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JANUARY

 

Harry had put squishy chairs in his office for a bloody reason. At the time it had only been because he’d thought they’d looked nice, and because they had gone with the green 'good-luck-in-your-new-office' rug Luna had woven him to go over the dark floorboards. Now, though, he liked the way that people would sit down and just...  sink into them. Deeply and inescapably. Then get this look on their face, as though they knew how embarrassing it was going to be when they had to try and climb their way out of the soft yellow cushions at the end of the meeting. Harry loved that look. He dreamt about that look. And Harry didn’t think he was a particularly vindictive person, but if Cho insisted that he had to have a bloody office then he was damn well going to make it as inconvenient as possible for everyone involved.

Back when he’d first started working, (before he’d gotten cocky and decided starting his own firm would be in any way a not-stressful and good idea) he’d been shoved in with a load of other trainee architects. They’d had this big warehouse space with about thirty desks, and it had been loud and messy and everyone had got on each other’s nerves half the time, but he missed it fiercely, when he went into his own office and there was nobody in there to talk to or share their biscuits with him. Granted, his current office was a nice room. Spacious and light, with high vaulted ceilings and a pale wood drafting table set into a track so that he could follow the sun as it moved across the floor, spilling in through the half-moon windows. It was just-- missing some people, that was all. 

So when Harry kicked the door open one day, with a heavy stack of paper balanced in his arms, and saw Malfoy sitting there, all rigid and proper, he wanted to punch a wall or something. Malfoy was… sitting in the chair wrong. Somehow. The bastard. Harry didn’t know how he’d managed it, exactly, possibly some sort of firming charm, but he’d perched himself right on the very edge, back straight and ankles crossed primly.

He looked the way Harry had always tried to look in school when a professor turned around from the board and he wanted it to seem like he’d been paying attention. Malfoy’s hands were folded carefully in his lap and he was watching Harry with a blank gaze, as if he was already incredibly bored by the proceedings. Harry let himself feel disappointed for a second. He had genuinely been looking forward to watching Malfoy wrangle himself out of the chair’s clutches. He’d even imagined it a bit, the way Malfoy would get all embarrassed and flustered, it was one of the reasons he’d even agreed to this meeting in the first place.

“Do you want tea?” Harry asked, dropping the paper on his desk with a loud bang. A couple of sheets flitted slowly onto the floor and he ignored them. Malfoy watched for a moment with a bewildered look on his face, then, visibly collecting himself, he stood up and attempted to shake Harry’s hand. Harry looked at one of his horrible, heavy, silver rings and deliberated. He didn’t really shake people’s hands anymore, which everyone always told him was a weird thing not to do. But he’d sort of given it up after all the stuff that happened in the aftermath of the war, after a thousand people a day wanted to press their palms against his. He figured he may as well indulge Malfoy this small luxury, though. Malfoy seemed like the type of person who would be very comforted by formalities. Malfoy looked like the type of person who liked forms. And questionnaires. 

“No, thank you,” Malfoy told him, in a cool voice. “I was given a water by your assistant.” Harry wrinkled his nose. The assistant. Hired by Cho, also called Harry, number one cause of strife in Harry’s daily life. He tried not to think about the other Harry if he could at all help it.

“Great,” he said, and took a couple of books off his own chair so that he could sit down. He balanced them precariously on a small patch of available desk surface, right on the corner. Malfoy watched this process closely but chose not to comment.

“I was under the impression I’d be meeting with both you and your partner,” Malfoy said, sounding so formal. Like he’d never even met Harry before. Which was just patently ridiculous, wasn't it. 

“Cho’s on site today,” Harry told him apologetically. He was actually sorry about that, because if Cho were here then she could do all the talking and Harry would be able to do what he normally did; sit mostly in silence and nod at all the right moments. Possibly doodle a bit. “So it’s just me, I’m afraid.”

“Alright,” Malfoy said, and pursed his lips. Harry got the feeling that Malfoy didn’t think it was alright, actually, but was holding his anger back for the sake of an easy life. Harry took a moment to appreciate that, because he really wasn’t in the mood for an argument, least of all with Malfoy. “I’m here on behalf of the Ministry,” Malfoy said, apparently done with niceties, as he reached down into a smart briefcase propped up against the leg of the chair. 

And before Harry could even fucking think he was saying “I didn’t think they let--” 

He cut off abruptly and put a hand over his mouth, almost in slow motion, and it probably would have looked comical. If it had been in literally any other situation. Harry, just for second, considered punching himself in the face to save Malfoy the trouble, but Malfoy only raised a pale eyebrow slowly. It was a bit fascinating, actually. Harry hadn’t met many people who could raise only a single eyebrow at one time. He wondered if rich people were just… taught that sort of stuff from birth. Malfoy didn’t even look flustered. 

“What an incredibly rude thing to start to say,” he said.

“Fuck,” Harry replied, in dismay. “I’m so sorry. I have no fucking filter sometimes.”

Malfoy lifted the corner of his mouth in a dim approximation of a smile. “I get the feeling you don’t do too many meetings.”

“Fuck,” Harry agreed, resting his forehead for a moment on the pile of crisp paper. It crunched underneath his skin. “I don’t even know why I fucking said that. I already knew you worked at the Ministry.”

To his eternal surprise, Malfoy waved it off. “It’s alright,” he said, “Well. It’s not, but I get it a lot. They let Death Eaters work at the Ministry? You should have been put in Azkaban. Etcetera, etcetera. It’s lovely, I truly love it.”

Harry grimaced, feeling guilty now about the way he’d just wanted Malfoy to be embarrassed, not twenty seconds ago. “Do you want another water?” he offered, and Malfoy honest-to-god snorted.

“What?” he asked, “An apology water?”

“Yes,” Harry replied, smiling now, “You can have two, if you want. One for now and one for the road.”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Potter, it’s fine, you said something without thinking. I actually planned for that, I’ll have you know, and I’m relieved we got it over with so early in the meeting. Now I won’t be anticipating it the entire time.”

Malfoy looked nice, Harry noticed, rather abruptly. He wasn’t wearing those heavy Ministry robes, but a plain black set with a short cape. His long hair was plaited neatly and hung over his shoulder. He should have looked like his father, with all that going on, but he didn’t. Harry had expected- he’d expected Malfoy. Malfoy the way he’d been back in school. Slicked back hair, sneery face, posh voice. He still had the voice, and his face was still pinched and pointy, but he looked- different somehow, softer. He had grey eyes. Harry hadn’t-- he’d forgotten about that.

“Alright,” he said, and shook himself a bit. “Alright,” he repeated, and started rifling through the numerous objects on his desk. After a while it became apparent his notebook was missing. “Harry!” he shouted, and Malfoy looked startled for a second, probably thought Harry had entirely taken leave of his senses, until other Harry popped his head around the door.

