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Love, Romance and All That Utter Nonsense

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~o~o~o~

It all begins on a mild Spring day.

Draco is in a great mood; he’s recently received a heartwarming letter from Scorpius, eaten a delicious meal with his mother without any nagging, and is now headed towards his absolute favourite bookshop. He stands outside the entrance to the shop and sighs happily.

Draco first discovered this bookshop five years ago, a day before his fortieth birthday. He was browsing through Diagon Alley looking to treat himself to an early birthday present. It had been quite a year, what with his and Astoria’s divorce being finalised at last. Their marriage had been one of convenience, something to satisfy their parents and produce a Malfoy heir, but Draco was still surprised when Astoria had asked him for a divorce. Apparently she had fallen in love with her latest companion and wanted to marry him. Draco cared deeply for Astoria and could hardly begrudge her wish for happiness, though he did feel it was a little late in life for all that love and romance nonsense.

Draco was so lost in his thoughts, that he nearly didn’t see the large sign and banners announcing the grand opening of The Book Nook, a brand new book store. Draco was intrigued; he had always been a big fan of literature. He moved through the small crowd gathering outside and made his way into the shop.

It was love at first sight. The book shop wasn’t overly large, but made to feel warm and cosy with soft lighting and a decorative, plush carpet. The front desk was clearly an antique, crafted from oak and carved in ornate, intricate patterns. Despite its quaint appearance, the shop was actually much larger than it appeared. Various shelves of books lined the walls and seemed to stretch back for ages. Draco made his way through the shop, admiring the numerous titles and categories for all the various books, as well as the baroque, overstuffed chairs hidden in little corners, lit only by dim, glowing lamps. He spent hours that first day browsing and reading titles before leaving with an armful of purchases. It quickly became his favorite bookshop and he made an effort to visit at least once a month over the years.

The Book Nook has become something of a second home, so it’s only natural he’s thrown off when he enters the shop and sees someone new at the front desk. In place of Linda, the lovely older woman who always greets Draco as soon as he arrives, a young man with dark, messy hair sits at the desk. His head is bowed forward, face in a book, as he chews carelessly on the end of a quill. The boy (he can’t be older than twenty) finally looks up. Bright green eyes meet Draco's for a moment before recognition floods into them and he offers up a small smile.

“Hello, Mr Malfoy!”

Albus Severus Potter. It’s been several years since Draco has seen him last (likely when he went to pick up Scorpius for the last time after graduating from Hogwarts) but Draco is shocked to see how much the young man has changed. Draco vaguely remembers Albus to be a scrawny, awkward boy with wild hair and thick glasses that resembled his father’s own tacky pair. Before him is an entirely different person. Albus’s hair is still fairly untidy, but it looks almost purposeful; his locks are dark and glossy, softly curling around his ears. The brash glasses have been replaced with sensible ones; thin copper wire in a stylish frame. His striking emerald eyes seem to glow from behind them, the soft light from the surrounding lamps reflecting off the edges. Draco’s gaze sweeps over his lightly tanned face, a faint smattering of freckles cover his nose, and his lips... Merlin his lips are pink, full, and parted slightly as they open and close.

“—you okay? Mr Malfoy?”

Draco shakes his head to clear his thoughts.

“What are you doing here?” Draco asks brusquely.

“I work here.” Albus frowns, looking slightly taken aback.

“Right. Of course,” Draco nods before taking a breath, turning around and marching out the door.

~o~o~o~

Draco stays away from The Book Nook for several weeks after the incident. It’s foolish, really, he knows that. It’s not as if he caused a giant scene or anything, just a little staring and a swift exit, nothing to gossip over. Yet Draco keeps his distance all the same, embarrassment flooding his senses when he replays the way he reacted to seeing Albus, Harry Potter’s son, his own son’s good friend.

After the third week passes, Draco decides enough is enough. So he found Albus attractive, big deal. He notices good looking blokes on the street all the time; sometimes they are on the younger side, it’s certainly not an issue. Just because this time it happened to be Albus Potter doesn’t mean he has to make this observation into anything bigger. It’s time to return to his favourite shop.

He heads out that morning with his head held high and filled with confidence, though he can’t help but let out a relieved sigh when he enters the bookshop and finds the front desk empty. Good, then. Draco makes his way down the Potions shelf to see if they have the newest Arsenius Jigger book in yet. He traces his fingers over the spines of a few books before his eyes catch the title.

