Chapter 1: Prologue, Nine Years Ago
“Honestly, if that stupid bint of a barista moves any slower, we might as well just take a Portkey to Brazil and roast our own coffee beans!” Draco grumbled and scowled darkly when Pansy rolled her eyes at him.
“It’s been ten minutes since we placed our order, have a little patience, Drake.”
“I will have no such thing. I need my coffee and I need it now. And for Merlin’s sake, stop butchering my name like that, Parkinson. You truly are an insufferable brat.”
“Salazar, you get really nasty when you need a caffeine fix, don’t you?”
Draco glared daggers and pointedly crossed his arms over his chest.
“There’s absolutely no way it’s only been ten minutes,” he mumbled. His wand hand itched terribly and he very much wanted to throw a stinging hex at the barista in the hope it would make her move faster. Then again, judging by the snail-like speed with which she was operating the Italian espresso machine, he was quite certain that it would take a swarm of hornets to encourage her to produce more than one cup of coffee every five minutes.
“I swear, Parkinson, I could finish everyone’s coffee orders in a quarter of the time it takes her to complete one order!”
“I dare you!” Pansy said and glancing sideways, Draco frowned at his best friend, occasionally fake-girlfriend or sometimes even boyfriend, and long-standing partner-in-crime.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Pans, I’m not working here, I’m hardly going to commandeer the shop and start making coffee.”
“Because you can’t,” Pansy muttered under her breath and narrowing his eyes, Draco fixed her with an ice-cold death stare.
“What was that now, Parkinson?”
“You heard me, Drake. You have no idea how to work a coffee machine. You’d hex those Muggles on your first day. Within the first ten minutes probably,” Pansy chuckled and Draco gave her a black look.
“Well, isn’t that just lovely. Best friends for over two decades and you have zero faith in me.”
“I know you, darling. You don’t have it in you. You’d give up on your very first day. That or you’ll end up in Azkaban for attacking a Muggle.”
“I would absolutely make it work!” Draco snapped.
“Want to make a bet?” Pansy teased.
Draco gave her a dirty look, held her gaze for the longest time, then broke it to glance at the barista. She hadn’t made any progress whatsoever.
“You’re on, Parkinson, I’ll prove you wrong.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Pansy said with feigned boredom and Draco felt the intense urge to hex her.
“One month, Drake, if you can last one month working in a coffee shop without getting yourself fired, hexing anyone or losing the plot, I’ll—”
“You’ll pay for your own shopping for a year,” Draco interrupted her and she regarded him carefully for several seconds, then nodded.
She extended her hand and Draco shook it. He should have known then that Pansy had played him but she had wounded his pride and his brain needed coffee to function properly. How he had ever survived on tea alone was a mystery to him.
Chapter 2: 2019, Last Week of August
Harry tried his best to suppress the mild nausea that pooled in the pit of his stomach, making him slightly uncomfortable. The Polyjuice potion had finally worn off and he was back to his old self, but having spent nearly all day under the disguise of K. Evans, world-famous children’s book author and storyteller extraordinaire, had left him feeling squeamish. His right hand was trembling from all the books he had autographed since this morning and his throat hurt from all the reading he had done.
“Definitely not getting any younger,” he mumbled under his breath and turning onto Charing Cross Road, he walked a little faster. He had promised Ron to meet him for a quick pint at the Leaky Cauldron before Apparating over to Ottery St. Catchpole to pick up his children and he was already running about fifteen minutes late. The last signing had taken longer than anticipated and while he knew that Ron would forgive him, he doubted that James, Al, and Lily would show him the same kindness. He had dropped them off at the Burrow early this morning and despite having spent all day surrounded by excited children, he was looking forward to an evening in the company of his own three rowdy troublemakers. While he was always happy to return the children, who came to his signings and readings, to their rightful owners, he couldn’t get enough of his own rabble-rousers. It really didn’t matter how tired he was, they came first.
In a week James and Al would be leaving for Hogwarts again, James to start his fifth year and Al to start his third year. This year it was also Lily’s turn to accompany her older brothers; the last of the brood to leave the nest. While she was excited to finally join her brothers, she had spent the summer talking about nothing else all day, Harry wasn’t at all thrilled over the prospect of having to return home to Godric’s Hollow without any of his children. Over the last decade, Lily had become his muse, his inspiration to write and create magical stories for children and he wasn’t ready to let her go. Mind, he hadn’t been ready to let James go and the second time around, when it had been Al’s turn, his feelings on the matter hadn’t changed much. With Lily, he had found himself looking at purchasing a small flat in Hogsmeade just to be able to keep an eye on her. Thankfully Hermione had managed to talk him out of that nonsense, although now that he was tired, queasy, and hungry, the idea didn’t seem so bad at all.
They are boys, they’ll be fine, Ginny had reasoned with him on one occasion, just before Albus was due to start Hogwarts when he had poured his heart out to her. While it had made sense at the time, it hadn’t done anything to improve his mood. He’d been even less impressed when she’d resolutely changed the topic by handing him her Quidditch schedule for the coming season and told him exactly when she would be available to take the children for a few days.
With only a week to go until he would be watching Lily clamber on board the Hogwarts Express, alongside her elder brothers, and disappear from his side for several months, Harry had decided to consult Ron over drinks and a quick pub dinner. He had been an absolute mess when Rose started Hogwarts and Harry sincerely hoped that his best friend had some good advice for him, especially since Ron would be sending Hugo off to Hogwarts this year. The knowledge that his little girl would be heading to Hogwarts with her cousin gave Harry some relief but he still wasn’t keen on letting Lily out of his sight.
Chapter 3: 2019, First Week of September
“Why so mopey, Drake?” Claire asked. She nudged him and glancing sideways, he forced himself to smile. It wasn’t a sincere smile but he didn’t care enough to make more of an effort. He also knew she wouldn’t take offence, they’d known each other too long for that.
“Scorp’s back at school, the place feels entirely too quiet without him. Mind you, he’s happy to be back at boarding school.”
“Aww, you big ol’ softie, you. Be grateful he gave you two months, he’s a teenager now.”
Draco glared at her.