“Mr. Potter?” he asked, innocently. Harry narrowed his eyes. He was only ever called 'Mr. Potter' when there was someone else in the room.

“Did you take my notebook?” he asked. Other Harry shook his head. He’d tied his long hair back into a massive ponytail and it thumped against the wood of the doorframe.

“No?” he replied, “Have you checked your drawer?”

Harry cut his eyes over to Malfoy, who was staring out of the window, apparently uninterested. Harry tried to check his drawer as surreptitiously as possible. “Yes,” he grumbled, “It’s not in here.”

Other Harry sighed. “Can I come in?” he asked, and then did anyway. He ducked down to look on the bottom row of Harry’s bookshelf, right beside the cushion he always sat in to--

Other Harry plucked the blue notebook off the shelf and threw it over. “Anything else?” he sighed, “I have to go and pick up your things from the printer. What do you want for lunch? Sushi?”

“Please leave me alone,” Harry said, shooing him away, “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

“You’re very rude to your assistant,” Malfoy told him, once said assistant was out of the room.

“Do you have an assistant?” Harry asked, “Because I feel like if you had an assistant then you would understand how terrible assistants are.”

“He seemed quite nice,” Malfoy pointed out, “How long would it have taken you to find that notebook by yourself?”

“He tries to make me go to galas,” Harry said, shuddering, “He once booked me a suit fitting and told me it was a client meeting so I’d go. He hates me.”

Malfoy blinked, then smiled a little, “It’s not his fault he works for you.”

Harry screwed up his nose and opened his notebook. Then licked the end of his ballpoint. “Should we talk about what you’re here for?” he asked, before glancing over his desk for a moment. The cup of tea he’d put there twenty minutes ago had vanished somewhere. “Did you see my tea?” he asked Malfoy, lifting up a transparent set square.

“No,” Malfoy told him, and tried to hand him a thick blue file. Harry took it after a second, reluctantly giving up the hunt. “This is a contract, obviously you don’t sign it today. You’ll look over it with Chang and your lawyers. I’m just here to talk to you about the project we’re starting.”

“Right,” Harry said dubiously, and abandoned the folder on a pile of architectural digests. “I do know how contracts work though, Malfoy.”

Malfoy ignored him and produced another, smaller file. This time in bright red. He passed it to Harry, who opened it and flicked through. It was a site survey. A couple of still photos of a large patch of countryside, soil samples, a reading of the magical levels in the surrounding area. “What’s this for?” Harry asked, “Is the Ministry-- is this an office thing? Are you relocating?”

“No,” Malfoy said, as though he was talking to a child, and straightened the cuff of his shirt, “We’re very much not doing that. I’m sure you know how many houses were damaged during the war.”

“Well, yeah,” Harry said.

A lot of their business came from that, actually. People wanting their houses repaired by people who knew what they were doing. People who wanted new houses. People who’d looked on the damage as a potential opportunity to get that kitchen they’d always dreamed of. It was sad, though, Harry thought, when he had to look around houses with spell damage and tell the owners it would have to be gutted. When he went into bedrooms with umbrella spells for a roof, when he had to tell families the prices and they’d sometimes cry. He didn’t like it much. The Death Eaters had really done a number on a lot of fucking people.

“The Ministry are proposing a housing scheme, modelled on Muggle housing estates, in order to give people houses whose own were damaged during the war,” Malfoy said, after a slight pause. He looked down at his own red file. “That’s it,” he said, when Harry didn’t say anything.

“Housing estates are--”

“I know,” Malfoy interrupted, and made a face, “I personally am of the mind that we should be paying to repair houses instead of building new ones. Some of those damaged are ancestral homes. However, it has been made very clear to me that the cost of repairs is far more than the cost of building new homes, so here we all are.”

“Right,” Harry said slowly. A wizarding housing estate. Fucking hell. He and Cho had never done anything even remotely like this. The biggest project they’d ever carried out had been a wizarding pool complex in Stratford. Maybe the housing estate could have a pool. Harry perked up at the idea. “Where are you wanting to build?” he asked, and Malfoy leaned forward until he could flick to a page in Harry’s folder. A satellite map, a bright yellow outline showing the plot of land.

“We’ve been negotiating for quite some time with the Muggle government,” he explained, “Which is partly why this has taken so long to come to fruition. We’ve settled on this site, in Kent. It’s very nice, I’ve been there myself.” He smiled, properly, for the first time. “I think it’s a shame that we can’t repair homes, but we can make the new ones as good as possible. So that people will like living there.”

Harry frowned. “No offense,” he said, “But why didn’t you pick a more established firm?” He didn’t really know that he had to ask though.

“No offense,” Malfoy echoed, “But it was mostly because it’s you.”

Harry scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Yeah,” he said, “Of course, yeah.” Cho was going to love this. It filled her with glee every time someone came in and wanted the chosen one to build them a house. Harry had got used to it by now, mostly, but it was still weird and he still didn’t like it very much.

Malfoy sighed, rested a hand on his knee. “As much as it pains me to say this,” he started, “I can assure you we wouldn’t have hired a firm we didn’t believe could deliver.” Harry thought for a second. There might have been a compliment in there somewhere, but he wasn’t entirely sure. 

“Okay,” he said, “I can’t say for definite, but I think Cho will probably want to go for this. It’s way beyond the scale of anything we’ve done before, I should probably say that.”

Malfoy nodded thoughtfully. “Shall we talk about the process?”

“Um,” Harry said, “I mean, I can’t do specifics obviously. But Cho and I will have to see the site before we do anything else. We need to talk about what specs you want the houses to have, if you want them all the same size, stuff like that. How many are you looking for?”

“Thirty,” Malfoy said, easy as anything. “No less than thirty,” he amended.

“Fuck,” Harry said, succinctly.

“You shouldn’t swear in business meetings,” Malfoy told him, then sighed. “What if I’d had to take minutes?”

“Thirty houses,” Harry said, ignoring him, “Thirty. Thirty houses.” He didn’t know if Cho was going to murder him or throw him a party. They’d been talking about hiring a few more junior architects but now they would definitely fucking have to. He didn’t want to ask about the budget. He really, really didn’t. He wondered if he could call Cho and make her do it. 

“Yes,” Malfoy said calmly, “Do you want to talk about the budget?”

Harry sat back in his seat and looked at the ceiling for a minute. It was very dark blue, almost midnight. He usually found it soothing, when he was lying on the floor and trying to think of a way to make three rooms fit into a space the size of a shipping container. It wasn’t quite doing the trick now, though.

