Well, this evening has certainly been a lot nicer than I expected, Harry thought as he sat down on Draco’s comfortable bed.
There were countless pillows on it and the mattress was so soft it seemed to be made of clouds. Harry never wanted to get up again. He settled on the bed, pulling the sheets over his body. He looked around, eyeing the entire bedroom and relished in the feeling of comfort he sensed. They had an entire wing to themselves, away from the manor, the ghosts and the echoes of the war. Harry liked the bedroom especially because it was full of Draco, full of his books, his drawings and small signs of a previous and much different life.
Harry’s eyes drifted towards a wooden desk near the window. Parchments and quills were scattered all over it. He guessed it had been the place where Draco had written page after page in his diary. He couldn’t wait to ask Draco about all the memories that had taken place in here. Did he take his first steps in this very room? Was his mother there?
Narcissa Malfoy was an intriguing woman to say the least. Earlier this evening when the boys had arrived, she had welcomed them without blinking, not showing a single sign of surprise.
“Mother, I’m sure you know Harry,” Draco had said, hesitating slightly, fumbling with his words.
She had guided them inside the manor and had asked an elf to take their luggage. She had frowned but stayed unfazed.
“Of course I know who Harry Potter is, he testified at our trial. Have you forgotten already?”
Draco had put a hand on her arm to make her stop walking. She had turned around and watched as Draco laced his hand with Harry’s.
“You know him as the Boy Who Lived whereas I… I know someone different. I’d like you to meet Harry Potter, my boyfriend.”
Harry’s cheeks turned bright red. He had never been one to blush profusely but every time Draco referred to them as a couple, he just couldn’t help it. After all they’d been through, he didn’t think he could ever get tired of hearing it, of feeling completely overwhelmed by it.
“Oh,” was all Narcissa had said before smiling knowingly at the both of them. She had noticed hints at the trial but back then, everything was still new and unsure between the boys. She had then said she was glad for them and that they looked happy which was all that mattered.
After that, she had asked about Harry’s health, reprimanded Draco about leaving Hogwarts and the Manor without telling her and after that embarrassing moment, they all sat down in the dining room and had dinner. It was casual and light, something Harry never thought the Malfoys were capable of doing. Narcissa had however proved to be kind and understanding, never once judging her son or making Harry feel unwelcome.
Harry had excused himself early because he wanted to let Draco have some time alone with his mother. He guessed they probably wanted privacy to discuss business matters or to talk about Lucius, imprisoned in Azkaban. He didn’t want to intrude and he was pretty sure he would get bored if they talked about business and estate matters anyway. The least he could do was give Draco some time alone with his mother.
He said good night to Narcissa as warmly as he could manage and just before he left, he bent down and kissed Draco’s temple, just like that. Horrified, he wondered if it hadn’t been too soon. They hadn’t even talked about public displays of affection, especially not in front of any of Draco’s relatives. But all these concerns were unfounded; Draco beamed and kissed Harry’s palm.
“I’ll be there soon, you should go to bed if you’re tired,” he had whispered.
“I’ll wait for you. Thanks again for dinner, Mrs Malfoy.”
“Please, you must call me Narcissa. And don’t worry, I won’t keep Draco up here for too long.”
Harry had gone back to the Manor’s isolated wing, following a path that led right to the bottom of the garden.
When he had arrived in Draco’s bedroom, Harry had panicked for a brief instant. His trunk was there but it was empty. Had all of his belongings been accidentally vanished during Apparition? Surely not, Harry had never heard of such things.
Fortunately, it turned out his clothes were already put away in the part that had been cleared in Draco’s closet. He had taken his favourite pyjamas and headed to the bathroom. He had never seen such a big tub and smirked as he remembered his last relaxing bath. It had been an entertaining one to say the least. He hoped Draco would join him and make love to him again in this one too soon. Still smiling, Harry was looking for his toiletries when he noticed the two toothbrushes next to each other. It made Harry’s heart beat faster.
Finally, they were together.
When Draco got back, Harry was reading a book about Quidditch in bed.
“Finally holding it the right way,” he drawled.
“Not fair. How was I supposed to read when all I could think about was you? And need I remind you that you also held your book upside down back in the train when we were going to Guernsey for the first time.”
Draco climbed on the bed next to Harry.
“Well, how was I supposed to read when all I could think about was you?” he smirked before kissing Harry softly.
He got up and headed to the bathroom, coming back fifteen minutes later showered and ready for bed.
“Have you seen the toothbrushes?” Harry asked as he snuggled close to Draco.
“Yes, I did. Though the first thing I saw was the tub. Have you seen that thing? I never noticed how big it was. We could easily fit in there and I bet none of the water would splash on the floor incase I get carried away again.”
Harry laughed. Having sex in the tiny tub of their hotel room back in Guernsey hadn’t been their brightest idea but it had been worth it.
