned, instead. “You, though,” he tried. And he wasn’t making any sense but it was alright, because Potter was wanking him faster, his slick hand making some frankly obscene noises on Draco's hard cock. And he was reaching his other hand down to cup Draco's balls, and Draco was coming, shuddering, spilling over onto Potter’s tight fist. Potter kissed him through it, saying things like look at you, I want to do this again right now, you’re so beautiful. Draco lit up, because Potter was fucking brilliant at this, and he had just realised they could do this all over again any time they wanted. And because Potter was kissing him tiredly, tongue barely inside Draco’s mouth, slow and sated.
“That was so nice,” Potter mumbled, “I like it when you’re nice.”
Draco snorted, “Fuck off, Potter.”
“I mean it!” Potter protested into Draco’s shoulder, “I like doing that with you, you get all… amenable.” Draco rolled his eyes where Potter couldn’t see.
“If you want to,” Draco started, then stopped to stretch out his shoulders, smirking at the look on Potter’s face as he watched. “You can stay the night.”
“I’m really not that tired,” Potter said, slumping against Draco with a smile. “Probably because of how we fell asleep at two in the afternoon earlier.”
“Sorry,” Draco felt like he needed to say, because that had been weird, hadn’t it.
“It’s okay,” Potter said, “I haven’t really been sleeping all that well lately.” He shrugged and stood up, then left the room, emerging a minute later with a flannel that he used to clean Draco off with. “I’ll stay,” he said, and pressed his lips against Draco’s throat. “I have to leave at about nine though, if that’s alright.”
“That’s okay,” Draco replied, rolling onto his stomach to pull his laptop out from under the bed, “As long as you wake me before you leave. Do you want to watch a film?” He asked, already pulling up Netflix.
Potter laughed, resting his head on Draco’s chest and throwing an arm over his waist, “Gilmore Girls is on your list?”
“Do you want to make fun of me or do you want to watch a film?” Draco asked pointedly, “There’s this one with Gwyneth Paltrow as an air hostess that looks objectively terrible. Do you know what an air hostess is?” he asked and settled back against the pillows with the laptop on his stomach, movie already playing, Potter curled against his side.
“What’s up?” Harry asked, yawning widely and joining Malfoy beside a huge wall of TVs, all of which were playing the same garish animated movie in horrifying, deathly silence.
Malfoy jumped slightly then spun around to face Harry, hair flying and a panicked look in his eyes. He honed in on the leather satchel over Harry’s shoulder immediately and flicked the pom-pom keyring with a long finger. “Oh, you know,” Malfoy said, “Not much. This is the worst place I’ve ever been in my entire life and I feel like I’m in hell, but other than that it’s been a slow day.” He kissed Harry on the cheek as if they’d been doing it their entire lives.
“Is it really that bad?” Harry asked, surveying the almost-empty shop floor. He could hear a child screaming in the distance, and the lights in the panelled ceiling overhead were flickering ominously.
“It’s that bad,” Malfoy confirmed, following his gaze. “Thank you for coming, by the way. It’s probably going to be very arduous and I need you around for moral support.”
“Right,” Harry said, trying not to scream with glee at the way Malfoy had just said I need you around. As if it was so easy to tell people that. Harry looked warily at the television sets, they were looking more imposing by the second. “Remind me why we’re doing this? You and Pansy both have computers.”
“Potter,” Malfoy sighed in exasperation and waved his hand in the air vaguely, “Pansy is a somewhat capricious person but I like having her around anyway. She used to be satisfied with the lack of a television in our beautiful home, but now she is not. If getting a television makes her happier then there really isn’t much I can do except to buy one.”
“You’re kind of a sucker,” Harry told him, fingers worrying at a laminated sheet of paper attached to the shelf beside his face that announced an exclusive one-day-only deal. Harry suspected it might have been there for at least a year.
“I know that,” Malfoy said, as though it was something he’d thought a lot about over the years.
“Shouldn’t she be buying it, if it’s her who wants it?”
“Potter, I have more money than I know what to do--” Malfoy cut off abruptly and lowered his eyebrows in dismay. “Oh. Pretend I didn’t say that. That was an awful thing to say. Pretend I said that it just so happens that I have the funds to be able to afford this kind of thing, and Pansy doesn’t.”
“Alright,” Harry said mildly, utterly used to Malfoy sounding like a prat most of the time. Utterly unused to Malfoy realising it.
“I like this,” Malfoy told him, gesturing to the forgotten keyring, distracted.
“Thanks!” Harry smiled brightly, “I made it. Sort of. Luna helped. No, actually, she was in charge. I just picked out the colour. It turns out I’m really shit at crafts, if you can believe it.”
“Well, it’s a nice colour,” Malfoy said, squishing the dark blue wool in his fist absently, “I can definitely believe you’re shit at crafts. Do you want to know something?”
“Always,” Harry said, tugging gently at Malfoy’s fingers until he released the pom-pom, unsure that it would stand up to such rough treatment.
“Oh,” Malfoy said, as if he had only just realised what he had been doing. He let go immediately. “Sorry. It’s ceramics, I’m good at ceramics. Pansy and I took a single class once because she said we needed hobbies, but she was bad so we never went back. I felt as though it would be odd to attend by myself, you know?”
Harry made a noise of agreement. “I’d go with you if you wanted. Apparently unlike Parkinson I’ve come to terms with the fact that I would be producing things of very low quality.”
“She hates clay,” Malfoy said, lowering his voice conspiratorially.
“I don’t know what to say to that,” Harry replied in the same voice, leaning close.
“How can you hate clay? It’s so inoffensive,” Malfoy asked, sounding more distressed than Harry thought the situation warranted. “Sometimes I don’t understand her in the slightest,” Malfoy said, almost to himself.
Harry was familiar with the feeling. “Once, in primary school, we had to make Christmas decorations out of clay, so I made a bell--”
“A bell?” Malfoy interrupted, “Why a bell?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said, frowning, “An angel seemed too difficult? Anyway, I made a bell and we did the whole glazing thing and I made mine purple and it was so awful that when I brought it home my aunt didn’t even let me put it on the tree.”
“Right,” Malfoy said slowly, “You do know that’s quite a sad story, don’t you?”
Harry hadn’t ever really given it much thought before, but he supposed Malfoy was right. And looking back on it now it was clear that the reason Petunia hadn’t let him put a fucking decoration on the fucking tree wasn’t at all because it was a shitty clay bell and was definitely due to the fact that she was a horrible monster of a human being. Dudley’s had gone up and it had been a cowboy boot. A fucking cowboy boot.
Harry sighed, sadly. “It’s only just occurred to me, actually.”
“Okay,” Malfoy said, “Would it make you feel better if I told you about the time I had a flare-up of accidental magic and set an antique dining table on fire when I was seven? It was during Christmas dinner?”
“During dinner?” Harry asked, laughing.
“During dinner,” Malfoy repeated. “It wasn’t even just… the corner or anything.” Harry started laughing even harder at that. The corner. “It was the whole table top. Have you… have you ever seen those photos of an oil spill on fire? It was like that, honestly. All the food was destroyed, there was smoke everywhere. My parents were trying so hard not to be angry because it was an accident, but I melted about fifteen heirlooms in one go.”
“I would have paid to see that,” Harry told him, quite sincerely.
“You’re an arse,” Malfoy said, but he was grinning widely. All white, sharp teeth and sparkling eyes. Harry kissed him on the cheek and watched in delight as Malfoy’s pale skin flushed faintly. “That’s a thing now?” Malfoy asked, “Cheek kissing?”
Harry didn’t even bother to dignify that with an answer. “I feel like I misrepresented my level of enthusiasm for the T.V. thing, because I’ve just now realised that we can have movie nights,” he said happily.
And yes, maybe Harry was feeling a little resentful about the fact that the last four times he’d been to Malfoy’s house they’d resorted to reading Bleak House to each other for lack of anything good on Netflix to watch. It had been dire. Snuggly, and sort of ridiculously adorable, but still.
Malfoy snorted. “What. You, me, and Pansy? Sounds lovely, I’ll call her now and arrange it shall I?”
“Why not?” Harry asked, “I know you send her away every time I come over. It’s weird.”
Malfoy arched his eyebrows and Harry got the distinct feeling he’d said something wrong. “I don’t send her away Potter. She isn’t a disgraced woman that’s just become pregnant out of wedlock in a Victorian novel. She wants to go, I’ve told you she’s uncomfortable with you. And it’s really not your fault, but there’s nothing you can do about it either except maybe give it some time.”
Harry grimaced, thinking about the one occasion on which he’d seen Parkinson since that time at the Heath, as he and Malfoy had been eating breakfast. She’d rattled into the house shouting Draco and to Harry’s utter shock Malfoy had shouted right back at her, Pansy, laughing. She’d run into the kitchen talking about something or other but when she’d seen Harry it was almost as though she’d hit a brick wall. She stopped. Everything. Talking, moving, her face went blank. She’d been doused in freezing water and Harry hadn’t known what to do. Still didn’t know what to do. Because he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, obviously, but felt like if he and Malfoy could get on then surely it wasn’t that much of a stretch to imagine that he and Parkinson could too.
“I just hate that she feels like she has to leave her home every time I come over,” Harry explained, “Maybe you should start coming to Luna’s?”
“Oh, and we’ll just have sex on your sofa, shall we?” Malfoy sounded more disgusted at the thought than was strictly fair, Harry thought.
Harry squeezed Malfoy’s elbow. “No, but we can hang out there, probably. I’d have to check with Neville because he’s over a lot, but Luna’s already said she wouldn’t mind you coming over.”
Malfoy did something then that Harry could only really describe as preening. “She likes me,” he said, sounding incredibly pleased with himself.
Harry was saved from answering -although it would have been in the affirmative anyway- when he heard someone say “Is there anything I can help you guys with?” in the strongest South London accent he’d ever encountered.
Malfoy blanched and then visibly collected himself a moment later. “Yes,” he said, addressing a guy who genuinely looked like he was about seventeen and whose nametag told Harry his name was Liam. “I’d like to buy a television set.” Liam nodded thoughtfully and started walking away.
“Do we follow?” Malfoy asked in a panicked whisper.
“What room’s it going in?” Liam asked them over his shoulder, beckoning for them to walk with him.
“Er,” Malfoy said. “The living room?”
Liam hummed and pursed his lips. “How many people will be watching? Like, what’s the max amount of people?”
Malfoy stared at him, wide-eyed, and Harry was already enjoying this immensely. “Is that important?” Malfoy asked, hesitantly.
“Ha,” is all Liam had to say in response to that. Which was unhelpful but at least succinct.
“I suppose three,” Malfoy told him eventually, when it became apparent that there was nothing else forthcoming. Harry felt a tiny bit smug at that. Movie nights, he thought. He and Parkinson and Malfoy. Three.
“Right.” Liam said, and sucked on his teeth briefly. “How do you side in the the LED versus OLED debate?”
“I have absolutely no feelings on the matter,” Malfoy informed him, and Liam looked personally offended for a second before he could school his features into something more customer-friendly.
Eventually they settled on… something. Harry wasn’t sure. It actually took Malfoy saying listen, pretend I was raised in a cave and have never seen a television until this very moment to get them out of there. In the end it took an hour and a half, and it was raining by the time they escaped, the end of August just setting in.
“Coffee?” Malfoy asked, turning the collar of his coat up to shelter himself from the rain. Harry decided, in sympathy, that he wouldn’t cast an umbrella charm.
“Tea?” He suggested, as he did up the zip on his jacket, since it was late and Luna somehow just knew when he’d been drinking too much caffeine after noon.
“Your housemate is a ferocious woman,” Malfoy declared, heading in the direction of the Costa on the corner, the sign just visible through the drizzle.
“She is sort of right though,” Harry said, wondering internally if it would be alright to cast a wordless warming spell on himself, and if Malfoy would be able to tell. “I have trouble enough sleeping as it is.”
“Yes but I can’t believe she’d go so far as to withhold coffee from you, it’s sadistic.”
“Oh my God I don’t even like coffee that much, it really isn’t that big an issue,” Harry said, almost running to keep up with Malfoy’s abnormally long legs. Malfoy pushed open the glass door and held it for Harry to go in first. “Also, I think what we’re both forgetting is that decaf coffee is a thing that exists.”
“Never had it,” Draco said, staring up at the menu board before taking a handful of change out of his pocket and counting through the coins. “I can’t pay for you,” he said, “I only have three pounds and… seven pence.”
Harry laughed. “Okay... don’t think I’m saying this because I’m trying to get you to pay for me, because I’m definitely not, but you do remember you have a debit card, right?”
Malfoy groaned, “I hate it, I block it out.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Harry said, getting in line behind a guy trying desperately to wrangle his three children.
