Chapter 1: An Unexpected Owl
Dear Mr Potter,
I hope this letter finds you well.
I understand you are very busy and I wasn’t sure whether to write to you at all, but I’m in need of your help. I was wondering whether you might agree to meet me at Hogwarts this coming weekend; Saturday afternoon, perhaps?
I realise that this is asking a lot of you, given the fact that you only know of me but don’t actually know me. However, I hope you will agree anyway. I promise to explain it all in person.
P.S. My father does not know that I’ve chosen to write to you and I’d rather you didn’t tell him. Thank you.
Harry wasn’t sure how many times he’d read the letter since a Hogwarts owl had dropped it off at Grimmauld Place yesterday morning. At first, he’d thought one of the teachers, maybe even Minerva McGonagall herself had written to him. Then he’d discovered the letter had been from Scorpius Malfoy and he’d been more than a little confused – and surprised. He couldn’t fathom why Draco Malfoy’s son needed his help, but he couldn’t deny that he was curious. Very curious.
“And you’re sure it isn’t a fake?” Ron asked, pointing at the letter.
Harry shook his head. “Cast an Authenticity Charm. It has his magical signature all over it; the boy is smart.”
“Maybe Malfoy is trying to trick you,” Ron suggested.
That idea had also briefly crossed Harry’s mind but he’d banished it, deciding it was utterly ridiculous. What reason did Malfoy have to trick him? The war was history, they weren’t friends but they no longer snarked at each other. Their relationship was one of amicable silence and toleration. “I don’t think so. Malfoy has no reason to do any such thing.”
“It’s Malfoy! When has he ever needed a reason to be a prat?” Ron said.
“Ronald Weasley!” Hermione slammed her palm down on the table, making both her husband and Harry jump with a start. She’d been calmly eating her sandwich and listening to the conversation, but clearly, Ron’s idiocy had riled her up eventually.
“Draco Malfoy hasn’t done anything wrong since the end of the war. Cut him some slack, won’t you? Sometimes I think you got stunned one too many times,” she snapped. Ron shot her a rather furtive glance; he knew better than to argue with his wife. After all, he still had to go home with her tonight and he didn’t particularly enjoy sleeping on the sofa.
Carefully folding the letter back up, Harry placed it in the pocket of his black trousers and rubbing his tired eyes, he rose to his feet. “I need some fresh air,” he mumbled, and without further ado he reached for his coat and exited his office, leaving his two friends to finish their lunch without his company.
He headed down the corridor into the small hall and called one of the Ministry lifts. It arrived soon enough and a moment later he found himself in the Atrium. Several people greeted him as he passed, and while he nodded in polite acknowledgement, he didn’t stop for a conversation. Instead, he headed for the Floo, grabbed some green powder, and shouted his destination. It wasn’t long after that he found himself wandering the streets of Muggle London. He tried his best not to think of anything in particular, but Scorpius Malfoy’s letter and his plea for help persistently pushed itself to the forefront of his mind again and again.
The boy definitely has bollocks, Harry decided. He’d contacted him at his private address, asking for a meeting. Harry racked his brain for a while, wondering what kind of help Scorpius Malfoy might need from him. He couldn’t come up with anything that made any kind of sense, and so he soon gave up trying. He supposed he didn’t have any plans this weekend. There really was nothing stopping him from making a trip to Hogwarts to meet the boy. At the very least, it would put his mind at ease. Or would it?
Harry couldn’t help but wonder what Draco Malfoy was up to these days. He hadn’t given much thought to him and he couldn’t honestly remember the last time he’d seen Malfoy. He vaguely remembered reading something about the death of his wife, Astoria Greengrass, in the Daily Prophet several years ago, but it had been a quiet announcement and there hadn’t been much fanfare about it. He didn’t even know whether Malfoy still resided at Malfoy Manor or whether he had moved.
He and Scorpius, and possibly also Astoria, had apparently lived abroad for a while but Harry didn’t know any details, nor did he know for sure whether what he knew was even true. What he did know, it was easy to discern, was that Malfoy kept a quiet and solitary life. He’d seen him once or twice when he’d dropped Teddy off at King’s Cross to board the Hogwarts Express, but post-war that had been the extent of his encounters with Malfoy. There had been the trials, of course. Back then, Harry had stood up for Draco and his family, and while Malfoy had thanked him in person sometime later — there’d even been a handshake — they hadn’t kept in touch.
Much later that evening, long after Harry had finished his dinner, the fire in his living room roared to life and Hermione, dressed in pyjamas and a dressing gown, stepped out of the flames. With a silent cleaning charm, she removed the soot from her clothes and the carpet, and then placed her wand back in her oversized dressing gown pocket. Harry lowered his book and shot her an expectant look. She often invited herself over, and short of blocking the Floo, there was nothing Harry could do about that. Not that he really minded her company. She cared and Harry loved her for it.
“Are you okay?” she asked, sitting down on one of the comfortable armchairs across from him.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” he smiled, “Draco Malfoy’s son is asking for my help, nothing out of the ordinary; just another day in the life of Harry Potter,” he shrugged and Hermione smiled, gathering that his sarcasm was his way of dealing with the unexpected invitation.
“Are you going to go?” she asked.
Harry nodded. “I reckon if he had the guts to write to me without his father’s knowledge, he must have a damn good reason to want to meet with me.”
“I spoke to Neville, you know,” Hermione said, “this afternoon,” she clarified before Harry could ask her when she’d taken the liberty to do so. “He’s an excellent student, very smart but quiet. He tends to keep to himself, studies a lot, and excels at pretty much all subjects.”
“Not much in common with his father then. You sure he’s not your son?” Harry laughed, wistfully remembering all those times Draco Malfoy and his goons had done a spectacular job at making his school days memorable, though definitely not in a positive way. That was all in the past now though. While his time at Hogwarts had been anything but ordinary, he still didn’t want to change anything about it.
“I reckon Draco instructed him to focus on his education and keep out of trouble,” Hermione said, and if Harry flinched at her unexpected use of Malfoy’s first name, he didn’t show it. “Well, I’ll leave you be. Let me know what comes of your meeting with Scorpius Malfoy,” she added.
Rising to her feet, Hermione moved towards the Floo and grabbed some Floo powder. She was about to throw it into the crackling flames when Harry stopped her with a soft “Hey.” She turned and looked at him and he mouthed quiet thanks. She smiled and shrugged.
“Anytime. Good night, Harry.” With that, she vanished into the green flames and a moment later silence descended over the room. Harry sat in quiet contemplation for a moment and then turned his attention back to his book.
Chapter 2: Return To Hogwarts
It was a little after two pm on Saturday afternoon when Harry apparated into Hogsmeade. As always, the village appeared quiet and sleepy though Harry knew it to be anything but. He passed a wizard, two witches, and a few older Hogwarts students on his way through the small wizarding town, and while they greeted him politely, they didn’t stop to inquire what he was doing in Hogsmeade on a Saturday afternoon. Harry had wisely chosen a pair of sneakers, light-blue jeans, and a black jumper. Somehow, he didn’t think showing up at Hogwarts in his Auror uniform would be a good idea; comfortable Muggle clothing seemed like a much safer bet.
It was with fond memories that he walked up the familiar path that led to the castle, and some half an hour after his arrival in Hogsmeade, he strolled through the open front gates. Distinct chatter came from the Great Hall and two seventh year students passed him on his way to the grand staircase. They gasped, discreetly pointed at him and whispered. Harry smiled at them and they instantly scurried off, clearly too shy to approach him.
Harry shook his head in bewildered amusement and climbing the stairs, he made his way to McGonagall’s office. He’d written back to Scorpius to confirm their meeting, and knowing that his old headmistress would not appreciate him stopping by without a visit, he’d owled to let her know he was coming. She’d offered to open the Floo in her office for him but he’d politely declined, choosing to apparate into Hogsmeade and then walk up to the castle, for old times’ sake.
Soon enough, Harry found himself at the entrance to the Headmistress’ office, his feet had carried him there without any conscious thought. Just as he was about to mutter the password McGonagall had given him, the familiar gargoyle moved and allowed him to pass. Harry laughed; of course, McGonagall had been expecting his arrival, and as he stepped into her office, he found his suspicion confirmed. The elves had prepared tea and coffee as well as fresh small cakes and waffles.
“I hope you’re hungry, Harry.”
“I am now, Professor,” he smiled and her lips pursed in obvious displeasure at his chosen form of address. “Minerva,” he quickly corrected himself and she smiled, clearly more pleased at his use of her first name. Harry still found it odd to call her that but he supposed times were different now.
“Sit,” she waved her hand into the general direction of the table and comfortable chairs that she had without a doubt conjured up herself. Harry accepted the invitation as well as the cup of tea she poured for him. He’d not indulged her as to why he was here just yet, deciding it was best done in person.
“You’re looking well these days, Harry. I hope you’re keeping out of trouble,” Minerva said between two sips of tea.
He chuckled, “more or less — as much as my job lets me anyway.”
“Ah yes, the life of an Auror with a department to run,” she smiled. “I suppose I still can’t convince you to join my staff as the Defence of the Dark Arts teacher?”
She asked every year and every year Harry gave her the same answer.
“I’m afraid not. After all, we both know you have a very capable teacher in Professor Xavier,” he smiled and swiftly changed the topic. “You could, however, tell me where I might find Scorpius Malfoy?”
“In the library possibly, or his dorm, perhaps. He didn’t join his fellow classmates on their trip to Hogsmeade today,” she replied. “I gather you being here is related to your inquiry into his whereabouts?”
Harry nodded, “he requested to see me.”
Minerva smiled knowingly, and though she didn’t ask for any details, Harry had the distinct feeling that she knew more than she let on. She’d always been like that; mysteriously quiet about what she knew and what she didn’t know. “Well, in any case, I should think you won’t have much trouble locating young Mr Malfoy on your own, Harry.”
For a moment Harry wondered whether she knew about the Marauder’s Map, then he remembered that if Dumbledore had known, she had most likely known too. Harry lingered for a while, indulging in the marvellous pastries the house elves had provided them with. The taste of the treats made him miss Hogwarts just a little bit, but not enough to back down and accept Minerva’s offer of a permanent teaching position; the occasional lecture once or twice a year suited him just fine.
Besides, his job as Head Auror left him with little free time as it was. Though the job often left him feeling tired, he wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. Still, he enjoyed the chance to talk to his former professor and a good friend. Even though their conversation remained mostly polite and cursory, Harry knew that should he wish to confide in his former mentor, she would listen intently before offering her opinion or help.
At about a quarter after three, Harry made his excuses and left Minerva’s office. Once outside, he produced the Marauder’s Map from his pocket, and tapping his wand against it he mumbled, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.” He scanned the place with a trained eye and found Scorpius Malfoy soon enough. He was in the library, and by the looks of it, he’d deliberately chosen a quiet corner. “Mischief accomplished.” Folding the map up once more, Harry made his way to the library, and with a polite nod to the librarian, he scanned the place for Scorpius. A moment later he spotted a mop of white-blond hair, and as he approached the boy’s table, the young Slytherin rose to his feet.
Harry couldn’t help but notice that the boy was the spitting image of his father, and as he stretched out his hand shyly to greet his visitor, Harry momentarily found himself distracted by the familiar feelings of déjà vu. Harry quickly suppressed his thoughts and instead reached out to shake Scorpius Malfoy’s hand.
“Mr Malfoy,” he said, not quite sure how he was supposed to address the young wizard.
“Scorpius will do, Mr Potter, sir. Mr Malfoy is my father,” the blond boy replied with a shy smile and motioned for Harry to sit.
“Alright, in that case, please, call me Harry. And none of that ‘sir’ business please,” he said with a smile as he accepted Scorpius’ offer to sit down. He glanced at the boy’s parchment and books, and it only took him a moment to realise that he was working on an essay for his Transfiguration classes. “Hard at work, I see,” he said, casually waving his hand over the school work.
“It’s nothing,” Scorpius replied, “Pretty easy stuff,” he added as an afterthought. “Thanks for coming all the way to Hogwarts to meet with me,” he said and Harry smiled.
Harry ignored the polite thanks and instead watched as Scorpius hastily moved the books aside to make some room between them.
“I would have offered to take you to dinner down in Hogsmeade, but since you wrote that your father doesn’t know about your request to meet me, I thought it better not to take you out of school,” Harry said and Scorpius nodded in agreement. “I must admit your letter left me most curious as to what you might need my help with. I was told you’re a very good student so I doubt it’s educational.”
“Learning comes easy, I find,” Scorpius replied, fidgeting a little with his hands. He was nervous, that much Harry was sure of, but he tried his best to conceal it.
“Lucky you; I hated writing essays, then again my classmate and best friend was Hermione Granger and for her, nothing short of perfection will do. Also, my transfiguration teacher was Professor McGonagall, your headmistress,” Harry laughed, hoping casual conversation would help break the ice between them.
“I don’t like it much either, essay writing that is,” Scorpius smiled shyly. “But I want to be good at magic, so I guess one doesn’t come without the other.”
Harry smiled. “Do you play Quidditch?” he asked and Scorpius nodded with vigour.
“I’m not on the Slytherin team though; I thought I might join tryouts next year.”
“Your father was. He and I played many matches against each other. Really good seeker too.”
“He told me. He said try as he might, there was no defeating you.”
Harry laughed. “He would have defeated me, but he was too busy…” Harry fell silent. The words ‘verbally abusing me’ had been on the tip of his tongue but he didn’t think those would go down well with Scorpius.
“Bullying you?” Scorpius offered.
“Well…” Harry hesitated, not quite sure how much he could, or should, tell Scorpius. He was a young boy after all.
“Father told me. He said he wasn’t exactly the nicest bloke in school; he didn’t want me making the same mistakes.”
“He had his moments. Then again, circumstances were very different when your father and I attended Hogwarts.”
For a while, Harry and Scorpius chatted amicably and the more Harry found out about the young wizard, the more he liked him. He was bright, smart, funny, and kind. He didn’t have many friends but resolutely and repeatedly stated that it didn’t bother him. Harry wasn’t quite convinced but he knew not to push the matter. Scorpius, while born a Malfoy, seemed not to share his grandparents’ view on Muggle-born wizards and witches and Harry silently decided that Draco Malfoy was a pretty decent father.
By the sound of it, he clearly loved Scorpius a lot and not only tried to spend as much time as possible with his son but also taught him values and beliefs he deemed important. Those values clearly differed a lot from the values Draco himself had been taught and in Harry’s eyes, that meant Draco Malfoy had turned his life around in more ways than one.
Some time into their animated conversation, Harry bit the bullet and asked Scorpius what he needed his help with. At that question, the boy instantly fell silent and remained so for the longest time. Harry decided not to precipitate, instead of giving Scorpius the time to gather his thoughts.
“To be quite honest, I’m not sure what I was thinking of asking for your help, but I guess you could say I’m a bit desperate,” Scorpius finally said. “You see, I’m really worried about my dad. I know it’s been a while since Mother’s death and I thought he accepted that she’s gone, but maybe he hasn’t?” Scorpius looked unsure and without thinking, Harry reached out and patted the young boy’s arm, going as far as to squeeze it gently to offer silent comfort.
“Losing someone is never easy and accepting that they are gone is even harder. Some deaths are easier to accept, others not so much,” he said, hoping his words sounded as supportive as he’d meant them to. He could sense Scorpius’ pain at the memory of his mother, but he was a brave young man and kept his composure without the slightest sign of crumbling at the grim memory.
“I know. I miss her a lot, but I know I’ll see her again someday. I might have to wait for many years, but that’s alright. Anyway, she’s in my heart and that’s where she’ll always be.”
Harry swallowed past the lump in this throat and for a moment he saw a bit of himself in Scorpius. The only difference between them was that Harry had never met his parents at all and all the memories he had of them were those of other people. Scorpius, however, had spent many years with his mother before she had been prematurely taken from him, and Harry found that much worse than growing up an orphan.
For a moment both Harry and Scorpius were silent, but Harry soon enough sensed that it was up to him to pick up the conversation again. “So, you are worried about your dad,” he prompted and Scorpius nodded.
“He’s been rather withdrawn lately and he doesn’t brew as many potions as he used to, something I know he really loves to spend his time on. He’s also very quiet and mostly lost in his own thoughts. I can’t remember when I last saw him smile,” Scorpius explained and Harry, despite not having any children of his own, instantly wanted to shake Malfoy and remind him that children were much smarter than most adults gave them credit for. Apparently, Malfoy’s depressive mood was so obvious that even his son, despite spending most of the year at Hogwarts studying, had been able to pick up on it.
“And I suppose you want me to talk to your father?” Harry asked. It hadn’t been hard to guess and he smiled softly when Scorpius nodded, then hastily continued speaking.
“I know you’ve never been friends, but you’ve known my father a long time and – I don’t know, maybe an unexpected blast from the past is just what he needs to help him snap out of whatever is troubling him.”
“Well Scorpius, I can’t promise you anything, I hope you know that. Your dad might not even want to see or speak to me.”
“I know, but you are kind of my last resort. I don’t know what else to do. He’s quite good friends with Ms Parkinson but I honestly don’t think she cares enough to bother with him.” Scorpius looked desperate, sad even. He hid it well, but it was there in his eyes. If one bothered to look long enough one could see it and Harry had bothered. He wasn’t sure what it was, but despite his less than amicable relationship with Malfoy, he knew he simply couldn’t deny Scorpius his request. He had to try.
“If it doesn’t help, then at least I know I tried,” Scorpius mumbled quietly and getting up from the wooden stool, Harry rounded the table and sat down next to Scorpius. Not bothering with words, he simply pulled the boy into his arms and hugged him tightly. At first, Scorpius stiffened in his arms but relaxed gradually and even snuck his arms around Harry’s waist to return the embrace. They sat like this for a while, Harry mindlessly stroking Scorpius’ hair, allowing the blond boy to bury his face in his chest. Eventually, Scorpius pulled away and with somewhat flushed cheeks, he thanked Harry.
“No need to thank me, I’ll see what I can do. No promises though.” With that, he rose to his feet and so did Scorpius.
“Please don’t tell my father I asked you for help,” he was quick to plead, and Harry laughed and tapped his nose.
“Your secret’s safe with me – Auror’s promise,” he said and with one last ruffle of Scorpius’ hair, he turned and left the library to return to Hogsmeade and then London. He wasn’t entirely sure why he’d so freely offered to help Scorpius, especially because he wasn’t really sure if he could be of any help at all, but he at least wanted to try. Giving up wasn’t in his nature; it had never been in his nature and he wasn’t about to make it a habit now.
Chapter 3: The Weasley Solution
Harry sat staring at the file folder in front of him, too distracted to focus on the work he should actually be doing. He was so lost in his own thoughts that Hermione had to snap her fingers in front of his face several times to pull him back into the real world. He had neither heard her knock on the door nor had he noticed her come in.
“Huh?” Snapping out of his thoughts, Harry refocused his attention on Hermione. If she was at all exasperated with his lack of attention, she didn’t show it. “We didn’t have a meeting, did we?” Harry asked somewhat sheepishly, and Hermione chuckled.
“I could say yes,” she said, the challenging look in her eyes soon replaced with mirth.
“Ah, but you wouldn’t be this mean,” Harry grinned and leant back in his comfortable desk chair, a rather extravagant Christmas gift from the entire department.
“Well not ordinarily, no – though if the circumstances required it, I might be,” she teased. “You’re normally not this frazzled; anything particular on your mind? Have you met with Malfoy yet?”
Harry shook his head. He’d told Hermione all about his meeting with Scorpius and how he’d decided to try and help the boy. A few days had passed since then and he had no idea how to go about meeting Malfoy. He figured a sudden dinner invitation could easily be misconstrued – not to mention that Malfoy would most likely reject it – and simply showing up on Malfoy’s doorstep seemed just as foolish.
What with Harry being Head Auror, Malfoy might even take offence, thinking Harry intended to make his life miserable. Then again, having requested a full background check on Malfoy hadn’t exactly been a very smart move either. So far Harry hadn’t been able to bring himself to actually read the file, but short of that, he didn’t have any other ideas. He didn’t know much about Malfoy, and while they silently tolerated each other, they weren’t what one would call friends.
“Harry, you’re honestly making a mountain out of a molehill,” Hermione sighed. She glanced at the folder on his desk. The official ministry crest and Draco Malfoy’s name on the cover made it fairly obvious what it was. “Have you read it yet?” she asked, motioning at the file folder in front of Harry.
Harry shook his head. “Feels wrong,” he muttered. Taking the file, he resolutely locked it into his desk drawer, figuring that he’d stop thinking about it once it was out of his sight.
“Harry, this isn’t one of your Auror cases. Scorpius Malfoy asked you for help, he didn’t ask you to investigate his father. You can’t approach this as though it’s a case you have to solve,” said Hermione.
“I know that, ‘Mione,” Harry said with a heavy sigh. He was running his fingers through his messy hair, attempting to bring some order into it, though one glance at Hermione told him he hadn’t succeeded. “Let’s get some lunch,” he said. He rose to his feet and rounded his desk to offer Hermione his arm. “Ms Undersecretary?”
Hermione shook her head and laughed. Getting up, she accepted his arm and together they left the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. On the way out, they bumped into Ron in the corridor and the redhead grumbled something about Harry stealing his wife…again.
“Don’t worry; she’s quite safe with me.”
“Yeah, yeah I know, not your type and all,” Ron muttered, but his eyes twinkled with amusement. “Just remember to grab me a sandwich, too busy to break for lunch,” he said, and then hurried after his partner who hadn’t waited up for him.
“Busy?” Ron knocked on Harry’s open door.
“Yes, but come in,” Harry said without looking up from his files, and dipping his quill into the black ink pot on his desk, he signed the parchment in front of him.
“If it’s a bad time…?” Ron hesitated.
“Not at all – Just give me two minutes,” Harry replied. Folding the parchment he placed it inside one of the file folders on his desk and then sealed it with a tap of his wand. His Head Auror seal appeared underneath the case number and with a rather lazy flick of his wand, he moved the folder onto a pile of file folders that looked much the same.
“Case closed,” he grinned and Ron frowned before slumping down on the chair in front of Harry’s desk. He drew his wand and pointing it behind him, he spelt the door closed.
“Business or pleasure?” Harry asked, leaning back in his own chair and allowing himself a short stretch. Merlin, how he hated paperwork. As Head Auror, he seemed to perpetually drown in it. Sometimes he truly wondered how he managed to get any field work done, and then he remembered that the only reason he got any field work done was because he specifically made the time for it.
“Bit of both,” Ron smiled, and leaning forward he handed Harry an Auror case file. “New case – nasty potions business. Illegal sales and smuggling.”
Harry frowned but accepted the file folder anyway. Opening it, he skimmed over the information inside, frowning more and more as he read along. Halfway through, he closed the file folder and shot Ron a confused look. “Ron, I’m fairly sure you don’t need my help with this. It looks pretty straightforward. From the looks of it, a bit of a pain in the arse, but no need for me to get involved.”
“Malfoy doesn’t know this,” Ron replied with a grin worthy of a Slytherin, not that Harry ever intended to tell him that. Even more confused, Harry returned to skimming the information in the file, looking for a mention of Malfoy’s name.
“You think Malfoy is involved in some illegal potion smuggling ring?” Harry asked, not convinced Ron was making any sense.
“Merlin’s balls, Harry, are you being this dim on purpose?” Ron groaned. “Fine, let me spell it out for you. You need a reason to talk to Malfoy. I’ve just handed you one on a silver platter.”
“Why would I want to talk to Malfoy about the case if he isn’t involved?” Harry queried and Ron dropped his head on Harry’s desk with an exasperated groan. He clearly didn’t possess the sensitivity his wife did. Or maybe he simply didn’t want to be sensitive about this.
“Harry, please tell me you’re being deliberately slow because I swear I’m about a second away from hexing you!” Ron raised his head and ran his fingers through his flaming red hair, glaring at Harry.
“Fine, let me make this crystal clear for you. This,” Ron pointed at the case file in Harry’s hand, “is an as of yet unsolved potion smuggling case. You,” Ron pointed at Harry, “need a reason to talk to Malfoy who is – though you clearly don’t seem to remember – a bit of a genius when it comes to potions. Use this,” Ron once again pointed at the case file, “as an excuse to talk to Malfoy.”
“But…” Harry went to object but trailed off, finally realising what Ron had been so very obviously hinting at.
“Brilliant, the knut finally dropped!” Ron clapped his hands and getting to his feet he walked towards the door. “If you need me to take one of your cases in return, I’d be more than happy to. Though please, by all means, no rush; my desk is going to break in half as it is,” he said, then left Harry to his own devices.
Harry sat staring at the case folder in his hands for the longest time, unsure whether Ron was dumping an unwanted case on him or actually trying to help him. He eventually chose the latter, trusting Ron simply had his best interests in mind. Though Harry was fairly sure that what Ron really wanted to tell him was that he shouldn’t bother with this whole thing. Harry grinned to himself. He was quite sure Hermione was behind Ron’s lack of loud objections.
With newfound determination, Harry moved his other case files out of the way and placed the potions case in front of him. He then reached for his little black notebook and an ordinary Muggle biro and lost himself in the case file, studying all of it. When he was done with that he got one of the young trainees in the open plan office down the hall to fetch him all the evidence that had been collected. He inspected everything carefully, cast a few simple spells on the evidence, and took notes. Once he was sure that he knew everything there was to know about the case, he returned to his desk and reached for his official Auror stationery and quill.
Chapter 4: Tea at the Manor
Though we haven’t kept in touch much — or at all really —, I sincerely hope this letter finds you well.
I find myself at odds with a case of mine and could very much use your expertise on Potions. Ordinarily, I would trouble Professor Slughorn at Hogwarts with such matters, but he’s otherwise engaged and unable to assist me.
I would very much appreciate if you could find some time to discuss the matter with me, as your input could lead to a successful closure of the case. Evidence has been collected and if you agree to help me, I am in the position to grant you access, should you wish to inspect the potion phials we have found, as well as leftover ingredients.
Looking forward to your response,
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Draco toyed with the letter that had arrived with this morning’s post, quite unsure of what to do with it. Never in a million years would he have expected to ever receive an owl from Potter, and to say that he was surprised would be putting it mildly.
While they’d long since put their differences aside, their paths hadn’t crossed in years. They simply didn’t seek out each other’s company. There was no reason to, except now Potter apparently had a reason to seek him out. He needed help with a case and he was asking Draco to help him solve it.
He and Potter. The idea of them working on an Auror case together; well, Draco wasn’t sure whether he found the mere idea hilarious or extremely off-putting. He couldn’t think of a single thing they had in common that might help them break the ice once in the same room.
They were neither friend nor foe. Draco wasn’t even sure ‘old acquaintances’ was a term he could use to describe his relationship with Potter.
Draco snorted. Relationship. The word alone was extremely ill-fitted when one tried to describe him and Potter in one sentence. Former classmates. That one worked, Draco decided, though barely. Even that wasn’t an adequate description because they’d fought on opposite sides of the war and had otherwise usually been at each other’s throats. Draco mostly because of his circumstances and the beliefs his family had forced on him, but still, they had never seen eye to eye. Admittedly, much of that had been his doing, but back when he’d first met Potter he’d only ever wanted to be friends. That plan had worked out spectacularly well, hadn’t it? Draco laughed to himself. It was a dry and hollow laugh.
In the end, Potter had still saved his life though. Draco had never quite understood it until Potter had spoken up for him and his family at the trials. “Everyone deserves a second chance”; the words still rang in Draco’s ears. Only Potter would spout such utter nonsense. He’d been right of course; even Draco could admit that now. He could also admit that he was grateful. Over the years his second chance had brought him much joy.
Draco’s eyes fell on the picture frame that stood on his desk, and he watched a beautiful young witch bend down to pick up a young boy, a young boy that looked the spitting image of him. She hugged and kissed him, and then they both smiled into the camera.
Draco sighed. Sadness, too — his second chance had brought him a lot of sadness, too. Deciding that dwelling on his wife’s death wasn’t what he wanted to do with his day, Draco reached for some stationary. He deliberately chose the one with the Malfoy crest. If Potter insisted on using official Ministry letterhead to show off, so could he. Draco knew he was being somewhat childish but he didn’t care.
While I am most confused and utterly shocked that you still remember my name, I accept your request for help.