“It’s about time,” Draco mutters under his breath as he pulls the book off the shelf to examine further.

“We just got it in last week.”

Draco whirls around and drops the book as he finds himself face to face with Albus.

“Sorry if I scared you.” Albus smiles abashedly as he reaches down to the pick the book up off the floor. “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”

“It’s fine,” Draco replies shortly, taking the book from Albus.

Merlin! He’s forty five years old, not some love-sick schoolboy. He’s acting as if he has never been around an attractive bloke before. And yet his eyes can’t help but sweep over Albus, taking in the extra inch he must have grown, how his body's filled out, how handsome he looks in that button up with his sleeves rolled up and his smooth skin exposed—

“Well, I’ll be right over there if you need any help.” Albus gives a little wave and moves over to the next aisle.

Draco inelegantly grunts in response (a grunt? really?) and continues to search for the rest of the titles on his list. His mind, however, is a jumble of thoughts, and his eyes keep darting over to the other aisle where Albus is busy stocking books. It’s nearly an hour later, when Albus calls out to his co-worker that he’s going on his lunch break, that Draco finally relaxes and is able to locate the rest of the books in peace.

~o~o~o~

Draco returns a few days later because… well he doesn’t really need a reason, does he? It is his favourite bookshop. He’s a grown man, and he can do as he pleases. He walks in and spots Albus right away, organising and labeling books in the Magical Theory section. Draco makes his way over, nonchalantly of course, and catches Albus muttering under his breath.

“What’s that?” Draco inquires leaning over to see the pile of books stacked nearby.

“Oh, Mr Malfoy! Hello.”

“Please, call me Mr Malfoy— I mean, call me Draco.”

Smooth, real smooth.

“Okay, Draco.” Albus smiles in return. “I was just ranting to myself about this week’s shipments of books. We asked for some advanced and adult essays on magical theory and the best they gave us is New Theory of Numerology.”

“Well, that’s a very informative book. I’ve read it several times.”

“Maybe for a student, but we asked for adult books. My aunt read it in her fifth year.”

“And what did you have in mind?”

“Well,” Albus begins, his eyes lighting up with interest, “Slinkhard has just released some new, very interesting theories after traveling abroad last year. He’s recently published several essays in a collection and I thought we might get them in.”

“You seem to really know your stuff,” Draco replies, impressed.

“Oh, I suppose so.” Albus flushes modestly. “I’ve always been into books and literature. My collection was even larger than Rose’s growing up. I worked as an intern at a publishing company shortly after Hogwarts but it was all office work and coffee runs. I much prefer working here, getting to be hands on with the books...”

Albus’s voice rises slightly, and his eyes take on an excited gleam as he speaks. Draco watches, mesmerised, as the younger man waxes poetic about the many virtues of working in such an intimate bookshop. It appears Albus is not just a pretty— very pretty, gorgeous in fact — face, but is also a bright young man that shares Draco's passion for literature.

“...Sorry Mr. Ma— I mean Draco. I’ve been rambling. I’ve been known to do that when I start talking about books. I didn’t mean to take you away from your shopping.”

“You can take me,” Draco blurts out, “Er, I mean, it’s fine. I was just browsing today.”

“Oh, well in that case, if you don’t have a specific book in mind, I highly recommend this one: Ancient Magical Mysteries. Don’t let the title scare you off, it’s an easy, but very intriguing, read.”

Albus selects a thin book with a worn leather cover and hands it over to Draco. He tilts his head slightly and his soft, pink lips stretch into that damn perfect smile. Draco blinks and reaches to grab the book, their fingers brushing ever so slightly in the exchange. Sparks shoot through Draco’s fingertips and straight into his chest. His body and face heat up and all he can do is nod in response and stutter out a thank you.

Draco turns around hastily and makes his way to the front desk to check out. Perhaps he will read this book in the park today, some fresh air might do him some good. At the very least it might help abate the pounding in his heart and the sweating of his palms.

Merlin, it’s official. Draco is done for.

~o~o~o~

Draco goes to the bookshop the very next day. Which is fine, definitely fine. It’s completely normal to visit two days in a row. He just so happens to wear one of his nicer button ups, the one that Astoria always said brings out the silver in his eyes. He may have put on that cologne his mother bought him for Christmas last year as well. It is, afterall, a fine a day as any to smell nice.

Draco walks in and does a quick scan of the shop but doesn’t spot Albus anywhere.