“I’m used to it,” Malfoy said, and leant sideways to rest almost the full length of his body against Harry. “I just don’t like using them, I can’t wrap my head around how they work.”
“Okay nobody knows how they work though,” Harry pointed out. “No, I’m being serious,” he protested, when Malfoy snorted, “I don’t know how they work, it’s some sort of chip maybe? My point is that you don’t have to know how they work to use them.”
Malfoy sighed deeply and ignored him, which Harry was becoming surprisingly used to. “What are you getting?” he asked, jingling the coins in his palm. Harry looked at the board.
“Um, do you think that peach and coconut smoothie would be gross?”
“Yes.” Malfoy said. “Yes. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
“I’m going to try it,” Harry decided. “And you can’t have any.”
“Well I’m going to get a hazelnut latte and it’s not going to be decaf, and then where will we be?”
“Remember ten minutes ago in the shop when you bought that television and I said that I’d come over on the day it was supposed to be installed in case you couldn’t answer any of their questions?” Harry asked innocently.
“Yes?” Malfoy said warily.
“Well, I’ve actually just realised I’m busy that day, so that’s where we’ll be,” Harry told him, stepping up to the counter to order the smoothie. The woman wrinkled her nose when he told her what he wanted and Harry chose to take that as a sign he’d ordered something interesting.
“That’s just spiteful,” Malfoy told him, poking him in the back.
“You’re spiteful,” Harry muttered as he scanned his card, aghast at the fact that he’d just spent almost a fiver on one drink.
“I know,” Malfoy said, although he didn’t sound that torn up about it, “I don’t even really like lattes that much.”
“You’re a prat,” Harry whispered, but the look on the face of the woman who’d served him said that she’d heard it anyway.
“I’ll have a decaf mocha,” Malfoy told her when it was his turn to order, “Because he’s going to hate that fucking smoothie.”
“It’s disgusting,” she agreed, like she was telling him a particularly juicy secret.
“Hey!” Harry said indignantly, “Why didn’t you tell me that when I asked for it?”
“I’m not going to police your choice of drink,” she said. Which was fair enough actually, Harry thought begrudgingly. “Take-out or drink-in?”
Malfoy laughed, “Drink in, please,” he said, and watched guiltily as the woman started the long process of counting through Malfoy’s small change.
“You’re going to love this,” Harry started, settling into a brown armchair across from Malfoy in the secluded back of the cafe.
“It’s horrid, isn’t it?” Malfoy grinned, gesturing to the freezing cup Harry had just taken a sip from.
“It’s worse,” Harry said, stifling his gag reflex. “It tastes like garbage. I would complain to the management except that I don’t want to.”
“Here.” Malfoy slid his mug across the sticky surface of the table. “Why would you get something frozen when it’s so cold out, anyway?”
Harry groaned in satisfaction when he tasted Malfoy’s drink, watching as Malfoy’s eyes widened. He smirked across the rim of the mug and did it again. Malfoy made to snatch it back but Harry pulled it out of his reach, ignoring Malfoy’s death-glare. “Because I’m a fool?” Harry asked.
“Such a fool,” Malfoy said, “Now give me that fucking drink back.”
Harry took another sip before handing it over. “So,” Harry said.
“So?” Malfoy asked, closing his eyes and inhaling chocolatey steam. Harry kicked him gently under the table, more affectionate than anything else.
“About the movie night thing,” Harry began, and then finished in a rush when Malfoy opened his mouth to say something that would be undoubtedly negative. “I know it’s a difficult situation, but she’s your best friend and I really do want things to be at least civil between us. Like can you just ask her? Say that I suggested it. You never know, she might go for the idea. I could bring Luna round? Maybe Neville would want to come, even. It might be fun,” he suggested hopefully.
Malfoy sighed and put down his cup. “I’ll ask,” he said, then shot Harry a warning look when he grinned in relief. “I’m not promising anything,” he said, “And I don’t know that having other people there would be a good idea, not the first time anyway. But I’ll talk to her about it.”
“That’s all I want,” Harry assured him.
“What about Weasley and Granger?” Malfoy asked after a moment, looking as though he was trying quite hard to get those words out without an insult in the mix.
Harry took a deep breath. “They don’t know about… us,” he said.
Malfoy raised his eyebrows, “I assumed,” he replied, and Harry didn’t even want to know why he’d assumed that, even if it was true. “But that’s not what I mean. Are you going to tell them? Are we going to do movie nights with them? Because don’t get me wrong, that sounds like something I’d intensely dislike, but it works both ways. The getting-to-know-friends thing.”
“Do you want to get to know them?” Harry asked, genuinely interested in what Malfoy’s answer would be.
Malfoy bit his lip worriedly. “I would do it, if it was something you wanted to happen,” he said eventually. “But seeing as though they don’t even know, it doesn’t strike me as something I need to be worried about in the immediate future.” Harry hummed in agreement. “What made you tell Lovegood and Longbottom but not them?” Malfoy asked.
Harry exhaled sharply, puffing his cheeks out. “I haven’t spoken to them? That’s the main reason. Like, I hadn’t talked to them in weeks anyway, but I guess this whole thing has made me more scared to get in contact with them, because I know that I won’t be able to keep it from them.” Harry watched Malfoy as he spoke, unsure of what his reaction might be.
“You’re worried of what they’re going to say.”
“Yeah?” Harry said, “It’s not going to… It’s not going to change anything, obviously, but I’m going to have to do the whole defending my actions thing, which will fucking suck.”
Malfoy snorted. “What do you think they’ll say?” And Harry was so fucking glad that Malfoy hadn’t gone down the you’re ashamed of me route that this conversation could so easily have taken.
“I think they’ll say I’m making a mistake,” Harry confessed, “And I think they’ll probably just tell me they’re worried about me. To be honest,” he continued, “It’s going to also be a matter of time, because they won’t be persuaded just by me telling them, even though maybe that’s all it should take, it’s going to be a case of them seeing for themselves that we’re doing okay, and that you’re--”
“Not a prick anymore?” Malfoy helpfully supplied.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Harry said, smiling guiltily. “Am I allowed to say that?”
“I don’t see why not,” Malfoy mused, “It’s not as though you had a problem with it when we were in school.” Harry scoffed and kicked him in the shin. “You can tell them I said that, if you think it would help,” Malfoy offered.
“What, that you said you used to be a prick?” Harry thought about it, “I mean, I’ll give it a shot.”
“Oh!” Malfoy said, almost spilling his drink with how fast he perked up. “I meant to ask, do you want to come out tonight? I thought it might be fun to go to a club,” he said, handing Harry the still-warm mug.
Harry made a face. “What kind of club?” he asked, taking a long sip, definitely sure that clubs were empirically Not His Thing.
“A pub-club?” Malfoy asked, “Is that the right term?”
“I literally would not know,” Harry told him, but was ignored as Malfoy started tapping his phone screen, and Harry would put money on the fact that he was googling it.
“Huh,” Malfoy said, “Yeah. Pub-club. Club-pub. I prefer the first. It’s just a casual version of a club, there’s not a dress code or whatever. We can just go out for a few drinks. Or if you don’t want to do that, and I can tell from your face that that’s probably the case, I know this really nice cocktail bar in Shoreditch? It’s in an old church, it’s really weird. They play jazz.”
Harry laughed, “Yeah I’d be up for a spot of jazz,” he said.
“Are you making fun?” Malfoy asked, squinting, “I can never tell.”
“I’m not making fun,” Harry told him, truthfully. Although the huge grin on his face was probably undermining his point. “That actually sounds like a laugh.”
“That’s a good thing?” Malfoy questioned.
“S’pose,” Harry replied, propping his feet up onto an empty chair beside him.
“That’s so obnoxious,” Malfoy said, eyes pointedly fixed on Harry’s foot situation.
“Should I take my shoes off?” Harry asked, only partly joking.
“You’re actually a person I hate. You’re that person on the tube who sits with his knees really far apart, or who puts his backpack on the seat beside him when it’s a full carriage. You’re that person on the bus who puts their feet through the gap in the seat in front of them and pokes everyone,” Malfoy said balefully.
“You’ve been on a bus?” Harry asked, but couldn’t hold onto a serious face when Malfoy gave him the middle finger.
“I’ll have you know, Potter, that I’ve been on a bus multiple times. It’s infinitely worse than the tube and I stopped after the incident, but I’ve done it.”
“What incident?” Harry asked.
“Ugh,” Malfoy said. “The incident.”
“Ohhh,” Harry replied, “The incident. I know exactly what the fuck you’re talking about now that you’ve said it in a different tone of voice.”
“Fuck off,” Malfoy said. “I was just about to elaborate, you incorrigible arsehole. I was on the bus in the middle of the day, it was the one that goes to High Street Kens? Stops outside the Ritz? You know the one.” Harry most certainly did not, actually, but didn’t feel like crushing Malfoy’s dreams. “Anyway it was one of the newer ones, with the open bit at the back that you can just hop onto? I just… I fell off one of them. It was really embarrassing, the bus driver stopped to ask if I was okay. Everyone hated that, they were all staring… it was awful,” he finished.
“No,” Harry said, trying desperately not to laugh at the look on Malfoy’s face. “You didn’t, that’s amazing,” he said, snickering.
“There’s just a lot less room for embarrassment on the underground,” Malfoy said, as if Harry hadn’t spoken. “Also sometimes I see actors on there. Once I saw that man from Magic Mike,” he said proudly.
“Channing Tatum?” Harry asked, sitting forward in his seat before slumping immediately back down when Malfoy shook his head sharply, blond strands of hair flying around his face. “Oh,” Harry said, more disappointed than he’d ever readily admit.
“No it was the baby stripper,” Malfoy continued, as though he was making any sense whatsoever.
“Baby stripper,” Harry repeated.
“Yes. The one who gets roped into doing the show, and he’s a child?” Malfoy snapped his fingers, a searching tone in his voice.
“I can’t believe you’ve seen Magic Mike,” Harry told him.
“Of course I’ve fucking seen it,” Malfoy snapped. “One and two actually. Who do you take me for?”
Harry honestly didn’t have a clue, actually. “What’s in High Street Kensington?” He asked, changing the subject.
“Hm?” Malfoy asked, confused. “A lot of things, I imagine.”
“No,” Harry sighed, “You said the bus incident happened when you were on your way there, where were you going?”
Malfoy was nodding before Harry had even finished talking. “My therapist,” he said. “She lives next to Holland Park and runs the practice from her home.”
Harry was genuinely floored. “Fuck,” he said, “She must be fucking loaded if she can afford a house there. The Beckhams have a house there.” He almost missed the way Malfoy deflated slightly when he finished talking, and felt a flash of guilt about his reaction.
“She’s quite well off, yes.” Malfoy said slowly. “I think it’s--” He cut off suddenly.
“You don’t have to talk about this,” Harry said, “We could always just talk about how well-versed I seem to be in the London housing market?”
Malfoy laughed, “You’re suspiciously well-versed in the London housing market,” he agreed. “But it’s alright, I’m just… I don’t really talk about it with anyone, not because I don’t want to but just because not that many people know.”
“Okay,” Harry said.
“She’s nice,” Malfoy said. “She’s a squib. She’s-- It would be difficult for me to go to a Muggle therapist.”
“Because you couldn’t talk about the war?” Harry guessed.
“Because I wouldn’t be able to talk about anything,” Malfoy replied. “I wouldn’t be able to talk about losing magic, I wouldn’t be able to talk about school, home, anything. Except in very non-specific terms, I suppose.”
“So you find it helpful?”
“I don’t know,” Malfoy frowned. “I think so? I think it’s probably good for me to talk about everything that happened with someone who is sort of… neutral about it. Do you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, nodding. “I was thinking about going to a… someone, I don’t know, I have dreams sometimes.” And it was the closest he’d ever been to telling Malfoy everything. He couldn’t imagine what Malfoy might do if told, and that was scarier than knowing his reaction would be bad, Harry thought.
“About the war?” Malfoy asked. Harry shook his head. “Well…” Malfoy said, “Maybe you should look into it, then. I don’t think it would hurt, anyway.”
Harry sighed and rubbed at his forehead with the back of a knuckle, “I think what I really need is a fucking career advisor, actually.”
Malfoy laughed. “Maybe. I think it’s good that you’re thinking about it though, because I think it would be a mistake to rush right into something straight out of school just because you feel like you have to be doing something.”
That was the thing though, Harry hadn’t thought about it. Beyond considering for five minutes if he actually did want to become an Auror or not. Visceral disgust had pretty much been the main the feeling at the idea of it. Horror at the thought of seeing even one more dead body. Fear at the thought of spending his entire life like the year he’d just had. He could imagine it now, being sad and tired and dull all the time. He could imagine growing to hate magic, hate what it could be used for. He thought being an Auror might be the noble thing to do but Harry was tired of that and wanted to be selfish for once. He wanted to do something that would make him happy. He wanted a job that couldn’t fucking kill him.
