The hot summer sun sent a trickle of sweat down Harry’s back as he unlocked the door of the pub. It was an ill-advised buy according to his realtor; the walls were practically crumbling around him, and the living space above was small and unglamorous. He’d looked at others, of course, dozens of them--better spaces, he’d been told--but the second he got to Hogsmeade and stepped inside the familiar pub, the tower and turrets of Hogwarts visible in the distance, he knew he was home.
Harry knew the old place would not be without its quirks. Its old windows were so grey with grime, only the smallest fraction of brilliant sunlight passed through them. His shoes stuck to the worn and dirty floorboards, making sick sort of sticking sounds with every step, and he couldn’t find one single chair that didn’t wobble.
Even still, Harry could not stop the grin spreading madly across his face. The pub was now officially his, quirks and all.
“Well, shall we, then?” he asked, taking his place behind the bar. He clapped his hands together before taking glasses from behind him. He tapped them quickly with his wand, watching as the years of filth lifted away at once.
“Yes, I think we shall,” Ginny said, handing out glasses to Ron and Hermione before eagerly holding out her own as Harry fumbled a little with the foil on the champagne bottle. Once he’d won the battle with the cork, they all raised their glasses.
Ginny spoke before anyone else had a chance. “To an old place, a dear friend, and new beginnings!” She was beaming at him.
“Thanks, Gin,” Harry said. “Cheers.”
They all clinked their glasses and drank.
“I am so happy for you, Harry,” Hermione said, kissing his cheek.
Ron clapped him on the shoulder and said, “Who would have thought? Harry Potter, saviour of the Wizarding World, best Seeker the Cannons have seen in centuries, would trade in his Quidditch robes for a grotty old pub in Hogsmeade?” Ron added, punching Harry lightly on the arm.
“I have gone a bit mad in my old age, haven’t I,” he said with a smile.
“Barking,” Ginny returned. “Even so. Everyone knows you aren’t old until you’re thirty.” She covered her mouth quickly in mock disgust. “Oh, wait. You are thirty now, aren’t you? Bad luck, mate.” Her eyes were sparkling.
Harry threw a bar towel at her.
“Have you thought yet what you’ll call it? Surely you won’t keep it ‘The Hog’s Head’?” Ron asked.
“No,” Harry replied. “That was Aberforth’s pub. I thought I’d call it ‘The Stag and Flower.’ What do you think?”
“I love it, Harry,” Ginny said. “I really do.” She leaned over and hugged him close. He still liked the smell of her shampoo.
“Well, shall we get to work?” Hermione suggested, setting her glass down firmly. She had her frizzy hair covered in a bright green handkerchief, ready to scour every square inch of the place herself if she had to. “We’ve got a lot to get started on if you’re planning on opening this place back up any time soon.”
They all quickly got to work, and though Harry tried to feel overwhelmed by the task ahead, he simply could not have been happier.
A month later, the old Hog’s Head was hardly recognizable. The windows now sparkled, the floors had been refinished, and the bar was pristine with dark, polished wood and gleaming taps of brass and pewter. He’d repaired the tables that he could, added new ones where they were needed, and brought in some squashy sofas to put in front of the fire. Every table held a small candle and fresh menus. And even though he’d received a beautiful new sign as a housewarming gift from Dean Thomas, he could not bear to completely throw out the old one. He cleaned it up and hung it above the fireplace, hoping that wherever he was, Aberforth Dumbledore was looking down, proud of what Harry had done with the pub that had been his for so long.
Harry was finishing his last check round to make sure he’d be set to open later that evening. The mead and beer were ready to go, liquor bottles full, wine chilling, bar wiped down, and the small staff he’d hired would be due to arrive in a couple hours time. He, however, was still in dirty jeans and an old tee shirt. He reckoned it was time he headed up to make himself ready.
The flat above the pub was still pretty rough. He’d managed to at least get the walls painted, so what once was stained and peeling paper was now a sharp dark blue. But the furniture was still covered in cloths, and he had boxes stacked floor to ceiling in the living room. It took him a quarter of an hour just to locate the robes Hermione had picked out for him. He’d just put on his trousers when he heard Ginny’s voice from the floo.
“Harry?” she called. “You in there?”
“Yeah, Gin,” he said, walking over so he could talk to her. “What’s up?”
“Just checking you’re all right for tonight. Mind if I come in?”
“Sure thing. Let me just get the wards so you can Apparate. You wouldn’t want to get soot on you before the party.” He found his wand and quickly let down the wards. “All right.”
Ginny appeared in his living room in an instant. She looked radiant with her long hair swept back into a pony tail and very stylish coppery robes that opened at the waist to reveal slim trousers.
“Wow, Ginny,” he breathed. “You look fabulous. What will Oliver think?”
She smiled at him and twirled around. “Thank you, thank you. And, between you and me--Oliver just might think he’s finally getting lucky tonight.” Her eyes were sparkling. “And, between you and me--he’s probably right.”
“Naughty,” Harry teased.
“What about you? Did you invite anyone special for this evening?” she asked, clearing some newspapers from a corner of the sofa and sitting down.
“Good lord, no,” Harry said, chuckling a little. “When would I have found a date? I’ve been so busy getting the pub ready.” Harry hesitated before continuing, but he knew Ginny would kill him if she found out about it, and he hadn’t told her. He tried to make his voice as casual as possible. “Luke wrote and offered, but... I didn’t want to open up that can of worms. I don’t want his bleeding pity.”
“Luke’s a twat,” Ginny replied. “Though, it would have been hilarious to watch Ron’s head explode if he’d have shown his face in here after how he’s treated you.”
“Ron never did like him, did he?”
“No. I was never a huge fan, either, if you’ll recall. Shitting rotten fame whore from the start.”
Harry finished doing up his shirt and was now fighting with the collar of his robe, which seemed to fold in eight different ways at once. Ginny got up and helped him. She’d managed to get it to lie flat and was smoothing it down when Harry met her eyes.
“What if no one comes, Gin? What if Franz sets the kitchen on fire? What if someone asks for a dry martini, and I give them a Manhattan?”
“You’re going to do just fine, Harry,” Ginny said. She gave him a small smile which he knew was meant to be reassuring.
“It’s just that I’ve already fallen on my arse once--literally--and in front of a lot of people. It ended my Quidditch career, which ruined whatever it was I had with Luke. What if I fuck it all up again?” Suddenly, Harry’s legs didn’t want to hold the weight of his body any longer. He didn’t think it had much to do with his injury, though.
