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The Second Meeting

Chapter Text

"There. That should do it." Harry Potter stared into his bathroom mirror where he looked at soft red hair and eyes that were an average, if somewhat bright, hazel. Brushing his bangs aside, he gave a small smile at the scarless forehead. "Should hold for a few hours." Disguise charms had never been his strong point, but this should do for a walk around Diagon Alley.

The silence was all that answered, as it had been for a month now. Better than overprotective friends or attempted sympathy. Really, emotional range the size of a teaspoon, the both of them. Maybe he'd even be able to sneak into Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and pay full price on a few things. Then again, George would probably know it was him in a heartbeat.

Sighing and giving himself one last look, Harry went over to the fireplace. "I'll be back in a few hours, Kreacher."

"Yes, Master Harry." Still creepy. He at least wasn't trying to kill him in their sleep, though, so that was something. Shaking it off, Harry grabbed a bit of Floo powder and threw it in.

"Leaky Cauldron!" Harry stepped through the fire, knowing that, just like for the past month, he'd be fine, and there'd be no Death Eaters there to greet him. It still took a moment for him to catch his breath, scanning the Leaky Cauldron for any odd things and- Oh. Oh, now that wasn't odd, but it was interesting. There was Draco Malfoy, looking like he'd just gotten there, sat down for a pint and giving Tom his money.

Walking over and knowing he was too curious for his own good, Harry leaned against the bar counter, giving a grin. "Didn't know you were staying here, Malfoy." Draco's eyes seemed to widen as he froze up before not looking up at him. Hah. Pretending he wasn't there wouldn't make him go away. Harry let him have a moment of pretending to look anywhere but at him, trying not to laugh. "You know, there's a point where avoiding looking at me gets a bit obvious." Cute. He kept ignoring him, looking oh so very interested in his drink. Not that it would work. "Malfoy."

"I have a first name, you know," he finally snapped back at Harry, glaring at his glass. He always was cute when he was throwing a fit. Harry knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he didn't bother to hide it.

"Alright, then. There's a point where ignoring me gets a bit obvious, Draco." Saying the man's name... It felt right.

"Apologies. I would think the 'Savior of the Wizarding World' wouldn't want to be caught around a former Death Eater," Draco grumbled quietly, tracing the rim of his glass with his fingertip as Harry's eyes followed it.

"You know, I really couldn't care less what people think about me," Harry said, looking up as Tom came over with a glass. "Thanks," he murmured to the man before looking back at Draco. "Also, I'm not exactly 'Savior of the Wizarding World' right now."

"You saved it from the Darkest Wizard. That makes you a Savior, Potter."

"Unbelievable," Harry laughed, and, honestly. Draco hadn't even bothered to look at him and his disguise charms yet. "Maybe try looking over at me, Draco." Draco sighed, finally looking over at him. "Like I said. I'm not the Savior, right now."

"What the bloody hell did you do," Draco hissed, kicking him under the table, and, ow, jeez. Unable to help himself, he swatted at Draco's arm with a huff.

"I just used some glamour spells and disguise charms. I don't exactly want to be mobbed for going out and getting a drink."

"You look bloody awful, you smarmy git!"

"Gee, thanks for the compliment," Harry snorted. In a roundabout way, maybe Draco was telling him that he liked Harry's natural looks better? "Really, I can tell it comes from the heart. Deep felt sentiment, and-" Draco kicked him again in the shin. And maybe one more time for good measure.

"Shut up, Potter." Really, was he not supposed to laugh- Ah, speaking of 'Malfoy' and 'Potter'.

"You know, I do have a first name, Draco."

"Yes, and I've heard nothing but your name for years," Draco pointed out, glancing to the front cover of the Daily Prophet someone had open at a nearby table.

"So you should know it, then. What are you doing here, anyways? Shouldn't you be home?"

"Shouldn't you be with those Weasleys of yours?"

"As much as they're my family, I can only take so much of the Weasleys, Draco." Especially when Molly, Ginny, and Hermione all teamed up to worry about him. That was when it was at it's worst. "Besides, I didn't want to interfere with business too much."

"...I meant to apologize." Wait, what?

"Apologize? About what?" Draco gave him a look and, ah, right. "Well, I figured you already knew I forgave you for all of that. It's in the past, right?" Draco stared at him for a moment before shaking his head with a sigh.

"You will never make sense to me." Well. That made two of them, at least. Draco... He was a mystery, still. The only one Harry had never solved.