They stopped at the glass doors of the cafe and watched people struggle through the downpour outside. Harry could feel Malfoy shivering next to him. He took a deep breath. “I’ll come to your house tonight?” He asked.
“Yes,” Malfoy replied, eyes on the rain. “Seven?”
Harry chewed at the inside of his cheek. “Did you want to do dinner, too? I can’t do dinner tonight, can we make it nine instead?” He had promised Luna and Nev that he’d cook that evening.
“Sure,” Malfoy said, and it was blowing Harry’s mind on a daily basis how fucking easy it was with him now. How simple. “I don’t want to do this,” Malfoy stated, pulling a face at the rain-streaked doors. “Which way are you walking?”
He looked at Harry, and when he did he had to tilt his grey eyes downwards. Eyes the colour of the sky outside, the colour of not-yet-winter rain. His hair was still the slightest bit damp from earlier and his cheeks were pink from the warmth. Harry smiled at him and Malfoy smiled back, raising his eyebrows in an unspoken question. Harry shook his head, the tiniest amount, and Malfoy picked up his hand. He ran a thumb over Harry’s knuckles. “The same way as you,” Harry replied, and kissed him lightly. “Do you want to make a run for it?”
Malfoy flashed him that same gleaming smile from earlier and Harry thought about how he might have found it ferocious, years ago, when they were younger.
They came home and slammed doors in their eagerness to get upstairs and under the cool sheets in Draco’s bed. Potter's hands wandered over Draco’s body, searching, until he found his wrists. He held one to his mouth and kissed Draco’s veins. “We’re not ever doing that again,” he murmured, already half asleep and far away. Draco pulled at heavy limbs until Potter was wrapped more closely around him with his head tucked under Draco’s chin.
“Jazz is awful,” Draco agreed. “Go to sleep.”
“You’re awful,” Potter whispered affectionately.
“You don’t think that,” Draco said, so pleased to be confident that it was the truth.
“I think you’re brilliant,” Potter told him, in his last conscious breath before falling asleep. “Not awful at all, brilliant.”
Draco woke in the morning to Potter bleeding all over his clean sheets.
“What,” Draco asked, dazedly, “What the fuck?” He sat up abruptly. Potter was cupping a hand underneath his nose and had a look on his face Draco had never seen before.
“Could you get me a tissue?” Potter asked thickly, and Draco hated that he’d had to ask. He ran to the bathroom. By the time he got back Potter was sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning his shoulders forwards so that he didn’t drip more blood onto the sheets. “It’s okay,” was the first thing he said when Draco handed him the roll of toilet paper. “This happens sometimes,” Potter added, then winced, as if he’d heard at exactly the same time as Draco how un-reassuring that sentence had been.
“That doesn’t sound okay,” Draco said, “That sounds the exact opposite of okay.”
“Fuck,” Potter sighed resignedly. “I know. I know.”
Draco put a hand in Potter’s wild hair. “Will this pass or do you need to go to hospital?”
“It’s a nosebleed,” Potter said sternly. Or at least as though he was trying to be stern. “I’ll be fine in a minute. Come and sit beside me, I want to talk to you about something.”
“Well it can probably wait until you’re finished with the nosebleed,” Draco offered, clambering onto the bed beside Potter and pressing their thighs together firmly.
“Ugh,” Potter groaned. “It might be time-sensitive.” And Draco had no idea how to decipher that statement. He turned his face away and rubbed his cheek against Potter’s bare shoulder blade.
“God, I need to call Luna,” Potter continued, sounding more panicked by the second. Draco wanted to panic with him but thought that might be best saved until he had all the available facts. It was becoming abundantly clear that he was missing some of them right now. Possibly a large portion of them. He didn’t say anything, and they were silent for a little while before Potter spoke again.
“I can see the future,” Potter said, slightly sadly, slightly like he wanted to be anywhere else on the planet instead of here in this room. “Stay here for a second,” Potter then said, as if Draco could ever leave. “Hold my hand,” Potter said, and held one out, and Draco did.
there's a soundtrack! It's also what I listen to while I'm writing this. Thanks for reading, as usual
“I really can’t, Luna,” Harry said, throwing on a clean pair of trousers, “It’s horrible there, you know how horrible it is there.”
“No I don’t,” Luna argued, from where she was leaning against the frame of the bathroom door. “I’ve never been, have I?”
Harry frowned. “Surely you’ve been,” he said, “Everyone’s been.”
“I haven’t been,” Neville piped up, “Sounds gross though so I doubt I’m missing anything.”
“Grimmauld Place is the grossest house in London, I swear to god,” Harry said sincerely. He picked up the full laundry basket and made for the kitchen, Luna and Neville trailing behind. “I’d rather just get them both over here, if that’s alright with the two of you,” he said absently, chucking a liberal amount of laundry detergent into the drum.
“You’ve done that wrong,” Luna pointed out, “Liquid detergent goes in the drawer.”
Harry sagged against the wall and leant his forehead on the cool side of the fridge. “Will it matter?” he sighed.
“Nah,” Neville said, nudging him out of the way, “Anyone want a yoghurt?” he asked. Luna and Harry both wrinkled their noses in silence. “Alright,” Nev said, affronted, “No need to sound so enthusiastic.”
“Go and eat that in the hallway,” Luna said, “I won’t allow that in my house.”
Neville rolled his eyes and peeled the lid back slowly. “So who’s going to call them, then? Bagsy not me.”
Harry wanted to say exactly the same thing, but instead settled for “Are you seven? I’ll call them.”
“Are you sure they’re even at Grimmauld Place?” Luna asked, hauling herself onto the top of the now-on washing machine. “They might be at The Burrow.”
“God,” Harry said, sitting beside her feet, “I think I want to go to The Burrow even less than I want to go to Grimmauld Place, to be frank.”
“That doesn’t sound true,” Neville pointed out. “The Burrow is fucking brilliant and Grimmauld Place, from what I’ve heard, is basically some sort of swamp.”
“Oh my God,” Harry said, laughing, “It’s a swamp in house form. That’s so true.”
“I’m so intrigued,” Luna said, “You’re making me want to go there now. Is there swamp wildlife?”
“I don’t know how to answer that,” Harry admitted, “But there are a disproportionate amount of Boggarts.”
“It’s an old house,” Neville said, “A load of Boggarts sounds pretty normal.”
“You know Ron’s been living there,” Harry told them, “While he’s been doing Auror training.” Harry had a flash of white halls, Ron pale and lying in a hospital bed. He shook himself, refusing to think about his dream before absolutely necessary.
“Why?” Neville asked, sounding aghast. “The Burrow is brilliant.”
“Alright Nev,” Luna sighed, “We know how you feel about The Burrow. You love The Burrow, you want to marry The Burrow.”
“I would,” Neville said seriously, licking his spoon clean. “I would genuinely marry The Burrow, if that was an option available to me.”
“He doesn’t want to live at home,” Harry explained, “Also he said it was more practical to be in London, what with the Auror training being in London. But I don’t really see how that could be the case. Grimmauld Place wasn’t even connected to the Floo Network when I left.”
“Maybe he connected it,” Luna suggested.
“Maybe,” Harry agreed. “I think a big part of it was that he and Hermione would have somewhere private when she came back from Hogwarts on the weekends. You know, not having to sneak around Molly all the time.”
“Does she make them sleep in separate rooms?” Luna asked, sounding oddly interested.
“I don’t know,” Harry told her, frowning, “You can talk to them about that when they come over.”
“You haven’t even asked them over yet,” Neville pointed out.
Harry groaned, “Why don’t we have an owl?” he said, addressing nobody in particular.
“Because this is a Muggle neighbourhood,” Luna replied, in a long-suffering manner. This wasn’t the first time they’d had this discussion. “And we don’t want to make the neighbours suspicious.”
“This is a really weird area, to be honest. I genuinely think people might just think we were odd owl people. Or that it was some sort of affectation,” Harry said.
“Hm,” Neville said, and flicked the spoon into the sink. “You might be onto something there, actually.”
“Everyone we know has phones,” Luna said, “I don’t see the point in keeping an animal cooped up in the house when we don’t need it.”
“The cat,” Harry said. “What about the cat? We don’t need the cat.”
“Do you want me to get rid of the cat?” Luna asked, “Is that what’s happening?”
“No,” Harry replied sulkily. “I just don’t want to call them. I hate talking to people on the phone.”
“You call me all the time,” Neville said, sounding confused.
“Ugh,” Harry said, slumping even harder into the vibrating drum of the washing machine. “Can you just let me lie, please? About that one thing?”
“Tell us the truth,” Luna whispered ominously, “No lies in this house.”
Harry snorted in amusement. “I’d rather just talk to them in person, is that alright with everyone? There isn’t some big explanation, if that’s what you were wanting.”
“Yeah, that’s alright,” Neville said mildly. “You’re forgetting something though.”
“What?” Harry asked, staring dully at the cat’s food bowl, it needed filling.
“You can just text them,” Luna said with a sigh before Neville could answer. “Just text them. Both of them, either one of them. Just Ron, just Hermione. There’s a lot of scope for creativity there.”
“Oh yeah,” Harry said, reaching a hand into his pocket to dig his phone out. “Oh no,” he then breathed, finding it empty.
“What?” Neville asked, striding over to throw the empty yoghurt pot in the bin.
“No,” Harry repeated. “My phone.”
“Oh,” Luna said in realisation. She swung herself off the machine to squat down beside Harry, both of them staring intently at the swirling water. “You didn’t.”
“I can’t have,” Harry said in dismay, “Surely I can’t have done that.”
“You didn’t,” Neville sighed, and Harry could hear the eye-roll. “You left it on the sofa when you got in, for fuck’s sake.”
“I’m going to go and text Hermione now,” Harry told them both, standing up. “We don’t have to talk about what just happened ever again.”
“I was so worried,” Luna accused.
Harry threw his hands up and backed out of the room. “We don’t have to talk about it. I’d prefer if we didn’t talk about it.” He could hear Neville laughing as he got further away.
“Right,” Harry said, five minutes later. “They’re coming over for lunch. Budge over.” Harry elbowed Neville out of the way as he squashed himself in between the two of them on the sofa.
“Noo,” Luna said slowly. “There’s no food in the house. We can’t do lunch, we can’t feed them anything.”
“I did want to go to Sainsbury’s actually,” Neville said, “They have a buy one get one free thing on Minstrels at the moment.”
“I’ll go,” Harry offered, “You don’t have to come.”
“We can all go,” Neville said brightly. “Flat shopping trip, on Harry.”
“Ugh,” Harry said, “Fine. But you’ll have to put on some actual clothes, Nev.” Neville frowned and looked down at his current outfit of boxers and a blanket cape. “It’s quite cold outside, that’s all,” Harry explained.
“Can it not just be sandwiches?” Neville asked, once they were in the vegetable aisle of Sainsbury's. He had insisted on pushing around a trolley that Harry suspected they wouldn’t actually need. “Sandwiches are the classic lunch food.”
“I mean…” Luna began, “He has got a point.”
Harry wrinkled his brow, “Sandwiches are boring.”
“Ooh,” Luna said, looking between Harry and Neville as though she was refereeing a boxing match. “He’s right about that, Nev. He has you right where he wants you, on the defensive.”
Neville looked personally offended. “Sandwiches are not boring. How very dare you? Are we even talking about the same thing right now?”
Harry ignored him and picked up a red onion. “I’m making dhal. Hermione loves that.”
Luna put a single fingertip on the onion. “No,” she said, “Not that one.”
Harry closed his eyes for a second and drew in a deep breath. “I’m not even sure why I’m going here, but... why not?”
“Doesn’t feel right,” Luna elaborated, as though that made any sense whatsoever. “There are better ones in here, I’m sure.” She started rooting around in the crate, digging her hands down deep. “It’s because they’re in a shop like this, you know. If we went to a farmer’s market then I think they’d all feel a lot better.”
“When you say feel,” Harry said, “What exactly do you mean by that?”
Luna’s hand emerged triumphantly with a red onion that, to Harry, looked pretty much identical to the first one. He shook his head. “You know what, don’t answer that. I don’t think I want to know.”
Luna nodded sagely. “Probably for the best,” she said.
“So,” Neville said, inspecting a pepper. “I noticed just a second ago that you said we would be having dhal.” He looked up for confirmation. Harry raised his eyebrows as if to say yeah?
“We don’t have any turmeric,” Luna said, snapping her fingers. “I used it for a bath.”
“You put turmeric in a bath?” Harry asked, vaguely disgusted.
“It’s a soothing colour,” Luna told him, leading them all into the milk aisle. “Milk?” she asked, “Guys, do we need milk?”