I am not exactly sure what it is you need me for, but I have a fully equipped Potions lab at the Manor.
I am available this Thursday and Friday afternoon. Please let me know which day suits your — undoubtedly — busy Head Auror schedule and I will make sure that the wards at the Manor allow for your apparition directly onto the grounds.
P.S. I don’t have a fancy title to brag with, so I won’t.
With a frustrated sigh, Harry tossed his jumper onto his bed and stomped his foot. He’d been trying to decide what to wear for his meeting with Malfoy for the past — Harry glanced at his Muggle watch — two hours and he didn’t understand why he was making such a fuss about it.
It’s not a date, Harry reminded himself. Still, showing up in his official Auror robes simply didn’t feel right to Harry. He was quite sure that wearing them would be the equivalent of handing Malfoy a reason to ridicule him somehow. Also, he didn’t want the tone between them to be quite this official.
“He’s not a teenager anymore!” Harry scowled at his own reflection in the mirror and with a sigh, he exchanged his black trousers for a pair of comfortable jeans and a white button-down shirt. Sorting through the mess he’d made on his bed, Harry opted for a dark-green jumper to go with his outfit. If anything it matched his eyes. He added a pair of white sneakers and eyeing himself in the mirror, Harry decided that he looked acceptable enough. If Malfoy wanted to mock his fashion sense — just like he’d always done back at Hogwarts — he could have at it for all Harry cared. Then again, Harry was fairly sure his fashion sense had improved greatly since then. For one, he was no longer wearing hand-me-downs.
With another glance at his watch, Harry flicked his wand to clean up the mess in his bedroom. He wasn’t expecting anyone, but he also didn’t fancy leaving a mess behind. He holstered his wand and made his way downstairs into his study where he shrunk both the case file and the crate of evidence. He stuffed both items into his pocket and then left Grimmauld Place to make his way to the nearest apparition point.
Some twenty minutes later — and perfectly on time for his meeting with Malfoy — he arrived on the grounds of Malfoy Manor pleased to find that the wards hadn’t resisted him. Then again, Malfoy had written to tell him he’d make sure they wouldn’t.
Walking up to the large front door, Harry took a deep breath and reached for the ancient-looking door knock. He knocked twice and waited, repeatedly telling himself not to be nervous because there wasn’t anything to be nervous about. He had an appointment with Draco Malfoy, there was absolutely nothing strange about that and it most definitely wasn’t a good reason to be edgy or tense.
The door opened a minute or so later and Harry was pleasantly surprised to find that Malfoy himself had opened the door for him. He had fully expected one of the house elves to have been tasked with his welcome.
“Well,” Malfoy drawled. “Are you just going to stand there and stare or do you plan to come in?”
Harry blinked and clearing his throat he apologised and hurried inside. At the same time, he allowed himself to take a good look at Malfoy, who, he decided, had most definitely aged very well.
“Surprised I opened the door myself?” Malfoy mocked, though there was no malice in his voice as he closed the door; he merely sounded amused — actually amused. Harry couldn’t help but wonder whether his surprise had been that obvious.
“A little,” Harry admitted with a smile.
“I’m not a lazy ponce, I’ll have you know.”
“Never thought you were,” Harry said and for a split-second, Malfoy smiled.
He doesn’t look that depressed to me Harry thought, but immediately pushed the thought to the back of his mind. Instead, he looked around the large entrance hall, noting that it didn’t look anything like he remembered.
“I redecorated,” Malfoy stated and Harry idly wondered whether his former classmate could read minds. Deciding that the idea was simply preposterous, but guarding his mind anyway, Harry mumbled another apology.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to stare.”
Malfoy’s response startled him. “Would you like a tour?” he offered and for a moment Harry was unsure whether Malfoy was mocking him or whether he was actually serious. “Unless you’re pressed for time and want to talk business only, in which case my study and Potions lab are this way,” Malfoy added.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing the place,” Harry found himself saying, surprised that their first meeting was going quite so well. He hadn’t expected this, though then again, he hadn’t expected anything really. He didn’t know Malfoy well enough to know what to expect and what not to expect.
“Come along then,” Malfoy said and walking ahead, he led Harry around the Manor showing him the drawing room, sunroom, winter garden, dining hall, ballroom, living room, library, and music room. Harry asked a few questions here and there but was mostly too surprised to speak. From what he remembered from his visit to Malfoy Manor it had been a gloomy and dark place, but there was no trace of that now. The place was bright and tastefully decorated. Most of the furniture appeared to be quite antique, and by the looks of it all, Malfoy had taken great care to preserve and restore it. Light flooded each and every room and there were no dark corners to be found. A large vase of fresh flowers stood in each room and he’d stared at the white lilies in the library for the longest time.
“The sleeping chambers and guest quarters are upstairs; the attic is filled with old furniture and broken toys Scorpius won’t let me throw away and the dungeons are now my own personal wine cellar. I have a second storage for potions ingredients down there. Unless you’re interested in all that too, this concludes our tour,” Malfoy said, leading Harry into his study.
“Is this your way of showing me you have nothing to hide?” Harry blurted out before he could stop himself.
Malfoy turned to look at him. “No, Potter, you looked interested. I’m merely trying to be a good host,” he scowled, and Harry wanted to slap himself. “However, if you must know, I don’t have anything to hide and if you don’t believe me, feel free to call in a squad of Aurors to conduct a thorough search of the place. Though if you really intended to do that, I am sure I have some rights and all that.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry apologised for the third time since entering the Manor. “I didn’t mean to sound accusing, I’m just surprised at your openness, I guess.”
“It’s called manners, Potter,” Malfoy said, but the faint smile that caressed his lips told Harry that he was merely mocking him — again. “Now, I believe you wanted my help with a case? Please, have a seat.”
Malfoy motioned to the small round table with its two matching chairs on either side. The table was right by the window and Harry was secretly glad that Malfoy hadn’t chosen to sit down behind his desk. Choosing a seat, Harry sat down and watched Malfoy sit down across from him. He crossed his legs and folded his hands in his lap. A moment later a house elf appeared.
“Will Master Malfoy and Mr Potter be requiring some tea?” The little elf asked.
“Yes, please, Tibby,” Malfoy responded. “Please prepare some scones as well.”
“Certainly, Master Malfoy, sir,” the elf nodded and with a pop he disappeared. Harry stared in utter disbelief, not sure whether he was dreaming or whether he had just witnessed Malfoy actually thanking an elf. The creature hadn’t appeared to be shocked and Harry, therefore, concluded that he was used to that sort of treatment.
“You’re full of surprises, Malfoy,” Harry found himself saying out loud.
“Why, thank you, Potter,” Malfoy smiled, actually smiled. Harry had never seen Malfoy’s eyes twinkle with mirth before, but he decided that it suited Malfoy, suited him a lot.
“So, care to enlighten me as to how I may be of assistance in your case?” Malfoy changed the subject and Harry nodded. He briefly rose to his feet and removing the shrunken crate from his pocket he placed it on the floor and restored it to its original size with a tap of his wand. He then took out the case file which now included his own personal notes, and enlarging that too, he sat down again.
“We’re dealing with a particularly nasty case of potions smuggling, possibly on an international level, it would seem,” Harry explained. “I’m having some trouble identifying some of the potions that may have been brewed or smuggled into, or out of the country. There are also some strange ingredients that I have been able to identify but I’m struggling to figure out what potions they might have been used in.” Harry paused, fully expecting Malfoy to make a comment on his lack of potions skills, but the comment never came and Harry found himself wondering whether Malfoy had really changed or whether he was just an accomplished actor.
“I think I can help with that,” Malfoy said. “I would, of course, need to see the phials and ingredients and perform a few tests, but my potions lab and library should hold some answers.”
“So, you’d be willing to help me?” Harry asked.
“For a price,” Malfoy nodded. “Yes.”
With a sigh, Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m afraid the Department of Magical Law Enforcement isn’t able to pay you, Malfoy, but if you insist I will pay you out of my own pocket.”
“Oh Potter, really?” Malfoy looked rather affronted. “I don’t need the Ministry’s or your money.”
“Then what is it that you want?” Harry asked.
“My name on the case report. I don’t wish to be some nameless informant, but your equal. That shall be my price.”
“That’s all you want?” Now it was Harry’s turn to look affronted. “I would have done that anyway. I’m not in the habit of passing somebody else’s hard work off as my own.”
“Well, as long as we’re clear.” Malfoy shrugged and their conversation was cut short by the reappearance of Tibby the house elf, who served them tea and scones.
“Will Master Malfoy be requiring anything else, sir?”
“No, Tibby. Thank you.”
“Master is most welcome, sir. Tibby will now tend to his other duties.”
“You do that. If I need you, I’ll call for you.”
“Certainly, Master Malfoy, sir.” With that, the little elf disappeared and Harry once again found himself confounded by what he had witnessed. Malfoy wasn’t anything like the boy he remembered. He was – Harry wasn’t quite sure what he was, but he couldn’t deny that he liked the changes he’d observed so far. Then again, he really should have known. He’d already met the man’s son.
“Cat got your tongue, Potter?” Malfoy pulled Harry back to reality, offering him a cup of hot tea. “Don’t worry, it’s not poisoned; wouldn’t dream of harming Britain’s Golden Boy, Head Auror Potter.”
“Ha, bloody ha, Malfoy.” Harry rolled his eyes and accepted the tea. He blew at it and then took a careful sip, nodding in approval.
“Darjeeling,” Malfoy stated, sampling his own tea and nodding in agreement. Harry silently noted that Malfoy had neither added milk nor sugar to his tea.
“I like it.” Harry smiled. “Admittedly, I mostly use tea bags to make tea.”
“You can’t make tea from tea bags. Tea bags are a crime!” Malfoy looked rather outraged. “This is how you drink tea,” he added more calmly.
“Duly noted,” Harry said, swallowing the rest of the sentence that had been on his tongue, maybe you could teach me. He wasn’t sure where that thought had come from.
For a moment they sat in silence each drinking their tea, then Malfoy directed their conversation back to Harry’s case, asking a few questions. Harry willingly divulged the information, providing as many details as he could not see any point in keeping Malfoy in the dark.
Once they had finished their tea — Harry had been very tempted to comment on just how much the scones tasted like the ones they’d enjoyed back at Hogwarts — Malfoy took him to his potions lab and Harry took a curious glance around. The entire place was rather state-of-the-art, with plenty of space for potions brewing, an entire wall filled with row after row of books, and a massive open plan walk-in storage room for ingredients.
“How is it that you’re not a full-time Potions Master?” Harry asked as Malfoy examined the phials inside the crate.
“I am,” Malfoy replied. “But I brew on my terms. Also, I prefer research a lot more than mindlessly brewing potions. Anyone can follow the instructions in a book, but not many people know how to improve existing potions or even create new ones.”
“I see. Made any interesting discoveries yet?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know, Potter,” Malfoy said with a smirk and eyeing a particular phial, he uncorked it and carefully smelled it. “I want to say it’s Amortentia, but there’s something off about it,” he stated with a frown. Harry watched him worry his bottom lip, and then Malfoy rummaged about the crate but stopped a short while later.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” Harry asked.
“I don’t know,” Malfoy replied and placing the cork back inside the empty phial, he returned it to the crate. He then turned on his heel and scanning the bookshelf, he eventually pulled out a large red book titled Love Potions.
“I highly doubt the criminals I’m looking for are brewing love potions, Malfoy,” Harry found himself saying, and Malfoy looked up from the pages of the book and fixed his gaze on Harry.
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure, Potter,” he said.
“What? Are we dealing with a group of love-sick teenage wizards and witches brewing love potions?” Harry laughed but stopped immediately when Malfoy shot him an icy glare.
“Potter, please tell me you aren’t seriously that thick or I will be forced to question the Minster how you managed become Head Auror. Existing potions can be amended; all it takes is a skilled Potions Master or Mistress to do so.”
“I know that.” Harry defensively crossed his arms over his chest. “I just don’t see why anyone would want to brew Amortentia and sell it illegally. It makes no sense.”
“It’s not Amortentia, though,” Malfoy replied, flicking through the pages of the book in his hand. A short while later he sighed in exasperation and snapped the book closed.
“Amortentia causes a powerful obsession in the person who drinks it,” Harry mumbled and reaching for the case file, he reached for his wand and conjured a quill, taking a note.
“Yes, Potter, I am quite aware of that. Again, it’s not Amortentia. It appears to have some similarities to it, but it’s not the same potion.”
“What is it then?” Harry asked, beginning to wonder whether this case would turn out to be more complicated than he’d initially thought. He’d cast several revelation charms on each of the potion phials but they’d all come back negative or without any results at all. Then again, there were a number of reasons why that could be the case. The quality of the potion and the amount left in the phial all played a part in how effective the spell was.
“That, Potter, I don’t know – yet,” Malfoy said with what very much sounded like a sigh. “But I have an odd feeling that you’re not going to like the answer when I find out,” he continued and Harry noted that he appeared to look anything but happy. “Since you and your team have failed to correctly identify any of the potion leftovers in the phials, I am inclined to believe that the potions were changed, their original ingredients either substituted or other ingredients added altogether. The brewing process could also have been changed.”
“Are you saying someone is inventing new potions?” Harry asked. He really didn’t like the idea of that.
“If my theory is right, I believe so,” Malfoy nodded. “Give me a few days to experiment a little; I may be able to tell you more.”
“Thank you,” Harry said without thinking. “I’d really appreciate that.”
“Thank me once I actually know something,” Malfoy replied, then asked if he could keep the evidence grate.
“Er…” Harry hesitated. “I suppose you could.”
“Great. I’ll stop by your office early next week. Say Tuesday. Either I’ll know more, or you’ll have to find a better Potions Master.”
“I have faith in you.”
“High praise, Potter, high praise indeed,” Malfoy smirked. Again, it wasn’t a mocking smirk, merely an amused one, given their complicated history.
“I suppose I should leave you to it,” Harry said, glancing at his watch and discovering that it was already eight pm. “I’ve already taken up way too much of your time.”
“I’ll live,” Malfoy said and offering to see Harry out, he left his potions lab, and then abruptly stopped in the middle of his study, causing Harry to almost bump into him. “If you’re hungry, I can let the elves know to add another plate to the dinner table,” he offered and for a moment Harry didn’t know how to react. Part of him wanted to accept Malfoy’s unexpected invitation to stay for dinner but another larger part him warned him that Malfoy was probably just being polite and not at all serious.
“I’ve…” Harry started but trailed off.
“Plans?” Malfoy finished for him. “Thought as much.”
Harry didn’t know whether there was regret in Malfoy’s voice or whether he was imagining it, but either way, he wanted to kick himself. He didn’t have any plans; dinner back at Grimmauld Place would definitely be a lonely affair. “I’ll see you next week?” he asked instead, changing the topic in hope to cover up for his inability to either properly accept or turn down something as simple as an unexpected dinner invitation.
Malfoy nodded. “I’ll owl if I find something earlier. Come on then, I’ll show you out.”
Harry nodded and they walked to the door in silence. Malfoy opened it and stepping outside, Harry shivered a little. Maybe he should’ve brought a jacket, after all, only he really hadn’t expected his visit would last this long. He turned and smiled at Malfoy, extending his hand. Malfoy stared at it for a moment but shook it anyway.
“Thanks again for accepting my request for help,” Harry said and Malfoy nodded.
“I quite like puzzles,” he replied with a barely-visible smile. Harry, unsure of what to say simply nodded, then turned on his heel and walked away. A few steps from the door, he concentrated on the apparition point nearest to his home and seconds later he was gone.
Chapter 5: Finite Incantatem
Everything is well. Thanks for checking in; I do enjoy your letters.
I seem to spend most of my time with essay writing; I don’t know how many quills I have broken…ha-ha!
Most interesting class? Hm, that one’s easy. Third-year students start Curse Breaking with Professor Weasley and it’s a most intriguing subject, though rather difficult and sometimes definitely a little dangerous.
I don’t think father approves too much of the subject but I reckon my enthusiasm keeps him from objecting too loudly.
Yesterday’s class was particularly exciting. Professor Weasley placed a galleon on everyone’s desks and of course, most of us went straight for the gold. Half the class ended up with boils on their hands because the coin was cursed. It was also fake. Professor Weasley had a healing potion on hand though, so all ended well. Quite an illuminating lesson, really.
Right – I best return to my never-ending essays.
Looking forward to your reply,
Harry smiled as he folded the letter that had arrived with this morning’s post. He had sent Scorpius a quick note to let him know that he had met with his father but hadn’t divulged any details just yet. He and Malfoy had only met once and it had all been about work. Harry figured there wasn’t much to tell — yet — and so he had focused on Scorpius instead. He quite liked him and wanted to get to know him a little better, understand him more.
He had been right in his assumption that Scorpius would mention being busy with his studies, but what Harry found most intriguing was that Scorpius Malfoy had a thing for Curse Breaking. He had heard about the class from Bill, of course. It was an intriguing new subject to be taught at Hogwarts, for it combined several aspects of Charms, Transfiguration, and Defence Against the Dark Arts. Sometimes his own job required him to do a little curse breaking himself but given his own history with curses, Harry wasn’t too fond of the subject and generally preferred to avoid it at all costs. The Auror Department had professionally trained Curse Breakers, much like Bill Weasley, and Harry was very glad to leave it to them to take care of all the curse breaking. There were, of course, occasions when it was unavoidable for Harry to get his own hands dirty, but those occasions were rare and Harry welcomed the challenge and change of pace they brought.
Scorpius’ excitement about the subject was fairly obvious and Harry suddenly found himself remembering his own days at Hogwarts. Back then, he had excitedly written to Sirius, telling him all about his Defence Against the Dark Arts classes. Back then, his letters had probably been just like Scorpius’ letter to him. Harry couldn’t help but wonder whether Scorpius also shared all his excitement over his classes with his father and decided that he probably did. Scorpius seemed to have a close bond with his father, which made Harry — for reasons he couldn’t quite understand — feel just a little envious. Although, he really had nothing to complain about; he had Teddy and the two of them had a close bond, one Harry was very proud of. Teddy was his pride and joy.
With a sigh, Harry finished his morning tea. He levitated his empty cup and his breakfast plate over to the sink, quickly cleaned and dried the dishes, and then returned them to their rightful places. As he leant back against the worktop, Harry decided that he really missed Kreacher.
For the most part, Kreacher had been a cranky old elf and he’d muttered a lot of horrible things, but he had eventually warmed up to Harry. They’d grown to like each other and after the war, once Harry had started to redecorate the house, Kreacher had become fiercely protective of his new old home. He’d reprimanded anyone who didn’t take off their shoes at the front door, going as far as to banish them out to the front steps until they did. Harry couldn’t help but laugh at the memory. The one time Kreacher had banished Ron to the front step of Grimmauld Place, Ron had been so angry he practically had steam coming out of his ears. He had been ready to strangle Kreacher, and it had taken Harry the better part of the afternoon — as well as half a bottle of expensive Firewhiskey — to appease Ron enough to forgive Kreacher.
Sadly, Kreacher had passed away a few years ago, and although Harry had long since gotten used to the quiet of the house, he had his moments when he missed the grumpy old elf and his ramblings. Some evenings, Harry remembered fondly, they’d had some seriously interesting conversations. Kreacher, delighted to be the centre of attention, had shared a lot of stories with Harry, who had saved them all in his own personal Pensieve, lest he forget.
Harry had thought about getting a new elf, finding Grimmauld Place too big and too quiet and longing for some company in the evenings, but so far it had only ever been a thought. Creature of habit, Harry thought to himself and resolutely banishing his morose thoughts, he left the kitchen and slipped into his scarlet Auror robes. He had a mountain of work waiting for him at the office, a fact that filled him with a bit of dread rather than extreme excitement.
“Come in,” Harry responded to the knock on his door, trying and failing for the umpteenth time to dry his department-issued Auror robes. They stubbornly remained soaking wet and Harry loudly cursed the offending item with much vigour.
“Do you treat all your visitors with such colourful language?” A familiar, posh-sounding drawl came from the door and Harry spun around.
“Malfoy,” he stated flatly, more in acknowledgement of the fact that Draco Malfoy stood in the doorway to his office rather than surprise. He forced himself to adopt a more reasonable tone; there was no need to take his frustration out on Malfoy. He was in a rotten mood but it absolutely wasn’t Malfoy’s fault, and he didn’t want to damage their tentative working relationship.
Another case was driving him up the wall and this morning’s visit to a suspect’s cottage just outside Canterbury had left him soaking wet. For once, Britain’s atrocious rains were not to blame. The reason was of entirely magical nature. Upon his return to the office, he’d changed into a dry set of clothes but his Auror robes stubbornly refused to comply. It simply didn’t seem to matter how many drying spells he hit them with, and at this stage he was about ready to rip the blasted garment to shreds.
“Potter, did you forget to take your robes off before your shower?” Malfoy asked, his amusement evident and Harry glared daggers. Or at least he hoped he was glaring daggers, because he was not amused, not even in the slightest.
“Ha, bloody, ha Malfoy,” he grumbled and fired another drying spell at his robes. Inevitably, this one was just as useless as the last ten spells he’d attacked his robes with.
“Practicing duelling then?” Malfoy mocked and Harry continued to glare.
“Malfoy, I’m not in the mood,” Harry stated monotonously, managing to resist the intense urge to set his robes on fire. It wouldn’t work anyway; they’d been doused with permanent Anti-Burn-Potion and were therefore fire- and flame-resistant. Instead, he holstered his wand and rounding his desk, he slumped into his chair and rubbed his sore temples.
“Sorry, Malfoy – please come in and have a seat,” he said several moments later when it occurred to him that Malfoy was still standing in his doorway, having neither left nor moved further into the room. He fully expected a mocking comment, but Malfoy simply nodded and strode into the room. He closed the door behind him, then took a seat in front of Harry’s desk and crossed his legs, sitting back comfortably.
“Were you able to discover anything?” Harry asked, for the first time actually looking at Malfoy, who appeared rather tired, though he hid it well. There were no dark circles under his eyes but that didn’t have to mean anything. Harry knew all too well that those could be hidden with a simple glamouring spell or a beautifying potion or cream.
“Yes,” Malfoy nodded, “and as I predicted, I don’t think you’ll like what I found out.”
Harry wanted to pull a face, but he resisted the temptation.
“First things first though,” Malfoy continued and drawing his wand he aimed it at Harry’s Auror robes and one wordless spell later they were dry. Harry gaped and Malfoy reminded him that this was unbecoming.
“How?” Harry asked, rising to his feet again to inspect his robes. They were as dry as they’d ever been.
“Traditional drying spells are ineffective when it comes to flame-resistant clothing,” Malfoy shrugged. “A simple Finite Incantatem, however, usually does the trick. If one’s clothes got wet by means of a spell that is, which is what I presume happened to your robes. Seriously Potter; are you sure you have the right job?”
“Show off,” Harry mumbled and leaving his robes be, he returned to his desk chair and sat down again.
“You’re welcome,” Malfoy pointedly ignored Harry’s comment and instead reached into his robes to take out two small potion phials. He placed the first one on Harry’s desk and slapped his fingers away when Harry instinctively went to reach for it. “This is ordinary Amortentia, I trust you know what it does.” It wasn’t a question, but rather a statement. Harry nodded anyway.
“This,” Malfoy placed the second phial on Harry’s desk, “is the kind of Amortentia that was left over in one of those phials you brought me last week. For lack of a better name, let’s call it Amortentia II.”
“You managed to brew it,” Harry said, his interest and curiosity instantly piqued, and Malfoy nodded.
“I did,” he said with a sigh, “and this is the part that you won’t like.”
“What does it do?” Harry asked.
“From what I gather, based on the interaction of the ingredients used, it doesn’t cause a powerful obsession but rather puts the drinker in a trance-like state, unable to resist when given instructions to do something,” Malfoy explained. Harry gulped and took a moment to consider what Malfoy had said.
“Are you telling me that this,” Harry paused to reach for the phial and this time Malfoy didn’t stop him, “is basically a liquid Imperius curse?” Harry eyed the phial in his hands with utter disdain, then looked at Malfoy. “How good a Potions Master does one have to be to make this version of Amortentia?”
Malfoy clasped his hands together. “Far above average; the ingredients are nearly the same but the brewing process is slightly different, much more delicate. It took me a good while to get it right.”
“This isn’t good,” Harry mumbled. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he registered that Malfoy hadn’t made a dig at his – at best – average potion skills, but he was too preoccupied with the news to really appreciate the gesture. “This isn’t good at all,” he repeated and setting the phial back down on his desk, Harry leant back in his chair and rubbed his suddenly tired eyes.
“Fuck,” he mumbled, then glanced at Malfoy, who refrained from commenting. “Kingsley, I mean the Ministry, well the DMLE really, put a trace on the three Unforgivable curses after the war. The moment you cast it, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement knows, we know,” he said, though he wasn’t quite sure whether he was talking to himself or to Malfoy.
“This potion is a rather convenient way to get around Ministry restrictions,” Malfoy remarked with a rather serious expression. “I’m still working on identifying the other potions, but I reckon they too are modified versions of existing potions.”
“Just for once, can’t I get a simple case of underage magic or a matrimonial disagreement that’s resulted in spell abuse? Hell, a rogue dementor sounds more appealing than this,” Harry sighed and getting to his feet, he crossed his office and opened the door. “Weasley, Andrews, Rowan, Justins, Kegan!” he hollered and a few moments later, five of his most senior Aurors stood in his office. If they were at all surprised to see Draco Malfoy in Harry’s office, they hid it well.
Malfoy remained silent while Harry updated his team on the new developments and the five Aurors listened carefully, nodding where appropriate, quietly taking orders from their superior. Weasley asked about the full list of ingredients required to brew the potion and once Malfoy finished supplying the information, Ron suggested that they contact their international liaison within the Department of International Magical Cooperation, just in case. Harry nodded and the team left shortly after, closing the door behind them on their way out.
Harry returned to his chair and sat down. He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, then sighed before putting his glasses back in place. He looked at Malfoy, who hadn’t said a word since Harry’s team of senior Aurors had departed from his office.
“Thank you,” Harry mumbled, sensing it was probably his turn to say something.
“You’re welcome,” Malfoy nodded curtly and rising slowly, he straightened his robes. “I better leave you to it,” he added, then motioned towards the two potion phials, “I’ll leave these with you,” he noted, and Harry glanced at the phial that contained the plain Amortentia.
“Not sure what I’m supposed to do with a love potion, but alright,” he smiled wistfully.
“Find a lucky…person and make them find you irresistible for one night?” Malfoy offered, although the mischievous glint in his eyes made it obvious that he wasn’t being serious. At least Harry hoped Malfoy wasn’t being serious.
“I don’t think I’ll need a potion for that,” Harry laughed.
“Your present relationship status suggests that you do,” Malfoy winked and Harry frowned.
“Some things never change with you, Malfoy, do they?” Harry rolled his eyes, although he wasn’t offended that Malfoy was so blatantly mocking the fact that he was still unmarried and single to boot.
“I suppose not,” Malfoy laughed and with a billow of his robes, he vanished from Harry’s office. Harry stared after him for the longest time, then having finally managed to regain his composure, he focused his attention back on his work.
Malfoy’s findings had increased his caseload drastically, and he needed to urgently redistribute some of his open cases to some of his junior staff members. Also, he still hadn’t managed to put a serious dent into the horrendous pile of paperwork on his desk.
Chapter 6: The Malfoy Pull
Harry eyed the magically enlarged dining table in the Weasley’s living room with the greatest respect. It was groaning under the weight of all the food Molly Weasley was serving them and by the looks of it, she was still adding dishes. Dinner at the Burrow was always a jolly affair and no matter how frustrating his day at work had been, Harry could always count on his adopted family to make it all go away. Tonight, the entire family, except for Charlie, including spouses and children, had descended upon the Burrow and there were children everywhere.
Harry smiled and felt right at home. Molly was most definitely in her element, though these days she was no longer alone in the kitchen. Fleur, Angelina, Audrey, and Hermione were helping her, while Arthur Weasley wisely kept away far from all the tumult, hiding behind the latest copy of the Daily Prophet. Bill had apparated over from Hogwarts and Percy stood in the kitchen doorway, engaged in a heated debate on Magical Law with Hermione, which by the looks of it, he was losing. It truly amazed Harry how Hermione managed to remain so entirely focused on her cooking charms, all the while putting Percy in his place, much to the amusement of Percy’s wife as well as his mother.