“I would say something about a certain someone turning forty-five last two months but—”
“You won’t because you are one of the last few gentlemen still in existence and you wouldn’t want to give those a bad reputation too. Besides, we all know that the bakery got the numbers mixed up. It was supposed to say thirty-five.”
“In the words of the legendary Mark Twain, Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, my dearest Claire Bear,” Draco said with a smirk and reached for an opaque air-tight container labelled Guatemala Huehuetenango Dark Roast. He measured the right amount of beans he needed for three cups of syphon-made coffee, breathed in the intense aroma, and moved along the counter to the coffee bean grinder. He poured the beans into the hopper, switched the electric machine on and walked over to the cash register to take an order from a waiting customer.
“Welcome to The Fresh Bean, Sir, what can I get you?”
“An Almond Milk Flat White, please.”
“Certainly, Sir, for here or to go?”
“Just the coffee or would you like anything else?”
“The spinach and cheese puff pastry. Can you heat it up for me, please?”
“Sure, not a problem. That’ll be £5.50, please.”
Draco completed the transaction, labelled a to-go paper cup with the customer’s order and handed it off to Claire, who stood at the espresso machine, finishing an Ethiopian Medium Roast Soy Vanilla Latte. He took a spinach and cheese puff pastry from the display, put it in the oven and chose the pre-seat pastry reheat setting, then returned to retrieve the Guatemala Huehuetenango Dark Roast and carried the cup with the ground beans over to the syphon.
Chapter 4: 2019, First Week of September
“You lot couldn’t have sent a single owl, could you?” Harry mused into the empty kitchen and too lazy to get up, he flicked his wand at the window and spelt it open. Three beautiful owls, one white, one grey and one black, flew into the room and perched themselves on the table in front of him. They hooted and extended their left foot, expecting him to relieve them of their delivery.
“Right, so let’s make this fair, first come first serve, no pecking me with your beaks,” Harry told them and summoning some owl treats, he offered those in exchange for his children’s letters. The owls hooted again, then departed. Absentmindedly reaching for his coffee mug, Harry found himself torn between which letter to open first.
James’ envelope was the thinnest and since he was the oldest troublemaker, Harry decided to start with his letter.
He broke the seal, pulled half a page of parchment out of the envelope, and rolled his eyes at James’ nearly illegible scrawl. His handwriting was worse than his own had ever been and that was saying something. Harry couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for James’ professors.
Can’t wait for Quidditch practice to start up again.
The professors are out for blood this year.
See you in November when we sent those slimy Slytherin snakes back down to the dungeons where they belong!
P.S. I will not be apologising to Al!
“Really, James? Not even fifty words are all I get?”
Harry sighed and read his eldest son’s letter again. He couldn’t remember when James had last written more than a few lines. Probably sometime in his second year. Or had he given up on writing proper letters at the end of his first year? Likely! He’d been very happy to hand the responsibility of sending regular updates home over to Al, who enjoyed letting Harry know what was happening at Hogwarts.
Don’t be so cynical, at least he hasn’t stopped writing altogether, Harry rebuked himself and placing James’ letter back inside its envelope, he glanced back and forth between Al’s letter and Lily’s thick envelope. He was about to reach for Al’s first update of the year when curiosity got the better of him and changing his mind, he opened Lily’s letter and smiled.
She’d filled three full pages of parchment, front to back, and decorated the edges of the cream-coloured paper with various funny drawings. There were hats and broomsticks, a black cat, a lion, and several lilies. Harry took another sip of coffee and leaning back in his chair, he immersed himself in Lily’s letter. She was a gifted writer and as he carefully read the detailed recount of her first week at Hogwarts, her words painted the loveliest images in Harry’s head.
He suddenly found himself back in the Great Hall, remembering his own Sorting Ceremony and how excited he had felt when Percy had taken them all up to the Gryffindor Tower. He could practically see the Gryffindor Common Room right in front of him and felt a sudden pang of longing. He chuckled when Lily described how she gotten lost on her way to her first Transfiguration class. It sounded all so familiar and by the time Harry had reached the second parchment, he was sniffling.
By the time he had arrived at the bottom of the third parchment, he had to summon a box of tissues to wipe his tears ago and feeling emotional, he sighed and pressed Lily’s letter to his heart. He closed his eyes and allowed himself a moment to go through the motions. Saying goodbye to Lily on Platform 9 and ¾ had nearly torn him apart but he had somehow managed to keep it together until he had arrived back in Godric’s Hollow. Once inside the cottage he had lost it and wept for a nearly half an hour before he resolutely picked himself off the floor and spent the day in his study, writing until well after midnight in a pathetic attempt to stop himself from Apparating to Hogsmeade and stalking up to Hogwarts to take bring Lily home again.
Harry pulled himself out of his reverie and leaving Lily’s long letter on the table, he got up, headed over to the sink, and splashed his face with cold water. He summoned a fresh towel, dried his face, and returning to the dining table, he reached for Al’s letter and pulled out a single parchment. Al’s neat small handwriting filled it front to back and finishing his coffee, Harry read carefully.
Al was meticulous in his description of his first week back and complained about the large number of essays his professors had already dished out. In the next sentence, he maturely reasoned that such measures were necessary to enforce a rigorous study regime and Harry snorted and shook his head.
“Oh Al,” he sighed. Sometimes he wanted to shake the boy, he was too serious and honest to a fault. Well, most of the time anyway. He was also cunning and resourceful and possessed both ambition and determination, which was why Harry hadn’t been in the least bit surprised when he had received the news that the Sorting Hat had put him into Slytherin. Whenever Al got it in his head to do something, he was like a dog with a bone. There was no convincing him otherwise, at least not without facts upon facts.
[…] Scorpius spent almost the entire summer at his dad’s coffee shop and I swear, if he doesn’t stop talking about Asian coffee beans soon, I will fire a Lip-Locker-Jinx at him. I don’t care if I’ll get detention for it.
As usual, James is being an obnoxious git but for now, it’s bearable. I expect things will escalate come November when Slytherin and Gryffindor open this year’s Quidditch Cup competition with the first game of the season. […]
Harry was about to make a mental note to send James a letter to reprimand him and tell him to be nicer to his younger brother when his eyes drifted back to the previous sentence.
Draco Malfoy’s son.
