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Seeing Draco Malfoy

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o0o

The hex that had thrown Harry backwards into a fruit stand near Diagon Alley had knocked him out and sent oranges bouncing and pears cascading. But it hadn’t done any lasting damage, the healer at St. Mungo’s assured him when he opened his eyes.

Harry groped for his glasses. They felt a little odd on his face. “Then why can’t I see you properly? And what happened to the one who was hexing me?”

“The assailant was captured by your partner and taken in for booking. No one else was injured. As for your vision, your glasses came off and weren’t found, so we’ve brought these as a substitute. We can fit you for a new prescription before you leave – perhaps a more stylish frame?”

Harry didn’t want stylish frames, he just wanted his trusty old glasses, so things could go back to normal - not that normal was all that great these days. So after he checked in at work and was told to take the rest of the day off, he Apparated back to the scene of the fight to have a look. He found nothing, and the disgruntled fruit seller claimed not to have seen any spare spectacles lying about.

Back home at Grimmauld Place, he barely had time to make a cup of tea when a barn owl was tapping on the window with a note. The handwriting was elegant, the message infuriating.

Potter, I have your glasses. Please owl me to arrange their return. D. Malfoy.

Harry seized a quill and scrawled on the back of the paper.

Malfoy – don’t fool around. Return the glasses at once. H.P.

He tied the note to the owl’s leg, stood pointedly at the window, and said, “Go.” With a disdainful and equally pointed glare the owl flew off. He supposed he had just been rude to an owl. Well, it was a Malfoy owl, it deserved it.

Within half an hour the barn owl was back with a longer letter.

Potter – did you think I had a nefarious scheme to hold your specs for ransom? Sorry to disappoint. I just need to discuss them with you before I hand them over. Good as new, free of charge, etc. See the enclosed card, this time enlarged for the myopic. D. M.

A business card had indeed fluttered to the floor – and landed near another, smaller version of itself that Harry noticed for the first time. It must have fallen when he opened Malfoy's first note. In peacock blue ink, with a silver border, the card read: D. Malfoy, Magical Repairs and Reparations. There was an address off Diagon Alley.

The owl looked smug. “You can find your own way out, I’m sure,” Harry told it and Apparated.

Malfoy’s flat was above a flower shop. He answered the door with the sleeves of his robes pushed up to his elbows, a tea towel in hand, and an inquisitive look. Pretending to be washing up, part of some elaborate ruse to make him seem harmless and domestic, no doubt.

“Ah, Potter. Most people make appointments, but then you’ve always been one for the direct approach.”

“Give me my glasses, Malfoy.”

“Lovely to see you too. Won’t you come in? Can I get you some tea?”

Accio glasses!”

A pair of wine glasses came sailing through the doorway, giving Harry barely enough time to catch one in each hand.

“Of course, wine if you prefer…”

Harry was damned if he was going to stand there and let Malfoy laugh at him like that. “Accio my eyeglasses,” he gritted out. This time his own eyeglasses came, but Malfoy plucked them out of the air while Harry still had his hands full of – snifters or champagne flutes or whatever they were.

“Do come in Potter. It will be all right, you’ll see. Have a seat, I’ll take those for you.”

Resigned, Harry handed over the stemware, followed Malfoy into a small living room bright with natural light, and sat on the sofa. Malfoy began polishing Harry's eyeglasses with the tea towel.

“I fixed the broken frames, but that wasn’t the worst of it. When’s the last time you cleansed these glasses, Potter?”

“I wash them, Malfoy, not that it’s any of your business.”

“I’m not talking about soap and water or a Scourgify. I mean magical decontamination. I had to spell all manner of toxic curse residue off of these, not to mention Dementor slime, Wrackspurt dust… It’s a wonder you could see out of them at all.”

“Wrackspurt dust? You actually believe that invisible things fly in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy?”

“I didn’t say they make my brain fuzzy, Potter. I’m quite lucid. I said they’d been flying around near your head.”

“I suppose Crumple-Horned Snorkacks have been flying around there too?”

“Of course not.” Malfoy grinned at him. “Crumple-horned Snorkacks …”

“Can’t fly,” Harry finished with him, wondering where Malfoy had picked up this Lovegoodian lore about non-existent creatures. It seemed unlikely he subscribed to The Quibbler but even unlikelier that he chatted with Luna. Holding someone prisoner in your family’s dungeons wouldn’t seem a promising way to begin a friendship.

“I gather that you didn’t know that they needed any kind of magical upkeep?” Malfoy asked.

“What, Snorkacks?”

“Your glasses, Potter.” Malfoy rolled his eyes. “You seem to be taking excellent care of the Wrackspurts, they must have a colony nesting inside your head.”

Harry scowled. “Look, Malfoy, just give me my glasses and let me get out of here.”

“All right.” Unexpectedly, Malfoy was sitting next to him on the couch, and reaching out to remove the replacement glasses Harry wore. Harry was startled into stillness at the feel of fingers grazing the sides of his face.

The world went blurry. Then his own lenses, with their two tiny worlds of clarity, came slowly closer. It was disorientating, and instinctively he shut his eyes. Warm, dry fingers brushed his cheekbones again, and then Malfoy’s palms were against Harry’s cheeks as he carefully settled the glasses onto Harry’s nose.

It had been so long since anyone had touched Harry's face.

Slightly unnerved, Harry opened his eyes and pushed his glasses back up his nose until they felt normal.

Malfoy frowned. “They’re crooked now.” This time his fingers touched only the sides of the frames as he made a minute adjustment.

“That feels weird,” Harry said, pushing them back into place.

Malfoy sat back, considering. “Maybe your ears are at different heights. That’s all right, I can adjust them.” He began to reach for his wand, but Harry was faster.

“Leave my ears alone!”

Malfoy had frozen before the wand Harry was pointing at his face. “Adjust your glasses, Potter. I was going to bend the earpiece a little – but never mind. You really don’t trust me, do you?”

“Why should I? Are you going to pretend to be some new, innocent Draco Malfoy?”

There was silence as Malfoy seemed to be biting back a retort. His voice sounded strained when he finally replied. “Not new. Older, and trying to be wiser. You, on the other hand, are now restored to your classic look. I don’t think they’ve made that style of frames for the last ten years.”

“I don’t go around changing my glasses like I’d change a shirt. They’re part of me, it’s personal. You wouldn’t understand.”

Malfoy looked furious. “Oh no, I wouldn’t understand losing something personal – like, oh, having someone steal my wand or anything.”

Oh. That.

“I needed it,” Harry said.

“So did I.”

“You were working for Voldemort.”

“I was trying to stay alive. If I’d really been working for him, I would have told them they had you at the Manor, wouldn’t I?”

Probably true. “I never gave it back, did I?” Harry said somewhat guiltily.

“Hmm, let me think, no now that you mention it, you didn’t,” Malfoy snapped.

“Why didn’t you ask for it then, after everything was over with?”

“Was it ever all over with?” Malfoy sighed. “I was rather hoping never to have to ask you for anything again.”

The light shifted in the room – the wind chasing clouds across the sun outdoors – and for a moment Harry seemed to see a different Draco Malfoy. One who looked a bit sad, tired and uncertain – one who could be hurt. One who Harry didn’t, perhaps, want to hurt.

“I’ll – bring you your wand or send it or something,” said Harry.

“Yes. Well.” Malfoy seemed to pull himself back together, as if striving for an air of merely professional interest. “Enjoy your specs. You should be able to see more clearly now, though it may take your vision a while to adjust. You can always come back for maintenance and repair.”

And then Harry found himself back out in the darkness of the hallway.

o0o

Harry hadn’t put much faith in Malfoy’s talk about magical glasses-cleansing for improved vision. If such a thing were necessary, surely someone would have told him before. Next morning, the newsprint in his copy of the Daily Prophet looked the same as always as he scanned the headlines over breakfast. No easier or harder to read. Malfoy had just been having him on.

Then he saw a photo of Ginny in the sports pages. She was with some blonde girl – a Dutch Quidditch coach – and they were turning toward each other, laughing, wind ruffling their short-cropped hair. When did Ginny cut her hair, he wondered, as he waited for the familiar dull ache of confusion and resentment and loss. It didn’t come.

