“You sure I can’t talk you into coming over to the Burrow?” Ron asked as he shrugged into a jacket. “Mum’s making pumpkin pie.”
“Can’t, got a thing,” Harry replied distractedly. He was busy carting armloads of those movie disc things over to the telly-vision set. Ron cocked his head and squinted at some of the titles— Night of the Living Dead, Fright Night Creature Feature, Nightmare on Fear Street, The Werewolf, The Werewolf Returns...
“Wow,” Ron quipped. “So, explain. How do you plan to seduce Malfoy if he’s going to spend the whole night shaking like a leaf under your bed?”
“What?! Why the hell would I...ow!” Harry emerged from behind the telly-thingy, rubbing his head. He gaped at Ron incredulously. “Who said anything about ‘seducing’ Malfoy?” he demanded. “I just invited him over to watch a couple movies, that’s all. Merlin, Ron! We’ve talked about this before. Draco and I are just friends!”
“Okay?” Ron blinked, somewhat taken aback by the force of Harry’s rant. “Sorry,” he offered. “I just assumed...I mean you do spend a lot of time with him. And honestly, I’ve never seen you put this much effort into a date before.”
“It’s not a date!” Harry exclaimed impatiently. “We’re just two friends catching up. Besides, this is Draco’s first time watching a movie and I want it to be fun for him. Friends do that, you know.”
“Right,” Ron agreed, nodding along. “Say, Harry, if this is just a friendly get together kind of thing, can Hermione and I come?”
He rolled his eyes as Harry froze in his tracks, visibly floundering for an excuse. Ron scoffed and headed for the door. “Have fun on your non date,” he called over his shoulder. “Don’t forget to hang a sock on the door!”
“Sod off,” Harry groused sullenly.
Ron snickered and shut the door behind him.
Weasley took the stairs and The Notice-Me-Not Charm dissipated. Draco heaved a sigh of relief and dragged a shaky hand over his face. Thank Salazar he hadn’t been discovered. He was mortified enough.
Draco groaned and rested his head against the wall. How could he have been so stupid? Potter’s invitation hadn’t exactly been specific but for Draco to assume that the man had asked him out on a date! Of course Potter had meant an evening with a friend! Why in the world would he even consider someone like Draco when he could have anyone he wanted?
Draco should never have assumed it was anything more than that. This was entirely his fault. The only bright spot of the whole debacle was that he’d figured out his faux pas before embarrassing himself completely. Yes, all he had to do was go in there, pretend nothing was amiss and spend a few hours with Potter. No harm done, right?
It still hurt, though. Draco knew he’d been harbouring feelings for Potter for a while now. A small part of him had hoped that Potter would return his interest, unlikely though it may be. Now, he knew it was never going to happen. He hadn’t heard much of Potter’s discussion with Weasley, but at one point he had all but yelled it’s not a date!
If that wasn’t a clear indication of his feelings on the matter, Draco didn’t know what was.
He was still waffling between knocking on Potter’s door and running home and begging off the whole thing entirely when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Evening, Malfoy,” Seamus Finnigan greeted with a cheerful grin. “What brings you to our neck of the woods?”
Draco blinked in surprise. He was about to ask the former Gryffindor the exact same question and then he remembered that Finnigan was in Auror training as well. All the Junior Aurors were housed in the same building complex. Of course. Finnigan and Potter were probably neighbours.
“I was just going to see Potter,” Draco replied cautiously. “He invited me over so...”
“Yeah?” Finnigan questioned, cocking his head curiously. “So you’re on a date?”
Draco’s mouth twisted. “Definitely not,” he bit out.
“I see.” Finnigan’s smile grew wider and his eyes travelled down Draco’s frame. Draco frowned and took a tentative step back but Finnigan just sidled over to him. “I was going to see Harry myself. Me and the boys are throwing a little Halloween get-together at my place. In fact, why don’t you come too? We could all hang out,” he elaborated, leaning in just a little closer. “Maybe you and I could get to know each other a little better?”
“Oh,” Draco blurted, somewhat caught off-guard. “I...that sounds nice, but I should...”