It had taken him a while to stomach the fact that his son’s best friend was none other than Scorpius Malfoy but he had eventually gotten over the initial shock of those news. They were both in Slytherin, shared the same dorm and all their classes and based on Al’s descriptions of Scorpius, Harry had decided that Draco’s son was a positive influence on Al. He was more outgoing and confident and would often challenge Al to do the same but never actually forced him to do something that made him extremely uncomfortable. The two of them got up to quite a bit of mischief and while the part of Harry that was supposed to be a sensible father figure did not condone that sort of behaviour, the part of him that loved pranks and had a penchant for rule-breaking absolutely cheered for those two boys.
Harry frowned and read the sentence again. There was really nothing special about it, except there was. Something was off about it. Especially the part where Al mentioned that his best friend had spent most of his summer holidays at his father’s coffee shop. Racking his brain, Harry tried to recall ever hearing or reading anything about Draco Malfoy owning a coffee shop but he drew a blank. He couldn’t make sense of Al’s news and fervently tried to remember whether his son had ever mentioned anything about Draco working in a coffee shop before. He had an inkling that Al had indeed mentioned it before but he couldn’t, for the life of him, remember any details about it.
Within minutes, Harry’s curiosity had sparked and feeling restless, he started pacing the kitchen. While he hadn’t been an Auror in a little over a decade, he hadn’t forgotten any of his skills, even if they were a bit rusty at this stage. Thinking back over the last twenty years, Harry carefully construed a timeline of the things Draco Malfoy had been up to since the end of the war.
He had, of course, received a full pardon for his role as a Death Eater, from the Wizengamot, and had then married young. His Pureblood wife had given birth to one child, a son, the same year that Al was born. Harry racked his brain some more and remembered reading something about an apparently amicable divorce in early 2008, right around the time Lily was born and Harry had decided to leave the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to become a full-time dad and eventually writer.
And after that?
Try as he might, Harry couldn’t come up with anything else he knew about Draco Malfoy and it irked him immensely that more than a decade had gone by and he drew a complete blank when it came to any kind of news about Draco. At Hogwarts, the Marauder’s Map had always shown him Draco’s location, effectively telling him what his former school nemesis was up to. Now that they were both adults, Harry couldn’t rely on his father’s map anymore and the Prophet hardly ever printed anything reliable. He highly doubted that Draco’s divorce had been amicable. His and Ginny’s certainly hadn’t been, and although they had managed to sort out their differences several years later, they were no longer as close as they once had been.
A little voice in his head told him that he had no business obsessing over Draco Malfoy of all people but he promptly told it to shut up. He was beyond intrigued and quite eager to get some answers as he worked out a plan of solving the mystery that was Draco Malfoy owning and/or working in a coffee shop.
Like a dog with a bone, he mused and laughed to himself as he realised that he and Al had an awful lot in common.
Chapter 5: 2019, Tuesday, 10th of September
“I’m heading out for my break,” Draco said while he took off his black apron and hung it on a hook beside the door to the staffroom at the back of the shop.
“Sure thing,” Timothy, one of the more competent long-term part-timers replied. He was a Muggle and a college student but had a genuine love for coffee and took his job seriously, which made it easier for Draco to trust him not to scare the customers away.
Draco headed into the staffroom and picking up his portion of fish and soggy vinegar chips, Claire had left on the table for him before she’d gone off to run a few errands, he headed back out and smiled when Timothy handed him a cup of Nicaraguan Light Roast.
“Exactly 14 grams, just how you like it.”
“Ninety-six degrees Celsius,” Timothy grinned. “Does the Coffee Master approve?”
“Absolutely,” Draco said, unable to bite back a smirk. “We’ll make something decent out of you if you stick around a couple more months.”
“If you proof-read my Master thesis, I’d be happy to.”
Draco fixed his eyes on Timothy and tried his best to look menacing. Timothy merely raised an eyebrow at him and held his gaze which resulted in Draco’s resolve crumbling and an amused expression flitted over his face. It forced a smile out of him and his grey eyes twinkled with mirth.
“Part-timers don’t get to make demands, boy.”
“Ah, but part-timers who brew your coffee to perfection and are handsome enough to draw in throngs of female customers do.”
“Just don’t tell them you’re gay as a maypole,” Draco chuckled.
“Can’t slip anything past you, can I, Mr Eagle-eye?”
“Not if you shamelessly flirt with every hot piece of male arse that comes through the door.”
“Do I sense a bit of bitterness? Jealousy perhaps?”
“I am not even going to bother with a response,” Draco rolled his eyes.
“I hate to break it to you, Drake, but that was a response.”
“You cheeky thing you! Watch it, or you’ll be working unpaid overtime tonight.”
“With you? In the backroom? Counting coffee beans?”
“No, scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush,” Draco retorted and leaving the coffee shop through the front door, he effectively ended his and Timothy’s playful back and worth.
Chapter 6: 2019, Tuesday, 10th of September
Harry pulled his baseball cap a little further over down over his face, although he wasn’t sure why, and casually leant against the bus stop sign across the street from The Fresh Bean, the coffee shop Draco Malfoy apparently owned and worked at. It hadn’t taken him long to find out the name of the shop. One detailed letter to Al with a casual question about the name of Scorpius’ father’s coffee shop was all it had taken to get the desired info.
A quick internet search later he had been in the possession of the address; a place in Crystal Palace in South London, approximately seven miles southeast from Charing Cross. Since he had never actually been to this part of London, he had forgone Apparition and taken the train to Crystal Palace Railway Station and after a brief trip to the Men’s and a large swig of long-lasting Polyjuice Potion, he had emerged as K. Evans and taken his sweet time walking over to the coffee shop.
He had reached the coffee shop to witness Draco Malfoy exiting through the front door and claim a seat at an unoccupied table outside. He was drinking from a paper cup and eating— fish and chips of all things. Harry couldn’t quite wrap his mind around that. Never mind that coffee, at least that was what Harry presumed Draco was drinking, and fish and chips were an odd mixture but there was an air of casualness around Draco, Harry had never seen before.