His eye fell on the photo on his mantel, of himself with Ginny, a few months after the end of the war. They were smiling for the camera – but that was just it. Smiling for the camera, but not really at each other – they never quite met each other’s eyes. Why hadn’t he noticed that before?

But I wanted that relationship to work, he protested fiercely to himself. I wouldn’t have left her. He had been so relieved that she was safe, after the war. He’d thought, somehow, that their troubles would be over then – there would be grief, but they would have each other for comfort, and the ease of familiarity, and the golden sweetness of the kisses he’d remembered.

Maybe that was the problem – that he had expected it to be easy. That they’d thought they already knew each other. But actually, their relationship baffled him. He’d fought against acknowledging that. He didn’t want to be alone, now that Ron and Hermione were preoccupied with each other; he dreaded the idea of starting over, remembering the fiascos of his other dates with girls. Ginny had to be the one, because who else was there?

When she said she wanted to split up, he’d told her, with complete honesty, that he’d never looked at another woman. “That’s not the point, Harry,” Ginny had said. “The problem is, you don’t see me.”

He looked again at her laughing face in the newspaper. When had he seen her look that carefree? Not for a long, long time. Toward the end of their relationship, she had become restless and snappish. Like a wild animal penned up, he thought suddenly. Better to let it go – and in his mind’s eye he saw a fox leaping away through a meadow, bright fur flashing.

All at once, as though her happiness in the photo were contagious, he felt a lightening in his own heart. He didn’t have to worry about her anymore – she had found something, or someone, new. Maybe, someday, he would too. Best of luck, then, Gin, he thought.

o0o

That week, Harry found himself noticing trees in blossom or new leaf, birdsong, wayward puffs of wind. Spring must have been coming for a while, but he hadn’t been paying attention. Now he found himself, on Saturday, unaccountably cheerful as he ran some errands on Diagon Alley. He strolled past a familiar looking flower shop and remembered Malfoy lived above it. I was rude to him, he realised, and he did return my glasses in good shape…

When Malfoy opened the door and saw Harry, something flickered briefly in his eyes, but his face was impassive. He stood aside and waved Harry inside, but Harry stood in the doorway and spoke stumblingly. “I, er, don’t believe I thanked you for returning my glasses.”

“So you brought me flowers?” Malfoy asked, deadpan. He eyed the small pot in Harry’s hands, with its slender stems of fragrant white bells.

“No! But, er, you can have them if you want – I don’t really know how I ended up with them.” He’d just stopped for a moment on his way past the flower shop, and the next thing he knew…

“You want to watch out for that woman downstairs, she could sell wands to Ollivander,” Malfoy said.

Wands. Had Malfoy been hoping that was why Harry was here? “I’m sorry – I haven’t had a chance to dig out your old wand yet. Can you, er, get by for a bit longer without it?”

“I have a wand, Potter. It’s – acceptable. Did you think I went wandless all these years while I waited for you to decide I was worthy of getting mine back? How do you think I fixed your glasses, among other things?”

Of course, Malfoy must have a wand. But perhaps it didn’t work as well as his original one? Harry remembered the tea towel. “Why don’t you use magic to wash your dishes?” he found himself asking.

“Sometimes I enjoy hot water and bubbles,” Malfoy answered slowly, as though Harry were a bit dim.

Harry sighed. Really, he was usually more capable of intelligent conversation than this. He looked down, noticed the flowers again, and stuck the little pot out toward Malfoy.

“Well, er, why don’t you have these for now – I’d probably kill them anyway. I’ll bring your wand another day.”

“Thank you,” Malfoy said, his tone a little more sincere. “But I just have window-boxes, and they get the sun. Those flowers need shade. My mother grows them, they’re lilies of the valley. Are you sure you don’t want to plant them?”

Lily. Lily of the valley. Harry had a vision, suddenly, of his mother as a young woman in Godric’s Hollow, smiling in a garden. “Maybe I should.” The flowers were graceful and refreshing, somehow, with their light scent. Grimmauld Place was dark enough, there ought to be plenty of shade there.

“Step inside, why don’t you, I may have a book with something about plant care. Have a seat.”

Harry followed and sat on the sofa again while Malfoy disappeared into another room.

A tawny owl appeared at the window and tapped. “You’ve got an owl here,” Harry called.

“Let it in, would you? There are owl treats in a dish there – oh, I may be out of them. Try giving it a gingernut biscuit, there are some on a plate near the chair.”

“Owls eat gingernuts?” Harry asked dubiously, setting the flowers down to open the window for the owl to enter.

“Some do. Ah, that’s Hessie. She loves gingernuts, don’t you girl?” Malfoy said as he re-entered the room holding a book. He gave the owl a delicate scratch and untied the scroll. “Pardon me a moment.” He scanned the note, penned a quick reply and tied it back to the owl’s leg. She hooted softly and flew off with her biscuit.

Harry thought he'd recognised the bird’s distinctive markings, but what was Bill's owl Hessie doing delivering mail to Draco Malfoy, of all people? “How did you get so familiar with Bill Weasley’s owl?” he asked.

“What am I up to with Bill Weasley, you mean? Nothing scandalous. His wife’s part Veela, Potter, I wouldn’t stand a chance.” Malfoy laughed. “I just do some consulting. He’s a curse-breaker, and I help him identify obscure curses sometimes. The Manor library has a number of relevant books.”

Harry supposed that the Malfoy library would have a lot about curses. The Black family library at Grimmauld Place certainly did. He’d inherited books that practically growled when he went near them – so he generally didn’t. But he was distracted by the other thing Malfoy had said. “Do you mean if he weren’t married to a Veela, you’d …?”

“Bill Weasley? If he weren’t married?” Malfoy tilted his head, considering. “Well… maybe. He’s intelligent, adventurous, principled – and he has a certain style, with the earring and ponytail.”

“He’s a bloke.”

“Well spotted, Potter.”

“And a bit – scarred.”

“Aren’t we all? Though as I have some responsibility for how he got those scars, it might put a damper on things.” Malfoy sighed. “Leaving aside my love life, there should be a little information about your flowers in here. It’s a rather basic guide.”

Malfoy picked up the book again and began leafing through the pages. It was a fairly new book, illustrated with wizarding photographs. Harry caught glimpses – cherry blossom petals drifting down, a bee landing on a rose.

Pale skin marked by a faint line of scar.

“Sixth year – in the bathroom - did I…” Harry trailed off.

Malfoy froze. On the page, daffodils nodded in the breeze.

“Did it leave a scar?”

Malfoy set the book down, his eyes fixed on Harry, his face expressionless. He moved his head an infinitesimal fraction that Harry took to mean yes.

“Can I see it?” Harry asked, and immediately blushed – where had that thought come from?

“What!? No! Merlin, Potter, have you no concept of civilised behaviour?” Malfoy’s eyes were blazing.

“I – I’m sorry.”

“And for what, in particular, are you sorry?” Malfoy bit out.

The real apology was long overdue. Harry took a breath and met Malfoy’s eyes. “I’m sorry I used that curse on you. I didn’t know what it did. I would never have done that on purpose.”

Malfoy glared at him for a few seconds longer, opened his mouth as if to speak, closed it again, then shut his eyes and sighed. “Well. It was a year of doing regrettable things.” He looked down, then studied Harry’s face. “Why would you want to see the scar?”

“I don’t know,” Harry answered simply.

After a moment Malfoy shrugged and undid a couple of buttons at the top of his robe. He pushed the collar aside, revealing the tip of a thin scar that began just under his collarbone.

Harry found himself reaching forward. He had the strangest impulse to skim over the scar with his fingertips, trace the line….

Malfoy ‘s hand intercepted Harry’s. His eyes bored into Harry’s face. They stood motionless until Malfoy’s face softened slightly and he moved Harry’s hand gently but firmly away.

The trance broken, Harry’s face burned. What was wrong with him? He hated when people tried to touch his own scar. He didn’t know what had come over him.