“Yeah,” he said, and groaned, “I suppose we’d better.”

“Three million galleons,” Malfoy said coolly, and Harry stared at him for a few seconds, mostly in disbelief.

“I--” he started, “I thought you said this was supposed to be on the cheap.”

“That number was on the lower end of the scale,” Malfoy said, “But if you feel as though you can make it happen for less than by all means do so.”

“I need to talk to Cho,” Harry said, breathing hard, “She’s way better at this than me. She probably would have just like, nodded at you. And I’m over here having a bloody panic attack. Three fucking million, for thirty houses. Where is the Ministry getting all this money?”

“You’re not having a panic attack,” Malfoy informed him. And then paused delicately, as though what he was about to say was particularly distasteful. “And it’s mostly what they confiscated in reparations after the war.”

And then Harry wanted to die, because Malfoy was as good as saying that it used to be his money. He wanted to sink into the floorboards and never look anyone in the face again. Harry blamed other Harry for this. He wasn’t sure how, but it was definitely his fault. Or Cho’s. Or the both of them.

 

MARCH

 

It was pouring with rain. The hard, driving kind that soaked through clothes in about ten seconds and wasn’t even nice to look at, since it made everything grey and dull and oddly faded. The air smelled like wet earth and cut grass, brought in on the strong breeze blowing through their makeshift shelter. Harry was sat in a rickety camping chair that had creaked ominously when he’d sat down, thinking about how soon they could get a permanent office set up on the site. One with walls. And a floor. He stared at the ground beneath his feet. A pink worm was squirming near the toe of his steel-capped boot. His knee was getting steadily wetter and wetter from a small leak in the plastic roof.

“Harry?” Cho said, not even looking at him as she tapped a yellow pencil against his neck. “You’re getting rained on.” Harry moved his knee out of the way and sighed. He hated days like this, where you were lucky if you could fit in a few hours of work around the downpours. He watched assistant Harry talking on his phone just outside the shelter, a golden umbrella charm sheltering him. Harry couldn’t hear what he was saying.

“How long do you think this will last?” Malfoy asked, from across the table, but it didn't sound as though he was whining or anything. He had both hands wrapped around a steaming cup of tea, and he was peering at the clouds on the horizon with a very slight frown. Harry yawned and caught his elbow on the sheet of thick plywood that made up the surface of the table. The junior architects had built it the other day using some scrap wood they’d found in the store room of their office building. It wobbled dangerously on the uneven floor anytime anyone touched it. 

Cho looked up from where she was scribbling notes onto a piece of slightly damp paper. They’d put up wards to stop rain blowing into their workspace, but they weren’t very sturdy. Harry kept having to apply drying charms to all the plans.

“I’m not sure,” she said, “I think it’s just a shower, it’s been doing this all day.” She was wearing a black roll-neck and a pair of black trousers turned up at the cuff. Her wellington boots were resting on an upturned crate that had previously held a kettle and a couple of boxes of cheap teabags. Malfoy made a noise and opened his briefcase. The same one he’d had last time, monogrammed with his initials and lined with dark green fabric. He got out a book and started flipping through the pages.  

“Have you overseen many projects like this?” Harry asked him, bored out of his fucking mind with nothing to do except wait.

Malfoy glanced up and then gestured to himself, eyebrows raised. Harry snorted and then nodded. “Um,” Malfoy said, resting his book slowly in a dry spot on the table, “Not one of this size, no.”

Harry thought for a moment about how quiet Malfoy was all the time now, and wondered why that was. It wasn't as though he was nervous, and he never had any problem voicing his opinions during an argument. He was just-- careful, like he was thinking everything through before he spoke. Maybe he'd had to teach himself to do that, after Hogwarts, after the war, because he'd never been like that before. In school Malfoy had always spoken as though thoughts hadn't yet fully formed in his mind, like he was spitting words out before his brain could even supply them, like he was constantly in a hurry. As though it was so important he be cruel as quickly as possible, as if he couldn't let anyone forget for even a second what a prick he was. 

“What do you usually do?” Harry asked, tilting his head a little. He knew Malfoy worked at the Ministry, it had been all over the papers when he’d been hired three years ago, he just didn’t know what his bloody job was. The papers hadn’t been able to find out either, Malfoy hadn’t been given an official title. 

“Oh,” he said, and then sniffed. “I’m part of a team that oversees where the reparations money goes to. So some of it’s on healthcare, some of it goes to direct payments for people affected. And some of it ends up on public works like this. All the repairs done in Hogwarts came from that money.”

“Did you help with that?” Cho asked, and Harry stared at her. Malfoy had been in fucking community service when Hogwarts was being rebuilt. He remembered the sentencing, he’d been there.

“No,” Malfoy said, and huffed out a wry laugh, “That was before I joined.”

“Do you like it?” Harry asked. Malfoy thought for a second, his brows knitting and his forehead wrinkling a bit. Harry thought he was definitely going to say no. Nobody had to think for that long about whether they liked their job or not if they actually liked it.

Malfoy didn’t, though, he said “Yes,” in that posh, stern voice of his, sounding totally sincere, “It’s not what I ever thought I’d be doing, but I like it.”

“That’s good,” Harry said, and meant it. Malfoy raised his eyebrows but he didn’t comment.

Harry had spent quite a bit of time with Malfoy in the past few months, even if all of it had been spent talking about the houses. Preparing and arguing and holding meeting after fucking never-ending meeting with the most boring Ministry people imaginable. Malfoy was hardworking, serious, but he seemed to like Harry, and even when he was visibly stressed he never got angry or raised his voice. Which Harry was definitely guilty of. Malfoy was just-- calm, never flustered, never rushed. Once or twice Harry had had to do the thing where he put his head in between his knees, when someone demanded an extra bedroom be put in, or that the garden double in size. Malfoy had barely batted an eyelid, just made some strong tea and stood back while Cho patted Harry on the back and laughed only a little. Malfoy was nicer than he’d been in school, while Cho had just been getting steadily less indulgent of Harry’s issues. Which, he supposed, was probably fair enough. 

The rain started easing off and other Harry came inside, his phone tucked up between his ear and his neck and a scrap of paper in his hands. “--won’t want to do that,” he said, and Harry fucking knew it was going to be about him.

“Nude photoshoot,” other Harry said, “Yes or no.”

The three junior architects that had been working quietly on the other side of the shelter looked up. One of them started laughing and the other two shushed her. Cho snorted and Harry elbowed her in the side. “Is that a joke?” he asked.

“No,” was the reply, “Witch Weekly are bringing out a not-safe-for-work edition and they want to interview you about the housing project.”