“Excuse me, Louise,” he calls to one of the employees. “Where is Albus?”

“Al? Oh he’s off today. Can I help you with something Mr Malfoy?”

“No,” Draco replies abruptly. “I mean, no, thank you.”

Louise gives him a small smile and makes her way to the backroom, as Draco frowns to himself and swiftly exits the shop.

~o~o~o~

Three days in a row is still a completely acceptable number of times to visit the bookstore. It is his favourite shop after all and had been long before Albus started working there.

Today, he takes a seat in the best chair in the entire place, favoured not only for its comfortable nature but also for its perfect view. Draco peers over his book as his eyes follow Albus across the shop, bending over to arrange a shipment of novels on the bottom shelf. If Draco were Albus’s boss he might have something to say about the lack of professionalism in wearing such tight trousers at work, but luckily he’s not. Instead he’s free to idly leaf through his book, the one he’s scarcely read a word of, and admire the way Albus’s trousers stretch over his pert arse.

This doesn’t makes him a pervert of course. Draco can hardly be held accountable of where his eyes wander in the warm, comfortable environment of the bookshop. Perhaps they should make the atmosphere less inviting, not so easy for one to sink into a chair and drift off, allowing one’s imagination to run wild. To picture that same gorgeous arse bent over, sans trousers and sans pants. Draco’s hands gripping those hip bones, rutting against the younger man. He wouldn’t even need to enter Albus, just slide across his crease, a few rough thrusts, bite that freckled shoulder and Draco would be done for. Draco would come so quickly, one would think he was the inexperienced nineteen year old and not Albus.

Bloody hell. Draco adjusts his book and covers the rapidly growing erection making itself quite evident in his trousers. Okay, focus on the book. Draco reads about four lines before he is back to admiring Albus again, this time focussing on the way Albus worries his lip with those perfect teeth every time he concentrates. The red mark is vivid against the pale pink of his lips and Draco can’t help but wonder how those plump lips might taste. A deep breath, concentrate. Four more lines…

Draco finally gets absorbed by the book (it might have had something to do with Albus moving to the front desk and out of view) and he is rather surprised when he looks up and finds the shop nearly deserted. Albus makes his way over, an apologetic smile on his face.

“Sorry, Draco. We’re closing up for the day.”

“Oh!” Draco sits up and cringes as his knees protest from being in the same position for so long, “Sorry, I didn’t realise the time.”

“It’s no problem!” Albus grins and runs his fingers through the back of his hair. “I’ve heard you're our best customer, the first regular! You really do like this bookshop, huh?”

“Yes, I do… the bookshop that is. I like it. A lot.”

Albus walks Draco to the door, keys in hand, ready to lock up behind him.

“Goodnight, Draco,” Albus says softly.

“Goodnight, Albus.”

~o~o~o~

Draco Malfoy is a bit nervous. Okay, perhaps that is putting it lightly. He has already changed several times today; his dress cloak was too dressy, the tie a bit too much, the navy blue jumper too worn. He finally settles on fitted charcoal trousers and a crisp grey button up under a moss green sweater. Albus was in Slytherin as well, he’s likely to appreciate the nod to their house colours.

He wipes his palms—which aren’t really all that sweaty—against his trousers before stepping into the shop. He pretends to browse for all of two minutes before he catches sight of Albus, pulling books off a shelf in the Dark Arts section (conveniently located in the darkest corner of the shop). Draco takes a deep breath, steadies his nerves and marches over to greet Albus.

Draco is not a fumbling teenager (despite his rapidly racing heart) but a grown man; he can do this. Draco attempts to reassure himself that it isn’t really an issue that Albus’s oldest boyfriend was only five years older than him (no, he is not ashamed nor embarrassed that he flooed his son to find out). He’s asked out blokes before, dinner and drinks, or perhaps something more casual like a coffee. Merlin, it doesn’t really matter; he’d go anywhere Albus likes, if he only says yes.

Draco approaches Albus as the younger man stretches to reach the top shelf, his jumper pulling up and revealing a stretch of of skin along his back. Draco’s breath hitches but he shakes his head free of those thoughts and clears his throat.

“Draco! It’s good to see you again,” Albus greets him warmly.

“Albus,” Draco nods in return. “I wanted to ask you something…”

“Sure, what is it?”

