Work Header


Work Text:

Harry watches Draco in the mirror as they get ready for bed. Harry's just brushing his teeth, his hand moving on autopilot as he runs the bristles over every individual tooth, but Draco has a whole complicated nighttime routine to go through. It fascinates Harry, the complexity of Draco's ritual, and it seems to Harry it only gets longer and more involved as the years pass. And Harry would know, because they've been together now for going on five years, though it wasn't until their second year together that Draco had started staying over regularly enough for Harry to watch him properly pamper himself each evening.

Harry spends a little longer than necessary finishing with brushing and rinsing his mouth, wanting an excuse to linger just a little longer and watch Draco's long fingers smooth silken serums along the ridge of his cheekbones and the sweep of his brow. Draco's so very careful and precise with his upward strokes, as he is in all things, and after he finishes with each jar and bottle he puts it neatly away before moving on to the next product. A place for everything, and everything in its place, that's Draco through and through. Harry's never been all that bothered about order, and though Draco's fussiness sometimes drives him mad, Harry mostly finds it endearing.

Now, though, all Harry feels is a crushing sense of guilt and loss, his chest growing tight and painful as Draco's hand disappears into his bag and emerges clutching another ornate bottle. Draco's potions and creams aren't strewn about the counter, nor even arranged in an artfully attractive display on the shelf next to the sink. Instead, each one is tucked away out of sight in an expensive black leather toiletry bag. It's discreet and compact—Harry suspects there's an extension charm on it to hold all of Draco's products—and it hardly takes up any space at all in the farthest corner of the bathroom counter where Draco keeps it stored. Draco spends most nights at Harry's and yet, each and every morning and evening, he unpacks and repacks his toiletries, the bag disappearing with him on the odd night he spends at the Manor. Always ready to leave. To vanish without a trace, as if he was never here at all.

Harry grimaces and lowers his face to the sink, splashing cool water against his skin before patting it dry with a towel. He doesn't look at Draco, certain that Draco will be gazing at Harry with concern in his eyes. For all that Harry used to be the Auror, Draco is the one that doesn't miss a thing, especially when it comes to Harry. Instead, Harry turns his attention to a simple jar of face cream that Draco bought him last Christmas. The packaging is masculine and unpretentious, and the lotion feels like a dream against his skin. He's sure it costs a bloody fortune, but it really does make his face feel good, and as Hermione and Draco are both fond of reminding Harry, proper skin care is important, especially since he isn't getting any younger. Besides, he knows it means a lot to Draco to be able to do nice things like that for Harry. Harry already makes it so hard for Draco to care for him; he can give Draco this one thing, at least.

Glass clinks together within Draco's leather bag as he rummages around for his next potion, and Harry feels a flash of shame and bitterness that he does his best to swallow. He knows he isn't being fair, that he has no right to feel resentful about Draco's things all packed up and ready to go. Draco barely has a drawer to himself in Harry's house, despite how long they've been together, and it's not because Draco doesn't want more. A single drawer has been all that Harry's been able to give him after five years together, and Harry can't be mad that Draco's stuff isn't spilled across his countertop when Harry's the one who's made it clear he isn't ready for that.

Harry is well aware that Draco would take more if he could get it, that he would have them living together properly, even. Draco's wanted that for at least the past two years now, hinting at it casually in conversation every so often to test the waters. But he never pushes when Harry changes the subject, when Harry makes it obvious that he's not sure he's ready for that step. Draco never pouts or pulls away or does anything at all to pressure Harry or make him feel guilty, even though Harry knows it hurts him every time Harry turns him down. It's not as if it's convenient for Draco to pack his stuff away after every use, after all, but he does it anyway, doing his best to respect Harry's wishes.

Harry hates it. He hates that he's hurting Draco, hates that it's been five bloody years, and the thought of letting Draco even further into his life and his home and his heart makes his pulse race and his vision cloud over and his skin break out into a cold sweat. Intellectually, he knows that Draco's already become too important to him, that moving in together probably won't make that big a difference in his feelings, but no matter how much Harry wants to be able to take that next step in their relationship, he just can't make himself do it. Something always holds him back.