“We haven’t even tried your bed yet,” Harry pointed out.
"Beds are fine too, you’re right. This one in particular. I had forgotten how nice it was.”
“It’s probably because I wasn’t in there with you yet.”
Draco held Harry, his strong arms tightening around him as if he didn’t ever want to let go.
“Harry, I spoke to my mother about our housing plans.”
Harry tensed and his fingers stopped rubbing circles over Draco’s chest. He noticed and took Harry’s hand in his.
“Don’t worry,” he continued. “She’s surprisingly okay with us. I think she just wants me to be happy. So, when I told her we’d be looking for flats, she said we actually owned one that hasn’t been used in years. It’s in Diagon Alley, close to Theo’s apothecary and George’s shop so it’ll be perfect. I know it’s not exactly what we discussed but I’ve never been there so it’ll be a new start for the both of us.”
Harry put his head on Draco’s chest, closed his eyes and tried to calm his breathing. He had been so scared Narcissa had changed her mind or said something mean about him to Draco. He knew that having his mother’s approval was important to him and didn’t want to cause him more pain. He was relieved and glad to have an opportunity to start anew with his boyfriend’s mother. She could very well become his mother-in-law after all.
“You know, I said I wanted to have a brand new home with you but actually I was wrong.”
“What? What do you mean you were wrong?” Draco asked, trying to get up.
Harry shook his head and pushed Draco back.
“Just let me finish. I realised it doesn’t matter where we live as long as we’re together. You are my home. I just want a place where we both feel comfortable and where we can invite all our friends and family. I doubt the Weasleys would ever come to the Manor but I wouldn’t even have minded all that much if we just stayed here actually.”
Draco slapped Harry’s arm playfully and resumed his position as a gigantic pillow.
“I thought you changed your mind, you stupid git. So, do you think it’s a good idea?”
“I mean, it’s currently empty and useless, we might as well check it out tomorrow and see if we like it.”
Draco smiled. “I was planning to meet Theo tomorrow anyway, see if his shop is already open.”
“Will you hold my hand in front of everyone in Diagon Alley?” he mumbled, eyes fluttering shut.
Draco ran his hand through his hair and said yes. The last thing Harry thought he heard before falling asleep seemed to be “I’d do anything for you.”
When Harry woke up, he was alone in bed. He felt around for Draco’s warmth but didn’t find it so he grabbed his glasses on the nightstand.
No answers. The sun was already high in the sky; they had slept late. Harry didn’t hear any noise coming from the bathroom. He thought about getting up but he heard the door open. Draco came in, carrying a breakfast tray.
“Oh no, you’re already awake, I wanted to watch you sleep a little longer.”
“I just woke up a minute ago, got scared when I couldn’t find you. Where were you?”
Draco sat down in the bed, putting the tray between them. They had a full English breakfast each as well as coffee, orange juice and various pastries. Harry wondered if he could even eat half of that. He still felt nauseous and dizzy from yesterday’s potions.
“I went to the Manor to tell Mother we were going to eat breakfast in bed and then head off to Diagon Alley to check out the apartment. I didn’t want to wake you up, you seemed exhausted last night.”
Harry winced. At least, he hadn’t fallen asleep during foreplay again.
“I’m so sorry. The potions I have to take are harder to get used to than I thought, I guess.”
Worry was etched upon Draco’s face.
“Harry, don’t ever apologise about the things that are keeping you alive, okay?”
Harry nodded and sat up. Draco handed him a piece of toast which Harry bit. He found that eating wasn’t so bad when Draco was feeding him. They continued eating in bed, lazily reading the paper out loud to each other when they found interesting articles. Harry found one about flying frogs that had been scaring Muggles and couldn’t stop laughing about it. Draco joined him and together they watched the moving photograph depicting flying frogs chasing after a family.
I’ve never seen anything more beautiful, he thought as he watched a shirtless Draco run a hand through his short hair, turn his head to Harry and smile.
A few hours later, they were both ready to check out their possible new flat. Harry felt queasy after taking his potions; they had to Floo right in because Apparition would’ve made him sicker.
The first things Harry noticed were the large windows and the brightness of the flat. He hadn’t expected such a modern layout, brand new furniture and big spaces. In the living-room there was a comfortable looking couch and from where he was standing, he could already see the dining room. He liked that everything was open.
“First impressions?” Draco asked.
Harry stepped in, felt something padded beneath his feet and noticed that a huge brown rug was covering the wooden floor. He wanted to take off his shoes and let himself get carried away in the feeling of home and warmth this place gave out. He pictured it in his mind, him drinking a warm tea on the couch, Draco joining him and then the both of them lying down on the rug in front of the fireplace, taking their clothes off and… Harry stopped daydreaming.