Ginny was entertaining the younger children with fantastic tales of her Quidditch career and George and Ron were laughing about George’s latest invention for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
Harry relished in the buzz of it all and savoured every moment of his time surrounded by friends and family. Nobody paid any attention to him and that was what made it feel like home. He could do what he wanted when he wanted and say what he wanted when he wanted. Here at the Burrow he wasn’t Harry Potter, the Head of the Auror Department, and he most definitely wasn’t the Saviour of the Wizarding World; he was just Harry and would always be just Harry. Nobody ever treated him like he was anyone special, he was just another member of the family.
Walking over to where Arthur Weasley was reading the Daily Prophet, Harry sat down on the old sofa, which creaked beneath him. Arthur almost immediately lowered the newspaper, folded it, and grinned, “Harry, my boy. Nasty business that potion smuggling case you caught.”
Harry nodded. “We’ll catch those idiots.” He tried his best to sound convincing, years as an officer of the law had taught him how to, but if he was honest, he wasn’t too sure. The case was confusing and it worried him a great deal, but he didn’t let anything on.
“Of that, I have no doubt,” Arthur smiled and glancing around he made sure his wife wasn’t within earshot before leaning closer to Harry. “A word of warning, Molly has invited someone she told me you simply must meet.”
Harry instantly grimaced. “Not another blind date,” he sighed. Molly’s concern for him was endearing, but he hated the fact that she had made it her mission to find him a life partner. He was truly grateful that she didn’t blame him for never having married Ginny. She hadn’t even batted an eyelid when he had sat her down for a chat and told her that he preferred men. Following his coming out to her, she’d simply given him the biggest, warmest hug and told him that he was still very much part of the family. Two weeks later, however, Charlie had written from Romania, informing Harry all about his mother’s letter in which she was asking him whether he knew any handsome single gay wizards in Britain.
They had both laughed about it, but ever since then, Harry was stuck with Molly setting him up with various handsome wizards she deemed worthy of his time. For the three years that he had dated Milo she had given it a rest, but shortly after Harry had told her about their mutual decision to separate, she’d resumed her motherly duties of finding him a spouse. Sometimes he wondered why Molly never bothered to set Ginny up, but he didn’t have the balls to ask her about it. He supposed he could but had simply never tried — and probably would never — to find out. He suspected Ginny had outright told her mother not to get involved in her love life.
“‘Fraid so, Harry, ‘fraid so,” Arthur laughed good-naturedly. “Just keep eating and nodding politely.”
“She’s never going to give it a rest, is she?” Harry grinned.
“You know my Molly,” Arthur chuckled, getting up when Molly called everyone to the table. One simply didn’t make the woman wait, at least not if one wanted to remain unscathed.
Before she permitted everyone to sit down, Molly pulled Harry aside and introduced him to a rather handsome-looking young gentleman. According to her, he’d arrived at the Burrow just a minute earlier and was apparently a good friend of some friend of hers Harry had never heard of. “Harry, please meet Leo,” she said, wrapping her arm around Leo’s shoulder, most likely to make him more comfortable, though Harry was sure that it was having the opposite effect. Harry smiled politely and extended his hand.
“Pleased to meet you, Leo. I’m Harry,” he said, shaking his impromptu blind date’s hand.
Leo smiled somewhat shyly. “Heard a lot about you, already,” Leo responded and Harry, in a bit to ease the tension between them, laughed good-naturedly.
“Ah yes, good old Molly Weasley probably told you a whole bunch of horror stories. Come on, let’s sit down for dinner. It’s not wise to let Molly wait.”
Harry and Leo chatted amicably throughout dinner, engaging in polite small talk, but Harry instantly felt that nothing further would come out of their meeting. While Harry knew that Molly thoroughly vetted his prospective dates to ensure that none of them were after his fame, she always chose somewhat shy and reserved guys and those simply weren’t Harry’s type. He supposed he could tell Molly, but he didn’t think she’d willingly set him up with somewhat of a bad guy. For that she was far too protective of him and Harry loved her for it.
Harry caught Molly surreptitiously sneaking a glance or two in his and Leo’s direction throughout dinner and judging by her big grin, she was probably already planning their wedding, bless her. He suppressed a sigh and continued to keep up the pretence that everything was going well.
After dinner, everyone lingered for a while and while Harry felt somewhat obligated to chat with Leo, he also made sure to grab a moment alone with Bill to ask about his classes at Hogwarts. Harry very much wanted to inquire about Scorpius Malfoy, the temptation was almost too great to suppress, but figured that he had no business doing so. He eventually returned to Leo’s side, suggesting that they head into London for a few post-dinner drinks.
Leo gratefully accepted and it was obvious to Harry that the frivolous madness that was dinner at the Burrow had rather shaken him up. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, Harry knew that much, and so he dutifully said his goodbyes to everyone, firmly told Molly not to get her hopes up and then apparated them both to a small gay Muggle pub not too far from Diagon Alley. They found a quiet corner, ordered a few drinks, and chatted amicably for a while, but it quickly became rather undeniable that they would never be more than friends. Harry apologised profusely for Molly forcing them on a blind date, but Leo simply laughed it off, telling him not to worry. If anything, they’d enjoyed a good conversation and Harry had to agree that that much was true.
Around ten pm, Harry returned to Grimmauld Place and settling in the living room, he poured himself a generous glass of Firewhiskey. As he sat down in his favourite armchair, he instantly missed the buzz of the Burrow. In the immediate aftermath of his return from the Burrow the quiet inside Grimmauld Place was oppressing, the contrast too stark for Harry to smoothly adapt to it.
There had been a time when he had been convinced that he and Ginny would have their own madhouse here at Grimmauld Place, but he had quickly realised that they weren’t meant to be together. They had both realised it. Naturally, there had been a good few intense arguments between them, but that was just what Ginny was like. In the end, she had been more understanding and supportive than Harry could have hoped for.
The faint pop of a somewhat familiar-looking elf suddenly apparating straight into his living room caused Harry to nearly jump out of his skin in fright and in his haste to draw his wand, he spilt some of his Firewhiskey all over himself.
“Tibby is sorry. Tibby did not mean to startle Mr Potter, sir.”
“It’s alright,” Harry appeased the terrified elf. “I suppose you have a message for me?”
“Master Malfoy is asking if Mr Potter is available this evening. He apologises for the late hour,” the elf answered him meekly, still looking positively frightened over the fact that he had managed to scare a wizard. Harry lunged forward to stop the elf from wringing his large ears.
“Does he want to come over?” Harry asked, wondering whether distracting the elf might help defuse the tension between them.
“Master Malfoy is asking if Mr Potter is willing to visit him at the Manor. Sir have been drinking, Tibby can tell. Tibby thinks apparating is not safe. Tibby can take Mr Potter to the Manor, sir,” the elf said proudly, his delight at being able to offer his services clear as day. Harry found it endearing and tried his best not to think of Dobby because that memory stung and Harry didn’t want to feel mopey tonight.
“Very well,” Harry shrugged and downing the last of his drink, he placed the empty glass on the mantelpiece above his fireplace. He was tired but also intrigued as to why Malfoy wanted to see him this late.
“If Mr Potter is ready, sir?” the elf asked and Harry nodded. He crouched down and a second later Harry felt the elf’s gentle touch and another second later they’d both vanished, only to reappear in Malfoy’s study. Harry tried his best to stand up straight but the alcohol he’d consumed, combined with the aftereffects of apparition, made him feel dizzy and he swayed a little. Feeling somewhat unsteady on his feet, he reached out for the chair in front of Malfoy’s desk and holding on to it, he took a deep breath or two.
“Bit inebriated, are you, Potter?” Malfoy snorted with suppressed laughter and Harry glared at him.
“I assure you, I am not drunk,” Harry said through gritted teeth.
“I can smell the Firewhisky on you, Potter,” Malfoy rolled his eyes mockingly.
“I blame your elf, he scared me half to death and I spilt some.”
“Yes, blame a helpless elf, why don’t you,” Malfoy shook his head. He got up and wordlessly vanished into his Potions lab. A moment later he returned with a phial.
“Drink that,” he said, all but thrusting the potion phial into Harry’s hands.
“What is it?” Harry eyed the unlabelled phial somewhat apprehensively.
“Merely something to help you sober up. I can assure you, I wouldn’t dream of trying to poison you,” Malfoy drawled.
Too tired to argue, Harry sighed and uncorking the phial, he gulped it down. He immediately recognised the familiar taste of a Sobriety Potion. A moment later, he felt less fuzzy and the gentle fog in his head cleared up.
“Did you brew this?” he asked and Malfoy nodded. “I guess I was drunker than I thought. My apologies, went on a date tonight,” Harry explained himself, though he wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like he owed Malfoy an explanation. He was a grown man and whether he chose to drink or not was entirely his own decision.
“And it was so horrible that you decided to get drunk to forget all about it?” Malfoy asked with an amused chuckle. “I told you to put that love potion to good use.”
“It was a blind date. Didn’t know anything about it until it was too late.”
“Your friends trying to set you up?”
“Just one. It’s Molly Weasley’s thing. I don’t have the heart to tell her to stop.”
“Blimey, Potter, you really do have a saviour complex!” Malfoy mocked.
Harry pursed his lips and decided to swallow the snarky comeback was on the tip of his tongue. Instead, he changed the subject. “Why did you need me to come over this late?”
“I didn’t need you to come over. I just wanted to see if you would,” Malfoy replied with a smirk and Harry frowned, unsure whether Malfoy was mocking him or actually being serious for a change.
“Malfoy, I swear, if you called me here for nothing, I will hex you!” Harry growled, mildly annoyed at the ill-placed humour this late in the evening. Somehow this was exactly something Malfoy would do and Harry didn’t appreciate it one bit. All it did was to remind him of their petty Hogwarts rivalry and now, in his mid-thirties, he was decidedly too old to continue that moronic behaviour.
“Relax, Potter. I do have something for you. Potions lab?” Malfoy appeased him.
“This better be good,” Harry grumbled but followed Malfoy anyway.
Chapter 7: Reminiscence
Harry stretched luxuriously and rolled onto his back. He blinked a few times and groaned when the bright sunlight hit his eyes. Squeezing them closed, he groped around for his wand but gave up when he couldn’t find it, deciding to go back to sleep instead.
“Are you planning to spend all day in bed?” Hermione’s voice pushed past the fog in his sleep-laden brain and rolling onto his side, Harry blinked and stared at Hermione’s blurred form with bleary eyes. She appeared to be leaning against the doorframe of his bedroom but without his glasses, Harry couldn’t be entirely sure. For all he knew, she could also be a figment of his imagination.
“That depends entirely on what time it is,” Harry mumbled after a moment’s hesitation and reaching for his glasses, he put them on. His vision cleared instantly.
“Almost noon,” Hermione said and Harry groaned, wondering when he had last slept quite this long. He honestly couldn’t remember. These days, getting up at nine in the morning on a Saturday constituted as a lie-in. “Must have been one heck of a date last night, Harry. Shall I let Molly know that she can keep planning the wedding then?”
Finally sitting up in bed, Harry glared at his best friend and pulled his covers up to his shoulders, conscious of the fact that he was naked under the blanket. “Would you mind?” he said pointedly, making no attempt at getting out of bed while Hermione was still standing in his bedroom.
“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” Hermione laughed but retreated anyway and Harry wondered when she had ever seen him naked. He supposed she had but he had probably suppressed the memory to save himself a lifetime of trauma. “I’ll be in the kitchen,” Hermione called from the hallway. “Ron’s picking the kids up at granny’s and knowing her, Molly won’t let them leave without lunch so don’t think you’re going to give me the slip. I want all the saucy details!”
“Fag hag,” Harry mumbled, only climbing out of bed when he was sure that Hermione had returned downstairs. He didn’t usually sleep completely starkers but he had arrived home so late last night that he hadn’t bothered with his pyjamas, opting for sleep instead. He headed straight into the en-suite bathroom and under the shower. He suspected his wand was in the pile of clothes beside his bed and too lazy to retrieve it, he shaved the Muggle way, brushed his teeth, and put on some fresh clothes. He then patted downstairs and into the kitchen where Hermione welcomed him with a cup of strong, steaming hot tea. She had also prepared him some sandwiches.
“Thanks,” Harry smiled, kissing her cheek on the way to his usual spot. He sat down at the kitchen table, sipped his tea, and then reached for a sandwich. Cucumber, cheese and chicken, his favourite, he noted as he bit into it. Hermione waited patiently until he had eaten half of it, then she sat down across from him and accosted him with an avalanche of questions.
“‘Mione, please,” Harry sighed, itching to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Nothing happened. Leo and I had a few drinks and then went our separate ways. He’s not my type and I doubt me and my crazy adopted family are his. Bless Molly for trying, but there’s no spark there nor will there ever be.”
“You could at least give it a try, make a bit more of an effort,” Hermione pushed the subject, just like she always did, and even though Harry felt like glaring at her he didn’t because he knew she meant well. Just like Molly did. It was their way of showing him they loved him and he couldn’t take offence at that. Odd as it sounded, they were family and this was what family did. They wanted him happy, wanted him settled with someone who would love him and take care of him and only him. Harry truly appreciated their concern and their loving effort – it made him feel wanted, made him stop despairing about ending up a grouchy old fool without anyone to share his life with.
“Doesn’t going for drinks constitute as giving it a try?” Harry asked hopefully, but Hermione clicked her tongue in obvious disagreement.
“Did you meet someone else then?” She continued to push the matter and Harry finished his sandwich agonisingly slow, deliberately leaving her hanging. She glared but waited patiently, probably sensing that he was just hungry. Then again, she was also the kind of friend who let him get away with stalling for time.
“I didn’t meet anyone else, I was home by ten,” he answered truthfully. “Malfoy sent his elf to ask me to drop by the Manor to discuss the case and I did. I got back very late, hence my still being in bed at noon. Is that explanation to your satisfaction, Undersecretary Granger?” he asked, swallowing a cheeky remark about how Hermione would make an excellent interrogator.
“Interesting. So, in the space of a little over a week, you went from not knowing how to approach Malfoy to jumping the second he calls?”
“Blunt as always, ‘Mione,” Harry rolled his eyes. “Malfoy made some important discovery, that’s all.” Harry frowned, not sure why Hermione was grilling him so mercilessly about this. Malfoy had indeed discovered something else that could possibly move the case ahead, although Harry had to admit that Malfoy could have waited until today to call him over. On the other hand, Harry wasn’t keen on the fact that someone was brewing potions with the same qualities as the Imperius curse and the sooner they caught the culprits, the sooner he could make sure they would rot in a prison cell. He couldn’t help but wonder whether Malfoy shared his sentiment on the matter and had therefore contacted him immediately upon making his discoveries.
“I just want you to be careful,” Hermione’s voice softened considerably and she reached out to place her hand on top of Harry’s forearm. “You two have a history, just don’t forget that.”
“What do you mean?” Harry frowned. Hermione sounded like she was hinting at something but he wasn’t sure.
“What I said,” Hermione merely smiled one of her knowing smiles. “A lot happened between you two back at Hogwarts, just don’t ignore that.”
“That was more than fifteen years ago, ‘Mione.”
“As long as you’re sure,” Hermione shrugged and getting up, she reached for his empty plate and carried it over to the sink where she cleaned and dried it before placing it back in the cupboard. As Harry watched her potter about his kitchen, he couldn’t help but smile. This was Hermione’s style. She would bring up something she thought he ought to think about, but she never pushed the matter beyond what he could accept; Harry was grateful for that. Feeling somewhat sappy he finished his tea, crossed the kitchen, and walked right up to Hermione, hugging her from behind. She yelped at the unsuspected ambush but laughed when he placed a kiss on her cheek.
“Thanks for everything, ‘Mione,” he mumbled, feeling truly grateful to count her among his friends. She had walked through fire with him, just like Ron had, and despite having a family of her own, she was still always there, mothering him, looking after him, making sure he was well. She squirmed in his embrace and loosening his hold on her, Harry allowed her to turn around in his arms. She cupped his cheeks with her wet hands and placed a gentle kiss on his nose, before pushing him away.
“Harry James Potter, are you absolutely sure that you’re gay?” she laughed, mocking him for his ill-placed affections, though Harry knew she secretly relished in it.
“Quite sure. While I can appreciate a woman’s beauty, your stunning beauty, it does nothing for my nether regions.”
“Too much information, Harry, way too much information,” she chided him, then announced her departure, saying she still had a few things to take care of before Ron and the children returned. “Feel free to come over for dinner tonight, if you don’t have any other plans,” she told him, then she made her way into the living room. Harry followed but stopped at the door and silently watched as the green flames in the fireplace roared to life. A moment later Hermione was gone and the room was quiet again.
For a moment, Harry allowed himself to feel a little sorry for himself. He had been single for way too long and if he was honest with himself, he really missed having a special someone. Unfortunately, in that department, things hadn’t quite worked out yet. Sometimes he wondered whether he simply didn’t make enough of an effort with the men Molly kept setting him up with, but in his heart, he knew that not to be the case.
He and Milo had been serious, very serious indeed, but his promotion to Head Auror hadn’t left him with a lot of free time. They had tried, by Merlin they had tried, but then Milo, following the completion of his training and a year as Junior Auror, had decided to forgo any further active Auror duty in favour of teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. What precious little bit of free time they had left had gone right out of the window. Milo was forever busy preparing classes and grading essays and Harry’s crazy schedule hadn’t left him with the luxury of apparating to Hogwarts to see Milo.
They had initially tried to make it work on weekends, but quite often, Harry had ended up having to work overtime. It had put a strain on their relationship soon enough and separation had been a mutual decision, though to this day they were still very good friends, which Harry truly appreciated. Just like when they had been an item, they still didn’t see each other often, but Harry enjoyed the fact that Milo was always just an owl away. He was an extraordinary listener, something Harry had always appreciated. Harry had very much neglected to stop by Milo’s quarter after his latest visit to Hogwarts, but that day he had been rather preoccupied with all things Scorpius Malfoy. He hadn’t even stayed to find Teddy but had since profusely apologised to them both. He had owled Milo a bottle of his favourite gin and Teddy had found himself the lucky recipient of an oversized care package, courtesy of one very apologetic godfather.
Resolutely shaking himself out of his reverie, Harry decided that there was no point in him pining over a non-existent lover and with a small sigh he made his way into his study. He owed a certain young gentleman a letter.
Slamming yet another book closed, Draco growled in frustration. He simply couldn’t find any potion that called for the use of Adder’s Fork. It irked him that none of the potion brewing books in his personal library made any mention of it and he could hardly start brewing an array of potions in the hope that adding Adder’s Fork to one of them might solve the mystery for him. Though, he was mildly tempted to do just that.
Instead, he replaced the book and skimmed over the various other titles of potions books he had in his possession. He was rather proud of that library and it had never failed him before which was why not finding anything tangible on the properties or the use for Adder’s Fork made him feel extremely vexed. He had found some information about it in Britain’s Magical Reptiles and Where to Find them but it hadn’t answered any of his questions.
If anything, it had only added to the pile of questions he already had. Draco still had no idea whether Adder’s Fork ought to be ground into powder, chopped up, sliced, or added whole. He had found so very little information on the benefits of this particular ingredient, that he presently hadn’t got the faintest clue as to where to start his research. He knew the ingredients and brewing instructions to most potions by heart and he had gone through them several times in his head, but absolutely none required the use of Adder’s Fork. He had even gone as far as writing down the list of ingredients and brewing instructions to several potions to see how Adder’s Fork might modify the potion but he knew too little about the ingredient itself to make any kind of progress. Now, after consulting his books, he was still none the wiser and it disturbed him greatly.
Draco was quite aware that he was probably getting a little bit too invested in Potter’s potion smuggling case but he couldn’t help himself. The idea that someone had managed to adapt the brewing process for Amortentia, as well as the potion’s list of ingredients, to create something that was essentially a liquid version of the Imperius Curse did not sit right with Draco. A long time ago, he had witnessed what people under the influence of the Imperius Curse were capable of doing, had even used the curse himself, and it had left a nasty taste in his mouth. One also did not need to have an overactive imagination to realise that this potion could very easily be exploited to gain sexual favours of any kind and that idea gave Draco the creeps.
Deciding that he needed a break, Draco left his potions lab and found his way to the Manor’s music room. Since Astoria had passed, he rarely spent much of his time in this room — it had been her favourite place and the memory of being in the room without her made him sad. Today, however, he desperately needed to take his mind off of things for a while. Taking his seat in front of the white Grand Piano, Draco gently ran his fingers along the keys, enjoying the way they felt underneath his touch. He wasn’t sure what to play and for a few long minutes, he simply sat in silence, contemplating.
Eventually, he picked a piece he knew by heart and taking a calming breath, he moved his fingers into position, closed his eyes and began to play. As the gentle music filled the room, he lost himself in the memories of happier times. Times when Scorpius had still run wild around the Manor, dashing from one room to the other, singing made-up songs and chasing after his toy broom. One of Scorpius’ favourite ways of almost giving his mother a heart attack had been to slide down the grand staircase’s bannister and no matter how many times Draco had reprimanded him and told him to leave it be, there had simply been no stopping him. Now that his son was at Hogwarts, Draco sorely missed those mischievous times.
Draco missed having Scorpius at home with him, but he knew that his son loved attending Hogwarts. His enthusiasm practically leapt off every single one of his letters. Not a week went by that he didn’t write with a detailed account of something new and intriguing he had learnt. Draco couldn’t remember ever having felt this excited about his studies. Then again, his own school days had been tainted by darker times, much darker times.
Draco also sorely missed Astoria. Their relationship had been one of convenience — a sure-fire way to get both their parents off their backs — and while they had never been passionately in love, they’d cared a great deal about each other. After the war, Draco hadn’t had many friends left and Astoria had filled that void several times over. She had cared about the man he had vowed to become, not the boy he had been. She had been there to keep him company, she had been his shoulder to cry on, his rock, his voice of reason, his conscience, his everything.
They’d shared a very special friendship, a very close bond, and Draco really missed having someone around to comfort him. Someone who understood him, someone he could have a debate with until the early hours of the morning, someone who stimulated his intellect and gave it to him straight. Someone who wasn’t afraid to stand up to him and fight for what they believed to be right. When Astoria had passed, Draco had, for Scorpius’ sake, pretended that he had a handle on things but lately being alone got to Draco. He had come to terms with Astoria’s death during Scorpius’ first year at Hogwarts, had cried and mourned the loss of his beloved wife in the comfort of his own home, but even that didn’t make being alone any easier.
He had spent all of his twenties with Astoria and after ten years of sharing a life with the woman who’d given birth to their beautiful son, the silence in the Manor was at times deafeningly oppressive. Once or twice he had actually seriously considered renting an apartment in the city, had even looked at a couple of places, but in the end leaving the Manor had always felt wrong.
He tried his best to keep the loneliness at bay, but somehow it always found a way to ambush him, especially this past year. He cherished Potter’s potions case more than he cared to admit. It kept him busy, kept him focused. He had little time to think and that suited Draco just fine. He and Potter were an odd match indeed but so far, they hadn’t been at each other’s throats, which had to mean something.
Harry set his coffee mug down and moved to open the kitchen window. Scorpius’ beautiful white-grey owl flew inside and settled on the kitchen table. It offered its leg to Harry, who hurriedly removed the letter it had carried all the way from Hogwarts. He opened one of the kitchen drawers and fed the beautiful creature some owl treats. To show its appreciation, the owl — Harry wasn’t sure of its name — gently nudged Harry’s hand with its beak, then left the same way it had come in.
Harry sat down and unfolding the letter he began to read:
I fully understand that you won’t always be able to write back immediately and I don’t expect you to. Being Head Auror isn’t quite the same as being a student at Hogwarts.
Silly question, but do you sometimes wish that you could turn back time and be a student again? It seems us children can’t wait to grow up while you adults wish you could be young again.
So, father is helping you with a case. He hasn’t told me anything about that but I think it’s good for him to keep busy for a while, take his mind off things. The Manor is too big for him to be there all by himself, I wish he would get a full-time job or something.
Nothing major happened these past few days. Classes have been rather boring and our professors are still piling on the essays. It would appear the longer, the better. I’m considering permanently relocating to the library! Your Muggle quill is coming in handy; I’ve been using it since it arrived with your last letter — can’t get enough. Thank you so much! It’s probably just my imagination, but it feels like I’m getting through my essays much faster than before and with fewer ink stains on my parchments and hands too. Stefan is seriously jealous. He thinks dad sent it. I haven’t told anyone we’ve been corresponding, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. They’ll just ask me if I can get them your autograph or something stupid like that.
Favourite Quidditch team? Why the Holyhead Harpies of course! Dad is convinced I chose them solely because he prefers Puddlemere United and its grounds for endless discussions between the two of us. He won’t accept any of my arguments and insists I’m doing it to spite him. I’m honestly not, but this little debate has become our thing, and I do so enjoy bantering with him. It’s frightfully easy to wind him up.
Right, back to my never-ending load of essays!
I hope to hear from you soon.
P.S. I hope you and my dad manage to solve the case! I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Chapter 8: The Italian Connection
Right, let's move things along a little, shall we?
Do note that this chapter contains some dialogue in Italian (as I was travelling in Italy while writing this particular chapter, hence the influence). I don't think I've overdone it, nevertheless, translations can be found in the notes at the end of the chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Standing on the steps of Gringotts, Harry was about to head left toward the Leaky Cauldron when a very familiar blond mop of hair suddenly caught his attention. Harry was quite sure that the mop of hair belonged to Malfoy, and stepping behind one of the pillars at the entrance to Gringotts, Harry stared in surprise as he watched Malfoy swerve towards the entrance to Knockturn Alley. In an instant, Harry found himself overwhelmed by a flood of old memories, and despite knowing better, he found that his feet moved of their own accord.
Harry was well aware of the fact that Knockturn Alley was no longer the horrible place it had once been, but even that knowledge could not lessen his burning desire to find out what business Malfoy had there. Borgin & Burkes didn’t exist any longer but Harry didn’t think Malfoy had chosen that particular alleyway because he wanted to go for a brisk walk and a bit of fresh air.
Ducking into an old doorway just past the entrance to Knockturn Alley, Harry’s eyes almost automatically sought out Malfoy’s recognisable white-blond hair and he moved to follow Malfoy further down the alley. When Malfoy briefly stopped in front of one of the shops, Harry quickly ducked into another doorway, but at the same time craned his neck to try and figure out what shop window Malfoy was looking at. For a moment it seemed like Malfoy might enter that specific shop but then he turned away from the display and continued walking.
Harry slowly counted to three, then emerged from the doorway and resumed trailing Malfoy, who seemed to be headed towards the very end of the alley. Harry’s curiosity grew by the second and he slowed to glance at the shopping window Malfoy had paused in front of. It held no notable display and with a frown, Harry focused his attention back on Malfoy. Much to his dismay, however, the blond mop of hair had vanished from his sight and Harry scolded himself for losing his touch. He hadn’t shadowed anyone in a while and most definitely not while wearing his official Auror uniform. The scarlet-red robes, the DMLE crest, and his Head Auror badge were a rather obvious giveaway and therefore exceedingly counterproductive when it came to shadowing suspects.
Malfoy isn’t a suspect, Harry reminded himself. Even though the rational part of his brain repeatedly told him that Malfoy probably had a very good reason to visit Knockturn Alley, the curious part of his brain wouldn’t let Harry turn around.
Heading further down the alley, Harry stepped out of an elderly wizard’s way and continued walking, wondering which shop, or house, Malfoy might have vanished into.
Harry had almost reached the last corner, when he suddenly and very roughly found himself thrust up against the brick wall of the building behind him. The surprise attack almost knocked the air out of his lungs, but his Auror instincts kicked in immediately and he automatically went for his wand. His attacker was, however, a split-second faster. Long fingers tightly wound themselves around Harry’s wrist and Harry found his wand arm yanked above his head and pressed into the wall behind him. It rather hurt!
“You better have a bloody good reason for following me, Potter,” Malfoy hissed, his face inches from Harry’s and his expression utterly livid. His eyes were narrowed and he glowered at Harry, who wanted to shrink and disappear under Malfoy’s hard, unrelenting stare.