Truth be told, it terrifies him, the idea of having Draco around all the time, of making things so damn official. It sounds so bloody nice, Draco's fancy clothes hanging in their closet and his posh paintings decorating their bedroom, turning Harry's house into their home. Harry knows he'd be happy to have Draco's life entwine more completely with his own, and that might sound like a good thing, but Harry knows better. He knows what happens when he lets himself become too happy and pleased with his lot in life.

Right now, things are good between them, and Harry's not sure he's ready to tempt fate. For all that he loves Draco, for all that he's shared with him over the past years, Harry can't deny that there have been parts of himself that he's held back. Draco's managed to worm his way past Harry's defenses, has slowly chipped away at the walls Harry erected after James was taken, but there are some places deep within that are still Harry's alone. He wants to be able to open himself completely to Draco, the way that Draco deserves, but there's a bigger part of Harry that won't let himself lower those final defenses. Harry loves Draco so much, and if he lost him now, it would be devastating, but Harry would survive it. If he let Draco in all the way, if he gave him that final bit of power over Harry's heart, well...He's survived that kind of loss once, and he's not sure he has it in him to survive it again.

Harry wanders out into the bedroom, leaving Draco behind to putter with his potions while Harry digs out a pair of worn pyjamas, his mind whirring. There was a time, half a lifetime ago now, when he’d thought he and Ginny were forever, unbreakable, and just look at how that turned out. They'd been solid as granite, crazy in love and living the kind of life Harry had always dreamed about. The both of them had their own successful careers and fulfilling lives, and then they'd come back every night to each other, sharing secrets and dreams, their bodies entwined. They’d had common goals and ideas about what they wanted for the future, built a life and home together, had beautiful children, formed a loving family, and still, they'd crumbled. It was slow, at first, one little bit flaking off at a time, until one day they looked around and realised there was nothing left but memories and heartbreak and ash.

He sits on the bed and watches Draco's profile as he leans closer to the mirror, tugging at the skin around his left eye as he glares balefully at his reflection. Harry feels a rush of tenderness and affection, followed swiftly by a sharp ache that pierces him to the core. How long until he drives away Draco, too?

Draco still catches Harry by surprise sometimes. Harry never could have predicted him, never could have imagined what Draco would come to mean to him, how much Draco would love him. It's terrifying and exhilarating being the focus of Draco's devotion. He's protective and fierce and generous with his love once it's been gained, and it shames and humbles Harry, seeing what Draco will do for him, what he'll give up for him. Because Draco gives and gives and gives, and Harry knows, he knows that what Draco is getting from Harry in return isn't equivalent. Draco would give him the moon if Harry asked for it, and Harry has a panic attack over the thought of giving Draco anything more than a single drawer in his dresser.

His Mind Healer says he's trying to self-sabotage, because Harry doesn't think he deserves to be happy. Harry thinks maybe he should save himself the seventeen Galleons per session if all she's good for is stating the bloody obvious.

He was an Auror, when it happened. He was on the fast track to becoming the youngest Head Auror in Britain's history, was tasked with protecting the innocent, lauded as one of the best and the brightest on the force.

He let his eldest son be stolen right out from under his nose.

His beautiful first-born was taken from his bed, while Harry was out in the backyard, drinking and laughing with his friends and family, not a care in the bloody world. How is Harry supposed to live with himself after that? How can anybody expect him to be happy after what he let happen?

The thing is, Harry is happy, or mostly happy anyway, and never more so than when he’s with Draco. Sometimes, when they're together, Draco's hands sliding through his hair as he reads or his fingers bruising Harry's hips as their bodies move as one, Harry forgets, if only for a moment, that his son is gone. Harry isn't sure how to feel about that.

Draco's voice calls him from his thoughts, and Harry blinks, a bit startled to notice that Draco has left the bathroom and is now standing before him in a pair of loose, black silk pyjama bottoms. His head is cocked as he looks down at Harry, and his lips are pulled into an amused smile, though Harry can see the faint worry creasing his eyes.