Malfoy stepped back, eyes still on Harry. “If you’ll excuse me…”

“I – “

“I have some things to attend to.” Malfoy moved to the window and looked out.

“Of course. I’m sorry.” Harry picked up his flowerpot. “Er – goodbye then.”

Malfoy nodded, still looking out the window, so Harry let himself out.

o0o

The next weekend Harry was picking out some particularly delicious-smelling strawberries from the fruit stand in Diagon Alley when the owner said, “I see you found your specs, Mr Potter.”

It occurred to Harry that he had no idea how Malfoy had got hold of his glasses in the first place. As an Auror, he should check up on that sort of thing. So it was only logical that he turned his footsteps toward Malfoy’s flat.

“Sorry to bother you,” he began – damn, he’d forgotten the wand again – “but I was wondering. How did you come to have my glasses that day?”

“Since you come bearing strawberries, you may enter,” Malfoy said, plucking the little basket from Harry’s hands.

Harry watched woefully as his strawberries disappeared into the kitchen, but was appeased when they returned washed and accompanied by cream and sugar. For a few minutes they ate strawberries in happy silence. Then Harry remembered his question.

“So how did my glasses end up with you, anyway?”

“Ignatius brought them. I don’t know how he came by them, but of course I recognised they were yours. And in need of repair.”

“Ignatius?”

“Surely you’ve met? Ignatius,” Malfoy called, then poked his head around a half-open door. “He’s not in the bedroom –”

Malfoy shared a bedroom with this bloke?

“ – he must have gone out.”

“What kind of name is Ignatius, anyway,” Harry muttered, feeling oddly grumpy.

Malfoy seemed all too happy to explain. “It means ardent or fiery. A good match for someone named for a dragon, don’t you think? Though actually he’s somewhat goofy,” he added fondly. “But then I’m hardly draconian.”

Harry was spared having to comment by the arrival of a barn owl at the open window – the one that had brought Malfoy’s original message to his house. It surveyed him with disfavour.

“Here he is. Ignatius, you remember Harry Potter, of course you do. Harry, this is …”

The owl swivelled its head completely around to the back to avoid looking at Harry.

“… Ignatius. And you seem to have offended him already.” Malfoy sighed. “I’m afraid it’s rather easy to do. Did you give him inferior owl treats or something? Never mind, we’ll bribe him with gingernuts.”

He went back to the kitchen and returned with a plate of nice-looking biscuits. “Come now, Ignatius, I’m sure Potter didn’t mean it, whatever it was. Have a biscuit, there’s a fine handsome fellow.”

Were these Narcissa Malfoy’s parenting techniques? It might explain a lot.

The owl darted a glance at Malfoy and shuffled from one foot to the other, but resolutely ignored Harry, who had taken the cue and was holding out a biscuit.

“It helps if you flatter him.”

“Er – nice bird,” Harry offered, a remark Ignatius treated with the contempt it deserved.

“This could take a while. I’m going to get us some wine. Any preferences?”

“Does anything go well with gingernuts?” Harry asked, having given in to temptation. The biscuits were excellent, and he reached for another. The owl glared at him suspiciously and edged closer to the plate.

An hour later, several glasses of quite good wine had managed to loosen Harry's tongue. “You’re an owl beyond compare, Ignatius. Such golden feathers. Such intelligent black eyes. Face like a white heart. Devastatingly good-looking.” Mollified, Ignatius let Harry stroke him. It was nice. Harry hadn’t had an owl since Hedwig.

“Why does no one ever talk to me that way?” Malfoy asked idly, gazing at the ceiling.

“Malfoy, you are an owl beyond compare …”

Malfoy threw a gingernut at him.

“Face like a white – pointiness.” The gingernuts were flying faster now and Harry had to duck. “Stop, you’re scaring your owl,” he laughed, as Ignatius screeched a protest and flew into Malfoy’s bedroom.

“Ignatius is never afraid. He’s just – prudent.”

“Of course. Well, I’d better get home before I splinch myself. Er – thanks, this was nice.”

Malfoy gave him a disarmingly sunny smile from where he lay sprawled out on the sofa. “Do come again. We’d be delighted to see you.”

Harry felt like there was something he should be doing with his hands, but unable to determine what it was, he stuffed them in his pockets. “Bye then,” he said.

o0o

A wand, he had a wand to return. That was an absolutely legitimate and long overdue reason to visit Draco Malfoy. Harry found Malfoy’s wand in his old trunk, where it had lain for years, and polished it carefully. He arranged a time to bring it over, thinking this occasion deserved a little more ceremony.

Malfoy looked a little nervous as he ushered Harry in. They stood in the living room as Harry drew out the wand and held it toward Malfoy. Just as Malfoy reached for it, Harry tightened his grip so that Malfoy had to tug.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows.

“That’s about how hard I had to pull to get it from you,” Harry explained. And then the wand was in Malfoy’s hand, shooting blue, green and silver sparks, and his face lit up with joy in a way Harry had never seen.

Malfoy cast a quick succession of spells for pure pleasure, it seemed – transfigured a cloak stand into a hawthorn tree in bloom, watered it with Aguamenti, and turned the stream of water into a spray of mist that formed a rainbow in a shaft of sunlight.

Harry remembered his reunion with his own wand. The feeling of warmth, of relief, of rightness restored. “Sorry for the delay,” he said.

Malfoy shrugged as if trying to look nonchalant, but he was still glowing. “Well. Not every wand gets to finish off a Dark Lord. And I couldn’t have done that with it.”

“Maybe your wand knew – maybe it knew you wanted Voldemort gone too,” Harry said slowly. “Maybe that’s why it came to me so easily. It knew that was my job.”

Malfoy regarded him thoughtfully. “Now and then, Potter, you actually have an interesting idea.”

“Prat.” Harry grinned, a little flushed.

“That whole business with Dumbledore’s wand – that was strange, though.” Malfoy frowned. “I’ve never understood why it was so easy to make Dumbledore lose his wand that night.”

“He stopped to protect me, cast a spell to keep me from moving under the invisibility cloak – that’s why you had time for Expelliarmus.”

“But that doesn’t explain why he was so weak – he was practically sliding to the floor.”

Harry swallowed. This was the part he buried deepest, couldn’t bear to think of, couldn’t tell anyone, couldn’t manage to forget. Dumbledore moaning, pleading like a child, while he, Harry … “That was my fault,” he managed to get out.

“What do you mean?”

The words stuck in his throat – but he had to tell someone, sometime. “I poisoned him.” His voice was hoarse.

“What are you talking about?” Malfoy looked like he thought Harry had lost his mind.

“I – I made him drink poison. He might have died anyway.” Harry pressed his eyes shut and whispered, “From what I did.”

“I don’t know what happened, Potter, but that can’t be true.”

“We had to get the locket – the Horcrux – it was in a basin, covered with potion, and the only way to get to it was by drinking the potion. He made me promise to make him drink it, so I did, but then he was begging me – begging me to stop, and it was poison, but I didn’t, I didn’t stop and he was screaming, it was killing him and I kept pouring it down his throat….”

“Harry. Look at me. Harry.” Firm hands were on Harry's shoulders, shaking him slightly, and Malfoy was frowning into his face. “You didn’t kill him. Voldemort left the poison, and Dumbledore chose to drink it. You did what he asked of you, though Merlin knows it was a hell of a thing to ask of anyone.”

Harry stared at him numbly. Swearing, Malfoy turned him around and propelled him through an open doorway into another room. The bedroom, Harry realised.

“Give me your glasses,” Malfoy said.

Harry handed them over – and since when did he obey so unquestioningly?

Malfoy cast a furious cleaning charm on the glasses and handed them back. He turned Harry to face a long mirror. “Now look at yourself. Do you see someone who would have killed Dumbledore?”

In the mirror Harry met Malfoy’s stormy grey eyes. He’s not angry at me, he realised, he’s angry for me.

Like Snape had once been. Harry remembered what he’d seen in the Pensieve, just before he gave himself up to Voldemort. Snape, who Harry had been sure was his enemy, confronting Dumbledore - appalled that Dumbledore’s plan would mean Harry’s death.