“Harry, stop it now,” Ginny scolded. “The pub is amazing, you are amazing, Luke’s a wanker, and you’re opening in half an hour.”
He breathed deep and gave a quick nod. Ginny gave him a quick swat on the bum as they both headed down to the pub.
He’d checked through everything again--floor, bar, kitchen, and he’d given Franz and the rest of the staff a pep talk. Suddenly, it was time to open the doors. Ron and Hermione were the first to arrive with warm smiles and hugs. And, over the course of the first hour of its opening, the pub seemed to magically fill up. There were witches and wizards at the bar, sitting at the tables, drinking on the couches, all full of conversation and laughs and high praise for what Harry had done with the old place.
Neville Longbottom presented him with a potted plant and told Harry how he had been working at Hogwarts, apprenticing under Professor Sprout, and that he’d be taking over the position of Herbology professor in a few years’ time.
“That’s wonderful, Neville!” Harry said.
Neville took a sip of his beer. “I really am liking it. Professor Sprout even has me teaching a couple of classes a week this year--only just the First Years, but you know... gotta start somewhere, right? Mostly, though, it’s tending to the greenhouses and marking papers.”
“Sounds glamorous,” Harry said.
“Not really.” Neville smiled. “But I do like it.”
Neville had begun an animated one-sided conversation about cross-pollination when Harry’s focus began to wane. He scanned the crowd of people and noticed who had just walked in the door.
Draco Malfoy looked much the same as he had the last time Harry had seen him, sometime a few years ago. He had grown taller since school, had filled out a little. His his blond hair had grown down to his shoulders, which he had pulled back neatly, secured at his neck. As always, his robes were impeccable--all black with silver buttons, dark grey trousers visible as he walked. Harry scowled a little.
“I cannot believe Malfoy would show his face here! He wasn’t even invited.” Harry was getting more and more agitated as he watched Malfoy parade around, working the room like he owned the place.
Neville took a deep breath. “But, you did invite him, Harry,” he said. “You invited the entire staff at Hogwarts. He’s just come on as the new Potions Master.”
“You have got to be joking!” Harry snorted and took a long sip of his drink.
“He was the only one of us that wasn’t thrilled to have a night away. It’s always so frantic just before the students arrive, what with everyone getting lessons together and managing inset training and all that, but not Malfoy. He hardly ever comes away from the dungeons--even for meals. If you ask me, he’s taking it rather hard.”
Harry was curious. “Taking what hard?”
“Oh,” Neville said. “He’s getting a divorce. It’s all very hush-hush, but that is what people are saying.”
Harry now remembered seeing something in The Prophet a few years back about Malfoy getting married to one of the Greengrass girls.
“Rumor is,” Neville continued, leaning in close. His voice dropped to a whisper, “She’s taken him to the cleaners. He’s broke. That’s why he’s even here, teaching. McGonagall’s the only one who would take him on.”
Harry took another sip of his drink as he stole another look at Draco Malfoy. Then, he thought about what it was like, losing everything. Six months ago, he was the Cannons’ star Seeker with his own line of brooms due out next fall and a boyfriend he’d have gone to Hell and back for. Now, he was living alone with a busted knee and a flat full of boxes. At that moment, he was more grateful for Ron, Hermione, and Ginny than ever before.
As summer bled lazily into September, which turned into a damp October, Harry was pleased that The Stag and Flower continued to do well. Things had settled into a comfortable routine, with regular customers and everything (he saw Hagrid almost daily). Weekends were almost always hectic, especially when Hogwarts let the students out, and the week nights were generally pleasant. Neville took to coming in on Tuesdays, to catch up and keep Harry informed about the goings on at Hogwarts. It was nice to have a friend in town.
He missed being close to Ron and Hermione, but their jobs tied them to London. They made it up, though, as often as they could. Ginny popped round a couple times a week (usually unannounced), talking madly about the match she had played for Pud U, going over every detail with him play-by-play. More and more often lately, their conversations turned to her and Oliver Wood--where they’d gone on their latest date, the funny joke he’d told the other night, and when and if they should reveal their budding romance to the rest of their team. They had been together for a couple of months now, and Harry was quite impressed that Oliver still had all of her attention. He knew that Ginny usually began to get bored about four dates in, and after that, her unsuspecting fellow would find himself well and truly dumped. It was time she had someone who would stick around.
The rain had been coming down steadily all day, keeping the foot traffic outside to a minimum. Even in the early evening there were only a few tables full. When the Evening Prophet came, Harry opened it first to the reviews section, where he knew the article about The Stag and Flower was due to be out. The review was glowing, and Harry was elated. He then turned to the Quidditch section, reading an article about the upcoming Cannons versus Harpies match and the new line of brooms launching next week--his previous endorsement, given to Viktor Krum. He sighed as he turned the page to the next section, where he noticed the headline: Greengrass Engaged Once Again! Below it was a picture of a beautiful woman smiling on the arm of Blaise Zabini. They both posed continually, flaunting for the camera like models at the end of a catwalk. Wherever her hand lighted, be it on Zabini’s shoulder, linked through his arm, or playfully straightening his tie, the massive diamond on her finger glittered madly.
Not even an hour had passed when Draco Malfoy stepped through the front door. He avoided Harry’s gaze as he found a place at the bar and ordered a double Firewhiskey, neat. Harry poured it and wondered if he should say anything. Instead, he merely cleared his throat and left the bottle within Malfoy’s reach. Malfoy glared at him for a second before draining his glass and then filling it again himself.
The crowd slowly picked up after the dinner hour, and Harry found himself rather busy until closing. He had almost forgotten about Malfoy until he’d begun clearing up, getting ready to go home. Malfoy had finished off over half of the Firewhiskey, and he was now tipping his empty glass enough so that he could try and balance it on the rim of its base. He passed it from hand to hand, rolling it gently on the bar. He was completely engrossed in this task when Harry came over to him.
Malfoy looked up at him. The front bits of his hair had fallen loose of their fastening and were falling into his face. “Potter,” Malfoy said. The word came out thick and slow. Malfoy was very drunk.
“I’m closing up now, so...” Harry bobbled on his toes a little, waiting for the second half of that sentence to find him.
“You needn’t tell me, Potter. It is time to go. I’ll just...” He began fishing in the front pockets of his robe, where he pulled out a small pouch of money. He opened it with clumsy fingers, sending silver and bronze coins spilling all over the counter and onto the floor. Malfoy got off the bar stool heavily, bending down to retrieve his spilled money. On his way back up, he hit his head with a resounding thwack. He immediately dropped all the coins he’d just picked up when he grabbed the back of his head.
