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You Send Me (Honest You Do)

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It wasn’t that Draco hadn’t known.

Of course he’d known. He wasn’t a fool. And while admittedly it had taken him a while to sort out his own sexuality, and then a little while longer to separate the strange pull he’d always felt towards Harry Potter from the tangled-up mess of anger and jealousy that had practically burned him up from the inside out when he was younger, it really wasn’t too difficult for Draco to put it all together once he had the luxury of a little time, a little distance, and lot of maturity. He’d figured it all out years ago now.

It was just that Draco was also very good at compartmentalization. Almost immediately after he’d realized how deep his feelings for Harry ran, he’d folded it all up as small as he could manage and packed it away. Because there wasn’t anything to be done for it.

He thought of it like this: Draco loved the Manor’s rose gardens in bloom, and he loved the way the night sky held the names of his ancestors. He loved sunny summer days whiled away on a broomstick with the wind in his hair and a hundred empty feet between his toes and the ground. He loved wearing a well-cut set of robes, and cups of tea drunk from his favorite mug on cold days, and books that were so good he couldn’t put them down. And it didn’t matter that none of those things could love him back, that he couldn’t make any of those things love him back. His love for them simply was.

And so were his feelings for Harry.

And that was fine, wasn’t it? His work was more important, he’d told himself at first. Then, after they were partnered, it was more important to maintain his professional relationship with Potter. And then after that, his friendship with Harry had become something he wasn’t willing to risk on something so uncertain, and besides, by that point Draco had grown used to living in denial.

It’d been fine. For years, it had been fine.

But now with Harry looking so young, like the adolescent he’d never really had the chance to be, the very sight of him had torn all those old feelings open and Draco was reminded, suddenly and viscerally, how much he didn’t want this. Even now all these years later, there was still a small, tender part of him that couldn’t stand the idea of making himself vulnerable to Harry like that. That was terrified of the idea of letting himself fall hard enough where Harry would be able to devastate Draco with a single smile, a casual brush of his fingertips, or the words ‘Sorry, I don’t feel the same.’

The rest of dinner was honestly sort of a blur, but before he knew it, Draco’s fork was scraping the empty bottom of his takeaway box, and Harry was winding down some story about Ginny and Quidditch, and then he was holding out his hand to Draco and Draco’s stomach swooped like he’d missed the last step on a staircase in the split second before Harry asked, “Are you done with that?”

“Oh. Yes, thanks,” Draco said, laying his fork down inside the box and closing the lid before he handed it over.

Harry Vanished their rubbish, and Draco dumped what was left of his water into the creek before Vanishing the glasses, then picked up his satchel from where he’d left it on the ground and turned to Harry.

“See you at mine?” he asked, even though Harry had already stepped close to him. He shuffled half a step back.

Harry’s brow creased in a faint frown—normally they Side-Alonged if they were traveling together—but he nodded. Draco gave him a smile that he hoped didn’t look nearly as forced as it felt, and then Disapparated, reappearing outside the door to his flat. He likely only had seconds before Harry joined him, and Draco took out his wand and busied himself with unlocking the door to his flat.

A loud crack of displaced air announced Harry’s arrival, and Draco pushed the door open and stepped inside. He should have made up an excuse, he thought, should have claimed a headache and sent Harry home to his own flat so that Draco could have his emotional breakdown in peace. Well. Too late for it now. He didn’t look back as he heard Harry shut the door after himself and kick off his shoes. There was a thump as he dropped his bag, then a rustling as he took off his jacket. Draco busied himself with unbuttoning and hanging up his jumper.

“Coffee or tea?” Harry called over his shoulder as he headed into Draco’s kitchen.

“Coffee,” Draco said, looking up just in time to catch Harry disappearing through the doorway. A second later, the light switched on, casting a block of light across the wood floor.

“Good, that’s what I was hoping you’d say,” Harry told him. The cupboard opened and shut, then Harry’s shadow shifted across the block of light as he went to the stove.

Sighing to himself, Draco picked up Harry’s jacket from where he’d dumped it on the floor and hung it on the coatrack, then snagged the strap of Harry’s canvas messenger bag and took it into the living room, and switched on the lamps. He dropped Harry’s things on the left side of the huge brown leather sofa, where Harry seemed to prefer to sit, and set his own bag on the right. A swish of his wand slid the coffee table a bit closer, and another swish elongated its legs, lifting it to a more comfortable height for working at.

He could hear Harry moving about his kitchen, humming a bit to himself as he worked. Draco heard the clatter of the kettle being set on the hob, the creak of the cabinet door where he kept his mugs, and something about having Harry so comfortable in his kitchen set off a burst of longing so deep and so sharp that Draco had taken two steps toward the doorway before he caught himself.

Any other evening he would have gone in there, because that was what they did when they came back to Draco’s flat to keep working. Draco set up the living room, and Harry went to get the kettle going, and then Draco joined him in the kitchen and they talked while they waited for the water to boil.

But tonight, the idea of engaging in that sort of casual domesticity with Harry made Draco’s heart pound. He turned and left the living room, walked down the short hallway to the bathroom and locked himself inside.

“Fuck,” he whispered to himself, leaning back against the door. He tried very hard to not think of Harry in his kitchen right now, because thinking of how comfortable Harry was moving around Draco’s space made Draco’s thoughts go spiraling out along a path of painful what-ifs. It made him think about Harry here more often, maybe Harry here permanently. It made him want to see Harry in his kitchen in the mornings, still in his pajamas, looking soft and warm and a little rumpled with sleep, his bare feet making soft swishing sounds as he moved across the tile floor. Another burst of longing detonated behind his ribs, so sharp that Draco felt it as an almost-physical pain. “Fucking shit.”

He let his head fall back against the door with a soft thump, squeezed his eyes shut, and forced himself to take five slow, deep breaths. Then he inhaled sharply, pushed away from the door and went to the sink. A bit of cold water splashed on his face and a few murmured spells cleared the flush from his cheeks, and there, now. He looked perfectly fine. Completely normal. As if nothing at all were wrong.

It took a few more minutes, but eventually he had himself convinced, or at least convinced enough that he couldn’t justify hiding in here any longer. He washed his hands, gave the toilet a flush in case Harry was listening, and left the bathroom.

Harry had prepared a full tray for them, silver coffee pot in the middle, surrounded by the sugar bowl and a little pitcher of milk and a plate of ginger biscuits. A cup sat ready and waiting for Draco, the coffee lightened to a warm shade of brown by a generous splash of milk, just the way Draco liked it. And of course he’d used the ridiculous mug he’d brought Draco as a get-well gift years ago, the one that proclaimed “I Wish You’ll Get Well Soon!” in cheerful lettering above a picture of an anthropomorphic wishing well. The well had large lopsided eyes and a broad smile that looked faintly menacing. Draco hated that bloody thing, and no matter where he hid it in the very back of his cupboards, Harry usually managed to track it down and dig it out. The only reason Draco didn’t dare get rid of it was because he knew that Harry would only replace it with something worse.

Harry looked up at Draco from where he’d folded himself into the corner of the sofa, feet tucked up under his bum and the soft blue mohair throw blanket dragged off the back of the sofa and across his lap. “Everything all right?” he asked.

“Bit of a headache,” Draco said. He sat down on the other end of the sofa, leather creaking faintly as he got himself settled down, and very determinedly didn’t look at how comfortable Harry had made himself.

“That’s why you’ve been so quiet tonight,” Harry said, then asked, “You take something for it?”

“Just now,” Draco said, keeping his head down and his eyes focused on sorting through the stack of file folders he’d just pulled out of his satchel. “It already feels better.”

“Good,” Harry said. He took another sip of his coffee (and of course he was using Draco’s favorite mug, the grey one with the little cauldron painted on the side that was enchanted to bubble whenever the mug had something hot poured inside it) and leaned over to set the cup on the coffee table beside the tray, grabbed a biscuit from the plate and crammed the whole thing into his mouth, then fished out a file folder from his bag before he sat back.

“Don’t get crumbs on my sofa,” Draco said, more from force of habit than anything else.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Yes, Mum,” he said with his mouth full.

And just like that, the fierce yearning that had ignited in Draco’s chest settled down into something smaller, something manageable. Because this was just Harry, and he was exactly the same ridiculous arsehole that Draco had been working with for years now, had been friends with for years now. Nothing had really changed, except that Draco was a little more aware of himself than he had been previously.

This was all right. This was something he could live with. Nothing had to change.

Still, Draco’s ability to completely lose himself in his work was a blessing, and within five minutes his awareness of Harry had faded to something that lingered on the very edge of his thoughts as he worked. He finished his coffee, and Harry topped him up, and by the time he’d worked his way through a dozen folders and added another page to his notes, he’d even relaxed to the point where he settled into his usual position: turned sideways on the sofa with his back propped against the arm of it and a throw pillow propped against his bent knees to serve as a makeshift desktop. Harry unfolded the blanket from over his lap and dropped the end of it over Draco’s feet, and even that didn’t do much more than make Draco smile, make him feel warm and fond, and see? Sharing a blanket on the sofa was almost disgustingly domestic, but he was fine. This was all right. He was perfectly fine.

It was probably only that Harry looked so young right now. That made sense, didn’t it? Seeing him look seventeen again had stirred up all sorts of old feelings, like the silt on the bottom of a quiet lake. It made sense that things were muddled and cloudy right now, and Draco had panicked, which had only made it worse. He’d give it some time and it would all settle back down, and then everything would be clear again.

Maybe this all wasn’t even really about Harry specifically. Maybe it was only that Draco was nearly 30 and this was the point in his life where he was starting to feel ready to settle down with someone. Maybe it was only that, out of all the people in his life, he spent the most time around Harry. Maybe it was only natural that he’d project this onto him. Auror partnerships were funny things, running deeper and surer than some marriages, even. They had to, for two people to trust each other with their very lives like that. Maybe it was just that Draco was lonely and had reached out for the closest relationship in his life right now. And then Harry had had that potion mishap, and that had dredged up an old crush that Draco really ought to have outgrown by now, and really, what he ought to do is start dating again. Find someone else to fall in love with and put this ridiculous thing with Harry to rest once and for all.

It’d be nice if any of that weren’t a complete load of bollocks, Draco thought wistfully. Any of it at all.

He risked a glance up at Harry, who was frowning a little in concentration as he scribbled down notes with one of those Muggle pens he seemed to prefer, and there was that longing again, the sharp yearning that even being this close to Harry wasn’t close enough. Draco looked back down to his own work, and set his mind to again losing himself in it.

Potion cases were good for something, it turned out. Dreadfully dull, but an effective distraction nonetheless.

A couple of hours passed, and almost before Draco knew it, Harry was yawning and gathering up his things.

“No, no,” he said, waving Draco off when Draco made to stand up. “Don’t bother, I can see myself out.”

“All right,” Draco said, settling back down.

He watched with a strange sense of mingled relief and disappointment as Harry packed up his things, then put on his shoes and jacket, and lifted the strap of his bag over his head and settling it so that it crossed his chest, bag hanging down against his left hip.

“Night, Malfoy,” he called, scooping up a handful of Floo powder.

“Goodnight,” Draco said, and then Harry was gone in a puff of green flames.

Once the flames died back down, leaving Draco’s flat still and quiet and strangely empty, the disappointment of Harry leaving swelled up, quickly outweighing Draco’s relief to have him gone. It settled heavily into a hollow place in Draco’s chest that he swore hadn’t been there just a minute ago, and Draco wished he could go back to yesterday morning, when everything was normal.