“What,” Harry said, but he didn’t think anyone was listening. Cho had started properly laughing now, and even Malfoy had the beginnings of a smirk. “I don’t even know where to start with that.”

“What?” other Harry said, into the phone, “I’m bloody well asking him right fucking now. It’ll be tasteful, apparently,” he said, rolling his eyes.

Harry took a deep breath but couldn’t think of anything to say. “You should do it,” said Leah, from across the room, looking up from a drainage plan. Harry regretted ever learning the junior architect’s names, if this was how they were repaying him for it. “It’ll get a lot of buzz for the project.”

“The project doesn’t need buzz,” Harry sighed.

“I know,” said Leah, “I just think it would be funny.”

“You’re fired,” Harry told her, but she just laughed and went back to her work. Harry blinked. He did have firing authority. He wouldn’t ever actually fire someone, obviously, but it was nice to be able to scare people who were suggesting nude photoshoots. He turned to his assistant. “You’re fired,” he tried. 

Other Harry rolled his eyes, again, and went back outside. “He’s not going to do it,” he said into the phone, “I only asked because I owed you a favour.”

Cho stood up and stretched, Harry heard her shoulders crack and he winced in sympathy. “Shall we go?” she asked, gesturing to the light rain, “I think this might be as good as it’s going to get for a while.”

They left the other architects sitting in the dry and ventured out by themselves, over a small rise and down into the flat ground that would make up the housing estate. There were white lines spray painted onto the grass in the outline of the floor plans, markers stuck in the ground indicating where windows and doors were going to go. Cho led them to the nearest house and stepped inside.

“So this is the front hallway,” she said to Malfoy, who just nodded silently. He looked utterly miserable, dressed in his customary black robes and a pair of heavy boots with laces up past his ankle. He’d done an umbrella charm but he couldn’t do much about the wind, and it was whipping strands of hair out of his plait and into his eyes. Harry had tied his hair back that morning into a very sturdy bun, and then made Hermione put a couple of pins in it when he’d gone over for breakfast. He wondered for a second if Malfoy knew about hairpins, and if Harry should tell him or not.

After a while they made their way back to the shelter, damp and shivering with cold. Malfoy had seemed to like the layout, he hadn’t said much but he’d nodded a lot when Harry had talked about how much sunlight all the rooms would get.

“I’m going to get out of here,” Cho said, shaking her ponytail out and prodding Harry into doing a drying spell on it. “My girlfriends are waiting. Gin’s back from Holyhead for a few nights so we’re going out.”

Harry leant against the side of the table and folded his arms. “Have fun, I might stay for a bit,” he said, “Order some food or something. I want to look at the hallways one more time, I think we might be able to get away with making them a bit wider.”

Cho kissed him on the cheek, before apparating away in a haze of lavender and amber perfume. Harry had just kicked other Harry out of his seat when Malfoy came to sit next to him, swinging himself up onto the table and steadying himself with a nervous laugh when it threatened to topple. “Did she say girlfriends?” he asked curiously, “As in, girlfriends plural?”

Harry tilted his head. “Yeah,” he replied. “As in, Luna, Gin, and Cho. They all live together. They’re--” he cut off and wriggled his shoulders. “You know.”

“I don’t,” Malfoy told him, expectantly.

“In love,” Harry sighed, “With each other.” It was really sweet and really cloying, and he was so happy for them but they made him a bit sad sometimes. There were three of them, and they’d all found each other. And he was still by himself a lot, when Hermione and Ron were busy with child number one.

“Oh,” Malfoy said, slowly, “That’s nice, I suppose.”

“It’s brilliant,” Harry said, and he really did mean it. “Did you know Gin plays for the Harpies?”

“I think everyone knows that,” Malfoy said gently, as if he were afraid Harry was going to burst into tears or something. “She’s very good.”

Harry hummed in agreement. “Do you want to order Chinese?” he asked, after almost no deliberation. Malfoy laughed.

“Yes,” he said, “I suppose so. Are we eating it here?” Harry looked around them. It was darker now, still raining outside. And Leah or one of the other two had lit the lamps hanging from the roof so that the whole place was bathed in a pleasant golden glow. Other Harry had his face buried in his laptop, and he kept checking his watch as though he was waiting to be sent home. Malfoy shifted a little closer, seemingly without meaning to. He’d been close to begin with, but now Harry could feel the heat radiating from his body, could smell leather and clean shampoo. 

“Yeah,” Harry said, and Malfoy smiled. “I’ve still got a couple of drawings to do, if that’s okay.”

*

“So where are you living now?” Malfoy asked, after carefully swallowing a mouthful of spring roll. They were the last ones here, it was late in the evening and Harry was trying not to get sweet and sour sauce on any of their plans.

“Um,” he said through some noodles, and then dropped them back onto his plate. Malfoy made a face and Harry ignored him. “In London?” he said.

“Yes,” Malfoy said patiently, “But where? Wizarding district?”

“No,” Harry said. Grimmauld Place was probably as far as fucking possible from being a Wizarding street.

“Oh,” Malfoy said, and pointed his chopsticks in Harry’s general direction, “You’re living in the Black house.”

“Grimmauld Place,” Harry corrected him, “How did you know that?”

“I’m very smart,” Malfoy informed him, and then licked a bit of grease off his thumb. Harry averted his eyes. “Also I only just remembered that I already knew.”

“Oh,” Harry said, “I guess Andromeda told you?” He’d known, for a while, that Malfoy saw Teddy quite a bit, but they’d never run into each other and Harry hadn’t ever particularly wanted to change that. Andromeda never talked about Malfoy, never really brought him up, and Harry never asked questions. For a little while he’d wondered whether or not Teddy should even be allowed to see Malfoy, but he had been firmly overruled on that point.

Malfoy hummed in agreement. “I’ve been there, you know,” he said.

Harry blinked for a few moments in surprise. “No,” he said, “I didn’t know that.” It made sense though, now that he thought about it. Malfoy’s mother had probably taken him.

“I don’t remember it,” said Malfoy, “Other than how dark it was.” He’d taken his cloak off and loosened his tie. And sprawling over a conjured armchair he looked rumpled and soft and relaxed. Harry thought he should always look like that.

“It’s changed a lot,” Harry told him, “It was the first house I ever did any work on.”

“Really?” Malfoy asked, raising his eyebrows. “I don’t know why, but I expected you to sell it.”

“Yeah,” Harry sighed, “I did think about that, but I decided it would be better to just… I don’t know, change it.” It was practically unrecognisable now, actually. Open windows at the back of the house leading into the fecund garden, that fucking portrait finally gone, light and bright and airy. It felt more like home than any place Harry had ever lived, even that one year after the war he’d spent at The Burrow while he’d been working out what to do with his life. Crawling into bed with Hermione and Ron after a nightmare, skirting around Ginny when she came back from Wales and the Harpies, a year of Molly and Arthur laughing in the hallways. He’d needed that, then, but he was happy having something of his own, now.