Malfoy’s eyes held his own. “Look at yourself, Potter, not at me. What do you see?”

Harry looked. He saw a man he tried to let no one see - with a drawn face and big lost eyes under his mess of hair, part of his scar showing through. Behind him, Malfoy’s fiercely determined look. Malfoy’s pale hands cupping his shoulders. He leaned back slightly into the solid comfort of a chest against his back and sagged against it, as Malfoy’s arm came firmly around his waist. Harry remembered Malfoy clutching him on the broom as they raced the flames in the Room of Requirement. But this time Harry was the one who needed to be hauled out of the fire.

He looked at the two of them together – the former teenage Saviour of the Wizarding World being supported by the former teenage Death Eater. He tipped his head back against Malfoy’s shoulder, saw his hair dark against that pale skin. On his own face Harry saw an unfamiliar expression, unguarded, soft.

“You always did what he asked, didn’t you. Even if it nearly killed you,” Malfoy said in a low voice.

“Did kill me. But I came back. I hadn’t finished yet.”

“Well, you still haven’t finished, Mr Resurrection. It wouldn’t hurt you to be a bit more selfish this time around. Don’t let the bad memories win. You know better, right Potter?”

“Right,” Harry whispered.

“So we’re both going to close our eyes for a moment, and then…”

Harry was looking at Malfoy’s mouth in the mirror, pink lips moving, so close to his hair. If Malfoy turned slightly, his lips would touch Harry’s forehead. The arm across Harry’s stomach held him tight. He pressed back harder against Malfoy’s chest and gripped the arm that was the only thing keeping him from falling.

He felt, suddenly, that he’d been freezing, and could only be warmed by Malfoy’s body heat. He wanted to draw Malfoy’s hands across his body, let them thaw his skin. Guide those clever hands down from his shoulder and across his chest, down from his waist to… Just the thought was making him hot.

But Malfoy had said something and now seemed to be waiting for an answer.

Harry tilted his head so his nose rubbed along Malfoy’s jaw line and his mouth almost touched that pale smooth throat. “What?” he asked, so close to Malfoy’s skin that he felt the reflected warmth of his own breath.

“You’re going to stand up straight and I’ll let go, then we won’t have to talk about this again, right?”

Harry still pressed back and held tight for a few moments. This was the best he could get, it seemed. “All right,” he said finally, eyes shut. He straightened up and found his balance, felt Malfoy’s hands cupping his shoulders again and running lightly down his arms. Then they were gone. When he opened his eyes again, he was alone in the bedroom.

He went out to take his leave. It was awkward, with neither of them quite looking at the other. Only when Harry turned back at the foot of the stairs did he catch a flash of Malfoy’s eyes, unexpectedly dark as they watched Harry go.

o0o

It was a sunny spring day the next time Harry climbed the steps above the flower shop, his broom in hand. Malfoy opened the door looking somewhat disheveled, gave Harry a small quick smile and invited him in. A strange looking contraption in the living room was fizzing, popping and letting off little puffs of purple smoke.

“What on earth is that?” Harry asked. Along with a large bowl, a flat board, and a rotating circular stand, the thing had a central column that sprouted tubes, spoons, whisks and knives, all whirring. It looked hazardous.

“It’s a Charm-o-matic Souper-duper-slicer-dicer-mixer-fixer-and-cake-decorator.”

“Decorate a lot of cakes, do you?”

“It’s Katie Bell’s – she has rather an addiction to new magical kitchen gadgets, says she doesn’t have time to do all the spells by hand. Supposedly you just use a starter charm and this thing does the rest.” Malfoy looked sceptical, but sounded amused when he continued. “Unfortunately she also has a young niece with particularly wild spurts of uncontrolled magic that always wreak havoc with appliances. I’m never short of work after little Leticia’s been to visit."

“Remind me how you got into appliance repair.”

“I turn out to have a talent for fixing magical objects, and I’m using my powers for good, Potter. This way I can think of Katie Bell as ‘the witch with the broken Magic-wave oven and the bratty niece,’ instead of ‘the girl who I almost killed with a cursed necklace.’ I do Magical Repairs and Reparations. Doesn’t have to be fixing appliances – I can do research and development, consulting, whatever. I offered my services to anyone I felt I owed, from the war; some people took me up on my offer, and others, like you, didn’t.”

Harry vaguely remembered getting a letter from Malfoy to that effect a couple of years ago, but he’d suspected it was some sort of scam and thrown it away. Not wanting to admit that, he turned back to Katie’s contraption. “Do you actually know how to fix this thing?”

“Not yet, but I’ll figure it out. The trial and error period can be a bit messy, though.”

Harry laughed as a thought struck him.

“What’s so funny?”

“I’m just imagining what Snape would have said if someone had tried using one of those in potions class.”

“You’d have sent Gryffindor house points so far below zero you’d never have recovered. Pity you didn’t get to try it. So – what brings you by this fine morning?”

“My new and improved eyesight showed me my broom looking all neglected, so I thought I’d go flying.”

“Beautiful day for it,” Malfoy remarked rather wistfully.

“It is, and we don’t get them that often. Do you have to fix the mixer-fixer thing this minute?”

“No, it can wait. Sometimes it’s better to leave things and return fresh later.”

“Well, I have a Snitch that I bet you can’t catch.” Harry grinned.

Malfoy’s eyes lit up. “You’re on, Potter.” He turned off the Souper-duper with a flick of his wand, disappeared briefly into the bedroom, and returned in flying robes, carrying his own broom. “Lead the way.”

o0o

Harry knew some good places outside the city to fly, from going with Ginny. He took Malfoy to his favourite by Side-Along Apparition. Oddly, flying with him was more fun than it had been with Ginny. She’d wanted to practice together a few times, Seeker against Seeker, but Harry hadn’t been able to put his whole heart into it. He just wasn’t used to competing against Ginny – some part of him still saw her as the little sister who needed protecting, and it had irritated her.

With Malfoy, though, flying all out was as natural as breathing. No one else on the pitch had ever mattered the way Malfoy had. Now the old animosity was gone, but the fierce pleasure was still there, even when, on their third go, Malfoy caught the Snitch.

Malfoy’s own jaw dropped, and then he gave an incredulous, exhilarated laugh as he landed. “I beat you to the Snitch! I can die happy. Though not just yet, I hope.”

“You’re flying differently,” Harry said as he dismounted. “You seem looser, more relaxed than you used to. I think it helps your reaction time.”

“Well, a few things have happened since the last time we played Quidditch against each other,” Malfoy said quietly.

A few things. The last time he had played against Malfoy had been during their fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry realised. Before Sirius was killed. Before Malfoy’s father was sent to Azkaban. Harry’s last match against Slytherin, sixth year, had felt curiously flat without Malfoy on the pitch. Then came their confrontation in the bathroom, curses flying, Malfoy falling, his blood soaking into Harry’s clothes. And after all that, the war.

Yet somehow they had both come through it all, to stand here, brooms in hand in the spring sunshine. Words left him. Harry met Malfoy’s intent and silent gaze and held it until he felt something open inside himself. As though he were soaring like a hawk on an air current, effortless, floating.

Malfoy smiled, finally, and said, “Good game.” He held out his hand and Harry clasped it. The contact sent a little jolt through his nerves.

Suddenly it was too much, and he had to leave. Harry gave Malfoy a skittery smile and said “I’d best be off.”’ He took a last look at Malfoy standing in the meadow, hand raised in farewell, a breeze playing in his fair hair. Then Harry Apparated, still tingling.

o0o

All of next week, Harry kept seeing Draco Malfoy in his mind’s eye, and in his thoughts Malfoy had now become Draco. Draco swooping through the air on a broom all pink-cheeked power and grace. Draco coaxing his owl out of a snit. Draco’s eyes and arms, holding Harry steady in front of the mirror, keeping him from falling. It was hard to think of anything but Draco. Harry was full of restless energy.

You need to do something, he told himself. You know what you want. Or at least, you know who you want.

