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October, 2020

Even though the boys were in danger, and Draco could hardly think with terror at the thought of losing Scorpius, the realization that he and Harry Potter had somehow become friends still hit him with the weight of all their school years. Part of him had always wanted this. The decision to trust Harry with the time-turner secret was easy.

And the boys were clever enough – so blessedly clever – to send them the message through time. Draco had been a panicked mess, even with Harry and the Minister for Magic herself going back with him. The desire to save Scorpius was so overwhelming, that he almost didn’t notice.

But after Draco had draped the chain of the time turner around everyone’s shoulders, he turned to Harry next, and the most curious thought came to him.

At the time he put it down to stress and terror at Scorpius’s trip through time, but after – after the horror of Godric’s Hollow, watching Harry’s parents be murdered, seeing the Potter family grieving together, reuniting with Scorpius and being so thankful he could barely breathe – after that, the thought remained.

As he slipped the gold chain of the time-turner around Harry’s neck and looked into those familiar green eyes, even though it was impossible, even though they’d only just become friends, Draco thought: I’ve done this before.

 

April, 1999

The self-declared nobility of the wizarding world were not used to reclusion, but the Malfoys hid nonetheless. Up in their manor on the moors. The black stone building had become their prison since the Battle of Hogwarts, and would become their tomb if Draco didn’t save them. Or so Narcissa argued.

“That’s a little dramatic, Mother,” said Draco, but then, given their family on both sides, Narcissa was probably holding herself back.

Lucius stood next to his wife in the doorway of the library and regarded his son thoughtfully, but said nothing. Draco’s eyes still slid to his, Draco still almost deferred to his father whenever conflict arose, but he was getting better at noticing when he did it, at least.

“Why don’t you go?” Draco suggested to his mother. The book in front of him still had his attention, and given all the books he’d glazed his way through in the long winter and unrelenting rain of spring, he thought he shouldn’t pass up the opportunity for mild entertainment. The memorial his mother wanted him to go to promised only awkwardness at best. He didn’t want to think of the worst case scenario.

“Harry Potter mentioned you by name at the Battle of Hogwarts right before he defeated the Dark Lord,” Narcissa reasoned. “We have no reason to think I would be more welcome than you there.”

Draco stayed silent. The one year anniversary of the Battle was something the wizarding world might want to immortalize, but Draco just wanted everyone to forget about it so they could start living their lives without the stares and the comments and the open threats that one time Narcissa had to go to St. Mungo’s. They weren’t legally confined to the house. Aurors had come by a week after the Battle to destroy Lucius’s wand, but that was their only official punishment.

Lucius cleared his throat, but his voice rasped anyway when he spoke. “Draco. You’re also the one who deserves to go. You’re almost nineteen. You should be–”

Draco glared at the book in front of him until his father stopped what was one of their longer conversations recently.

“Please,” said Narcissa, a little desperation creeping into her voice. Draco didn’t know if her emotion was real or theatrics. It had saved them all once, but Narcissa was just as cunning as her husband used to be.

Draco looked at his parents. Neither seemed to have aged much in the last few years, unlike the rest of the wizarding world, which was more weird Malfoy luck, helping when it hardly mattered and never coming through when it did. His parents still stood proud and regal, and for what? What games did they have left to play? Everyone hated them, and Draco was tired.

“Fine,” he said.

 

The crowd was near-unbearable. The sun shone brightly in the busy park, but that was the only thing Draco liked seeing. The few Slytherins in attendance avoided him like dragon pox. Millicent Bullstrode was there with the Greengrass sisters, but Draco couldn’t bring himself to face rejection from people in his year. The fifth years who scurried away at the sight of him were bad enough. Draco clutched his drink and stood near the side as Arthur Weasley took the stage.

“Witches and wizards and squibs and goblins and elves and friends,” he began. Draco would’ve bet there wasn’t a single goblin in attendance. “Today marks an important day in our history, the day of Vol – no, I can say it – Voldemort’s defeat.”

There was a deafening cheer from the crowd. People literally stomped their feet as they screamed. Draco’s clapping seemed woefully inadequate, but no one noticed. The cheer rose in waves as people realized the cheer wasn’t dying out, and fed off each other’s fury. For that’s what it was. Draco realized the witches and wizards around him had become the characters from the fairytales, the witches who screamed their rage across the skies, and the wizards who shaped the world in fire before it had a chance to cool. No longer were the people around him kids he had gone to school with, parents who had hid strangers in their attics during a war, these were legends who stood around him, and for a moment, Draco felt it too.