Malfoy nodded slowly, let his head fall against the high back of the chair, rested his plate in his lap. “I think this is going to be good,” he said, gesturing at the plastic roof and the haphazard furniture, at the dark sky, at Harry. “I honestly do.”

 

MAY

 

Malfoy in a sea green hard hat. It was a sight Harry never expected to see, and it was brilliant. He thought about taking a photo and then realised he’d left his phone in the office. Also there was the fact that Malfoy would probably murder him. It was a nice day, fresh and blue, the breeze cool and sweet-smelling.

“Afternoon” Malfoy said, striding over from the apparition point. “How was last night?”

Harry grimaced. Last night had been babysitting night. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, and Malfoy laughed.

“So it went exceedingly well, I take it.”

“Did you know kids were so messy?” Harry asked, “Like-- he kept trying to draw everywhere.”

“You know I’ve looked after him before,” Malfoy said, with a look on his face like he thought Harry was being ridiculous and was trying hard not to say anything about it. 

“Yeah,” Harry muttered, “I know. He just- ruined a perfectly good lighting plan, that’s all.”

Malfoy rubbed at his face for a few seconds. “What did you do?” he asked.

“Um,” Harry said, feeling oddly guilty all of a sudden. “I wasn’t sure what to do. I sent him to his room but I don’t know if that was right or not.”

Malfoy bumped his shoulder. “Did you shout at him? I did once and then felt so awful about it. But he’d gone onto the balcony and was sticking his little hand out and I was fucking terrified.

“He goes everywhere,” Harry said sadly, “Once I caught him with his arm literally inside the toilet. But-- no, I didn’t shout. I try not to shout.”

“I’ve seen you shout,” Malfoy said, surprised.

“Yeah but--” Harry paused, “Not at Ted, though. I wouldn’t shout at Ted.”

“He’s the worst child on the entire planet,” Malfoy said, but he was smiling.

“I love him to death,” Harry said sincerely, “I was so shit at being mean to him. After about five minutes I went upstairs to check on him and he somehow managed to persuade me to read him a fucking story.”

“Does he have his own room in your house?” Malfoy asked, with a faintly surprised air.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I live in a big house though.” He didn’t want to make Malfoy feel bad about it, since he knew that when Teddy stayed at Malfoy’s place he slept in the guest room. Malfoy only had a small apartment, apparently, although Harry had never seen it. Harry probably didn’t even need to give Teddy his own room. Except that he’d remembered what it was like to be jealous of Dudley’s, when he had been growing up, and he wanted Ted to have his own space in Harry’s home.

“I just--” Malfoy said, and cut off. “I was thinking about making the guest bedroom into a room for him. But I don’t know how Andromeda would take that. I only have him a few times a month.”

“That’s like, more than I do,” Harry said. He was busy all the fucking time, lately. And it was difficult to look after a toddler and also run his own business. “I mean. I can’t have him more at the moment. Hopefully during the summer.”

Malfoy hummed in agreement. “Is he back at Andromeda’s tonight, then?”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “And I’ve made myself a promise not to work this eve. I have no idea what I’ll do. The world is my oyster.”

Malfoy blinked at him. “You’re so odd,” he said, and then blushed a little when Harry smiled. Which was weird.

“Shall we go look at the machines?” he said hurriedly, “I’ve never seen them up close before.”

They’d broken ground about a week previously, and so far had actually refrained from fucking anything up. It was going well. He and Cho were on site almost daily, supervising and doing work on other projects, with a continued rota of baby architects reporting to them about what was happening back at the office.

“Careful,” Malfoy said, grabbing onto Harry’s arm after they’d been walking for a few minutes. They were almost up to the site now, surrounded by the outlines of houses and men in hard hats and uniforms. “Hello,” he cooed, bending down to look in the cropped grass. Harry had never heard anything like it.

Curled up beside a dandelion stalk was a tiny grass snake, pretty and brown, with little black spots and beady eyes. “Hey,” Harry said, in parseltongue. Malfoy swore softly and took a step back.

Hello,” said the snake, stiffly. It sounded terrified. Harry would be, and he was surprised it hadn’t been stepped on yet. “How are you?” it asked.

I’m alright,” Harry said, and he was already kind of in love with the little thing. “Are you alright? You seem a bit scared.

“You can still do that?” Malfoy asked, wide eyed. When the snake had started talking he’d bent close again to hear, even though he couldn’t understand. “I didn’t know you could still do that.”

Harry nodded at him, and the snake said “No, I’m perfectly well.” It sounded as though it was lying. 

Do you want me to move you somewhere?” Harry asked it, and the snake bobbed its head, like it was considering. It wasn’t making eye contact, but Harry didn’t think snakes really did eye contact the way humans did. 

No, thank you,” it said, “I wouldn’t want to cause you any inconvenience.

Harry laughed, and loved the way that Malfoy smiled at that even though he didn’t know what was going on. “I think I’ll have to insist,” he said, “I don’t want to scare you or anything, but I think this place is about to be dug up.

Oh,” said the snake, “I don’t know what that means.

I’m going to pick you up,” Harry told it, “Is that okay?

The snake weaved its little head, and then said “Alright. Yes, alright.” Harry cupped his hand so that it could slither on, and then lifted it slowly, taking care not to jostle it. 

“Should I put it in my pocket?” he asked Malfoy, who was getting right up close and smiling at it. “I don’t want to drop it. Should I ask if it wants to go in my pocket?”

Malfoy made a face. “Do you think snakes know what pockets are?” he asked, “I don’t think it would understand. Does it have a name?”

“Do you want to go in my pocket?” Harry asked, “What’s your name?”

Brown Branch,” said the snake, sounding pleased and proud and careful. It sounded like Malfoy, Harry thought, with a bit of a start. “And yes.”

“Can I touch it?” Malfoy asked, as Harry deposited the snake in the front pocket of his flannel shirt, “Or would that be weird?”

“I’ll ask it when I set it free again,” Harry laughed, and started making his way for higher, safer ground, Malfoy keeping pace beside him. “It said it’s name was… I don’t know, it’s not really properly translatable. Brown Branch.”

“Probably because it looks like a branch,” Malfoy said seriously.

“Yes,” Harry agreed, trying not to laugh. They walked past the office tent on their way up the hill, a couple of people were smoking outside and they waved.

“Harry!” other Harry called, from the doorway. “What are you doing? Can I go home?”

“Yeah,” Harry called back, lifting his hand, “I’m transporting a snake!”