Harry blinked, surprised at how quickly and efficiently Malfoy had disarmed him without the use of a single spell. He tried to struggle free but it only resulted in Malfoy tightening his hold on him and Harry winced.
“Malfoy,” Harry said blankly. “Let go!”
“First you answer me,” Malfoy scowled, looking anything but pleased. Red-hot anger flashed in his grey-blue eyes and Harry wondered why Malfoy hadn’t drawn his wand yet. He had a clear advantage and nothing stopped him from doing so. Yet, strangely enough, he seemed content with using Muggle means to keep him restrained, which was rather unlike anything Harry expected Malfoy to do. “Do you do this with everyone who assists you on a case? Follow them around to wherever they go?” Malfoy hissed, fixing Harry with his iciest death glare.
Harry swallowed hard and shuddered. He opened his mouth to ask Malfoy once again to let go of him but his voice failed him and he inwardly cursed himself. He had enough experience chasing dark wizards not to react this way and he couldn’t understand why, when confronted with Malfoy, all his years of training and experience went right out of the window. It was like the logical part of his brain just stopped working altogether.
“What? Forgot how to speak?” Malfoy pushed, pressing Harry’s hand harder into the wall. Harry yelped and trying to flex his fingers, he attempted to get Malfoy to loosen his hold but to no avail. Malfoy stubbornly continued to keep him pinned to the wall, restraining him. He had an iron grip that was for sure, and Harry’s mind unhelpfully suggested that Malfoy would make an excellent Auror. He couldn’t remember how often he’d reminded his Auror trainees of the importance of restraining a wizard’s wand hand in close-contact combat situations, for it stopped said wizard, or witch, from using wandless magic to free themselves. The constant pain of proper restraint also made it very difficult to disapparate, transfigure one’s hand or transform into an animal. Sadly, most of his trainees failed to remember that all too important lesson and frequently found themselves in sticky situations when Harry personally took the time to put them through a series of practice drills.
“I didn’t mean to follow you,” Harry eventually said and Malfoy laughed. It wasn’t an amused laugh, but rather a hollow, disbelieving one. Then he unexpectedly loosened his hold on Harry’s wrist and less than a second later Harry found himself staring at the tip of Malfoy’s wand.
That did it and Harry found his bearings, his Auror instincts once again taking over. “Malfoy, put that away. Drawing a wand on an Auror in public is just plain stupid,” he reminded him, though silently he couldn’t help but feel impressed. Malfoy would most definitely make an excellent Auror. He possessed a natural poise that was terrifying, quick, and lacked hesitation. And all that without any formal training, Harry thought to himself.
“You’ll find that while Knockturn Alley is no longer the place to go for all things Dark Magic, nobody here will give a fuck,” Malfoy snarled and Harry sighed.
“Malfoy, be reasonable. What’s your plan here? Hex me and then obliviate me so that I don’t remember you caught me?” Harry pushed. “Put that wand away,” Harry repeated, eyes locked on Malfoy’s, whose grey orbs were still swirling with anger. He seemed to consider Harry’s words and a moment later he holstered his wand and took a step back.
For a split second, Harry contemplated drawing his own wand. Off the top of his head, he could think of several spells he could use to disarm Malfoy but he really didn’t want their relationship to go down that way. That was what their relationship had been like when they’d attended Hogwarts and Harry absolutely did not want a repeat of that. He had chosen to follow Malfoy — dressed in his official Auror robes of all things — and Malfoy had every reason to be annoyed with him.
“I’m sorry,” Harry spoke, deciding he had to fix this immediately. “I saw you heading towards Knockturn Alley and curiosity got the better of me.” He wanted to say more, wanted to blame it on his job but he somehow knew that Malfoy would see right through that pathetic excuse and therefore didn’t even attempt to go there.
“And you, of course, thought I was up to no good and decided to follow me. Just like you used to do back at Hogwarts,” Malfoy snapped, crossing his arms over his chest.
Harry slowly let out a breath he hadn’t realised he had been holding. For a moment he wanted to lie, but he didn’t. What would be the point?
“Yes,” Harry nodded, hanging his head in shame.
“Well, over a decade later and you still don’t trust me one iota.” Malfoy’s lips pursed into a thin line and the anger that had been blazing in his eyes up until just a moment ago was replaced with disappointment and hurt.
“I really am sorry,” Harry mumbled. “For all it’s worth, I knew following you was the wrong thing to do, but I just couldn’t help myself.”
“Auror Potter,” Malfoy scowled, “I should just leave you sitting on your bloody potions case.”
“Let me make it up to you,” Harry offered and Malfoy raised a questioning eyebrow.
“And how do you propose to do that?”
“Lunch at the Leaky Cauldron?” Harry asked, hoping Malfoy would accept, but instead of doing so he merely laughed – just laughed. It was mocking and it felt a bit like a slap in the face but Harry resolutely kept his composure, said nothing, and swallowed the mild urge to hex Malfoy into next week.
“The Leaky Cauldron, really?”
Harry frowned. “What’s wrong with the Leaky Cauldron?” he wanted to know. The cosy wizarding pub was no longer what it once had been during the war. The new owners had renovated and redecorated, and while it was still a cosy little pub, it was a lot – well, cosier now.
“Well, put it this way – they don’t serve my kind of food.”
“What’s your kind of food?” Harry asked.
“Italian or French,” Malfoy replied with a shrug.
“Well, then lead the way. You pick the restaurant, I’ll settle the bill,” Harry smiled. Whatever Malfoy wants, he thought. If he wanted a posh Italian or French restaurant with exorbitant prices, he could do that. He owed him that much after his spectacular attempt to ruin their newly-formed acquaintance.
“And what exactly makes you think I want to have lunch with you?” Malfoy sneered.
“I offered to buy you lunch to make up for following you down Knockturn Alley, stop being such an aristocratic prick and start walking, Malfoy,” Harry fixed his gaze on Malfoy, boldly daring him to make another sarcastic remark.
Malfoy held his gaze for a moment then shrugged, and with a flourish of his robes, he turned on his heel and walked back into the direction of Diagon Alley. Harry followed and they silently walked towards the secret passage behind the Leaky Cauldron that led to Charing Cross Road. Content to let Malfoy take the lead, Harry watched him tap his wand against the red brick that opened the gateway and they both stepped through.
Malfoy resumed taking the lead and they walked in silence. Harry wanted to say something, fervently searched for a suitable topic they could talk about, but drew a blank time and time again. Somehow silence seemed to be the safer option, for now at least. Harry was quite intrigued as to where Malfoy was taking him but he refrained from asking, choosing to wait and see instead.
Some ten minutes later Malfoy abruptly stopped in front of the entrance to a small, quaint-looking Italian restaurant on Irving Street and Harry promptly walked into Malfoy.
“Potter,” Malfoy turned and glared. “Is paying attention really that difficult for you?”
“Sorry,” Harry muttered and motioned at the restaurant. “A Muggle restaurant?” he asked, pleasantly surprised. This was rather unexpected and Harry rather liked it. He glanced at the name over the door, La Cucina di Gio, but since he didn’t speak any Italian, he didn’t know what it meant.
Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Yes, Potter, a Muggle restaurant. They happen to serve the best Italian food in London.”
“You’ve been here before, then?” Harry asked. Suddenly, he was even more surprised and intrigued, very intrigued. Malfoy frequenting Muggle establishments was mind-boggling, yet after having met with Scorpius, Harry couldn’t deny that it made sense. I like this new you, Harry thought to himself, impressed with Malfoy’s obvious change.
Malfoy nodded and taking two steps forward, he opened the door to the restaurant, motioning for Harry to enter. Harry hesitated for a few seconds but when Malfoy didn’t budge, he accepted the fact that Malfoy was indeed trying to be a gentleman and was holding the door open for him to enter first. Harry stepped past Malfoy and into the restaurant, where he allowed himself a thorough look around. It was very rustic-looking but also quite inviting. Soft music played in the background and a few patrons were enjoying their meals in various corners of the restaurant.
A tall and tanned middle-aged man, clearly of Italian origin, approached them with a broad smile. Dressed in a pair of black slacks and a white button-down shirt, Harry suspected he was one of the waiters. He had his long hair tied back into a ponytail and the moment he spoke up, Harry realised that he’d been wrong in his assumption. They had not been approached by just a waiter.
“Allora! Ciao, Draco, sono secoli che non ti vedo. Look at you, simply bellisimo,” the man said, and spreading his arms he engulfed Malfoy in a warm, welcoming hug and kissed him first on the right cheek and then on the left. Malfoy returned both the hug and the two kisses and Harry reminded himself not to gape. So, Malfoy was kissing and embracing Italian Muggles. He could handle that, he absolutely could. This was Malfoy right; his mind treacherously questioned his sanity.
“Ciao, Gio, per favore, non sta esagerando un po’?” Malfoy replied in fluent Italian, and this time Harry’s mouth dropped open of its own accord, disbelievingly watching the exchange that was taking place before him. He shook his head, idly wondering whether he was dreaming. Maybe Malfoy had hit him with a spell after all? He’d never seen Malfoy this friendly with another human being and certainly never with a Muggle. “Gio, this is Harry Potter, an old—,” Malfoy paused for a moment, clearly unsure how to describe Harry, “acquaintance. Potter, this is Gio, he owns the place,” he introduced and Harry dutifully held out his hand.
“Allora, Buongiorno, Signore Potter. Nice to meet you,” Gio smiled broadly. He accepted Harry’s hand but instead of shaking it, he used it to pull Harry into a welcoming hug. Harry stumbled forward and found himself greeted in much the same manner Gio had greeted Malfoy.
“Draco’s friends also are my friends.” Gio flashed him a big grin and laughed. “Draco, your favourite table,” he turned his attention back to Malfoy, and motioning towards the back of the restaurant, he led Malfoy to a small window table in a secluded corner.
Harry followed suit, still in a daze. This whole thing was surreal – absolutely and entirely surreal. He was quite sure that he was dreaming, or – and that seemed more likely – under a spell because not even his wildest dreams were that fantastic, Harry conceded. He watched Malfoy shrug off his robes and place them over the back of his chair before sitting down. Harry did the same with his own robes and sat down across from Malfoy. Gio placed two menus on the table in front of them then retreated behind the bar, politely giving them the time to peruse the menu and decide what they wanted to eat.
“You speak Italian,” Harry stated, disbelief written all over his face. He simply did not know how to keep the surprise off his face. The man Gio had greeted was not the man Harry thought he knew and he suddenly found himself questioning whether he knew Malfoy at all.
Lowering his menu, Malfoy smiled. “I do.”
“I never knew,” Harry shook his head.
“You never asked,” Malfoy shrugged. “I also speak French.”
“Why?” Harry found himself asking and Malfoy frowned.
“Why does one speak another language, Potter? It eases communication.”
That was not what I meant, Harry thought to himself, but said nothing. Instead, he remained at a loss for words and Harry fumbled with his menu. He opened it and aimlessly leafed through the pages. It was a pathetic attempt to keep his hands busy and his mind focused on one task. So, it was true then, Malfoy had indeed lived abroad after the war. Long enough to apparently speak perfect Italian as well as French, though he supposed Malfoy could have learnt both languages as a boy. Harry had the burning desire to bombard Malfoy with a bunch of questions but he figured that Malfoy would take offence at such an interrogation. No, there had to be another, much smarter way to get the information out of Malfoy without making it sound like Harry was merely trying to cross-examine him.
“It’s in Italian,” Malfoy’s voice cut right through Harry’s musings.
“Huh?” With confusion written all over his face, Harry looked up from the menu he hadn’t been reading.
“The menu,” Malfoy pointed towards the thin black book in Harry’s hands. “It’s in Italian. I’ve pestered him about it, but Gio refuses to add an English translation.”
“Oh,” Harry said and taking a proper look at the pages of the menu, he realised that it was indeed written in a language he most definitely could not understand or speak. He thought he recognised a couple of words and some of the drinks appeared familiar, but the rest was a blur of unknown words and phrases.
“Would you like me to recommend something to you?” Malfoy offered, and taking another glance at the menu, Harry felt that letting Malfoy take care of their lunch order was probably safer than trying — and most likely failing — to order something he’d enjoy eating. Resolutely closing the menu, Harry pushed it away from him, choosing to be bold.
“Why don’t you just order for both of us?” Harry suggested, giving up control completely, and Malfoy shrugged. Just because I’m sorry for mistrusting him, he thought to himself and decided to firmly believe the nonsense he was spouting in his own head.
“I can do that.”
“No sarcastic comment about how Head Auror Potter can’t even read a simple Italian menu?” Harry chuckled, entirely surprised that Malfoy had let the opportunity to mock him pass.
“There’s a time for mocking you, Potter.”
“Oh? And when would that time be?” Harry inquired with a grin.
“Why, when you least expect it, of course,” Malfoy smiled and turning his attention back to the menu he read it carefully. A moment later he looked up. “Anything you don’t eat, Potter?”
“I’m flexible. So long as you don’t expect me to eat snails, reptiles or other vile stuff.”
“Cat and dog okay then?”
“Malfoy, I sincerely hope that you are kidding.”
“Well...” Malfoy drawled, but the cheeky glint in his eyes was a dead giveaway. He returned to studying the menu and Harry glanced around the restaurant, but soon got bored and allowed his eyes to settle on Malfoy, who was intently studying the menu.
Harry shamelessly took advantage of the rare opportunity to give Malfoy an unrushed onceover. The Malfoy Harry remembered from their time at Hogwarts and been tall and slim; the Malfoy sat across from him now was still tall and slim but in a manlier way. He was devilishly handsome, too. Malfoy had since filled out a little — in all the right places — and his physique hinted at a muscular body. Harry momentarily wondered whether Malfoy engaged in some sort of regular physical exercise. Quidditch, perhaps? Harry wanted to ask, but such a question asked entirely out of context was nothing but a cheap pick-up line and he didn’t want Malfoy to misunderstand.
Harry felt that staring at Malfoy was all sorts of wrong, but he still couldn’t convince himself to stop. There was something about Malfoy that was quite intriguing and Harry was just a little hooked, maybe even obsessed. Malfoy had turned into a very attractive man indeed. His face was striking and Harry stupidly couldn’t help but wonder whether Malfoy’s cheeks were soft to the touch, for he failed to spot even a hint of stubble. His white-blond hair was longer than strictly necessary, but instead of falling loose around his face Malfoy had tied his hair back, and for a moment Harry’s mind wanted to trick him into believing that Malfoy looked very much like his father, but it wasn’t true. There were similarities, yes, but Malfoy’s face was softer, sweeter somehow.
Draco bit the inside of his cheek to hide his smirk. While he’d been checking the menu, he’d noticed Potter blatantly checking him out. At first, he thought that Potter was perhaps just curious, but his stare had most certainly turned appreciative and something about that fact made Draco want to tease Potter mercilessly. After he’d so unjustly trailed him into Knockturn Alley, Potter deserved it too. After all, the only reason Draco had ventured down Knockturn Alley had been to find Salvatore. As an apothecary, the man knew everything there was to know about potions ingredients and Draco had hoped he might be able to provide him with some answers.
Unfortunately, Potter had decided to stalk him and he’d never made it to Salvatore’s little flat. Draco would have preferred to ask Snape, but short of waltzing into Professor McGonagall’s office at Hogwarts to talk to Snape’s portrait, he had no way of getting in touch with his old mentor. Somehow, he didn’t think the Hogwarts’ Headmistress would take too kindly to having her office invaded like that. Now he had no answers to a puzzle that was giving him a headache, had been followed by Potter, and the fact that the two of them were now sitting at a small table preparing to have lunch together was truly bizarre, to say the least.
Draco had long since chosen three courses for both himself and Potter and all he needed to do was to look up and wave Gio over, but for some inexplicable reason, he enjoyed being the centre of Potter’s attention. Perhaps, he thought, he enjoyed it a little too much, but he didn’t care. He knew he couldn’t play this game forever though and because he was kind of hungry, he cleared his throat and counted to three. When he looked up, Potter had, as Draco had suspected, averted his gaze and was now staring out of the window.
Draco failed to bite back an amused chuckle and the sound made Potter’s head snap back. For a moment their eyes locked and Draco boldly held Potter’s gaze. He did not want to be the one to look away first, but he needn’t have worried. Potter gave in and looking at the menu in Draco’s hands, he asked whether Draco had made a choice.
“I have,” Draco nodded. “Don’t worry, I won’t poison you today either.”
“The fact that you’re considering it is already quite worrisome.”
“You deserve it for stalking me down Knockturn Alley,” Draco glared and waved Gio over.
“I thought I’d already apologised about that? Also, I’m buying you lunch to make up for it.”
“I’m still going to make you feel miserable about it,” Draco said with a shrug.
“In that case, you might as well just tell me what you were doing in Knockturn Alley,” Potter said and leaning back in his chair, he crossed his arms over his chest. The overconfident look on his face was a stark contrast to the thoughtful look from moments ago when he’d so blatantly checked Draco out.
“Wouldn’t you like to know— Curiosity killed the cat, you know?” Draco teased and Potter was clearly about to retort something but fell silent as Gio had approached their table, holding a small notepad and pen. “Pronti?” he asked.
“Gio, per favore,” Draco chided.
“Scusa. In English then. What contorni will you have?”
“Arancini and Capunata,”
“Molto bene, and the main course?”
“Fettucine Alfredo e Gamberetti and Ravioli Frutti di Mare.”
“Una bottiglia di vino rosé.”
Gio nodded. He read the order back to Draco who confirmed it, then left to inform the kitchen.
“So much for English,” Potter huffed when they were alone again.
“Don’t blame me for you not knowing an ounce of Italian,” Draco shrugged, entirely unfazed by Potter’s fit of petty annoyance. “As for Gio, he’s not used to speaking English with me. You can’t blame him for that either.”
“Are you going to tell me what you ordered?”
“Potter, learn to be patient, would you?” Draco rolled his eyes.
“What did you do in Knockturn Alley?”
Draco fixed his gaze on Potter and glared. “You’re not going to give this a rest, are you?”
“Tell me and I will give it a rest.”
“Potter, last I checked it wasn’t illegal to visit Knockturn Alley. Frowned upon maybe, but not illegal.”
“I’m just curious,” Potter shrugged.
“I didn’t ask you what you did at Gringotts,” Draco challenged.
“There aren’t many things one can do at Gringotts, Malfoy. I was there on official Auror business, following a hunch,” Potter replied with an air of nonchalance that Draco didn’t remember Potter having. If Potter was at all surprised that Draco had obviously spotted him at the grand entrance to Gringotts, he didn’t make it obvious.
“What hunch?” Draco pushed.
“I figured all the gold those guys make from selling illegal potions – well, they have to keep it somewhere.”
“And you thought they might have opened a vault at Gringotts?” Draco asked.
“Yes, figured checking it out was worth a try. As it happens, my hunch was correct. Gringotts flagged a few suspicious vaults and I have asked the Head Goblin to keep me informed. Meanwhile, we can do some background checks on the owners of those vaults.”
“Respect, Potter. If you keep this up, I might actually start believing that you’re a half-decent Auror.”
“Coming from you, Malfoy, that’s high praise indeed,” Potter laughed. The sound of his laughter was rather pleasant to Draco’s ears, he decided, though he had no intention of ever telling Potter so. “So, are you going to tell me what you did in Knockturn Alley then?” Potter rapidly turned the conversation back to the location of their unexpected meeting.
Gio appearing with their starters momentarily saved Draco from having to answer and he instead launched into a lengthy explanation of the two different dishes he’d ordered. He pushed the plate with the Arancini towards Potter, insisting that he would, without a doubt, like it. Potter merely shrugged. He picked up his cutlery and dutifully tried the dish. Draco waited patiently and smiled when Potter nodded in approval.
“Delicious,” Potter said and Draco could tell he was about to repeat his earlier question, but Gio thankfully appeared with their bottle of wine. He poured a small amount into Draco’s wine glass and Draco tasted it. He took his sweet time before he eventually nodded, giving Gio permission to pour them both a generous glass of rosé. He then raised his glass in a toast and waited for Potter to do the same.
“To your case,” Draco said and Potter nodded. They gently clinked glasses and Draco found himself pleasantly surprised when Potter did not merely gulp the wine down like a brute. Instead Potter took a small sip and allowed the wine to linger in his mouth before swallowing it with an approving smile. “A fine wine,” he stated.
“I figured Butterbeer and Firewhiskey would be your thing,” Draco said, amazed that Potter enjoyed the wine.
“I haven’t had a Butterbeer in over a decade, Malfoy,” Harry frowned. “Though you’re right, while I do usually prefer to drink Firewhiskey, I can absolutely appreciate a fine wine.”
“Seems you’re not a complete oaf. Now listen, Potter, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll tell you why I went to Knockturn Alley if you truthfully answer me a question.”
“I want to say that this depends entirely on your question, but I won’t, though I will quite possibly regret saying this in approximately two minutes. Ask away,” Potter said between two bites of his starter and Draco was once again surprised. He hadn’t expected Potter to give in this easily. Of course, he could always refuse to answer once he’d heard the question, but Draco hoped he wouldn’t.
“Our sixth year in Hogwarts...” Draco started but trailed off as an unwanted avalanche of memories threatened to overwhelm his mind. He took a deep breath, locked them into a dark corner of his mind, and tried his best to control his emotions. “You knew I was up to something. Your eyes were practically always on me, and I’m sure that you followed me to the Room of Requirement on several occasions – not inside but you knew I was in there. I want to know how you did it. How did you follow me? I never saw you.”
Potter smiled, though the way Draco saw it, it was most definitely not a happy smile. It was more of a forced smile, one to disguise the fact that he too had to battle with the overwhelming power of unwanted memories. Suddenly, Draco rather regretted asking. The war was something he did not enjoy thinking about and he could tell that Potter shared the sentiment.
“I didn’t need to follow you to know you were in the Room of Requirement,” Potter answered his question.
“Are you a seer now, Potter?” Draco asked with a somewhat condescending sneer and felt a little bad for his rather childish behaviour.
“No,” Potter laughed and Draco felt his expression soften a little. That sound – he couldn’t deny that he liked the carefree sound of Potter’s laughter, try as he might. “I had a map. A map of Hogwarts. Still have it. It shows the entire castle and everyone who’s in it.”
“You still followed me though,” Draco said, only mildly surprised to hear that Potter had a secret map of Hogwarts. It explained a lot. Potter had always been extraordinarily apt at getting around the castle faster than anyone else.
“I did,” Potter nodded. “I had a very unhealthy obsession with finding out what you were up to. Ron and Hermione thought I was barking mad. They later told me they wanted me carted off to St Mungo’s.”
“'Had’? Seems to me you still do… Why else would you trail me to Knockturn Alley?” Draco couldn’t help but tease and reaching for his wine he took a small sip, then fixed his eyes on Potter. “Spit it out, Potter, you trailing me to the Room of Requirement,” he said and paused to set the wine glass down again. “How?” he pushed, determined to get his answer one way or another.
“You know how,” Potter replied with a smirk, then finished off his starter and leaning back in his seat, he sipped on his wine.
Visibly displeased with Potter’s answer, Draco crossed his arms over his chest and glared hard. He was about to give Potter a piece of his mind when Potter voluntarily spoke up again. “Remember how you broke my nose back at the start of the sixth year?” he asked.
Draco frowned, thinking back. Potter had hidden on top of the suitcase rack in the Slytherin carriage, eaves-dropping. Draco remembered hitting him with a Full Body-Bind Curse and then he had taken out all of his anger, frustration, hurt, and fear on Potter. Thinking back now, Draco could feel his stomach churn a little. He should have duelled Potter like a man instead of petrifying him and breaking his nose. Draco didn’t like the memory and he was about to push it away and ignore the feelings it gave him when it suddenly dawned on him. “That invisibility cloak of yours! You used that to follow me.”
Potter smiled, “I did. If you keep this up, we might just make an Auror out of you after all.”
Draco chuckled, “I don’t think anyone would take too kindly to being apprehended by a former Death Eater.”
“No one takes kindly to bring apprehended by me either, trust me, Malfoy. Especially not if they’re involved in some shady and illicit activities. Now, I believe you owe me an explanation?”
“That I do,” Draco nodded but decided to finish off his starter first. “A couple of the ingredients you guys collected as evidence are rather odd and I cannot make heads or tails of it. I’ve leafed through all my potions books and anything else I have that lists potions ingredients and their uses, but I haven’t been able to find an answer. I wanted to find someone who might be able to help. Back at Hogwarts, I would always ask Severus for his input whenever a potion or potions ingredients puzzled me, but I don’t think the Hogwarts Headmistress would appreciate me barging into her office, demanding to speak to one of the portraits. So, I thought of Salvatore, an acquaintance of mine. He’s a gifted apothecary. Fell in with the wrong sort during the war, but has since kept to himself. He knows everything there is to know about potions ingredients and I figured he might be able to shed some light on the whole thing.”
“And? Did you get any answers?” Potter asked, but before Draco could answer Gio interrupted them. He came to collect their empty dishes and Gio’s beautiful daughter brought their main courses. Draco briefly interrupted their conversation to introduce the two dishes to Potter, allowing him to choose between one of them and Potter opted for the Fettuccine Alfredo e Gamberetti, admitting that he quite liked shrimp. Draco was surprised by the choice, but he kept it to himself.
“Unfortunately, an annoyingly curious Auror decided to stalk me down Knockturn Alley before I could get any answers,” Draco resumed their conversation.
“I’m sorry,” Potter apologised. “Honestly, it was just curiosity and it was pure instinct that made me do it, not actual mistrust.”
“And I thought it was my boyish good looks that made you trail me,” Draco couldn't help but tease and laughed when Potter nearly choked on his pasta. Potter coughed and spluttered and feeling a bit sorry for him, Draco reached for the water carafe and poured Potter a glass. Potter downed almost half of it, cleared his throat and for a moment it looked like he wanted to say something but decided against it at the last moment. Instead, he quietly resumed eating and Draco couldn’t help but wonder whether Potter was upset or angry. Draco hoped he was neither but didn’t know what else to say and therefore chose to eat his own meal in silence.
Allora! Ciao, Draco, sono secoli che non ti vedo. Look at you, simply bellisimo, -- Look who’s here! Hello, Draco, I haven’t seen you for centuries!
Ciao, Gio, per favore, non sta esagerando un po’? -- Hello, Gio. Please, you absolutely are exaggerating.
Allora, Buongiorno, Signore Potter. Nice to meet you, -- Well, hello there, Mr Potter.
Pronti? -- Ready to order?
Gio, per favore, -- Gio, please.
Scusa. -- I’m sorry.
‘Contorni’ -- means side dish or starter.
Arancini -- small risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella and peas, dredged in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried
Capunata -- is a sweet and sour version of ratatouille made with aubergines, it’s divine!
Molto bene, -- Very well, good choice.
Fettucine Alfredo e Gamberetti and Ravioli Frutti di Mare -- A dish of fettuccine (a type of pasta) with shrimp a dish of ravioli (also a type of pasta) stuffed with seafood.
Eccellente, -- Excellent.
Una bottiglia di vino rosé. -- A bottle of rosé, please.
Chapter 9: A Duel Gone Wrong
Harry sat behind his desk, toying with his quill. He was a million miles away, his mind reeling. He tried to focus on a bunch of paperwork but had so far failed miserably and repeatedly. His thoughts were firmly stuck on Malfoy and they stubbornly refused to budge — a bit like a dog with a bone. It was infuriating, to say the least.
“I thought it was my boyish good looks that made you trail me”, the words repeated themselves persistently in Harry’s head, like the annoying earworm of a nineties pop tune long gone out of fashion. No matter how much he tried to distract himself, his thoughts always returned to Malfoy’s unexpected joke from their unplanned lunch a few days ago. He was rapidly becoming obsessed with trying to work out the meaning behind Malfoy’s throw-away comment.