“It’s all so open and so different than what I had in mind. It’s great, it’s like I gave you the memory of a dream and you watched it in a Pensieve and created this place according to what you saw.”
Draco smiled and led him to the kitchen while explaining why the Malfoys hardly ever used that flat.
“It used to be rented but the tenants left a few years ago for some reason. Mother didn’t bother looking for new ones and simply let the place as it was. House elves come now and then to clean it but otherwise it’s just empty.”
They checked out the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. Draco then showed him a spiral staircase which led to the bedrooms. There were two of them, one connecting to a dressing room and a bathroom.
“You Malfoys really do have a taste for luxury things, we don’t need this huge dressing room!”
“Well, it’s there, might as well use it,” Draco answered playfully. “I take it you like this bedroom?”
Harry nodded. The other one was smaller and could be turned into a desk whereas this one… Harry could picture himself in here, waking up next to Draco every morning, the smell of coffee invading his nostrils.
“Yeah, I really do. I feel like this could be a home for us.”
Draco moved closer and took Harry’s hand in his. Together, they watched people stroll about and enter shops in Diagon Alley. The windows were charmed so that no one could actually see the inside of the flat and they were also soundproof. With absolutely no sound coming in, they had to imagine the chatter and the customers’ satisfied laughs but other than that, they could almost feel the street being alive below them.
“I thought you might not like how busy it is around here,” Draco mentioned.
“I thought so too but the wards are strong and I feel quite safe here. Besides, if we ever feel like being away from everything, we can always go back to your bedroom at the bottom of the garden.”
Draco chuckled: “That we can. So, should I ask the House Elves to bring our stuff here so we can unpack tomorrow? Isn’t it too soon?”
“Why should we wait? If you like the flat too then we should move in.”
“I do like it. It feels special, doesn’t it?”
Harry thought so too, the place was nice and he could consider it like his home. However, it wasn’t particularly thanks to the way it was arranged, in fact it was because everywhere he looked he saw himself and Draco. He could imagine them receiving friends in the dining room, entertaining Ron and Hermione with stupid jokes about adventures in Guernsey. He closed his eyes and there he was, cuddling on the couch with Draco in front of the fireplace, a dog at their feet. He saw them kissing, arguing, cooking together… If he let himself be honest, he could even hear a baby’s giggles and children bursting into laughter while playing with a puppy.
Regardless of how pleasing these images were, he also couldn’t help but let his mind wander elsewhere. He thought about the potions he had to take every morning and the way his body was slowly but surely shutting off. Moving in with Draco was bittersweet. Deep down, he knew that it wouldn’t last forever.
He thought, all my life, I’ve been sacrificing myself for others, I’ve been fighting and struggling and losing so much. Why couldn’t it be enough? Don’t I deserve peace?
That nagging thought wouldn’t leave him alone now that he had so much to live for.
After a lovely late lunch with Draco, Harry headed towards George’s shop. It was the middle of the afternoon already, the streets were busy. They had lingered in the restaurant even though Harry hadn’t been able to eat very much. They had chatted a lot and shared smiles and brushed hands on the table where everyone could see.
Harry couldn’t quite believe they were moving in together and being open about their relationship in public but when their waitress brought them a candle and put it on their table with a shy knowing smile, he knew it’d be alright. Some people might not be okay with their romantic involvement, they might receive a few Howlers but Harry had faith in people. He even had a little bit of it for the Daily Prophet which had been entirely restructured after the war.
So far, no one had been rude to him as he walked in Diagon Alley. A few kids had pointed their chubby fingers at him, others had asked him for an autograph. Nothing out of the ordinary. Harry had also made sure people didn’t bother Draco on his way to Theo’s apothecary by accompanying him despite his heavy protests. Harry had put a hand on his arm and said: “what’s wrong with wanting my boyfriend to be safe and spending more time with you?” Draco hadn’t had anything to reply.
He arrived in front of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes and came in through the back; George hadn’t opened the shop to the public yet. He was at his desk, furiously scribbling on a parchment. There were piles of boxes all around him and sketches of new products glued to the walls.
“Hey George!” Harry said.
George hadn’t even noticed him. His face brightened when he saw him and he welcomed him warmly.
“I still can’t thank you enough for helping me reopen this shop. You can’t imagine how much it means to me…” he started.
Harry held a hand to brush off George’s rambling.
“It’s Fred’s legacy and I’ve always liked your shop. I gave you the money to start it, remember? I’ve always been your number one supporter, it’s not about to change now. Thank you for giving me a job.”
George shrugged. “You’re family. And well, having Harry Potter working as a salesman can’t hurt, you know?”
Harry laughed. The shop had already acquired a good reputation but with Harry’s fame, they were sure to attract a lot more customers from all over the world.
“So,” Harry started, wiping his hands on his jeans, “where do I start? Do you need me to open these boxes?”