“Okay! Have fun!” other Harry told him, over the noise of the diggers, and Harry just knew he was rolling his eyes. 

“I was wondering,” Malfoy said, hesitantly, once they had reached the nearby treeline and Harry was trying to extract the snake from his pocket with minimum fuss, “If you wanted to go for-- to dinner. Tonight.”

“Oh,” Harry said, taking his fingers away from the warm scales for a second, trying to concentrate. They went for dinner all the time, and Malfoy never sounded formal and nervous when he asked. This was- different. “Like--”

“A date,” Malfoy interrupted hastily, “I thought you might want to. You don’t have to. I mean, obviously you don’t have to. It goes without saying that you don’t have to,” he continued, in a big rush. He blushed faintly and looked away, his fingers twitching and his face impassive and cool. Harry wanted to mess him up. 

“Yeah,” he said, and watched Malfoy turn back around with this incredulous look in his eyes, as though he’d never in a million fucking years expected Harry to agree. “Yeah, let’s do it.”

“Are you sure?” he said, slowly, and Harry burst out laughing. “Only that it’s quite unprofessional. I was going to wait until we’d finished working together, but you were just adorable about a snake and I gave in.”

“I wouldn’t have said yes if I wasn’t sure, Malfoy,” he said, breathless with it. His stomach felt melty and warm. Malfoy smiled, the tiniest upturn at the corners of his mouth, and it made Harry want to touch him and never stop. “I’m sure,” he repeated, and Malfoy’s smile fucking bloomed, until it was wide and happy and gorgeous and lit up his eyes, and it was ridiculous how much Harry wanted to see him smile like that every moment of his life. Utterly fucking ridiculous. Out of fucking nowhere.

*

“Merlin,” Malfoy said, when he stepped into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place and saw the skylight, the windows at the back, the polished concrete counters. Harry felt his face go hot, and then smiled when Malfoy ran his hand over one of the wooden chairs at the kitchen table with a muted noise of appreciation. “It looks nothing like it did.”

“I thought you didn’t remember it,” Harry said, swinging himself up onto the counter next to his bottles of liquor. He reached behind himself to get some cups out of the cabinet. “Do you want a drink?”

“What do you have?” Malfoy asked absently, one fingertip against Harry’s KitchenAid, poking at it suspiciously. “What the fuck is this?” 

“Um,” Harry hummed, searching through the mostly empty bottles that he kept forgetting to replace. “I have like… vermouth? It’s unopened, I don’t know what it is. Also, a coffee slash orange liqueur. Sounds horrible, can’t remember ever having it.”

“You put vermouth in martinis,” Malfoy told him, “Have you got any vodka?”

“No,” Harry snorted, “Not since I was about eighteen, mate.”

“I suppose I’ll have a neat vermouth then,” Malfoy said, “Just to see what it’s going to be like more than anything else.”

“Oh,” Harry said, splashing a bit on his finger as he poured it, “That’s a stand mixer. For making cakes and stuff?” He nodded towards the KitchenAid.

“You make cakes?” Malfoy asked, “Potter, you’re full of surprises.”

“Everyone makes cakes,” Harry said, extending the glass towards him. Malfoy took it from his hands and leant back against the dishwasher with one palm resting on the countertop. “That’s not like, a weird hobby to have. If I’d have said oh, that’s for mixing glue when I make my model trains, it would have warranted surprise.”

“You make model trains?” Malfoy asked, wrinkling his nose, “That actually makes me significantly less attracted to you.”

Harry felt himself flush, and looked into his drink as he said, “No-- I-- I mean, it was just an example.”

“I can’t tell if you’re lying or not,” Malfoy said, then took a sip of his drink and made a face.

“I swear to you, I do not make model trains. I don’t make any type of model other than the ones for work,” Harry said seriously, watching as Malfoy took another three sips in quick succession. “Do you like that?” he asked.

“What, the drink? No, it’s horrid,” Malfoy said, raising the glass to his lips again, smiling.

“I see,” Harry said, although he wasn’t sure he did. He never really ate or drank anything he didn’t like the taste of, and always got confused when other people did.

“So you like living here,” said Malfoy, and it wasn’t really a proper question.

“Yeah,” Harry told him. “I really do. You know Hermione and Ron live about a ten-minute walk away?”

Malfoy laughed. “That explains so much,” he said. “What’s the maximum distance you’d ever actually live from them?”

Harry thought he might be joking but considered it anyway. “I don’t think I could live anywhere where it took me more than an hour to get from door to door.”

“Oh,” Malfoy said, sounding surprised. “That’s actually a full twenty minutes more than I was expecting.”

“Do you like where you live?” Harry asked. He didn’t want to seem insensitive, but it seemed like it would be rude not to ask. He remembered when the Manor had been destroyed after the war, its contents stripped and sold off, or burned. He had no idea what Malfoy must have felt, knowing the place he’d grown up was gone. He wondered if Malfoy missed it. He wondered if Malfoy was glad. Harry thought that the house he’d grown up in could disappear off the face of the earth and he wouldn’t feel a single fucking thing. He wondered if Malfoy was sad about seeing Grimmauld Place, sad about how he’d never have an opportunity to make his old home a better place.

“Yes,” Malfoy said, and didn’t volunteer any more information, just swirled the clear liquid around in his glass. He looked upset, and Harry didn’t know what to say to make it better.

“I heard you lived with Parkinson after the… war,” Harry ventured.

Malfoy glanced up and smiled slowly. “Yes,” he admitted, “I think it’s probably fair to say she’s the worst roommate I’ve ever had. She never cleaned. There was a mouldy mug on our counter for about seven months that I didn’t do anything about because I kept hoping she’d move it. It was like she couldn’t even see it.

“I lived with Ron and Hermione,” Harry told him, “While I was in uni. And then we moved here for a bit before they got their own place.”

“Ten minutes away,” Malfoy laughed. He looked like something Harry had dreamt up, in that moment, bathed in soft light with his mouth wide open. He looked happier than Harry had ever seen him, just because of this. Just because he was teasing Harry in his kitchen, a little tipsy from the wine they’d had at dinner, hair coming loose from his fucking plait; the one Harry wanted to get his hands in, to shake out.

“Exactly,” Harry said, because his mind had gone a bit blank and he couldn’t get it together enough to come up with something more intelligent.

Malfoy looked at him, then. Hard. And Harry had known, obviously, where this was going to end up, but now was the first time he’d actually felt it, could almost touch it. Malfoy set his glass down on the counter with a quiet knock, then took a few hesitant steps forward before pausing beside the fridge, worrying his fingers against the torn corner of a strip of photobooth pictures. He brushed his fingertips over Hermione and Ron’s smiling faces and avoided eye contact.