This is it. He can do this. It’s just a date, a simple date. Merlin, Albus smells amazing. He must have used that coconut lavender shampoo again. Focus Draco. The worse that could happen is that he says no. Draco can always find another bookshop. Doubtful he could find another Albus though… Nonsense! He’s sounding like Astoria now, a foolish romantic.

“Draco?” Albus tilts his head to the side and smiles softly.

Merlin, that smile.

In an instant Draco closes the distance between the two, grabbing Albus by the shoulders and pressing their lips together. Albus let’s out a startled gasp and Draco takes the opportunity to to plunge his tongue into Albus’s mouth. His lips are just as soft as Draco always imagined and a soft moan can’t help but escape from his mouth. Albus tastes incredible, his mouth is hot and wet and Draco’s fingers grip deeper into his shoulders. Albus shyly returns the pressure against Draco’s tongue, deepening the kiss and suddenly the world crashes back.

Oh no.

Draco pulls back, wild-eyed, and stares at Albus; lips that perfect shade of freshly-kissed, his brow furrowed in confusion.

“I, uh… I—” Draco stutters out and then does the only thing he can think of. He flees.

~o~o~o~

Soft, friendly chatter spills into the streets as the door swings open to The Book Nook but Draco just continues to pace outside. What was he thinking? What came over him? It’s been over a week since that fateful and spontaneous kiss and Draco has finally summoned the courage to return. Perhaps not quite the courage to walk inside yet, but he’s spent a good hour burning a hole into the street outside with his relentless pacing.

All he had meant was to ask Albus out on a date, it should have been simple. But then… Albus just had to stand there, looking gorgeous and kissable and honestly how could Draco have resisted?

Draco’s not quite sure what he was thinking anyway. Albus is far too young for him, or perhaps he’s far too old for the younger man. Even if Draco were to ignore their age difference he has to acknowledge how awkward it would be to date his son’s close friend. Even though they are both out of school now and Scorpius did shoot him that exasperated but all-knowing look when he inquired about Albus’s preferences. Still, Albus is Harry Potter’s son. Draco can only imagine the kind of chaos their relationship would evoke, Potter’s one-time school rival dating his youngest son. Although Potter and him have reached some kind of distant truce over the years and are friendly enough in passing. There is also the whole business of Potter’s very public divorce and him getting caught with an entirely different (male) Weasley. So, really, who is Potter to judge!

Draco squeezes his eyes shut and presses his fingertips against his temples to ease the coming headache all this panicking is sure to cause.

“Draco?”

Draco’s eyes snap open and he finds Albus standing before him on the street smiling shyly.

“Albus! Hello. What are you doing out here?”

“I was just heading off on my lunch break.”

“I see,” Draco swallows roughly, “Listen, Albus I want to apologise for the other day.”

“Draco—” Albus begins.

“It was completely inappropriate of me to corner you at work and basically force myself on you—”

“Draco, I—” Albus tries again.

“I mean I’m old enough to be your father and—”

“Drac—”

“All I meant to do was ask you out on a date and suddenly I just went in and kissed you! It must have been very upsetting and quite a shock and—”

Draco’s words are cut off by Albus’s lips as he leans forward and captures Draco’s mouth in a kiss. Draco stands rigid in shock for a moment before he melts into him, running his hands through Albus’s wild hair and deepening the kiss. Albus lets out an appreciative groan and opens his mouth to Draco, tongue pressing against his as his arms wrap around Draco’s torso. Draco leans in and pulls Albus closer, pressing their bodies flush together as he hands move to Albus’s neck, rubbing small circles against his exposed throat with his thumb. Draco feels Albus’s hands travel lower, resting on the small of a his back when he hears an appreciative whistle to his left.

They both break apart to find a group of young girls watching them and giggling, while an older Wizard frowns disapprovingly as he walks past.

Draco feels a wave of embarrassment wash over him (he’s never been one for public affection) but the feeling quickly dissipates when he looks over at Albus. His dark hair is even messier than before, face flushed and lips wonderfully swollen as they stretch into a wide grin.

“So, would you like to join me for my lunch break?” Albus asks, vivid green eyes bright with fervor.

“Yes. Yes I would,” Draco answers breathlessly.

Albus responds with that beautiful smile of his and links his arm through Draco’s as they walk down the street. Draco leans into Albus lightly and lets out a soft sigh of happiness. Maybe Astoria is onto something… They might not be too old for romance after all.

fin

~o~o~o~