Theo left for a Death Eater raid in the middle of winter after dinner at the Manor. Dinner was just him, Draco, and a few stray house elves, because at that point neither of the elder Malfoys were ever home. Theo didn’t come back for breakfast. Draco’s last words to him were, “You’ll be fine, so stop worrying, you idiot.”
Theo had smiled faintly, grateful.
It’s just past three in the morning, and Draco Malfoy is folding paper boats again. You would think he’d be used to it by now, the electric feeling in his chest, the one that tells him he can’t sleep, he needs to go out on raids, he needs to bully a first-year, maybe cross over the long end of the ocean on his broom. But instead, here he is, focusing all of that potential energy folding rudimentary origami.
He’s supposed to be reading the new text on Magical Japan’s Golden Era Influenza (400+ pages of The Flu that Flew Across the Ocean), but after re-reading the same paragraph for more than twenty minutes, he decides is best to give up the pretense of being busy. So here he was. Folding boats.
He started off folding cranes; it reminds him of his schoolboy days, when all he’d wanted was attention and he couldn’t figure out anything more elegant than taunting The Boy Who Lived with magical flying paper birds and insults about his dead mother. But once he flicks the eighth paper crane into The Fishtank, he moves on to the boats.
Pansy had been escorted out of the Great Hall, alone, several weeks after Draco had left Hogwarts with his aunt for an errand. He wishes he was there in the hall with her, both of them desperate to survive, holding her hand, and they would have to tear her away from him before they could take her. But he wasn’t, and she was taken, and no one ever returned her.
Draco thinks the last thing he’d said to her was, “You bitch, you stole my hair serum again, didn’t you?”
Potter bought The Fishtank months ago, a few weeks after they started to live together and Draco proved to be able to waste reams and reams of parchment just folding cranes and boats while waiting for the Auror to come home. He never could stay still for very long--even when he was exhausted from extra shifts at St. Mungo’s--and Potter was tired of cleaning up crumpled, half-animated paper figures in the mornings, apparently.
Potter set it up himself in the living room, in the middle of the fireplace and the medicine cabinet, and Draco had remarked, one eyebrow raised and nursing a cup of tea, “You’ve bought me an aesthetically pleasing rubbish bin.”
The other man had just rolled his eyes, and then bent down to peer under the couch. Draco took both a sip of his tea and the opportunity to ogle his arse. Which deserved ogling. Maybe an Order of Merlin, but he was pretty sure Potter already had a couple of those and wouldn‘t want Draco‘s to add to his collection.
He stuck out his arm, and after a moment of rummaging, pulled out a crumpled paper boat and crane, the latter of which was still flapping its wings slightly. “Here, look.” Potter threw both into the glass case. The boat immediately sank and drifted along the bottom of the tank. The crane flapped continuously, brushing the lid of the case. “And they’ll do that until the charm on them runs out, and then they’ll unfold and straighten out and fall to the bottom of the tank, and you can reuse the parchment and not kill any more trees. Everyone wins.” He opened his palms, and grinned widely at the blond.
Draco had rolled his eyes, not impressed at all, this was a glass toy box, his boyfriend had bought him a toy box, toddlers needed toy boxes, and Potter had kissed him, laughing at his expression.
Blaise and his mother tried to run away when the Dark Lord called for their support. Draco had owled Blaise, desperately asking him to convince his mother to take back their refusal, and his friend had written back with a nondescript owl, “Draco, darling, the Zabinis are not ones to take sides in war. Love and kisses, Blaise.” Lucius Malfoy had caught his son trying to send an owl back, probably with the words BLAISE YOU’RE GOING TO DIE LIKE THIS AND DYING HURTS PLEASE DON’T and instead of saving Blaise, Draco watches, horrified, what has he done, as Aunt Bella tracks the letter to the Zabinis’ safe house.
The last thing Draco ever said to Blaise was the latter’s name, torn out of his throat.
So Draco always starts the night folding cranes, content and thinking of things like breakfast and small children coming in for check-ups and getting lollipops for being good. Eventually though, its starts to get late, and he considers sending an owl to Granger to ask if her Weasley had gotten back yet, he wants to double check the medicine cabinet--at its size, its more of a wardrobe, at this point--and before he knows it he’s folding boats. Potter likes to tell him he can tell how late it is, and by association, how upset Draco is, by the ratio of paper cranes-to-paper boats. Cranes indicate Draco‘s only the usual angry, while boats suggest Potter should get on bribing Draco with expensive presents and very good sex.