So he invited Draco to dinner at Grimmauld Place, hinting at a task for the Magical Repairs and Reparations service.

“Good heavens,” Malfoy said surveying the feast, “do you cook?”

“Not like this,” Harry admitted. “I told Kreacher that Narcissa Black’s son was coming for dinner and he outdid himself.”

Draco looked surprised and pleased. Harry supposed Draco’s parentage seldom won him favour any more.

After dinner they sat in the living room, relaxed by the wine and the good food.

“So – the reparations,” Harry began.

Draco gave a little protesting groan.

“You made an offer of your services to people you owed, right? Is that offer not still good?”

“All right – for which of my many misdeeds must I pay now?”

Harry pulled the little badge from a pocket and tossed it over. It flashed as it spun through the air.

“You kept it!” Draco exclaimed in delight as he examined it. “I’m touched. Didn’t know you were so sentimental.”

“That badge is libelous. I demand a retraction.”

“’Potter Doesn’t Stink’?”

“You’ll have to do better than that.”

“’Potter Smells Really Pretty Good After All’?”

“More specific,” Harry said quietly, tilting his head in invitation.

“Ah.” Draco held Harry's eyes for several breaths. “For that – I’d need to do some research.” Harry couldn’t read his face. There was a wary reserve in his posture.

Harry gathered his courage. “Come here then.”

But instead of joining Harry on the sofa, Draco moved to stand by the window. “Harry … sexual favors aren’t part of the reparations, offered or owed.”

Harry jumped to his feet, blushing hotly. Did Draco really think he expected…?

“God, Draco, I know that! I didn’t mean – I only meant if you wanted …”

Draco appeared to relax slightly, to Harry’s relief.

He couldn’t give up now. “All right, I’m not as cool as Bill Weasley and maybe I’m rubbish at flirting, but….”

“As cool as Bill Weasley?” Draco looked puzzled for a moment, then shook his head with a slight laugh. “Only you could be insecure about being Harry Potter,” he said in an undertone.

Draco paused, as if he were looking for the right words. “It’s not – lack of attraction. But I don’t want to be your experiment.”

Harry took heart. “Just because it would be my first time with a man doesn’t mean it would be an experiment. I’m not exactly a swinging playboy, you know. And - I've felt a lot of different things for you over the years, but none of them have been casual.”

“So what… are those feelings these days, exactly?” Draco regarded him with grave eyes.

Harry moved to stand in front of Draco. What could he say? I can see the spring again. I love the ridiculous way you spoil your owl. I trust you to see me fall apart. I want your hands on me. He spread his arms in a silent shrug, helpless to explain, and Draco turned back to the window.

Harry took a breath. He stood behind Draco and cupped his shoulders, meeting Draco’s gaze in the reflection of the glass. Then he drew his arms around Draco and bent his head to brush light kisses along his neck. Harry shut his eyes and followed his instincts, letting his hands roam across Draco’s body, nuzzling his face into Draco’s neck, until Draco made a noise in his throat that sent Harry’s hands groping blindly down to cup Draco’s swelling crotch. Draco turned in his arms, pressed himself against Harry and kissed him fiercely.

Harry kissed back. It had been so long, so long. He was getting hard. “What do we do?” he panted when they moved up for air.

“Whatever we want,” said Draco, a bit breathless himself. “Whatever we both want.”

“I want your hands all over me. All over my skin.”

There was a confusion of kissing and peeling off clothing. “Bed? A bed is good,” Draco said.

Harry didn’t have the patience for climbing stairs at this point. He Apparated them into his bedroom. They fell on the bed and finished getting rid of clothes. Then he felt Draco’s palms cup his cheeks, fingertips lifting the earpieces of his glasses.

“May I? Can’t kiss you properly with these on.” Draco’s voice was low and warm.

Harry nodded. Could anyone with good vision know what a gesture of trust that was? Everything went fuzzy as his glasses slid off, and then Draco’s face returned, close enough to be clear, against a blurry background. Like a Muggle movie in romantic soft focus. Harry grinned.

Draco smiled back at him, and Harry pulled him in for more kissing. Draco’s warm hands moved over his back, cupped his arse, pulled him closer so Harry could feel their erections press together. Harry shivered. It was so different to make love with another man - the feel of Draco’s hard chest and hard cock against his, the male smell of him. But familiar, also – Harry knew a man’s body, he lived in one.

I won’t have to guess whether he’s come, he thought, and laughed. He felt a bit giddy. Giddy and gay.

“Good?” Draco murmured, pulling back to look at Harry.

“Yeah.” But not enough. “More.”

“Hands?”

Harry nodded. Draco put his hand on Harry’s cock and Harry gasped.

“Show me what you like.” Draco drew Harry’s hand to wrap around his own and began to move them up and down Harry’s cock. “Show me,” Draco demanded again, bending over Harry with dark eyes. Harry was locked in that gaze, desire mounting. His hand fell into its familiar rhythm, guiding Draco’s hand below, a little awkward but so arousing, his hands on me, his eyes on me. Harry’s hand sped up along with his breathing. His hands, his eyes, his mouth. Draco was kissing him now, on the mouth and neck and shoulder. There was a high little whistling sound in Harry’s ears. His whole body went taut, nerves singing, and then he was lifted in a burst of brilliant release, coming like fireworks.

After he had recovered, Harry turned, loose and happy in his body, to smile at Draco. He stroked Draco’s thigh, reached tentatively toward Draco’s erect cock. “What do you want?”

“Start with what you know,” Draco said, pulling Harry’s hand around his cock.

“But is that what -”

“It’s you. I want it.”

Harry began to stroke and watched Draco’s mouth fall open and his gaze go soft. With a surge of protectiveness Harry moved to kiss him. “You show me now,” he ordered hoarsely, and followed the lead of Draco’s fingers over his own. Draco’s eyes fell shut and Harry began to kiss him all over his face and throat.

Draco’s face became rapt. His chest rose on a long in-drawn breath and his head fell back. He came with a series of small cries, and a look of peace drifted across his sharp features as he melted back onto the bed. When he turned to Harry, his smile was so warm and open that Harry felt his heart expand.

Harry pulled Draco into his arms. “God, you’re gorgeous when you do that,” Harry said. “You’re making me hard all over again.”

Draco laughed a little. “Give me a few minutes and I can help you with that. But you get my mouth this time. I haven’t forgotten I have a badge to research. And snakes,” he darted a quick lick to Harry’s neck, “smell with their tongues.”

o0o

Harry and Draco saw each other every few days after that, and Harry was in such a markedly good mood that his Auror partner began to accuse him of being unprofessionally optimistic and insufficiently suspicious.

One evening he and Draco were snogging on Draco’s sofa when there was a green whoosh in the fireplace. To Harry’s confusion, Luna Lovegood’s face appeared in the flames.

“Oh, hello, Harry! Are you seeing Draco? That’s good!” Flushed and rumpled, Harry nodded. Luna wasn't fazed by much.

Draco managed to disentangle himself enough from Harry's body to speak. “Hello Luna, how was New Guinea?”

“A bit hot and wet, but very worthwhile.”

“Did the Humdinger Attractor work out?”

“The dinging was beautiful. The humming got a little out of tune.”

“Perhaps it was the humidity. Bring it round tomorrow and I’ll see what I can do. You didn’t find a Blibbering Humdinger, then?”

“No, but I think I found something in the same family.”

“It doesn’t blibber? What does it do - gubber? Mimple?”

“It nubbumps, would be the best description,” Luna said thoughtfully. “Is tomorrow morning all right for bringing the attractor?”

“Fine, I’m looking forward to it.”

“Bye then. Bye Harry!” And she was gone.

“The New Guinean Nubbumping Humdinger, you heard it here first.” Draco smiled at Harry. “Luna was the first person generous enough to accept my offer of Magical Repairs and Reparations. I try to do what she asks. It’s never dull.”

“You’re being complimentary about Luna Lovegood. What happened to the Draco Malfoy I knew and hated?”

“His house was taken over by the criminally insane and he learned not to mind a little benign battiness.”