“Fuck me!" He exclaimed. "Merlin’s-Left-Fucking-Tit! That fucking hurt!”
“Here, Malfoy. Let me help,” Harry said, coming out from behind the bar and helping to gather the coins back up. He handed them to Malfoy, who snatched them quickly. He was still rubbing the back of his head with his other hand.
“Thank you,” Malfoy said without looking Harry in the eye. He placed money for his drinks on the counter and haughtily smoothed one of his errant locks of hair back into place. It stayed for a fraction of a second before falling right back into his face.
“Er... Malfoy?” Harry didn’t think Malfoy walking alone in the rain in this state was the best idea.
Malfoy looked annoyed. “Spit it out, Potter. What?”
“How are you getting back? Do you have anyone to walk with? I mean, should I call someone for you?”
At this, Malfoy began to laugh. “Call someone? Hear that, everyone?” Malfoy shouted to the now empty bar. “Harry Potter thinks he’ll call someone to take care of Poor Pathetic Draco Malfoy!” Malfoy was now laughing madly, wiping tears from the corner of his eyes and clutching at his sides. He took a deep breath and suddenly, all humor left his face.
“Oh, Potter, didn’t you hear?” Malfoy put a hand on Harry’s shoulder and leaned in very close. Harry could smell the whiskey on his breath. “She got all my friends, too.”
For a moment, his eyes caught Harry’s, and the look on Malfoy’s face was one of the most pitiful things Harry had ever seen. Every muscle was slack with despair and drink except for the pinched look of his brow, and Malfoy’s usually sharp eyes looked dull and glassy and extremely sad.
“Fine, then,” Harry said. “I’ll walk back with you.”
“I don’t need your help,” Malfoy said, pulling away sharply, but as he turned to go, he stumbled on the leg of the stool before tripping on his own foot and falling to the floor.
Harry let out a small huff of unamused laughter. “Stuff it, Malfoy. Gravity is not on your side right now.” He held out his hand. “You do need my help.”
Malfoy scowled and looked down to the ground before raising his arm up. Harry grabbed hold and yanked Malfoy to his feet.
He helped him to the door, and once outside, Harry propped him against the wall while he set the wards and sent a Patronus ahead to warn Neville. Then, he wrapped one hand around Malfoy’s waist, while Malfoy put an arm around Harry’s neck. Harry Apparated them both to as close as they could get to Hogwarts, but they still had a fair bit of the journey to walk. Harry’s knee was protesting wildly at carrying Malfoy’s weight, and he was tremendously relieved to see that Neville was waiting for them when they got to the front gates.
Neville looked sleepy. The bottoms of his striped pajamas were visible where his dressing gown ended, and his feet were covered in fuzzy blue slippers.
“Thanks, Nev. I didn’t want to have to get McGonagall for this. He’ll probably need a sobering potion before he goes to bed.”
“Don’t mention it, Harry,” Neville said, yawning.
“Potions!” Malfoy exclaimed. “I’ve got some of them! Lots and lots, actually.” Draco’s head fell back to Harry’s shoulder, where it lolled loosely from side to side, and Harry could feel strands of Malfoy’s hair tickle underneath his collar.
“Very good, Malfoy. Now, let’s go,” Harry said as he struggled with walking Malfoy over to Neville. Harry’s knee sang a happy song of relief as they exchanged the weight of him, Malfoy now sagging against Neville.
“Thanks again, Neville,” Harry said.
Neville waved with his free hand, Malfoy mumbling something that Harry couldn’t hear as they disappeared into the castle.
When Harry got back to the pub, walking the stairs up to his flat took work. Once inside, he sat down on his sofa and rubbed at his twinging knee. He felt wet and dirty from the rain and from carrying Malfoy. He stretched deeply before getting up and heading into the bathroom. It had been a weird evening.
The hot shower was Heaven, and after he wrapped his towel around his waist, he grabbed his knee salve from the bathroom counter and headed to the sofa. He’d just begun tending to his knee when there was a knock at his door. He did not know who it could have been--Ginny was the only person who turned up at random, and even she liked to floo ahead to make sure he was in. Harry got up with some effort and limped over to open the door.
Luke stood before him, his short brown hair dark and dripping from the rain, sending rivulets of water down the sides of his face and neck.
All Harry could do was stare. He hadn’t heard anything from Luke since he’d offered to go as Harry’s date to the pub opening, nearly three months ago now.
“Well, aren’t you going to invite me in?” Luke asked.
“Oh,” Harry said, shaking the cobwebs out of his head. “Of course. Right.” He opened the door wide, and Luke came in under his arm, brushing against Harry’s chest more than he needed to along the way.
“What are you doing here, Luke?” Harry asked, now very aware that he was only wearing a towel. He tightened it and pulled it a little higher on his waist.
“Oh, you know. I was just in the neighborhood.” Luke’s blue eyes sparkled.
“You live in London,” Harry replied flatly.
Luke made his own way into the kitchen, and Harry could hear that he was helping himself to a beer from the fridge. He watched warily as Luke took in the flat on his way back.
“I like the new place,” said Luke, sipping his drink. “It’s smaller than the one in London.”
“Well, I didn’t need as much space with you gone,” said Harry, feeling a little defensive. He was glad he’d finally gotten the boxes sorted out. He liked his little place. It was warm and cozy and exactly what he needed, and if Luke wanted to make him feel bad about it, well then, sod him.
Luke leaned casually on the door frame that led from the eating area into the living room.
“Relax, Har. I said I liked it.” He smiled as he took another pull from his bottle.
Harry’s knee was still throbbing, but he tried to limp as little as possible when he walked back to the sofa. He was uncomfortable in the thick silence between them as he opened the container of salve and lifted the towel just enough to get at his knee. The relief he felt when the salve hit his skin was nothing short of blissful.
“Your knee still giving you trouble?” Luke asked, crossing the room to sit down next to Harry on the sofa. He was very close. Luke took the salve from him and dipped his fingers in. He moved Harry’s hand away as he rubbed more of it onto Harry’s knee.
Long after the ointment had been absorbed, Luke’s hand was still on Harry’s skin, caressing his knee. Harry swallowed hard. It had been a long time since he’d been touched like this, and he would have been lying to himself if he didn’t admit to liking it.
Luke set his beer down on the coffee table and shifted even closer to Harry. His hand found Harry’s knee again.