George nodded and told him he’d work a bit more on his new products and that he’ll be coming to help unpack in a few minutes. Harry set to work, cast Wingardium Leviosa on the boxes and headed to the shop. However, his charm wavered and the boxes fell before he could get there.
“What?” Harry muttered, puzzled.
Then, he remembered his Healer told him he might experience issues with his magic as a side effect of his potions. He hadn’t expected to be confronted to this issue; it had never happened to him before. He had started taking his potions weeks ago, was he supposed to just wait for new side effects to develop every other day?
Undefeated, Harry decided to carry the boxes himself. However, he barely managed to take a few steps before his legs and arms gave in. Out of breath, he fell and the boxes scattered all around him. Still, he wouldn’t give up and was trying to put the products that had fallen back into the boxes when George found him.
“Harry? Harry, what’s wrong, are you okay?”
Harry stopped what he was doing and slumped on the floor. George knelt beside him, a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“Merlin, I can’t even carry some boxes, can’t even cast a simple charm…”
“I thought you were healed?”
Harry snorted and told him about the potions, the cold that was under control but only for now.
“It’s bad, George, it’s really bad,” Harry confessed. “I can feel it. The potions… They’re not going to cut it for long. They already take so much out of me. The Healers all said I would adjust but I think they knew I would never recover.”
George’s face was unreadable but his hand was still on Harry’s shoulder, reassuring. He helped him get up, stored the boxes away and made him a cup of tea. They talked a bit more but Harry was exhausted and wanted to go home more than anything.
George offered to walk him back to his flat and they left the shop together. Harry invited George in but he refused politely and said he needed to go back to the shop to work while his ideas were still fresh in his mind. He made sure Harry was alright and offered to go get Draco.
“Don’t bother him, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry, George, I’m sure he’ll be there soon.”
Harry was stubborn and managed to get George going after promising him to do nothing but rest. True to his promise, he went straight to the couch. The fire burned bright and a plaid kept him warm. Just before he lay down, he noticed that the House Elves had already brought his and Draco’s suitcases in the entrance. They were officially moving in. Pleased with that thought, Harry decided he deserved a nap while he waited for Draco.
George Weasley was worried. When he had seen Harry on the floor, pale as death, having trouble breathing, it had brought him back to a place he was trying to escape. It made him think of Fred. He’d be revolted by this, he’d say that Harry didn’t deserve any of this. Fred was a man who did not accept injustice and he would have fought to get Harry the peace he deserved.
George would have agreed with him. He knew that he hadn’t been a good friend to Harry lately. He had spent too much time locked in his bedroom or ignoring his owls, overwhelmed with grief and sorrow at the mere idea of living without his twin. However, he had recently realised that Fred would have wanted him to keep going, to keep inventing new products for their shop and most importantly, he would have wanted George to help their friends.
George couldn’t lose anyone else. He just couldn’t. And Harry, a boy who had given so much to save the Wizarding World, deserved to be happy and healthy.
George hadn’t been this determined in a while. He didn’t know how yet but he was going to cure Harry and be done with this misery that kept following him around. No more moping, no more sadness. Fred deserves better than that too, George thought.
While they were drinking tea, Harry had mentioned that Draco was working with Theodore Nott in his apothecary so George headed there, his pace quick and his steps assured. Through the shop window, he saw Draco and his friend moving things around, adjusting shelves. He breathed in and out, trying without success to calm his nerves, and pushed the door open.
“Sorry,” Theodore Nott started when he heard the shop’s doorbell, “we’re not open yet, you should…”
Draco turned around and frowned.
“Wait,” Draco interrupted, “this is George Weasley, he was at Hogwarts with us. Is Harry okay?”
“Yes, don’t worry, he’s fine. He went home early, he was tired and… Well, there was a little incident at the shop today which is what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Intrigued and worried, Draco and Theo invited George upstairs where he started telling them what had happened this afternoon. Gradually, the worry on their faces became serious.
“Merlin,” Draco said, “I thought it was bad but… I never imagined he was having issues with his magic. This is much worse than I expected. We can’t just leave him like that.”
“No,” Theo agreed, “we can’t. But I’ve never heard of any disease that remotely resembles Harry’s. It’s a first. And his potions seem to be quite complicated, I don’t know if it’s even possible to diminish the side effects of such rare ingredients.”
George sighed and put his head in his hands. He knew this wouldn’t be easy. However, when he sat straight and saw the look on Draco’s face he was sure they’d find a way. Love is stronger than any magic, any curse, any pain. Draco wouldn’t ever give up on Harry and he’d do anything in his power to cure him.
“I will not just sit there and watch him wither and die. We can’t let him die. He’s been through too much. We have to do this for him,” Draco said.
“Well then, I think we've got research to do,” George answered.