"Yeah, I've heard that a lot," Harry gave a weak smile, sipping at his drink for a moment to try and think of something else to talk about. "How've you been, then?"

"Aurors follow me to make sure I don't kill anyone and the Ministry has my wand." Choking on his drink, Harry looked up with wide eyes and they what?!

"They what- You were found innocent with probation! They can't just- Just take your wand!"

"I'm on probation, Potter, and I'm formerly a Death Eater. They can do whatever they damn well please."

"That's so stupid." How could- How could they just take the wand of someone deemed innocent? The world may have been saved from Voldemort, but not from Ministry incompetency. "I know they're worried about safety, but that's just over the line."

"It's still better than Azkaban," Draco muttered, leaning back in his seat. It was a moment before Harry spoke, voice going soft.

"Do you ever wish you could have done it differently? The Battle, the War, Hogwarts? Just... Go back and change it." Because they may have won, but at what cost? Everything was so- So different.

"All the time." Go back and change things... That'd be amazing. Merlin knew he could have changed enough if he had just done a few small things differently. If he had caught on to who Pettigrew was sooner, if he hadn't gone to the Ministry that night in fifth year, if he had realized about how he was a horcrux sooner. Watching Draco's gaze go outside and land on Madam Malkin's, Harry felt a tired grin appear on his face. How much would have changed if he had just been nicer to Draco Malfoy?

If only he- Wait. He was supposed to meet with Ron and George today, wasn't he? Tugging out his pocket watch and looking at the time, Harry felt like smacking himself. He was late. "Shit, knew I was forgetting about something. Sorry, Draco, looks like I have to go. Although I'll enjoy bothering you later."

"I'm sure." Draco didn't look at him again, only continued to stare out the window. He was so different from how he used to be... Finishing his drink quickly, Harry left a few coins on the table before heading out back towards the entrance of Diagon Alley. As usual, his conversation with Draco left him overthinking everything. Maybe this was what Ron felt like with Hermione. Talking with Draco felt like trying to find the answers of the universe.

It was an interesting thought, though. If he could go back and change things, maybe less people would have died during the war. Maybe he could have saved more- God. So many had died. Some of them were just kids and even those who had died 'of age' were still just- They were kids. All of them were. They were kids that had to grow up too quick. Fuck, he was running late. Harry opened the Wheeze's door, bringing down his disguise charms as he looked around.

There were a few people in and looking at things and a group of students over by the snack boxes. Harry was rather relieved that some things never changed. He got three more steps in before there was an arm around his shoulders and George was beaming at him. "Harry! Glad to see you could make it. We thought you might've stood us up, to be honest." George paused, seeming like he was waiting for a response, which Harry quickly gave.

"No, just, ah, ran into an old friend at the Leaky. Where's Ron?" Harry was thankful that George didn't seem to be aware of his pause, only rolling his eyes and pointing to where Ron was chatting up a group of Hogwarts students.

"Making the rounds. I swear, he's better at this than I would have thought. Might have to actually start paying him."

Harry grinned up at him. "Pay him? He's family. He gets the family discount rate." Instead of laughing and joking, George gave Harry a small, honest smile.

"Thanks, mate." Ah, he had noticed the pause, then. "C'mon, then, let's get you upstairs and hide you before Mom gets here."

"Wait, she's coming? I thought it was just us three!"

"She might be coming. We threw her off the trail by saying you were at Grimmauld, but she'll probably track you down to here by the end of the day." George pushed him along towards the back area. "Oi, Ron! Harry's here!"

"Harry! Get in here, just made a little something!" Ooh, that could be very bad depending on what it was Ron made.

"One second, George, your little brother is about to kill me."

"Mate, you've got to take a look at this." Ron held... He just had an ink pot. "So, think about it. You're in class, bored out of your mind, you have your Sugar Quill, but it's not up to snuff." Ron held out a quill and dipped the feather into the pot, immediately putting it into his mouth.

"Right. So instead you give yourself brain damage by drinking ink." Pausing, Harry gave the pot a light little sniff, and, huh. It smelled sweet. "Candy ink?"

"Chocolate ink! Teachers won't know because have you heard mom complain about how hard it is to get chocolate out of anything?" Grabbing the quill and tasting a bit himself, Harry gave a quiet hum. It was good, at least.

"I think you're giving the teachers too little credit, mate. Chocolate isn't as easy to write with as ink."

Ron frowned, taking the quill and ink back. "You write with chocolate a lot?" Oh, boy.