“And now you tune Humdinger Attractors. You’re a man of many talents.”

“You’re quite hot, wet and worthwhile yourself,” Draco murmured, kissing Harry again.

“Well, my humdinger is very attracted to you,” Harry panted, grinning and quite hard.

“Let’s nubbump, Boy-toy,” Draco growled in his ear, making Harry laugh outright. His laugh turned into a gasp as Draco began to thrust against him, grabbing his arse and pulling him close. Harry yanked at Draco’s trousers and managed to wrestle them down over his hips, then wriggled most of the way out of his own. And then it was all delicious friction of skin against skin, harder and faster, until Harry was incoherent with passion and they came one after the other in explosive messy glory.

Later, after they had made it into bed and were lying quietly, Harry let himself ask. “So – Luna, and Katie, and Bill…”

“Yes?”

“What about Ron, and Hermione?”

“I wrote to them and offered my services, a couple of years ago. I know I owe them both, for – foul language, and that damn bottle of wine. And for saving Greg. Hermione wrote back and said she’d let me know. I took that to be a polite brush-off, as I’ve never heard from her since.”

“And Ron?”

“He made an appointment for the next cold day in hell. I can fit him in sooner if he wants to reschedule…. But really, Harry, what can I do? I’m not going to grovel.”

“Mmmm.” Draco plus Ron equalled a problem Harry didn’t see a solution to. Maybe Hermione could help, but she had even less cause to like Draco.

Harry wasn’t as close to Ron and Hermione as he’d once been – they’d become absorbed in their own lives, he supposed, and then Ginny and Ron had squabbled a lot. After Ginny left, Harry hadn’t much felt like seeing anyone. But Ron and Hermione were his oldest friends, and he didn’t want the distance to grow.

Harry sighed.

Draco was looking at him with a little frown. “All right – I’ll try to think of something.” He tucked a lock of Harry’s hair behind his ear. “Sleep now?”

“Yeah.”

o0o

The next weekend they left Draco’s flat to walk down Diagon Alley. It was their first time out in public together. They hadn’t gone far when Draco stopped abruptly and muttered, “Right, then. Not quite properly rehearsed, but…”

He crossed the street to meet Ron and Hermione, who Harry hadn’t noticed coming from the other direction. As Harry watched dumbfounded, Draco bowed slightly to them both, took a deep breath, and began to sing.

“Ronald Weasley’s good at chess,
He saved Potter from a mess,
He was brave when faced with danger,
Won the love of Hermione Granger.
I insulted him as a lad,
But Ronald Weasley’s not half bad.”

Hermione had begun to laugh halfway through the song. Ron was gaping. “You are mental, Malfoy.”

“So it would seem.”

“And you made my girlfriend laugh at me.”

“I think it’s me she’s laughing at.”

Hermione, still out of breath, confirmed this with a nod. She gave Harry a questioning look, as he had come to join them. Harry shrugged.

Draco continued smoothly, though Harry suspected it cost him a great deal more effort than he showed. “I owe both of you apologies and reparations, for past vile behavior both personal and political. I repeat my offer to be of assistance in any way possible. You may consider it at your leisure. Meanwhile, Ms Granger, perhaps you also would like a serenade?”

Hermione shook her head. “No, thank you, that’s quite all right.”

“Don’t you go singing to my girlfriend!”

“Just as well, I’d already used one of the best rhymes.” Draco’s voice trailed off as he thought. “Granger, danger. Stranger, changer….arranger!”

Ron turned to Harry. “Harry, Malfoy’s gone mental and started singing in the street.” He brightened. “Did you hex him to make a fool of himself?”

Harry shook his head, but Ron had already turned back to Draco, whose mouth was twitching at the last comment. “I bet you can’t find a rhyme for Hermione, anyway.”

“Hmm. Bryony, but that’s not very useful.” Draco considered, tilting his head and pursing his lips “It would have to be a near rhyme. Hermione… sobriety.

Hermione made a face at him.

“All right…. Calliope.

“That’s better,” she said.

“Fly to me. Nigh the sea.”

Ron looked to be torn between indignation and amusement. “Would you stop flirting with my girlfriend, you wanker.”

“Lion fee.”

“What on earth is a lion fee, Draco?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know, Harry, don’t interrupt the creative process. You have to get the ideas first and sort them later. Could be 'lions three', I suppose, but that’s a bit obvious.”

“It is?”

“He means Gryffindors, Ron,” Hermione put in. She was giving Harry a speculative look.

She’s noticed something, Harry thought. Now what?

Ron was clearly sorry he’d ever asked about rhymes. “Anyway, Malfoy, I’m more than just good at chess.”

“Maybe you two should have a game sometime and you could show him, Ron,” Harry said.

Ron snorted, but Draco turned a thoughtful look on Harry.

“We really need to catch up, Harry,” Hermione said. “It’s been too long.”

“Yeah, it has,” Harry smiled at her. “You two should come for dinner. I’ll fire-call you and we’ll figure out a date.”

“Why don’t you come with us now, mate?”

Did Draco tense up slightly? Harry shifted closer to him.

“Thanks, Ron, but I can’t at the moment. Soon, though. It’s great to see you.”

They said their goodbyes and Ron and Hermione walked off, Hermione giving one last curious look over her shoulder.

Harry turned to Draco. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Are you impressed or appalled?”

“Impressed, I think. I don’t know how you managed.”

Draco began humming Celestina Warbeck’s recent hit, “It Was That Spell You Cast on Me” and Harry swatted him. “Actually, I pretended that I lost a game of Truth or Dare.”

“You pulled it off pretty well. You and Hermione might get along after all.”

“Well, she is damned intelligent. And on the whole, it’s a relief not to have to pretend otherwise. Come on, boyfriend, I’ll buy you an ice cream.”

o0o

Later, after mulling it over for a while, Harry asked “If I had Ron and Hermione for dinner, would you come?”

Draco looked doubtful. “Why would you want me there?”

“I’d like the people I care about to get along. If possible.”

“Outnumbered by Gryffindors three to one…”

“You could bring Ignatius. Or if you were more comfortable on your own turf…”

“You want me to have them here? They’d never come if I invited them. And if you invited them to come here – they’d know we’re together.”

“Well, we are, aren’t we?”

Draco was silent a while, considering. Finally he said “All right. If you can get them to agree, we’ll try it. You have to help with the cooking, though.”

When Harry fire-called Ron and Hermione, they invited him to Floo over.

“Life treating you well these days, mate? You look great!” Ron greeted him.

“Yeah, I’ve been pretty happy lately. I do miss you two, though. I have a favour to ask. I’d like you to come to dinner -”

“Sure, that’s no favour -”

“- at Draco’s.”

There was a silence before Ron spoke. “Hermione said you were with him that day on the street, but I didn’t believe it. Malfoy, Harry?”

“Yeah. We’ve become friends. Close friends.” More than that, but he’d leave those explanations til later. “And I’d like my friends to know each other better.”

“I know more than enough about Malfoy already, thanks.”

“He’s changed, Ron. Have you talked to Bill?”

“Changed, sure. I’ll believe that when I see it.”

“You can’t see it if you won’t look. Hermione – I know it’s a lot to ask…”

Hermione was looking at him steadily. “You know I don’t like him and you know why. But he hasn’t made any trouble since the war, I’ll say that for him, and his reparations service seems above board, from what I hear. If it’s important to you, Harry…”

“It is.”

“Then I’ll come.” She smiled. “You haven’t asked for much, lately.”

“Yeah, Dark Lords all vanquished, it’s been a bit slow.” Harry gave her a grateful smile.

“So, Ron, will I be going alone?” Hermione asked.

“You think I’d let you go to Malfoy’s alone?” Ron sighed. “All right. I hope you know what you’re doing, Harry. I’m going to spend the whole time wanting to punch him, you know.”

“That’s what chess is for, Ron. War by proxy.”

“And I’m bringing my own wine.”

“That’s fine.”

“And no singing!”