Had it been a joke or had it not? Harry had no idea how many times he had asked himself that very question in the last forty-eight hours. He had begun to sound like a broken record and was thoroughly annoyed and fed up but couldn’t quite work out how to control himself. If it had been just a joke, why had Malfoy changed the topic so abruptly afterwards? Harry couldn’t really remember what Malfoy had rambled on about after he’d made that remark. He hadn’t really been listening, had just been nodding politely. In his desperation to try and understand Malfoy, Harry couldn’t help but wonder whether Malfoy had possibly been flirting with him. It had certainly sounded like it, but the mere idea made Harry want to laugh. Malfoy? Flirt? With him? The idea was utterly absurd. The culprits of his latest case willingly walking into his office to surrender themselves was more likely to happen than that! Get a grip on yourself, Harry scolded himself.
Beyond irritated, Harry slammed his quill down on his desk and got up. He couldn’t focus on his paperwork and he couldn’t stop his mind from obsessing over Malfoy…again! This was rapidly getting out of hand. Frustrated, he left his office and headed down the corridor of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and straight towards the duel training room. The trainees mainly used it for practice sessions, but he desperately needed to take his mind off things. Somehow, firing a couple of curses at a bunch of duelling dummies suddenly seemed like a good idea. Finding the room empty, Harry drew his wand and began to move ten duelling dummies — a bit excessive but he didn’t care — into position at the other end of the room. He charmed each one to avoid, duck, and repeatedly attack him. Then with his wand drawn and at the ready, he got into position and started his practice session.
The dummies attacked mercilessly and Harry fired curse after curse, hex after hex, and protective shield after protective shield. He ducked, jumped, and skilfully evaded several blows. By the time he’d put the fifth dummy out of action, his perspired shirt clung to his chest, his face was flushed, and his breathing laboured. By the time, he had put the seventh dummy out of action, his left shoulder was throbbing rather painfully. He hadn’t managed to duck in time and one of the dummies had slammed its steel arm right into his shoulder, knocking him halfway across the room. For a moment Harry had seen stars, but with the adrenaline still coursing through his veins, he had somehow managed to push past the pain, determined to finish his training duel.
“Finite Incantatem!” Ron’s voice boomed across the room and the three remaining dummies instantly stopped moving and returned to what they’d once been, mere dummies. Harry turned around, facing his friend who stood in the door to the training room. “You okay there mate?” Ron asked him with a concerned look, and stepping further into the room, he closed the door behind him to avoid unwanted eavesdropping.
Harry nodded and pocketed his wand. “I was almost finished,” he attempted to explain himself.
“Seven out of ten in half an hour. You’re having a seriously bad day. That or you are bordering on suicidal,” Ron laughed and good-naturedly patted Harry’s shoulder. Harry's self-inflicted injury throbbed; white-hot pain flashed through his entire body, and his knees buckled and gave in. He instinctively reached out and grabbed Ron’s shoulder to steady himself. “You alright?” Ron sounded concerned. He supported him with ease and Harry gritted his teeth. He nodded but had to close his eyes to focus on breathing through the pain.
Despite still wearing his glasses, his vision was blurry and he was seeing stars. “One of the dummies got my shoulder,” he mumbled, feeling rather faint from the excruciating pain.
“Let’s get you back to your office,” Ron said and slipping his arm around Harry’s waist, he supported him back to his office. Harry walked slowly, unsteady on his feet. They passed a trainee Auror on the way, who offered his help, but Ron waved him off. Once they reached Harry’s office, Harry slumped into his chair and leaning back he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“I’m getting too old for this nonsense,” he sighed and tried to unbutton his shirt. His shoulder protested heavily and wincing, he clumsily continued to undo the buttons with one hand. He quite firmly slapped Ron’s hands away when he tried to help. “I can take my own clothes off,” he frowned and Ron rolled his eyes at him, but seemingly knew better than to say anything.
Once the shirt was off, Ron drew his wand to conjure a mirror and Harry groaned when he saw the massive bruise that had started to form and covered his entire left shoulder. It looked positively nasty.
“I think I’d prefer a couple of crushed bones to his,” he sighed.
“Do you want me to say anything or not?” Ron laughed, disappearing the conjured mirror.
“Save it. I already know what you’re going to say. Just don’t tell your wife, she’ll have my balls.”
“If you don’t want his wife to know, I suggest you both close the door before you continue whatever this is,” Malfoy’s voice caused them both to jump and with his wand drawn, Ron spun around, glaring at Malfoy. Unperturbed, Malfoy pushed himself away from the doorframe and walked into the office, looking rather amused.
“This is not what you think it is, Malfoy,” Harry said blankly and reaching out he placed his hand on Ron’s forearm, squeezing gently. “Put that wand away and go back to work. I’ll see you and Hermione for dinner tonight.”
Ron looked at Harry, then glanced at Malfoy and with a shrug he holstered his wand and wordlessly left the office. Harry quite admired Ron for his calmness, even when faced with one Draco Malfoy. Then again, Ron was no longer quite the hothead he had once been. No, he had most definitely learnt from past experiences, had learnt that sometimes it was better to just do as told. He too had grown up and Harry suspected Hermione and their two children were a rather large contributing factor.
“That looks positively nasty,” Malfoy nodded at Harry’s dark-purple shoulder.
“It feels positively nasty,” Harry sighed. “And no, I don’t have an affair with Ron. Contrary to what you seem to believe, I’m not suicidal.”
“Just a joke, Potter, relax. I’m not going to run off to The Prophet to circulate rumours about Britain’s Golden Boy,” Malfoy said, and moving a few of Harry’s papers out of the way, he perched himself on the edge of Harry’s desk. “Want me to heal that?” he offered, and Harry looked rather surprised.
“You can do healing spells?” he asked, taken aback. Advanced healing spells — Harry was quite certain it would take an advanced healing spell to fix his shoulder — were notoriously difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. They required a lot of practice and patience, as well as high levels of concentration and a thorough understanding of human anatomy.
“I have a son,” Malfoy shrugged. “Children tend to injure themselves playing. It’s easier to learn a few spells than rush them to St Mungo’s every time they fall off something they shouldn’t have climbed in the first place.”
The thought of a young Scorpius driving Malfoy up the wall with his climbing escapades amused Harry, and trying to sit up a little straighter, he winced when the pain in his shoulder increased tenfold. His stomach churned, causing him to feel nauseous on top of his persistent dizziness. He swallowed past the urge to retch and leaning back, he closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to calm his unsettled stomach.
“Wasn’t even a real duel, practice dummy got me good. No bragging rights whatsoever,” he mumbled — entirely oblivious to the fact that Malfoy had just rolled his eyes rather spectacularly — and wondered why he’d felt the need to tell Malfoy exactly how he had sustained his self-inflicted injury.
“Here, let me take care of that,” Malfoy offered and half-opening his eyes, Harry was about to protest, insisting he was fine when Malfoy tugged his open shirt out of the way and placed his hand on top of Harry’s bruised shoulder. Harry shuddered a little at the unfamiliar touch, but otherwise, he remained completely still. Malfoy drew his wand and gently tapped it against the back of his hand. A second later a cool feeling of pleasant numbness spread through Harry’s shoulder and the pain slowly ebbed away.
Harry sighed and flicking his glance upward he looked at Malfoy. His lips moved rapidly and he looked concentrated as he repeatedly mumbled a spell that sounded rather complicated to Harry’s ears. The cool numbness intensified a little more and Harry felt his stomach settle and his dizziness subside. Relief and a pleasant sort of calmness surged through him and when Malfoy stopped his incantation, their eyes locked. Harry instantly lost himself in Malfoy’s intense gaze, the clear grey-blue orbs drawing him in, captivating him, and he shivered a little when Malfoy ever so slowly withdrew his hand.
“It’s badly bruised. I’m sorry I can’t heal it completely, but I’ve numbed the pain for now. You should be pain-free for a couple of hours at least,” Malfoy explained and Harry thought that his voice sounded low and somewhat husky. Momentarily not trusting himself to speak, Harry nodded, feeling as if in a trance. He quietly mourned the loss of Malfoy’s cool hand on his heated skin. It had been inexplicably soft, yet firm, a perfect mixture really. “You should probably have a healer look at it,” Malfoy suggested and blinking, he broke their eye-contact and holstered his wand.
“Only to have them tell me I need to rest and am unfit for active duty? No thanks; I’ll get some healing salve from the apothecary later.” Harry shook his head stubbornly and suddenly conscious that his chest was still bare, he hastened to button up his shirt again, surprised when Malfoy’s gaze fleetingly followed his hands.
“You are rather reckless; do you know that, Potter?” Malfoy frowned.
“Did you have a reason for stopping by?” Harry asked, resolutely changing the subject, not interested in Malfoy reprimanding him. Malfoy was, after all, the reason he had duelled the practice dummies in the first place. He had needed to distract himself from his own treacherous mind.
“I did, actually,” Malfoy nodded, surprisingly not pushing the matter – something Harry was most definitely grateful for. Pulling a parchment out of a pocket in inside his robes, Malfoy unfolded it and handed it to Harry.
“Those other ingredients I couldn’t identify combine into a rather nasty potion.”
Harry accepted the parchment and his eyes widened as he skimmed over Malfoy’s findings. He worried his bottom lip for a moment, read over the list of ingredients again, then swallowed hard. Malfoy had taken the time to write a detailed report on how the different brewing process and the change of ingredients affected the original potion, and even though potions had never been Harry’s forte, — except, of course, for that brief time during his sixth year at Hogwarts — even he could understand what Malfoy was hinting at in his report. “Can you brew it?” he asked, lifting his eyes off the parchment and looking directly at Malfoy.
Malfoy nodded, “brewing it is the least of my concerns, what’s worrisome is what it does.”
Harry folded the parchment and placed it on his desk. He contemplated for a moment, then purposefully leant into Malfoy’s personal space. “Brew it,” he said with conviction.
“I beg your pardon?” Malfoy looked rather confused.
“I said brew—”
“I know what you said. What I don’t understand is why you want me to create something so vile,” Malfoy interrupted with a deep frown creasing his forehead.
“Because you’re gonna sell it.”
“What?” Malfoy spluttered and pushing off Harry’s desk, he resolutely stood and straightened up. He crossed his arms over his chest and fixed Harry with a hard glare. Harry wanted to look away but he didn’t. “Not a chance in hell, Potter. I refuse, I’m not—”
“Relax, Malfoy,” Harry tried to appease and getting to his feet he placed his hand on Malfoy’s forearm, much like he’d done with Ron earlier. Malfoy looked at it with both confusion and something that resembled contempt. Harry wasn’t sure whether it was because he was touching Malfoy or because of what he was asking. He sighed, and withdrawing his arm he attempted to explain. “I have an idea. It’s a bit crazy and possibly stupid, but I think it’ll work. For it to work I, however, need you to brew a couple of those potions and go undercover with me.”
“To do what?”
“Sell illegal potions on the black market. I’m hoping that if we offer those potions at a fraction of the price they’re actually worth, the guys we’re looking for will try to get rid of the competition. When they do, we’ll get rid of them.”
“You’re insane, Potter,” Malfoy shook his head.
“Probably,” Harry nodded with a smile, “but I want to get those guys and I’m really rather good at my job. The question is, are you game, Malfoy?” he asked and sat down again.
“Everything tells me that I should say no but I’m intrigued, so what the hell, let’s do it,” Malfoy shrugged and Harry grinned and clapped his hands.
“Excellent,” he grinned, delighted that talking Malfoy into participating in his insane plan had been this easy. If he was honest, he had expected a little more resistance but was quite glad that Malfoy had quite obviously developed a penchant for adventures since Hogwarts.
Kicking his shoes off in the hallway, Harry suppressed a yawn and slowly made his way into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water. Dinner at Ron and Hermione’s had been a fun affair; the food had been wonderful and the kids had thoroughly enjoyed having him around as much as he had enjoyed being around them. Miraculously, Ron had kept his mouth shut about Harry’s little incident during his duelling practice with the dummies and had therefore spared Harry one of Hermione’s lengthy speeches about responsibility, sensibility, and stupidity.
Harry had heard it all a million times before and he knew that Hermione meant well, but he simply didn’t want to divulge the ridiculous reason behind his mad duelling practice. He still couldn’t make heads or tails of the whole thing and until he did, he didn’t see any reason to involve Hermione. As much as he loved and trusted her, she took her role as his best friend very seriously, and as such, her advice was blunt. She seldom minced her words and most of the time he loved her for it, but this time he wanted a little bit of time to himself.
Malfoy’s pain-numbing healing spell had started to wear off sometime towards the end of dessert, and while Harry had bravely managed to ignore the pain while in the company of his two best friends, now that he was at home, he really just wanted to scream. Instead, he gritted his teeth and sucked in a sharp breath. He reminded himself that he had endured worse and switching the light in the kitchen on, he was surprised to find a small package and a letter waiting for him on the table. With a frown, he reached for the letter and opened it. It was from Malfoy.
My healing spell won’t last forever but I doubt you’ll sleep with that injury, so I took the liberty to brew you a couple of potions. I had my house elf leave them for you.
The pain-numbing potion has the same effect as my healing spell, I suggest you take it before bed.
Harry paused and put the letter down before he opened the package. Inside were several potion phials and two jars filled to the brim with a dark-green paste of some sort. There was a label on each phial and on each jar and picking up the letter, Harry continued to read.
In case you don’t want to drink the pain-numbing potion, in which case you are as foolish as you are stubborn, I’ve also included some Dreamless Sleep. And just for your information, it’s perfectly safe for you to mix the pain-numbing potion with the Dreamless Sleep. I brewed them myself and they are most compatible.
I don’t think your bones are damaged but just as a precaution, I brewed you a bone-strengthening solution. It should aid recovery, so do us all a favour – be a good Saviour and drink it!
In the jars, you’ll find Star Grass Salve. I’ve made that myself too, though I’ve somewhat improved the original recipe. Rub it over the bruise tonight and three times tomorrow and you should be fine.
P.S. Next time you feel like duelling, I’d be happy to fire a few curses your way.
Baffled and confused, Harry stood rooted to the spot for several long minutes. He read the letter twice more, then slowly placed it back on the table, resting his hand on top of it. His other hand moved towards the potions phials and carefully picking one up, he inspected the label intently, marvelling at Malfoy’s exquisite handwriting. It was quite different compared to the handwriting in his letter. The letters on the phial labels flourished more and Harry suspected it was Malfoy’s way to differentiate his potions from those brewed by others.
Without giving it a second thought, Harry uncorked the pain-numbing potion and downed the entire bottle. The relief was instant. Compared to the healing spell Malfoy had used earlier it felt quite different, but he was once again pain-free. The lack of pain made Harry just a little giddy. He picked up both the letter and the box of potions, made his way into his study, and sat down behind his desk. Putting the potions aside, he reached for a blank parchment and carefully dipped his quill into the ink, then hesitated for a moment. Brewing all these potions and preparing the Star Grass Salve must have taken Malfoy hours… He wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to say to Malfoy, but he knew that Malfoy at the very least deserved a thank you.
What an unexpected surprise!
Thank you— If you agree, I would like to treat you to another meal sometime?
Harry folded the parchment twice and placed it inside an envelope which he addressed to Malfoy, then called out for Earl. A moment later a beautiful grey owl flew into his study and settled on his desk with a rather disdainful look in his eyes. Harry reached out to pet Earl, but Earl merely rewarded him with a not-so-gentle nip. He yelped and sucking on his finger, he glared at Earl, who returned the favour. “Really, anyone would think you and Hedwig were siblings,” Harry sighed and opened the top drawer of his desk. He took out a few owl treats and offered them to Earl in an attempt to appease the ill-tempered bird.
The bird accepted and once he had finished the treats, he was much more agreeable, even pushed his head against Harry’s hand. “I know it’s late, but would you please deliver this letter to Malfoy Manor?” Harry asked and Earl crooked his head sideways, then snatched the letter from Harry’s grasp and spreading his wings, he pushed himself off the desk with graceful ease. Harry just about managed to cast a spell at the window and it opened just in time for Earl to swoosh through and disappear into the night.
With a sigh, Harry stood and picking up the potions, he made his way upstairs and into his bedroom. Leaving the potions and his glasses on his nightstand, he headed into the bathroom for a relaxing shower. He stripped out of his clothes, stepped under the powerful jets of water, and closed his eyes. He simply allowed the hot water to cascade down over him and relished in how it seemed to wash all weariness away. He let his mind go blank and stood motionless for the longest time, until a particular thought, or rather a memory unexpectedly pushed itself to the forefront of his mind. He shuddered, frowned and his hand instinctively flew up to his injured shoulder. For a second it had felt like someone was touching him there, which was ridiculous since he was all alone in his home and there was most definitely nobody in the shower with him.
Get a grip, Harry reminded himself and resolutely banishing all his thoughts about Malfoy from his mind, he reached for the bottle of shower gel. He squeezed a very generous amount of the clear liquid onto his palm and languidly lathered himself up, then let out a soft sigh when his fingers brushed along his cock. He paused. The brief temptation to wank distracted him but he gave up on the idea a few minutes later. It had been a long day; he was tired and all he really wanted was to sleep, not conjure up erotic images in his mind to help him get off. So instead, he washed off the shower gel, quickly washed his hair and once done, he turned the water off and stepped out of the shower. He reached for his towel and wrapping it around his hips, he got himself ready for bed. He dried his hair with the help of a little bit of wandless magic and rolled his eyes at the sheer mess of it.
Wet or dry, his hair always looked messy and untameable so Harry didn’t even try to brush it. Instead, he dried himself with the towel and placed it back on the towel rack before returning to the bedroom. He picked up the Star Grass Salve Malfoy had prepared for him and applied a copious amount all over the bruise, then dutifully downed the bone-strengthening potion.
Not bothering with his pyjamas or underwear, he crawled into bed and dimmed the lights with another wandless spell. He reached for the phial of Dreamless Sleep, uncorked it, and downed the clear liquid without hesitation. Turning the light off completely, he pulled the covers up to his nose, curled into a small ball, closed his eyes, and a moment later he was fast asleep, thanks to a perfectly brewed potion.
Chapter 10: Undercover Agent
“Protego!” Malfoy yelled, successfully and with frightening ease, blocking a curse that had been hurdling towards Harry with a practised flick of his wand.
“Thanks!” Harry shouted, ducked from a hex, and then fired a series of offensive spells, hoping to take out at least one of the six attackers currently trying their best to curse, mortally injure, or kill both him and Malfoy. He could feel the exhaustion creeping in and fought his hardest to keep it at bay, but he felt like he was fighting a losing battle. They had gotten themselves into a rather sticky situation and Harry felt responsible for having dragged Malfoy, who for all intents and purposes was a civilian, into the whole mess.
He and Ron had managed to get several people interested in the potions Malfoy had brewed, but none of those interested had fit the profile of the group they were after. That was, until a few days ago when everything had changed and they had received notice of a meet up at an old abandoned baroque building near Kensington. After a long and heated debate with his team, Harry had convinced them that he and Malfoy would initially go in alone. They had hidden under a glamour, of course. It wouldn’t do to simply march into the building looking like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Ron and the others were to wait at a nearby location until Harry and Malfoy either returned to them, or Harry sent his Patronus to request backup.
Harry now woefully regretted insisting that he and Malfoy go to the meet up alone. The entire thing had been a setup from the start — he still failed to understand how he hadn’t seen right through it but he was, at present, a little too distracted to contemplate the matter — and only minutes after they had entered the building, a group of about six wizards had ambushed them in a sneak attack. They were at a distinct disadvantage, not to mention outnumbered by at least four.
Harry, who felt entirely responsible for making Malfoy part of his failed undercover operation, was rapidly going insane, desperate to get Malfoy out of harm’s way – preferably completely unscathed. Malfoy was, after all, neither a trained Auror nor did he work for the Ministry in any official capacity. He was also the only family Scorpius still had, and that thought weighed heavily on his mind.
“Malfoy, get the fuck—” Harry didn’t get to finish his sentence, having to duck from yet another curse instead. “Expelliarmus!” He yelled as he tried and failed to disarm one of their attackers.
“I can handle myself, Potter!” Malfoy cried out to him, and firing a series of defensive charges in quick succession, he made his point. For a moment, they were at an advantage, having forced the other wizards to use defensive spells rather than offensive. Harry followed with Reducto and Relashio and finally successfully took out one of their attackers. Malfoy fired a vicious Expulso at a nearby staircase and it blew into a thousand tiny pieces with a thundering crash.
Amazed at Malfoy’s instantaneous reaction and the force of his spell — one Harry would have expected from a trained Auror, not a civilian like Malfoy — but having no time to dwell on it, Harry simply grabbed Malfoy’s forearm and made a run for it, leaving Malfoy no choice but to stumble behind. Once out of the room, Malfoy freed himself with a forceful yank and they both dashed down the corridor and up the stairs to the floor above. They ran halfway down the corridor and ducked into an abandoned room where they stopped to catch their breath.
“This is a fucking nightmare!” Harry cursed under his breath and moving to the door, he wearily glanced around the corner, checking whether anyone had followed them up. He didn’t know how many of their attackers Malfoy had taken by collapsing the staircase but he was sure that the threat was far from over.
“They obviously knew the Aurors were onto them and that the whole thing was a ruse to capture them,” Malfoy stated the obvious. For once his rather bored drawl did not drive Harry mad with the desire to curse him six ways to Sunday – no, he found it strangely soothing. “I think you have a mole in your department, Potter,” Malfoy added with disdain and frowning at Malfoy, Harry moved to the broken window and wordlessly conjured his Patronus. He sent the impressive stag on its way to call for backup, fervently hoping Ron and the others would arrive in time to help them sort out this madness.
“I think you may just be right…” Harry mumbled and raising his wand, he was about to cast a few protective spells around the room when they both heard muffled voices coming from the corridor. Moving back to the door, Harry craned his neck around the frame to see how many of their attackers were searching for them. He managed to make out three. “Fuck!” he cursed and looking around the room for a place to hide, he spotted an abandoned built-in wardrobe across the room.
Without a second thought, he forced a heavily protesting Malfoy inside the wardrobe and quickly pressed his palm firmly against Malfoy’s mouth to muffle his complaints. “Shut up, Malfoy!” Harry hissed insistently, pushing Malfoy even further into the corner. Malfoy spluttered indignantly and although Harry was certain that Malfoy was going to bite him, he refused to take his hand away, instead he upped the pressure somewhat. “Be quiet, Malfoy, or do you have a fucking death wish?” Harry growled as the voices coming from the corridor grew louder and louder.
The look on Malfoy’s face was a strange mixture of horror and panic and in any other situation, Harry would have grasped the opportunity to mock Malfoy, possibly even call him a ferret-face just for old times sake. Instead, Harry glared pointedly, raised a questioning eyebrow, and hoped that Malfoy had gotten the message. Malfoy nodded solemnly and Harry slowly removed his hand. “Not a sound,” he mouthed and Malfoy, eyes wide open, nodded again. The voices now no longer echoed from the corridor but were without a doubt coming from the same room. Both Harry and Malfoy stood still, barely breathing and most definitely not daring to move.
Harry thought that if they played their cards right, they might be able to ambush their attackers, but he wasn’t sure how to get that message across to Malfoy. Ordinarily, Harry used a special sign language he’d developed years ago with his team, but Malfoy wasn’t a trained Auror so that wasn’t an option. Still, maybe if he made the first move, Malfoy would realise what he wanted and react quickly enough for them to overpower those worthless scoundrels without losing out on the small advantage a sneak attack would give them. The smartest idea, of course, was to wait for Ron and the other Aurors to come to their aid, but when it came to smart ideas Harry had, admittedly, a bit of a hero complex and an impressive record of accomplishment to boot.
For the longest time, the voices outside sounded somewhat muffled. They weren’t clear enough for Harry to make out what the criminals were saying or whether their attackers were even speaking English, and much to his and Malfoy’s horror, they heard footsteps. Harry correctly deducted that there were now at least four people in the room with them.
“They have to be somewhere!” someone suddenly yelled, sounding angry, and Harry’s eyes widened in shock. He knew that voice, he had heard it too many times before not to recognise it immediately. Malfoy frowned, his eyes wide and questioning, and Harry desperately wanted to explain but his mind was reeling at a thousand miles an hour and he did not want to risk giving away their hiding place. The situation was precarious enough as it was.
The owner of the voice Harry had just recognised suddenly mumbled a spell, and much to both Harry’s and Malfoy’s shock half of their hiding place collapsed. They instinctively stepped closer together, trying to take up as little space as possible, just in case another rogue curse ended up flying into their general direction. With nearly no leeway between them, Harry, now forced to stare at Malfoy, was getting increasingly desperate as he fervently racked his brain for a way to somehow share his plan with Malfoy.
There was a way, but it would require pressing himself up against Malfoy to whisper into his ear and Harry didn’t know how Malfoy would react to such a bold move. For all he knew, Malfoy would hex his balls off, or yell at him accusing him of molestation. No matter which way Harry twisted his crazy idea, there didn’t seem a good outcome either way, but since they were rapidly running out of time and Harry didn’t know whether and when Ron and the others would receive his Patronus, he decided to chance it.
Harry resolutely snuck both his arms around Malfoy’s waist and stepped an inch closer. Malfoy’s eyes widened and he looked positively stunned.
“Potter!” he mouthed, his breath hot against Harry’s cheek, causing Harry to shudder.
Harry managed to somehow ignore him and pushing Malfoy up against the wall behind him, he firmly pushed himself against Malfoy and lifted his head. For a moment, he thought, their position almost looked like he was trying to kiss Malfoy and they stared at each other, both wearing an unreadable expression on their faces. Harry swallowed hard and cursed his gay brain halfway to Timbuktu when it chose exactly that moment to decide to tell him that Malfoy had wonderfully lush lips that looked very, very kissable indeed. The mere knowledge that some part of his brain thought of Malfoy in that way was enough to send Harry running for the hills but he bravely told his overactive imagination to shut the hell up. Instead, he pressed his cheek against Malfoy’s, attempting to get as close to Malfoy’s ear as he possibly could.
“Malfoy,” Harry whispered.
“Potter, what the fuck! This is hardly the place—” Malfoy’s breathing was ragged and Harry was sure that he was seconds away from being hexed into oblivion.
“Work with me, Malfoy,” Harry breathed and Malfoy shuddered. Harry’s brain went into overdrive, telling him some nonsense about Malfoy clearly getting a kick out them both pressed up against each other like this… Harry resolutely shut that thought down, forcing himself to focus instead of indulging in fleeting fancies that lacked common sense.
“Potter, I swear I will fucking kill—”
“Draco,” Harry mumbled in his desperation, hoping that his use of Malfoy’s first name would have the desired effect. It had; Malfoy’s entire body shook. Harry was sure it was white-hot rage, but Malfoy remained silent, not uttering a word.
“There are at least four of them out there, if we work together, we can try to take them out. One of them is one of my trainee Aurors, his name is Reid. I realise you’re not a trained Auror, but can I count on you? I cannot do this all by myself,” Harry whispered into Malfoy’s ear, his voice barely audible. For a terrifying few seconds, Malfoy simply stood there, all tense and apparently also frozen and speechless. Then, ever so slowly, his body relaxed and he nodded, signalling that he was up for the challenge of working with Harry in a mad attempt to defeat four, or possibly more, criminals, one of them being a rogue Auror trainee.
Harry loosened his hold on Malfoy and pulling back slightly, he locked eyes with Malfoy. His expression was indescribable but he held Harry’s gaze and sucking in a shaky breath, Harry nodded. Malfoy reciprocated the gesture and they readied themselves, then attacked on Harry’s mark. The rest was a complete blur of defensive and offensive spells, cries and yells, culprits attempting to flee and the old building protesting heavily at the amount of magic it had to endure.
Chapter 11: Undercover Agent, Continued
A couple of days later Draco sat in his living room at Malfoy Manor, staring at the headline of The Prophet. Despite already having read the article several times over he still found it hard to believe. When he had asked Potter to give him credit for his help in the case, this had most definitely not been on his mind.
The entire front page of the newspaper featured a photo of him in torn robes, messy hair, and dirt covering his face and clothes. His wand hand was visibly bleeding but he still had a firm grip on his wand, which he had kept steadily trained on the piece of scum he had helped to arrest. Sometime after the messy battle, he had ended up being the one to escort ex-Auror trainee Finlay Reid into the Ministry. Reid had been a feisty one, struggling with all his might, spluttering nasty threats, and dirty Death Eater insults, but Draco had put an end to that with a rather complicated binding spell. The silver bonds had tightly wound themselves around Reid’s wrists, securing them behind his back. At first Reid had tried to fight the bonds, but he had quickly realised that Draco had spelled the bonds to tighten every time he struggled and so he had soon given up. Getting him into the Ministry had been rather easy after that.