Then he took a deep breath. Nothing to do for any of it but put his chin up and keep on as best he could. Maybe it was just Harry’s current appearance that was affecting him this way. And if it wasn’t? Well. Draco would just have to fling himself off that bridge when he got to it.

In the meantime… Draco glanced guiltily to the dark Floo before he reached over and caught the edge of the throw blanket and pulled it over himself, tucking it around his legs. It was still warm from Harry’s lap. Tomorrow, he’d start trying to bury all of this nonsense again. But for now, he’d let himself have this.

- - - - -

Draco’s resolve lasted exactly six minutes past nine o’clock on Monday morning.

He’d woken up and begun his day in an astonishingly good mood. The previous day, Sunday, had been easier than he’d thought it would be after Saturday evening with Harry. He’d gone to visit his parents in the morning and stayed at the Manor for lunch, and then got some more work done in the afternoon. He’d slept easily that night and woke up this morning feeling wonderfully rested. His 8:00 a.m. class had gone smoothly, and one of his trainees had brought him one of those enormous sugary coffee drinks in an attempt to put him in a good mood. It was something of an open secret that Draco loved those things, but could rarely be bothered to make the trip into Muggle London for them. But all of his trainees were under the impression that fancy coffee drinks put him a good mood and made him less likely to shout at them when they fucked up, and so far Draco had done nothing to disabuse them of that notion.

“Morning, Malfoy,” Harry said, entirely oblivious to the tremulous things his smile was doing to Draco’s stomach.

“Morning,” Draco managed, casting about for anything in their cubicle he could look at other than Harry’s face. His gaze lit upon a plate sprinkled with crumbs. He frowned. “Park again?”

Harry nodded, and sounded guilty as he admitted, “Lemon bars. They were really good.”

A flash of annoyance overrode his carefully maintained indifference, and Draco forgot for an instant that he was wildly in love with Harry Potter and looked up. And was punished by catching sight of a little smudge of powdered sugar by Harry’s top lip. He tried, and failed, to not think about how Harry would taste sweetly of lemons if Draco were to kiss him right this minute.

“So, what. You left the evidence here simply to taunt me?” he drawled, folding his arms over his chest and staring down at the crumb-scattered plate.

“They were really good,” Harry said again, and now he sounded defensive. “Look, I’ll save you something tomorrow, how’s that?”

“A start,” Draco said. Then, “How do you know there will be something tomorrow?” Park usually only baked once or twice per week.

“Her sister’s getting married,” Harry said. “Remember?”

“Ah, yes,” Draco said. “In June, right?”

“Yeah. Nothing like a wedding to make everybody completely lose their minds.”

“Don’t I know it,” Draco sighed. He hadn’t been partnered with Harry for all that long when Weasley and Granger had got married, but even from the periphery of it all, Draco had seen more than enough to be grateful that he had no part in it. Weasley had stopped by their cubicle almost daily to complain about his mother, about his siblings, about Hermione, about everyone involved. And Harry, having grown up with Muggles, hadn’t been able to commiserate properly about pureblood traditions, which were the main point of contention between Weasley’s mother and his wife-to-be. That had been the start of Draco’s friendship with Weasley. And the Weasley-Granger wedding had been nothing to the complete circus that Pansy Parkinson’s wedding had been. “If I ever get married, I’m going to elope,” Draco said.

“Yeah, okay,” Harry snorted. “And then your mother will track you down and actually murder you.”

Draco shrugged. “Worth it,” he said. “Besides, my mother loves me. She’d make it quick and painless.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Harry said. “Well, lucky me that I won’t ever have to bother with that.”

“Oh, don’t even,” Draco said. “If you don’t know by now that Molly Weasley sees you as one of hers, you’ve got a rude shock coming.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Nah, I’ve got it all planned out. I’m going to wait until Ginny’s getting married and just do it then while Molly’s distracted.”

“Ginny’s seeing someone?”

“No, but neither am I, so I figure I’ve got some time to get that part of it sorted.”

“Does Ginny know you’re planning on using her like that?”

“Of course she does,” Harry said. “Once I told her about it, she said she wanted to use me as a distraction so she could elope, but we flipped a coin for it and I won.”

“Congratulations,” Draco said dryly, and how had they ended up talking about theoretical weddings anyhow? He needed this conversation to be over because this particular path of what-ifs was growing more tempting by the minute, and Draco actually had work to do today.

Harry grinned and toasted Draco with his mug, then discovered it was empty when he went to take a drink. Draco couldn’t help but smile at his little disappointed frown. Harry sighed and stood up, hooking a finger through the handle of his mug and tapping the bottom idly against his thigh.

“I’m going to go get another cuppa. Can I get you one, too?”

Draco didn’t particularly want tea, not after the sugary coffee drink he’d had already. But when Harry did favors for other people and they thanked him for it, he always looked so pleased with himself, a little proud and a little shy, and the only thing Draco loved more than that look on Harry’s face was being the one to have put it there. Draco found himself saying, “Please,” and reaching for his own mug before he’d finished processing Harry’s offer.

He tapped it with his wand to clean it, then handed it over to Harry, who took it and called “Back in a jiffy,” over his shoulder as he left.

As soon as he was gone, Draco collapsed into his chair like he’d just been hit with a Jelly-Legs Jinx. It was eight minutes past nine o’clock on Monday morning, and Draco was completely and utterly fucked.

- - - - -

The week passed every bit as painfully as Draco had been afraid that it would. The monotony of working through the endless piles of paperwork for the potion case was broken only by a bit of fieldwork on Wednesday when Harry and Draco were called up as back-up for a team of Aurors who’d set out to apprehend some arsehole who’d been Cursing everyday objects and slipping them onto the shelves of Muggle shops. They were only there in case the arrest went tits up, but the other Aurors brought their suspect into custody without incident, so Harry and Draco didn’t wind up doing much besides stand around for a couple of hours. Still, it was nice to have an excuse to get out of the office.

The other exciting news was the Healers at St Mungo’s contacting Harry to let him know the timeline for the antidote. Unfortunately, they’d run into a bit of a problem, in that after further analysis, the formula Harry had been dosed with didn’t match up with the recipe they’d recovered. The good news was they’d figured it out. In addition to trace amounts of the other potions that had spattered into it, it turned out that it had also been contaminated by an as-yet-unidentified form of growth magic. They were still working on figuring out the details before they proceeded with the antidote.

But other than that, nothing else had really happened. Draco had no other obligations at work or at home. And with only the one not-very-exciting case with which to occupy himself, that meant that Draco had more than enough time to spend mooning over Harry like a lovesick second year with his first crush. And worse, he felt so bloody obvious about it. Harry didn’t seem to have noticed, thank Merlin, but a couple of times Draco had caught Weasley watching him speculatively, and Draco couldn’t quite shake the feeling that Weasley had him all figured out.

As the week progressed, Draco began to give up on his hope that things would get better at any point soon because, despite his best efforts otherwise, he couldn’t make himself stop thinking about Harry. And the more he thought about Harry, the more difficult it became to resist sneaking glances across their cubicle at him throughout the day. Or how he couldn’t help but smile back reflexively whenever Harry grinned at him. Or the way the sound of his laugh or the soft brush of his fingers against Draco’s would make his stomach flutter. And throughout it all, a part of Draco was incredibly mindful of how young Harry currently looked, and it turned the longing he felt into a tangled-up mess that weighed heavily inside him. He felt strangely, irrationally guilty to be so strongly attracted to someone who looked like a bloody teenager, even though he knew that Harry wasn’t really. But the last time that Draco had found a seventeen-year-old this attractive, he’d been very close to that age himself, and he didn’t quite know how to reconcile that.

Even worse, he’d begun to daydream about what it would have been like to have felt this way about Harry back when they’d both actually been that age. If Draco had made all the right choices, if he’d worked harder, sooner, to become a better person than the boy his father had raised him to be, if there hadn’t been an entire war between them.

It was a ridiculous fantasy that even a Time-Turner wasn’t powerful enough to make real, and Draco would know; he’d looked into his options for time travel extensively after the war, when he couldn’t stop turning over and over in his mind what it would be like to go back and do everything differently. And then, as it did now, thinking about all the wrong choices scattered in his wake only left him feeling hollow and helpless, and aching for something he could never have.

By Friday, Draco was nearly out of his mind.

For what felt like the hundredth time today, he blinked and realized he’d been staring at the same page of parchment for Merlin knew how long. He blew out a long, silent breath, then cleaned the ink that had begun to dry on the nib of his quill with a wordless, wandless spell. Then, very carefully, he glanced across their desks to where Harry was absorbed in his work and idly waggling his pen back and forth between thumb and forefinger. A part of Draco almost wished that Harry would notice his pathetic moping; if nothing else, it would break this awful tension.

If nothing else, Draco also wished that Harry would at least start using his regular glasses again. But when he’d brought it up—subtly, of course, very subtly—Harry had shrugged and said that he hadn’t bothered to go pick up his things from St Mungo’s yet after they’d been decontaminated. Draco was halfway tempted to stop by and pick them up himself. The only reason he hadn’t was because St Mungo’s required Harry’s signature to release personal items. And while Draco could forge his signature reasonably well (it was a large, sloppy H followed by a scribble, then the loose impression of a P followed by another scribble; not exactly difficult to falsify) both he and Harry had reasonably well-known faces, so Draco would also have to get hold of some Polyjuice, and at that point it was honestly more trouble than it would be worth.

And, if he were being very very honest with himself, a part of him sort of liked seeing Harry like this, looking like the very image of his younger self. It gave him a bit of a thrill to see Harry laugh or smile, or at ease in Draco’s presence in a way that he never would have let himself be a decade ago.

A light tap on the doorway of their cubicle startled Draco from his thoughts. “You lads hungry?” Park asked, leaning halfway inside, one hand braced on the cubicle’s outer wall. A lock of hair had escaped her bun (she was growing out her fringe) and she pushed it out of her eyes.

“Starving,” Harry said, slapping his file closed and leaning back in his chair. “What are we thinking?”

“Tapas,” Park said, and grinned when Harry looked conflicted. “I know, I know, we’ve still got more work to get through and it’s not as good without the sangria. But we’re going out later, right? I’ll buy you a drink then to make up for it.”

Harry laughed. “You can read me like a book.”

“Nah, you’re just predictable. Also, Ron was laughing about it earlier.”

“Ron,” Harry muttered darkly, then sighed. “Well, I suppose I’ll survive without it. Malfoy, that sound all right to you?”

“What, you surviving?” Draco said. He arched an eyebrow and leaned back in his chair. “Well I was really hoping this is when you’d finally snuff it, but then again you’d leave me with your share of the paperwork if you did, so I suppose I’m all right with it if you don’t.”

Harry scowled and threw a stack of bright yellow Posted Notes at him. Draco caught it and threw it back.

“So that’s a yes, then?” Park asked, watching the two of them with amusement. “Wonderful, Ron and I are leaving now. We’re just going to get a little of everything and bring it back here. Ron’s reserving a conference room for us so we’ll have a nice big table to spread it all out.”

“Brilliant,” Harry said, gaze going momentarily distant, and Draco didn’t need Legilimency to know that Harry was envisioning it.

“My idea,” Park said, a little smugly. “I’ll Patronus you when we’re on our way back.”

“Brilliant,” Harry said again. “Thanks.”

Park grinned at him and ducked out of sight again, the sound of her retreating footsteps quickly fading away.