But Draco’s not even that angry, it’s just, it’s about time this happened, it was an eventual and unavoidable decision. Healing is his job, yes, but he can’t do this anymore, he really can’t.
It’s a lot of pressure, actually, knowing Potter will drink every potion Draco thrusts at him, to not shield at every spell he throws. How does Potter know the potion is Dreamless Sleep, there are several poisons with the same exact look and Draco could’ve invented several more, and how is he sure that’s the common Diagnosis Spell when Stunners are the same color?
And really, when you really stepped back and looked at all of this objectively, Draco didn’t contribute all that much to this relationship, exactly two things, actually, so and logically, there isn’t much for him to deny Potter, so this shouldn‘t be that big of a loss. There’s just the Healing and, uh, the sex, and both are lovely, wonderful things, but if he had to choose, Draco is much better at sex with Potter than Healing him.
It’s during the Great Battle, and Narcissa Malfoy doesn’t have a wand. She shouldn’t even be there, she’s not even Marked, but the Death Eaters are guaranteed a win, aren’t they, and her son and her husband are at Hogwarts, and so then is she. Draco isn’t there with her, he only sees the crumpled result after, he is the one to find her after. Kingsley Shacklebolt is the one who throws the Avada Kedavra, no one knew yet that his mother had saved The Boy Who Lived and lied to The Dark Lord’s face both at once, only that Malfoys were bad; that was his mother all right, he didn’t need to see Potter’s memories as proof that his mother was a hero, that seems exactly like something she would do, probably even while planning a gala and hosting all of the Dark Lord’s followers in her home, yes. But she can’t even defend herself this time, can she, she couldn’t defend herself, because Draco has her wand, she told him to take it, she said he needed it more than she did, and besides she’s busy looking for her son.
Draco can’t remember what his last words to her were.
Draco is folding a corner to the center of the parchment when the Floo shoots open. Sometimes, Potter Apparates in, sometimes Weasley drops him off, half limping, and the two purebloods share surprisingly similar exasperated looks over his head, because Potter can be such a reckless idiot, and sometimes he tumbles in through the Floo like some sort of peasant.
“Oof.“ Potter hits the ground, rolling slightly forward. “Wow, ow.“ He rolls back, straightens, and Draco gets up from his seat. With one hand, the shorter man brushes himself off, his hair is a dark mess, then turns his head up to smile tiredly, slightly at the sight of the blond. Neither of them bother to look at a clock, but Potter spares a glance to the fish tank, then back at Draco.
“Good morning, Healer Malfoy. I see you‘ve more birds than boats this morning.” The smile is small and tired, but it’s so open it reminds Draco of The Youngest Seeker in a Century, but then also how Potter Always Caught the Snitch, and he scowls a little at the memory.
“Common misconception,” he replies dryly, still scowling. “My first two cranes decided they were soul mates and had a small flock of colts to prove it.”
Potter snaps the fingers on his left hand. “See? That’s why you should fold more birds, your boats don’t mate and make, uh, little uh, baby boats, Malfoy, what are baby boats called?”
While he speaks, he continues to wave his left hand to emphasize his points. Why is he only using his left hand? “Bath toys.”
“Wow, oh wow, usually I would make a lewd joke about baths and um, toys, but uh, I seem to be bleeding all over the carpet.” To make a point, his arm drips to the floor, starting a small stain.
Oh. Right. That. “No.”
“Uh. Actually,” Drip. Potter visibly tries to lift his bleeding arm, but winces and stops. “I’m pretty sure, yep, definitely bleeding all over the carpet. We should replace this. I mean, It’s a cream-colored carpet, that’s terrible.”
Draco refuses to think of everything that’s ever stained the carpet, then continues. “By ‘No,’ I of course mean that ‘No, I’m not healing you.’”
Draco Malfoy was not Harry Potter’s nursemaid, nor his house elf, and normally, seeing someone romantically didn’t involve literally spelling their pieces back together every night and worrying if people could be made immune to Blood Replenishing potions. And you know what, Draco was not going to enable the whole Gryffindor savior complex anymore.
“Er. Busy then, are you?” Potter shuffles his feet, and moves to clutch his right arm with his left hand. The mentioned arm is bent slightly, and although Draco can’t be sure--the light in the room is iffy at best, sourced from the fireplace, a few floating candles and the fish tank--but he thinks it might be broken. Nothing too bad, relatively speaking, and nothing that will have Potter fainting like a maiden anytime soon. It probably hurts, though.