In the background of the picture Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and four other Aurors could be seen struggling with the other transgressors, but the focus of the picture was most definitely on him. Admittedly, he looked worse for wear but nobody seemed to care about that, not with the headline that came with the article.
Seven Arrested in High Profile Potion Smuggling Case
Draco Malfoy Secret Undercover Agent for Auror Department
According to Harry Potter, Head Auror of the British Auror Department — or so the article quoted Britain’s Golden Boy — Draco’s invaluable input had helped to identify strange, and potentially extremely dangerous, potion concoctions. In addition to that, his consent to go undercover with a team of expert veteran Aurors had led to the successful arrest of a cunning potion smuggling ring. The article went on to provide more details of the case and then speculated on whether Draco was in fact an Unspeakable or Hit Wizard working exclusively for the Auror Department under Harry Potter’s expert guidance. Draco had snorted a bit at that, knowing that Potter had most definitely not instructed the press to print that, and even though it was complete poppycock it was still a lot better than The Prophet labelling him a former Death Eater. There was no mention whatsoever of his past involvement with Voldemort and his subsequent, but short-lived, career as a Death Eater and Draco couldn’t help but wonder whether Potter also had something to do with that. Somehow, he wouldn’t put it past Potter and his hero complex to forbid The Prophet to bring up his less than positive involvement in the war.
Folding the newspaper, Draco, failing to keep a smug grin off his face, placed it on the sofa next to him and uncrossed his legs, just as a very familiar owl flew in through the open window. It was his son’s beautiful white-grey owl, Beau, and as it let go of the red letter in its beak, it floated in the air, tore itself open and Scorpius’ clearly overexcited voice instantly boomed through the living room:
“DAD, YOU ARE FREAKING BRILLIANT!
YOU ARE SERIOUSLY THE COOLEST, MOST INCREDIBLE DAD ANYONE COULD WISH FOR!
I LOVE YOU!
GO, GO, GO, AUROR DRACO MALFOY!”
Draco couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that his son had sent him a Howler. Usually it was supposed to be the other way around, parents sending their children Howlers, but after conspicuously glancing at today’s Prophet’s front page, even Draco had to admit that Scorpius had a plausible reason to send him a Howler, funny though it was. He basked in the sound of Scorpius’ familiar voice and vowed to take a trip to Hogwarts soon. He missed Scorpius too much to wait until he would be home for the Holidays, which were still several months away.
“Don’t you think you went just a bit over the top with that interview, Potter?” Draco asked much later that afternoon as he sat in Potter’s office. It had taken him twice as long to get to the Ministry as usual. Shortly after the arrival of his son’s owl, a swarm of owls had descended over the Manor and he had found himself forced to get the elves to deal with all the sudden and ridiculous increase in post. He figured the elves weren’t at all delighted with their task but they were too polite to say anything. Except of course for Tibby, who had shot him a reproachful look but hadn’t said anything. Probably for fear that he might end up having to wring his own ears or iron his hands, not that Draco condoned that kind of attitude. Astoria had taught him a great deal about respecting those around you and he’d lived by that moral code for too long now to change anything about it.
Then, upon his arrival at the Ministry, a hungry bunch of reporters had ambushed him, verbally attacking him with so many questions he hadn’t known which one to answer first — or how to answer for that matter. The few times that his picture had made it into The Prophet had been for reasons he preferred not to remember. As for the other times he had been in the news? Well, the announcement of his and Astoria’s nuptials, an official wedding photo with a brief statement, then the birth of his son, of course, and the obituary upon Astoria’s passing — all those had well and truly been unavoidable. But apart from those few times, he had kept to himself. The war had given him an almost unquenchable desire for anonymity, privacy and as much time away from the public eye as possible. The less the reporters saw of him and his family, the less they were inclined to fill The Prophet with nonsense, dragging the Malfoy name through the mud once again. For Scorpius’ sake, he reminded himself.
He had tried to act rather nonchalant about the whole hype but instead of it having the desired effect of calming the crowd, the reporters had applauded his cool, calm, and collected demeanour. They had naturally — and, of course, wrongly — concluded that this hadn’t been the first time Draco Malfoy had assisted the Auror Department. Although he had vehemently rejected the notion that he was on the Ministry’s payroll, it had been a losing battle and if he was completely honest, he was just a little afraid of what tomorrow’s headlines may bring. For the first time ever, he truly understood why Potter had tried his best — but failed — to shun the papers during the war.
The commotion his appearance in the Ministry Atrium had caused resulted in the Security Department notifying Magical Law Enforcement and — much to Draco’s initial embarrassment, though he had no plans to admit that to anyone any time soon — no one other than Potter had come to his rescue. Potter had expertly dealt with the ruthless vultures, otherwise known as reporters, and Draco had looked on in silent amazement. Potter had been calm, collected, confident, authoritative, and assertive — everything one would expect a Head of Department to be. It had forced Draco to further change his opinion of Potter.
“I’m just glad that for once I’m not the centre of attention,” Potter laughed heartily. “Or do you think I enjoy all this paperwork?”
“Comes with the job, doesn’t it?” Draco replied with an amused grin.
“Yes and no,” Potter shrugged. “I could get one of the Junior Aurors to take care of a large portion of it for me and spend more time in the field, but then I’d also be in the papers a lot more. For the next five minutes the press has a new Golden Boy and I’m not at all inclined to set the record straight. Besides, you handled yourself admirably — much better than most of my first-year trainees during their first duel,” Potter smiled and Draco watched him rise to his feet, idly contemplating whether Potter was praising him for the sake of it or actually giving him a serious compliment.
“Tea?” Potter asked, heading towards the door. Draco nodded, though he highly suspected that any tea the Auror Department brewed was probably vile and undrinkable. Still, Potter had saved his arse earlier in the Atrium, the least he could do was to try and be polite for five minutes. Biting back a snarky response was hard but Draco forced himself to do so anyway.
Several minutes later, Potter returned levitating a tray with two mugs, a bowl of rock sugar, and a tea pot in front of him. He gently set the tray down on his desk and handed one of the mugs to Draco. Their fingers brushed ever so slightly during the exchange and Draco tried his best to ignore the feelings they aroused in him as the unexpected warmth of Potter’s touch flashed through his entire body. He instantly found himself thrown back to the night he and Potter had hidden in that old wardrobe and Potter had hugged him, pressing both their bodies so very tightly together. Don’t be stupid; it wasn’t a hug, he was trying to save our arses, Draco chastised himself.
He distinctly remembered that he had been horrified when Potter had, without much of a warning, gone for a very much unexpected embrace. Not because he found the idea of Potter’s body pressed up against his own revolting, but rather because he had been afraid of how his body might react to being in such proximity to another man. Since Astoria’s passing, he had indulged in a few secret escapades with other men, but it had never been more than a fling. He had never allowed any of the encounters to grow into anything serious, too afraid of how Scorpius might react when he found out that his father rather preferred men and had always done so. There had been one guy, a tall, dark-skinned wizard from Italy with jet-black hair he had rather liked and it had turned into an extended holiday fling but Draco had eventually, and rather resolutely, cut all ties when it had become apparent that Leone was very much interested in pursuing a serious relationship.
Draco resolutely pushed the memory of his past flings, along with that night Potter had locked his arms around him, out of his mind before they got out of hand and he started craving a repeat of Potter’s firm and muscular body snuggly pressed up against his own. Feeling his blood rush south, Draco pulled himself together and focused on the tea mug in his hand. He lifted the mug and was about to take a careful sip when, rather unexpectedly, the familiar smell of his favourite tea leaves assaulted his nostrils.
“Darjeeling,” he breathed, looking up at Potter with mild astonishment. Potter merely shrugged and smiled.
“Yes, and it’s not tea bags either. Though I’m sure that this brand of Darjeeling isn’t what you’re used to.”
Draco frowned and taking a careful sip of the hot beverage he had to admit that it exceeded expectations. If he was honest, which he could be, it was well above average. “The Auror Department buys Darjeeling tea leaves?” He queried, finding it rather hard to believe that the Ministry of Magic would bother to spend money on fine tea.
Potter laughed. “Merlin no, they buy tea bags, the cheapest. This is my own personal stash. After I had some at the Manor, I thought I would try it. I must say I’m rather enjoying this blend.”
Draco opened his mouth to respond but when his words failed him, he hastily took a sip from his tea instead.
“I’m not completely ignorant, you know, Malfoy.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Draco muttered into his tea.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Draco.”
Potter’s unexpected use of his first name nearly caused Draco to spill his tea as he suppressed an unwanted cough. Much to his dismay, and mild embarrassment, he found his nether regions reacting rather inappropriately and couldn’t help but wonder how Potter managed to bring out the randy teenager in him. He shuffled in his seat and throwing one leg over the other he purposefully rearranged his robes, desperately willing his cock to stop showing an interest in Potter in that way. He really, and absolutely, did not need to add an infatuation with Potter to his list of troubles. He did not want to either.
Much to his consternation, ever since he had caught Potter checking him out over lunch, he had found himself getting rather strange ideas about them both. Most of the time it was just a fleeting thought here and there and he managed to ignore it, but ever since that incident, the thoughts had become more insistent and it took Draco a lot more effort to banish them to that very dark corner of his mind that he usually kept under lock and key. Trying to distract himself further, Draco decided it was for the best if he kept the conversation going.
“Like what?” he asked. He didn’t think Potter was that much of a mysterious person and looking at the man presently sitting across from him, he raised his eyebrow in a silent dare.
“What would you like to know, Malfoy?” Potter asked with a smirk worthy of any Slytherin, and just like that they were back in familiar waters, using each other’s last names just like they always had. Draco relaxed. A lot. He also tried to come up with something, anything, he wanted to ask Potter, but he drew a blank and silently cursed himself.
Inevitably silence descended over the room and Draco focused his full attention on his tea, studiously avoiding looking directly at Potter. He suddenly couldn’t remember why he was sitting in Potter’s office in the first place. They had solved the potions case, he had no real reason to be here, he could have just as well stayed home, except the influx of owls had made it nearly impossible for him to focus on anything at all. Not even as simple a task as answering his son’s Howler.
Harry tried his hardest to hide his bemusement; Malfoy was acting rather odd and thoroughly out of character. While he was doing quite a good job at glamouring is behaviour, it hadn’t escaped Harry’s notice that Malfoy was, suddenly, being extremely vigilant about not meeting his eyes. He couldn’t quite fathom why but rather relished in the opportunity to be able to take a closer look at Malfoy.
Harry wasn’t quite sure what had brought on the sudden change in Malfoy, but he suspected that he had yet to fully process a bunch of reporters accosting him upon stepping into the Ministry’s grand Atrium. At this stage of his life, Harry couldn’t care less about all the reporters that were always swarming all around him, had dealt with it for most of his life. Even now, seventeen years after the war, any remotely noteworthy case his department dealt with received an avalanche of attention – more attention than the same type of case might achieve overseas. Most of the time it was much to his dismay and he often found himself inside The Prophet’s editor-in-chief’s office requesting that he reign in his horses as to avoid overly affecting the case with ludicrous headlines and out-of-line speculations.
As Head Auror he had also quickly learnt that avoiding the press was a definite no-go and had, out of pure desperation, taught himself how to deal with aggressive reporters. He had learnt that most of them were out for blood, most of all Rita Skeeter, of course. However, he had managed to get a handle on her and, strangely enough, they had come to tolerate each other. Harry could, however, still remember the few times Malfoy had been in the papers and it had never been for a good reason. His father’s arrest had been a hard blow for him as well as the trials, but he had always managed to keep his head held high, a character trait Harry truly admired. Post-war, Malfoy had mostly kept out of the papers, save for the one or other official announcement that was customary for pureblood families.
Taking a sip from his tea, Harry eyed Malfoy. He appeared to be rather on edge and not even Harry’s offer to divulge some of his secrets — a desperate attempt at lightening the mood between them — could get him to relax fully. Still, Harry pretended not to notice and they sat in silence, each drinking their tea and lost in their own thoughts.
Harry wasn’t quite sure why Malfoy had stopped by the department today, but he felt it would be counterproductive to their growing tentative friendship to attempt to point this out and therefore kept his thoughts firmly to himself.
Instead, he took the liberty to instruct his eyes to give Malfoy an appreciative once-over. Ever since their insane undercover operation, Harry was sure that there was something very wrong with his brain. He couldn’t quite get the feeling of pressing himself up against Malfoy out of his head and it did funny things to him, very funny things indeed. Harry mostly tried to ignore his loopy brain, but if Malfoy’s unexpected and rather flirty comment over lunch the other day had at all thrown him, this well and truly blew all proportions.
What freaked Harry out the most wasn’t even that it had felt strangely good to be so close to Malfoy, but that he couldn’t get Malfoy’s lips out of his head. He hadn’t even tasted them, didn’t know what they would feel like pressed up against his own, but they were lush, so wonderfully lush. Even now, Harry found his eyes inexplicably drawn to Malfoy’s lips and looking at them did nothing for his composure. He couldn’t quite comprehend where his sudden crush — for that’s what it seemed to be — was coming from. It made no sense at all and it rather complicated things a lot, too much even.
Harry was truly grateful for the fact that he had, after serving Malfoy tea, returned to his chair behind his desk, otherwise he would have a serious problem explaining the obvious bulge in his trousers. He cursed the fact that he seldom wore his robes in the office and as such his only option of hiding his current, and very much unwanted, arousal was to remain seated and calmly resume drinking his tea.
After what felt like forever, Malfoy setting down his mug a little too enthusiastically tore both men out of their respective thoughts and their eyes locked. For a moment neither man moved, the air between them charged and crackling… Harry wasn’t sure with what exactly but it felt like just about anything could happen. He sucked in a sharp breath, unsure of what to make of the situation. Malfoy’s expression was unreadable but captivating to say the least.
Harry cleared his throat and they both looked away. The moment, if it had in fact been a moment, between them faded instantly. Malfoy resolutely stood. He hesitated for a moment then nodded as if to ascertain they’d just enjoyed a rather wonderful conversation.
“I should get going, I have taken up enough of your time already,” he said and Harry almost automatically rose to his feet. Malfoy nodded again, then spun around on his heel and headed for the door. He already had his hand on the doorknob, ready to pull the door open, when Harry instinctively called out to him.
Slowly turning around, Malfoy shot him an expectant look.
“Would you like to have dinner some time?” The words had left Harry’s mouth before he had the opportunity to properly contemplate them. Calling Malfoy’s name to stop him from leaving, that had been impulse, asking him to have dinner together, well Harry had no idea out of which dark corner of his mind that thought had escaped. It hadn’t at all been his intention. Or had it? Harry wasn’t so sure anymore.
Malfoy clearly hesitated for a moment, then raised an eyebrow questioningly. A strange sort of smirk was ghosting around the corners of his mouth. “Are you asking me out, Potter?”
Harry pointedly ignored the question, he had no idea how to answer it anyway. But he had to admit that the idea of a date with Malfoy wasn’t off-putting at all. The fact that he thought like this led Harry to believe that he’d indeed lost his marbles, every single one of them.
“I’ll cook,” he said instead, the words seemingly coming out of his mouth without his permission. He still wasn’t sure what had possessed him to be this bold, but it wasn’t like he had a Time Turner to help him take back his words and he idly wondered whether he had received a curse to the head during that duel in Kensington several days ago. It seemed like a plausible explanation for his present delusions. Asking Malfoy out, are you completely insane? he asked himself, confused by his own actions.
Malfoy stared at him for the longest time. “Trying to poison me now the case is over?” he asked with the cockiest grin Harry had ever seen.
Harry rolled his eyes in immediate response. He figured he’d already lost his mind, there was nothing else he could do to make this moment between them any worse. A moment later, Malfoy’s unexpected acceptance to his invitation made Harry’s head spin and he instinctively found himself gripping his desk for support.
“What the hell. I’ll chance it. Saturday night. Your place,” Malfoy said and with those words Malfoy opened the door and left, leaving Harry to look on in his daze. Apparently, he had a dinner date — with Malfoy, no less. Next stop, Janus Thickey Ward, he told himself. The insane workload of a Department Head was finally getting to him then, wasn’t it? It had only taken seven years. Harry wondered whether that was a new record for any Ministry employee, and sinking back into his chair, he rested his forehead against his desk, closed his eyes, and breathed deeply. A dinner date with Malfoy. Merlin help him, they were bound to kill each other well before dessert.
Chapter 12: A Bout Of The Jitters
“Fuck this!” Harry snapped, flinging the kitchen towel across the kitchen. His ambient magic flared violently and disrupted the wireless for a second.
“Bad day at work?” Hermione asked, casually leaning against the doorframe of his kitchen.
Harry turned around and frowned. “When did you—? Never mind!” he glared at the burned pot in front of him and taking his wand out, he banished not only the contents but also the pot without as much as a second thought.
“That bad?” Hermione asked tentatively and Harry jumped a mile when he felt her hand on his previously injured shoulder. It had healed completely, thanks to the salve and the potions Malfoy had prepared for him, but ever since Malfoy’s healing spell his skin seemed to be more sensitive to touch. Harry suspected much of that was his imagination — especially since that wardrobe incident. “Frustration does not a good cook make, Harry,” Hermione chided softly and turning around to face her, Harry leant back against the worktop and sighed. She was right. He didn’t have much of a penchant for cooking, but whenever he approached the process calmly and with the intention to let distraction take over, he usually managed just fine. Today, however, his mind was whirling at a hundred miles an hour and it didn’t appear to want to slow down any time soon.
“I’m fine, just a bit on edge, that’s all,” Harry assured her and although she nodded, he knew that Hermione wasn’t buying his pathetic excuse. Then again, he had no idea how to go about telling her that he had invited Malfoy over to have dinner with him. He supposed she’d be understanding. She had been just that when he’d followed up on Scorpius’ request to check on his father, but this – a dinner date with Malfoy was all sorts of insane. Harry felt the almost irresistible temptation to send Malfoy an owl and cancel on him. He could always lie and say that the Auror Department had caught an urgent case and he had to work overtime.
“You know, you are a decent cook, but if your heart’s not in it you’ll probably end up burning the water,” Hermione said gently and Harry fully expected her to ask why preparing a mere meal bothered him so much, but the question never came. Harry was more than a little grateful and made a mental note to buy Hermione half of Flourish and Blotts for Christmas. “I’ll leave you to it,” she said with what Harry knew to be a knowing smile. As she turned around ready to leave, Harry instinctively stopped her before she could reach the door.
“Thanks,” he called after her and she turned her head, flicked her loose bushy hair out of her face and winked.
“You know, you make a mean salmon,” she offered a bit of unrequested advice and before Harry could question that cheeky glint in her eyes she had vanished from his sight. A moment later the fireplace in the living room roared to life and Harry couldn’t help but think that she already knew why he was this frustrated. Maybe she had no idea about the specifics but she had most definitely guessed that he was frustrated about a dinner date, Harry was sure of that. Women, and especially Hermione Granger, apparently had a sixth sense for such things.
Draco leant casually against the bar, drink in hand, and surveyed the clientele. He seldom frequented bars, but this place he didn’t find utterly abhorrent. Compared to some of the places he had visited in the past, this one was a rather upscale bar and its patrons weren’t only well-dressed, but also reasonably well-behaved. If ‘reasonable’ constituted public snogging and some rather indecent touching, that is. Then again, Draco was willing to turn a blind eye on those rather in-your-face public displays of affection. While it wasn’t his cup of tea, he didn’t see any reason in denying others the pleasure. It was, after all, a gay bar.
Besides, the night was still young so the snogging and public displays of affection that distracted one’s attention now were nothing compared to what the place would look like in a few hours after the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. Presently, the dance floor was only half-full but the music was rhythmic with a steady pulse. The men were quite good-looking and Draco very much enjoyed the view. Usually, Draco’s only reason for coming here was because he wanted company for the night, but today he had no such inclinations. It made him wonder why he had bothered going out in the first place.
He suspected Potter’s unexpected invitation to dinner was messing with his head. Admittedly, Potter was a fit bloke, Draco could concede to that much. Why his body suddenly found itself inappropriately responding to Potter’s presence was a complete mystery to him. A not entirely unpleasant mystery, but a mystery all the same. Draco suspected he simply needed to get laid, but tonight he couldn’t honestly find it in him to make the effort. Not that finding a willing sex partner for the night required a lot of effort; he knew how to get what he wanted and no one had ever turned him down before. He was quite apt at working his charm and boyish good looks to his full advantage and most men found him irresistible.
Taking a slow sip from his drink, a 2004 Barolo, Draco’s eyes settled on a couple. One was blond, the other one had brown, nearly black hair. They were kissing passionately and Draco rather appreciated the sight. The couple stood to the side of the dance floor, half in the shadows, with the blond guy leaning back against the wall and the brunette guy tightly pushed up against him. Their hands were roaming over each other’s body’s and they appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, entirely oblivious to the fact that Draco was watching them with mild curious interest. He took another sip from his wine and shuddered as the image in his mind changed, morphing into one Harry Potter pushing him up against the wall, kissing him roughly and passionately. Possessively.
Draco felt a tremor run through his entire body and resolutely turned away from the snogging couple. He forced the images in his mind to disappear before his body decided to betray him and his cock told him just how immensely it enjoyed the idea of allowing Potter to ravish him. Draco shuddered again, wondering whether his undercover mission with Potter had resulted in him unknowingly taking a curse to the head, making him loopy. He knew the best way to rid himself of his unhealthy obsession would be to find a random bloke and shag him senseless but not with all the will in the world could he convince himself to make a move on anyone around him.
Dejected, Draco plied himself with more alcohol. He wasn’t sure whether he was trying to get himself drunk or whether he was just drinking for the sake of it but he didn’t care either way. His eyes continued to wander around the bar and eventually settled on a very good-looking tanned man with somewhat unruly black hair. Draco guessed he was in his late twenties and when their eyes met a short while later, Draco was all but tempted to head over there and introduce himself to the stunning stranger. His brain, however, decided to thwart his plans by reminding him just how much that stranger looked like Potter and Draco groaned inwardly. He placed his wine glass on the bar with so much venom that he thought it might shatter and without as much as a backward glance, he left the bar.
He shivered as the cold breeze outside hit him with full force and wrapping his coat tighter around himself, he began his brief walk to a nearby apparition point. The walk and the cold sobered him up a little and he arrived a short while later. He was about to get himself home to the Manor when Potter broke his concentration, distracting him from visualising his destination. With a heavy sigh, Draco forced the image of Potter’s face and his way too green eyes into a dark corner of his mind and deciding that he was in no fit state to apparate anywhere without quite possibly splinching himself, he continued walking and wondered whether he was slowly but surely losing his mind.
A widower at thirty, a single parent with a rather dark past, and an unhealthy obsession with the Saviour of the Wizarding World. Draco sighed. He momentarily contemplated checking himself into St Mungo’s to test for Spell Damage but dismissed the idea as insane almost immediately. A couple glasses of Firewhisky were bound to set him on the straight and narrow, Draco was sure of that. He surreptitiously glanced around himself and when he was sure that the streets were empty, he focused his attention on the Manor and disapparated into the dark of the night.
Chapter 13: Dessert, Anyone?
Eyeing himself in the full-length mirror, Harry nodded approvingly. A pair of snug-fitting black jeans and a dark-red button-down shirt were neither too formal nor too casual for the occasion. He undid the top button and slipped into his favourite white sneakers, bending down to tie the laces. He had tried his best to manage his unruly hair at least somewhat but neither the charm that was his grandfather’s hair potion nor Muggle hair products did much in that department and he had eventually given up. At least his Muggle cologne didn’t fail him and the notable scent of grapefruit peel, juniper, and oakmoss made him feel rather confident about his appearance.
Holding his hand out, Harry summoned his wand from the nightstand with a wandless spell and holstering it, he made his way downstairs, just in time for the doorbell to announce that Malfoy had arrived. Harry glanced at his watch. Malfoy was, of course, exactly on time. Not a minute late, not a minute early. Harry hadn’t really expected anything else. Taking a deep breath, Harry took a calming breath and hoped, quite fervently so, that tonight wouldn’t end up a total disaster.
He still couldn’t quite comprehend what had possessed him to ask Malfoy on a date, for this was what tonight undoubtedly was. It was most definitely not a casual dinner between friends. They were not friends, had never been friends, and not even the uneasy truce they had called after the war could change anything about that. Scorpius’ letter had certainly given Harry a reason to seek Malfoy out and the potions smuggling case had given them the opportunity to work together, but he still didn’t look at Malfoy and see a potential friend. If he was honest, Harry wasn’t entirely sure what he saw when he looked at Malfoy, but whichever way he twisted it, he did not see them ever settling on a platonic kind of friendship. For that, they were both too emotionally charged when in the presence of one another.
Nevertheless, Harry could not deny that he was excited about spending the evening in the company of a handsome man, because Malfoy was just that – unequivocally handsome, strikingly so. Malfoy, Harry could admit that much now, had always been rather stunning, even back at Hogwarts. There was something about his height, his white-blond hair, his angular, yet not overly sharp features – not to mention the way he carried himself – that simply drew Harry in. Malfoy fascinated him, had always fascinated him, though lately even more so than back when he had been a lanky teenager. Back then Harry had been too preoccupied to really take note of Malfoy’s masculine grace, but the last few weeks had given him many opportunities to do so.
Harry had felt incredibly self-conscious about Malfoy coming to Grimmauld Place. He had spent most of last night and the entire morning cleaning – well, scrubbing – the house from top to bottom. No matter where one looked, one wouldn’t find a single speck of dust; Harry had made perfectly sure of that. The entire house gleamed from top to bottom and Harry was convinced that in all the years he had lived here, his humble abode had never been cleaner. Taking another deep breath to further calm his frazzled nerves, he reached for the doorknob and resolutely pulled the door open.
His breath caught at the sight of Malfoy. He looked like he had stepped right off the front cover of a fashion magazine. Dressed in bespoke black cotton trousers that clung to all the right places, Malfoy donned a white button-down shirt and a grey cashmere jumper, as well as semi-formal black dress robes. Overall, Harry thought, Malfoy looked like someone a proud boyfriend ought to parade around town. He was a welcome sight, breathtakingly beautiful. Hiding you away would be a shame, Harry mused and at that thought, Harry swallowed hard and was suddenly acutely aware that he was not only blocking the doorway preventing Malfoy from entering, but had also opened the door without as much as saying hello.
Hastily rectifying the situation, Harry stepped aside, “Malfoy. Come in.”
“And there was me thinking you were going to let me eat on your doorstep,” Malfoy said with an air of haughtiness that made Harry want to both slap him and slam him against the wall. He couldn’t quite decide which one of the two options he wanted more, but kept his cool and watched Malfoy step across the threshold and into the hallway.
“I doubt you’d do that of your own volition,” Harry laughed more confidently than he felt.
“Too right you are,” Malfoy said and looked around the hallway.
“Dinner is ready; the dining room table is all set.” Harry smiled, motioning towards a door at the end of the long hallway corridor.
“What, I don’t get a tour? Where are your manners, Potter? I showed you the Manor.” Malfoy looked rather affronted and looking somewhat embarrassed, Harry apologised profusely.
“It’s just your average London townhouse, but if you want to see the place, be my guest,” Harry said and realising that he hadn’t offered to take Malfoy’s robes, he mentally slapped himself. “Can I take your robes?” he asked, rectifying the situation immediately.
“Thought you’d never ask,” Malfoy rolled his eyes and elegantly slipping out of his dress robes, he handed them to Harry, who dutifully placed them on a padded coat hanger inside the walk-in cloakroom-come-broom cupboard by the door. “I also brought a bottle of Firewhisky, seeing since you didn’t divulge what food you’d be serving which made it rather impossible to choose an appropriate wine to bring.”
“When you asked, I didn’t know what I was going to make. I do have some wine to go with dinner though. You really do think I’m a complete country bumpkin, don’t you?”