"It's a good prototype. Try to make it more ink like and it'll be great." Harry patted at Ron's shoulder. "Now get me out of here in case your Mum shows up."

"Right, right. Hey, George! Tell him the plan!"

"Plan? What plan?" Harry looked between the two. "I don't like when you two have a plan."

"How we're going to get everything up and going again with Hogwarts orders."

::

In between helping Ron and George with the shop, Harry had taken to wandering around Diagon Alley in his disguise and observing all the people going about their daily business. He wasn't really sure why he did it, but it was... It was nice to watch people go about their lives without the fear of death over their heads. Maybe- Oh, now this was perfect. "Skulking around again, Draco?"

Draco, from where he was walking by, immediately bristled, glaring. "Potter. Following me again? Thought you'd been there, done that." Oh, it was so easy to rile him up, and there was nothing so great as a riled up Draco Malfoy.

"Easy there, Draco," Harry laughed. It was still amazing Draco could tell who he was without even looking. "I was just curious. I don't see you around much, anymore."

"I don't much like being attacked or followed. My apologies, I wasn't aware you needed to know of my every movement." As usual, Draco was hissing and snapping like a cornered snake. It was almost cute.

"You're as bitter as my tea. I wasn't following you, and I don't much care about your every movement. I just... You seemed a little down." Which was true. Draco had seemed- Jeez, Harry didn't know how to describe the sorrow in that gaze when he saw Draco looking around. It was like he'd never see this place again.

"And what do you know? Resting on your laurels not enough for you? Trying to lock up or kill another Dark wizard?" Draco held his arms out. "Here I am."

"You know, I almost forgot how dramatic you were." It was a fight not to laugh. "You're not a Dark wizard, Draco. And I think after all the shit of the last seven years, 'resting on my laurels' is well deserved. Same for you."

Draco scoffed at that. "Me? What laurels? I don't have a wand, Potter. That's not exactly a luxury I can afford. And seeing as I have more of an affinity for Dark than I do Light, I'd say that classifies me as a Dark Wizard. But then what do you know. Being raised by muggles."

Mm, that was a fair point. Maybe age had mellowed him out since Harry was getting nowhere near as angry as he used to when talking to Draco. "Not much, really. Ron and Hermione usually fill in the blanks, though."

"Why aren't you fighting back?! Why aren't you screaming at me like everyone else?! Why are you treating me like-" Oh, Draco.

"Like a decent human being?" Harry raised an eyebrow, flicking Draco in the forehead rather halfheartedly. Honestly, the git. "Contrary to what you and everyone says, you deserve a second chance, too. This war... It's caused enough pain. I don't want to add to it by writing you off as someone I hated in school."

"Why not? You never used to care. You were just trying to win. What changed?" Draco was panting, trying to catch his breath from where he'd been near screaming. Plenty of people were throwing him dirty looks, but no one said anything. That could've been because Harry was glaring at them all. At least his glare carried across well.

"I realized we were all screwed over." Harry turned to lean against the brick wall of the shop they were in front of, trying to stay calm so maybe Draco could be calm as well. "You were dragged into all of this as much as I was. I know we're never going to be friends, not really, but... Potter and Malfoy don't have to be bitter rivals to the end." Draco glared at him for a moment, glancing at the shop and oh... Oh. Of all the shops.

"I wasn't the one that made that decision." No... No, he wasn't. Harry had been the one to turn Draco away. Draco's intentions may not have been the best, but his offer of friendship had been genuine then.

"No, you weren't... That's probably one of the things I wish I could change most," Harry sighed, looking up at the sign that advertised Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. "You would have been a good friend." Draco crossed his arms and leaning on the wall on the other side of the door. Harry could tell he was a little bit touched, even if he didn't want to admit it.

"I would have been, yes." Maybe more things would have changed just by that simple change of them being friends. Potter and Malfoy really didn't have to be rivals until the bitter end.

"We're never gonna be friends, are we?" Harry was looking up at the sign, thoughtful because that was just it. If Draco didn't want to be, then that was that. They would never be friends.

"Seeing as I'm leaving, I highly doubt it," Draco said quietly, his head turned away. Harry stared because what? Draco was- He was leaving? That... Maybe that was for the best. Draco would be better if he lived somewhere other than here.