Harry looked down at the unintelligible list in his hand. Neville had written it and clearly Harry hadn’t learnt his lesson from that dream a while ago. To tell the truth he’d been much more focused on the kissing-Malfoy part.
“I really don’t know,” Harry said truthfully. “I think we should be safe and say yes though.”
Luna nodded thoughtfully and dropped a carton of rice milk into Neville’s trolley.
“I told Malfoy I can see the future,” Harry said, in front of the cereal. Neville and Luna stopped arguing about Coco Rocks and immediately turned to face him.
“What?” Neville said. “What did he say?”
“Well,” Harry replied, staring at a giant box of cornflakes. “He didn’t have much time to say anything, really, before I was running off. I sort of just said Okay, I can see the future, something quite bad is going to happen to Ron, I think, so I’ve got to go. And then he just… agreed, basically. He made me a smoothie in a to-go cup for the train. I quite honestly don’t think I’ve ever liked anyone as much as I like him,” Harry confessed.
“Wow,” Luna said dazedly, “I had some of that smoothie while you were in the loo. It was delicious.”
Harry hummed in agreement and let himself have thirty seconds of missing Malfoy; thought about him bewildered, and a little confused, and very naked in his bed where Harry had left him. Thought about the coolly raised eyebrow and the if you’ve got to go, Potter, then go. Malfoy had stretched where Harry could see him and said a lot of people can see the future, you’re hardly special in that regard, and come back when you’re done, though, remember we have dinner plans.
“Aw,” Neville said fondly, “Remember when we all thought this was a terrible idea? I do.”
“I do too!” Luna said, “Remember when Draco probably would have rather died than make you a smoothie, Harry?”
Harry widened his eyes. “I’m unlikely to forget, Lu,” he told her. “Now, are we going to need wine for this, do you reckon?”
“I think so, yeah,” Neville said, trying to sneak some Golden Grahams into the cart. “What? I’m a student, mate, I don’t have the money for on-brand cereal at my own house,” he said defensively, when Harry eyed the box pointedly.
“Harry,” Luna said, “It’s very dramatic of you to wait until Ron and Hermione are here before you tell us what happened.”
Harry scowled, reading the label on a bottle of white wine. “I don’t want to go over it more than absolutely necessary,” he said, “And that happens to be once.”
“You’re really worrying me,” Neville said, “I get that--”
Harry cut him off. “It’s all going to be fine, trust me. Let’s just-- Let’s just pick a wine and get out of here, please.”
“You’re early,” Harry said, into a cloud of Hermione’s dark hair.
“We’re not,” Ron said, and Harry could feel his chin moving where it rested on the top of his head. “We’re exactly on time. You’re late, we’ve been standing outside for ten bloody minutes.”
“Here,” Neville said, extricating the key to the front door from where it was trapped between Harry and Hermione’s bodies. “Make yourself useful and take a bag up.”
“We’re guests,” Ron said, picking one up anyway, “Guests don’t do hard labour.”
“It’s hardly labour, Ronald,” Hermione said. “I’ll take it for you if you really don’t think you can cope.”
Harry snorted, and untangled himself from Hermione’s arms. “You look lovely,” he told her sincerely. “You’ve done something with your hair.”
“I cut it,” she told him, with an abortive hand motion as if to smooth it down. “I’m not sure about it,” she grimaced.
“We had a paint incident,” Ron said, holding the door open for everyone to traipse inside.
“Oh dear,” Luna said sympathetically, “They’re the worst sort.”
Hermione nodded in agreement, which sort of floored Harry in all honesty, used to Hermione disagreeing with Luna practically on principle.
“Yes, apparently not even magic gets ceiling paint out from hair,” Hermione said, leading the way up the stairs, hand clasped in Harry’s tightly. “Which floor are you on?” she asked.
“Fourth,” Neville said, and made a face. “I apologise in advance for the walk up, it’s a killer.”
Ron snorted, “Can’t you just apparate?”
Luna frowned. “We do sometimes, but the exercise is good for us. And also I don’t really see the point when we’ve just been out to the shops or something.”
“I left my wand in the flat,” Harry said, “So I couldn’t anyway.”
“You guys are so weird,” Ron said affectionately, “I’ve really missed it.”
“Just wait until you see our apartment,” Harry told him, “You’re going to love it.”
“Love it like love it or love it like hate it?” Ron asked, stopping on the landing outside their flat and gesturing between the two doors.
Neville nodded his head towards the left one and chucked his keys at Ron, who caught them one handed and unlocked the front door.
“Depends if you like plants or not, I suppose,” Luna piped up from behind them all. “I personally do.”
“Woah,” Ron said, stepping inside and then pausing. “That’s… That’s a lot to take in.”
“What were you doing with the paint?” Harry asked Hermione, while Ron took stock of the room. They walked over to the kitchen to deposit the groceries on the counter.
“Painting our bedroom,” Hermione replied, taking out a box of tea and looking around the room in a searching manner. Harry pulled the drawer beside his knee open and gestured to it absently. “We didn’t know if--” She cut off guiltily. “We didn’t know if you would mind or not, I suppose we should have asked beforehand. But the place is so bad, Harry, we just wanted to brighten it up a little.”
Harry raised his eyebrows, “I don’t mind,” he told her, “You can do what you like with it, honestly. I mean, as long as you don’t throw anything out. But you can just pile up stuff in the attic and I’ll sort through it at some point.”
“That’s what we’ve been doing,” Hermione said, leaning against the oven and taking her coat off. “Can I hang this up somewhere?”
Harry nodded, “Of course." He beckoned for her to follow him back into the living room. Ron was talking intently to Neville, bent over what looked like a huge Venus Flytrap, the one they’d had to put a ward around after they found the cat taunting it once.
Harry hung Hermione’s coat on the hanger behind the front door and went over to join them.
“--looks like it, but actually would be very useful for those kinds of potions that slow things down, I’m not really sure what the official classification is for--” Neville was saying, before he cut off when Harry and Hermione approached. “Harry!” he said, as though they hadn’t seen each other in years.
“Luna?” Harry asked.
“Loo,” Neville replied. “Do you guys want to see the rest of the place?” he asked eagerly.
“There isn’t really much more of it than this,” Harry warned them.
“Okay,” Neville sighed, “Do you want to see Luna’s bedroom? I can show you the bathroom as soon as she’s done in there.”
Hermione laughed, a bright, sparkling sound that Harry hadn’t realised how much he had missed. He tugged gently on her hair until she looked at him. She raised her eyebrows, what?
Nothing, he shook his head. “I’ve missed you, that’s all,” he told her. “You and Ron.”
“Thanks mate,” Ron shouted from inside Luna’s bedroom, “Missed you too, obviously.”
Harry tried not to shudder at the sound of his voice, just as he had tried not to shudder when he’d seen Ron leaning against the side of their building. Properly alive, and well, and waiting for Harry as though no time had passed. Such a stark contrast from the dream he’d had last night, the one that had woken him up with how terrified it had made him.
“What’s wrong?” Hermione asked, just as Luna joined them. She grasped his arm. “You look weird.”
“Thanks ,” Harry said, trying to play it off as a joke. “I just--” He shook his head, “I have a couple of things to tell you guys, but I want to do it after lunch.”
“What’s for lunch?” Ron asked, popping his head through the door. “I’m starving. Absolutely starving.”
“You’re always starving,” Harry replied. “But dhal. I still have to make it though.” He smiled at Hermione’s little sound of approval from beside him.
“I’ll help,” Luna offered, “You guys can stay in here and talk about herbology or something, does anyone want wine?”
In the kitchen, Harry had to steady himself with one hand on the wall. “I thought they would hate me,” he told Luna, who was setting glasses out beside the sink. “I thought they would be so angry with me, that they wouldn’t even want to talk to me.”
Luna turned, frowned at him. “Why would you think that?” she asked, “They love you.”
Harry sighed, “Yeah I realise that now. How irrational it was. But I don’t know, I thought they might have been so angry at how I left things that it would have dulled everything for them a little bit.”
Luna laughed. “Sorry,” she said, “Sorry, but I really don’t think that will ever happen, Harry. I don’t think anything could happen that would make them forget how much you mean to them.”
“I dunno,” Harry said with a grimace, “I can think of one thing.” Meaning Draco Malfoy and I.
Luna unscrewed the top of the wine, and divided it up between the five of them. She handed Harry a half-full mug. “I only had three wine glasses,” she explained apologetically, “And Neville gets so pissed off when he has to drink anything out of the wrong type of glass.”
“Pure-bloods,” Harry said, “What are they like?”
Luna laughed airily and walked through into the living room with the glasses floating gently in the air behind her, bobbing up and down with each step she took.
Harry felt arms wrap around him from behind when she came back in. “Everything’s going to be fine,” she told him softly. “Don’t worry about it until you absolutely have to worry about it.”
Harry sank into the embrace for a second, before rallying. “Alright. Dhal time,” he said decisively.
“Yes,” Luna agreed, and put her hands on her hips. “What do we do?”
“I’ve missed this,” Hermione moaned, through a mouthful of lentils. “It’s not the same when I make it.”
“It’s really not,” Ron agreed. “We ate this a lot while we were living out of a tent,” he told Neville and Luna. “Brings back memories.”
“Shitty memories,” Harry mumbled, squeezed into a corner between Ron and Luna. They were crammed around the four-person kitchen table and Harry had had to transfigure one of the sofa cushions into an extra seat for them. Every time Harry picked his fork up he banged his elbow against the hard wood frame of Ron's chair.
Ron shook his head. “It wasn’t as bad as all that, compared to the stuff that came after it was quite peaceful, actually.”
Hermione scoffed, “I prefer this kind of peaceful.”
“How’s Hogwarts?” Neville asked, "Speaking of peaceful."
“It’s really good,” Hermione replied. “Better than it’s ever been, in terms of actually learning things. I miss you all though, you should have come back.”
“Ugh,” Neville said, shaking his head slowly. “I couldn’t stomach it after being there with the Carrows, which is really sad, if you think about it, because Hogwarts was always one of my favourite places ever.”
Harry took a deep breath, unable to imagine feeling that way about Hogwarts, about the Great Lake, about the warm Gryffindor common room, about the draughty lecture theatres and trips to Hogsmeade.
“How’s uni, mate?” Ron asked Neville, who started talking about recent developments in the Botany world that made Harry’s brain practically dribble out of his ears.
“What about you, Luna?” Hermione asked. “Why didn’t you want to come back? You would have been in with me and Ginny probably.” When she said Ginny she glanced over at Harry warily. He pretended not to notice.
“Well,” Luna started, “I wanted a break. You might not know this but I’ve been taking some art classes and sculpture workshops, it’s been very nice.”
“It sounds it,” Hermione agreed, even though Harry knew she probably couldn’t think of a worse thing in the world. “Do you think you’ll go back next year?”
“Daddy’s said I have to,” Luna explained. “So yes. I don’t know anyone in the year below me, which is a shame, but hopefully there’ll be some good eggs in there.”
Harry nodded. “You’ll be fine, Lu, I genuinely can’t think why people used to do stuff like steal your shoes, when we were there. It was so weird. ”
“They thought I was weird,” Luna said, “I mean. I am, but I guess they thought it was a bad thing.”
“It’s different now,” Hermione said calmly. “It’s so different. We have mixed classes, with all the other houses. Do you know that they’ve actually done away with the assigned seating at meals? There’s still common rooms though, obviously.”
“How is Ginny?” Harry asked, apprehensive.
Hermione took a deep breath, looking quite sad all of a sudden. “She’s really well, actually--”
“She’s on the Quidditch team,” Ron interrupted. “Captain.”
“That’s brilliant,” Harry said, honestly. “I’m really pleased for her, next time you see her will you tell her I said congratulations?” Ron nodded and served himself more dhal.
“She’s dating someone,” Hermione said, in a way that made it seem as though she hadn't been able to hold it in anymore. “Just-- I thought you might want to know.”
Ron snorted into his glass of wine. “What makes you think he’d want to know that?” he asked.
Harry frowned. “I’m not going to fall apart because Ginny’s dating someone else,” he said, “I want her to be happy.”
“That’s depressing,” Ron said, grimacing.
“Who’s she seeing?” Harry asked, ignoring him.
“A girl on the Ravenclaw team,” Hermione said. “There was quite a big scandal over the conflict of interest, I think.”
“It is a bloody conflict of interest,” Ron grumbled. “It’s Lea something, she’s in the same year as Gin.”
Harry tried for a second, in the interest of science, to feel bad that Ginny was dating someone else. He came up blank, all he could think about was Malfoy last night, the feel of his body against Harry’s and the fact that one day they were going to call each other by their first names.