“I’ve missed you, you know,” Luke said, leaning into Harry’s neck. Harry shivered as hot breath ghosted over his ear. He could feel cold rain on his neck where Luke’s hair was touching him. Harry put his own hand on the back of Luke’s neck before twisting his fingers into wet hair, pulling him close and kissing his mouth hungrily.
Harry couldn’t help but whimper at the contact, and he was pleased at the similar sounds coming from Luke. He tasted familiar and warm, and Harry thought his skin would burst into flames as Luke ran fingers down his sides, brushing his ribs and teasing the skin where his towel was wrapped around his hips.
“Have you missed me, Harry?” Luke asked as he sucked on Harry’s ear.
“God, yes,” Harry said as he let himself be pushed backward into the sofa. “Missed your mouth,” he said, kissing him.
Luke moved down to lick his neck in that spot. “When I saw your picture in the Prophet tonight, I knew I had to see you.” He placed a kiss on Harry’s jaw.
Even through the haze of his lust, something inside Harry’s mind clicked, and he pushed at Luke’s chest with all the energy he could manage.
“What’s the matter?” Luke asked, lines of confusion wrinkling his brow.
“You saw my picture in the paper? The article about the pub?”
“Well, yeah.” Luke stilled his hands.
“And, that’s why you’re here?”
Luke didn’t say anything.
“Fuck you, Luke!” Harry exclaimed as he jumped up from the sofa, clutching at his towel. “I don’t hear a word from you for months, and the second my picture is back in the paper, you turn up here and drink my beer and... and...” Harry could not believe that he had almost fallen for Luke’s shit all over again. He shook his head, boggling at his own stupidity.
“Look, Har,” Luke said, trying to close some of the distance between them once more, but Harry backed away from him.
Harry’s voice was a low growl. “Get the fuck out of my house.”
“But, Harry,” Luke said, almost whining.
“You heard me,” was all Harry said. He walked over to the door and opened it. Luke stared at him, unmoving for what seemed like ages. When Harry didn’t move, didn’t speak, Luke sighed in defeat and began to leave. Once he’d crossed the doorway to the outside, Luke turned and opened his mouth to say something, but Harry slammed the door in his face.
He quickly found some trousers and a tee shirt before grabbing a handful of powder from his mantel.
“Ginny’s flat,” he said, sticking his head into flickering green flames.
Fifteen minutes later, Ginny handed Harry a cup of tea as he sat on the sofa in his living room. She listened closely as he told her the story of the whole night, starting with escorting a very drunk Draco Malfoy back to Hogwarts, and ending with the mess with Luke.
“That utter twat!”
“I feel like such an idiot,” he said. He waited for her confirmation.
“Oh, Harry,” she said, hugging him close. “You’re not an idiot. I mean. Sort of you are for even letting him in, but really... You can’t beat yourself up over it. Just... don’t do it again. And, think of it this way. If he’d done this two months ago, you would have slept with him, or worse--taken him back. So, chalk it up to progress, yeah.” Her brown eyes were so full of warmth when she smiled at him. He couldn’t help but smile back.
She yawned hugely. “I’m sleepy. Can I go home now? You’ll be all right?”
“Yeah. Thanks for coming over.”
She kissed him on the cheek. “Night, night, Harry.”
“Good night, Ginny,” Harry said back, and with a quick pop, she Disapparated.
Harry did feel better after talking with her, but the remaining silence of his flat reminded him just how alone he was as he got into bed that night.
Malfoy came back into the pub the next afternoon. He kept his eyes focused on a menu when he ordered another Firewhiskey. Harry didn’t expect a thank you for helping him the night before. Malfoy had never been the sort for gratitude.
For the rest of the night, it seemed that no matter what task Harry had set himself to, Malfoy was in his eye line. As Harry chatted to customers or cleaned glasses or re-filled bottles, there was always a pale blond head at the outskirts of his vision. Harry thought maybe Malfoy would pull a repeat performance of the previous night, but even after he’d been in for hours, Malfoy had only had a couple of drinks. He sat alone, and even raised a hand in greeting at a few of the people who had come through the door, but he never got up. He talked to no one.
He left before closing, and Harry barely caught the slight nod of Malfoy’s head as he made his way through the door.
After he’d done the same every night for a week, Harry began to feel as though he might ought to speak to him. He’d developed quite a nice rapport with his other regulars, and if Malfoy had become one of them, then perhaps it would do for Harry to be a little friendlier.
Malfoy was at the same place at the bar where he always sat, playing with his empty glass, much as he had done that first night, carefully rolling it on the rim of its base. When Harry walked over, he’d fully intended on saying something, but hadn’t a clue where to begin. He must have stood there long enough for Malfoy to notice him, because when Malfoy slowly raised his head from his glass, he was the first of them to speak.
“What?” Malfoy spat, sharp and clear.
“I, er...” Harry faltered when he realized he still had no idea what to say at all. “Another drink?” Harry summoned the bottle of Firewhiskey from the shelf.
“Oh,” Malfoy said. “No, thank you.”
They looked at each other for a long moment before Harry decided he’d had enough and turned to leave. Malfoy grabbed his wrist.
“Wait,” he said. Harry could feel his fingers, cool and dry where they touched him. “I think I will have one more.” He withdrew his hand.
Harry poured the drink and turned again to go when Malfoy stopped him once more.
“It’s quiet in here tonight,” he said.
“I suppose it is,” Harry said.
“One isn’t supposed to drink alone,” Malfoy said, a short, humorless chuckle escaping his lips through a smirk.
Harry still didn’t really know what to say.
Malfoy withdrew his own wand, and with a flick he had summoned a glass, which landed on the bar in front of Harry with dull sort of sound. Harry looked quickly around the bar, checking on the few people there. He saw no real reason why he couldn’t, so he poured a glass for himself.
Malfoy did not wait for him to raise it before tapping its rim with his own. “Cheers, then.”
“Right,” Harry said.
They drank in silence until their glasses were empty.
“Are you all right getting back?” Harry asked when Malfoy stood to leave, reaching for his cloak.
“I’ll manage,” Malfoy said.
Harry didn’t know what made him say it, but before he could stop the words from coming, he said, “It looks like a nice night for a walk. Fancy some company?”
Malfoy looked pensive for a second before saying, “If you’d like.”
Harry told Malfoy to wait while he quickly asked Franz to close up and found his own cloak.