“I had a very nice time,” he started, his voice low, and it seemed like he was leading up to something but Harry honestly couldn’t give a shit, when Malfoy was close enough to reel in by his sleeve. He felt so impatient, like a child, like he did when he’d drunk too much coffee, like he wanted to eat everything in sight, like he was vibrating. Malfoy’s eyes went wide, and he huffed in surprise when he was pulled over. Then again when he found himself firmly situated between Harry’s parted knees. Harry ran a hand through his hair, once, and watched Malfoy watch him.

“I don’t think I can listen to a speech right now,” he confessed, touching the collar of Malfoy’s shirt. It was coarse and warm and Harry wanted it off.

“There wasn’t going to be a speech,” Malfoy argued, and then shivered when Harry lightly grazed the skin on his neck.

“You were about to tell me how much you like me,” Harry said, leaning in close. Malfoy blinked, and Harry had never been any fucking good at this sort of thing but somehow he’d managed to make Malfoy look like he was about to keel over. It was honestly a miracle.

“Fuck off,” Malfoy scoffed, but it was as good as an admission when his voice sounded like that. Rough and shaken. Malfoy put his hands on Harry’s waist firmly, as if he was about to make a very important point. “Seriously--” he started, but didn’t get much further before Harry was kissing him.

Malfoy immediately gave it up, which Harry thought was fucking wonderful. Tipping his head back so that Harry could lean over him, opening his mouth and sliding their tongues together a little. He backed off and bit Harry’s bottom lip, their noses bumping together, his breath hot against Harry’s mouth. He tasted like that awful alcohol but Harry was finding it very difficult to care; when he got to put his palm on Malfoy’s shoulder and kiss his cheekbones and his temples. He touched his fingertips to the soft skin just below Malfoy’s ear, at the hinge of his jaw, and just kept them there for a bit while Malfoy pressed a burst of heated kisses against his lips.

He pulled away and stared at Malfoy’s slick bottom lip while he caught his breath. Malfoy breathed in once, twice, deeply, then got his hand back on Harry’s neck and guided him forward, kissing the corner of his mouth. Harry’s skin felt as though it was a couple of sizes too small, and his heart was beating hard in his chest. He smiled against Malfoy’s mouth and couldn’t stop, and Malfoy had to tilt his head away to stare at him.

“Stop smiling,” he said sternly, trying to frown. Harry laughed, he couldn’t help it. “I can’t kiss you if you’re smiling like that,” Malfoy pointed out, “Unless you want me to just… lick your teeth a bit.” Harry snorted.

“Exactly,” Malfoy agreed, and poked Harry in the neck, “I’m finding the idea even less appealing than you are.”

Harry curled his hands into Malfoy’s hair, it was soft and a little bit damp at the nape of his neck. He caught sight of Malfoy’s ears, red and flushed, and then he had to kiss one of them. Malfoy sighed impatiently, and Harry got the feeling he was being indulged. He nosed against Malfoy’s hair and felt the way he had when the war was finally over, like something heavy and horrible in his chest had seeped out and fucked off. Or as though his entire future had suddenly loosened, like it was opening, spreading itself out in front of his feet.

 

DECEMBER

 

The kitchen smelled like new pine and fresh varnish and cold air, and the hot chocolate with marshmallows that Ron and Hermione weren’t even drinking.

“Why on earth did you even let her bring crayons?” Hermione demanded, as Ron tried to wrangle their squirming daughter. She was on the floor, halfway through a gorgeous portrait of a flower, done in royal purple crayon on the white wall next to the fridge.

“I have no idea,” Ron said, panicked, as Harry laughed and laughed.

“I can just paint over it,” he said, “Actually, maybe the new owners will want to keep it. She has a real talent.”

“I know you’re being facetious,” Hermione said, throwing crayons into a canvas tote bag while Rose looked on, despondent, “But I’m sorry anyway.”

“Kids are so gross,” Ron said fondly, kissing the top of Rose’s head.

“Can I draw?” Rose asked, and Hermione sighed for a very long time.

“Your dad didn’t bring paper,” she said, “And even though Harry seems very happy to let you draw on the walls here, I’m worried that you’d think you were allowed to do it at home.”

“I can draw at home,” Rose told her, seriously, squiggling in Ron’s lap. “Crayons,” she then said.

“Yes,” Hermione said patiently, “But not on the walls. You shouldn’t draw on walls unless someone specifically asks you too.”

“Rose,” Ron said, shaking his head, “Do you know what ‘specifically’ means?”

“This is fascinating,” Harry whispered, “It’s like watching a nature program.” Rose extended one hand out to him and he touched it interestedly. She was vaguely sticky, as usual. “Is that a normal kid thing?” he asked, “Like, are they just always sticky?”

“Yeah,” Ron replied, hauling himself up with a grunt, “Pretty much.”

“I’ve got some plans she can draw on,” Harry offered, “If you’re really set against the wall idea.”

Hermione leant against him for a second, a warm weight at his side. “Yes please,” she said gratefully, holding Rose’s hand when she tried to make a break for the next room. “Harry’s getting you some paper,” she said, “And when he does you should draw on that and not on the floorboards.”

“Okay,” Rose said, flopping onto the floor before unconcernedly rooting through the tote bag for her purple crayon.

“Merlin,” Ron said, finally taking a sip of his hot chocolate while Harry unrolled a couple of old plans and set them out on the floor, face side down, “This is amazing. I swear you didn’t used to be so good at making hot chocolate.”

“Remember in the forest,” Hermione said, “I can’t remember where we were, but that time you added boiling water to cocoa powder with nothing else? Horrible, I’ll never forget it.”

“I was a shitty cook at seventeen,” Harry said, rolling his eyes, “Are we ever going to let it go? You were shitty as well, as far as I remember.”

“I can’t cook,” Ron said, as if he wasn’t stating the fucking obvious. Hermione patted him on the arm as she sat down at the breakfast bar.

“You know I’m categorically opposed to breakfast bars,” she said, stroking her hand over the clean wood, “But this isn’t actually that bad.”

“Oh thank you,” Harry said, “Another glowing endorsement from Hermione Granger.”

“Granger-Weasley,” Ron sighed, “Although at this point I don’t know why I bother correcting you.”

“These houses are genuinely lovely,” she said, “You’ve done a brilliant job.”

Harry had never gotten past the stage of feeling incredibly fucking proud of himself when Hermione told him he was good at something. “Thanks,” he said, “It’s worked out well, I think.”

“When can people move in?” Ron asked, looking at the mostly bare walls and the windows still with their coating of protective plastic on the surface.