“Harry has news too,” Neville piped up, on his third glass of wine.
“No,” Harry said firmly, “Don’t you say anything.”
“Are you seeing someone?” Hermione asked.
Neville snorted and Harry kicked him hard under the table. “Not a word,” he warned, “I have enough to tell them today.”
“Alright, alright,” Neville said, holding his hands up in surrender. “Not a word,” he repeated.
“What’s happening right now?” Ron asked. “Are you keeping something from us? Us? You tell us everything.”
“Oh Morgana,” Luna said, “Does anyone want some water?”
“Harry?” Hermione asked, eyebrows raised and brow furrowed. “Everything okay?”
“Peachy,” Harry lied, absolutely panicking. “I can see the future.”
Neville started laughing, which was utterly unhelpful, and spat a mouthful of the water Luna had just given him halfway across the table. “Brilliant,” he said, shaking his head, “Brilliant, Harry.”
Ron laughed along with him for a second, nervously, but then trailed off when he saw the look on Harry’s face. And presumably the look on Luna’s face as well.
“Shut up Neville,” Harry said. “You’re making this worse.” He avoided making eye contact with Hermione, instead choosing to stare at a cobweb trapped on their blinds. The kitchen needed a good dust.
“I’m here for moral support,” Neville explained, “Making things easier is not in that job description, I’m afraid.”
“Is that true?” Hermione asked softly.
“Yeah, well, I don’t actually know the official definition of--” Neville cut off, glancing between Hermione and Harry. “Not talking to me. Right.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, unable to come up with anything else. “It’s true. It started right after the Battle.”
That was one of the parts he was most worried about telling them, for fear that it might incite a reaction like--
“You didn’t tell us?” Ron asked angrily. “If it happened then, then it must have been while we were all still at Grimmauld Place.”
Harry rolled his eyes. A reaction like that.
“I didn’t know I was seeing the future,” he tried. “They just seemed like particularly vivid dreams. I thought it might have been a stress thing.”
“How do you know you’re seeing the future?” Hermione asked curiously. “Are you sure?”
Harry sucked in a deep breath. Remembered Ginny breaking up with him, thought about the nosebleeds and the headaches and the blood. “Pretty sure, yeah,” he told her.
Hermione seemed dubious, and opened her mouth to ask another question. “I mean I’m sure,” Harry said, before she could. “I’m one hundred percent sure.”
Hermione deflated a little bit, apparently out of questions for the time being. Ron pushed his plate away and it screeched against the table-top. They all flinched.
“You told them, and not us?” he said to Harry, nodding at Luna and Neville.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Harry asked defensively, “It was a little difficult to keep it from them when I fucking live with them.”
“You should be living with us,” Ron insisted, leaning forward. “You should be with the two of us.”
Harry felt a pang in his chest. Of course it had been too easy earlier, of course they had felt abandoned.
“Ron,” Hermione warned.
“No,” Ron said, “I want to know what we did to deserve that treatment from you? You just left, you didn’t even call us.”
“You could have called me,” Harry argued, crossing his arms.
“We should have,” Hermione said, “It’s not just your fault Harry, but you made it seem like we couldn’t call you. You’re our best friend”
“Ugh,” Harry repeated, unable to help himself. “Our.”
“That’s what this is about, isn’t it?” Hermione asked, as if she didn’t already fucking know. “You’re jealous.”
Luna held his hand under the table, Harry clutched it tightly.
“I’m trying so hard not to be,” Harry said sadly. “Like, I’m so happy for you both, you know that. But also I just wanted you both to be mine still.”
“We were never yours, mate,” Ron said, not unkindly.
“People made out like we belonged to you,” Hermione said. “But we didn’t, we still don’t, we never will.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Harry asked, outraged. “You think that because the both of you would follow me anywhere that I think I own you? It’s not like that.”
“You just said it was like that,” Ron pointed out. “You literally just said you want us to be yours.”
“When we met you--” Hermione started, then changed tack. “We were your first real friends, and the only people who know about everything that’s happened. It’s normal to--”
“Please don’t,” Harry said, cutting her off. “Please don’t tell me it’s normal to be attached. Because I genuinely don’t think I could take it.”
“It’s normal to want the one thing in your life that’s always been stable to keep being stable,” Hermione said, in a rush.
“I was jealous,” Harry admitted, “It’s not even warranted, because I know the only thing that really changed was the whole adding-sex part, and no offense but that didn’t really interest me.”
“Is it wrong that I’m a little offended?” Ron asked. “Just a tiny bit.”
“I’m not finished,” Harry told him. “I know you weren’t mine, that was the wrong thing to say and I didn’t mean it. You don’t belong to me--”
“We don’t belong to each other, either ,” Hermione interrupted. “Nobody belongs to anybody else, in this situation or any other.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed, “I get that, I misspoke. Listen, right after the war I pretty much just wanted everything to revert back to the way it was in like, first year. That was literally my point of reference for the happiest I’ve ever felt, because before and after that everything was a bit shit, to be honest. So I panicked, obviously, and I thought that you didn’t want me around either, and I just left. Which was wrong of me.”
“Yeah,” Ron said, “You don’t say.
“I didn’t even think that there was potential for things to be better than they were before everything with Voldemort started properly, you know?” Harry continued, ignoring him. “I thought that it would be me and the both of you, and we would all be Auror partners. Like, they would make a special exception for the three of us to work together. I used to dream about that, when we were on the run.”
Harry remembered lying there, staring up at either the canvas ceiling of the tent or the bunk above, depending on the day, or his mood, and thinking about everything that would happen after the war would be over. A lot of the time Harry had refused to even consider the fact that he might be dead when everything had ended.
Most of the time he would imagine an office. Small, with a big window and a great view, untidy and crammed with paperwork and discarded coffee cups, fireplace always lit, an assistant outside. Harry would picture a door slamming open, arms full of case files, dropping them heavily onto a desk in front of Hermione. He would imagine Ron, head bent over a stack of papers, reading intently, looking up at him and smiling and holding his hand out for a sandwich Harry had bought them for lunch.
Harry would lie there and think about them all going back to Grimmauld Place at the end of the day, imagined the three of them cooking dinner together. He could practically taste the meals he had conjured up in his head. He would watch himself and Ron and Hermione sit down around the kitchen table after a long day and complain about work. Harry imagined himself old, when he was feeling particularly self-indulgent, imagined something he knew in the back of the brain he might not ever get.
“Merlin,” Neville said, and Harry had all but forgotten he was even there. “Shall we talk about how that sounds like the worst thing in the world, or are we glossing straight over that?”
“It doesn’t sound bad,” Ron said, “I wanted that too, there’s nothing wrong with wanting that.”
“That’s not what I’m saying, Ron.” Harry paused for a second, tried to gather up the right words. “It’s just not what I want anymore. And you know I love you both more than anything else in the entire world, and that I always will, but I think it’s just that it took me a little time away from the both of you to realise that everything would be fine if we weren’t living on top of each other for the rest of our lives.”
“We talk about things,” Hermione said, “We always talk about things. We have to, because we can’t read each other’s minds.”
“I know,” Harry said, resignedly, “I felt one fucking hint of jealousy and I panicked, and I just fucked off as though you've ever done anything else except make things better for me. I'm sorry, and I'm sorry I didn't talk to you about it before I just left."
“You called us here for a reason,” Hermione murmured, when they were all piled onto Luna’s bed, her head resting gently on Harry’s stomach. “You saw something.”
She was the smartest witch he knew, of course she had realised.
“Yeah,” Harry admitted. Luna curled a hand around his forearm and held on tightly. “There was a reason.”
“What is it?” Neville asked. They were all being quiet, the light was fading in the sky and the room was cast in pink and orange and red. Ron’s hair looked like the sunset itself.
Harry breathed in. “I dreamed about it last night, and I came here as soon as I woke up. It was about Ron.”
“What about me?” Ron asked sleepily, curling his body against Harry’s.
Harry wanted to cry, but didn’t. “It started with me running down a hospital corridor. So you know, not well. And I got to this room, the door was cracked open slightly and I could see your mum inside, she was sitting on the end of a bed. Ginny was standing outside the room and I talked to her about something, for a minute or two. I couldn’t focus though, so I don’t know what it was about.”
Ron rolled over onto his back. “I don’t die,” he said. “You’re not about to tell me that I die.”
“No,” Harry reassured him. “No.” He felt Ron exhale heavily beside him. “From what I could gather, something happened in Auror training, some curse or other that you should have been able to defend yourself against but couldn’t because you didn’t finish the last year of DADA, apparently.”
Hermione clicked her tongue. “God,” she said, “God,” and put her hands over her face.
“It was a cutting spell, combined with something that didn’t let it heal. They had to put a stasis spell on you, like, immediately,” Harry continued. “And then into a magically induced coma. There was this awful blue light around your body, I could barely see you.”
“I don’t want to believe you,” Ron said. “I just really want to think you’re lying.”
“I’m not,” Harry said sadly. “I wish I was.” He turned over until he was facing Ron, displacing Hermione’s head. Ron had his eyes closed, and Harry placed a hand flat on his chest. “I’m not lying. I wouldn’t.”
“I know,” Ron whispered, “I always wanted to be an Auror. It’s basically all I’ve ever wanted, you know?”
“I know,” Harry echoed. “I’m sorry.”
“This doesn’t mean you can’t be,” Hermione said determinedly. “All it means is that you have to take your DADA Newt. That’s nothing, that’s fine. You can do that.”
Ron puffed his cheeks out. “Yeah,” he said, half-heartedly. “I can do that.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry told him again. “I didn’t know when it was going to happen, it could have been Monday, for all I knew. I had to tell you.”
“You did the right thing,” Hermione said. “God, imagine if you hadn’t have seen it.”
“You believe me?” Harry asked.
“Of course I believe you,” Hermione said, in a no-nonsense tone. “This doesn’t even make the top ten list of weird things that have happened to us.”
“I had a practical exam on Tuesday,” Ron said. “I’ve been revising. I never revise.”
“Hermione’s right, mate,” Neville attempted, “It doesn’t mean you can’t go back.”
“There’s a lot of potential solutions,” Hermione mused, “You could ask the Ministry for their list of approved spells in Auror training, and then learn all the counter-curses.”
“I’m supposed to do that anyway,” Ron said dully, “I have a booklet in the drawer beside our bed.”
Harry felt immeasurably said for him. Even though it wasn’t the end of anything, it felt like it. It felt like Ron had been working so hard to do something by himself for once, and it felt as though Harry was ruining it, like he had always managed to ruin most things for the people around him. And even though he had hopefully just saved Ron from a fucking curse, he still felt bad that Ron had to give something up, like he had a thousand times before, even if it was only for a short while.
Neville, Hermione and Ron talked softly amongst themselves for a few minutes, but Harry could barely hear them. He felt cool fingers on the back of his neck and shivered, snapping himself out of it.
“It’s not your fault,” Luna whispered, “You might have saved his life.”
“I know,” Harry whispered back, “But still.”
“But still,” Luna allowed.
The tube was almost empty when Harry got on, sitting in his preferred seat two spaces away from the door. He watched the guy opposite him knit for a few minutes as he slipped on his headphones. Harry looked at the window across from him, the buildings passing. The train stopped on a bridge over the Thames and Harry wondered at the lights reflecting off the churning water.
It was totally dark by the time he got off the train at South Kensington, the streets deserted as he made his way past the empty museums and the softly-lit restaurants. Ron and Hermione had left their apartment about an hour previously, plans made and agreed upon, with promises to keep in touch. Harry knew it wasn’t his fault but he still felt responsible, wondered if Ron thought him so.
He knocked on the front door of Malfoy’s house and leant his forehead against the shiny paint while he waited for someone to open it. He fell a little when it did, before catching himself on the doorframe. He looked down at Malfoy’s bare feet for a second, watched his toes curl in the cold.
“Are you going to stand there all night?” Harry heard Malfoy ask, his voice filled with amusement.
Harry shook his head. “Draco,” he said, and looked up, up to the question on Malfoy’s face. “I call you Draco in the future,” he explained, “I was thinking about starting now.”
“Merlin,” Draco said, and found himself pulling Potter into the house before he could even consciously decide to do so. He eagerly pressed a firm kiss onto Potter’s bare throat. “Is it odd how much I like hearing you say my name?”
Potter laughed, a deep, throaty sound. “Nah,” he said shakily.
Draco pulled back, took in Potter’s wilder-than-usual hair, his puffy eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Keep doing that,” Potter protested, grabbing at Draco’s shoulders until he went back to sucking Potter’s neck. “I told them about everything. Not…” he paused, slid a hand onto the back of Draco’s head and started dragging his fingers slowly over the short hairs there, “Not everything,” he amended. “Not us.”