He appeared to be completely at ease with his surroundings and Harry fervently racked his brain for another memory of Draco looking relaxed for comparison but came but with none. In the nearly thirty years he had known the man, he couldn’t think of a single occasion where had Draco looked the way he did now.
Dressed in a short-sleeved midnight blue button-up shirt and a form-fitting pair of grey slacks with matching grey socks and black Oxfords, he didn’t look his age whatsoever.
Pushing thirty, at the most, Harry thought and glanced at his own outfit. Black t-shirt, washed out blue jeans and a pair of white Nike runners. While he thought that his dress sense had improved over the years, he couldn’t help but think that he looked like James’ older brother rather than a father of three who was pushing forty.
Abandoning his musings about the casualness of his clothes, Harry focused back on Draco, who had sat back in his chair and was balancing a rectangular paper bowl of fries on his left hand while commandeering a plastic fork with his right. The blissful expression on his face let Harry believe that Draco was thoroughly enjoying his late lunch and feeling his stomach rumble a bit, he licked his lips. He watched for a little while longer, then, feeling foolish for standing at a bus stop waiting for a bus he had no intention of taking, he pushed himself off the bus stop sign and glancing first left and then right, he made sure the road was clear before crossing over to the other side.
He stopped several feet away from Draco and the entrance to the coffee shop and feeling inexplicably nervous, he hesitated, unsure whether his spontaneous decision to go inside was a sane one. He had acted on instinct and sure, at present he wasn’t Harry Potter, at least his outward appearance wasn’t, but he still felt weird.
“Lost?” Draco addressed him and Harry had to consciously stop himself from jumping out of his skin.
“Er—” Harry stammered, feeling tongue-tied and not exactly sure what to say. He wasn’t lost but apparently, he looked out of place enough for Draco to assume that he was. He also hadn’t been prepared to find himself in a situation where he would have to talk to Draco. He’d planned to satisfy his curiosity by taking a quick look at the coffee shop, see for himself that Draco worked there and then return home and forget about his penchant to obsess over his former classmate.
Yes, because forgetting about Draco Malfoy worked so well for you in the past, a treacherous voice in his head, one that sounded much like Hermione Granger, pointed out to him and Harry scowled. He glanced at Draco, who regarded him with a raised eyebrow, and realising that he still owed him an answer, he hastily cleared his throat.
“Bus seems to be late, thought I’d grab a coffee.”
Draco chuckled in response and Harry felt a shudder run down his spine as the realisation that he had never heard Draco chuckle before, hit him.
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
Harry shook his head.
“Used to live in London years ago but never actually been out here before,” Harry answered and only barely stopped himself from lying through his teeth and giving Draco a reason as to why he was here.
The man doesn’t know you, you don’t need to justify yourself for being here, Harry chided himself.
“Figures. That bus shows up whenever it fancies. Bothers the locals but it’s good for business, so who am I to complain?” Draco said and his sly smirk instantly made Harry feel at ease. That expression was one he was familiar with. A relaxed, chuckling and overly friendly Draco was a person Harry didn’t know how to handle. A smirking, scheming and slightly selfish Draco, now that was someone Harry had a lot of experience with. He could handle that person, he knew how to act around that man.
“Do those disgruntled commuters get a discount?”
“If they’re handsome,” Draco winked at him and Harry flushed. He coughed and redirected his attention to the cat that had jumped up onto the wooden table.
“Hello Luna,” he heard Draco say and clenched his jaw to stop it from dropping open as he watched Draco pet the animal. “Are you hungry, sweetheart? Would you like a few pieces of fish?”
The grey and white cat, undoubtedly a stray, purred and crouched down on the table while Draco peeled the fried skin of a few pieces of fish before offering it to her. She immediately rose to her feet and devoured the tasty treats.
Harry, feeling too dizzy to continue watching the exchange, and on the verge of losing his sanity, moved towards the door. As he prepared to push it open, Draco looked up and they locked eyes for a moment. Harry felt his mouth go dry and with one hand still on the door, he hastily shoved the other into his jeans pocket.
“No idea if you’re much of a coffee drinker but I recommend the Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua Blend. Try it as a Latte. It’s a Light Roast. Rich, smooth, and mild, with a nutty finish.”
Not trusting himself to speak, Harry nodded and hoped that he looked like understood anything Draco had just said.
“Eh, thanks,” he mumbled under his breath and even though he wanted to flee the place, he bravely pushed the door to the coffee shop open and headed inside with his thoughts in complete disarray. He was vaguely aware of Draco snarking at a pigeon, telling it to disappear before he transfigured it into a tasty treat for the cat, then the door fell closed behind him and he found himself standing in a cosy coffee shop with bright hardwood floors, comfortable seating and a variety of sofas and armchairs dotted around the place. A set of wooden stairs let upstairs to the second floor and inhaling deeply, Harry let the scent of freshly ground coffee consume him. It was such a heavy assault to his senses that his mind quietened down for a moment and he moved across the shop towards the counter.
A young man welcomed him with an overly flirty greeting and ignoring it entirely, Harry placed his order, repeating exactly what Draco had told him to order.
“Excellent choice, Sir, if I may say so. Would you like your coffee for here or to go?”
A voice in Harry’s head screamed to go but his mouth said, “for here, please.”
He paid in cash and politely asking for a pen and a scrap of paper, he seated himself in a quiet corner at the back of the shop and started to furiously scribble on the paper. By the time the young man, Timothy according to his name tag, served him his coffee, he had filled both sides of the paper.
“Would you like some more paper with your coffee, Sir?” he asked with a lopsided grin and Harry nodded mutely, then mentally kicked himself and showed some manners.
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble?”
“No trouble at all, Sir.”
Chapter 7: 2019, Tuesday, 10th of September
“Do you know who that was?” Claire asked as she sidled up next to Draco by the espresso machine, looking beyond exhilarated.
Draco gave her a blank look.
“That guy who just left, baseball cap, black t-shirt, jeans.”
“A customer,” Draco retorted drily and remained completely unfazed as he made another espresso. Claire was the type of woman who got excited easily and while it had bothered him immensely in the beginning, he had learnt to appreciate her quirks. She had a bubbly disposition, an amazing personality and made the best biscuits, muffins and scones, Draco had tasted in his entire life. Even elven magic could not compete with her Muggle baking skills. Her pastries sold like hot cakes, though every time Draco tried to praise her, she would blush crimson red and threaten to quit if he ever mentioned it again. It had become a bit of a cat and mouse game between them both and Draco thoroughly relished in it.