"Huh?" Harry says, when Draco just stares at him.

"I said, you looked happy today."

Harry's brow furrows. "Did I?" He supposes he enjoyed himself at lunch, though that feels far away from him now, with guilt over James and Draco and Ginny and everything else eating away at his gut.

"Yes," Draco replies. "You spent most of lunch talking with Teddy's partner...Griff, isn't it?"

Harry feels his face splitting into a small smile of its own volition, a bit of his earlier anxieties bleeding out of him. "Oh yeah, Griff. He seems like a good kid."

Draco nods thoughtfully. "He does, doesn't he? I'm glad you like him. I have a feeling he might be sticking around for a while, and it's rare to see you get along so well with somebody so quickly."

"Yeah, I guess so," Harry says slowly, letting Draco's words sink in.

Harry never really thought about it much, but he supposes it's true enough. He remembers when Ginny first started seeing Grant, years and years ago now, how it took Harry ages to warm up to him. Everybody thought he was being cold and standoffish because of jealousy, that maybe he wasn't really over his ex-wife, or at least wasn't ready to see her moving on with somebody else, but that wasn't the case. Ginny, thankfully, understood that, and so had Draco, for that matter. Harry supposes that was just one of many signs that Draco was so much more than a friend to him, though it took Draco another few years of wearing down Harry's defences before Harry would even agree to go on a date with him. What happened to James made Harry wary of people he doesn't know, of outsiders, so he supposes it's a little out of character for him to fall so easily into conversation with Griff the way he had today. But Griff doesn't feel like a stranger. Something about him is incredibly familiar, and he isn't the only one that thinks so, going by how easily Griff fitted right in with the family.

"Well, it was nice to see you smiling and laughing," Draco says as he twists his torso to stretch out his muscles. Draco's back began bothering him a few years ago, and his Healer suggested a set of stretches to help keep things aligned. Draco tends to do them before bed, and Harry's always found them a little distracting. Which is probably why it takes a minute for Draco's comment to sink in. When it does, Harry finds himself bristling.

"I laugh," Harry says, a little defensively.

Draco gives him a deliberately neutral look from where he's folded himself on the ground. "I know you do, Harry. Just not usually that much with strangers, that's all."

Harry knows that's not all. Because as much as he wants to defend himself against Draco's casual claims, he knows he doesn't laugh as much as he used to. Before. It's not like he never laughs or smiles or enjoys himself, but if he's being honest with himself, he's not as quick to laugh as he once was. He dips his head at Draco in acknowledgement of his point, and Draco smiles back at him. Something inside Harry glows with quiet contentment at the fond look on Draco's face. It's been years since Draco first got Harry to admit that there was something more than friendship between them, and still, Draco's smile is a balm on Harry's soul. How strange and unexpected life can be.

Sometimes, Harry tries to remember the boy he used to be, the one who fought dragons and defeated Dark Lords, the one who faced evil with his best mates at his side, his belief in the power of love and the promise of the future unshakable. He never could have imagined the joys and the sorrows life had in store for him back then. And life isn't over yet. Who knows what else is still on the horizon, what fresh hell and heaven are right around the corner.

Harry closes his eyes, takes a deep breath in, holds it, and releases it with a loud whoosh. He repeats until the spiraling thoughts in his head settle and calm. His Mind Healer gave him a few exercises ages ago to help when his thoughts started getting out of control, and he's found the breathing especially helpful to catch the whirlwind before it has a chance to fully take off.

Draco's carefully not looking at him when Harry opens his eyes, though Harry can tell he's monitoring him from the corner of his eye. He knows what it means for Harry to be breathing like that, but he also knows that Harry doesn't like to dwell on his episodes, so despite his obvious worry, he does his best to give Harry space. The wave of gratefulness and desire nearly bowls Harry over, and he has to restrain himself from pouncing on Draco right that moment. Draco would probably welcome the diversion, but his back will suffer tomorrow if he doesn't finish his stretches, and Harry doesn't want that. He can wait a few more minutes.