Draco leaned into the touch, “You don’t have to tell them all at once. And honestly Potter, if you’re set on telling them because you think I mind that they don’t know, then you’d be wrong. Because I don’t care in the slightest, and I think you should do whatever you’re comfortable with."
Potter nodded, and led Draco into the living room to arrange them both on one of the sofas. Draco listened as Potter told him about the dream, wide-eyed and silent, with his head pillowed on Potter’s shoulder.
“What did they say?” he asked, when Potter was finished.
Potter groaned and shuffled closer to Draco, like he was trying to climb inside Draco’s body and live there. “They were angry at me,” he said, “I don’t even blame them.”
Draco scoffed. “They can’t be angry at you for warning them about something like that, surely.”
Potter shook his head. “No, it was-- when I left Grimmauld Place, after the Battle and after the breakup with Gin and everything, I didn’t talk to them for-- well, the time in between then and today, I guess. So when I saw them earlier they were upset, understandably. And like, I can see now why they were, but I don’t get why I didn’t realise how shitty I was being while I was living at Luna’s. Actually no, I did realise, I just didn’t ever do anything about it because I was feeling weird and insecure and anxious about them getting together. Who does something like that, you know? What was I thinking? They’ve only ever made things better for me and I felt one fucking hint of jealousy and I was out of there. I just fucked off as though what we’ve been through together meant fuck all.”
Draco bit his lip, both at what Potter was saying and at the extra-liberal use of swear words. He couldn’t exactly do something like tell Potter he was right for leaving, because it wouldn’t be the truth. Draco couldn’t even imagine how worried he would be if Pansy had done something like that to him, how betrayed he would feel, even. And it wasn’t as though he was the biggest fan of the other two members of the Golden Trio, but he could definitely see where they were coming from, could imagine what they had felt like.
“Did you apologise?” he settled on.
“Yeah,” Potter laughed, sadly. “A shit load. And when they left it was fine, like they don’t actually hate me, of course, but I think I’m just really pissed off at myself for acting like such a baby about the whole thing.”
“I hesitate to say this,” Draco started, “Because it’s such a cliché, but we all make mistakes. And really the only thing you can do is to apologise and hope they forgive you and then move on from it, do you know what I mean? And frankly I think it would be a lot worse if you hadn’t realised what you were doing was hurting them so much.”
“No…” Potter said slowly, “I think knowing and not doing anything about it is definitely worse. I mean, to be fair to myself I didn’t think they’d be as upset as they actually were, but still. I’m a shit.”
“Look,” Draco said firmly. “Not to make excuses for you but you were always a bit of a shit, and I think that probably living through an entire war didn’t exactly dull that problem, if you know what I mean. People deal with things in different ways. I, for example, dealt with everything that happened by getting a lot of therapy and deeply examining my long-held beliefs. You, apparently, dealt with everything by panicking and running away. I’m not going to judge that particular decision, because that’s actually something I’ve done many, many times. So please, be angry at yourself, try and make yourself into a better person, a more considerate person, but don’t beat yourself up about things you can’t change.” Draco wasn’t even going to go into how much of a hypocrite he felt like, telling Potter not hate himself for things done in the past, because Draco was guilty of that more than any other person.
“Yeah,” Potter sighed, “I also feel like Ron was a little shitty for having a go at me for leaving when he did the exact same thing to me and Hermione.”
Draco’s mind went blank, hard as a stone. “Explain please,” he said.
“He left Hermione and I alone in a fucking tent in the woods,” Potter said, not bitterly at all, tiredly. “When we on the run for that year, before they brought us in to The Manor.” Draco waited for more, even though it seemed as though Potter was done talking.
“Right. You didn’t do quite a good enough job at explaining as I would have liked,” Draco said, affectionate enough to take the sting out of his words.
Potter huffed. “There were extenuating circumstances,” he said at last, in a way that made Draco think he wasn’t quite getting the full story, maybe never would. “But basically he was jealous, I think, of some imagined thing between Hermione and I. And--” Potter grimaced, “I think of me, too. I think he felt… outdone by. As though I was doing something else except for trying to live my fucking life.”
Draco blinked in surprise, always having assumed things were perfect between Potter, Granger, and Weasley. “I think that it sounds like the three of you need to have a really long conversation, maybe a lot of long conversations, about all this.”
“I think you’re probably right,” Potter replied. “I’d bloody love for everything to be easy, but it’s never going to be as straightforward as that. Even between the three of us, where you’d think it would be simplest.”
“I don’t know,” Draco argued, “I think maybe with how close the three of you were it was never going to be not-difficult when something happened to upset the…” he paused, looking for the right word, “Balance, you had worked out.”
Potter clicked his tongue on the roof of his mouth, something Draco had heard Granger do a thousand times, in class, or in the library when Draco was trying to work in silence. It pissed him off when Granger did it and it was odd hearing it from Potter. “Yeah but it’s such a gross thing to be jealous that your friends are happy. Like, I want them to be happy. What was wrong with me? It was so weird.”
“Jealousy isn’t exactly the most rational thing in the world,” Draco said, speaking from experience.
Potter hummed in agreement. “I never thought I could live without them, you know,” he said quietly. "And I don't want to, obviously. But it'll be so much easier to spend my whole life separated from them now that I've done it for a while." Draco couldn't say anything to that, so he just left it hanging there between them. It was such a familiar feeling to him. He’d felt it about his parents once upon a time, felt it about Pansy now. It hadn’t really occurred to him that Harry Potter might feel anything less than fully able to be independent.
"I don't think living in a different house from them means you'll be separated," Draco tried.
"No," Harry allowed, "But it is compared to how we used to be." Draco didn't reply.
They were both silent for a few moments before Potter said, “I had plans for my life you know, before the war, but I don’t think any of them were as nice as this is,” absently, already changing the subject.
“As nice as what?” Draco asked, heart melting. He put his palm on the hole in the knee of Potter’s trousers, then decided they weren't close enough and pulled at his shirt and shoulders until Potter was lying on top of him. Potter laughed, softly, and dug his arms under Draco's body to wrap around his waist.
“As nice as living with Luna in that apartment,” he said, “As nice as being with you all the time.”
“It’s weird how much you like me,” Draco told him. Because it was, along with being ridiculous, and utterly unfathomable.
“I know,” Potter agreed, “It’s weird how much we like each other, right?”
“Remember that time I took you to the Cutty Sark?” Draco said, picturing it himself, his phone background was Potter on the gangplank of the ship. “You sulked the whole time and you tried not to, so you thought I didn’t notice, but I did. That was nice of you, I never said. I like that you take an interest in my interests.”
“I hate that your interests are historic ships,” Potter deadpanned, “But you don’t have to thank me. I like spending time with you. It’s like when I make you come food shopping with me even though you get really bored, it’s good to just be around each other.”
“See,” Draco said, panicking a tiny bit. “This is exactly what I’m talking about. When the fuck did we become so considerate of each other? That’s weird.”
“I think it’s pretty nice,” Potter said defensively. “Do you not think it’s nice?”
“Of course I think it’s nice,” Draco snapped. “Of course I think it’s nice. Actually I think it’s brilliant. Just odd, I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.”
“I dunno,” Potter said, “We can work on it. Let’s take a good long time to work on getting used to being nice to each other.”
“A good long time is how long?” Draco asked. “Years?”
“Oh,” Potter said seriously, “Years at the bare minimum, I think.”
“Well we can certainly aim for that,” Draco said magnanimously, trying to ignore how it felt as though his heart was in his throat, beating against his windpipe. “Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah,” Potter said warily, as if he had anything to worry about from Draco. As if Draco would ever do anything like hurt him ever again.
“You don’t have to tell me, but I’d like to hear about what you saw in the future,” Draco said, “I’m assuming you saw some stuff about the two of us, didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” Potter repeated, more sure this time. “What do you want to hear about? I mean, are you sure it’s not going to weird you out? The idea that I’ve been getting like, previews of everything this entire time.”
“Potter,” Draco sighed, and shifted underneath him, just to remind himself of the weight of Potter’s body, “From what you’ve told me, it’s not as though you can help it, is it? You don’t have any control over it?”
“No, but still. It must be weird to have someone tell you what’s going to happen to you,” Potter argued, and Draco barely restrained the urge to sigh.
“I’ve just told you that you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want, but if you’re worried about my reaction why don’t we let me have it before assuming it’s going to be bad?” Draco paused for a second, thought about it. “Did you see bad things?” he asked, “Is that why?”
“No,” Potter said, and laughed a little bit. “It’s kind of the opposite. It was all really good stuff, in terms of like,” he paused and squiggled his shoulders, “Our relationship.”
Draco snorted. “You really didn’t want to say that, did you?”
“Ugh,” Potter said, “Don’t make fun, I don’t know what word to use.”
“You can use relationship,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “I’m really not going to ditch you for being too invested in this, that’s really not my style.”
“Ugh,” Potter said into Draco’s ear. “I saw really fucking sweet shit about our relationship, is that what you want to hear?”
“Yes,” Draco replied “It actually makes me quite pleased to hear that. I’m not sure why you thought it would be the opposite,” he said, a little baffled.
“I wasn’t--” Potter said. “It’s an expression.” He slumped even further onto Draco’s body, which Draco wouldn’t have even thought possible until it happened. “Okay don’t worry about it, let me tell you about the dreams.”
Draco smirked. “I’m not stopping you,”
“Ugh,” Potter groaned, “You’re so annoying.”
“Was I this annoying in the dreams?” Draco asked, “I’d love to know, if you ever get around to telling me about them.”
Potter laughed. “You’re a prat,” he said, “And you were a prat in the dreams because you’re always a prat and always will be.”
“Dick,” Draco replied affectionately.
“I’m ignoring you now,” Potter informed him. “Okay, the first dream I had about us was right before that time I saw you on The Heath with Parkinson. Which is why I started laughing, because I’d literally hours before had a dream where we were living together.”
“Right,” Draco said, unable to some up with something that didn’t make it sound as though his brain had just short circuited. We were living together. The words were still ringing in his ears. “Were we living here?” he managed to ask.
“I don’t think so,” Potter said, Draco could hear the frown in his voice. “I haven’t seen every room in this house, but I don’t think so. It looked like it was ours, if you get me.”
“A place we had bought ourselves?” Draco asked, almost breathless with how much he wanted it. Not now, they’d barely gotten used to each other. But one day.
“Yeah,” Potter said happily, “It was nice. There were glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. Actually,” he said, as if just remembering something, “You know that Klimt print in your downstairs bathroom? That was up on the wall, I’d totally forgotten until now.”
“Tell me about another one,” Draco said. Potter’s breath was hot on his neck, and it was sending shivers up his spine.
“Well...” Potter said, like he was trying to think of a good one. Draco felt a quick splash of jealousy at the fact that he apparently had so many to choose from, and at the fact that for himself it was all yet to come. “My particular favourite was one that was quite short, I had it about a week ago. We were in the bath in Luna’s apartment and you were like, wresting my glasses off. That’s basically all it was, but it was nice.”
Draco snorted. “We can recreate that if you want.”
“I’d have to get you over to Luna’s first. And that’s not likely to happen anytime soon,” Potter pointed out, which wasn’t untrue. But the thought of Potter seeing them there together, and nothing terrible happening, gave Draco courage.
“I could go,” he said quietly. “We could go. Maybe when Luna and Longbottom were out, at first. But I’ll come over.”
“Really?” Potter asked, propping himself up with one bony elbow in Draco’s midriff. Draco winced and pulled him back down. “Sorry,” Potter said, rubbing the newly tender spot on Draco’s stomach absently, “You surprised me. You should definitely come over. Don’t let the fact that I just probably bruised you be a bad omen.”
“Well now that you’ve said that,” Draco started, but cut off laughing when Potter stopped rubbing and started tickling instead. “No, no,” he said, through gasps, “I give up, I’ll come, I promise.”
“Good. I’ll cook something really nice for you as reward.”
“What?” Draco said, interested now. It baffled him approximately three times every hour how good a cook Potter was when he’d been so utterly shit at Potions.
“Oh you know,” Potter said, trying for casual. “Anything you like.”
“Something with meat?” Draco asked hopefully.
“Oh,” Potter said, “Anything you like that doesn’t contain meat.”
Draco pursed his lips. “Can I get back to you about it?”
“Yeah,” Potter said, and laughed. “I’ll need a day’s notice so I can go out and get all the ingredients though. So keep that in mind.”
Draco was already thinking about something else, though. “Potter, have you ever thought of doing a cookery course?” he asked, “It’s just that I start college in a week, and you’re going to need something to do once I’ll be locked up in a classroom for six hours a day.”
“You have a very high opinion of yourself, don’t you?” Potter teased.
“I try to, yes,” Draco said seriously.