“Well,” said Harry, standing. He tucked both hands inside the front pocket of his black hoodie and rolled his shoulders. “My evening just got about a thousand times better.”

“Doesn’t take much to please you, does it,” Draco said dryly, stoppering his ink bottle and setting it aside.

“Nope,” Harry said cheerfully. “I’m a man of very simple tastes.”

“You’re easy, more like,” Draco said.

Harry shrugged easily. “Yeah, that too.”

Draco looked up at him despite himself, and Harry gave him a wink, and something inside Draco twisted itself up into a tight, painful knot. Draco huffed and looked away, and could feel his cheeks going warm and, ugh, probably noticeably pink.

It didn’t mean anything, he reminded himself. He and Harry had teased each other like that for years, tossing little innuendos and harmless bits of flirting back and forth. And it was all right because it’d never gone anywhere, neither of them had ever expected it to lead to anything, and that was fine. Most of the time Draco had fun with it, matching Harry’s ridiculous insinuations with dry wit and sarcasm, and that’s all it was, just a bit of fun. But over the past few days, it’d been getting more and more difficult to convince himself of that.

A balled-up piece of paper bounced off Draco’s desk and into his lap, and he barely caught it before it could roll onto the floor.

“Ignoring me now, are you?” Harry asked.

Draco tossed the wad of paper into the bin instead of at Harry’s stupid face. “I’m having a very lovely fantasy where I don’t know you.”

It was an incredibly weak comeback, but Harry only snorted and rolled his eyes, and then set to sorting through his things, and packing up his notes and pens and his work for the evening. Draco did the same, dawdling over his task by sorting through his files, deciding which ones and how many to take, until the heat faded from his cheeks. It wasn’t too long after he got everything squared away that Park’s fieldmouse Patronus zipped into the room, summoning them to dinner.

By the time he and Harry got their things gathered up and made their way down to conference room 3, Park and Weasley were already back, setting two huge paper bags down on the table. They helped unload everything, unpacking stacks of small cardboard boxes, which were layered with charms to keep the contents hot or cold, and spelled to Transfigure themselves into shallow dishes once opened.

Within a few minutes, they had everything unloaded and laid out, and even though he’d only been moderately hungry, the way the spread of food looked and smelled had set off an insistent gnawing in his stomach. He swiped an olive and popped it into his mouth while Weasley unpacked plates and cutlery for them all before they sat down, and began to load up their plates.

“Here,” Harry said, nudging a small dish toward Draco. “You liked these last time, right?”

Draco let out a groan that was positively indecent, but he didn’t care because these stuffed mussels were his favorite.

Harry snorted. “Thought so. You can have my portion of them.”

“I can?” Draco asked, even though he knew exactly where this exchange was headed.

“Mm-hm,” Harry said. “Because you’re going to give me your portion of the meatballs in exchange.”

“Oh, I am, am I,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. But he served himself a double portion of the stuffed mussels before he passed the plate along to Weasley.

“You are,” Harry said, spooning half the meatballs onto his plate. “It’s very generous of you and I greatly appreciate it.” Then he turned to Weasley. “Here, Ron, aren’t these the—”

“No, not happening,” Weasley said. “I want my chorizo and I want the prawns you were going to try to get me to trade you for.”

By the way Harry pouted, it was obvious Weasley had guessed right. But not to be deterred for long, Harry turned to Park, who laughed and said, “No way,” before he could get a single word out. Harry pouted again, exaggerated, which only made Park laugh again.

“You ought to see him with Ginny,” Weasley said to her, and Draco, who’d been present at more than one of those meals, groaned. “I’ve never seen such cut-throat bartering. It’s ridiculous.”

Entirely ridiculous,” Draco agreed. The way Ginny and Harry went at each other over every last dish made even Lucius’ pre-war Ministry wheelings and dealings look positively tame in comparison, and that was before Granger had got herself involved.

“I think it’s fun,” Harry said, scooping another meatball onto his plate before Weasley swiped the dish away from him.

“It’s certainly something to watch, I’ll give you that,” Weasley said. “I just haven’t got any desire to be involved in it.”

Conversation turned to workplace gossip as they ate, speculating about a new case that’d just come in today involving a series of break-ins. Normally MLEP would handle something like that, but several very old and very powerful grimoires of spells were stolen, so the Aurors had been brought in on it.

By the time they had all eaten their fill, there wasn’t much food left over. They split up the little bit that remained between the four of them and layered the containers with Preservation Charms, and Draco was happy with that, especially since he’d managed to get an extra portion of those potatoes he liked. It wouldn’t be enough for lunch, but when Draco went out late drinking, he usually had a light supper after he got home, and this would be perfect.

With dinner cleared up, they unpacked the piles of folders and stacks of parchment, and settled into getting some more work done.

Weasley huffed as he dropped a stack of folders on the table in front of him. “If I never see another sales invoice so long as I live, I’ll die a happy man.”

“I don’t mind the invoices so much,” Park said, flipping through her own stack of folders. “It’s the ledger copies that make me want to pull my hair out.”

“Hear, hear,” Draco sighed as he settled his reading glasses on the bridge of his nose, because fuck the ledger copies. The one he was currently digging through had been written by someone with appallingly messy handwriting, and their 9s and 4s looked almost identical, which made checking their arithmetic far more of a challenge than it really should have been.

Harry glanced across the table at the papers Draco had spread out before him and shot him a sympathetic look. “Yeah, good luck with that one. Meanwhile, I’ve got,” He held up a page from his own folder with a little flourish, “this.”

The page of sales records he held was long columns of customer information written in very tidy cursive script, which would have been perfectly legible if not for the fact that it was all inked in a retina-abusing shade of fluorescent yellow-green. Draco squinted. Park grimaced. Weasley actually recoiled.

“I know,” Harry said with a sigh, laying his paper down in front of him again. “I feel like my eyeballs are melting.”

“Suddenly, I’m feeling pretty good about my sales invoices,” Weasley said. “I didn’t even know they sold ink that color.”

“I don’t understand why anyone would think it’s appropriate to use on Ministry forms,” Harry said miserably.

Draco shrugged. “Well, if they’re a passive-aggressive arsehole who hates filling in Ministry forms, I’d say it makes perfect sense.”

“Cheer up, Harry,” Park said. “You’ve only got…” She leaned over and thumbed through the stack of forms in front of him. “...oh. Well, never mind. Good luck.”

Harry groaned and put his head down. “Trade you,” he said into the table. “It’s someone else’s turn to deal with this. I don’t care that they had to send back…” He lifted his head and squinted down at the papers before him. “...seventy-two vials of contaminated nogtail blood on November 6th. Knowing that isn’t helpful at all, it’s not worth being blinded over.” He put his head back down.

No one bothered to reply to him, but he didn’t seem to have expected a response. Draco got to work, as did Weasley and Park, and eventually Harry sat up with another groan and pulled out his page of notes, flopping them down over half of the overly-bright page.

They worked mostly in silence, pausing every so often to complain about poor penmanship or arithmetic errors. Harry lasted about ten minutes on the yellow-green file before admitting temporary defeat. He shoved it to the bottom of his stack of folders and pulled out one written in a workplace-appropriate shade of blue.

Draco labored through three more pages of the ledger pages before his resolve faltered and he sneaked a glance across the table at Harry, who was chewing idly on the end of one of the Muggle pens he preferred as he read through another file. Draco lost about ten seconds to staring at Harry’s mouth, until he realized what a sudden jolt of embarrassment what he was doing.

Draco looked hastily away.

At the other end of the table, Park was staring at him open-mouthed. Beside her, Weasley nudged her with his elbow and muttered, “You’ll catch flies that way.”

Park’s mouth snapped shut with an audible click. Harry glanced up at her, frowning.

“Sorry,” she said, shaking her head. “I just… thought I had something. It’s nothing.”

It was the least-convincing lie Draco had ever heard in his entire life, but Harry let it go with only a mildly skeptical look. He returned his attention to his own work, and Park sneaked a glance back at Draco. Draco contemplated the merits of crawling under the table and never coming out again. When he could, long minutes later, bring himself to look up again, Weasley was smirking faintly.

Oh yes. That arsehole definitely knew. Draco gave him a glare, even though Weasley wasn’t looking at him, and then did his best to focus on his paperwork, so that he could get through this stack of folders and move on to the part of his evening where he could drink.

He took a slow, deep breath, and let it out. Thought very seriously about pretending to need to toilet as an excuse to escape the room for a few minutes, but decided against it. No need to give Weasley anything else to use against him, and fleeing the room would only lead to more teasing.

At least having to put up with a few arsehole comments would be the worst of it from him; having grown up in a family that was constantly meddling in each other’s business, Weasley tended not to insert himself in other people’s lives unnecessarily, so Draco wasn’t overly worried about him trying to stick his freckled nose in to stir up trouble or, worse, start trying to play matchmaker. But Park, on the other hand… Draco flicked a quick glance over to her, and saw her entirely absorbed in her work. She’d only been Weasley’s partner for only a few months now, and it’d only been in the last month or so that she’d relaxed enough that he’d really begun to get to know her. He didn’t think she’d try to interfere, but he also didn’t know her well enough to say for sure.

Wonderful. Worrying about that would do absolute wonders for his concentration. Draco scowled at the open file in front of him, then very deliberately attempted to put the whole mess from his mind, and got back to work.

A few minutes later, he gave up.

“I’m going to make tea, would anyone else like some?” he asked.

Weasley grunted, Harry raised his hand without looking up, and Park said, “Please,” because she was a lovely human being who actually had manners.

Draco slipped out of the conference room. An Accio brought his and Harry’s mugs sailing across the Auror’s office. He wasn’t familiar enough with Weasley and Park’s cubicle to risk a Summoning Spell from this distance, nor did he feel like walking all the way over there, so Transfigured mugs for them it was.

In the break room, he ran through the comfortingly familiar motions of heating a kettle and steeping tea, adding sugar and milk as needed. A Locomotor mugs! lifted the mugs and set them trailing obediently after him as he made his way back to the conference room. A swish of his wand as he walked through the doorway distributed the mugs, and Draco sat back in his chair.

The short break had done him good, he thought. He no longer felt quite so flustered and off-balance, and everyone else was focused on their work. Draco worked through another page, one hand curled around his mug, the warmth of the ceramic soothing against his palm and fingers. He turned the page once he finished, and raised the mug to take a drink.

Across the table, Park abruptly choked on her tea.

“All right there?” Draco asked.

“Fine, fine,” Park said. Her face had gone red and she coughed again and patted her chest. “Sorry. Went down the wrong way.”

Draco nodded and went back to his work. Except the next time he lifted his mug to take a drink, Weasley made a strange snorting sound and Park was clearly fighting back giggles. Harry sighed.

With a sinking feeling, Draco looked between the three of them, at how both Weasley and Park had gone pink-cheeked from trying (and failing) to contain their laughter, and how Harry was shaking his head and looking exasperated with them. Then he carefully raised his mug above his head to get a look at the bottom of it.

There was a cock. Someone had spelled a sparkling cock onto the bottom of his mug, and Draco didn’t need three guesses to figure out who it was.

“You,” he said to the arsehole whose desk faced his and had apparently been watching Draco drink from a cock mug for Merlin knew how long. Draco lifted his mug and looked at the cock again. “Why.”

Harry only continued to grin, and Draco swished his wand. His and Harry’s mug swapped places. Harry liked more milk in his tea than Draco did, but that was a sacrifice he was willing to make in exchange for a mug without any crude bits of anatomy drawn on it.