They walked, side by side, in the same silence they had shared at the bar. It wasn’t entirely comfortable, but it wasn’t painfully awkward, either. As they made their way to Hogwarts, Harry found himself listening to the rhythm of their feet crunching on the earth beneath them, to the way that sometimes they found the ground at exactly the same time, for just a handful of steps before one or the other would find a new rhythm.
He tried to ignore his knee, which had only just begun to hurt, but which he knew would have him limping by they time they reached the school. When Harry’s steps got slower, Malfoy also slowed, just barely. Every now and then, Harry would feel Malfoy’s shoulder as it brushed against his own, and he was oddly comforted by the sounds of Malfoy’s breathing beside him.
At the gates of Hogwarts, Malfoy paused.
“Tomorrow, then?” he asked, though it didn’t sound very much like a question.
“Tomorrow,” Harry replied, and Malfoy made his way up to the castle, while Harry turned around and headed back down the path toward Hogsmeade.
Over the next fortnight, Harry walked with Malfoy back to the castle every time he came into the pub, which was almost every day. It was an easy pattern, comforting and lacking in expectation--Malfoy would have a drink, Harry would walk back to Hogwarts with him, and every day they would tell each other, “Tomorrow.”
The first week in December, the weather shifted from clear to generally unpleasant, complete with icy drizzle and fog, but Harry walked with Malfoy anyway. The pain in his knee started earlier than usual. He was moving very slowly.
Malfoy did not complain, but he did say, “I read about your fall.”
Harry acknowledged his comment with a dry laugh, sending a huff of white breath out into the cold night air. “At least I managed to catch the Snitch before hitting the ground,” he said.
“Yes. Leave it to you to make falling on your arse the stuff of heroics.”
“Yeah. I’m a real hero.”
Malfoy looked away from him when he said, “Better than falling on your arse and just... falling on your arse.” He buried his hands deep into the pockets of his cloak.
“I guess,” Harry replied. Then, he decided to change the subject. “How are your classes?”
Malfoy paused a moment before saying, “It’s different than I thought it would be.”
“Yeah? How so?”
“Well,” he said. “I’m drowning in papers that want marking, I’ve got a lot of ground to cover with my fifth and seventh years to make them ready for exams by the summer, and I’ve got a class of third year Ravenclaws who challenge every single thing I say. It’s tedious.”
“Yeah, Neville’s been having a rough go with some of his classes as well.”
They continued to make small talk until they reached the castle.
At the gates, Harry said what they always did. “Tomorrow?”
“Tom--” Malfoy paused. “Do you want to come up and have a cup of tea before walking back to the village?”
Harry hesitated. “I don’t know. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it. I mean... er... I don’t work here.”
“We’re not students anymore, for Merlin’s sake. Do you want to come in or not?”
Sure, it was odd, but he was very cold, and his knee was throbbing. He was not looking forward to making the journey back to the village straight away.
“Okay,” he said.
Walking through the front doors of Hogwarts as an adult felt odd. Not much had changed since the last time he’d been here. It was strange to walk the corridors at night and not feel like he needed his Invisibility Cloak around his shoulders and the Marauder’s Map tucked under his arm. He half expected Snape to turn the corner at any minute, ready to take ten points from Gryffindor for being out of bounds.
But, theirs were the only footsteps echoing softly off the stone, and Harry followed Malfoy down the winding paths that led toward the dungeons. Before they headed down the corridor that would take them to the dormitories, Malfoy stopped in front of a painting. The old wizard inside had long, greying black hair, and he was reading a book at a large desk. The wizard, noticing Malfoy, put his book down.
“Good evening, Zephyrus,” Malfoy said, tipping his head ever so slightly in greeting. Zephyrus bowed slightly to Malfoy. Then, Malfoy said, “Iron Maiden.”
The wizard returned to his reading as the portrait swung open.
“That’s a bit grim, even for you, Malfoy,” Harry said.
Malfoy smiled to himself. “Yes. But, it’s for the Muggle rock and roll group. I’ve found that Muggle rock and roll groups are a subject which the Slytherin students know nothing about.”
“And you do?” Harry stopped short of walking through the portrait hole.
“No, but, believe it or not, I can read. I bought a Muggle music magazine the last time I was in London, and I’ve just been using the names I’ve found there.”
Harry could not help but be amused at the idea of Draco Malfoy, in all his wizarding finery, listening to heavy metal from the 1980’s.
“You went into Muggle London looking like... “ Harry let his words fall away as he indicated Draco’s elegant robe and embroidered cloak with an exaggerated sweep of his arm.
“What? You don’t think I could pass as a Muggle?”
Malfoy looked pensive for a moment, but then he drawled, “Well, perhaps you’re right. I found it at a shop at the top of Diagon Alley that sells Muggle artifacts. I bought it specially.”
“Of course you did,” Harry said, and he let out a genuine laugh as he clapped Malfoy on the shoulder and stepped fully through the portrait hole.
With a flick of Malfoy’s wand, wall torches and a fireplace came to life, dancing warm light off the leaded glass of the windows, which were framed in rich green velvet. They were in a sitting room that Malfoy had furnished in a much more modern fashion than Harry would have expected. The lines were clean and neat, the colors mostly neutral shades of taupe and grey, with varying hues and textures of green here and there. There were none of the fussy tapestries and ornate antiques Harry had remembered from Malfoy Manor.
“I like it,” Harry said. “It’s not what I’d have expected.”
“Thank you, I think,” Malfoy replied. “What were you expecting, Potter?”
“Well, there are no peacocks, for one,” Harry said. He found a seat on the sofa while Malfoy busied himself, spooning loose tea into a pot and placing it along with two cups and saucers onto a tray.
“Well, those were the one thing I didn’t mind losing in the divorce. Horrible things, those,” Malfoy said. He touched the tea pot with his wand. Within seconds, steam was billowing from the spout.
“What do you take in your tea, Potter?”
“Er... sugar and milk.”
A moment later, Malfoy brought the tray over, and Harry took his cup of tea.
“Thanks,” Harry said, taking a careful sip of the scalding tea. The warmth felt good, and it radiated out to his fingers and toes. He noticed that Malfoy drank his tea black.
Malfoy opened his mouth to speak, but seemed to rethink the idea and shut it. Then, he blurted, “What are you using to treat your leg?”
Harry was surprised at this turn in conversation, but he didn’t have any reason not to answer. “Some sort of salve that the Sports Healer for the Cannons gave me.”
“Bring some to the pub tomorrow. I’ve been working on an additive that will elongate the half-life of some potions.”
“Are you using anything else? Any charms or treatments?”
“No,” Harry said. “Just the salve. They’ve said there’s really not much else they can do for it.”