“God, Alright. I haven’t thought about it, no, not until this exact moment anyway. But I like your thinking.”
“You like cooking,” Draco pointed out. “And even I don’t mind saying that you’re actually genuinely good at it.”
“Thanks,” Potter said, frowning a little and blushing at the same time. The whole effect was rather adorable, Draco observed. “I’ll look into it, okay?”
Draco hummed in agreement. “Any other dreams of note?” he inquired.
“Not really. There was one where we were in Fortnum and Mason together, and we kissed in the frozen aisle. Which was great, although I totally panicked after I woke up because we’d barely even had one civil conversation with each other,” Potter replied.
“When was that?”
“It was after that time we met on the tube and started talking about Nicki Minaj,” Potter said. “Which was odd enough in itself, you know? Add on top of that a dream about us making out beside the vegan ice cream, and you can imagine I was a little panicked.”
“Pansy’s a vegan now,” Draco informed him. “She just started two days ago.”
“Yeah,” Potter said, “I actually thought she was already. We were literally there to get her ice cream. Why else would we be hanging out around vegan ice cream?” he asked, sounding amused.
“I don’t know,” Draco replied defensively. “I did say, didn’t I, that we’d probably end up doing a lot of weird stuff if we started dating, and I feel like you bringing me to see some vegan ice cream would actually fit quite well into that.”
“Oh my god, I can’t believe we’re arguing about something that hasn’t even happened,” Potter laughed. “This is ridiculous.”
“This,” Draco said, making an expansive gesture and managing to hit Potter a little on the head, “Is not an argument. I feel as though the fact you think this is an argument says that you’ve never had an argument.”
“I’ve had arguments,” Potter said slowly, “Are you being serious? You know I’ve had arguments. Most of them have been with you.”
“Oh yes,” Draco said, shaking his head briefly, “I forgot.”
“You forgot,” Potter said, shaking in silent laughter. “Of course you forgot.”
“Just for a second,” Draco assured him. “Don’t worry your pretty face about it Potter, I still remember we were mortal enemies once upon a time.”
“Mortal enemies,” Potter echoed, actually vocalising his laughter now.
“Are you just going to repeat everything I say for the rest of the night?” Draco asked.
“Who says that?” Potter said, ignoring him. “Mortal enemies. Ha.”
“It’s called being facetious, Potter,” Draco told him. “I wouldn’t expect a person who, as far as I can tell, did literally no work ever at Hogwarts to understand that.”
“God,” Potter said, “You’re brilliant. I don’t know what it says about me that I kind of like it when you’re being snobby, but I really like it when you’re being snobby.”
Draco sniffed. “Yes, well,” he said. “I like it when you’re easygoing about me being mean. It makes things approximately a billion times easier.”
“I know,” Potter said feelingly, “Can you imagine what we’d be like if I took every little thing you said seriously?”
“I think we’d have a few more actual arguments,” Draco replied.
“I think that’s an understatement,” Potter responded, and started kissing Draco’s neck softly. “Have I told you how fit you are?” he asked, in between that and moving down to mouth at the little hollow beneath Draco’s throat.
“It’s been mentioned,” Draco said breathily, tipping his head back so Potter could have easier access. “Do you want to go upstairs?”
“Why Draco,” Potter said lowly, “Whatever could you mean by that?”
“I mean, you arse, that we should go upstairs and have sex,” Draco said, all in a rush, not even bothering to play coy.
Potter laughed, and pulled his face away to stare down at Draco. “Always straight to the point with you, isn’t it?”
“Do you want to bottom?” Draco asked, pretending he hadn’t heard, “Or shall I? Because you bottomed the last two times and I really would like for us to do it the other way around before I forget what it feels like.”
“Is there really any danger of that?” Potter asked, sounding incredibly amused. “Do you think you’re being dramatic?”
“Merlin,” Draco said, “I will throw you out of this house, I swear it.”
“Dramatic,” Potter said in wonder, scrambling off the sofa anyway and holding a hand out for Draco to tug himself up. “You’re not making it easy for me not to tease you,” he said, leading them upstairs.
Draco pushed Potter up against his closed bedroom door, the height thing working to his advantage. “You should shut up,” he advised, and pressed his lips against Potter’s, almost punctuating the sentence.
Potter opened his mouth to talk but was dissuaded when Draco stuck his tongue in his mouth, instead just moaning softly and grabbing Draco’s hips.
“Alright,” Potter said, once they were inside and lying next to each other on Draco’s bed, Draco engrossed in taking Potter’s trousers off. “I’ll top. I was actually going to suggest it anyway because I didn’t have time to shower before I came over here. Do you want to?”
“Do I want to what?” Draco said, blinking his eyes slowly. Literally all he could focus on right now was the feel of Potter palming him gently through his underwear. He lifted his hips towards Potter’s fist, chasing the feeling, and moaned when Potter took his hand away.
“Draco,” he said, turning Draco’s chin with two warm fingers. Draco looked into his green eyes and felt mushy and sentimental all of a sudden. They were such fucking beautiful eyes, probably the nicest he’d ever seen. “Do you want to shower? Because I’m topping.”
“Oh,” Draco said. “Good. And no, I did before you came over.”
“Oh,” Potter repeated, “Presumptuous of you, wasn’t it?”
“Well apparently not,” Draco responded, looking down at Potter’s definitely-interested-in-the-current-proceedings dick. “Since we’re about to fuck.”
“Ugh,” Potter said, “You got me. You really got me there.” He reached into Draco’s bedside table to get the condoms, and the lube that Draco had taken to storing there for easy access. It was fancy and expensive and they’d gone out to buy it together from a sex shop in Soho. “You want to be on your front or your back?” he asked, popping open the cap of the bottle.
Draco flipped over onto his front in answer, then eased out of his briefs and kicked them off the side of the bed. He reached a hand underneath his stomach and wrapped a hand around his hard cock, jerking himself off slowly and steadily. “That’s kind of my job,” Potter admonished, coating his fingers carefully with the lube, but didn’t stop him, “I like that part.”
Draco sighed deeply and removed his hand. “Come over here then. And do something,” he whined.
He felt the bed dip downwards as Potter moved over to straddle the backs of his thighs and kiss his shoulder blades. “Not that kind of something,” Draco sighed, “The kind of something where you put your fingers inside me.”
“Oh,” Potter said, and Draco could practically hear him rolling his eyes, “That kind of something.” He rolled off and started to nudge Draco’s legs apart, Draco spread them easily. “It’s called foreplay,” he heard Potter mutter.
“It’s what?” Draco asked, shifting his hips in impatience, feeling his erection rub against the soft sheets, giving him a tiny bit of relief.
“It’s called foreplay,” Potter repeated, louder this time. “With all the amount of work you did at Hogwarts I wouldn’t expect you to know what that is.”
“Because I was a nerd?” Draco guessed.
“Because you were a massive fucking nerd,” Potter confirmed.
Draco scoffed. “You weren’t fucking at Hogwarts, Potter.”
Potter sighed, “No, I really, really wasn’t. Were you?” he asked curiously, putting the tip of one slick finger against Draco’s hole, sliding it up and down in a painfully slow motion, until Draco was ready to do just about anything to get it inside himself.
“You’d love to fucking know that, wouldn’t you?” Draco asked, pushing himself backwards against Potter’s hand. The finger retreated altogether and Draco groaned in frustration.
“You were,” Potter crowed, “What you just said? That definitely means you were.” He cupped Draco’s balls in one hand and started squeezing them gently. Draco started panting, pleasure sparking up his spine and down into his stomach.
“Can you please put your finger inside me? Maybe I’ll tell you then,” Draco said, craning his head to glance back at Potter, who was staring down at where his hands were touching Draco with such awe that Draco felt himself blush.
“So polite,” Potter wondered, and pushed the tip of his forefinger inside. He worked it in to a knuckle, and then paused. Draco groaned again, still panting hard, desperate for more, desperate for anything. “Look at you,” he said quietly.
“I can’t, actually,” Draco replied, turning his face back into the pillow and flexing the muscles around Potter’s digit. “Also, do you think it’s fair that I have to beg you to finger me? I’m so giving when I’m the one who tops.”
“Do you not like this?” Potter asked, pushing his finger further in and moving, tiny little thrusts in and out that were driving Draco to distraction.
“I could like it more,” Draco breathed. “Do you want suggestions?” he asked, moving his hips almost unconsciously onto Potter’s finger.
“I’m always open to constructive criticism,” Potter said, and Draco felt another finger circle around his hole, felt a few more drops of lube dribble from Potter’s hand, over sensitive skin down to his balls.
“Okay,” Draco said, voice breaking as Potter slowly pushed another finger inside, as he felt himself stretching. “I was going to say more fingers, but it seems you’ve already got that under control.”
“It would seem so, yes,” Potter agreed, two of them all the way inside Draco’s body now, moving slowly. “Anything else?”
“More lube,” Draco suggested, “You can never have enough lube,” he panted. He heard Potter rustling behind him and felt a long stream of cold liquid hit the exact spot where Potter’s fingers were disappearing inside his body. He flinched away for a second before he realised what it was. “Like that,” he encouraged nonsensically. “There could be--” he cut off and listened for a second to the squelching sound Potter’s hand was making as he fingered Draco, “more movement?” he said shakily.
“Like this?” Potter said, and sped up a little, “You want me to find your prostate?”
Draco shook his head into the pillow, “Not yet,” he said, “I like feeling full first.”
“God,” Potter whispered, “You can’t just say things like that if you don’t want me to come on the fucking spot.”
“I like being full,” Draco said, then moaned a little extravagantly, but from the hitch in Potter’s breathing it seemed as though it had done the trick. “You make me feel so good,” he said. “More.”
“More like this?” Potter asked, and sped up again, thrusting his fingers in and out in quick, shallow movements.
Draco shook his head again. “More like another finger,” he mumbled, “Please,” he added as an afterthought.
“You don’t have to say please,” Potter said, slowing down, pressing a third finger slowly inside Draco’s hole. “You’re so tight,” he said, “Does this feel good?”
“Mmm,” Draco hummed, circling his hips until he found a good angle, until Potter’s fingers were close to but not actually making contact with his prostate. The sensation burned a tiny bit at his rim, but it soon faded into the background as pleasure threatened to overtake his body. “I’m going to come if you keep doing that,” he warned.
“You want to?” Potter asked, holding his fingers deep inside Draco and making a motion that Draco suspected might have knocked him over had he been standing up.
“No,” Draco said softly, “I want you to fuck me.”
“Okay,” Potter said, sliding his fingers out gently. Draco heard him root around the bed for a condom, then rip it open. The room was silent for a second apart from the slick sounds of Potter wanking himself off. “Now?” he asked. Draco laughed. “I’m just checking,” Potter said defensively. “God.”
“Did you like how I didn’t say please just then?” Draco asked, as he felt Potter line the tip of his cock up with Draco’s arsehole. “Oh,” he said, and fluttered a hand onto Potter’s thigh, “Stop for a second.” Potter pulled back.
“Everything okay?” he asked, leaning around to see Draco’s face. “We can do more fingering if you want.”
“Ugh,” Draco said, too content to even roll his eyes, “I just want more lube.”
“Oh,” Potter said, “Of course, sorry, yeah,” he babbled, almost to himself, as he quickly worked more lube inside Draco, then poured some onto his own dick for good measure. “You can never have enough lube, that’s what I always say.”
“That’s what I always say,” Draco said, breathing deeply as Potter started pressing inside him in tiny abortive motions. “Slow down,” he said, and Potter stopped moving. “Slow down, I said, not stop.”
“It--” Potter said, “It was sort of impossible for me to move any slower than I was without shutting the whole process down altogether.”
“Shut up,” Draco said, trying to relax his muscles. He put his hand back onto Potter’s thigh because he felt it had been quite comforting, before. “Okay, move again.”
Potter groaned and starting pushing inwards. “You feel amazing,” he said, which Draco did not doubt.
“I think you’re about to feel amazing,” Draco told him, because even though his dick was still hard and Potter’s weight at his back was really nice, he couldn’t deny that these first few minutes were always quite uncomfortable.
“Does it hurt?” Potter asked, sounding incredibly worried. “Please tell me if it hurts, it shouldn’t hurt.”
Draco wriggled his butt around a bit, felt the tip of Potter’s cock brush firmly against his prostate, felt a tide of pleasure wash through his whole body. He lifted his hips a fraction and let out this little uh sound, as if Potter had punched it out of him with his dick. “No,” Draco said, voice wavering, “Definitely the opposite of that.”
“Good,” Potter said, and promptly bottomed out inside Draco’s arse. “Can I move or should we…?”
Draco put a hand on his own dick and started moving forward into a fist and then back onto Potter’s cock in tiny, gradual movements. “No,” he said, “Is it alright if we just stay like this for a second?”