“I’ll tell him,” Harry grinned. “Thanks, you two.”

o0o

The dinner went quite well, considering. There had been a little matter of a scorched pot during the preparations, but they’d managed to Vanish both the pot and the smoke before the guests arrived, and resolved not to snog again until the dinner was safely over and the guests were gone.

Harry’s roast chicken was good, and Hermione really liked Draco’s salad. Ron brought wine, but refrained from making comments about bezoars, and Hermione brought chocolate, which made everyone happy. Hermione admired Ignatius until he preened and made owly noises of contentment.

Over dinner, Harry and Ron talked about Quidditch, Auror cases and George's joke shop, while Draco and Hermione began a cautious discussion about politics and the most effective ways of approaching conservative purebloods.

After dinner Harry and Hermione sat on the sofa and traded tales they’d heard from Luna about her latest adventures, while Draco and Ron played chess at the table. Harry looked over now and then, but he couldn’t really follow the game – they were either moving faster than he would have, or sitting for long periods of time studying the board. They weren’t conversing, but they weren’t throwing hexes either, which was promising, he supposed.

Finally Draco gave a small, surprised “Hmm.” Ron had tipped his chair back on two legs and was grinning.

“I believe you’re going to win this time, Weasley,” Draco finally said.

“This time? I’d beat you every time, Malfoy.”

“I say we make Harry host the rematch at his place, then. I suppose you want me to play it out?”

“Yeah, I want to see your pieces go down.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

From there it went quickly, just a few more pieces dragging each other off until Draco’s king removed his crown with a martyred air.

Ron and Hermione left in good humor. We’ve done it, Harry thought, survived both a war and a dinner party. True, they’d avoided any discussion about their families, or reminiscences about school, or the war. But it was a beginning. And Ron hadn’t flat out refused to do it again. Harry wondered at his good fortune.

“Thanks,” he said, laying an arm around Draco’s waist. “I know that wasn’t easy for you.”

“You’re welcome. It wasn’t so bad. And I had motivation,” Draco smiled, leaning into him.

Harry smiled back and yawned. “Er, I’m really tired. Maybe I should go.”

“You can stay.” Draco put an arm around Harry’s shoulders and ruffled his hair. “You can just sleep here, you know. It doesn’t have to be wild sex every night.”

“It doesn’t?”

Draco shook his head, then grinned. “Of course, in the morning you might feel more energetic.”

o0o

Harry stood before the flower shop in bright summer sunlight. He and Draco hadn't made plans for the evening, but when a meeting Harry was supposed to attend was cancelled, he found himself with the afternoon off and decided to drop by Draco’s flat.

He found Draco preparing to leave.

“I have to visit my parents today; I promised my mother. I don’t ... I don't suppose you’d want to come.” Draco shot him a quick look and then turned immediately to straighten his perfectly straight robes.

There were few things Harry wanted less than to pay a social call on Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy. He had never understood why Lucius was out of Azkaban already, after serving only a few years after the death of Voldemort. And Harry would be perfectly content never to see Malfoy Manor again.

However, experience with Ginny had taught him that questions about attending family gatherings were rarely simple. He studied what he could see of Draco’s averted face.

There was a little line between Draco’s brows, and his mouth was tight. It wasn’t anger, though – when he was angry his chin came up and his eyes flashed and he became rather scarily articulate.

Draco glanced at Harry. His eyes looked unhappy and the smile he attempted slid back off his face.

No, Draco wasn’t demanding that he come, wasn’t looking expectant or even hopeful. He looked, in fact, resigned, as if he was bracing himself to go through an ordeal alone. And that was what decided Harry.

“Sure, I’ll come if you want me to. Ready now?” Might as well get it over with.

Draco rewarded him with a small but grateful smile and a quick kiss, pulling him in close and Apparating them both to the front door of Malfoy Manor. The door Harry had been kicked through as a prisoner of Fenrir Greyback.

“What am I going to say to your father?” Harry asked suddenly, his mouth dry.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Draco answered with a humourless half-smile. He turned to look at Harry, then squeezed his hand. Before Harry could ask what he meant, Narcissa Malfoy stood in the doorway.

She had eyes only for Draco, and Harry could see the love that shone there, though her voice and movements were composed. “Draco. So good to see you my dear.”

“Mother, how have you been?” Draco stepped forward to kiss her cheek. “I’ve brought a guest.”

Narcissa seemed to notice him for the first time. “Auror Potter.” She nodded to him, her face grave.

“Oh, call me Harry. I’m just here as a friend.” Harry was flustered, wondering if she thought he was here to make arrests. Narcissa extended a hand to greet him and on a sudden impulse he raised and kissed it, like a gentleman in an old movie.

She looked startled, and Harry cursed himself for being ridiculous. It must be obvious that he had no idea how to behave in pure-blood circles. He’d never cared before, but he didn’t want to embarrass Draco. But Narcissa gave him a small warm smile that reminded him of her son, and welcomed them both inside.

Here again was the large entrance hall with the rich carpet and the ancestral portraits. He would have to go into the drawing room too. Bellatrix is dead, he reminded himself. Narcissa opened the door to the spacious drawing room and they entered.

“Is someone here?”

Harry recognised that bored, cultured voice. He expected an edge of malice to slice through it at any moment.

Lucius Malfoy rose from a chair by the marble fireplace. Physically, the man looked as Harry remembered first seeing him – tall and impeccably dressed, supremely self-assured, his hair a silver river down his back. The sallow, shaking man he had become under Voldemort’s displeasure was sleek once more.

There was no sign of recognition on Lucius Malfoy’s face as he looked at Harry. “Good afternoon. Do I know you?”

Harry was speechless. Was this some kind of ploy? To what purpose, though? He saw no signs of the old calculating intelligence behind those pale eyes.

“This is Harry Potter, dear. He’s a friend of Draco’s.”

The whole situation was surreal, but it grew even stranger when Lucius turned to Draco and repeated the same thing.

“Good afternoon. Do I know you?”

“Yes, Father,” Draco replied evenly. “I am Draco, your son.”

“Ah.” There was a momentary flicker of what looked like confusion in his eyes, but then Lucius nodded, his face calm again. “It looks like rain today. There’s to be a garden party at four.”

“That’s not today, dear,” Narcissa said gently.

“Oh. Just as well. It looks like rain today.”

There hadn’t been a cloud in the sky all day.

“Do I know you?” Lucius asked, turning to Harry again.

Narcissa had been watching all three of them. “This is Harry Potter. I’m about to show him some of the family portraits in the hall. Why don’t you and Draco stay here and have a chat.”

“There’s to be a garden party at four,” Lucius informed Harry, before turning to Draco. “Do I know you?”

In the long hallway Narcissa took Harry past one portrait after another of haughty-looking Malfoys without comment. When she paused, it was to point out some resemblance to Draco.

“I’m afraid my husband’s memory is not what it was,” she said as they passed by yet another large painting of splendidly dressed people. She stopped in front of a picture of a girl at a piano. “This is Lucinda Malfoy, Draco’s great-great aunt. He has her hands.” The girl glanced at them and began to play, her long fingers moving over silent keys.

“Mrs Malfoy – about your husband - what - ”

“We don’t know precisely what happened, but he has been this way since he returned from Azkaban. Some days he has more of a conversational range than others. We have tried various healers and remedies, but little has changed. It is hard on my son.” She walked on.

Harry followed her, at a loss for words. Narcissa stopped in front of a small portrait in an oval gilt frame and smiled. “This is my favourite.”

A young Draco, about seven years old, sat in a chair with a tawny Kneazle on his lap. He had a small smile and dancing eyes. He looked happy, mischievous, adored. Adorable.

“Hello, sweetheart,” Narcissa said to the boy in the portrait.

“Hello, Mummy. Who is that?” Boy Draco looked at Harry with curiosity.

“This is Harry Potter.”

“Really?” Boy Draco looked impressed. “But he’s old!”

“You’ll grow older too, dear.”

“Oh. And we’ll be friends then?” he asked, turning to Harry.

Narcissa’s eyes had a sheen of tears. Harry wondered where she had hidden this child when Voldemort took over the Manor.

The boy in the portrait waited, expectant.