“Well, no.” Draco resists the urge to fiddle with the half-folded parchment in his hand. He’s not nervous, he’s not. “I would just rather not Heal you.”
“Why not?” Neither of them have made a move to take a seat, and Potter is staring at the other man very seriously.
Draco pauses, and just looks at Potter. He doesn’t know where to start, or how to explain that after each fold of parchment, he had thought to himself, what if tonight is the night, I last saw him this morning, just as I was leaving for work, I’d kissed him on the forehead while he laid in bed, I said, “Bye, then, remember to take out the rubbish after you‘ve put on some clothes,” what kind of last words would that even be, what if tonight is it, then what--
“When was the last time you went to St. Mungo‘s to get properly Healed?”
“Er. How long have we been seeing each other?”
Draco nods, and brushes back the lock of blond that moves forward at this motion impatiently. “My point exactly.”
“Wait.” He breathes slowly, as if pained. “Okay. Sorry, I’m not at my intellectual best right now. One moment. So. To recap: You don’t like Healing me?”
“I hate it.” Draco has never spoken truer words, he thinks.
“Oh.” Potter’s reply is faint, and his face flickers in the firelight, then his expression shutters.
And Draco realizes he’s gotten it wrong, again. He‘s always getting it wrong. “No, no, it’s not that, you’re wonderful, okay, it’s just, I can’t. I can’t, because every time, it’s just, you, you’re reckless, you were reckless before, and I didn’t think it could get worse, but I actually don’t think you care about your body at all since I’ve moved in, since you seem to think I’m sort of deity and can Heal anything as long as I’m here, but I can’t, okay, contrary to popular opinion, Healers can’t heal inevitable death, because eventually you’re going to come home with a Curse I can’t fix with my potions cabinet, because you skipped out on the mandatory check-up at St. Mungo’s after every Auror mission, I know you do, and that’s whole minutes lost Flooing or Apparating to get here, and minutes can be the difference between alive and-- and, dead, and maybe I can’t fix it at all, because I’m only me and I’m a Draco-Malfoy-Level-Healer only, and you’re a Harry-Potter-Level-Auror, and you’re ability to hurt yourself much surpasses my ability to fix, and you’ll die, Potter.”
After this little speech, he’s suddenly out of breath and breathing hard, and Potter’s expression flickers again. He looks like he’s going to reply, but his eyes glance down to his feet, and Draco follows his line of sight.
There is a pool of blood at Harry’s feet, and Draco frowns, because that is much too much blood for just a broken arm, even if it ripped through every main artery, he wouldn’t be losing this much blood.
Wait, no, of course, Potter wasn’t holding his arm because it was broken, he was holding his arm to his side because his side was bleeding and he was trying to staunch the blood--
“You idiot,” Draco manages, and he doesn’t know if he’s referencing to Potter of himself, right as the other man sways forward, and Draco catches the shorter man, uncertainly at first, because where can he put his hands so it doesn’t aggravate any wounds, where, but his inner Healer steps in, it always does, and moves the Auror, one arm under the man’s knees, another under his back, to lay him on the couch, wide enough to hold Potter with space to spare, not that that’s very difficult, Potter can be so very little sometimes, and Draco leans back on his heels.
The Auror opens his eyes when Draco finally has worked off his robes to expose his injured side, which is deep and gaping wide, a dark red, with jagged edges. “Curse or magical artifact?”
“Uh, I hit my side on a statue, but then she sent a curse at me on that same side. Er, sort of a dark purple. Uh. It didn‘t look that bad when I last looked.” Potter winces when Draco’s fingers probe along the edges of the wide gash. His pores don’t feel much swollen, so it can’t be Agrivia, but the temperature is much too warm for Cel Manies. If he’s right, he hopes he isn’t, but maybe he hopes he is, the brief loss of consciousness is less of a result of extreme blood loss and more of a symptom of a natural wound and a Incessant Growth Curse , and if left untreated, the curse should grow to take over the whole of Potter’s torso, so--
Draco stands up and moves towards the large cabinet next to the fish tank, not bothering to wipe his hands of blood. There was a series of potions he’d brewed a few months ago that should be able to first reverse the curse, but he’d need to stop the wound from bleeding first.
When he returns to the couch, Potter is fully lucid. He’s wincing, but his eyes are watching Draco’s every move. Uncorking a small glass bottle, Draco covers it with a bit of loose cotton, flips it upside down then back, and dabs at the wound. It works immediately to stop the blood flow, but now that Draco’s looking for it, he notices the gash is opening itself wider with minuscule rips.