“Yeah,” Potter groaned, “I love it when you do this.”
“Do what?” Draco asked breathily, circling his hips and wanking himself off faster now. His cock was dripping a steady stream of precome and he smeared it over his length, his hand slick and tight.
“Just like, getting yourself off,” Potter replied, holding as still as he could, even though Draco knew every bone in his body was telling him to move. “I love how much you fucking want it, like you can’t even wait for me to fuck you properly.”
“I like it,” Draco panted, “When you fuck me after I’ve come. I don’t like it when you move much before then. And I like coming on your dick.” The muscles in his back and arms and legs were tight in anticipation, ready to be loose and pliable and post-orgasmic.
“Yeah,” Potter said again, “I gathered that, actually.”
“Fuck,” Draco whimpered, “You feel incredible. Fuck,” he said, and came thickly onto the sheets, clenching around Potter’s cock and opening his mouth wide, breathing hard into a pillow.
“Jesus,” Potter said, “I should have turned you over. I forget sometimes how much I love seeing you come.”
“I’m sure you’ll live to see it again,” Draco assured him, patting the hand that was on Potter’s thigh up and down. Lacking the motor function to do anything more elaborate.
Potter laughed. “You want me to move yet?” he asked, bracing his arms around Draco’s shoulders and pushing himself upwards, “Or would you like a few more moments to recover?”
“Could you pull out for a second?” Draco asked, moaning just a little bit when the head of Potter’s cock caught his sensitive rim on the way out. He flipped over onto his back and away from the significant wet spot he’d made on the bed. “Why didn’t I wear a condom?” Draco wondered out loud, “We’re going to have to sleep in a guest room.”
“Oh what a hardship, ” Potter replied, lazily jerking himself off beside Draco. “As if all the rooms in this house aren’t equally as nice as this one.”
Draco hummed noncommittally, then shuffled over until he was in the perfect position to lick a hot stripe onto Potter’s stomach, not really wanting to go near Potter’s still condom-covered dick right now.
“You can suck me off,” Potter offered.
“How generous of you,” Draco replied sarcastically. “Sit up against the headboard.”
“Alright,” Potter said, “I was only trying to say that we didn’t have to fuck again if you don’t want to,” moving as he spoke to do what Draco had said.
“Potter,” Draco told him, “I’m really not about to do anything I don’t want to do, trust me on that.”
“I can’t stand having anything inside me when I’ve come,” Potter said, “Remember that time I came like, thirty seconds after you got inside me and then I shouted at you to get out?”
“Yes,” Draco said, knee-walking up the mattress to sit in Potter’s lap. “This might be a foreign concept to you Potter,” he said, angling Potter’s dick with a hand behind his back until it lined up with his still-sensitive hole. “But different people like different things,” he said, sinking down on Potter’s erection with a half-stifled groan.
Potter thunked his head back against the dark wood of the bed. “You’re going to kill me,” he said, as Draco started rising and falling, his head thrown back. The pressure of Potter’s cock against his prostate was just on the right side of being too much, too soon. “You’re quite literally going to kill me.”
“Does that feel good?” Draco asked, bobbing up and down, his own cock not quite ready to be fully hard again, but on it’s way there. “Tell me how it feels.”
“Fuck,” Potter said, and brought his hands up to squeeze Draco’s waist. “You’re so warm. It’s fucking amazing. I love it when we do this.”
“What?” Draco asked, moving his hips in a wide circle that made Potter close his eyes and let out this deep, shaky breath. “When I ride you?”
“No,” Potter said. “Well,” he amended, “Yes obviously. But I meant in a more -- fuck-- general sense.”
“Oh,” Draco said, and rested their foreheads against one another. “How come? You like it when I’m nice to you, don’t you?”
“It’s pretty hot,” Potter admitted, “I like seeing how into me you are,” he said, punching his hips upwards into Draco’s in a fast pattern that was quickly becoming erratic.
“I’m so into you, Harry,” Draco said, and watched with glee as Potter’s eyes snapped upwards in shock, away from where he had been staring at Draco’s cock slap against his belly. “You should come now. I want you to come inside me,” Draco told him, with full eye contact.
“God,” Potter said, “ Fuck. Fuck, Draco,” and came. He stilled with his cock buried deep inside Draco’s arse, and Draco watched, awestruck, as his eyelids slid closed and his face went slack.
Draco lifted himself off Potter and slumped down onto the mattress, wincing at the feeling of the now-cold wet spot against his knee but far too tired to move. Potter got up to deal with the condom on unsteady legs, and collapsed back on the bed a second later, sighing against Draco’s shoulder. Draco managed to lift a heavy arm onto his chest.
“Do you feel like going on a walk?” Potter asked.
Draco started laughing until he realised Potter was serious. “I’ve just had various things inside my arse for the best part of an hour, I really don’t think I’m up for a walk just yet.”
“In a bit?” Potter asked, “I’ll set an alarm?”
Draco grunted and tried to push his body further into the mattress. “Put the cover over,” he said, hoping Potter would understand, and then smiling when he felt the soft duvet being maneuvered over his body.
Harry lay there in silence, and watched Draco watch him, and thought about how sad he had been when Ginny had broken up with him. It hadn’t lasted long, and after it had faded he had realised, with dawning disgust at himself, that it wasn’t sadness about her so much as it was about the life he was supposed to have and now wouldn’t. In hindsight, they never would have worked. Harry had made the mistake of thinking Ginny was the easy option, the gateway to an easy life, and Ginny was anything but easy. She was fierce and angry, she was brilliant and sad and clever, and she was righteous fury. Harry thought in another world they would have been perfect for one another. In this one, with everyone Harry knew composed of jagged edges that would never fit, perfect for one another seemed like a fucking myth. Harry hadn’t realised that Ginny Weasley deserved so much more than a person like him, who thought that all she was was peace and a place to call home.
Harry thought about Hermione and Ron, two parts of a golden, glowing trio. They were both better than him. They were both brave and smart and loved easily, and Harry had made a mistake about them, too. He had thought that they had spent their lives in the shadow of his one, thought that he had dragged them into his mess. Harry was starting to see that even if they had never met him they would still have done the exact same things, still would have fought, still would have been on the front lines, hair flying, clothes torn and faces dirty, casting spells with the exact same terrifying fervour. Harry had made the mistake of thinking Hermione and Ron didn’t have a choice in any of this, that by becoming his friend they had signed up for something without even knowing. They had known. And they had chosen. And it was pure arrogance to assume they had only been there for him.
Harry knew they had a long way to go, knew everything was bound to go to shit as soon as he told them about Draco. But things would sort themselves out. Because it was him and Ron and Hermione, and he couldn’t imagine his life without them in it, not for any great stretch of time anyway. And maybe it wouldn’t ever be exactly the same as it was before, but it would still be good, still be wonderful, they would still be the best friends he’d ever had.
Finally, he thought about Draco Malfoy, the boy who was draped over one side of his body, a hand tightly curled in Harry’s hastily-shrugged-on t-shirt. There was one thing Harry had never done, and that was to think Draco better or worse than he actually was. Harry remembered all the times he had thought Draco had been doing something terrible, remembered all the times he had been right about that. Harry stared at him now, pale skin and gleaming hair, watching him quietly with those serious grey eyes. His mouth was a thousand times softer than it looked, capable of things and words Harry never would have thought possible. Draco had been awful, and Harry had seen him be awful, and Harry had known he was awful. Draco had changed, and Harry had seen him change, and knew he had changed.
And then Draco had become wonderful. He was still full of the things that had made him the opposite, he was still tearing himself open and tearing them out. But he was also lovely, and funny, and he liked Harry more than was probably a good idea. And Harry knew him, inside and out. Other people had always been a fucking mystery, but not Draco.
He and Draco weren’t perfect for each other, not by a long shot. In fact, Harry thought, they were probably the two people on the planet least perfect for one another. And if so many things hadn’t happened they wouldn’t even be here right now. But they had so much stuff left to do, left to talk about, left to see, and Harry was gradually feeling himself become excited by the future again, by the potential held there. His future was going to be wild, and shaky, and probably he would continue to be more scared at the thought of doing normal things like getting a job than he had been at killing a dark wizard. Luna and Neville would be there though, and Hermione and Ron, and probably Ginny, too.
Draco would be there as well, of that he was sure, right beside him. Through the mistakes they would both make, and the things they would inevitably fuck up, and through the good stuff too, through the days that would make them so happy they would forget all about how it felt to be sad. It was going to be brilliant, Harry thought, and he wanted it badly, couldn’t wait to be living in it, changeable and uncertain as it might be.
Potter woke him up, and Draco griped but got dressed anyway, when he saw the look in Potter’s eyes. They ended up on the bridge that crossed over the lake separating Kensington Gardens from Hyde Park. The sun had set long ago and Draco watched the reflection of headlights approach and retreat in Potter’s glasses. They leant over the edge and stared into the dark water, calm and cool-looking. Potter took Draco’s hand and held it in his own, he was warm and it made Draco feel settled and comfortable, in spite of the chill air and the harsh breeze.
“Maybe we should get out of London for a while,” Potter said, then hastily added, “Not right now obviously, because I just got done persuading Ron and Hermione I wouldn’t do the whole no-contact thing again, and I already made plans to meet them for lunch tomorrow. But like, some time soon, we could go on holiday. I’ve never really been on one.”
“Where do you want to go?” Draco asked, thinking about holidays with his parents in France, the likelihood that they’d ever go on one again. “Not Paris,” he said, heart breaking at the thought of standing with Potter in the same places he’d seen his parents standing, happier than they’d ever been, happier than he would ever see them again.
“Alright,” Potter said easily, “What about somewhere like Norway or Sweden? You can do this train journey from Oslo that looks beautiful. Or we could go hiking or something, The Alps, Switzerland maybe?”
Draco nodded and stepped closer to Potter. “Wherever you want,” he said, and leaned his shoulder against Potter’s, feeling his body heat radiate even through the suede jacket Potter was wearing. “I’m easy, you can pick.”
Potter smiled, “Is Paris the only place you’re vetoing?” he asked.
Draco frowned in thought. “America?” he said, “Actually, anywhere with a long plane journey. I haven’t ever been on one.”
“Me neither,” Potter told him, “I forgot we can’t get a Portkey.”
“Sorry,” Draco said, and grimaced.
“Don’t apologise,” Potter said softly, “I hate them anyway. It’ll be an adventure. We can go to Barcelona and look at the Sagrada Familia, and all the houses Gaudi designed. We can go to Berlin, to the Bauhaus archive. We can go to Rome, Athens maybe.”
“I’d like to see the Parthenon,” Draco said, “I know a lot of facts about it.”
“Oh yeah?” Potter asked, “Tell me one.”
“I’m saving them,” Draco said primly, “For when we actually go.”
“Can we be the type of people who go on holiday every year?” Potter asked.
Draco closed his eyes. “You say that so easily.”
“It’s easy to say,” Potter said, “You try it.”
“We’ll go on holiday every year,” Draco said, feeling ridiculous at first. They were so young. They couldn’t possibly be planning their whole lives out on this feeling that could so easily fade. But they weren’t young, not really. And Draco examined the feeling, felt it settle deep inside his bones, felt it become a part of himself, and knew it wasn’t going anywhere.
“See,” Potter said, and wrapped his arms around Draco, “You’ll get the hang of it eventually.” He pressed his lips against Draco’s briefly, fleetingly, then pulled away to droop his head over the side of the railings, his arms hanging down as though he was trying to touch the surface of the lake.
Draco looked at Harry Potter then, on the bridge over the dark water, his face lit up by the fluorescent streetlights, and Draco had never felt surer about anything. Potter was so steady, so firm, so there. Draco tilted his head to the side and Potter stayed exactly where he was. He was in the habit of doing that, Draco thought, being unshakeable when Draco was being the exact opposite.
He looked at Potter and didn’t need to see their future together to imagine it. A small apartment that Luna and Pansy would help decorate, filled with plants that Longbottom would give them. A weekend tradition of having all their friends over for dinner parties, New Years, birthdays, year after year. A dog or two. Children, maybe, in ten years, in twenty years. The kind of love he’d never had, except in Pansy, and not even then, really. The kind of love and loyalty that would tie Draco to good things, like love never before had for him. The kind of love that would tie him to a good life, to good people, love that would secure in him the things he wanted secured and let loose the things he wanted gone.
Guys!! thanks for sticking with this, it was a wild ride!!! This has been my first ever fic and I genuinely felt so supported and thankful for all your lovely comments. It's definitely far from perfect, and I think for my next one I need to find some (a?) beta reader(s), but it's been so much fun!!!
Thanks for reading, obviously, and I hope you enjoyed it. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx oh also here is a short follow up to this, set an indeterminate amount of time in the future
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