"What were we talking about again?" Harry asks, trying to distract himself from the taut curve of Draco's arse as he contorts himself.


"Oh, yeah. I do like him, and Teddy's obviously mad for him."

Draco huffs a slightly strained laugh. "Noticed that, did you?"

Harry rolls his eyes. "You'd have to be blind to miss it. But Griff seemed pretty besotted right back, so I think they'll be all right."

"We'll see," Draco said drily.

"We actually have a lot in common, me and Griff."

"Besotted with Teddy too, are you? Should I be worried?"

"Don't be vile," Harry says with a horrified laugh, before throwing a pillow at Draco's head. It musses up Draco hair, and Draco glares at him, but Harry just gives him a pointed look. "That's my godson, you wanker. Anyway," Harry continues. "Griff and I are both orphans, though he didn't lose his mother until recently. He doesn't have any family at all, did you know? At least I had the Dursleys."

Draco tosses him an unimpressed look over his shoulder. "I'd hardly call that good luck."

Harry half-laughs, half-grimaces. The scars from his childhood with the Dursleys have mostly faded, and he's even on Christmas-card terms with Dudley these days, but the ache of what they could have been for him won't ever completely disappear. Still, he's grateful to them for what they did in allowing him to stay there, in helping to sustain his mother's sacrifice. Draco says it was the very bare minimum of what they should have done, and Harry knows that's true, but still. It was something, at least.

"Yes, well. It's hard, not having family. And, of course, he's an Auror, so we talked a bit about that."

"Another brave Gryffindor to bring into the Weasley fold?"

Harry finds himself smiling. He doesn't know Griff all that well, not really, but Harry imagines he would have fitted right in in Gryffindor. "Maybe. Did you know he used to ride a motorcycle, back home? I guess he had to leave it there when he moved to England."

"When would I have had time to learn that particular fact?" Draco asks, fond exasperation colouring his tone. "You're not thinking about taking up a new hobby in your old age, are you? Charity work not enough excitement for you?"

"Hardly," Harry replies. He stopped dreaming that dream long ago, but...He looks down at the blanket where it's wound taut between his fingers. Harry hesitates and clears his throat before saying casually, "Actually, it made me think of Sirius's old bike. It's still in the garage, and I was thinking of maybe offering to show it to Griff the next time he joins Teddy over here for dinner."

Draco's body freezes, tensing for a moment before he visibly forces himself to relax. When he looks up at Harry, his expression gives nothing away, but Harry can see the surprise, and the pleasure, in his eyes. Draco's well aware of the reason why Harry hasn't so much as touched the plastic covering hiding away Sirius's bike in over fifteen years.

Harry still remembers when he and Ginny first moved into this house, her belly just starting to swell with their first child. They found out the week before that they were to have a little baby boy, and Harry could hardly contain his excitement. Even though she wasn't due for months yet, they'd already decided on a name—James Sirius Potter—and Harry couldn't help but imagine what he'd be like, if he'd be playful and mischievous like Sirius had been, if he'd be cool and confident, like his father had been, or if he'd be something else entirely. He couldn't wait to find out.

He'd convinced Ginny to let him set aside a small section of the garage for Sirius's bike that weekend, broken down as it was. Harry had always meant to fix it up, had dreamed of donning Sirius's jacket and straddling his bike and exploring London the way he imagined Sirius had done with Harry's father, back in the day. But between Ginny and the Aurors and everything else, Harry never got around to it. When they moved house, and their family started to grow, Harry's plans for the bike changed. He imagined fixing it up some day with his son, once baby James was old enough. They could spend Saturday afternoons getting dirty and working with their hands while Harry told his son about the men he was named for, the men who had ridden this very bike, stories that Harry had collected from those that had known them. It would be proper father-son bonding time, an activity that Harry could look back on fondly when his son had grown up and left the nest to live his own life.