Malfoy shrugged but the smirk on his lips affirmed Harry’s question. Rolling his eyes, Harry decided to ignore the silent dig, and accepting the bottle of Firewhisky from Malfoy, Harry glanced at the label. Ogden's Old, Single Malt Scotch Firewhisky, 21-years-old. His eyes widened. “This is not a cheap bottle,” he stated, not entirely sure whether he had meant to say that aloud, and Malfoy huffed.
“I don’t drink cheap alcohol,” he gave Harry a pointed glare, though Harry thought it rather lacked its usual sting. There was an odd softness in Malfoy’s glare, one Harry couldn’t quite place.
“I didn’t mean it like that,”
“Then, how did you?” Malfoy raised a questioning eyebrow at Harry.
“Just that you obviously spent a pretty knut on this,” Harry shrugged.
“More like a pretty galleon, Potter,” Malfoy said, an amused smile ghosting around his lips. “Now, do I get to see the house or are we going to spend the entire evening exchanging pleasantries in your hallway?”
“Well, come on then,” Harry grinned. “If it’s a tour you want, a tour you will get.”
“It’s all very Muggle,” Draco stated sometime later once Potter concluded the tour around the house and they walked into the dining room, where Potter’s dinner was waiting for them. Potter had closed the connecting door between the dining room and the kitchen, but Draco wasn’t really dying to see the kitchen. Instead, he glanced around the room, taking in the interior and the décor which matched the rest of the house perfectly. He knew that Grimmauld Place had once been his mother’s ancestral home, but couldn’t for the life of him remember whether he had ever visited the Black family home and as such would have included many old pieces of furniture, artifices, heavy drapery, and top-to-bottom curtains all around the place. If he had, he had been too young to remember anything about it. In any case, the place didn’t much look like a pureblood family home. Then again, Draco doubted Potter would feel comfortable in an ancient pureblood home. No, Potter had clearly made it his own and Draco idly wondered whether Potter had had help or if he indeed possessed some sort of sense of style. His choice of clothing suggested that he had, at the very least, learnt how to dress since leaving Hogwarts. Still, Draco could hardly resist the temptation to ask Potter, to mock him a little, but he refrained…for now anyway.
Instead, he turned his attention back to the dining room and noted Potter had obviously slightly shrunk the dinner table, which was set for two. A bottle of white wine stood in a wine cooler on the table and a basket with what appeared to be homemade bread stood in the centre of the table. It smelled rather delicious. Potter had wisely covered the serving bowl for the soup and Draco figured that Potter had also put a Stasis Charm on the starter to keep it hot. There was no sign of the main course or the dessert and Potter had forgone any silly table decorations, which Draco appreciated endlessly.
“Is that a compliment or an eloquent way of telling me that you hate the place?” Harry asked.
“It’s not awful, quite tastefully decorated actually,” Draco replied with a genuine smile.
“Coming from you that’s high praise indeed, Malfoy,” Harry laughed and much to Draco’s astonishment, he pulled out a chair and motioned for Draco to sit. Draco hesitated for a moment but took his seat eventually. He was pleasantly surprised; Potter had most definitely made a great effort to prepare for their dinner. Not only was the table impeccably set with the cutlery, dishes, and wine glasses all in their right places, but Potter also possessed exquisite table manners.
On top of that, Potter was extremely well-dressed; those black jeans left absolutely nothing to the imagination and Draco thought that they suited Potter like a second layer of skin. The dark-red button-down shirt nicely clung to Potter’s torso and arms and Draco couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the boy he had gone to Hogwarts with and tormented for the better part of seven years. Once or twice during the tour, Draco had firmly reminded himself that, as a guest in Potter’s house, it would not be acceptable for him to slam Potter against the nearest wall and have his wicked way with him. He also had to remind himself that any thoughts of this nature were thoroughly inappropriate and would do nothing to aid his cool composure.
Potter most definitely looked like he had learnt a thing or two about clothes and his cologne was…well, Draco couldn’t deny that Potter smelled good too, very good indeed. He smelled of grapefruit, juniper, and something that was either musk wood or oakmoss or maybe even a mixture of both. It was simply divine and did extremely treacherous things to Draco’s mind.
“I hope you’re hungry,” Potter interrupted Draco’s train of thought and with a practised flick of his wand, he removed the Stasis Charm from the soup bowl and served Draco a bowl of steaming hot soup. “Creamy asparagus. The pita bread goes with it, it’s filled with spinach,” Potter explained before Draco could ask.
As Draco picked up his spoon and sampled the soup, he idly wondered whether he was really having dinner with the one and only Harry Potter or a polyjuiced version of The Saviour, Britain’s Golden Boy…Man even! Draco couldn’t quite comprehend just how much Potter had changed over the years. Granted, he had too, they both were in their mid-thirties, after all, but whenever he heard something about Potter it had been because The Prophet was reporting on his heroic deeds as Head of the British Auror Department. This Harry Potter – well, Draco wasn’t familiar with this version of Harry Potter. He had never seen this version of the man he had, once upon a time, so desperately wanted to befriend.
They ate their soup in comfortable silence, each clearly lost in their own thoughts, but still exchanged a smile here and there. Ordinarily, Draco would find this disturbing but with Potter, he felt a strange sense of calmness. When Potter returned from the kitchen with two plates of what he proclaimed to be coconut and macadamia crusted salmon with quinoa and pumpkin salad, Draco did a double take and outright questioned from which restaurant Potter had ordered the food. He hadn’t meant to break the silence in quite such a dramatic way, but Potter’s choice of food for the main course had made him momentarily forget all about his good manners and he hadn’t been able to comprehend how it was possible that the man in front of him could possibly be this skilled in the kitchen.
“I did not order the food,” Potter looked so affronted that Draco instantly felt just a little bit bad for insinuating that Potter couldn’t possibly have cooked this good a meal. “If you must know, my uncle and aunt forced me to cook for them every day from a very young age. All the things you get your house elves to do for you, I had to do for the Dursleys,” Potter said rather coolly and Draco swallowed hard and wanted to kick himself for his ill-placed mockery.
“I’m sorry,” he couldn’t help but apologise. The idea that someone had treated Potter as nothing better than a house elf when he had been just a child irked Draco more than he cared to admit to himself or anyone else — fatherhood changed one a lot, Draco thought to himself. He had, of course, read the stories, but had always figured that those trumped-up tales of what had transpired between Potter and his Muggle relatives had been designed to sell more papers. Back in the day, it had always been a struggle to guess which of the articles in The Prophet were exact and which were ridiculously embellished versions of the truth. These days the paper had become marginally more reliable but its reporters still enjoyed going above and beyond trying to dress up stories to make them more appealing to their readers.
“It’s okay,” Harry shrugged and Draco decided that it wasn’t all right, it really wasn’t. “Just means I don’t particularly like cooking—” he paused, took a sip of his wine, then continued, “though I do occasionally make exceptions,” he added with a sincere smile.
“How you aren’t married or at least with someone who worships the ground you walk on is beyond me,” the words had left Draco’s mouth before he had been able to stop himself and he instantly wanted to slap himself for his idiotic comment.
Reaching for his glass of wine, Draco busily stared into it, then took a large swig of the cool drink and picked up his fork, intent on resuming the meal. Maybe, just maybe, Potter would ignore his veiled compliment.
“Why, Malfoy, you’re full of praise today,” Potter chuckled and Draco sighed inwardly. “Sadly, most of Wizarding Britain worships the ground I walk on. It’s kind of difficult to tell who’s for real and who isn’t.”
“The Weasley girl was for real.”
“As it turns out, hers was the wrong anatomy,” Harry laughed and the sound was music to Draco’s ears. It was the sincere, carefree laughter of a man who was perfectly comfortable in his own skin. “Surely you didn’t miss that, Malfoy, it was frontpage news,” Potter baited him.
“I didn’t,” Draco smirked but sobered up when he wistfully remembered the slight pang of jealousy, he had felt at reading the article in which Potter had bravely outed himself to the world and confessed that there would never ever be a Potter-Weasley wedding. He had, quite openly so, explained how he had come to terms with his sexuality and how Ginny Weasley had supported him every step of the way. It had been almost nauseatingly perfect and Draco had very nearly tossed the paper into the fireplace after reading the article. Draco reckoned that he had embellished that part of the story a little, but when a series of photographs of Potter and the Weasley girl, being just friends, had appeared on the front pages of The Prophet, even Draco had been able to tell that the woman didn’t hold a grudge against Potter over his sexual preference.
After the war, Draco hadn’t had the freedom of choice. He and his family had narrowly avoided Azkaban, in part only because of Potter. Getting married to a respectable young woman from a prominent pureblood wizarding family had been his only hope to wash some of the dirt off the Malfoy name. His family had made the decision that he should marry as soon as possible, and he had never told a living soul that he preferred men, exclusively so. It just hadn’t been up for debate and after the war, he had been too exhausted to really care about getting his own way. He had been grateful to be alive and even though his parents had made a few rather regretful decisions on his behalf, he had — if only to give them peace of mind — allowed them to make just one more decision on his behalf.
Granted, both his father and his mother had objected vehemently to his choice of wife, but for once in his life, he had chosen not to listen. His parents had wanted him to marry Daphne Greengrass, Astoria’s older sister, but he had put his foot down and married Astoria instead. In the early days of their marriage, he had often wondered whether Astoria had, on some level, known about his preference for the male gender. He had been so sure that she must have known, but she had never said a word and he had never gone behind her back. There had been times when he had been almost desperate to take a lover, but he had always resisted. It wouldn’t have been fair to Astoria and their son, that’s what he had always told himself.
“Potter, pray tell, why is there no dashing Mr Potter then? Or at least a significant other. You must have suitors lining up to go on a date with you.”
Draco was acutely aware that their conversation was headed into dangerous waters, but he was curious, so very curious. The rational part of his brain told him to drop the conversation and talk about the weather instead, but the irrational part of his brain, the one who had taken immense pleasure in making Potter’s school days unnecessarily difficult, insisted.
Potter didn’t immediately answer. Instead, he reached for his wine and momentarily toying with the glass, he looked at Draco. Their eyes locked and Draco couldn’t help but think that Potter’s eyes were way too green. It was such an intense green that Draco felt rather dizzy and had to break their eye contact to blink several times. Potter’s emerald green eyes did unspeakable things to his sanity, things Draco did not want to contemplate.
“I don’t exactly have the time to date,” Potter said eventually, and Draco wanted to scoff and tell him that he obviously had time tonight but those words remained unspoken.
Probably for the better, Draco thought. He knew that Potter’s answer had been a load of poppycock, a pathetic attempt at answering a question he didn’t want to answer. Normally, Draco would make a snide remark, because, well, that was what he did whenever he talked to Potter, but tonight he refrained. Instead, he nodded, quietly accepting the answer and they continued their meal in silence. At least for a while.
At some point, while Potter tipped back the rest of his wine, Draco allowed himself a furtive glance, marvelling over Potter’s features. He was rather handsome and acknowledging that wreaked havoc with Draco’s already frail sanity. When Potter caught him looking, he stilled and their eyes locked for what felt like an eternity. The air around them crackled in a way, Draco had never ever experienced before. He didn’t quite understand what the air around them was charged with, but it felt like high-voltage electricity. He could feel his entire body reacting to Potter’s intense gaze and worried that he might lose control over his actions, Draco forced himself to break the eye contact. He cleared his throat, noticed that they had both finished their wine and reaching for the bottle, he poured them both a generous glass.
“Thank you…for this wonderful meal,” he said quietly, raising his glass in a toast. Potter followed suit and they clinked glasses.
“There’s still dessert,” Potter then said, his voice low and husky and Draco almost choked on his drink. He was sure that the dessert he had in mind wasn’t the dessert Potter had in mind. Or maybe? He did look somewhat suggestive and his voice did not at all sound like it usually did. Briefly closing his eyes, Draco pushed that thought far out of his mind, firmly telling himself to get a grip. This was getting out of hand and he had to put a stop to it before he might possibly do something extremely stupid.
“You and your dad look so alike,” Malfoy said and Harry looked up from where he was crouching beside the fire, adding two more logs to the hearth. He wasn’t sure when Malfoy had gotten up from the couch, but he was now standing in front of the mantelpiece, looking at the collection of Harry’s photographs. That was Harry’s thing, he had photographs of his family in every room of the house. Somehow it made him feel less alone.
Rising to his feet, Harry glanced at the picture in question. It showed his dad on a broom in full Quidditch gear, laughing heartily, Snitch firmly held in his right hand. “Except for my eyes,” Harry found himself repeating the words he had heard so many people say to him. “I have my mother’s eyes,” he added very quietly and Malfoy ever so slowly turned to face him. “Everyone always says that,” Harry mumbled and swallowed hard, unable to comprehend how he and Malfoy could just stand there and look at each other while the air around them crackled with an invisible force that seemed to be driving them closer and closer together.
“Green,” Malfoy mumbled, setting his glass of Firewhisky down on the mantlepiece just next to Harry’s dad’s photograph. “Very green,” he murmured and Harry shuddered. “So very green.”
Their eyes locked and Harry opened his mouth to say something, but he drew a complete blank. Instead, he shamelessly allowed himself to drown in Malfoy’s grey-blue eyes, wondering how he had never noticed just how incredibly clear they were, like two deep pools of fresh quell water. Then again, except for that time in the wardrobe, he and Malfoy had never been close enough for him to get a thorough look at his eyes.
Feeling a tremor of excitement rush through his veins, Harry bit his bottom lip and dropped his gaze to Malfoy’s lips. His mouth went dry and he flicked his tongue across his lips, then looked back up and into Malfoy’s eyes. He was surprised to find them burning with such intense desire that it made his head spin and absolutely all rational thought escaped him.
Almost as if someone else was controlling his movements, Harry took a cautionary step forward, then stopped, waiting, hesitating. He glanced down at Malfoy’s lips, then back up at his eyes, seeking permission for what he was about to do. Malfoy didn’t budge. He simply stood there, his body seemingly frozen to the spot, yet his eyes shone with such intensity that Harry threw all caution to the wind and closing the short distance between them, he pressed his lips against Malfoy’s. He instantly marvelled at their incredible softness and his lips tingled as he imagined pushing his tongue between Malfoy’s silky lips to seek out and duel its counterpart.
He was acutely aware that Malfoy still hadn’t moved, or responded to the kiss, and even half expected Malfoy to hex his balls off, but just as Harry was about to break the kiss, long, slender fingers wound themselves into his hair and he felt Malfoy hungrily deepen the kiss. His lips parted and his tongue insistently pushed against Harry’s lips, demanding passage. Harry obliged and slightly parting his lips, he allowed Malfoy’s warm, wet tongue to push past his lips and into his mouth.
He met it with his own and as both their tongues touched for the first time, Harry shuddered and moaned into the kiss. His eyes fell closed and his hands almost automatically gravitated to Malfoy’s slender hips. He drew Malfoy closer, not wanting there to be an inch of air between them and as their bodies crashed together, Malfoy trembled in his arms and groaned into their kiss. He deepened the kiss further still, his tongue expertly winding around Harry’s, teasing, playing. Harry tasted chocolate and whisky and something that was, had to be, uniquely Malfoy and marvelled at how it was possible that Malfoy was such a good kisser.
He tightened his hold on Malfoy’s hips, drawing him even closer, if that was at all possible. Malfoy’s hand at the back of his head and his fingers, which were tightly wound in his hair, held Harry in place, giving him enough leeway to move in unison with Malfoy as they kissed but absolutely no way to break the kiss.
When Malfoy’s free hand rested on his back, Harry shuddered and when said hand slowly slid down to his arse, squeezing ever so gently, he bucked his hips. Malfoy’s tongue teased over his teeth, the top of his mouth, and every single inch of his tongue before he expertly withdrew. Harry’s tongue followed and he explored the hot cavern that was Malfoy’s mouth. He ignored the burning in his lungs for as long as it was humanly possible but knew that they would eventually have to break apart and when they did, Harry immediately craved more.
They both panted and opening their eyes, they blinked and stared disbelievingly.
“Fuck, that was —” Harry mumbled, trying to find the right words to describe what had just happened, but unable to do so. That had been one hell of an explosive first kiss and Harry was sure that he had never experienced anything quite like this. His entire body was on fire and he wanted Malfoy with every fibre of his body. Loosening his hold on Malfoy’s hips, he pressed his palms against Malfoy’s chest and pushed him backwards. Malfoy didn’t object and so Harry continued until the back of Malfoy’s legs hit the large sofa. Another push had Malfoy falling backwards and Harry dove right after him. Malfoy’s right leg dropped off the sofa and both their groins clashed together. Harry groaned and feeling Malfoy’s very prominent arousal, sent even more blood rushing south.
Looking down at Malfoy, Harry wondered whether he would complain about his weight crushing him but all he did was to frame Harry’s face with his hands and draw him in for another kiss. Their lips met in a frantic attempt to fuse together, their tongues duelled and Malfoy’s hands roamed down Harry’s back, insistently tugging at his shirt. When Malfoy’s warm hands finally connected with his own skin, Harry bucked his hips, pressing his erection firmly against Malfoy’s, drawing a long moan from him.
As if possessed they both started tearing at each other’s clothing, desperate to feel skin on skin but unwilling to stop kissing, to stop touching, to stop exploring. When Harry insistently attempted to tug Malfoy’s jumper over his head, they very reluctantly, and only briefly, broke their kiss, and then both proceeded to clumsily unbutton each other’s shirts. Malfoy was first to fumble with Harry’s jeans and was astonishingly quick to unbutton and unzip them.
Lying on the couch didn’t get them anywhere, however, and eventually, Malfoy found his voice. “Get off,” he ordered and they both stripped, hungrily drinking in each other’s naked bodies. Harry instinctively searched for scars on Malfoy’s chest but found none. His eyes fell to Malfoy’s forearms but the Dark Mark had faded into an almost unrecognisable scar. Their eyes locked and the stared for the longest time, then they both simultaneously dropped their gazes to each other’s crotches and licked their lips appreciatively.
“Of course, it’s perfect,” Harry breathed, shuddering, unable to take his eyes of Malfoy’s cock. It was big, it was long, and it was hard, very hard, judging by the amount of pre-come that was leaking from its tip. It was also very beautiful and Harry wanted it, wanted it very much.
He licked his lips and pushing Malfoy back onto the sofa, he attacked his mouth, kissing him deeply. Their naked cocks crashed and slid together and Malfoy groaned and bucked his hips upward. Harry followed with a thrust of his own and he could feel Malfoy’s body tremble beneath him as he trailed sloppy wet kisses down Malfoy’s chin and throat, down his chest and past his navel until his lips were only inches away from Malfoy’s beautiful cock.
He looked up at Malfoy, silently questioning, waiting for permission. Malfoy gave it without the slightest bit of hesitation and wrapping his fingers around Malfoy’s cock, Harry gave it a couple of strokes, then leant forward and lapped at the tip, eager to taste. Malfoy tasted salty and sweet and bitter and perfect, oh so perfect. Harry moaned and unable to resist he sucked the velvety tip into his mouth, engulfing it with his lips and flicking his tongue against it.
Malfoy groaned loudly, his hands flew to the back of Harry’s head and he bucked his hips. Harry steadied him with his own two hands and glancing up, he caught Malfoy staring at him, mesmerised. Without breaking their eye contact he bobbed his head and Malfoy trembled beneath him, shuddered, and threw his head back into the cushions with a loud and unrestrained groan.
Harry could feel his own cock swell even further if that was at all possible, and he was desperate for some relief but he didn’t want to stop sucking on Malfoy’s cock. And he didn’t. Relaxing his throat muscles as much as possible, he took Malfoy in deeper, letting him slide in and out of his mouth while he pressed his tongue against the underside of Malfoy’s cock, feeling the large vein pulse beneath his touch.
Trusting Malfoy not to choke him, Harry relaxed his hold on Malfoy’s hips and slid his fingers down to Malfoy’s balls, stroking them, rolling them in his palm. Malfoy tensed, bucked his hips almost violently and let out a near guttural groan. Harry could hear him pant and it simply added to his determination. He bobbed his head faster and releasing Malfoy’s balls he wrapped his fingers around the base of Malfoy’s cock, moving it up and down in unison with his sucks. Malfoy’s thrusts into his mouth faltered and his fingers twisted into Harry’s hair. It was almost painful but Harry didn’t care. He desperately wanted to taste Malfoy and it wasn’t long before he got his wish. Malfoy tensed beneath him, the taste in his mouth changed and —
“Potter— Harry— I’m—”
Unable to string a coherent sentence together, Malfoy groaned and pushed himself deeper inside Harry’s mouth. Harry almost gagged but managed to adjust and another flick of his tongue later, hot streaks of Malfoy’s come filled his mouth. He eagerly swallowed most of it, gently suckling on Malfoy’s cock until he hissed, unable to take more of the stimulation. Harry slowly let Malfoy’s spent cock plop from his mouth, and looking up he smiled. Malfoy’s eyes were half-closed and he had the goofiest of silly grins on his face. He was panting, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he tried to breathe in enough oxygen.
Harry was painfully aware of his own burning erection and his desperate need to come. He moved up and pressed his lips against Malfoy’s in a leisurely kiss. Malfoy responded and then, despite floating in post-orgasmic bliss, his long, slender fingers found Harry’s cock and firmly wrapped themselves around it. Harry shuddered and thrust into Malfoy’s hand. Malfoy increased the speed of his strokes, resolute in his mission to bring Harry some relief. Harry was most grateful that Malfoy didn’t bother to tease him, didn’t bother to prolong his desperation, and despite his best efforts he barely lasted two minutes before his entire body spasmed.
“Draco—” It was little more than a whisper, but only just so. Another firm stroke and Harry came with one last thrust into Malfoy’s fist. Utterly spent he fell against Malfoy, who caught him with ease and they both simply lay in each other’s arms in post-coital bliss. Without the slightest care in the world, they drifted off into a light slumber, ignoring the mess between them and the fact that they had managed to entangle themselves in a heap of tired limbs.
Chapter 14: The Boy Knows
Draco morosely sipped on his butterbeer and watched as Scorpius enthusiastically dug into his dessert. He idly wondered about the last time he had felt as carefree as Scorpius did right now and much to his dismay, not one single moment stood out to him and his mood instantly worsened. Though, if he were entirely honest, – which he really did not want to be – working with Potter and just generally spending time with the annoying git had given him a taste of what carefree felt like. Potter really wasn’t all that annoying – but ignorance was, after all, bliss.
Or had he felt carefree because Potter had given him a purpose outside of being a responsible father to Scorpius?
“Have the Hogwarts kitchens stopped serving treacle tart or are you just afraid that I will steal it from you?” Draco asked with a roguish smile. Something about the sight of Scorpius, mouth full of the sweet treat, his lips covered in syrup, and dotted with crumbs of shortcrust instantly lifted his mood. Funny how children, even annoying teenagers, had that kind of power over their parents.
Ordinarily, Draco did not make it a habit to visit Scorpius during the school year, but recent events had driven him to leave the Manor behind, and since he didn’t see the point in leaving the country, a visit to Hogsmeade for some quality time with his son had been a perfect choice…excuse. Scorpius had been rather stunned to see him, but his surprise had quickly evaporated only to be replaced with pure excitement as he had dragged Draco all over Hogsmeade before they had finally settled in the Three Broomsticks for lunch.
“You hate treacle tart with a passion,” Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Therefore, I’m not worried.”
“That I do,” Draco laughed. He did truly hate that dessert with a passion, it did absolutely nothing for him. He wasn’t even sure why, but it had never grown on him. He could not fathom why Scorpius regularly proclaimed that he could not live without it. “Your mother did too, actually. She couldn’t stand it. She had a thing for chocolate fudge cake; it was her guilty pleasure.”
“Are you insinuating that I’m not your son?” Scorpius grinned, a challenging but cheeky glint flickering in his eyes.
“Oh no, you are definitely mine – of that I have no doubt,” Draco chuckled. “Cast a bloodline spell, if you want.”
“Isn’t that like really advanced magic?”
Draco nodded. “Very. In my day none of my classes at Hogwarts covered it, it just wasn’t taught – still isn’t, I believe, though I’m sure there are books about it in the library. Madame Pomfrey should know all about it too; she’s a trained healer.”
“Can you cast it?”
Draco shook his head. “I’d have to consult a few books,” he admitted truthfully. That sort of magic was beyond him. Bloodline spells were notoriously tricky to cast and usually only used when there was doubt about ancestry in inheritance disputes.
They fell silent. Draco continued to drink his butterbeer — though he would have preferred something stronger — as he watched Scorpius stuff another big spoonful of his favourite dessert into his mouth. Scorpius looked every bit the carefree teenager he ought to be and just seeing him like this made Draco feel lighter. When it came to his son, Draco always worried to the degree that his heart ached and his head throbbed, and he often asked himself whether all parents felt like this.
The knowledge that there was no Dark Lord lurking in the shadows threatening his family with a Dark Mark brought immense joy to Draco’s heart. Astoria’s pregnancy had come as an utter surprise to them both, and while it had been quite the shock to the system, they had been overjoyed at the prospect of bringing a tiny human being into the world. Prior to their marriage, they hadn’t made any plans to procreate, despite the pressure from both Draco’s parents to continue the bloodline.
Back then, Draco would have been happy to let the Malfoy line end with him but when he had held his son for the first time, he had felt such a powerful rush of love that it had brought tears to his eyes and he had wept like a child. Scorpius had been a joy to be around since the day he'd been born, and despite all the obstacles that parenting regularly threw in his way, Draco was sure about the fact that he wouldn’t ever want to change a thing. He loved Scorpius with all his heart and then some.
The name burned in Draco’s mind with the intensity of fire. Potter was the reason he was sitting here now, watching his son grow up a normal boy – well, as normal as a thirteen-year-old wizard could be. Potter was also the reason he had fled the Manor, fled London, seeking respite in Hogsmeade and distraction in Scorpius’ company.
That blasted dinner date. Draco shuddered inwardly as he recalled their locked eyes over dinner, surreptitiously flirting, the tension they had both felt clearly visible. Then, of course, there had been that kiss, the passion behind it and the fierce need with which they had torn at each other’s clothing and the intensity with which they’d made love… Draco wanted to think of it as fucking, but the word refused to form in his mind. He resolutely banished the thoughts, closing his mind to the memory and not allowing himself to go back.
Waking up on Potter’s couch, their naked bodies curled together like they belonged, like they were a perfect match – it had terrified him so completely that he hadn’t been able to resist the fear of the aftermath of what they had done. Instead, he had scrambled off the sofa and hastily gathered up his clothes. He had ignored Potter calling his name repeatedly, hadn’t even stopped long enough to put his clothes back on. No, he had just grabbed some floo powder, thrown it into the flames, and vanished. Anything to escape the consequences of having slept with Potter, of having given in to his carnal desires without the slightest shred of hesitation.
Draco jumped nearly a mile out of his skin, spilling his butterbeer, as a sudden stinging hex hit him square in the thigh. All thoughts of Potter fled his mind and he glared at Scorpius, who was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
“Scorpius,” Draco said carefully, trying to sound as composed as possible and quite possibly failing miserably. “Did you just hex me?”
Scorpius looked the epitome of innocence as he replied, “Me? Never, father; why would you ever think I could do something so horrible? I love you, you are the smartest, brightest, most wonderful—”
“Oh, shut it,” Draco sighed, but an amused twinkle in his eyes gave him away instantly. He wasn’t angry, not even in the slightest. If anything, he was even a little grateful. He had completely zoned out on his son and Scorpius, being a true Slytherin and an only child, did not take lightly to being ignored, least of all by his father.
“Are you working on another case with the Auror department? Is that why you were miles away?”
“Hmm? No, just preoccupied with something. It’s of no matter,” Draco brushed off his son’s concerns. He could tell that Scorpius didn’t look convinced, but he could hardly tell him the truth. The boy was thirteen, for Merlin’s sake. There was no way he would ever give Scorpius any reason to worry about anything that went beyond his education at Hogwarts and how to spend his free time or what treats to buy with his monthly allowance.
Draco’s childhood had ended prematurely and the day Scorpius had been born, he had vowed his son would get to enjoy all of the things the war and the Dark Lord had denied him, had taken away from him and everyone else of his generation.
Chapter 15: We Need To Talk
Dad visited me on Sunday, quite the surprise! We had lunch at the Three Broomsticks and enjoyed a walk around the lake afterwards but—I don’t know.