Harry Potter stood near the other side of the stage, surrounded by his friends and allies, shining with angry triumph as the cheer reached the heavens. He wasn’t screaming with the others, but a grin pulled at his mouth. Maybe remembering your famous murder didn’t make a person happy, but he did look damn satisfied.

Arthur Weasley smiled into the crowd, nodding at friends he saw in the audience. He seemed startled to see Draco there, but he didn’t let that affect his demeanor as the screams began to quiet.

“While that day marks our world’s biggest triumph,” Weasley continued into the enchanted microphone, “it also marks a great sorrow. I lost my son that day. Fred.”

At the name, the crowd began to applaud again. The sound again reached unbelievable proportions. Arthur Weasley burst into tears, and his wife and one of the twins – not Fred, Draco presumed – joined him on stage.

The new Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, came out to thank the Weasleys, and took the microphone.

“On this occasion,” he began in his smooth, booming voice, “we pay tribute to our heroes. Those who risked their lives and helped bring an end to the war. First, let us recognize Harry Potter!”

Draco followed Potter’s walk across the stage, clapping politely and having a strange feeling like Gryffindor just won the house cup. From the grimace Potter wore, he must have been feeling something similar. Though maybe it was just because, and Draco had taken a while to really learn this, that Potter didn’t like all the attention.

The usual names were called after, each having some important medal pinned to their robes or looped around their head. Granger, all the Weasleys, Longbottom, Lovegood, Flitwick, Narcissa Malfoy–

Draco froze. He was a wizard, and could vanish on the spot, but no one liked seeing those of questionable loyalties do magic much these days, and besides, everyone around him was already looking.

“Is she not here today?” Shacklebolt asked. “Her owl said she would be. Is anyone here to accept on her behalf?”

Oh, Mother made the house of Slytherin very proud. Draco closed his eyes, but he still heard someone run to the stage and murmur to Shacklebolt that Draco Malfoy was in the audience.

“Draco Malfoy,” repeated Shacklebolt. “Yes, is Draco Malfoy here to accept on her behalf? Come on up, young man.”

It wasn’t the first time Draco had wished for an instant death, and Merlin knew it probably wouldn’t be the last. He forced his legs to begin climbing the stage, held his body tight, screamed inside his head, the usual. He shook hands with Shacklebolt as the huge man placed some medallion in his hand and Draco was ushered to stand with the other honourees. He found himself next to Fleur Delacour, right behind Potter and Ron Weasley, who both turned to look at him. Draco didn’t dare say a word to the heroes on their stage, but Potter nodded, and Weasley said “Hey,” but with a look that suggested he’d found more appealing things than Draco on the bottom of his shoe.

“Hey,” Draco replied as Weasley turned his attention back to the proceedings.

The nightmare of the stage continued as Yasir Masood, the Prophet’s new reporter, insisted on picture after picture. As soon as it was over, Draco all but leaped from the stage, and tried to leave. Even as he had the thought, he knew he should stay. Mingle. Help the Malfoys regain the ability to leave their house and return to society. Maybe Father didn’t need to, but Mother deserved to go out again. And Draco. Draco wanted to too.

He wasn’t stupid enough to try to talk with Shacklebolt. He was too surrounded, and besides, it seemed like something Lucius Malfoy would try to do. But Draco did say hello to Professor McGonagall, and they had a brief talk about the NEWTs exams that Draco wrote from home, receiving decidedly average scores. Even Yasir from the Prophet wanted to talk to him.

“But you were there too,” said Yasir, a Ravenclaw from the year above his. Harry Potter said your wand helped win the Battle. We all heard it. Can you tell us more about that?”

“No,” said Draco, though he didn’t want to upset one of the few people that met his eyes. “It wasn’t even my wand. It was Du– I didn’t do much that day–” aside from let my friend die, almost lose my family– “Potter’s probably the one you want to talk to.”

Yasir smiled warmly. “Oh yeah? Do you think you could point me to this Potter guy?”

Draco breathed a laugh and smiled back.

“Death Eater scum!” was the only warning Draco got. A fist connected with the side of his face, and he stumbled back, whirling with his wand at the ready, knowing he couldn’t use it in this crowd.

A furious teenager – Dennis Creevey, he remembered – stood in front of him. A circle quickly grew around them.

“My brother died, but you get to stand up there with them?” Creevey snarled. “I can’t believe a Malfoy would show their face today.”