“You’re in a snarky mood! That was K. Evans.”
“You don’t know him?”
Only Claire could manage to sound both accusing and baffled at the same time.
“Oh my God, Draco! Do you live behind the moon or something? He’s only the most famous children’s book author of the last decade!” Claire said and Draco noted the mild exasperation in her voice. “My three girls absolutely love his books. His stories are magical.”
“Magical, yes, very likely. Well, I’m sorry to say that I don’t make a habit out of perusing children’s fairy tales in my free time, I prefer Po—” Draco hastily bit his tongue. Nearly a decade in the constant company of Muggles and he still managed to trip up occasionally.
“You have a son, I can’t believe you don’t know who K. Evans is!”
There was that accusing and baffled undertone again and Draco suppressed a sigh. He couldn’t very well tell Claire that he had read The Tales of Beedle the Bard to Scorpius when he had been young.
“I humbly apologise for my unacceptable ignorance. Shall I leave right now to buy a copy of all his books?”
“Yes! And stop mocking me, you have no idea what you’re missing, that man produces pure gold! God, I hope he comes back here, I want his autograph for my girls!” Claire said and headed for the cash register to serve a customer.
Draco stared after her with a frown, then shook his head and turned his attention back to completing the next coffee order. He’d never seen Claire quite this hyper, then again, he couldn’t remember ever having served a celebrity before. Or maybe he had but hadn’t realised it at the time? Claire was a terrible gossip, and Timothy wasn’t any better, it was hard to keep track of all the famous people she fancied and most of the time Draco only listened with half an ear. Not because he didn’t care but because he usually lost himself in the art of making coffee and things and people around him tended to cease to matter while he attempted to create the perfect brew every time.
Chapter 8: 2019, Friday, 13th of September
Two and a half days.
That was exactly how long Harry had managed to resist the temptation to return to The Fresh Bean out in Crystal Palace. His visit to Draco’s coffee shop, under the disguise of K. Evans has inspired an idea for a continuation for one of his children’s books and that idea was the only reason he had lasted this long.
After filling several sheets of paper with random notes, dialogues, and a general plot outline, he had left the coffee shop and not bothering to return to London by train, he had found a secluded alley and Apparated straight back to Godric’s Hollow. Once home, he had spent the entire afternoon, evening, and most of the night scribbling in a notebook and then transcribing the first three chapters of his idea on his laptop. At five in the morning he hadn’t been able to see clearly anymore and had left the story be before the temptation to Incendio the whole thing, including his laptop, got the better of him.
He’d abandoned his bed in favour of a late lunch sometime around two in the afternoon and then spent the rest of the day trying to make sense of the previous day and his encounter with Draco Malfoy.
It all seemed so surreal now, which was why Harry, minus K. Evans’ disguise, now found himself turning onto Westow Street out in Crystal Palace. The coffee shop was less than a two-minute walk away and the closer he came, the less confident he felt about showing up at Draco’s place of work, completely unannounced and without any plan whatsoever.
He had thought about sending Draco and owl but after sixty attempts, which he had all burned with an angry swoosh of his wand, at composing something sane, he had given up. Considering that he was a published writer, with his works available in multiple countries and translated into more languages than he cared to remember, it irked him that he seemed to be incapable of writing a simple letter to someone he had known since he was eleven. As he hadn’t brought any Polyjuice Potion with him, transforming into K. Evans wasn’t an option and Harry thoroughly regretted that decision now. He had clearly made it while under the influence of a bout complete madness.
Walking almost slower than a tortoise, Harry continued to berate himself, feebly trying to understand why even well over two decades after leaving Hogwarts he still found it impossible to control his obsession with one Draco Malfoy. The mere mention of the man’s name ignited a thirst in him that no amount of water managed to quench. He simply needed to know more. Having seen Draco work at the coffee shop had not been enough to satisfy his curiosity and even hourly reprimands hadn’t been enough to keep him away. Well, they had been enough to keep him away for two and a half days, then he had succumbed to the desire to solve the conundrum that was Draco Malfoy working with and for Muggles.
Merlin, Lord Almighty, Godric Gryffindor, please help me, he thought as he came to a complete standstill a door away from The Fresh Bean.
This is sixth year all over again, that treacherous voice in his head, it still sounded like Hermione Granger, chided him. Back then he had ignored her warnings and lost himself in his obsession. Two decades later he clearly hadn’t changed a bit. Well, he now possessed the ability to admit to himself that indulging in his fixation with Draco Malfoy would likely end terribly but he did not possess the self-restraint required to do the sensible thing, which would be to turn around and return home.
Just one chat, see what he’s like if it’s me he’s talking to, Harry reasoned with himself and scoffed at his own stupidity. Like he would manage to forget about the mystery that was Draco Malfoy working in a coffee shop after one afternoon in the man’s company. He ground his own teeth, repeatedly clenched, then unclenched his fists and took a deep breath.
“Our sons are friends, I have a reason for this,” Harry mumbled and as he resolutely braved the last forty feet to the glass door, he allowed himself to believe his own lie, then snapped right out of it. When Al had first brought up his friendship with Scorpius Malfoy, Harry had felt he intense desire to properly step on Draco Malfoy’s toes and tell him to keep his Slytherin son away from Al. He’d already Apparated to Wiltshire with the very intention to argue with Draco about their sons’ friendship when it had occurred to him that Al, too, was a Slytherin and rightly so. He had sensibly stopped for long enough to consider his son’s feelings on the matter and remembering Al’s elation over having made friends with this smart and funny boy, he had resolutely returned home and forgotten all about chasing down Draco Malfoy.
He couldn’t understand why he was incapable of doing the same thing now but after having seen Draco on Tuesday and seen a change in the man he couldn’t comprehend, Harry no longer possessed the resolve to remain firm with himself.