But Harry only picked up Draco’s mug, raised it in a little toast, and then took a drink. And as he sipped, the cock got visibly harder and then spurted a little burst of sparkling come.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Draco said. Across the table, Weasley had his hands over his face, and Park had put her head down on the table. Harry waggled his eyebrows at Draco, and Draco very strongly considered throwing something at Harry’s face, and might’ve even done it had he still been holding the cock mug. “You know,” he said, “I’m wondering whether you were dosed with a deaging potion at all. Perhaps all it did was change your outsides to match your maturity level.”

“Entirely possible,” Harry said with a shrug. He lifted the mug and took another long drink, and winked at Draco just as the cock ejaculated a second time.

“For fuck’s sake,” Draco muttered again, and thought to himself, I can’t believe I’m in love with you.

And then he paused, waiting. All this time he’d avoided thinking about it in those words, because that would make it real. Being in love was something beautiful and terrifying, and the idea of being in love alone was almost unbearable. He waited for the crushing despair to set it. The hopelessness. He waited to feel trapped, to feel dragged down by his longing for someone who didn’t feel the same. This was the first time he’d admitted those three words to himself: I’m in love. He’d expected this to feel like the world ending.

But all he felt was a strange sort of lightness, a funny little thrill that shivered up from the very bottom of his lungs and reverberated through his chest.

I’m in love, he thought again, reckless and dizzy with it. He looked up at Harry, who caught his eye and smiled. And all Draco could do was smile back.

- - - - -

“Done!” Weasley said nearly two hours later. He slapped his final folder closed and grinned, looking enormously pleased with himself as he looked between the other three, who were all still working.

“Nearly done,” Park said without looking up from the pages she had spread out in front of her.

“Ready to be done,” Harry said, groaning. He was back on the yellow-green pages, and he pushed them away. “I’m fine with calling it here.” He slid his fingers up behind his glasses and rubbed wearily. “Fuck, my eyes.”

Draco still had another handful of folders to work through, but getting through those ledger pages had sapped his motivation to continue on with the rest down to nearly nothing. At least he’d got through the worst of it, and could come in to face the rest of these files with a clear mind. A quick flip through them assured him that it was mostly sales invoices and packing lists from deliveries, and those weren’t bad at all.

“Have we figured out where we’re going?” he asked, starting to stack up his things.

“The usual,” Weasley said. He’d already shoved his folders into a haphazard pile and gathered it into the crook of his arm. “I owled Hermione earlier and she’s going to meet us there.” He paused and checked his pocket watch. “Ah, right on time. We should just beat her if we leave in the next few minutes.”

Harry approached Draco as they gathered up their things. “Here,” he said, holding out his stack of folders with his notes and quill and ink bottle and empty mug balanced on top. “Give me your food.”

“What?” Draco asked, but he let Harry settle his things in Draco’s arms on top of his own stack, and took the box of leftover food from him.

“I’ll go owl this to your place for you, so you don’t have to carry it,” Harry said. “And you take my things back for me?”

“All right,” Draco said. “See you in a few minutes, then.”

He and Harry left the conference room and set out in opposite directions. Back in their cubicle, Draco took the time to put his own things away neatly, but left Harry’s stacked in the middle of his messy desk. Best to leave them all in plain sight or Harry would never be able to find them again. Then he took off his Auror robes and hung them up neatly, and reached deep into his desk drawer for the extra clothing he kept stashed in there. The button-up shirt he wore got taken off and folded away in his satchel, and the lightweight royal blue jumper he’d pulled out of his drawer got pulled on. A quick spell smoothed his mussed hair, and he slung the strap of his satchel over his shoulder and headed out to the lifts.

Weasley and Harry weren’t back, but Park was already waiting. She’d taken off her robes as well, leaving her dressed in pinstriped trousers, a teal blouse with a black jacket over it, and the sturdy dragonhide boots she always wore at work. She was busy pulling pins from her hair, letting it down from the no-nonsense bun she kept it pinned up into while on the job. She shook it loose, murmured a spell to smooth where being tied up in a bun all day had pressed waves into it, then gathered it back into a neat ponytail. Another murmured spell swept her almost-grown-out fringe neatly back from her face. Draco waited until she’d finished before he approached her.

“So,” Draco said, stepping up beside her. He couldn’t quite bring himself to make eye contact. “About what you think you saw…”

“What?” she asked, looking up at him. Her expression cleared once she caught sight of the look on his face. “Oh, you mean about how you were looking at Harry like you wanted to climb into his lap?”

Draco opened his mouth. Shut his mouth again. Then exhaled sharply through his nose and said, still not quite meeting her eyes, “You know, I think I liked you better when you were afraid of me.”

Park shrugged, looking far too amused. “You’re not nearly as scary as you think you are, you know.”

“Tell that to my trainees,” Draco muttered. He knew that his reputation preceded him, both for his lack of patience for any sort of foolishness in his training room, and for his past deeds; his Dark Mark and Death Eater past were common knowledge, and some people weren’t able to see past it.

Park shrugged again and didn’t say anything else, and Draco had to force himself to pick up the dropped thread of conversation.

“So,” he said. “About Potter…”

“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me,” she said, an edge of sarcasm coloring her voice. “Merlin, what are we, second years? I’m not going to say anything about it. Though, if you want my opinion—”

“I don’t,” Draco said.

“—you might want to be a little less obvious about it if you don’t want him to catch on.” She paused, and eyed him speculatively. “Unless you want him to catch on.”

“I don’t,” Draco said.

Park shrugged. “Suit yourself. In any case.” She tipped her head, indicating something behind him.

Draco half-turned to follow the motion, and saw Harry and Weasley coming down the hall toward them. Draco sucked in a deep breath and squared his shoulders, and Park made a strange sound, like she’d nearly snorted and tried to muffle the sound at the last second. Draco glared at her and nudged her sharply with his elbow; she elbowed him back. And then Weasley and Harry were there, and Draco turned away to push the button to call the lift.

Weasley and Harry were talking about George’s joke shop, something about a new line of products he was developing, and Draco tuned them out. The lift arrived quickly and they all piled in, and took it down to the Atrium. Draco lingered and followed the other three across the room to the Apparition Point, where they Apparated one by one to Diagon Alley.

Draco Apparated last, and was grateful for a few moments to compose himself. At this time in the evening, the Atrium was almost entirely deserted. The only other person down here was Milton, one of the custodians. He was on the far side of the room, commanding a small army of mops with measured flicks of his wand, sending them scrubbing over the marble floor in precise swishes. He noticed Draco watching, and gave him a wave, and then twirled his wand at the mops, which split up into pairs and swirled around each other like dancers in what Draco thought might be a Viennese waltz, but it was hard to make it out for sure at this distance, and also, well, mops. Still, it made Draco smile, and he waved back to Milton before he stepped onto the Apparition Point, delineated by an inlay of rose-colored marble in the white floor.

Then he focused his thoughts and spun in place, and stepped onto the Apparition Point in Diagon Alley, a space about ten feet across tucked between two buildings that had been paved in red brick. Gas lanterns at the four corners of the square lit the Point in warm light.

The others had already moved off it and onto the street to wait for him, and Harry was laughing. The bright sound of it set Draco’s stomach flipping like he’d just Apparated a second time, and the look on Harry’s face—eyes squeezed shut, nose scrunched up, mouth big and open and smiling—was like a punch to the gut.

“I know,” Weasley was saying. “Mum still hasn’t let him hear the end of it.”

“Oh my god,” Harry gasped. “And she still has no idea that Ginny was the one who…?”

“No, not at all,” Weasley said. “She thinks it was George, and George can't say anything to defend himself or else Ginny will tell Mum about that he was the one who blew up the bathtub last Christmas. And you can’t say anything about it. She’ll murder me if she finds out I told anyone.”

“So you discuss it at volume on Diagon Alley?” Park asked, laughing.

Weasley shrugged, unrepentant, and Harry snickered.

“She’s got a point, you know,” he said, rocking back on his heels.

He had both hands tucked into the front pocket of his hoodie and the loose garment made him look smaller, younger, and somehow more vulnerable here in the dim light of Diagon than he’d appeared in the bright lights of the Auror office. It made Draco think of long evenings working late, with Harry curled up on the end of Draco’s sofa, as comfortable and casual as if he belonged there. Draco’s imagination swapped out Harry’s trousers for a comfortable pair of plaid pajama bottoms, replaced this dimly-lit street for Draco’s dimly-lit bedroom, and Draco wanted so badly to touch, to be allowed to touch—

Annoyed with himself, Draco cut off that train of thought before it could continue. Absolutely bloody ridiculous, there he was fantasizing about Harry in Draco’s bedroom, not even a run-of-the-mill sex fantasy, just Harry wearing soft clothes and being comfortable in Draco’s private space. Honestly, he thought he’d be able to handle this better if it were just about sex. At least that way he’d be able to tell himself that’s all it was about. It was rather difficult to deny what it meant when he couldn’t stop daydreaming about Harry making coffee in Draco’s kitchen on a weekend morning, or—

“That streetlamp do something to you, Malfoy?”

Draco blinked and looked over at Harry. “What?”

“You’re glaring at it like it just insulted your mum,” Harry said. Behind him, Weasley was rolling his eyes and Park was clearly trying not to laugh.

“Oh,” Draco said, then shook his head. “No, sorry. Just, long week. You know?”

“I bloody well do know,” Harry said. Behind his back, Weasley waved his wand and little pink hearts drifted around Harry’s head, and Draco did his best to keep his focus on Harry to keep him from turning around and seeing them. “I was there for every miserable second of it. I can’t wait for this case to be over.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Weasley said. He hid his wand and the pink hearts popped like soap bubbles.

“And speaking of drinking,” Park put in.

“Onward, then?” Draco suggested. Because he could sure as fuck use a drink right about now. He gave Weasley a glare, then turned it on Park for good measure. Neither of them looked like they particularly cared.

“Good god yes,” Harry said, starting off down the street, and Park fell into step beside him.

“You’re an arsehole,” Draco muttered to Weasley as they followed their friends.

“Yeah, probably,” Weasley agreed easily. Another swish of his wand and a flurry of little pink hearts rained down on Draco’s head. He waved his hands, sending them scattering, and Weasley laughed and let them fizzle out.

Draco huffed and ignored him. He could see the sign for the Walnut and Willow up ahead, lit in warm gold lantern light. The weather-worn wooden signboard bore a painted image of two crossed wands above the name, lettered in dark green. It wasn’t much to look at from the outside. Or from the inside, for that matter. It was down on the less-desirable end of Diagon and more than showed its age. But Draco had been coming here since he was an Auror trainee, and the worn furnishings, scuffed tables and chairs and dim interior, were comfortingly familiar. And just by walking through the door he felt himself relax a fraction. With other people around, Weasley would be forced to tone down his antics. At least, Draco hoped he would.

There were several other groups of Aurors scattered around the pub, and Draco recognized several of his current trainees clustered at the far end of the bar. He avoided eye contact with them—really, who wants to see their instructor while out on a Friday night?—and followed Harry out into the main room, with Weasley and Park close behind.

“Here,” Park said, holding out her jacket to Weasley. “Go on and find us a table, I’ve got the first round.”

Weasley looked as if he were about to protest—he usually got the first round because he liked being able to sit back afterward and have other people brave the crowd at the bar to bring him fresh pints for the rest of the evening—but he took her jacket and followed Harry to a table near the back of the pub without protesting.