“Yeah,” Harry said. “In time, we’ll be friends. We’ll go flying together.”

And there was that smile, the little warm smile Harry loved, and he needed to go find Draco, his Draco, now.

Narcissa must have felt the same. “We have to say good-bye now, dear. Mummy will come back and visit you again.”

“Bye Mummy. Bye Mr Potter.”

“Bye.” Harry waved back and then hurried after Narcissa, who was moving surprisingly quickly back the way they had come.

In the drawing room they found Draco and Lucius still standing, locked in a conversational treadmill. Lucius maintained an invincible air of pleasant indifference, perpetually renewed. His mind had settled into a single groove. There was tension in every line of Draco’s body. Neither looked up as Harry and Narcissa came in.

“Do I know you?”

“Less well these days, apparently.”

“Do I know you?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it?”

“Do I know you?”

“Have you ever?”

“Do I know you?”

“Have you ever tried?” Draco’s knuckles were white in clenched fists.

“Do I know you?”

“Why bother to start now, Father?” Draco's voice was starting to crack.

Harry looked to Narcissa for help. She flicked her eyes toward the door

“Er, we should be going. Mr Malfoy, Mrs Malfoy.” Harry grasped Draco’s elbow, but Draco stayed frozen. Harry put a hand on the small of Draco’s back and left it there. After a long moment he felt Draco relax just slightly against his hand. Harry drew him toward the door.

“I’ll see you out.” Narcissa followed them to the entrance hall.

“How do you bear it, Mother?” Draco’s voice was shaking.

“He’s not as bad when it’s just the two of us. He calls me his childhood sweetheart and strolls around the gardens a lot. It’s easier now that the weather’s improved. Don’t worry about me, dear.”

“I’ll be back to see you next week.”

“Come when you can. I always love to see you, but I know you have other friends you want to spend time with.” She turned to Harry. “I am afraid your experiences in this house have not been… pleasant, Mr Potter. I regret that and assure you that any guests of my son are welcome in my home.”

Harry thanked her as best he could. Draco kissed his mother’s cheek and pressed his face to hers, clasping her hands. Then he turned to Harry, drew him in tight, and Apparated them both to his flat off Diagon Alley.

Neither of them spoke for a few moments. Harry didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t wish Lucius Malfoy returned to his former self, that cold arrogant deadly man. But it was shocking to see someone who had been such a formidable wizard reduced to a shell.

Then Draco said, “I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have had to see that. But now you know.” He stood with an uncharacteristic slump.

Harry moved to stand behind his lover and massage away the tight knots of tension in his shoulders. Now you know? How long had Draco been worrying about how Harry would react? Harry strove to find the right words.

“I know that your mother saved my life once. And I know that you are not your father. And I’ve always known who your father was.”

“Well, then you know more about it than he does, apparently.”

“Draco, anyone should be proud to have you for a son. As for whatever happened to your dad … he didn’t seem unhappy, anyway,” Harry said. Happier than Lucius Malfoy deserved to be, probably, but for Draco’s sake he let that go. He unbuttoned the collar of Draco’s robes so that he could reach his shoulders better.

“Maybe for my father, forgetting everything is the only happy ending possible.” Draco sighed.

Torn by the sadness in his voice, Harry wrapped his arms around him and began to nuzzle his neck. From there, unthinking, he started to kiss Draco’s throat. Suddenly Harry wondered if he was being selfish, turning comfort into sex. “Draco? Is this all right?”

Draco nodded.

Harry continued to kiss and suck his throat, his jaw, his earlobes. Draco caught his breath and arched back against him, and Harry felt himself growing hard. “So,” Harry murmured between kisses, “What about his son?” His hands found their way under the fabric and roamed across Draco’s chest. Draco pulled one hand down to his crotch and pushed his growing erection against it.

“You mean Draco? The pale, pointy one?” Draco was breathing faster. He broke away to shrug off his robes, step out of them and peel his shirt over his head. Harry pulled him down onto his lap on the sofa, and Draco turned to straddle Harry.

“Not so pale,” Harry replied. He wrapped his arms around him and admired the pink flush on his lover’s skin. He leaned forward to suck a rosy nipple into his mouth until it was hard as a bud and Draco was gasping. Harry licked the other nipple to a peak. “Beautifully pointy.”

Draco was grinding against him, tugging Harry’s shirt off and pulling him into a kiss. “So?” Harry asked when they broke for air.

“Was there a question?”

“This Draco. Think there’s any chance of a happy ending for him?” Harry turned and lay Draco gently down on the sofa.

“Could be.” Draco beamed a brilliant smile at him, his bright hair in disarray round his head, his eyes full of light. “I hear his new boyfriend is very sweet.” He spread his legs welcomingly.

“Who, the speccy git?” Harry asked, laying between them and moving against him.

“He doesn’t need glasses when he’s really close,” Draco whispered.

“Take them off,” Harry whispered back, waiting for the touch of warm dry fingers cupping his face. Draco slid the glasses off and flung one hand over his head to drop them on the end table. Harry turned his face against Draco’s other hand to kiss and tongue the palm and inner wrist.

“Think this boyfriend’s going to be happy?” Draco panted.

“He’ll be happy if he can get his pants off before he comes all over them.”

And then they laughed and wrestled off the rest of their clothes and fell off the sofa, but the floor was near and the carpet was thick, so it was all right. Draco was over him, eyes dark with desire and hair falling round his face; he thrust against Harry’s leg, stroking his cock, pulling him into a messy kiss. “Want you, Harry, I want to see you come, suck you, fuck you, ride you, anything…”

Harry’s arousal surged under the sweet heat of his lover’s hand and the naked lust in his eyes. Draco sucked hard on one of Harry’s nipples and started tonguing his way downward. “I ... wait ... ” Harry began, but then warm lips closed around his cock and within seconds he was gone, coming hard.

“Sorry,” he said when he could talk again, aware that a wide grin was belying his words.

“Funny, you look kind of goofily happy.” Draco’s voice was teasing, his face aroused.

“Yeah. But I meant, meant to - ”

“But you were overcome by my incredible sexiness,” Draco finished for him.

“Yeah.”

“No worries. We haven’t finished yet. Not by a long ways.”

Draco was kneeling, straddling Harry’s groin, his back and head upright. “Your face is kind of far-off and fuzzy up there,” Harry said. “Come closer.”

Draco took Harry’s hands and held them up to cup his own face, nestling his cheeks against them. “Maybe you should learn to find your way by touch.” He was drawing Harry’s hands over his chest and down his sides.

Harry slid his hands back to cup Draco’s arse, then pulled him down, rolled over on top of him, and began to kiss his neck. “Can I suck you off, too?”

“The answer to that,” Draco grinned, “will always be yes.”

Harry rolled to the side. He caught a glimpse of black eyes in a small, heart-shaped white face, watching him from the back of the sofa. He jumped, then realised who it was, and laughed softly. Owls were so damn quiet in flight.

“What?” Draco asked.

“Don’t look now, but we’re being observed. Someone devastatingly good-looking just flew in.”

“Should I be jealous?”

“Nah, he’s not my type.”

The owl squawked indignantly.

“Only because I know you wouldn’t have me, Ignatius!” Harry hastened to add over his shoulder.

“He mustn’t think you’re laughing at him, that’s fatal,” Draco said. “Go have a gingernut, Ignatius, O Owl of My Heart! We’ll be with you in … a while.”

“Now I’m getting jealous.”

“You’ll get your biscuits later.”

“O Wizard of My Dreams,” Harry prompted him.

“O Keeper of My Wand,” Draco said. “Speaking of which, must I take things into my own hands before I die of sexual frustration here?”

Harry shook his head, chuckling. He reached out to cup his lover’s balls and fondle them gently, then bent to the task of giving head. It was a new skill for him, but a sensuous pleasure, and Draco’s soft cries rewarded him.

Harry felt the light touch of Draco’s fingers on his hair. He shut his eyes and nudged his head back against those hands that always felt like home. They hadn’t finished, not by a long ways. Even with his eyes closed, he could see. Joy lay before him.

o0o