“Hey, is someone out there?” a voice called out suddenly.
Draco and Finnigan both turned around as the door swung open. Potter’s expression brightened as he caught sight of Draco.
“Draco!” he exclaimed. “You made it!”
“Hello, Potter,” Draco muttered, offering a forced smile of his own.
“Hey, Seamus,” Potter greeted his friend. He sounded a little perplexed. “I thought you and Dean had a party tonight.”
“We do!” Finnigan replied. “In fact, I was just talking to Malfoy here...”
Draco didn’t know why he did it. It was an impulse, an attempt to salvage some shred of dignity from this appalling evening. A small part of him knew that this couldn’t end well, but at this point, what choice did he have? It was either this or an evening alone with Potter— knowing that the man would never see him as more than a friend— and that was just unbearable.
“I have an idea,” he declared, talking firmly over Finnigan. He turned to the man and offered a smile of his own. “Why don’t you just move the party downstairs? Then we can all watch these ‘movies’ Potter keeps going on about.” And yes, maybe Draco’s voice had a bit of an angry hiss to it, but all in all, he thought he comported himself very well. “What do you say, Potter?” Draco edged, with a sharp smile. “Just us mates?”
Potter looked dumbfounded, Finnigan looked perplexed. Draco didn’t care. He was not going into Potter’s house alone, he just wasn’t.
“Well,” Potter began, sounding rather uncomfortable. “I hadn’t really planned for a big party. I mean, there’s not a lot of food or...”
“We’ve got food,” Finnigan cut in. “And Neville’s bringing Firewhisky from the Leaky.”
“Oh yay,” Potter deadpanned. “More people.”
“I think it sounds delightful,” Draco broke in firmly. He held Potter’s gaze steadily, refusing to give in. Potter pursed his lips but he didn’t offer any protests. Fine, then. Draco turned to Finnigan and nodded. “We’ll set up the movie or whatever it is Potter needs to do. You get everyone else down here. See you in five, yes?”
Finnigan answered with a flirtatious wink. “Not a second later,” he promised.
Draco smirked and shouldered past Potter into the flat.
“I guess we’ll see you and Dean here then,” Potter muttered, addressing an enthusiastic Finnigan.
“And Neville too,” Finnigan added. “This is going to be so awesome! We’re...”
Draco blinked in surprise as Potter cut Finnigan off by slamming the door rather forcefully in his face.
What was that all about?
Potter turned to him, looking put out and mutinous. “Come on,” he grumbled, heading for the den. “We should probably set up for the party.”
Draco had proceeded with his awful evening, firmly believing that it couldn’t possibly get any worse from here on out.
He was wrong. Muggle horror movies were an exercise in torture.
“No, no, no!” Draco whispered, watching the horrifying scene unfold on the tellavision screen. “She’s going in there! Why is she going in there?!”
“Hmph,” Potter contributed, scowling sulkily into a glass of whisky.
Finnigan was a lot more forthcoming. He sidled over and swung an arm around Draco’s shoulders. “It’ll be okay, Malfoy,” he purred, brushing bold fingers against Draco’s nape. “I’ll be right here with you through the whole thing.”
Draco nodded distractedly. He didn’t notice Potter glaring daggers at Finnigan.
“Turn around! For the love of Merlin, woman! There’s a vampire in there!” Thomas yelled abruptly.
Draco emitted a startled yip at the sudden outburst and Finnigan promptly took the opportunity to pull him closer.
“Dean, don’t do that,” Longbottom scolded, pouring another round of whisky. “Anyone want a top off? Harry?”
“I’m fine,” Potter grumbled from his seat. He cast another disparaging glare in Finnigan’s direction. “Hey Seamus, you want to give Malfoy a little breathing room?”
“Hey, I’m just doing my duty as an Auror,” Finnigan replied cheekily. “Protect and serve, that’s our motto.”
“Why don’t you protect Dean instead?” Potter demanded irritably. “He’s starting to look like a Petrificus victim.”
“I’m f-f-fine,” Dean mumbled shakily, taking a large swig of his whisky.