Draco weighed his odds of physically defending himself against the kid, and thought they were pretty good. He wouldn’t say a word against the verbal attack; Creevey was right.

“You have nothing to say for yourself?” Creevey demanded.

Neville Longbottom, war hero, cut through the crowd and lay a hand on Creevey’s shoulder. “Not today, Dennis,” he said.

The rest of Team Good had joined Neville in the circle of onlookers. They all looked at Creevey with concern. Draco might as well have been invisible.

“He didn’t kill Colin,” Potter said in a low voice.

“But he – he shouldn’t be here,” Creevey said, in tears now.

“Don’t worry about him,” said Longbottom, who still hadn’t looked Draco’s way. “You’re worth twelve of him.”

It was Draco’s cue to leave. He lowered his wand and quietly pocketed it. Not a soul missed Draco Malfoy when he left.

 

The walk back to the road provided some of the solitude Draco had been hoping for all day. Despite the sun, it was still a chilly day in May, but he took off his cloak anyway as he approached the anti-Muggle wards surrounding the park for that day. He could walk a few streets over and catch a taxi, ask the driver to drop him off in some field, and apparate home. Give his mother the god damn medal and disappear back into his book for the rest of his life.

“Malfoy, wait.”

Draco would know Potter’s voice anywhere, but Draco was still surprised when he turned around and Potter was still there, looking at him like Draco should maybe respond.

“Hey, Potter,” he tried, his voice catching a little embarrassingly, but wasn’t that just typical of every interaction with Harry Potter.

“Are you heading home now?” When Draco nodded, he added, “Is your mother there?”

“Where else would she go?” Draco asked.

Potter’s expression darkened. “It’s not my fault your family isn’t well-loved today,” he said.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know. What do you want?”

“Can I give you a ride home?” Potter asked without seeming to think that was an unreasonable thing to say. “I’d like to thank your mother today.”

“Er, of course not?” said Draco. “Imagine how much more people will like my family if we were responsible for you having to leave today.”

“But I want to leave anyway,” Potter said.

“Well you can’t leave with me!” Draco said, his voice hitting a high note.

Potter frowned, and Draco was beginning to panic. Surely they’d notice that Harry Potter wasn’t at the epicenter of all the fun soon. Creevey’s right hook wasn’t the worst he’d experienced, but the side of his face still felt hot, and soon it would start to swell.

“What if–” Draco began.

“What if I went back to the party, and everyone saw you leave, then I met you in the Muggle pub on Oakwood Road in twenty minutes?” Potter suggested.

“Fine,” said Draco.

For all his arguing, Potter looked startled that Draco had agreed. But he nodded at Draco and turned back to the celebrations.

Thirty-five minutes later, Draco was three drinks in, and having a decent time talking with the bartender. The Muggle woman had no idea who he was, and he had no knowledge about the sport on the television, so she was explaining it to him, laughing at his confusion.

“I know what a ball is!” Draco protested as she explained for the second time.

The bartender laughed. “I didn’t know that, you didn’t know what a goal post was,” she argued.

“I’m not used to seeing them so…” he gestured. “Square.”

She laughed again. “You’re fantastic,” she said.

“He’s all right,” said Potter, appearing at his elbow, his cloak gone, replaced with dark denim jeans and a black t-shirt.

“Oh, what do you know, Potter,” Draco snapped out of long habit.

“Are you drunk?” Potter asked.

Draco didn’t drink a lot these days for fear of becoming the recluse who lives alone with his alcohol, so three drinks was enough to get him just a little tipsy. “Maybe,” he said.

“I was going to cut him off if he didn’t know what a red card was,” said the bartender.

Draco froze, and Potter looked a little distant, like he must have read about red cards once.

“You’re kidding,” said the bartender, looking from Draco to Potter in disbelief.

Draco stood and dropped some Muggle notes on the bar. “I’m leaving anyway,” he said.

“That’s quite a tip,” she said. “Next thing you’re going to tell me you don’t know about human money.”

“Er…”

Potter nudged him, and Draco smiled at the bartender. “Thanks for the chat,” he said, and followed Potter outside to Potter’s car.

The car made a chirping sound as Potter pressed a button attached to his keys. Draco tried not to seem too interested, but his education in Muggle studies was woefully lacking thanks to Professor Carrow and her Muggles-are-the-root-of-all-evil-and-their-car-key-fobs-especially teachings.