“Less than a month,” Harry replied, “Probably in time for Christmas, actually.”

“Oh that’s so sweet,” Ron said, “New houses for Christmas. You’re going to make me cry, mate.”

Harry smiled, until he heard Draco from upstairs. “Harry you absolute fucking wanker, come and look at this,” he said, in a tone that Harry could only really describe as a screech.

Hermione raised her eyebrows and Harry shrugged. “Gotta go,” he said, swinging himself down from one of the bar stools, “The love of my life is calling.”

Ron thumped his head against the counter surface. “Fuck me,” he said, muffled by his large coat. “This is so weird.”

Harry grinned as Hermione elbowed Ron square in the ribcage. “Yeah,” he said, “I’m actually so embarrassed by myself.”

“Is this what Hermione and I were like?” Ron asked, “Because if we were then you should have just hexed us.”

“We weren’t ever like this,” Hermione replied, but she was smiling, “It’s sickening. I think I would have known if we were being sickening.”

Harry,” Draco shouted again, “Are you fucking ignoring me? I’m going to come downstairs and shout at you in a second. I don’t give a shit if there’s a child in the house.

Ron started laughing against the table. “You’d better go,” he said, “Your lover awaits.”

“Ugh,” Harry replied, “Why would you even say that to me.”

*

“Have you seen this?” Draco demanded, at full volume, once Harry had climbed the two sets of stairs up to the small turret room. “These windows are fucking tiny. This wasn’t on the plans. I’m sure you would never do anything so overtly ridiculous. The builders must have fucked up.” He sounded incredibly panicked, and Harry found it very hard not to find it incredibly funny.

Harry narrowed his eyes. “Was that a compliment?” he asked, not really expecting an answer. Draco was half right though, the windows were shrunken down to the size of Quaffles; little portholes looking out over the house on the opposite side of the road.

“No,” Draco snapped, “When I compliment you, you’ll bloody well know about it.”

Harry sighed, “Here,” he said, and waved his wand in a wobbly figure eight, watching as the windows cycled through about ten different configurations before settling on huge curved circles. The room flooded with light.

“Oh,” Draco said, mollified, “I didn’t know about those. Did I sign off on those?”

“Yes,” Harry told him, finally deeming it safe to go and stand beside him, now Draco had deflated a bit. “You were a bit stressed towards the end there,” he said, “So I can forgive you for forgetting about a couple of things.”

Draco sniffed the air suspiciously. “Is that hot chocolate? Did you make hot chocolate for the Granger-Weasleys and not for me?”

“No,” Harry lied, and wrapped his arm around Draco’s waist, until he gave in and sagged against the side of Harry’s body. Harry liked the way Draco went soft when he was touching him.

They looked out of the window for a bit, at the house directly in front of them. Dark red brick and bay windows and a green roof. They looked old. Harry had thought it might be comforting, wizards were soothed by old things. Draco sighed against him. “They’re great,” he said, “I’d love to say I knew you could do it, but there were definitely some moments when I had my doubts.”

Harry was silent for a few seconds. “We could live here,” he suggested quietly, and Draco made a gagging noise and stepped away from him.

“For fuck’s sake,” he said, “You had to go and ruin a perfectly good moment, didn’t you?” He bent over at the waist and started fake retching.

“Alright,” Harry said mildly, “Tell me what you really think, why don’t you.”

“I think you’re a prat,” Draco told him, laughing a little bit, “And not that I don’t love these homes, because I do, but I’m a fucking Malfoy, Harry.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “I actually managed to forget that for a second there, but thanks for doing such a good job of reminding me.”

“Listen,” Draco said, straightening his back and holding Harry firmly by the shoulders. His eyes looked very serious. “I’m a Malfoy. There are two places a Malfoy will live. Their ancestral home, or the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in the city of London.” He paused for a bit and then said, “Well, and Paris, but my parents live there and you know how I feel about that.

Harry did. Draco had told him. At considerable length. “Okay,” Harry said.

“Okay what?” Draco asked suspiciously, “Are you going to break up with me because I said I want to live in Kensington forever? I suppose if it were a deal breaker I could stand Islington, in a pinch.”

“I meant okay let’s build an ancestral home,” Harry told him, “Not a big one though, because I don’t think I could live in a massive house. And we’ll have to keep Grimmauld Place for the weekdays when we’re working.”

Draco sat down on the floor, and Harry blinked at him for a second. “Are you okay?” he asked, when Draco moaned and thumped back hard against the dusty floorboards, closing his eyes.

“No,” Draco said weakly, and Harry sat down next to him, cross legged.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“I seriously think we should get married,” Draco said, grimly, sounding not at all happy about the prospect. “I don’t think I’m ever going to manage to find someone else as good as you.”

Harry watched him for a bit, his serious mouth, his straight nose, his high cheekbones. He was so nice. And Harry thought it was entirely possible he’d never be able to find anyone better than Draco. “Alright,” he replied, and Draco collapsed with relief, letting out a long sigh.

“I thought you were going to say no,” he breathed, wriggling across the floor until he had his head in Harry’s lap. Harry had never liked anyone more.

“I offered to build you a stately home,” Harry reminded him, “I think that might have been a giveaway that I’m pretty committed?”

“Merlin,” Draco said, “I suppose it should have been. You know it better not be anything modern, I won’t live anywhere that doesn’t have a lot of mahogany and a very stuffy library.”

“I’m sure we can compromise,” Harry told him.

Draco bit the inside seam of his trousers. “Would you like a blowjob?” he offered.

“Um,” Harry said, looking up at a scuffling noise in the door. Hermione was staring, wide eyed in the hallway. He smiled, “Not right now, actually, one of the Granger-Weasleys is watching.”

Draco groaned and sat up, smoothing his hair down hastily. “Of course they fucking are,” he said, and caught sight of Hermione, “Of course she fucking is.”

“We’re getting married,” Harry told her, grinning, “We just decided right now.”

“I was listening for most of that exchange,” she admitted, “Which is terrible, I know. Congratulations. I love you so much. I think I actually might cry.”

“Oh please don’t,” Draco sighed, “I know it’s a terrible tragedy that we’re both off the market, but there’s no need for waterworks.”

“Oh my god,” she laughed, shocked. “Harry what are you doing?”

Harry gripped Draco’s hand very tightly. “I know,” he said, “I absolutely hear all of your concerns. But also I’m in love? So there’s really not much I can do about the whole situation apart from… wait it out, I guess. I’m really sorry.”

Wait it out,” Draco scoffed, his palm suddenly sweaty, “I’m very stubborn, Potter. I’m going to make a point not to change my mind about you.”

“Brilliant,” Harry said, and he had never meant anything more, “Amazing. I look forward to it.”