Draco let Harry have the seat that put his back against the wall, and took the chair next to him. Weasley sat on Harry’s other side, and draped Park’s jacket over the back of the last chair at the table.

The pub was warm and a bit stuffy, and they’d only just sat down when Harry fidgeted around, pulling his arms out of the sleeves of his hoodie, then dragging the thing over his head, and Draco gritted his teeth against the temptation to tell Harry to put it right back on.

Harry was wearing his Barney the Fruitbat tee-shirt today, the one with Barney perched on the rim of a mug of Butterbeer with his wings spread wide and a large speech bubble over his head that read “I’m batty about Butterbeer!” and Draco hated that bloody thing. He had no idea why Harry even had it; as far as Draco knew, Harry didn’t much care one way or the other about the Ballycastle Bats, and these days he was far more likely to go for a pint of ale than a mug of Butterbeer. But for Merlin only knew what reason, it was one of Harry’s favorite shirts and, to Draco’s ongoing dismay, he wore it often.

He’d never been sure whether Harry knew that Draco hated it so much; the first time it’d made its appearance had been very shortly after they’d been assigned to each other as partners, and Draco hadn’t been sure that Harry wouldn’t start to wear it more often if he knew it bothered Draco, so he’d said nothing. And now, all this time later, it seemed somewhat silly to bring up. (Besides, after being partners and good friends with Harry for this many years, Draco now knew that Harry would wear it more often if he knew how Draco felt.) So Draco suffered Barney in silence.

Well. At least Barney would make it easier to keep himself from looking at Harry overmuch. Probably. Maybe. It wasn’t much of a silver lining, but Draco would take anything he could get at this point.

Park arrived just then, her hands spanned awkwardly around four pint glasses. Harry was on his feet in an instant and they carefully redistributed the drinks between them, each ending up with two. They passed them over, Harry giving one to Weasley and Park setting Draco’s in front of him. He picked it up and drained about a third of it before Harry and Park had even had a chance to sit down.

He had the feeling he’d need it. This was shaping up to be a very long evening.

- - - - -

Several rounds later, the hopelessness and despair that Draco had been worried about earlier had caught up with him and set in. If anything, the drinks had made it worse, had sharpened his longing into something huge and painful, had made it even more difficult for him to keep himself from being so bloody obvious about it. He was trying, Merlin he was trying. But Harry was also right there, and Draco was a lot drunker than he probably should be.

The double of whisky he’d downed at the bar when it’d been his turn to fetch the next round probably hadn’t helped, but fuck. When had Draco ever made good choices.

In any case, when Granger finally arrived, she’d managed to put it all together in about ten seconds flat. And she and Park and Weasley had spent the rest of the evening exchanging amused looks and nudging at Draco’s ankles under the table whenever he stared too long.

And Harry still appeared to have no idea. He chattered on, blithely oblivious, laughing with his friends and thoroughly enjoying his evening out while Draco felt like his heart was tearing itself to pieces inside his chest. It was almost enough to rethink what Park had said by the lifts, about letting Harry see him looking. Because if Harry saw him and knew, then that would be it. He’d know, and the worst would have happened, and then he could let Draco down gently and then it would be over, and they could all move on.

...and then he’d catch sight of Harry’s green eyes, or Harry’d lean over and touch Draco’s hand to get his attention, or he’d say something and the sound of his voice would make Draco’s insides go all wobbly, and Draco would forget for an instant that this wasn’t a bad thing. A wave of sheer affection would twist through him, warm and fond, and for just a few long, wonderful seconds, he’d be so happy.

Then reality would set in, and his thought would run through the whole bloody loop all over again.

It was exhausting. It was pointless. And Draco was far too drunk to be dealing with this.

Park and Granger had gone off to the toilet together, and Draco was just waiting for them to get back so he could say goodnight to them and make his escape. His pint glass was empty, his tab was settled, and he was ready to be safely inside his flat with no Harry, and none of his arsehole friends mocking him, and he could have his leftovers for a nice light supper and then go to sleep and hopefully in the morning he would feel better.

(Or, he’d be so hungover that he wouldn’t care about it anymore. Draco was a practical man, and at this point he would take whatever he could get.)

“Another round?” Harry asked, standing.

“Not for me, thanks,” said Draco, seizing the perfect opportunity to announce his escape. “I think I’m going to head off.”

“Really?” Weasley said, surprised. “It’s not even midnight.”

“I know,” Draco said. “But I’m tired. It’s been a long week.”

“So that’s four, then,” Harry said, nodding a little to himself. “All right, back in a sec.”

Draco watched him make his way across the pub, winding his way between tables and chairs and other patrons standing around. Even a week past Harry’s potion mishap, it was still somewhat disconcerting to see him like this, the same movements and body language of his older, more confident self, but performed by a much younger body.

“Good Merlin,” Weasley said, sounding utterly beside himself with delight. “You can’t stop staring at him.”

Draco flushed even though he hadn’t been looking at Harry’s backside or anything. “Oh, fuck you.”

“You can’t,” Weasley said, still entirely too gleeful.

“Could if I wanted to,” Draco muttered.

“But you don’t want to, do you?”

“Fuck you,” Draco told him again, and it might’ve been the fact that he was more than a little sozzled at the moment, but the sheer absurdity of it all struck him like a Bludger to the skull. Merlin, if only his younger self could see him now. Mooning over Harry Potter while Weasley teased him about it, because by now they had the sort of friendship where they could tease each other. It seemed forever ago that this would have seemed flat-out impossible to him.

Weasley leaned back in his chair and gave Draco an enormously smug look.

“Shut up,” Draco said.

“Didn’t say anything,” Weasley said, and looked even more smug.

Draco glared.

Thankfully, the others came back to the table then, arriving within seconds of each other. Harry distributed pint glasses all round and took his seat just as Park and Granger returned.

“—it’s her wedding, I don’t know why Mum’s always after me about it.”

Granger looked helplessly at Weasley. Despite having married into his circus of a family, both siblings and overbearing parents still seemed to be something of a foreign concept to her.

Sighing, Weasley nudged Park’s fresh drink closer to her and said, “What’s she done now?”

“I’ll leave you to it,” Draco said, standing up before Park could really get going.

“Leaving already?” Park asked, looking up at him.

“Tired,” Draco said, then nodded to them as he pulled his jumper back over his head. “And we’ve got to work tomorrow.”

Park scrunched up her nose at that. “Don’t remind me,” she said.

Draco left them to it, and very determinedly didn’t look back at Harry when he left.

He made his way across the pub, pushed open the door, and stepped outside. As always, he indulged in a low sigh to himself as the door fell shut behind him, cutting off the light and the noise. He loved this moment, the first moment after leaving a crowded pub. After the noise and bustle of it, the street outside was dark and quiet, the air fresh and cool. It felt almost like stepping out into a different world. It was peaceful.

Lingering on the pavement, he took a few deep breaths and savored it, then turned back to the Apparition Point. The world felt pleasantly muzzy from all the drinks he’d had, and honestly he probably shouldn’t be Apparating in this state. Draco slipped his hand into his pocket, brushing his fingertips over the smooth metal of the jingle bell. He could take it to St Mungo’s, then be able to use their Floo to get home. This had the added advantage of giving him a reason to get a new Portkey. But no, he’d have to fill out paperwork for that, and the Portkey would take him straight into Triage anyway, he’d have to explain to them that he didn’t really need treatment… Well, Apparition it was, then. With luck, he was sober enough that he wouldn’t Splinch himself, and if he did… at least he had his emergency Portkey.

The Apparition Point came into view and he stepped onto it, took a few long seconds to find his focus, and then Apparated.

His Destination was a little off—he ended up nearly at the door of his neighbor—but he’d arrived with all his various bits intact. He walked down the hallway to his own door, unlocked it, and stepped inside his flat. Shoes off, jumper hung up, work bag stowed neatly at the base of the coat rack, lights flicked on. Standing in the entryway in his socked feet, Draco looked around. This silence felt huge and stifling, the emptiness expansive and aching. He sighed, more to break the silence than anything else, then flicked his wand and turned on the Wireless, adjusting the volume so that it played quietly. Then he went into the kitchen and opened up the window, collecting his mail and his copy of the Daily Prophet he hadn’t bothered to read that morning before he’d gone to work, and his box of leftovers that Harry had owled for him.

This wasn’t a bad end to his evening, he thought to himself. Standing at the counter in his kitchen, eating his reheated supper and perusing the gossip pages. Celestina Warbeck had just remarried again, and the Keeper for the Ballycastle Bats had been photographed outside a club with his hand down another bloke’s trousers. That made Draco think of Harry’s stupid Barney the Fruitbat shirt, which made him think of Harry, and Draco folded up the paper with a huff. He was being foolishly maudlin and he needed to stop, take some time to sober up and then go to bed.

He stuffed the last few bites into his mouth, set the kettle on the hob, and went to go take a shower.

By the time he got out, warm and clean and slightly more sober, he was feeling much better. He dressed in a soft grey shirt and a pair of blue and white plaid pajama bottoms, debated whether he wanted to wear his fuzzy yellow dressing gown, but that’d been a gift from Harry so he gave it a pass tonight, opting instead for a Warming Charm and a thick pair of wool socks instead. The Wireless had switched over to a talk show, and Draco turned it off with a swish of his wand as he passed by. In the kitchen, the kettle was whistling, and he whistled a little to himself as he went in there to make himself a cuppa.

He was just settling down on his sofa with a book and his cup of tea where a frantic knocking came at the door. Draco was on his feet in an instant, heart thudding. Very few people knew where he lived, and no one would come here at this time of night and pound on his door unless is was an emergency. He hurried to the door, yanked it open, and stopped short.

There was Harry, wearing that same determined expression he got right before he flung himself into danger on a mission.

Draco’s immediate thought was that something had happened, that there had been some sort of catastrophe and Harry had come to collect him to rush into work. But a quick glance behind him showed that his Floo was dark and cold, no tell-tale glow of embers that meant that someone had tried and failed to reach him.

“What’s wrong?” he demanded. “What’s happened?”

Harry’s eyes wend wide and he coughed out a laugh, and swept a hand through his hair. “Fuck, no. No, sorry, nothing’s wrong. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Draco frowned. “You show up, pounding on my door at,” He glanced over his shoulder, “eleven-thirty at night, what else am I supposed to think?”

“Yeah, erm. Sorry about that,” Harry said a bit sheepishly.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Then Draco prompted. “Potter?”

Harry blinked at him, then bit his bottom lip before squaring his shoulders. “So, erm,” he said, and he looked so nervous that Draco was momentarily thrown off, because Harry never looked this nervous about anything. “Just, don’t hit me, all right?”

“What?” Draco asked. “Why would I—”

Harry kissed him.

It was so unexpected that Draco didn’t process what was happening until it was over, until Harry was apologizing and stepping back.

“No!” Draco said, far too loud. “No, sorry. I just…” He breathed out a soft huff. “Honestly, I was wondering whether I’d slipped in the shower and cracked my head on the tile. Because. You just kissed me.”

“Oh,” said Harry. He was beginning to smile tentatively. “So, that’s not…?”

“No, not at all,” Draco said. “Maybe we could try that again, now that I’m ready for it?”

He reached out and caught Harry by the hand, tugged him back in and just like that they were kissing again. And it was so much better than it’d been in all of Draco’s fantasizing about what it’d be like. Harry’s nose bumped Draco’s before they figured out their angles, and his lips were dry and a little chapped, and his palm was sweaty where Draco held his hand, and Draco wouldn’t change a single thing about it. Because as much as he’d been waiting for this, wanting this, it didn’t feel like a destination he’d reached or a goal he’d achieved; it felt like a beginning, like the promise of something more.