Malfoy tilted his head to the side and wrinkled his brow, looking as though he were working out some sort of puzzle. “Mmm,” he said, playing with his teacup the same way he played with his glass at the bar--tilting it forward and back, daring the tea to stay put, to not spill over the edge.
Harry took the last sip of his tea and set his down his cup. “Thanks for the tea, Malfoy.” He really did feel a lot better. “I guess I should be getting back.”
Malfoy walked with him back to the castle door. When they got there, Harry felt an odd awkwardness that he hadn’t felt around Malfoy before.
“Bye, Malfoy. Er... thanks again.” Harry reached clumsily for the pull of the door.
“Any time, Harry,” Malfoy said, and he held out his hand. He held Harry’s gaze as Harry shook his hand. Malfoy’s fingers were long, and his handshake was firm, and Harry didn’t release his hand for perhaps a moment longer than what was generally acknowledged to be socially acceptable.
Malfoy did take a vial of Harry’s knee salve at the pub the next night. He told Harry that he’d be away for a few weeks because he had evening patrol duties at Hogwarts and end-of-term exams to mark, and then he would be gone for the Christmas holiday. Harry wondered briefly what he would be doing over his holiday, but he didn’t think it was any of his business, so he didn’t ask. It was strange, settling into a new, Malfoy-less routine, and Harry wasn’t sure he liked it very much, going immediately up to his quiet little flat after work.
Harry happily spent his holiday at The Burrow with the Weasleys and was unsurprised when Ginny and Oliver announced their engagement over dinner. They both looked happy and in love, and he could not have wanted anything more for Ginny.
When he came back to Hogsmeade on Boxing Day to open the pub back up, the little village was very quiet. He’d let Franz and the others off for a few days, so even with the kitchen being closed, Harry hoped he would be able to hold the place down on his own. It wasn’t as difficult as he feared--it wasn’t busy.
On New Year’s Eve, however, Harry was glad to have his little staff back, because The Stag and Flower was at maximum occupancy. The entirety of the Chudley Cannons came to celebrate the New Year, along with other notable names in the Wizarding World. With the celebrities, came the press, and they had camped outside, snapping photos as people entered and left.
Everywhere he turned, Harry was amazed at the amount of people. He knew Ginny, Oliver, Ron and Hermione were there somewhere, and he managed to find them briefly at midnight for a quick toast before needing to rush off again. The place had never been so busy. Harry also couldn’t help but scan the crowd for Malfoy--looking in and among all the patrons for his blond head.
Two hours later, all the party-goers had finally filtered out, and Harry was happy to see his friends waiting for him at the bar.
“Can you even believe the amount of people that were here tonight?” Harry asked, sitting wearily on a stool next to Hermione. She rubbed his back lightly while Ron handed him a bottle of beer.
“Of course I can,” Oliver said. “This place is aces. Well done! Excellent party, mate.”
“By the way, Harry,” Ginny said. “Oddest thing. Draco Malfoy came by. He gave me this to give to you.” She held out a package and an envelope with his name on it, written in long, elegant letters. “What on Earth...” she let her voice fall away as Harry took them from her.
“Draco Malfoy was here?” Ron said. “What business would he have in coming here? And why would he be leaving things for you?”
“Well,” Harry said. “He’s become something of a regular over the past couple of months.”
“What?” Ron said. “Why?”
“Well, he’s going through a rather nasty divorce. His ex is already engaged. I reckon he’s pretty lonely.”
Ginny was staring at him with a funny expression.
“Still doesn’t explain why he’d come here. Of all the pubs in all of England...”
“He’s working at Hogwarts. Potions Master.”
“Get out! McGonagall let that Death Eating scum on staff teaching our kids!” Ron’s face was red all the way to the tips of his ears.
“Well,” Hermione interjected. “McGonagall is a sharp witch. She wouldn’t let anyone near the students who wasn’t both capable and safe. Malfoy has had that Potions Supply on Diagon Alley for years and years. It really was the best place to buy ingredients for any sort of potion, really. Really advanced things for medical potions and--”
“I love you, Hermione,” Ron interrupted. “But you’re off your nut. That little ferret shouldn’t be anywhere but in Azkaban with his father.”
“Whatever for!” Hermione said. “Was he a Death Eater? Yes. But, he was a kid! The war was over more than ten years ago, Ron. Draco Malfoy has done a lot to make up for what he’s done. If you’ll remember, he helped the Ministry find several of Voldemort’s supporters that had fled to the continent. Rumors were that they were planning something terrible. His own father was among those he helped bring in! That, to me, says something. His mother died not long after the war, I think--she’d been ill, and he’s done nothing other than make a respectable career making potions and devoting quite a lot of money to medical research.”
“Still...” Ron said, though his steam was fading. “I don’t like it.” He absently scraped his thumbnail around the edge of a coaster, leaving little white flecks of paper on the bar.
“He’s not that bad, Ron, really.” Harry said, turning the envelope over in his hands.
Ron looked at him like he was insane, and Ginny fixed him with a wholly different sort of look.
Oliver quickly turned the topic of conversation to Quidditch, which lightened the mood. Harry could get used to having him around. With Ron and Hermione’s tendency to bicker, it would be perfect to have someone with the skill of effortless subject changing.
It was very late when everyone decided to go home. Ron and Hermione went first, Ron carrying a sleepy and drunk Hermione over his shoulder as she swatted at him to put her down. She was smiling though, when she waved goodbye just before Ron Apparated them away. While Oliver was off fetching Ginny’s handbag and cloak, Ginny leaned in close to Harry, whispering, “I can’t believe you like Draco Malfoy and didn’t tell me.”
“What are you on about?” Harry asked, though he could feel the blush rising in his face. “I do not.”
“Do so,” Ginny said, smiling wickedly. “You liiiiiiiike him. You loooooooove him.”
“He’s not even my type,” Harry said, defensively. He added, “And, I’m almost positive I’m not his type.”
“Oh, there’ve been rumors for years, and you know it. And, not your type? Please. He’s handsome, charming, and is known to be a bit of a pompous arse. Sounds like your type to me.”
Harry took a moment to think about it. Ginny was mad. He and Malfoy had become friends--sort of. But it didn’t go any further than that, he didn’t think. He shook Oliver’s hand and kissed Ginny on the cheek when they left, and he sleepily crawled up the stairs to his flat.
Once there, he opened the envelope Ginny had given him. The letter wasn’t long, but it said:
I am still working on the potion. It’s not yet ready.