Draco exited the staffroom, holding an air-tight opaque two-pound bag of Strictly High Grown Medium Roast Honduran Marcala Fair Trade Coffee, a special delivery from South America for a long-standing customer and coffee lover, and promptly stopped dead in his tracks. He blinked several times but the image in front of him did not change. There, on the other side of the counter, talking to Claire, stood none other than Harry Potter, The
Boy Man Who Lived To Be A Gigantic Pain In His Posterior and the father of his son’s best friend.
The irony of the fact that his and Potter’s son were the exact opposite of what he and Potter had been during their years at Hogwarts had not escaped him and for a moment Draco wanted nothing more than to turn around and flee. Seeing Potter and his three children at King’s Cross every year on September 1st was more than enough. Having to interact with the man on a personal level, beyond the courteous nod they shared on Platform 9 and ¾, wasn’t something Draco was prepared for. They hadn’t kept in touch much, or at all, after the war, although the Prophet frequently made sure that he knew more than he wanted to about the ins and outs of Harry Potter’s private life.
Since Potter hadn’t spotted him yet, Draco stalled for time and quickly racked his brain for what he knew about the man. A little over twenty years had passed since he had defeated Voldemort and effectively ended the Second Wizarding War in Britain, bringing peace and harmony, or so the Prophet had proclaimed for months after the Battle of Hogwarts and every subsequent year when everyone gathered to celebrate Potter’s heroic deed.
Draco just about managed to stop himself from scoffing. It wasn’t like Potter had single-handedly defeated the Dark Lord, he’d had plenty of help, yet, as usual, the Prophet preferred to gloss over these facts. Harry Potter was and would always be the Wizarding World’s Golden
Potter had, of course, without ever sitting his N.E.W.T.S. joined the Auror Training Program and had promptly overhauled the department, reshuffling it completely and weeding out corruption, for which the Prophet had once again praised him for months on end. Draco suppressed the urge to throw up in his mouth and with a persistent frown he remembered Potter taking over the department sometime in late 2006 or early 2007 only to leave less than three years later to become a full-time father when his wife, the Weaselette, had given birth to their third child.
Draco vaguely remembered reading something about an amicable divorce and snorted.
Amicable my arse, he thought.
His separation from Astoria had been anything but amicable, yet they had told the Prophet that it was and the public had gobbled it up. He was certain that Potter and his former wife had spun the press the same tale. While they were civil with each other in public, one only had to take one look at the awkward way they stood side by side whenever photographed at official functions. Beyond the fact that they had three children together, there was not a shred of emotion that connected them. They were two different people and bore no resemblance to the loved-up couple they had been just after the war and in the early years of Potter’s career.
Furrowing his brow, Draco pulled himself back into the present and gave Potter a once-over. He couldn’t deny that the man looked good. Pushing forty or not, he appeared fit and his ability to wear clothes that fitted him properly had improved drastically. He was wearing a pair of dark form-fitting jeans and a grey button-up shirt. His hair was, of course, still a complete mess but he had replaced his ugly glasses with a much more stylish pair that made him look like some of the young and hip dads that often stopped by the coffee shop with their offspring on their way to Crystal Palace Park.
The strap of a laptop bag rested on Potter’s shoulder and Draco turned his thoughts to trying to remember what Potter did for a living since he had left the Auror Department but drew a blank which made him scowl. It wasn’t like he really cared but he vaguely recalled asking Scorpius once only to receive a shrug for an answer.
Al can’t tell me, some sort of Vow of Secrecy that only lifts when he’s seventeen, makes him go mute whenever he tries to talk about it, can’t even write it down, his hand will freeze, it’s quite hilarious, really, he’d said which made Draco think that Potter might have gone to join the Unspeakables but that idea was so preposterous, he couldn’t befriend it. It wasn’t that he didn’t think Potter had it in him, he had certainly proved himself during the ten plus years he’d spent as an Auror, chasing down Dark Wizards and Undesirables, but—
Draco didn’t have to contemplate the matter any further for Potter chose exactly that moment to turn his head and notice him. Draco instantly schooled his expression into one of nonchalant indifference and walking up to Claire, he gently nudged her aside, letting her know that he would take care of this customer. She nodded and moved over to the espresso machine.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the great Harry Potter. I did wonder when you might show up here. I must admit I expected you much sooner, considering our sons claim to be best friends and all. Nearly three years, your patience has increased a great deal. Age finally catching up with you, making it hard to be impulsive?”
Potter regarded him with a strangely unfamiliar expression. His vivid green eyes lacked the glare Draco remembered from their days at Hogwarts, when they’d been bitter enemies, house rivals and played against each other during the Quidditch House Cup matches. Gone was that dark scowl that perpetually graced Potter’s face whenever they were in same room, or, Merlin beware, forced to endure each other’s company for an extended period.
The man that stood before him now looked a lot more relaxed, if somewhat nervous though he disguised that emotion rather well, and not as easily riled up as Draco remembered him. He instantly missed it, missed the power he’d held over Potter, missed the high he’d gotten from being able to ignite a spark of red-hot fury in his former school nemesis, a spark that had fuelled his rage and resulted in the most memorable sparing matches. They had brought light to Draco’s dull school days and—
Potter’s answer interrupted his musings.
“You try listening to three rowdy children shouting different things into your ears at the same time and remembering everything they tell you,” Potter rolled his eyes. “Nice to see you haven’t lost any of your Slytherin snark.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, Potter,” Draco smirked. “Ever heard of a Silencing Charm? Not that I’ve ever tried it myself but I’m sure it works a treat on obstreperous Potter brats.”
“I see, I still bring out the worst in you,” Potter said and much to Draco’s confusion, he smirked. “It’s good to know that some things never change.”
Slightly baffled by Potter’s unperturbed response, and his laid-back reaction, which wasn’t at all what he had expected, Draco fought to keep his composure. He’d been rather sure that Potter would lose it and feel insulted over the purposefully condescending way he had spoken to him. Instead, he was calm and collected, funny even. Draco balked and put a lid on his thoughts which were clearly out of control. Potter and funny were two words he had never used together and in the same sentence. Pathetic, embarrassing, hilarious, stupid, those had been adjectives he had frequently used to describe Potter. Funny not so much.
Unsure of how to deal with the situation, and somewhat rattled though composed enough to mask his feelings, Draco set the bag of coffee beans down on the counter but kept his hands clasped around it.