“Shit,” Draco said, and he couldn’t stop smiling. He felt almost giddy. “I really was that obvious, wasn’t I?” And he didn’t even mind, not when it’d got him this, Harry Potter on his doorstep kissing him. Perhaps it had been silly to think that Harry hadn’t noticed. Everyone else certainly had.

But Harry only looked at him quizzically. “Obvious? About what?”

“Well, yes?” Draco said. “About…” He gestured loosely between them, suddenly reluctant to quantify the depths of his feelings for Harry. They’d only just had their first kiss; it was far too soon to be… well. There’d be plenty of time for that later, he hoped. “I mean, I’ve hardly been able to stop staring at you this week.”

“You were staring at me?”

“I… Potter, Weasley and Park have been mocking me over it behind your back tonight. It’s been, well. Embarrassingly obvious.”

“Oh,” Harry said, then broke into a big smile. “Really?”

“You really didn’t know?”

“No,” Harry said, laughing a little now. “Really? They both picked up on it?”

“Don’t sound so surprised, they are Aurors.” Draco looked at him seriously. “Honestly. You really had no idea?”

“No, none at all,” Harry said, pushing a hand through his hair, revealing that famous lightning bolt scar for a split second before his fringe flopped back down into place.

Draco swallowed. “Then why did you kiss me tonight?”

“I dunno,” Harry said. “I’m a little drunk and. Okay. I’m going to be really honest. I didn’t mean to Apparate here. I meant to go home, but,” He spread his hands a little helplessly. “Here I am.”

Draco stared at him. “So, you fucked up your Destination and, what, you just decided to bang on my door and kiss me when I answered?”

“Malfoy,” Harry said, exasperated and fond all at once. “I’ve been mad about you for years.”

“Really?”

“Really,” Harry said, smiling. “All the flirting didn’t give it away?”

“Flirting?” Draco repeated blankly. Then, “Wait, you meant all that?”

Harry shrugged. “Well, yeah.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Harry countered.

Draco didn’t have an answer to that, because honestly he had no idea. He’d had a whole array of reasons for why not, but in the wake of what had just happened, knowing now that Harry felt the same, every single reason he’d told himself suddenly seemed like flimsy excuses. The long and the short of it was, he’d been afraid.

He took a deep breath and admitted it. “I was afraid.”

“Malfoy,” Harry said. “Draco. You don’t need to be afraid to tell me anything. It’s just me.”

“I know,” Draco said. “I know it’s you, and that’s exactly— Why now? Why tonight?”

Harry frowned. “I already told you, I Apparated here. And it just seemed like it was time.”

“I’m worried this was just,” Draco shrugged. “I don’t know, impulsive teenaged hormones or something. And you’ll regret it when you’re back to yourself.”

Harry shoved at him. “Fuck off,” he said, laughing, then sobered. “No, I wanted this before the accident. And okay, maybe you’re right, maybe the reason I’m here tonight is,” He grimaced and waved a hand vaguely, “Hormones. Or maybe because I’m really very drunk right now, because being deaged has apparently fucked my tolerance. But this is real. It’s been real for a long time.” He paused and looked seriously at Draco. “You’re not doing this just because of the way I look, are you? You said, you said you’d been obvious about it this week, couldn’t stop staring at me this week.”

“No, it’s not… well, it is, but it was real for me too, from before. But seeing you, like this, it brought it all up for me again.”

“You wanted me all the way back then?” Harry asked.

Draco shook his head. “No, Merlin no. I didn’t figure out that I wanted you until years later, and I’d already missed my chance. I never wanted you back then; but later, when we were already past it, I wanted to go back and have you then…. Fuck, I’m not making any sense, am I?”

“No,” Harry said, laughing. “No, you’re not. Merlin, you’re drunk.”

“A little,” Draco admitted. “Can I kiss you again?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said, a slow, shy smile curling at the corner of his mouth. “Can I come in?”

Draco grabbed him by the shirt collar and yanked him over the threshold, Harry tripping over his own feet and nearly taking them both down. Draco managed to get the door shut and then Harry was pushing him up against it and kissing him again and the first brush of his tongue against Draco’s had Draco moaning. He clutched at Harry’s hips, slipped his fingers under the hem of Harry’s shirt and swept them up his back, and his brain nearly melted because he was finally touching and it felt every bit as good as he’d dreamed it would. Harry’s back beneath his palms was smooth and warm, leanly muscled, and Draco pulled him closer. He was starting to get hard, and when Harry slotted his thigh between Draco’s legs, Draco couldn’t help rubbing up against it.

And then reality set in, because Harry was sloshed enough to mis-Apparate, and he had to be sure.

“Wait, wait,” Draco gasped, pushing him away. Merlin, Harry was like a bloody octopus the way he was clinging. “Should we really be doing this right now?”

Harry blinked at him. His mouth was very pink and wet from kissing, and Draco was struck all over again how bloody young he looked. It made his heart squeeze tight. “What?”

“Well, you’re…” Draco made a vague gesture.

“Dear god, again with the,” Harry imitated Draco’s gesture. “Didn’t we already settle this when I came back to work? I’m twenty-eight, you know, I’m no less capable of making my own choices than I was before.”

“Well I was going to say that you’re drunk, but all right, let’s talk about that, too. You look like you’re practically a child,” Draco said before he could think better of it. Even as he said it, he knew how ridiculous it sounded.

Harry didn’t look at all pleased to hear that. “And what’s that got to do with anything? Even if I really was as young as I look, that doesn't mean I can't be trusted to make my own choices. You do realize that I was actually seventeen when I fought in a war,” he said flatly.

Draco frowned at him. “You do realize that I was there.”

“Exactly,” Harry shot back, and that didn’t even make sense.

“I’m nearly thirty,” Draco snapped. “I’m not in the habit of wanting to fuck teenagers. I look at you like this and I… can’t help but feel as if I’m taking advantage of you.”

“First off,” Harry said. He took a breath, and then went on much more calmly. “We’ve just been over this. I’m not really young, Malfoy, I know what I want. And second, it’s not taking advantage if I want you to do it.” He frowned, studying Draco’s face intently. “I mean, if me looking like this genuinely makes you uncomfortable, I don’t mind waiting. They’ll have me back to normal in a couple of weeks, a month at the longest. That’s not so long to wait.”

He was so earnest as he said it, so calm and practical and mature that it was almost jarring to hear that from the very image of someone that Draco remembered being so reckless and impulsive and impatient. He remembered being that young, and how imperative it felt to do everything right now. Waiting a couple of weeks, never mind an entire month, would have unthinkable.

Draco looked at Harry, really looked at him, at the easy way he held himself, the intensity of his green eyes, the thin scar over his cheekbone, and Draco had been there for that one. He remembered how fucking scared he’d been when Harry had caught that curse to the face, and how he’d staggered and gone down, and then come right back up casting, blood pouring down his cheek and soaking into the collar of his robes, and how they’d finished that wandfight side by side.

This was Harry the same as he’d always been, and suddenly Draco didn’t want to wait, not when he’d already waited for so long.

“I’m being utterly ridiculous,” he said.

“Absolutely,” Harry told him, and smiled. “So. Are we doing this?”

“Absolutely,” Draco told him, dragging him close again.

He took an enormous amount of pleasure in yanking that stupid Barney the Fruitbat tee-shirt over Harry’s head and flinging it away. Before he could dwell on it, Harry lunged forward and kissed him again, pushing him right up against the wall. Draco let himself be pushed, backed up and pinned in place.

It was more of a turn-on than he’d expected, letting Harry manhandle him like this, kissing Draco hard and pushing their hips together, rutting up against him. Oh Merlin, Draco could feel the hard line of his cock rubbing against his own, and the thin fabric of his pajama bottoms did nothing to hide it. He felt dizzy with wanting, like the world was spinning and Harry was the only thing holding him down. He clung, touching Harry’s back, his sides, his shoulders. He slipped one hand up into Harry’s hair, tangled his fingers and tugged, and Harry whimpered, and oh that was nice.

Harry came first, making the most wonderful little gasps and moans against Draco’s mouth, and he was so fixated on the feel of it, how Harry went rigid in his arms and how his hips jerked. Draco slid his hand down, brushing over the phoenix tattoo on Harry’s side, down to his cock. He rubbed gently over it until he could feel the dampness of Harry’s come soaking through the fabric of his trousers, until Harry whined and pushed Draco’s hand away.

“Do you want,” Harry murmured, slipping one hand down to cup Draco’s cock through his pajama bottoms, rubbing the head of it through the soft fabric.

Draco took Harry’s hand and put it away from himself. “In a minute,” he said.

“Mm,” Harry sighed, snuggling in closer. “In a minute.”

They stayed like that for a minute until Harry, still slumped against Draco, began to tremble. Draco’s heart skipped a beat, thinking something was wrong, before he worked out that Harry was laughing silently. He prodded two fingers into Harry’s side, and Harry laughed aloud.

“What?” he asked.

“Was just thinking,” Harry said.

“Don’t strain yourself,” Draco told him, and Harry slapped lightly at his chest.

“I was just thinking,” he repeated, eyes dancing with amusement. "I just came in my trousers.” He laughed again, a ridiculous snorting sound, like he’d tried to muffle it and failed miserably. “Like a teenager.”

“Oh good Merlin,” Draco said when Harry dissolved completely in laughter. “That’s not even funny.”

“Yes it is,” Harry managed through his laughter. He was slumped against Draco again, face tucked into the warm curve between Draco’s neck and shoulder. “At least, I’m drunk enough that I think it is.”

Draco snorted. “No, you can’t even blame it on being drunk. You laugh at stupid things like that all the time when you’re sober.”

Harry shrugged, then grinned and flicked a pointed glance downward. “Has it been a minute yet?”

“Bedroom?” Draco asked, already herding Harry in that direction.

Harry tried to kiss him in response and they tripped over each other’s feet and nearly fell over. Laughing, Draco pushed him on ahead, guiding him down the hall and into his bedroom and straight over to his bed, where he pushed Harry down and then climbed atop him.

Draco took his time with Harry, first teasing him back to hardness, then opening him up and fingering him until he was practically begging for it. By that time he was so hard himself that he could barely think straight, and that first slow push into Harry’s body was a relief so sharp he had to bite back a whimper.

Sprawled in bed afterward, sweaty and sated and a little sticky, Draco lolled against Harry’s side looking at all his tattoos. The oddly-shaped purple petals below his collarbone he’d caught a glimpse of in the hospital were wolfsbane, Draco could now see. He traced the phoenix on Harry’s side, following the path of its tailfeathers with one gentle fingertip where they curved over Harry’s hipbone and down to the inside of his thigh.

“Mmph,” Harry said, hitching his leg to dislodge Draco’s fingers. “Tickles.”

Draco kissed Harry’s shoulder in silent apology, feeling the magic woven into the tattoo buzz faintly against his lips, then leaned back to get a good look at it.

The shifting footprints tattoo was as captivating as ever, but Draco could see that among the human-shaped footprints, there was a set of paw prints. No, two sets of paw prints. And, there, a set of hoof prints.

“Was this always like this?” Draco asked, tracing where the hoof prints arced over Harry’s bicep. He couldn’t recall whether he hadn’t noticed it that evening in the hospital room when he’d been allowed to look for the first time. And admittedly, last night he’d been rather distracted.