"Can't say I'm surprised. You never seemed the type to stay in one place for long," Harry chuckled. It wasn't a very happy sound, but Draco would be happy. Maybe? "Will you be happy? Where you're going?" Draco stared at him, looking him over with a wrinkled nose. Harry took the time to look back, gaze caught on Draco's eyes. As grey as storm clouds with the exact same promise.

"I don't know." A silence fell over them, although for once it wasn't tense. It was... Quiet. Peaceful. As if they could both pretend to be someone else for a moment.

"You deserve happiness, you know." Harry's tone was soft, near lost in the bustle of Diagon Alley. "You may be a 'Dark wizard,' and a right prat at times, but... You're not a bad person."

"Yeah? You're a bloody git. Are we just saying things that are true, now?" Draco looked to be hiding a smile, Harry not bothering to hide his own.

"It's always helpful to state the facts," Harry laughed, pushing himself off the wall and looking over to Draco with a smile that he knew looked as heartbreaking as it felt. "I'm never going to see you again, am I?"

"No. You're not." Which, really. Harry should be thankful for that. They had been a pain in each other's sides for years, but... Ah, that Potter luck. Harry had realized what Draco meant to him much too late.

"I should be pretty happy, huh?" Harry laughed, running a hand through his hair and making it stick up in the back even more. "You've been a pain in my ass since day one, yet... I think I might end up missing you a little. No one else made Hogwarts so fun, after all." He was going to miss him so much.

"Really? I would have thought you'd had enough fun nearly dying every year." Draco's hand twitched a little, the other looking almost amused.

"You would think," Harry laughed, smile softening as he looked at Draco before sticking his hand out. "If I'm never going to see you again, then I want you to know that even though we didn't have the best of beginnings... I'm glad I met you." Please. Just one last attempt.

Draco took his hand. "Now I'll have to wash off the stench of muggle. Thanks for that." Draco and Harry...

It would have had a good sound to it.

::

Right. Draco leaving. Draco being gone for days. Draco leaving could mean he was leaving Britain or the wizarding world. If it was the latter, then Harry didn't have too much to worry about, but if it was the former... Well. Maybe he could at least keep in touch? Find a new address so Harry could mail him letters just to annoy him? Mm. Maybe his mum would know where he went. Draco and his mum always did seem pretty close, the way he seemed to always go on about her in school, and how they were inseparable during that last part of the battle. And plus, Harry wouldn't have to worry about seeing Lucius.

Narcissa didn't seem to hate him, either, at least not judging by their last interaction. Harry could just pop by, check in, and hopefully not get hexed when he admitted he was looking for Draco. So, really, knocking on the giant front doors of Malfoy Manor wasn't that intimidating, when he thought about it like that. Right. Just. Keep calm and keep it light.

"Hello- Oh." Narcissa looked at him with surprise. At least there wasn't hatred. "Mr. Potter. I didn't expect to see you here. May I help you with anything?"

"Um, hello, Mrs. Malfoy. Ma'am? I just- I know that most of the time I probably wouldn't- Well, no, I would, but- I just, it's been kinda- I've been wondering maybe-"

"Would you like to come inside for some tea?" Oh, uh, what? "Yes? Good. I'll have the elves prepare some at once." Narcissa walked away, leaving the door open.

"Oh, um, uh... Yeah. Thanks," Harry said hesitantly, slowly following after her. The Manor looked to be in much better condition than the last time he had been there. The elves had probably gotten it back into shape once everything settled down.

"Mipsy. We'll take tea in the east sitting room, please. Bring along some biscuits, as well."

"Yes, Mistress Malfoy." Mistress? Was that her official title? That sounded kind of official. That sounded very official.

"This way, Harry." Narcissa led him along and Harry had the feeling he should probably follow.

"Oh, yeah, uh, yes ma'am." Harry followed her into a sitting room that was colored with light shades of blue and looked out onto a beautiful, sunny garden. The light fell in just so that the chairs and table in the center of the room were perfectly lit. Harry wondered how many spells had been used to make it look so perfect.

"So, you came to find out where Draco went, then?" Narcissa took a seat on the small couch, sitting down and looking up at Harry with a sharp gaze.

"Oh, um. Yes, ma'am." Harry sat down as well. "I ran into him in Diagon Alley, and he mentioned he was leaving..."

"He told me that he wasn't leaving Britain, but beyond that he didn't mention where exactly he was going."

Oh. That... That was it? "That's all he told you?" Draco seemed like such a mama's boy. He really was another Dudley, at times. Harry rose to his feet and began to pace. "What was he doing that was so important- So dangerous that he wouldn't tell you?"