“Aren’t there any coffee shops in Godric’s Hollow?” he changed the subject.
“None where I might find you making coffee for the common folk.”
“I’m sure you meant to say Muggles.”
“Potayto, potahto, tomayto, tomahto. Now, I was about to order a cup of coffee and a raspberry muffin when you disappeared your colleague. Any chance you will take my order?”
“What kind of coffee would you like?” Draco asked watched as Potter’s gaze flickered up towards the menu that listed the most common coffee blends the shop offered, as well as a few special blends, he liked to add for his regular clientele of die-hard coffee lovers. Less than a minute later, a deep frown appeared on Potter’s face and Draco fought his hardest to bite back a smirk. He’d seen clueless customers before, in fact there were one or two every day but Potter took the crown.
“Something black,” Potter eventually said. It took him quite a bit of effort to relax his features and Draco couldn’t help but roll his eyes.
“Pour-over Coffee Cone Drip, Pour-over Chemex Drip, French Press, AeroPress, Stovetop Moka Pot or Syphon?” Draco offered up a selection of filter coffee options that resulted in the immediate return of Potter’s frown. His lips pursed into a thin line and he glared.
“Just a regular coffee, Malfoy,” he spat, clearly irked over the fact that Draco had thrown a series of coffee terms at him that he didn’t understand.
“They are all regular coffees, just different brewing types.”
Draco was fully aware that he was walking on thin ice and that pushing Potter any further could very well result in him drawing his wand but for some stupid reason he had every faith in Potter’s ability to restrain himself. He also enjoyed taunting Potter way too much to stop his little game.
“A plain filter coffee will do, Malfoy. Don’t be such a prat.”
“I’m not, I’m trying to be a good Coffee Master.”
“Malfoy!” Potter hissed with a warning undertone and raising his hands in mock-surrender, Draco decided that he had toyed with him long enough.
“All right, all right, don’t get your wand in a twist, Potter. I’ll make you a Syphon filter coffee. Any preference on the beans?”
Potter merely glared and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Gees, someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” Draco shook his head. “Go find yourself a seat, if you’re planning on staying, I’ll bring you a Peru Chanchamayo Coffee Syphon in a few minutes, you’ll enjoy that one. Would you like your raspberry muffin warm or cold?”
“Warm, please,” Potter said, turned on his heel and walked off to a corner table by the window at the back of the shop. Draco watched him for a moment but snapped out of it when Claire sidled up next to him.
“He didn’t pay,” she noted and Draco tore his eyes away from Potter and glanced at her. He frowned and shook his head, feeling as though he had water in his ears. He suddenly felt a bit dizzy and out of sorts. It had been too long since he’d had the opportunity to bicker with Potter, pretending to be superior, and after only few minutes of getting a taste of it again, he couldn’t help but realise how much he had missed their mindless little verbal duels. They’d always been fun, though he was quite sure that Potter would disagree with him. Claire elbowed him into the side and effectively pulled him out of his nonsense daydream.
“I said he didn’t pay.”
“His coffee is on me.”
“Oh?” Claire asked with a curious glint in her eyes.
Draco rolled his eyes.
“We went to school together,” he offered her a very brief explanation and before she could fire another ten questions at him to satisfy her unquenchable curiosity, he quickly moved over to the long shelves of opaque air-tight coffee bean containers and reached for the Peruvian Chanchamayo beans. Those beans were smooth and delicate and perfect for a Syphon brew. The flavour was well-balanced with nutty and chocolaty undertones and a sweet citrus taste.
Soft and sweet, Draco thought, perfect with a light raspberry muffin.
Draco mentions several ways of making filter coffee (plain, black coffee, in layman's terms) so if you find those confusing or are just generally interested in learning a bit more about making coffee, I'd like to share this wonderful link with you: "6 Popular Methods For Brewing Coffee At Home"
Chapter 10: 2019, Friday, 13th of September
Harry looked up from his notebook and a messy array of scribbled-on parchments to find Draco stood in front of him, holding a tray with a mug and a plate.
“Your coffee and muffin, Potter.”
“Whatever did I do to deserve the honour to be served by you personally?”
He smiled and moving some of the parchments aside, he made room on the small table. Draco rolled his eyes, didn’t respond and Harry watched as he gently set the coffee mug down on the table. He and inhaled deeply, the fragrant smell of the coffee a pleasant assault to his senses. Harry pulled the mug closer and inhaled again, then casually glanced at the parchments in front of him. Just seeing his random notes made him feel oddly inspired to write. It almost felt like when he’d first started making up fantastic stories for Lily.
She’d been such a fussy baby, refusing to sleep in her cot, and most nights Harry had ended up sitting in her nursery and holding her in his arms. He’d tried playing her nursery rhymes but those had made her cry and fuss even more. After a few hit and miss attempts at finding something that calmed her and lulled her to sleep, he had discovered her penchant for his voice. She, however, disliked having a story read to her. With children’s books out of the question, he had ended up telling her most of his life’s story and after running out of things to tell her about, having recounted his entire childhood and the war and life as an Auror, he had simply started making up his own tales.
All those stories had quickly taken over his imagination, and most of his free time, and he had started writing them down. It had been just to keep track of what he had told Lily and make sure that he didn’t suddenly add odd facts to his stories, that made no sense, but when Hermione had stumbled upon his tale book, she had insisted that he show those to a publisher and—
“Finally writing your autobiography, Potter?” Draco asked as he set the plate with the raspberry muffin down and tray still in hand, he sat down on the empty chair across from him.
Harry automatically reached for the muffin, broke a piece of the warm, fluffy cake off and stuffed it into his mouth. He chewed, held Draco’s gaze, and smiled.
“No, Malfoy, there are enough of those floating around. I’m answering fan mail,” he replied with an expression of complete nonchalance.
Harry bit the inside of his mouth to stop the smirk that wanted to spread across his face and watched as Draco blinked several times. He clearly hadn’t expected that particular response and Harry felt entirely too gleeful over having rendered his former school nemesis speechless. Relishing in the fact that he had, for the first time ever, beaten Draco Malfoy at his own game, he reached for his coffee mug and took a few small sips.
“This is really good coffee.”