“Mm? Oh, yeah. No,” Harry said sleepily, wriggling himself closer to Draco’s side. “Changes on the full moon. I’ll tell you the story of it someday. What it all means.”

With the full moon and paw prints, Draco assumed it’d had something to do with Professor Lupin, but he nodded and said, “I’d like that.” He wanted to hear everything Harry had to tell him, wanted to know every detail of his life.

“Too sleepy now,” Harry said, smothering a yawn.

“Then go to sleep,” Draco told him.

“Mm,” Harry said. “Our first night together. This is nice.”

And Draco leaned down and kissed the corner of his mouth before turning out the lights and curling in close to him. Because yeah, it really was.

- - - - -

Draco awoke the next morning warm and snug beneath the sheet, half-tangled up with Harry, and happier than he could ever remember feeling in his life. In his weaker moments he’d fantasized about what this would feel like, to wake up next to Harry like this, but every fantasy he’d ever had paled in comparison to the real thing. It was early enough that the sun hadn’t begun to warm to gold yet, and everything was dim and quiet and peaceful, and Draco’s heart echoed that with every beat, quiet and calm and sharply grateful for every moment of his life that’d led to him reaching this very moment.

That beautiful feeling lasted exactly as long as it took him to roll over and catch sight of the time, and realize that what he’d mistaken as the soft grey light of dawn was in fact the soft grey light of an overcast morning.

“Fuck,” Draco said. He nudged Harry. “Hey. Hey, we’ve overslept.”

“Wha…?” Harry mumbled, pushing himself up. “No we—oh fuck.” He groaned and flopped back down.

“Up,” Draco said, giving him a shake. “Come on, we’re supposed to meet Weasley in ten minutes.”

Harry made a grumbling noise into his pillow. “He’ll understand,” he mumbled. “He knows I haven’t been fucked in almost a year. He’ll be happy for me.” He yawned and peered curiously up at Draco. “How long’s it been for you?”

Longer than Harry’s almost a year. Much longer. “We are not telling Weasley we had sex last night,” Draco said instead.

The sheets rustled as Harry rolled over and looked up at him, squinting a little without his glasses. “Why not?”

“Because—that’s not—I’m—” Draco sputtered. “It’s none of his business!”

“Oh,” Harry said quietly, and the soft, almost-hurt tone made Draco realized that he’d got something very wrong here. “I mean. If you wanted to make this a one-time thing, that’s fine. But I sort of assumed from the way you were talking last night that you wanted a relationship, not just sex.”

“We can tell him about the relationship part,” Draco said quickly, grabbing for Harry’s hand and holding tight as Harry broke into a smile bright with relief. “I don’t care who we tell about the relationship part, we can tell the whole world if you want. It’s all the rest I don’t want to share.”

“All the naked stuff?” Harry asked.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Yes, Potter. All the naked stuff.” He stretched and then rolled out of bed, paused and looked over his shoulder when Harry made no move to follow. “Are you coming?”

Inexplicably, Harry sputtered and reddened. “Er, no. You go on.”

“All right, there?” Draco asked, and couldn’t quite hide a smirk. He had a fair idea of what was wrong, and in that case he couldn’t have chosen his wording more perfectly. Oh, except if he’d asked if Harry was having a hard time, that would have been better.

“Yeah, fine,” Harry said sullenly, then sighed and flopped back in the bed. The soft cotton sheets did absolutely nothing to disguise the shape of his hard cock. “I’ll tell you this, though. One thing I do not miss about being a teenager is all the inappropriate boners.”

Draco snorted. “You were naked in bed with a, dare I say, very attractive man. I’d hardly call that inappropriate.”

“We were discussing our relationship. My dick’s not involved in that,” Harry grumbled, pressing the palm of his hand over his cock. His hips twitched up, and he sighed. “Ugh. We have to go to work.”

Draco grabbed the edge of the sheet and whipped it off him, and Harry looked momentarily startled before a slow, delighted smile spread over his face.

He crawled up onto the bed, pushing his way between Harry’s legs so he was settled between them, his own thighs holding Harry’s spread wide, and then leaned in because Draco was quickly learning that he couldn’t resist kissing Harry when he smiled like that. He kept it slow and sweet, just the warm pressure of his lips against Harry’s, and then slipped his hand down and wrapped it tightly around Harry’s cock.

Harry gasped into Draco’s mouth, and Draco kissed the corner of Harry’s mouth, Harry’s neck, Harry’s shoulder.

“What are you—Fuck, Malfoy. We can’t, we’ve got to go in, we’re… oh, oh god.” His whole body shuddered, curling up, the muscles in his belly going taut.

Draco put his hand in the center of Harry’s chest and pushed him back down against the mattress, and a thrill went through him when Harry went willingly, let himself be arranged how Draco wished. “The other thing about being a teenager,” he said into Harry’s ear as he wanked him in long, sure strokes, “is how little time it takes to get you off.”

“Fuck, fuck,” Harry was gasping. His hands were clenching and unclenching against his own thighs, and this right here was everything Draco had ever wanted.

His heart felt so full that he thought it was a miracle it didn’t burst, Merlin he loved Harry so much. The words nearly slipped out, and he leaned down and took the head of Harry’s cock into his mouth, suckling lightly at the tip for a few long seconds until he had control of his tongue again. And honestly, it was more difficult than he’d thought it would be to make himself stop. But he pulled away because as much as he wanted to suck Harry off, take him all the way down his throat and swallow everything he had to give, right now he wanted to be able to watch Harry come, and he couldn’t do that and blow him at the same time.

“Next time,” Draco said, feeling giddy with the thought that there very well would be a next time. “Next time, I’m going to suck your cock.”

Harry whined deep in his throat. “Fuck, you can’t just say things like that, not when I’m—”

“When you’re what?” Draco asked, continuing to stroke him. He rubbed his thumb under the head of Harry’s cock, and Harry’s hips jerked, a drop of precome welling up at the tip. “Come on, tell me.”

“Don’t make me, I can’t, I can’t.” And then he came all over Draco’s fingers.

Draco stroked him through it until Harry went boneless against the bed, the tension flooding out of his body in a sudden rush. Draco flopped down beside him, propped up on an elbow, and couldn’t resist reaching out and tracing the petals of a red flower inked below Harry’s collarbone.

“D’you want…?” Harry asked, reaching over to clumsily pet at Draco’s cock.

“No,” Draco said. “That’s all right.”

“Oh, but you…”

Draco leaned down and kissed him. “We have to go to work,” he said. “You can return the favor tonight.”

“Mm,” Harry said. He caught Draco’s wrist and drew it over to his mouth so he could press a kiss to the center of Draco’s palm, then blinked at him a little sleepily. “That’s a good plan. I’ll ride you, I think. Bet you’d like that, lying back, watching me fuck myself on your cock.”

Draco would like that. He’d like that very much indeed. And a full day of looking forward to it, well. Anticipation always made satisfaction all the sweeter.

“That’s a very good plan,” he said. “I’m going to hold you to it.”

Harry smiled. He was still warm and loose from his orgasm, but his eyes had begun to look a little clearer, some of the muzziness fading away. “Good,” he said.

Draco let them lay about for another couple of minutes, and then he really couldn’t put it off any longer. “Come on,” he said, tugging at Harry. “Let’s go shower.” He pulled Harry out of bed and led him into the bathroom, realizing too late that he’d forgot—

“Oh!” Harry said, delighted, reaching out and grasping one sleeve of Draco’s fuzzy yellow dressing gown. “Oh my god, you kept it. You use it? You actually use it!”

“My other dressing gown is in the wash,” Draco said primly, lying through his teeth.

“You’re a liar!” Harry said, still grinning. He lifted up the sleeve he held and made it wave at Draco. “You actually use it. Come on, admit it. Admit that you use it.”

“Merlin, fine, if it’ll get you to shut up about it.” He reached out and smacked Harry’s bum, and Harry hopped sideways, out of Draco’s reach, tripped over the edge of the bathmat and had to catch himself over the towel bar.

“Malfoy,” Harry said, grinning and entirely undaunted by his near-fall. “I am never going to shut up about it.” Then, “You know, I use the socks you get me.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. It, erm. Makes me think of you.”

And Draco had no idea what to say to that, so he said nothing at all, just leaned in and kissed Harry slow and sweet and let that say everything for him.

Given the way Harry melted against him, Draco thought he got his point across quite nicely indeed.

- - - - -

When their case finally broke, it wasn’t due to any bit of clever detective work. It wasn’t a result of the long hours they’d all put in, nor did it have anything to do with those countless stacks of records they’d sorted through and analyzed in painful detail.

No, when their case broke the following week, it was a complete coincidence, and it was only by sheer luck that Draco was in the right place at the right time to catch it.

Draco was coming back from the toilet, dawdling a little because he really didn’t want to spend yet another afternoon sorting through sale records, and indulging in a little bit of harmless fantasizing about Harry down on his knees, hidden under Draco’s desk and giving him a blowjob right there in their cubicle. He and Harry both took their jobs far too seriously to actually do it, but Draco thought maybe he could convince Harry to recreate that specific scenario at Draco’s desk at home later that evening when they took a break for dinner and went back to Draco’s flat to get in a few more hours of work. But his fantasy was interrupted as he approached the Auror Office. He heard the commotion before he saw it, and shook off his thoughts, instantly on alert.

“Sir. Sir, if you’ll— Sir,” Emma, the witch who worked the reception desk at the front of the Auror Office, was saying, trying futilely to cram a word in edgewise to the tirade that the wizard in front of her desk was currently off on at full volume.

“—and where has that got me? Nowhere! Absolutely nowhere! So I will NOT calm down until you send someone to have that man arrested! I lost all of my zinnias, all of them! Because he can’t keep his bloody animals on his own property!”

Draco sighed a little to himself and tried to walk quietly so that the wizard wouldn’t catch sight of him. This happened from time to time. Someone had a complaint and they didn’t get a response from the Ministry right away so they came down to take care of it themselves. And of course, rather than going through the proper channels, they went right to the top, or as near the top as they could figure out how to get. So of course this bloke had come to the Aurors about his goat problem. Probably only done it because he hadn’t been able to find his way down to the Department of Mysteries. As if the Unspeakables, or the Aurors for that matter, didn’t have enough to do. Really, this sounded as if it’d be a waste of MLEP time and manpower.

“And furthermore! This isn’t even the first time it’s happened! Last time I lost my entire crop of begonias when those bloody nogtails of his ate them! Not just any begonias, either, I specially charm them to grow all year. Have you got any idea how hard it is to get begonias to grow in England in the winter?”

Something twigged deep in Draco’s brain and he froze midstep. A moment later, it clicked, and he whipped around. “What did you say?”

“Finally! Someone who’ll take me seriously! Did you know that I’ve written thirty-seven letters? Thirty-seven letters! My name is Harold Stuart, that’s S-T-U-A-R-T, and I’m here to report that my neighbor, Phineas Phillips—you’ll want to write that down, it’s Phillips-with-two-Ls—refuses to fix his fence and those blasted nogtails of his keep getting into my garden. He practically keeps a zoo over there, but those nogtails are the worst. I grow flowers, you see, and sell to florists all over England, and three weeks ago they got into my zinnias. They’ll eat anything, you know, even though I—”

“The begonias,” Draco interrupted. Three weeks for the zinnias, that fit perfectly. “Tell me about the spells you use on them? To make them grow? And when did this happen?”