I like our walks, so I hope you’ll accept this gift in the meantime.
Harry then opened the package--a long, thin box wrapped in simple brown paper. Inside, he found a dark stained wooden cane topped with a golden lion’s head. It was beautiful, but Harry was hesitant. He didn’t want to be the kind of person that needed help. He turned the cane over and over, slowly twirling it through his fingers. He let the bottom of it hit the floor after a several revolutions, and it landed with a soft sound. As he caught his reflection in the darkened window, he thought it didn’t make him appear weak as he’d feared it might, instead noticing that he stood a little taller, looked sharper.
Almost a week later, Draco came back to The Stag and Flower. He smiled brightly at Harry as he took his regular spot. Harry was perhaps more excited to see him that he would have wanted to admit. When he brought Malfoy his usual Firewhiskey, Malfoy thanked him, but they didn’t linger and chat. Harry found himself a little uneasy as Ginny’s words from New Year niggled at the back of his brain. Did he like Draco Malfoy?
As they walked back to the castle, the night was very cold, but clear. Snow crunched under their feet as they walked. Harry had brought his cane, and Malfoy surveyed his appearance with approval.
“I’m glad you like it,” Malfoy said
“I do. Thank you, again.”
“I’m hoping that once I perfect the salve, you won’t have need of it.” He smiled. “Though, it does make you look a little less...”
“Less what?” Harry asked.
“You think I’m scruffy?”
Malfoy only smirked and kept walking.
“How was your holiday?” Harry asked.
“To be honest, Harry. It was rubbish. I spent most of it at the Manor--what’s left of it.”
Harry waited for him to continue.
Malfoy was quiet for several beats. “Astoria... has started a lovely little shop in Diagon Alley. Rare antiques. Priceless finds from the oldest families in Wizarding Briton. Guess what inventory she started with.”
Harry was stunned.
“Hermione told me that you had a shop there. Potions ingredients.”
“Yes. I did. Divorce is ugly. Especially among Slytherins.”
“I have a hard time believing that you didn’t have some sort of plan or trick up your sleeve. How is she able to take everything?”
“Oh, Potter. She’s a cunning one, and at the time we split, I felt so horrible--I felt wholly responsible for the marriage ending, so I told her she could take whatever she wanted. It was not my finest moment, believe me. Once I realized that ‘whatever she wanted’ was pretty much my family’s entire estate, I did try to stop her. But, she had managed to literally charm my first admission of guilt into the breaking of the prenuptial contract we had. It wasn’t pretty. I did manage to keep the actual Manor and grounds, but she has almost every heirloom and piece of furniture. And, she did take the peacocks.”
“What could possibly make you feel guilty enough to let her... I mean, I’ve never pegged you as one for that kind of self-pity.”
Malfoy chuckled--a humorless sound that sent curls of icy breath into the night air. He kept walking. He said nothing for a very long time.
“Self-pity is one thing, and no. That is not something with which I often struggle. Self loathing, however, has been quite the life-long companion.”
Again, Harry kept quiet and waited for Malfoy to continue.
When he did, he said, “Maintaining appearances has always been an important part of my life. Go to the right parties, go to the right school, marry the right girl, have the right children, know the right people. I’ve always known the expectations my family, our world, had for me, and for a very long time, I accepted them. Private tutor, Hogwarts, Slytherin House, Quidditch. Then, it was join the Dark Lord, make your family proud. Be exceptional! Soon after that, the war was full blown, it was simply about fighting for survival and realising exactly how deep in over my head I had got.”
Malfoy paused for a moment before continuing. “After the war, however, things picked right up where we left off--what was left was to marry the right girl, have the right children. But Mother died, and Father couldn’t keep his nose clean, so then it was all back to me, wasn’t it. So, I did it. Or tried to. I married well. She was beautiful and from the right sort of family. Even with Father’s final fall from grace, it looked like everything would continue as planned, as expected--for a little while, at least.”
“Last year, though. Last year, when Astoria started talking about children... At first I tried to do as I always did--to play along. To keep up appearances. We even outfitted a nursery. But... I couldn’t do it. I could not bring another child into this world--or at least into that world. I was so tired of lying all the time to everyone... to Astoria, to even myself.”
Harry wondered where all this was leading. They reached the gates of Hogwarts, and Malfoy turned to look Harry squarely in the eyes.
“I was tired of lying,” he said. “I knew the truth would ruin my family’s reputation. Would make a fool of Astoria. I didn’t want that for her. It wasn’t her fault--she hadn’t done anything wrong. She had merely found herself in the midst of a situation that was in no way her doing or her fault.” Malfoy took a deep breath. “Harry,” he said. “I am gay.”
Harry’s eyes grew wide before softening in sympathy. He remembered saying those exact words to Ginny. He remembered the look on her face--she was not surprised, but the sadness in her eyes revealed the crumbling of thousands of hopes she’d had for the two of them at the time. In many ways, Harry had felt that sadness, that loss, as well.
“Draco,” Harry said, putting a hand on his shoulder. He hesitated for a moment, just braced there like that before closing the distance between them with a hug. Harry said quietly, very close to Draco’s ear, “You did the right thing.” He pulled back enough to look Draco in the eye. He put two gloved hands on the side of Draco’s neck, holding his gaze. “All of this will get better--your house and friends and career. It might take some time, and it might not be the life you’d planned, but it will be a good one. An honest one.”
Draco brought his own hands up to Harry’s wrists, squeezing them in understanding. Before he let go, something in his gaze changed, just a little, and Harry felt Draco's thumb find the skin between the ending of his sleeve and beginning of his glove. When Harry shivered, he wanted to believe it was simply due to the cold.
The next evening, when Draco came into the pub, he sat closer to Harry at the bar. They did not talk about their conversation the night before, instead telling jokes and discussing Hogwarts and Quidditch. It was friendly and comfortable, and Harry found himself enjoying the easy banter.
Just before closing, the bar was next to empty when Luke stumbled in. Harry was not happy to see him. He was obviously already drunk when he inelegantly sat down in the seat next to Draco at the bar.
“I think I’d like a drink, Har,” he said, slapping the polished wood with the palm of his hand. “A pint of mead, please.”
“Luke.” Harry managed to keep his voice calm, but he fought the urge to throw him out by force. “I think you’ve already had enough for tonight. Get out. Go somewhere else.”
“But, I want to be here, Har,” Luke said, now leaning over the bar and into Harry’s personal space. “With you.”