Even at the time, Harry had known it was a bit fanciful, but the dream of it had been so real. He wanted to give his children everything he hadn't had as a child. Harry wanted them to feel loved, to feel like they were a part of something, to have a sense of their family and their history. And maybe James would have hated the bike, maybe he would have preferred music or Quidditch or bloody high fashion. Maybe that old bike would still be sitting in the garage gathering dust, while Harry explored a completely different passion with his son.

Harry doesn't know.

He probably won't ever know.

He's got his fond memories of taking Albus to the upscale Apothecary in Diagon Alley for the first time, watching his wide-eyed excitement as he flitted from jar to jar, examining potions ingredients. He can remember practicing spelling with Lily for hours and hours as she prepared for her spelling bee competitions, her love of language evident even in primary school. But there's empty space where James should be, a hollow vacuum inside that never seems to fill.

It's not as if he's forgotten James completely, of course not, but James was still such a baby when he was taken, and there was so much left for Harry to learn about his happy, inquisitive son. Harry can still recall the way his round cheeks would split into a grin whenever Harry came into the room, as if Harry was his favourite person in the whole wolrd. He knows that James absolutely loved pumpkin pasties, and that he'd been so excited to be a big brother, and that he adored Teddy and would follow him around like a crup whenever he visited. When he was taken, James had been in the middle of phase where he insisted on only eating things that were purple. Harry doesn't know when he grew out of it, if he graduated to only eating foods that were orange or blue or maroon, or if he even had the chance to grow out of it at all.

"Are you all right, Harry?" Draco asks. He's stopped stretching and is kneeling on the floor at Harry's feet, biting his lip as his hand circles Harry's ankle. "You know you don't have to show Griff the bike if you don't want to."

Harry smiles down at him softly. It hurts, it'll always hurt, but Harry thinks he's getting better at managing it. Draco makes it easier. His kids and his family make it easier, too. He won't ever give up on James, can't move past him the way others did, but he's making progress in moving forward.

"I know I don't have to. But I think I want to..."

It's just a small step, and he knows it's not the one Draco wants Harry to take, but he's grateful that Draco gets it, that he won't push. Harry's still not ready for them to move in together, but it's not the impossibility it felt like even a year ago. His chest aches whenever Draco doesn't spend the night, his own sleep fitful and restless. He knows Draco is good for him, and he wants to be good for Draco right back. Harry wants Draco to know that he's trying, and he has to hope that that's enough.

Draco presses a kiss to the inside of Harry's knee. "All right, if you're sure." He looks up at Harry through his lashes, his eyes glowing. "I'm proud of you, you know."

The combination of Draco's position with the pleased look on his face and his praising words sends heat pulsing through Harry. He's tired of feeling sad and guilty, wants to grasp for happiness instead, wants to find himself in the euphoria of Draco's hands on his skin.

Draco clearly senses the sudden shift in mood, the black of his pupils expanding and his lips twitching into a smug and seductive smile. He nuzzles against Harry's knee again, his nose brushing against Harry's thigh as his fingers slide up beneath the hem of Harry’s pyjama bottoms to curl around his calves.

"I think it's time for bed, don't you?" Draco says softly, the suggestion in his tone undeniable. "It's been a long day."

"But I don't feel tired," Harry counters, just to hear Draco's huff of fond laughter.

"I'm sure I can think of a few ways to tire you out."

Draco's fingertips stroke up his calves to pet at the sensitive skin behind Harry's knees, and Harry's breath catches. Merlin, nobody gets Harry like Draco does, nobody knows all his secret and sensitive places, knows just what buttons to push to set Harry off. He and Draco shouldn't make sense, not with their tumultuous pasts, their wildly different upbringings, the differing lenses through which they view the world. Yet, despite all that, they do work. Draco fits with Harry, broken pieces, jagged edges, imperfections, and all. He makes Harry's heart race, makes the days more bearable, makes him feel safe and cared for and alive. Harry looks at Draco, and sees possibility. He burns with it, with the desire to make this succeed, to give Draco anything he wants, to make him happy, to give him everything. As impossible as it seems, Harry's starting to think he actually will.