Something’s off and I’m worried! Half the time I tried to talk to him he was miles away, lost in his own world. Did something happen on the case? Is he working on something else with you? I’m not sure you can tell me, but please?
I asked him if he was okay but he said he is fine. I don’t buy it! He looks so tired, like he hasn’t slept in days and it isn’t like him to show up out of the blue in the middle of the school term. In first year, he did that twice a month, but not since.
I wrote him a letter too, told him to tell me what was bothering him but he hasn’t replied. I really hope all’s okay. Help!
Harry put down the parchment with such a heavy sigh that Earl shot him a most reproachful look, then flew out of the room to find a quieter place to rest.
Unable to concentrate, Harry had left the Auror Department early, taking a mountain of paperwork home with him and delegating his other duties to several senior Aurors. Kingsley Shacklebolt had been less than pleased to find out that Harry had postponed their scheduled meeting, but Harry hadn’t – quite purposefully so – lingered long enough to give Kingsley any opportunity to question him on what was going on. The last thing he needed right now was anyone asking him questions he couldn’t possibly answer, even if those questions came directly from the Minister of Magic himself.
Since his arrival at home, Harry hadn’t as much as looked at his paperwork and now that he had received Scorpius’ letter, he had even less of an inclination to focus on his work. He had sent Malfoy three owls but until now he hadn’t received a single response.
In his first owl, he had asked whether Malfoy was okay. In the second, he had told him they needed to talk, and with his last owl he had somewhat lost the plot and written all but four words:
What the fuck!
He had toyed with the idea to instruct Earl to peck Malfoy with his beak until he foolishly stopped ignoring him but had eventually decided against it, quite sure that Malfoy would simply stun Earl to get the owl to stop. Harry couldn’t understand why Malfoy was refusing to talk to him, and the memory of Malfoy practically fleeing his arms, not even stopping long enough to put his clothes back on, stung rather painfully. The fact that Malfoy was ignoring all of Harry’s attempts to talk to him stung even more – more than he cared to admit to himself.
He had tried to work out whether their rather intense encounter had been the result of years of pent-up emotions or a mere one-night-stand, but somehow neither label fit what he had felt and experienced the night that he and Malfoy had kissed and made love in his living room.
Since coming to terms with and accepting his sexuality, Harry had by no means been a saint. He had had his fair share of one-night-stands, but not one of his former lovers had ever run out on him like Malfoy had, with complete panic written all over his face. Raking his fingers through his messy hair, Harry sighed. He felt like he was close to going insane. He had repeatedly gone over the evening in his head, wondering where it had all gone wrong. Their kiss – that had been mutual. Sure, Harry had been bold enough to make the first move, but Malfoy hadn’t stopped him. It had been him who had deepened the kiss, had taken things to the next level.
They had both torn at each other’s clothes, desperate to remove that unwanted barrier between them. They had both been aroused beyond all rational imagination. That blowjob – there was no way Malfoy hadn’t enjoyed that. His reactions and the sounds he had made had been so natural, so utterly unrestrained, so full of desire, need, and want. This had been what he had truly wanted, not something he had done because…Harry didn’t know why anyone would willingly want to sleep with someone if they didn’t enjoy it.
Hell, Harry couldn’t remember when he had last come that hard from a simple hand job, because not even a wank could do to him what Malfoy’s hand had done to him. Malfoy’s hand on his cock...it had felt like fire. Each stroke had felt like white-hot flashes of pure unadulterated pleasure repeatedly shocking his entire body. It had felt so good, so very good. Perfect, really. Like it had been meant to be.
Groaning, Harry shuddered. The mere memory had made him hard and his erection was now painfully straining against his Auror uniform, which suddenly felt too tight.
Frustrated, Harry slammed his hand on the desk, and rising to his feet, he made his way upstairs. He stripped out of his uniform and eyeing his weeping cock, he briefly contemplated taking care of his problem but decided against it. Instead, he fetched a change of clothes and dressed in a pair of jeans and a blue jumper. His exasperation at the entire situation caused his erection to falter somewhat, and feeling grateful he put his shoes on, grabbed his wand, and stormed back downstairs.
If you won’t acknowledge what happened, I’ll make you, he thought angrily. Not bothering to properly consider his decision, he yanked the front door open and stepped outside, drawing the door closed behind him. Taking a deep breath, Harry focused on his destination and a second later he disappeared into thin air, only to reappear on the grounds of Malfoy Manor less than a minute later.
The wards didn’t immediately expel him and considering that a positive sign, Harry steadily walked down the driveway leading up to the Manor and knocked at the large door before his bravery abandoned him entirely. Now that he stood in front of Malfoy’s door, he realised that he was probably acting a bit impulsively but it wasn’t like he could change that fact now. Acting impulsively was his speciality and while getting older had allowed him to get a better handle on his emotions, he didn’t always succeed in thinking things through before acting
Harry didn’t have time to continue to berate himself as Malfoy opened the door, and sensing that he was about to slam it right into his face, Harry quickly stepped forward and placed his foot in the door. He doubted it would stop Malfoy from slamming the door into his face but he decided to take that chance. There was always magic.
“What?” Malfoy asked, showing his obvious displeasure at the sight of his unexpected visitor.
“We need to talk.”
“Potter, if I wanted to talk, I would have responded to your owl.”
“Malfoy,” Harry hissed, aware that he sounded angrier than he felt.
“Potter,” Malfoy said through gritted teeth, clearly unimpressed, though Harry was sure he had seen a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes. “I’m rather busy now.”
“I don’t care,” Harry said flippantly. He had the distinct feeling that Malfoy wouldn’t willingly invite him in this time around, and not wanting to have this conversation on the threshold of Malfoy’s rather impressive home, he resolutely pushed his way inside.
“Ever heard of trespassing, Potter?” Malfoy snarled and turning to face him, Harry found himself staring at Malfoy’s wand. He simply shrugged.
“Hex me for all I care.”
“Potter,” Malfoy’s voice was a low growl now and his eyes flashed with pure annoyance.
“Draco,” Harry defiantly stared at Malfoy. “Go on, do it. If having sex with me was so vile that hexing me will make it all better, have at it,” he challenged, his mouth braver than his heart. “Let me know if you’d like me to contact one of the Obliviators in my department to help you forget,” he added, out of spite and out of hurt.
They both stared at each other and after what felt like forever, Malfoy finally slowly lowered his wand. Harry felt relieved and straightened up a little. He had trusted in his gut instinct when he had goaded Malfoy which admittedly had been seriously stupid but—
Harry didn’t get to finish his thought – instead, he watched with utter disbelief as Malfoy side-stepped him and strode across the entrance hall, walked off down the hall, and disappeared into his study, clearly intent on ignoring Harry’s very existence. Oh no, Harry thought, you will not. Anger flared in the pit of his stomach and stalking after Malfoy, Harry – tempted to draw his own wand and hex Malfoy just to get him to pay attention – entered the large study.
“Would you fucking stop running away from me!” he snapped from the doorway and Malfoy spun around and shot him an icy-death glare. “Whatever did I do to you to make you run this fast? Is the memory of sex with me this revolting to you?” Harry asked, his voice much softer than before, unconsciously letting some of the hurt he felt shine through.
Malfoy sighed and turning to the window, he looked outside, keeping silent for several minutes. Harry wanted to stomp his foot, wanted to yell and scream, wanted to grab Malfoy, wanted to shake him, wanted to throw a temper tantrum of epic proportions, but he did none of that. Instead, he took a few cautious steps into the room and towards Malfoy.
“Don’t,” Malfoy spoke without looking at him.
Harry instantly stopped in his tracks.
“Draco,” he said softly, and Malfoy turned to face him.
“It was just sex, Harry, drop it, okay? Nothing to talk about,” Malfoy said, his voice soft, suddenly lacking the coldness it had been laced with before. His eyes didn’t meet Harry’s and he turned back to looking out of the window, crossing his arms over his chest.
Harry shuddered at Malfoy’s unexpected use of his first name and boldly moving closer, he stopped about two feet from Malfoy. “I don’t believe that,” he insisted quietly. “It didn’t feel like just sex.”
Malfoy gave a hollow laugh. “If it wasn’t sex, then what do you think it was?” he asked, continuing to look out of the window. “Hearts and flowers?”
“It was sex, but it wasn’t just sex,” Harry said with determination.
“Merlin, Potter, what is it you want? That I drop at your knees and declare my undying love to you just because you sucked my cock?” Malfoy scoffed and Harry momentarily found himself at a loss for words. Malfoy’s words stung and his chest constricted a little as he tried to make sense of Malfoy’s sharp invalidation of what had happened between them. I didn’t imagine that it was more, Harry thought stubbornly.
“Would you look at me please?” he eventually said quietly after an extended moment of silence. Malfoy remained motionless for the longest time. He suddenly turned, and as their eyes met, Harry searched Malfoy’s eyes for a hint of something…anything, but Malfoy was apparently an extremely gifted Occlumens, for Harry failed to decipher any kind of emotion. Malfoy’s clear grey orbs were just that; two grey orbs staring back at him, calmly holding his gaze, lacking any sort of emotion. His eyes were entirely devoid of anything, not even an ounce of contempt burned in them and Harry swallowed hard.
“Why did you flirt with me if it was just sex?” he forced himself to ask, thinking he might be able to push Malfoy to show him something, anything.
“For fun,” Malfoy drawled. He sounded bored, or rather pretended to sound bored. Harry had no idea; he merely, and rather stubbornly so, clung to the little bit he had learnt about Malfoy since their first meeting several weeks ago. The man that stood before him now wasn’t the man who had helped him with his potions case, wasn’t the man he had eaten lunch with, wasn’t the man he had gone undercover with, and most definitely wasn’t the man Scorpius had described in his letters – Harry was sure of that. This man, this version of Malfoy, was an empty shell, void of anything. He was hiding behind a refined mask of indifference, so carefully sculptured that Harry couldn’t help but wonder whether Malfoy believed the nonchalant responses that came out of this mouth.
“You and I. That wasn’t your first time with a man,” Harry pushed, determined to break past the barrier Malfoy had built around himself. He had no intention of giving up; he wanted the truth, one way or another.
For a split second, the hint of an emotion flickered in Malfoy’s eyes — annoyance perhaps, or fear even — but it was gone almost immediately.
“What if it wasn’t? Sad you weren’t the one to pop my cherry?”
Harry laughed. “I’m not even going to justify that with an answer.”
He held Malfoy’s gaze with more confidence than he felt and taking a step closer, he reached out and placed his hand on Malfoy’s forearm. He could feel the slight tremor going through Malfoy and watched intently as Malfoy looked down at his hand on his arm. His expression was unreadable, but it was a slight improvement from the cold expression he had donned just minutes ago.
“What are you so afraid of, Draco?” Harry asked, his voice soft and low. “You wanted it as much as I did.”
Taking yet another step forward, Harry closed the gap between them and Malfoy’s gaze flickered upward and settled on his. “Tell me you didn’t enjoy it. Tell me you didn’t want it as much as I did, because I don’t think you can,” he whispered, steadily holding Malfoy’s gaze, silently challenging him.
Malfoy opened his mouth but no words came out. He simply kept his eyes fixed on Harry’s and it was Harry’s turn to shudder. Malfoy’s gaze was intense, it burned like fire, but Harry simply couldn’t, didn’t want to look away. Something seemingly crumbled inside Malfoy, and with a low growl, he grabbed Harry and walked him backwards until Harry found himself trapped between Malfoy’s oversized mahogany desk and Malfoy himself.
“I enjoyed it, I wanted it,” Malfoy hissed, his face inches from Harry, eyes blazing with molten heat. “Is that what you wanted to hear, Potter? Does it help you sleep soundly at night? Is it that important for you to know? Yes, I like men, Potter. What fucking difference does it make?”
Harry shuddered, the words rushing straight down to his cock, and with his eyes still locked on Malfoy’s he grabbed Malfoy’s hips and pulled, closing the distance between them. “Why run?” he breathed shakily.
“Because it’s what I do. I don’t stay. Not ever. Not for anyone. No exceptions. Not even for Head Auror Potter,” Malfoy whispered, his voice a low snarl, his lips now so close that Harry could almost feel them as Malfoy spoke. “Can you deal with that?”
Harry found himself nodding, though he didn’t understand why, and groaned when Malfoy’s lips came crashing down on his in a rough, bruising, claiming kiss. Harry tightened his hold on Malfoy as if afraid he would break the contact between them, but he needn’t have worried.
Malfoy thrust against him, blatantly letting him feel his erection. Harry’s blood rushed south so quickly that he felt dizzy and his head spun. His entire body felt like Malfoy had set it on fire and he trembled at the sheer force of the sensations that rushed through him, never having experienced anything quite so intense before. His lungs burned with the need for oxygen and his hands moved to Malfoy’s arse, cupping it, pulling him closer against himself still, if that was at all possible. He was desperate to melt into Malfoy, to disappear inside him, never to emerge again.
The dizziness increased and a firm tug in the pit of his stomach pulled him into the darkness. A second later he found himself horizontally sprawled out on a massive four-poster bed in what he assumed was Malfoy’s private bedroom.
“Fuck me,” he mumbled, thoroughly stunned that Malfoy apparating them to his bedroom without the slightest warning hadn’t resulted in him splinching himself.
“Oh, believe me, I intend to,” Malfoy smirked and Harry felt himself slowly return to the real world. He stared at Malfoy and acting purely on instinct, he reached up, determined to pull him down for a kiss, but Malfoy was faster. He caught Harry’s hand and moved it next to his head, firmly pressing it into the bedsheets. “No-uh,” he grinned mischievously. “My bed, my rules.”
Harry groaned, bucking his hips upward. Malfoy met his thrust with ease, using his body weight to hold Harry down. He was surprisingly strong and despite finding it a complete turn on, Harry glared. He was torn between liking his position and hating Malfoy for having almost absolute control over him, at least at this moment. Malfoy chuckled, leant down and captured Harry’s lips in a kiss. This one was gentle, slow, tender, almost loving even. Harry sighed and lost himself in the kiss, his eyes falling closed and his limbs relaxing.
They kissed and kissed and kissed and kissed some more and when Malfoy finally pulled away, Harry’s head was spinning. Again, and even worse than before. He gulped in a large breath and watched Malfoy sit up, straddling his thighs. He began to slowly unbutton his shirt and Harry trembled with every button that came undone.
“Like that, don’t you?” Malfoy teased as he slowly revealed his smooth but firm chest. Harry itched to touch the pale skin but Malfoy slapped his hand away. Harry pulled a face and Malfoy laughed.
“Patience, Potter, patience,” he winked and Harry sucked in a sharp breath.
“Right now, I don’t feel very patient,” he admitted.
“That shall be your problem to solve,” Malfoy teased, slipping out of his shirt, and discarding it over the side of the bed. He leaned forward and braced himself on his arms, ever so slowly leaning down to capture Harry’s lips in yet another tantalising kiss. Harry wound his fingers into the soft bedsheets beneath him, marvelling at their softness. They were pure silk, no doubt. He desperately wanted to touch Malfoy, wanted to run his fingertips over the pale flesh, but somehow managed to resist the temptation…for now.
Malfoy rocked his hips, pressing his erection against Harry’s, then pulled away from the kiss and running his palms down Harry’s chest, he pushed his hands underneath Harry’s jumper, fingertips ghosting over hot skin, teasing, tormenting.
“That’s torture,” Harry mumbled and Malfoy’s amused laughter went straight to his groin, causing him to buck his hips almost violently. Sweet torture, Harry amended in his head and moaned.
“Who knew you were this sensitive…” Malfoy whispered and mumbling a near-inaudible spell, he vanished Harry’s jumper. Applying gentle pressure, he ran the flat of his hands up Harry’s chest, brushing his thumbs over Harry’s nipples.
“Fuck, Malfoy,” Harry gasped, quivering underneath Malfoy’s ever-teasing, completely unsatisfying touch.
“Delectable,” Malfoy smiled and with one swift move, he lapped at one of Harry’s nipples, flicking his tongue across the sensitive nub then grazing his teeth over it, biting gently. Harry groaned, and this time, try as he might, he could not stop himself from touching Malfoy. His hands all but flew to Malfoy’s sides, stroking alongside them and up his back, across his shoulders and down his arms. Malfoy stopped, looked up at Harry, then slowly kissed along his sternum and collarbone towards his neck. He licked his way to Harry’s ear, breathing hotly, then sucked at that sweet spot just behind Harry’s earlobe. Harry melted into a puddle of…of something. Fucking hell, Malfoy, you are killing me, he thought to himself.
Harry clawed at Malfoy’s back, groaning, bucking his hips, his cock twitching in its confines, desperate to get out.
“Tell me, just how badly do you want this?” Malfoy murmured into Harry’s ear. “If this is all it takes to turn you into such a beautiful wreck, what will happen when I push my cock into you and fuck you, huh? Tell me, Harry.”
Harry wanted to respond but his words failed him and he groaned in frustration, unable to comprehend why Malfoy had such an effect on him. It was like he had him bound under a spell, bound tightly to respond to his every touch, his every kiss, his every word. “Please,” Harry found himself mumbling the word, not entirely sure what it is he wanted, but shocked at how easily he had surrendered so completely and so willingly. While he liked to bottom, he had never ever begged before. Not for anyone. Except now he had. And not just for anyone. But for Malfoy. Out of all the people in the world, he was begging Malfoy. Sweet wreckage, he sighed.
“But of course,” Malfoy whispered against his lips and another mumbled spell later, they were both naked and Harry thought he might just come this instant, but Malfoy seemingly anticipated that and his slender, long fingers expertly and firmly wrapped themselves around the base of Harry’s cock, squeezing tightly.
Harry sighed with relief and wrapping his arms around Malfoy’s neck, he pulled him down for a demanding kiss, and parting his legs slightly he let Malfoy slip in between them. Their erections lined up almost perfectly and Malfoy thrust forward, rubbing his cock against Harry’s, causing delicious friction. They kissed, both entirely oblivious to anything but the feel of each other’s tongues duelling ever so passionately and their slick erections sliding against each other, their precome a suitable substitute for lube.
The sensations were wonderful but not enough to push them over the edge, and soon desire and frantic need took over. Harry’s hands firmly cupped Malfoy’s arse, guiding him to increase the force of his thrusts. Soon enough lack of oxygen forced them to wrench their mouths away from each other. As Malfoy’s now nearly black eyes locked with Harry’s, they both shuddered at the sheer force that was driving them. For a moment Harry thought he saw more than raw desire and lust in Malfoy’s eyes but the emotion was gone so fast that Harry really couldn’t be sure. Not in his current state or frame of mind.
“Magic or fingers?” Malfoy spoke without breaking their gaze but stopping his thrusts.
“Fingers,” Harry mumbled. He didn’t like the feeling of a stretching spell or a lubricating charm, never had, doubted he ever would.
Malfoy nodded and reaching forward, he summoned a phial of clear lube from his nightstand and kneeling between Harry’s legs, he gently nudged them further apart. Harry sucked in a shaky breath and bending his legs at the knees, he exposed himself fully to Malfoy, who licked his lips appreciatively.
“Beautiful,” he whispered, and a jolt of excitement shot through Harry, making his toes curl against the silk sheets beneath him. He looked up at Malfoy, watching him intently as he coated his right hand with lube and then wrapped it around Harry’s straining erection, teasingly running his long fingers up and down the shaft and his thumb across the leaking head.
Harry’s entire body shuddered and he arched his back. The fingers of his left hand curled into the silken bedsheet, holding on to it in a desperate, almost pathetic, attempt to ground himself. His right hand moved to rest on top of Malfoy’s, stopping his movement.
“Too close,” he sighed and Malfoy stilled his hand. He focused his gaze on Harry, a soft smile — the kind of smile Harry had never ever seen before, at least not on Malfoy’s face — curled his lips upward. His hand, ever so slowly, slipped out from underneath Harry’s and trailed over Harry’s balls, fondling them gently in his lubricated hand. Harry suspected the lube was Malfoy’s own concoction since it felt unlike anything he’d ever experienced before. It was warm, not at all sticky, and coated his most private parts in a pleasant hotness he couldn’t quite describe.
Unable to tear his gaze away from Malfoy’s, he continued to focus on him, lost in the sensations of Malfoy’s fingers as they slipped into the crack behind his balls, brushing against his perineum, applying ever so gentle pressure.
“Please,” he mumbled again, more insistent this time. At this point, he wasn’t even sure what he was asking for or why he was asking but the raw desire in Malfoy’s eyes had stripped away his ability to feel embarrassed about anything. Harry didn’t think he had ever felt so wanted, so desired. Malfoy’s eyes were on him and only on him and everything he did was to ensure that Harry enjoyed himself. He found it confounding that Malfoy should be such a selfless lover, but it was the single most alluring thing he had ever experienced.
Harry moaned as Malfoy’s index finger lightly rubbed over his entrance, drawing circles. Harry bucked his hips, trying but failing to get Malfoy to push his finger into him and hissed with mild annoyance when Malfoy refused to comply.
“How very wanton you are,” Malfoy whispered, still smiling, still not breaking their eye contact. Harry wanted to scream, wanted to shout, wanted to impale himself on Malfoy’s finger but he did none of those things. Malfoy’s index finger returned to his entrance, drawing circles again, but this time with more pressure. Harry sucked in a shaky breath, then moaned as Malfoy resolutely and without any warning pushed his finger into the velvety heat of Harry’s arse.
Harry could feel his entire body shudder and tremble, repeatedly. Malfoy pushed his finger further inside, slowly filling Harry, stretching him, preparing him.
“Draco—” Harry breathed. “This isn’t my first time,” he added quite unnecessarily.
“Is a hurried fuck really what you want, Harry?” Malfoy asked, his voice low and questioning and his eyes fixed on Harry’s as he withdrew his finger a little, then pushed it back inside.
Harry shook his head.
“Thought so,” Malfoy smiled knowingly and his left hand found Harry’s. He untangled it from the bedsheet and slid his hand into Harry’s, interlacing their fingers, squeezing just firmly enough to keep Harry grounded as he began to rhythmically move his finger, repeatedly pulling out and pushing in. He soon added a second finger and Harry groaned, tightening his grip on Malfoy’s hand. He breathed deeply, relaxing, allowing the sensations to wash over him. Malfoy insistently thrust inside him, then scissored his fingers to stretch Harry a little further.
For a moment Harry thought he might come just like that and his cock twitched, but Malfoy squeezed his hand, redirecting his attention and focus. He added a third finger and for a second Harry felt full, almost too full, then his muscles relaxed, allowing the intrusion and his hips moved in unison with Malfoy’s thrusts.
Malfoy took his sweet time preparing him and just when Harry thought he couldn’t take it anymore — his entire body covered in a fine sheen of perspiration, his breathing uneven and shaky — he stopped and pulled his fingers from inside Harry’s body. He drew his hand away from Harry’s and picking up the phial of lube, he added some more to his hand, then wrapped it around his by now — undoubtedly — painfully hard erection. Harry’s eyes dropped down to Malfoy’s cock, and he licked his lips as he watched Malfoy stroke himself, preparing himself. He vividly remembered just what Malfoy had tasted like and it forced a breathy groan past his lips.
Harry had no idea how Malfoy was so utterly composed. He was rock-hard and the tip of his cock glistened with a thick layer of precome, more oozing out with each stroke Malfoy gave his cock. One, two, three, Harry counted, then Malfoy stopped and shuffling forward, he grabbed Harry’s ankles, pushing his knees up to his chest and his thighs tightly against his stomach. Harry let him. Malfoy shuffled another little bit and taking hold of his cock, he positioned himself at Harry’s entrance.
Harry’s body shook as the tip of Malfoy’s cock pushed against the now loose ring of muscle and breathed as Malfoy slowly slipped inside, stretching Harry wide open. If Harry had felt full before, he had no way of describing how he felt now. He shuddered, tremor after tremor rushing through him as Malfoy pushed into him, leaning forward, bracing himself on his arms, his biceps flexing as they supported his weight.
“So tight, so wonderfully tight,” Malfoy breathed and before Harry had a chance to let the words sink in, he found his lips captured in a breath-taking kiss. His eyes fluttered closed and he moaned into the kiss as Malfoy withdrew about halfway, then thrust back inside. He reached for Harry’s left hand and pulling it up to rest beside Harry’s head, he did the same with Harry’s right hand. His fingers slipped between Harry’s, easily entwining both their hands.
Harry relished in the way Malfoy pushed his hands into the mattress, holding him down as he set a slow rhythm, thrusting into Harry, then pulling out again and repeating that again, and again, and again.
Malfoy broke away from the kiss, trailing soft kisses, licks and nips alongside Harry’s jaw and his neck. He lapped at Harry’s earlobe and Harry moaned then trembled as Malfoy sucked the sensitive skin just behind his earlobe into his mouth, grazing his teeth along it, intent on leaving a mark.
Harry curled his toes, feeling like he was on the verge of exploding. What Malfoy was doing to him, the way they were making love — Harry refused to think of it as fucking because they weren’t fucking, it didn’t feel like fucking — it robbed Harry of every coherent thought he had, his mind focused entirely on the now, on this moment. He had never felt so in sync with a lover, had never before felt such a strong connection. It felt like they were meant to be doing this, meant to be this way with each other, not just now but tomorrow and the day after and the day after that and the day after that and every day and oh sweet mother of mercy, Malfoy was his undoing, Harry realised and didn’t even feel ashamed when a low, languid moan escaped from deep within his chest.
“Draco —” Harry murmured.
“Yes, Harry?” Malfoy replied, breathing hotly into his ear as he spoke.
“Won’t,” Malfoy assured him and returning to his mouth, he captured Harry’s already swollen and very red lips in another fierce kiss. The speed of his thrusts increased and he moved just that little bit, and as if he had a mental map of Harry’s insides in his head, he hit that sweet spot deep inside of him and Harry melted into a puddle of pliable goo, pure ecstasy surging through his veins and flashes of white-hot electric shocks setting his every fibre alive.
As if on cue Malfoy’s thrusts increased in both speed and force. He repeatedly brushed that oh so heavenly place of unadulterated pleasure and with each thrust, Harry’s entire body trembled, shook, and shuddered. Malfoy wrenched his lips away from Harry’s, and squeezing Harry’s hands tightly, very tightly, he spoke with a low, shaky voice, “Look at me, Harry.”
Harry forced his eyes open and as they locked with Malfoy’s, he came undone at the seams. There was something so entirely right about this, then, that Harry felt like he was in heaven like he had finally found the one place he belonged. “Draco,” he sighed, reciprocating the fierce way Malfoy was squeezing his hands, desperately needing that connection to ground him.
“Come for me, Harry,” Malfoy whispered, his eyes so full of desire, full of want, full of his own need to come. Harry let out a guttural groan, one he didn’t know he had been holding and his entire body spasmed, every muscle in his body flexed over and over, every nerve ending on fire, every pore oozing perspiration. Barely three thrusts later, Harry lost all control as his orgasm tore him over the edge and streak after streak of his come coated his and Malfoy’s chests.
He tightened around Malfoy’s cock, making it nearly impossible for Malfoy to thrust into or pull out of him. The sheer tightness was however enough to draw Malfoy over the edge as well, and he arched his back and his entire body trembled as he filled Harry with his come. Their entwined hands, slick with sweat, slipped and Harry found the air knocked out of his lungs as Malfoy collapsed on top of him, panting hard, his breathing uneven and uncontrolled.
Harry wrapped his arms around Malfoy’s waist, holding him tight as they both tried to regulate their breathing, riding out their orgasms. For several minutes, neither one of them moved, quite content to just stay this way, Harry almost squashed into the mattress and Malfoy still deeply sheathed inside of him.
Still, eventually, they had to move and move they did, but only grudgingly so. Harry didn’t like the feeling of Malfoy slipping out of him, it left him feeling oddly empty, and Malfoy, in a rather atypical fashion simply slid off him but made no move to leave or clean up the unbelievable mess they had made.
As if there was some unspoken agreement between them both, Harry rolled onto his side and Malfoy spooned around him, holding him tight and pushing one of his legs between Harry’s. Harry brought one of his hands to his stomach to entwine it with Malfoy’s and Malfoy buried his face in the nape of Harry’s neck. That was how they fell asleep, locked in a lover’s embrace, oblivious to anything around them, just tired, exhausted, sated, and blissfully happy.