“That’s it,” Harry said, coming round the bar and grabbing Luke by the shoulders. He firmly steered him toward the door. “Let’s go.”
Outside, Luke said, “Well, well, Harry Potter. You sure know how to throw a party. Everyone’s talking about your New Year’s do. But, not me. I wasn’t even invited.” He reached out an arm and caught Harry by the back of the neck. He pulled Harry’s face close to his own. “I miss you so much, Harry. I was so stupid to ever let you go.”
Harry was not swayed. He shook his head no. He did not like Luke touching him.
And, to make matters worse, it had begun to snow, and he was cold without his cloak.
“It’s over, Luke,” Harry said, very clearly. “It was over a long time ago. You need to go home now.”
“But, I love you, Harry.” And before Harry could stop it from happening, Luke launched himself at Harry, kissing him hard on the mouth.
By the time he managed to pry himself loose, something bright caught at the corner of Harry’s vision, and when he turned to look, he saw the retreating form of Draco Malfoy, who was walking quickly away from the pub. Harry’s stomach sank, and then he knew exactly what he wanted.
He tried to call out, but Draco must not have heard him because he never turned his head. Bright white flecks of snow lit on his shoulders and in his hair as he kept walking down the street. He turned the corner to the path that lead to Hogwarts, and Harry couldn’t see him any more.
“God dammit, Luke!” Harry wanted to punch him.
Luke tried to step closer, but on the way, he swayed deeply, catching himself by bracing a hand against the side of the pub. Harry was beyond over this. He reached into the front of Luke’s robes where he knew Luke kept his wand. He held out his hand, summoning the Knight Bus. He wrote down the address for the driver and handed over the fare. He watched with relief as the bus disappeared with a loud bang. Harry hoped the journey would make Luke vomit.
He stole one more glance down the road, toward the direction Draco gone, but he knew he’d never be able to catch up. He was shivering violently. He needed his cloak if he was going to stay outside any longer, and when he went back inside to get it, he noticed something on the bar. Where Draco had been sitting was a small silver container. Draco had tucked a note under it, scrawled as neatly as possible on a napkin.
I’ve finished the potion. This should work much more effectively now.
Best of luck,
Harry quickly ran to get his cloak and cane, and he sent a Patronus ahead to try and reach Draco. He needed to explain. He needed to fix this. He walked as quickly as he could through the cold and snow, which was landing on his glasses, leaving blotchy wet smears, making it hard to see.
It seemed ages before he saw the gates of Hogwarts. When he got to them, however, they were soundly locked. Harry banged at them with his fist in frustration.
He sent another Patronus and waited.
When Neville came out five minutes later, he looked much like he did on the first night Harry had walked with Draco back to the castle, right down to the fuzzy blue slippers.
“What’s up, Harry?” Neville’s face was drawn with concern.
“It’s a long story, Neville, but I need to see Draco Malfoy.”
Neville opened the gate, and Harry walked through.
“Is everything all right?” Neville asked as they came inside.
“I don’t know,” Harry said. He ran a hand through his hair, sending an icy chunk of snow falling to the floor. He tried his best to clean his glasses on his shirt. “I know the way to his quarters. Do you mind if I go alone?”
“Of course not,” Neville said. I’ll be in the tower if you need me. Third room past where McGonagall used to stay.
“Got it. Thanks, Neville,” Harry said, but his feet were already carrying him down to the dungeons.
When he got to the portrait hole, the wizard called Zephyrus was reading his book. Harry cleared his throat.
“Password,” Zephyrus said.
“Er...” Harry replied.
“You cannot enter without the Password.” Zephyrus turned a page.
“I know. I know. Er... Iron Maiden?”
Zephyrus merely raised his eyebrows before returning to his reading.
“Okay, okay, think, Potter,” Harry said to himself. “Think.”
“What about... Megadeath?”
“Er... Black Sabbath?”
“Pantera? Judas Priest? Rush?”
At that, the door swung open, and Harry thanked Zephyrus as he climbed through.
Draco was sitting on the sofa, staring blankly into the fireplace. He did not turn to face Harry or acknowledge Harry’s presence in any noticeable way.
“Draco,” Harry began. “Draco, please look at me.”
Draco turned his head. Harry took this as a positive sign, so he continued. “I think you misunderstood. Tonight--with Luke.”
“Is that what his name is?” Draco stood up. He turned bodily away from Harry and walked over to the window, staring out. “I feel like the world’s biggest fool,” he said to the snowy night. Harry could see his reflection in the glass, face fragmented where the leaded lines broke it up.
“You’re not,” Harry said, crossing the room to Draco. He put a hand on his arm, tugging softly, trying to get him to turn around. “You’re not,” he said again.
“Then what am I, Potter? I completely misread the situation.” He dropped his chin to his chest, chuckling softly; there was no lightness in it. “I thought that you and I...” He let his words fall away and shrugged out of Harry’s grasp.
Harry grabbed his arm again, this time more firmly. Draco’s body was now facing him, but Draco still would not look at him. Harry could feel the warmth of his arm through his cold fingers, could feel the outline of his bicep. Harry ran his thumb over the muscle. Draco kept his arms down, making no move to touch Harry at all, but he also wasn’t pushing away. With his other hand, Harry pushed lightly at Draco’s jaw, trying desperately to get some eye contact.
“You were not wrong, Draco. And you certainly were no fool.”
Draco’s eyes found Harry’s, finally. The hope Harry saw in them gave him what he needed to keep speaking.
“Luke and me... we’re complicated. Yes, there is--was a lot--” Harry paused, searching for the words he wanted to say. “We’re over. We have been over for a long time. What you saw? What you saw was him realising the huge mistake he made in letting me go.”
Harry let himself smile, just a little. He stepped even closer to Draco and moved his hand from Draco’s face to cup the back of his neck. “I realised no such mistake. Luke is a toxic son of a bitch. He’s not the one I want.”
Draco’s eyes held a million questions.
Harry touched his forehead to Draco’s. “You are.”
Draco lifted a hesitant hand to brush a thumb across Harry’s cheekbone. Harry felt his warm fingers where they touched the sensitive skin behind his ear. Soon enough, Draco’s other arm wrapped around Harry’s waist, pulling him close. Draco kissed him, wrapping his other hand round to the back of his neck, and Harry returned the kiss eagerly.
Harry liked the softness of Draco’s hair when Harry’s fingers twisted into it at the nape of his neck, pulling some of it lose from its band. He liked Draco’s breath on his face and hands on his skin. He never wanted to stop kissing Draco Malfoy.