"I'm not certain, but if he was doing anything dangerous than I'm absolutely certain he wouldn't have told me." Well, that could be true. Draco probably wouldn't want to worry Narcissa if he didn't have to. "Wherever he is, he looked happy to be going there, in the end. I won't say I don't miss him, but I know he will be alright."

"But- But something could still happen to him. None of us even know where he is!"

"If you'll pardon my asking, why do you care? I rather thought you two didn't get along." That... That was probably putting it lightly. "Why do you care about my son?"

"I-" Oh, boy. That was a question. "Well, I- You see, it's not that I hated him, I don't think I ever really hated him I think I just thought I did-"

"You love him." Narcissa Malfoy was the most terrifying woman in existence right behind Molly Weasley. "And you didn't realize until he left, did you?"

"I... Well, no, I had realized before," he finally admitted. "I just never did anything about it."

"And you want to do something now," Narcissa sighed. Harry almost could have sworn she smiled. "You'll have to find him on your own, dear."

Harry sighed. "Alright. Thank you, anyway." Still in Britain. He was still in Britain. Somehow. Where would Draco go if he was still in Britain? The muggle world?

"You will be staying for tea, won't you?" Harry had a feeling that saying no wasn't really an option.

"Oh, yes ma'am. Of course." One cup of tea wouldn't hurt, he supposed.

Harry fidgeted until the tea was delivered, Narcissa looking quite content to allow Harry to worry himself into paranoia as she was silent for what felt like hours- "How have you been?"

"Huh? Oh, uh, fine?" How had he been? "I mean, not fine fine, but I mean, I guess fine after being the Savior of the Wizarding World and ending this big war? But I mean, I'm fine."

"It's quiet, isn't it." Wha- What? "I've never been an idiot, Mr. Potter. I know you live in Grimmauld Place. It's quiet when it's so empty, isn't it."

"Oh, no, no, I never thought you were- Well, I mean, Draco had to get all his smarts from someone? And you know, he was only ever behind Hermione in a few subjects, I'm pretty sure he beat her in a couple, a year or two, she never stopped complaining anytime he did it. And, I mean, Si- Sirius told me about how you were his favorite cousin and how you and Andromeda were always holed away in the library, so it makes sense that Draco's probably the same."

Narcissa stared at him for a few moments before she- She laughed? "It seems you're more like my cousin than I would have thought." Sirius? Why would she say that? "You really are quite enamoured with him, aren't you. I shouldn't be surprised. All he ever did was talk about you."

"Wait, he- He did? Really?" He talked about him? He talked about him to his mum? That- That was great. That was amazing.

"All the time. Granted the words were rather vitriol when he was younger, but the tone became much more fond over the years. I can only assume it was the same for you."

"I… don't know what that means, but thank you?" Oh, no. Narcissa looked to be trying not to laugh. It probably wasn't a good thing, then. Dammit.

"You're quite sweet, aren't you? That's good. That's very good." This was a very strange day.

"Thank you?" Right, right, Draco. "I just- I know he's probably doing that whole dramatic punishing himself thing because of everything and he really doesn't deserve that, he didn't want to be a part of all of this, he didn't know what he was getting into and by the time he knew, it was too late and people were counting on him, and-"

"Harry, Harry, it's alright, just breathe." Was he not breathing? He was pretty sure he was breathing. "I know that both of you suffered terribly in this war, and you're right. He might be punishing himself, but I have no right to stop him if he's trying to atone for his past deeds. Neither, I believe, do you."

"But- But he doesn't have anything that needs to be forgiven!" That was the whole point of all of this! Draco- Draco had just done what he needed to.

"He believes he does, though."

"But he doesn't, that's the whole point! If he's trying something dangerous so that he can 'atone' or whatever for something he doesn't even need to be forgiven for-"

"Then I have no doubt you'll find him and stop him." Narcissa set her cup down, fixing Harry with a gentle, yet stern look. "He won't tell me where he went, but from what I've heard you are very good at stopping his 'schemes.' So, if he didn't tell me, who would he tell?"

"I don't..." But he did know. Not C... Not Goyle, they were just bodyguards. Allies. Zabini and Parkinson. "Thanks, Mrs. Malfoy."

"If you find him, make sure you give him a smack for me, yes, darling?" Harry finally grinned, laughing.

"I'll definitely be sure to, ma'am."

"Good. Now, please do finish these biscuits."

"Oh, right, yeah."