It was nicer than the few taxis Draco had tried, and smelled less like vomit and more like, well, Hogwarts. His throat threatened to close up as the memories of school flooded his mind. Potter started the engine, Draco pushed his seat belt into place, and his memories to back where they belonged.

Malfoy Manor was a solid hour by Muggle taxi, but Potter’s car was enchanted, and invisible to Muggles and their radar. Potter’s brief explanation of his car was their only conversation, and it was a relief when they arrived at the manor’s gates twenty-eight excruciating minutes later.

Draco pushed open the front door, pretending not to see Potter’s hesitation at the threshold. This couldn’t be fun for Potter to come back here, Draco realized, but luckily for Potter, none of the Malfoys wanted to be reminded of the war, and the entire house had been redone since Potter’s last visit. When Draco led Potter into the renovated drawing room, he sensed Potter’s relief.

He offered Potter a drink, then went to Narcissa’s half of the second floor to find her. Lucius stayed in the other half as of late.

“Mother?” Draco called. “Harry Potter is here to see you.”

“Is he?” she said, sounding delighted from the other room. “Did you offer him a drink?”

“Yes, but he’s here to see you,” Draco pressed.

“Well, I’m just in the bath,” came her voice. “Let me get ready and I’ll be down shortly.”

“Please do,” Draco said.

When he returned to the drawing room, Potter clearly hadn’t touched his drink, hadn’t even sat down. He stood near one of the windows with his arms crossed tightly in front of him.

Draco cleared his throat, and Potter started, making Draco feel instantly guilty about his whole damn family, crazy aunt included.

“If you’re not going to drink it, do you mind?” Draco said, crossing the room to the long sofa, and sitting down with Potter’s drink before Potter could answer.

“You’re a lousy host,” Potter said, coming to join him. He settled into the chair next to Draco and watched Draco down his wine in one go.

Draco gave him a look. Potter looked like he might laugh. He still held himself a little tensely, but the presence of an unhappy drunk seemed to calm him a little.

“Well you’re a terrible guest,” said Draco, though he didn’t have an argument to really support his claim. Potter had even sat after him, the jerk.

“Mother is coming soon,” Draco said, and hesitated. “Do – you mind if I…?” He gestured to his wand.

Potter’s eyes betrayed nothing, but they did change. “Go ahead,” he said evenly.

Draco waved his wand and brought some ice from the kitchens. He held it to his swelling face, hunching forward with his elbows on his knees. He’d just asked permission to do magic inside his own house.

After a moment, Potter said, “The last time I was here, my face swelled like yours.”

Draco stilled.

“But you didn’t say anything when they asked you,” Potter said.

Draco nodded. He’d already told Potter this, so they didn’t need to get into it again, but he remembered. Being led over to Potter. Potter, who was always so recognizable. Draco was furious with himself for memorizing him so well, for not having a second of doubt who it was before him that day. He’d knelt in front of Potter, buying time, and panicking. “I can’t be sure,” he’d said. Weasley and Granger were as visible as ever, but if he could just avoid looking at them. He didn’t want them to die. That’s all.

“I didn’t do much to help you,” said Draco. “I didn’t help anyone in the damn war.”

“No,” Potter agreed. “Wait, are you–”

He’d seen the tear roll down Draco’s face, the one Draco had been too slow to get.

Draco let out a harsh laugh. “What about the last time you saw me crying, Potter?” Draco asked, vague memories of being ripped open in the boys’ toilets. He laughed again a little hysterically.

Potter seemed at a loss. “Yeah,” he said eventually.

“What other fun stories do we have to share?” Draco asked him. “We seem to have so many. What about when I tried to scare you at Quidditch, or that Hippogriff ripped my arm open, or when – what are you doing?”

Potter had knelt in front of him on the floor, almost between his knees, knelt like Draco had that day. Draco’s eyes widened as Potter ducked his head and brought their faces close together. Draco didn’t dare move, but his mind had suddenly exploded in a thousand different directions.

When Potter slid his fingers up Draco’s forearm, Draco let him. His mind had gone astoundingly blank. Potter leaned forward and Draco’s hand came up to … to what. His hand pressed against Potter’s chest, but he didn’t push him away. But surely–

“Do you love me?” Potter breathed.

“What?” Draco whispered, eyes on Potter’s mouth, and trying to wrap his mind around this insane situation. “No, of course not.”

“Then kiss me,” Potter said.