“Ouch.” Potter winces harder. “Ease up.”
“I’m assuming this is where the laceration originated before spreading, and so it should sting a bit more than the edges. Brace yourself.”
He dabs for a few more moments, then uncorks a vial to his left. He leaves finger-shaped red marks on the glass when he hands it off to Potter. “Drink that, then count to thirty aloud.”
“One.“ Potter starts, and now that its stopped bleeding, Draco can clean up the old blood.
“Six,” There’s a small heap of reddened rags on the floor now, and another potion, green and thick, is poured over the injury. It sticks to any open skin, and Draco wipes around the wound. “Thirteen.”
He cuts a few bandages, comparing the length to Potter’s side for measurement. “Twenty-two.”
Draco picks up the orange vial. “Thirty.”
“Okay, this one will be a bit unpleasant, but try to finish it all in one go.”
Potter tips it back like a shot, or as much as he can while laying on his back, and makes a horrified face at the taste. “Oh god, that one was sticky.”
“Okay, and this one is the last,” Draco hands him the final vial, which he has actually started packing in single-dose vials, that is so sad, what is his life, he remembers when he still packaged all of his potions in standard measure beakers, those were good days. “Your good friend Blood Replenishing, yep, good job.”
Draco watches the wound for a few more seconds, and satisfied that the potions have acted accordingly and it has stopped growing, he starts to bandage it with cheesecloth and Spell-o-tape.
He knows Potter is watching him, and they’re both silent.
Draco is the one who speaks first.
“Is your arm actually broken?”
Potter obligingly gives Draco the limb, which the latter inspects closely, before picking up the bandages again. “Oh, this isn’t too bad, it’s just sprained. Don’t move it and you should be fine.”
He doesn’t look up from Potter’s wrist, and he’s not afraid of looking up, he’s just. He’d prefer not to right now, this is taking all his concentration.
“I like it when you heal me.” Potter admits, and his voice is rough, slightly embarrassed.
Draco pauses in the middle of bandaging said wrist, then continues before he replies carefully, “Good to know one of us is enjoying himself, then.”
He thinks he can hear Potter roll his eyes. “No, not like that, Malfoy.” Draco spares a glance, finally, to see that the other man is smiling, slightly. “it’s just that, it’s nice to see that you care, sometimes.”
Gray eyes blink. “I care.” He protests, offended on pure principle, because really.
Draco Malfoy cares, alright? It’s just, look, he cared about Theo, and Pansy, and Blaise, and his mother, and sometimes he’s scared he cares more about Potter than any of them, and it stands to reason that if bad things happen to people Draco cares about, worse things are bound to happen to Potter, because this is more than caring, this feeling, much past mere affection, it’s probably love, actually, if Draco was honest with himself.
But he so rarely is.
“I know that, believe me, well, sometimes I do, it’s just,” Potter starts talking faster, as if he’s afraid Draco will run out of the room or tell him to shut up, which still he might, he’s certainly considering both, “You haven’t introduced me to any of your friends, and I don’t think you’ve ever told anyone personally that we’re dating, and when I told you I loved you, you didn’t say anything, not to pressure you or anything, don’t worry about that, but it’s different when I’m hurt. It’s like, well, I think part of it’s your Healer training, but when you fix me, you mutter under your breath, did you know? Like, you call me an idiot and careless and you’re actually quite rough with me, but I can’t really mind, because I just think, He’s upset. Draco Malfoy is upset because I am hurt, and that’s how I know,” he tapers off slightly, because he’s caught sight of the other man’s look. “That you, er, care about me.”
Draco, right now, is horrified. He doesn’t know what his expression tells Potter, but he doesn’t rightly care because he might be The Worst Boyfriend to Ever Exist. “So, wait. So you get into these death wish situations, not because you think you’re Super Auror and The Boy Who Never Will Die, but because you want to see me worry about you? Because--” Oh Merlin, really? “--Because you think I don’t love you?”
Potter blinks with wide green eyes. “Well, when you say it like that.”
“That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I feel like hitting you upside the head. Potter, everyone knows it, everyone, strangers make fun of me for it when I go shopping for groceries, do you not read the Prophet, I mean, I follow you around like a puppy at Ministry balls, I re-scheduled all my shifts for all of the next year to match yours, the other Healers still make fun of me for that one, I hold your hand in public, I let you set up a muggle pet cage in my living room, Merlin, I moved my medicine cabinet from the bathroom cupboard to a wardrobe in the sitting room, who even does that, and I am basically your bitch, how do you not know this?”
