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"Does it hurt?"

Not waiting for an answer, his hand stretches toward the bloodied chin, the least of his enemy's wounds, the only one he can bear to look at. Fingers still rank with smoke freeze a fraction of an inch above raw skin, their auras bleeding together but not daring more. Harry winces nonetheless.

"I'm fine," he parries.

"Of course you are. You're Harry Potter."

He means it, but like everything between them, it's misunderstood. Bloodshot eyes glare, glazed and terrible behind spider-webbed spectacles. "Fuck off, Malfoy."

His hand hangs in the air, still frozen, long after Harry's gone.

~~~~~

"Does it hurt?"

Yet another seat-of-his-pants mission and Harry's back at St. Mungo's, his face streaked with newly dried blood that makes Draco feel sixteen again. Makes him want to poke at the raw wound just so Potter will react.

"I'm fine."

The scars pile up like sea lions on a rock, but the answer never varies. "You can admit it hurts, I won't think less of you."

Potter's eyes slam into him, swift as a curse and just as green. "You mean you already think so little of me it won't matter."

Words. Words never have worked for them. They're too sharp-edged, too easy to distort. He wishes they were as supple as the Auror's cheek, as precise as his wand that knits the torn skin. But they're not, so Draco works silently, and he touches, Merlin, how he touches. Something about the freedom to touch Potter makes Draco's heart sing, and without realising it, he hums in harmony.

He freezes when he sees Harry staring, pulls away, blusters, "Well. Try not to get yourself killed, Potter."

"Would you care?"

Draco pauses, thinks, nods. Yes, he would, very much.

Potter leaves, saying nothing, but wearing the most curious smile.

~~~~~

"Does it hurt?"

"It hurts like fuck!" Draco tries to say. What does the idiot expect? Thirty-nine hours with the revenge-bent Lestranges is no one's idea of a holiday.

But only a groan escapes. The words choke in his throat under Rabastan's fingerprints, drown on his still-hexed tongue. Maybe it's for the best. Potter never complains, and somehow, grudgingly, Draco's come to respect him for it.

"Come on, Malfoy, this isn't how we're supposed to end, you and me."

As Apparition tugs him away, something remarkably like a kiss brushes his forehead and Draco wonders when Potter started thinking 'we.'

~~~~~

He awakens hours later at St. Mungo's, not as Healer this time but patient. He awakens to shimmering pain-blocking charms and a deathly tight grip on his once-rebuffed hand.

"You're awake," Potter states, ever obvious. "Does it hurt?"

It's the first time Harry's touched him for no good reason and Draco hardly feels it. With his entire being he wills the sensation to pierce the numbing fog.

"Not too bad. The charms help."

"I never pictured you as stoic," Harry teases, but kindly. Still Draco winces, remembering hippogriffs and childhood taunts.

"Should have, though," Harry continues. "You were always in control. I think that's why I tried so hard to rattle you."

Draco almost laughs. It only takes a thumb tracing slow circles on the back of his hand to rattle him. It only takes an invitation to dinner to shatter his composure.

"C-come again?"

"Dinner, you and me, once you get out."


His words are bold, but words lie. Draco searches for truth in Gryffindor-red cheeks and frantically darting eyes.

"Why?"

Harry's eyes still and Draco sees honesty flare, bright and brave. "Because I think I'd care if you got yourself killed."

It's a reason that, strangely, Draco understands.

~~~~~

Decades as an Auror turn Potter's face into a topographic map.

Decades as a Healer turn Draco into a cartographer.

His hand stretches out, his fingers charting each gleaming rice-white scar, every nick where flesh, too damaged for healing spells, too closely resembles a sock in need of darning. He pictures bruises now healed and once-cracked bones, and the blood, always the blood, that makes Draco care, fiercely, fervently, that Harry not get himself killed.

His lover will never in a million years admit that it hurts, but it doesn't matter, so long as it's Draco's hand he reaches for.


~~~ The End ~~~