Draco did. He tossed the ice to the floor and brought his mouth down to Potter’s because it was certainly better than crying. Potter’s eyes closed behind his glasses, his dark lashes filling Draco’s vision. Potter leaned into Draco a little, his hands sliding slowly up Draco’s back, causing all kinds of reactions in Draco’s mind. Potter’s mouth, Potter’s hands, Potter, Potter.

They pulled back and looked at each other. Draco stared at Potter like he’d lost his mind, but Potter’s eyes kept flicking maddeningly back to Draco’s lips.

“Are you all right?” Draco asked, putting a hesitant touch on Potter’s shoulder.

“Are you?” Potter returned.

Draco reached around to the back of Potter’s neck and pulled him forward again, this time with more intent. Potter followed him back along the couch, and deepened their kiss, his tongue sliding slowly over Draco’s like he could do this all day. Draco’s hands found themselves on Potter’s body, pushing and pulling and clutching closer. Potter’s t-shirt was a crumpled mess as Draco tried to get closer, and–

“Draco, are you back?”

They sprang apart at Lucius Malfoy’s voice in the hall outside the room. Potter was back on the other chair as Draco looked up at his father.

Lucius stood frozen in the doorway. “Harry Potter,” he said.

Potter stood, wary.

Lucius gave one of his hollow smiles that he’d only started using since the war. Before that it was all charm, and when it wasn’t, ice and hauteur. A king among peasants. Now he looked like he might turn and flee from his own castle.

“As always, you are welcome here,” Lucius said eventually.

Potter said nothing. Draco still hadn’t recovered. If Narcissa hadn’t showed up when she did, they might have never moved, Draco trapped forever in a horrible state of bewildered arousal.

But she did.

“Harry,” said Narcissa, as though they were good friends. She swept past her husband without a glance. She smiled warmly at Potter and shook his hand.

“I wanted to thank you, Mrs Malfoy,” said Potter, clearing his throat.

“Narcissa.”

“Narcissa,” said Potter. He glanced at Draco, who stared stupidly for a moment before he remembered the medallion, and he handed it to Potter who stood tall and purposeful. Once more Potter had turned into the world’s savior, the boy who lived. “On behalf of the wizarding world,” Potter said, “and… myself. Thank you.”

Narcissa’s perfect smile faltered a moment, turned real and crooked for just a second. “I didn’t do it for the world,” she said softly, “I didn’t even do it for you.”

“I know,” said Potter, their hands still clasped. “But you did. And it helped. And – here.” He handed her the award.

Narcissa glanced at as though in confusion, though she couldn’t have been confused since clearly she’d been notified about this days in advance. “I didn’t know they gave awards for doing whatever it took to save your child,” she said with a strange laugh, then brought her eyes back up to Potter. “If what I’ve heard is true,” she said slowly, “your mother got the only reward she wanted, too. Trust me.”

Potter’s lips parted as the weight of what she said struck him. He’d probably never thought he’d have this conversation with someone he barely knew, but he seemed to like what he’d heard, because he lifted their joined hands, and kissed Narcissa’s.

Narcissa’s strange smile shone back at Potter, until she remembered her usual one, and put that smile back on instead.

“You must stay for dinner,” she said, all business once more.

Potter glanced at Draco, who refused to react, and shook his head. “I can’t,” he said. “But thank you.”

“Another time, then,” Narcissa insisted, bending the world to suit her.

Potter said something polite and noncommittal. Draco walked behind them as his mother and Potter exchanged pleasantries like Potter hadn’t had his tongue inside Draco just minutes ago.

They reached the door and Narcissa shook hands with Potter once again. “A pleasure, Harry,” she said.

Potter turned to Draco next. Lucius had long since disappeared, so there was no reason for Potter not to acknowledge everyone as he left. “Malfoy,” said Potter, holding out his hand.

Draco took it, staring like this was in any way how normal people interacted. “Please, call me Draco,” he dared.

“Draco,” said Potter, low.

That was a mistake. Draco’s heart near stopped at his name in Potter’s mouth, but his mother was there, and besides, Potter had already turned and left. Narcissa smiled at Draco as she turned away, leaving Draco alone to close the front door. It shut with an echo in the large hall. Draco peered out a small window next to the door. Potter grew smaller in the distance. The lights of his car flashed as he unlocked it.

After the car was gone, after the rain had started to fall, Draco pushed himself away from the window, his head sore from leaning against the cold glass for so long.

His father stood behind him.

“What?” Draco demanded. “What do you want?”

Lucius shook his head. “Nothing,” he said.

“Liar,” Draco snarled. “Everyone wants something.”