Potter blinks again, like this genuinely surprises him. “Well, I’m not subscribed personally, but the Quibbler prefers to reference you as The Savior’s kept man--”
“And you know what, Potter? Your plan is such shit. What if I’m not here one night? You just come home, and no one is here except you and whatever death wish you’ve acquired? What would you do?”
The git now looks charmingly muddled. Draco would credit it to potion side-effects but Potter seems to be this confused all the time. “Why wouldn’t you be here? Draco--” Pause. A shuffling sound.
“Stop moving, or your wrist will set the wrong way.” It’s a lie, but if anyone could manage it, Draco is sure it would be Harry Potter.
But he ignores Draco anyway and turns to face the blond, green eyes squinting in the candlelight. “Draco, are you leaving me?”
“What? You-” Oh Merlin, he’s stuttering, this is horrible, he’s never stuttered in his life. He never stuttered before Potter. He’s used to rambling and babbling, what is this stuttering. “You know what, shut up. No, I’m not leaving you.”
Silence again, and Draco is desperately relieved they don’t have to talk about the feelings or try to--
“Because, you know, I’m sorry. I didn’t know it bothered you. I mean, well, obviously I knew it bothered you, but I didn’t know how much, really, it seems.”
Draco wants to interrupt him, maybe inject some Dreamless Sleep into Potter’s veins so they can not talk about this, they’re talking too much, last time he checked both he and Potter were crap about talking about their feelings, why the sudden fluency on the other man’s part, but--
“Draco, look at me.”
Draco Malfoy is crap at refusing Harry Potter anything, it seems.
“Hello, there you are. You look lovely tonight, by the way.” There’s a slight smile that accompanies this observation, and although it’s not unusual or new, these sincere compliments--Merlin, always so sincere-- there’s always that little bit of Draco that just can‘t help but, sort of, melt, always, while the rest of Draco thinks, Oh Merlin, you absolute teenage girl, stop that, stop smiling, you’re only encouraging him, Hufflepuffs would be embarrassed at you, you’re humiliating yourself, stop, just stop, people will see.
“Oh, right, Draco. It’s, It’d be okay, if you, you know, realized that, The Prophet, and Rita Skeeter, and the side comments, and the whole waiting up every night, not knowing if I’m alive, and even when I come home, and you have to you know, put my organs back in their proper cavities, and I’d be okay. If,” Potter coughs a bit, clearing his throat, and Draco is a minute away from getting up and fetching a Throat Be-Clear and maybe Lung Decongestant, just in case, when he realizes Potter’s having trouble finding the right words. Which is ridiculous, because he seems to be working his way into a Big Important Speech and Potter loves Big Important Speeches.
“If you realized that it, that I’m not worth it, you know.”
Draco is silent, and he’s replaying Potter’s words in his head, trying to make sense, because this doesn’t make sense, and Potter seems to be panicking at the silence, why is he panicking, Draco is panicking, they both can’t be panicking, because--
“I mean, obviously, I’d be devastated, and I’d have to turn to alcohol or hard drugs to make up for the loss and ensuing heartbreak, but, Jesus, Malfoy, you--I’d understand.” Potter actually shakes his head, he doesn‘t seem very surprised, and has he actually been expecting this, Merlin, that is so insulting. “God, I‘d more than understand.” He finishes, and does this little half-shrug from where he‘s laying. “That’s all I’m saying.”
And Draco can’t help it, really, he lifts his left hand, its practically moving itself, towards that one curl of dark hair that is always just to the left of The Scar, and flicks his boyfriend sharply once in the middle of his forehead.
And Potter has the audacity to look upset. “Ow, what, what was that for?”
Draco rolls his eyes, because really, Gryffindors are so overdramatic about everything. He brushes his fingers slightly over where he‘d flicked. “You’re not going to need hard drugs,” and he wants to add that he’s not going to leave, maybe ever--how dramatic would Potter be then, he would handcuff himself to the walls to prove it, wow, this was pretty dramatic itself, wasn’t it, looks like they were a matched pair, nothing to do now, Potter would have to forcibly kick him out and then run away and get a new identity on the continent as a muggle before he loses Draco--but instead just watches for a moment, a long moment, and says, softly, just as Potter finally smiles slightly and flickers his eyes shut, tired and comfortable, as if he’s heard everything Draco hasn’t said, how, how does he know all the time, “and there‘s always rent boys.”
Eyes still closed, Potter smiles even wider.