“The begonias were back in October,” Mr Stuart said, and Draco’s heart picked up because yes, they were onto something here. Mr Stuart went on to describe the spells he used to enchant his garden and keep it growing year-round, and the other times that the nogtails had managed to get onto his property.”

“Come right this way,” he said when Mr Stuart finally wrapped up his rant. “We’ll take down an official statement from you, and you’ve got my personal guarantee that we’ll be looking into this as soon as we possibly can.”

“Finally,” Mr Stuart said, nodding to himself. He sounded pleased as punch. “It’s about time.”

Draco led him across the Auror Office, all the way back to his cubicle.

“Malfoy, you feel like lunch—” Harry began, and broke off when he saw that Draco wasn’t alone.

“Mr Stuart, this is Auror Potter. Would you please tell him what you told me?” Draco snapped his fingers and a Quick-Quotes Quill leapt from his desk drawer and began to copy down everything.

As Mr Stuart launched into his tale a second time, Draco went round to the far side of Harry’s desk and began sorting through the stacks of notes Harry had taken on the folders he’d already been through. It was easy to find exactly what he was looking for; Harry had very helpfully annotated his notes with commentary in the margins that mostly read along the lines of DEAR GOD MY EYES.

From there, it was easy to track down the folder he needed, and oh, that yellow-green ink was even worse up close than it’d looked from across the conference table. A tap of his wand changed it to a muted olive green, and he scanned it quickly to find—there. November of last year, a shipment of seventy-two vials of contaminated nogtail blood sent back. The address of the supplier matched that of Mr Stuart’s arsehole neighbor.

Shuffling through his own sets of paperwork, he found the file that’d wrapped up the Jenkins brothers case. Sorting through their patchy records, hoping that they’d managed to write down the information that he needed, and… Yes. There it was. A shipment of nogtail blood the day before the Auror raid. Nogtail blood was one of the ingredients that had been in the potion that’d splashed Harry, a potion that had been mysteriously contaminated with growth spells.

They had their connection. Draco jotted off a quick inter-office memo looking into the status of their supplier licensing and sent it off, then sent another about the animals down to Magical Creatures.

Meanwhile, Harry was shaking Mr Stuart’s hand and assuring him that they’d be looking into it.

“You knew a spell to change the ink color?” Harry asked, wounded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I like watching you suffer,” Draco said. “Also, this is technically violating the terms of paperwork we signed with Filing. Did you even read the find print?”

Harry shrugged, which meant that he hadn’t. “Can’t be anything worse than having my eyeballs melted,” he said sullenly.

Draco only shook his head. “I’m saving you from yourself,” he said without looking up. “That’s what I’m doing, I’m saving you from yourself.” He sighed and couldn’t quite suppress a fissure of genuine fear. “Miriam is actually going to murder me over this. Even if I change it back, she’ll know.”

“I should hope not,” Harry said. “I’ve got a lot of plans for you.”

“A lot of plans for my cock,” Draco muttered.

Harry shrugged, but didn’t deny it.

“Thanks,” Draco said sarcastically.

“It’s the only part of you that’s been nice to me lately,” Harry told him. “The rest of you is horrible, watching me suffer through horrible ink colors, and whatever that was.” He gestured through the doorway, where Mr Stuart had left only a minute earlier.

“That,” Draco said with great satisfaction, mocking Harry’s gesture, “was me solving this case.”

Harry blinked and sat up straighter. “Wait, what?”

Draco grinned, and walked him through it.

- - - - -

The raid was organized not even six hours later. The Department for the Regulation and Control of Potions and Potion Ingredients got back to him quickly, saying that they didn’t have any licenses on file for a supplier at that location or by that name. The Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures also reported back quickly, saying they hadn’t issued any permits to raise or keep nogtails to anyone in that area. Mr Stuart was called back in and asked to submit a Pensieve memory of each incident in question. These were examined and verified, and a warrant was obtained. At the very least, they’d be able to arrest William and Eleanor Bailey for keeping magical creatures without the appropriate permits.

And so there was Draco, creeping stealthily across a muddy field with Harry half a step ahead of him. Weasley and Park were closing in from one side, and Aurors Jameson and Jimenez were standing by as back-up.

There were the nogtails that Mr Stuart had complained about, piglike creatures with long legs and stubby tails. A few of them flicked their ears, looked around with their narrow black eyes as Draco and Harry crept past, but didn’t seem to be able to see anything for sure, and Draco breathed a soft sigh of relief. They were heavily Disillusioned and swaddled in Muffling Charms to mask their footfalls, but there was always a small part of Draco that always worried anyhow.

They peeked inside a barn as they went past, finding several thestrals and a unicorn locked up inside, slipped past a pen of rather ordinary-looking chickens, and up to the house. A scummy fishtank containing a lone grindylow sat on the porch, and Draco and Harry crouched beside it, waiting for Park and Weasley to get into position before they entered. The Detection Charms confirmed there were two people in the basement, and the plan was to sneak inside and catch them by surprise. With luck, they’d have them in custody without a fight, if they moved quickly enough to catch them unawares.

Draco felt a faint whisper of magic as the wards fell, and a second later, Park’s fieldmouse Patronus appeared to confirm that it was time.

“Three, two, one,” Harry counted down, and Draco cast an Alohomora on the door, and they slipped inside.

They’d approached from the rear of the house and ended up in a kitchen. They swept the room, and the dining room beyond it, and then Park and Weasley came in through the doorway to the sitting room. Harry and Draco waited while Park and Weasley quickly cleared the upstairs, then together they moved to the door to the basement. Slowly, very slowly, Harry eased the door open with Draco covering the gap. The low murmur of voices drifted up, and Harry led the way down with Draco right on his heels.

A faint fizzling sensation passed over his body, but Draco didn’t catch on to what had happened until his pocket jingled merrily with the next step he took. Anti-Magic wards, designed to strip off spells of anyone or anything that passed through them. There went their Disillusionment and Muffling Charms, including the one Draco had cast on his pocket to keep that fucking jingle bell Portkey from making noise.

The sound of it ringing was loud in the quiet room, and gave William enough warning to duck behind a heavy wooden table. Eleanor darted into a broom cupboard and fired off a barrage of spells from behind the door frame.

Park and Weasley came thundering down the stairs after them, Weasley pausing only to fire off his terrier Patronus to summon their back-up, while Harry dove down behind a stack of crates, and Draco saw the spell coming almost as if it were happening in slow motion. Eleanor spun her wand through the beginnings of the motion for a Blasting Curse—and why the fuck did they always leap straight to the Blasting Curses?—with her eyes focused on Harry, and Merlin only knew what was in those crates, if it was potion ingredients how that’d react what with him being deaged. Draco didn’t think, just launched himself forward with a Shield Charm at the ready.

The Blasting Curse struck his Shield like a cannon blast, ricocheting up and slamming into the ceiling, and Draco was thrown backwards, had barely enough time to think, Oh fuck this is going to hurt, before he slammed into the cinder block wall and—

- - - - -

—woke up in St Mungo’s.

His head was throbbing dully beneath the fog of what felt like some very nice painkillers. Well, fuck. He took stock of the rest of himself, and nothing seemed broken, only bruised. That was all right. They’d probably let him out of here tomorrow morning, maybe tomorrow afternoon at the latest. He knew they’d want to keep him overnight, because they always kept head injuries overnight.

Sighing, Draco fumbled for the knob on the side of the bed that would raise the head of it up so he could sit, and tapped it with his wand until it was at a comfortable angle. He settled back against his pillows and frowned. Harry wasn’t here, and Draco wondered whether he was at the Ministry wrapping up their case, or if he’d been hurt himself.

He didn’t have to wait long to find out his answer.

The door opened and Harry slipped into the room. He was wearing a hospital gown of his own, with one arm splinted and tied tight to his body with a sling, and a nasty-looking bruise blooming over his temple. He was clutching a small bouquet of daisies and two shiny Chocolate Frog packets in his good hand.

“Sorry,” he said, nudging the door shut with his foot. “They had a truly hideous set of slippers I thought you’d like, but I didn’t think I could make it down here without dropping them.”

“The bright pink furry ones with the lime green bows on the front?” Draco asked.

“How did you know?”

“Nearly bought them for you last time you were in here,” he said.

“Fuck,” said Harry, laughing. “Should’ve known.” He laid the bouquet carefully on the table beside Draco’s bed, and tossed one of the Chocolate Frogs at him before he sat down in the visitor’s chair.

“You went all the way up to the gift shop for me like that?” Draco asked, eyeing Harry’s hospital gown.

“Yeah,” Harry said, then grimaced. “I’m pretty sure the shop witch got a glimpse of my arse.”

“It’s a very nice arse,” Draco said reassuringly.

“Not the point, but sure. Thanks,” Harry said.

“What happened?” Draco asked, picking up the Chocolate Frog. He brushed his thumb over the crinkly edge of the packaging.

“You mean after you threw yourself into the path of a Blasting Curse like a giant arsehole?” Harry asked, tearing open his Chocolate Frog.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that.”

“You are never allowed to give me shit for anything I do in the field, you do realize that, don’t you?” he said, then stuffed the Frog into his mouth and chewed as he fished the card out of the wrapper. He made a disappointed sound through his mouthful, then swallowed and said, “Another Merlin.”

Draco tried to swat at his knee but couldn’t quite reach. “Potter.”

Harry sighed. “I almost don’t want to tell you this because you’re going to be absolutely insufferable about it. But.” He sighed again. “You saved my life, Malfoy. Probably all our lives. The crates I was behind were filled with Exploding Fluid, and god only knows where they got that much of it. If that curse would have hit it…”

“Fuck,” Draco said, a chill sweeping through him at just how close they’d all come.

“Fuck,” Harry agreed. “Yeah. Well, thanks to your noble sacrifice, we were able to get our suspects safely into custody. Ron and Ji-eun are taking care of the interrogations. Best of all, they kept really really careful records. The Department for the Regulation and Control of Potions is about beside themselves over it.” He scratched idly at his wrist under the edge of the splint and wrinkled his nose. “Hate broken bones. Skele-Gro makes them itch like a bastard.”

“Well don’t poke at it,” Draco said. “I haven’t been out that long, then?” It couldn’t have been too long, not if Weasley was still at the Ministry instead of here bothering Harry.

“Half an hour,” Harry said. “It’s not even suppertime yet. And speaking of supper—”

“If you and Weasley want to risk the wrath of Mediwitch Marigold, by my guest. But you leave me out of it,” Draco interrupted.

“She’s on duty today,” Harry said, wincing. “I think she got a look at my arse, too.”

“Maybe you should keep your arse in bed,” Draco said, letting his pointedly-raised eyebrow add, Where you belong.

“But I wanted to come visit you?” Harry tried.

Draco sighed and rolled his eyes as he opened up his Chocolate Frog, pinching the wrapper to keep the Frog inside as he pulled out the card.

“Oh,” Draco said, breaking into a beaming smile. “Ptolemy.” He held up the card between two fingers.

“Oh!” Harry said, reaching for it, and Draco held it out of his grasp. Harry made another grab for it and missed again. “Hey, you know that’s the only one I’m missing. Give it here, Malfoy.”

Draco smirked at him and flashed the card again. “Come and get it, Potter.”

And Harry never had been able to resist a challenge from Draco.

He clambered up onto Draco’s bed and into his lap where he very promptly became very distracted indeed, and unfortunately for both of them he was still there fifteen minutes later when Mediwitch Marigold came by on her rounds.