“We’re all fine,” Draco added sharply. He gave Potter an icy glance. “Perhaps you should focus more on the movie and less on Finnigan.”
Potter gaped at him. “But...”
“Really, Potter, stop it,” Draco bit out. “We’re all friends here, after all.”
With that, he turned his attention back to the screen, making a point of ignoring Potter’s upset expression. What did he care anyway if Finnigan was flirting with Draco? Potter had defined their relationship in no uncertain terms, after all. Now apparently, Draco wasn’t allowed to get attention from anyone else either? Of all the...
“Oh Godric!” Thomas shrieked again. “It’s happening! She’s a goner!”
Draco stiffened on instinct. The woman on the screen was approaching the crypt. Her shaking hand wrapped around an ornate handle. Draco gasped and hid his face in his hands, only daring to peek through his fingers. Finnigan squeezed his shoulders gently but it was poor comfort. The woman swung the door of the crypt open.
It was empty.
“It’s empty!” Longbottom gasped. “But then, where’s...”
A dark shadow moved in the corner. There was a glint of sharp fangs and thin, bloodless lips curling in a smile. The woman froze and her eyes widened. Draco swore he saw the exact moment when the horrifying realisation struck her. A scream caught in his throat as she turned around and came face to face with...
“Vampire!” Thomas screeched.
Several things happened at once. The vampire lunged for his victim, Longbottom cursed a blue streak, Thomas flailed and knocked over a glass and Draco screamed in terror, flung his arms around Finnigan and buried his face in his shoulder. He thought he heard Finnigan chuckle but he was too overwrought to bother.
“Okay, that’s it!”
The lights went on. The screen went blank. Draco blinked in confusion as he sat up, disentangling himself from an equally confused Finnigan. Longbottom and Thomas exchanged perplexed glances before turning to Potter.
Potter, who looked absolutely livid as he pointed a wand straight at Finnigan.
“Party’s over!” he snarled. “Everybody get out now! And you!” he added, baring his teeth at Finnigan. “Get your paws off my date!”
“Your date?” Longbottom’s surprised question echoed in the silence. “Malfoy’s your date?”
Thomas turned to Finnigan, looking equal parts annoyed and disapproving. “You’re poaching Harry’s date? That’s so not cool, Seamus.”
“Whoa!” Finnigan squawked. “I’m no poacher! He is not Harry’s date!”
“Oh, yes he is!” Potter countered. “I invited him and you barged in here! Now quit groping him or you and I are taking this outside!”
Longbottom’s look was stern and reproachful. “Harry seems to think differently. Really, Seamus, there are boundaries.”
Finnigan looked utterly lost. “But I asked Malfoy, I did! He said this was definitely not a date! Ask him!”
Every eye in the room turned on Draco. He cleared his throat and tried in vain to fight the colour rising to his cheeks. The silence settled again, accompanied by confused stares from Longbottom and Thomas. Finnigan crossed his arms and adopted a sulky expression, muttering under his breath about it not being his fault. Draco wished he could just disappear into a hole in the ground.
Potter’s voice was soft and hopeful and it just stoked Draco’s irritation. He pursed his lips and looked the prat right in the eye as he spoke.
“It’s not a date. Potter can certainly attest to that. We’re just friends, nothing more.”
“That’s not true!” Potter protested.
Draco stood up and sneered at him. “That’s not what you said to Weasley.”
Potter’s eyes widened with sudden realisation. “Oh,” he mumbled quietly. “You heard that.”
“Yes,” Draco retorted, crossing his arms and turning his back to Potter. He didn’t want the man to see the flash of hurt in his eyes, this was embarrassing enough.
There was another length of tense silence. It was Longbottom who spoke first. “Well, it seems you two have some things to talk about. We’ll just get out of your way. Thanks for the party, Harry. It was...yeah, bye.”
They filed out, with Finnigan still telling anyone who would listen that he wasn’t a poacher. The last thing Draco heard before the door shut was an exasperated Thomas telling him to shut up already. Then, he was alone with Potter and there was nothing but silence.
Potter cleared his throat and scuffed his shoe against the carpet. Draco rolled his eyes and turned to face him, quirking an eyebrow. Potter ducked his head again, looking suitably ashamed of himself.
“I’m sorry about what I said to Ron,” he said. “It wasn’t true, I know that now. I...I really like you, Draco.”
“Just not enough to admit that this was a date,” Draco contributed.
“I’m not good with figuring my feelings out,” Potter admitted quietly. “I guess it was just easier for me to pretend we were friends.” Draco’s glare intensified and Potter held his hands up in a gesture of placation. “But I would have worked it out eventually!”
“Well, that’s certainly true,” Draco commented wryly. “And all it took was Finnigan stepping all over your territory for you to figure it out.”
Potter’s expression darkened. “I didn’t like that,” he grumbled sullenly. “I wanted to hex Seamus for touching you. And I wanted to hex myself for not telling you how I felt when I had the chance.” He took a step closer, expression intent and determined. “I was supposed to be the one holding you through the scary parts. It should have been me you clung to when you were scared. Not Seamus.”
“I wasn’t clinging!” Draco snapped defensively. Potter’s lips twitched and he looked like he was valiantly trying to hold back a smile. Draco glared at him. “Well, it doesn’t matter now anyway. You should have said something and you didn’t and it hurt my feelings when you told Weasley we were just friends.”
Potter’s face fell again. “Will you let me make it up to you?” he implored, and he looked so sad and apologetic that Draco almost, almost gave in. Potter approached him again, looking tentative and hopeful again. “I’d like to go out on a date— a real date— if...if you’d still like to.”
Potter reached out for his hand. His fingers wrapped around Draco’s wrist, pulling him closer. Draco followed without protest— momentarily distracted by the flash of anticipation in Potter’s green eyes— and then he remembered why he was still so upset and promptly pushed Potter away.
“I’m going home,” he announced, stepping away and resolutely ignoring the crushed look on Potter’s face. “Goodbye.”
And with that, he turned and left, making sure to slam the door behind him.
Harry slumped on his couch, feeling utterly dejected. How had he messed up so much? He’d been struggling with his feelings for Draco for so long. When Ron had brought up the date thing, he’d denied everything out of pure habit. Now Draco was angry with him and any chance Harry could have had was gone forever.
Suddenly, the door opened with a loud click and Harry jumped. His eyes widened as Draco strode in and shut it firmly behind him.
“I can’t go home,” he announced accusingly.
Harry’s heart leapt. He scrambled up at once, trying and failing to ignore the slight flutter of hope in his chest. “What’s the matter?”
Draco scowled at him. A slight flush tinted his cheeks. He still looked put out and annoyed, but he made no move to leave again. “It’s dark outside,” he informed Harry tersely, “and your stupid movie messed up my head. I can’t go back to an empty house right now! This is all your fault, Potter.”
Harry’s lips twitched and he forced himself not to break into an outright grin. “Yeah,” he conceded, with the hint of a smile. “That’s...my bad.”
Draco huffed and crossed his arms, still looking put out and sulky and adorable. Harry had to resist the urge to just wrap him up in his arms and keep him there. “You know,” he offered instead, “it might help if we watched the whole thing two or three times. It won’t seem so scary then.”
Draco raised an eyebrow and a slight smirk played on his lips. Harry had the strangest feeling he wasn’t as scared as he was letting on, but that was fine. If Draco wanted an excuse to stay, Harry sure as hell wasn’t going to deny him. Draco made the decision for both of them. He gave Harry another, somewhat exaggerated glare and settled on the couch. Harry grinned and followed without protest, sliding next to Draco and turning down the lights.
“Just so we’re clear, Potter,” Draco said, as Harry fiddled with the remote. “This is not a date.”
Harry nodded in agreement and settled back as the movie started. “Not a date,” he murmured in Draco’s ear. “Maybe later, when you’re not so mad at me, we can try going on a real one and see how things go.”
Draco just sidled closer and tucked his head under Harry’s chin. “We’ll see.”
His grip on Harry’s shirt tightened when the vampire made his first appearance. Harry wrapped a secure arm around him and settled down to watch, grinning like an idiot the whole time.