Draco sat the tray down on his lap and crossed his arms over his chest.
“I don’t make bad coffee,” he said, looking rather put out.
“I’m sure you don’t. It was a compliment, Malfoy. Relax.”
“What are you playing at, Potter?”
“I’m not playing at anything.”
“Why are you here?”
“To drink excellent coffee and answer fan mail,” Harry said with a straight face. He took another few sips of his coffee and tried his best not to look completely blissed out. He had no words to describe the coffee, he was currently enjoying, but it was easily the best cup of coffee he had ever had in his entire life. He didn’t know any coffee terminology to describe the flavours of this blend but it was, well, perfect.
Since Draco still looked put out over his answer and had yet to uncross his arms, Harry decided to rile him up a little further and picked up a random parchment, onto which he had scribbled the rough character description of an evil fairy king, and made up a fan letter.
“This one, for example, is from a young wizard from Brighton, twenty-two he says. He’s offering me his hand in marriage and would be, his words now, very happy to help my raise James, Al, and Lily—” Harry paused, lowered the parchment, and caught the rather confused expression on Draco’s face.
“I give him three hours in the company of my children, he’ll immigrate to the end of the world just to get away from them. Not that I don’t love them, because I do, fiercely so, like I’d walk through fire for them, but they can be a bit of a handful at times. Anyways, I’ve no interest in a toy boy or a second marriage for that matter—”
“Toy boy, eh? You are just full of surprises, Potter, aren’t you? Seems like the Prophet didn’t get the full story about your divorce.”
“I’ve three kids, Malfoy, I don’t have the stamina to entertain that level of insatiability.”
“Interesting, I note that you’re neither disgusted by what I said nor did you deny my little insinuation.”
“Oh, Malfoy, come on, we are both old enough to know what amicable is code for,” Harry smirked.
Draco shot him a dark look and slowly uncrossing his arms, he wrapped his fingers around the tray in his lap.
“You are not the boy I used to know,” he said slowly.
Harry couldn’t help but wonder whether that was a compliment or a veiled insult. Given the length of time that had gone by since they’d been at school together, he boldly settled for the first.
“Neither are you. I guess twenty years changes a person. And your coffee is excellent, I mean that.”
“Thank you,” Draco smiled.
Harry thought it was a bit of a sheepish smile, yet he couldn’t help himself but smile in return.
When he did, he felt an odd sensation wash over him and wondered whether he and Draco had ever smiled at each other before. He had to admit, he kind of liked Draco’s smile, liked it more than he liked his scowl, although even that one had its charm too. Still, his smile made him look so much more real, friendly even. It wasn’t an expression Harry was familiar with and it still confused him immensely. It also terrified him a bit. One never knew what Draco Malfoy was really thinking, not even when he smiled.
“I will admit, my reason for showing up here was pure curiosity. Al mentioned it offhandedly in a letter, though I’m pretty sure he told me before, and intrigue got the better of me,” Harry finally offered up a truthful answer to Draco’s earlier question.
“I figured as much. Well, I’ll leave you to your coffee, muffin, and your many marriage proposals.”
Draco, serving tray in hand, rose to his feet and sitting back in his chair, Harry took another few sips of his coffee.
“You don’t have to leave,” he mumbled into his mug, fighting back the urge to blush at his pathetic response. There was something about Draco’s company that he rather enjoyed though he absolutely could not put his finger on what exactly it was. Draco’s snark was immensely refreshing and Harry was loath to admit that he missed having a verbal sparring partner. Very few people, apart from his closest friends, his ex-wife, and his children, spoke their mind around him and even twenty years after the war it thoroughly rattled him that most of the wizarding population still insisted on treating him like a saint which he found intensely annoying and tiring. It was also the why he published his books under a pen name and attended public events in disguise.
“I hate to break it to you, Potter, but I don’t just pretend to work here, I actually have things to do. However, feel free to come and find me if you want a refill.”
Harry watched Draco head back behind the counter and barely suppressed a chuckle when his female co-worker immediately moved closer to him. She appeared to pester him with several questions but by the looks of it, Draco brushed her off and went to attend to a group of five customers who had just entered the shop. As he approached the cash register, he briefly looked into Harry’s direction and their eyes met for a split second. A sort of half-smile played around the edges of his mouth and Harry gave him a curt nod, then resolutely turned his attention toward his muffin and devoured the delicious cake with enthusiasm.
Once he had finished it, he sorted through the loose parchments inside his notebook, put them back in order and grabbing an ordinary Muggle pen from inside his laptop bag, he found an empty page in his notebook and began to furiously scribble away. Draco’s coffee had given him an idea for a story, he hoped to turn into a new book for one of his series.
Three hours and another two mugs of coffee later, Harry finally decided he had overstayed his welcome. While nobody had as much as batted an eyelid over his extended stay, not even Draco had said anything when he had stopped by to supply him with more coffee and a glass of cool lemon-flavoured sparkling water, Harry couldn’t help but think that he had stayed long enough. He’d managed to write a general outline of the plot for his next book, as well as detailed outlines for several chapters and enough was enough.
He slowly packed his things together and for a moment he sat at the table and was at a loss as to whether he should just leave or bit Draco goodbye.
After several minutes of indecision, he eventually decided to stop by the counter, caught Draco’s attention and politely announced his departure. Draco surprisingly wished him a safe trip home and unsure of what else to say to that, Harry merely nodded and headed for the door. He was about to pull it open when he realised that he hadn’t paid for his three cups of coffee, the water, or his muffin.
Turning on his heel, he returned to the counter and shuffled from one foot to the other when Draco raised a questioning eyebrow at him.
“Forgot something?” he asked.
“I haven’t paid. How much do I owe you?”
“It’s on the house, Potter.”
Harry opened his mouth to object but Draco held up his hand to silence him.
“It’s a cup of coffee and a muffin, you will not ruin me over that.”
“Three actually, and the water,” Harry protested mildly.
“Those won’t ruin me either. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, or have you never heard of that particular idiom?”
“Well then, adieu, Potter.”
“Yes, adieu,” Harry mumbled. He walked to the door and left with a deep frown on his face.
He felt strange.
Draco Malfoy, while still snarky, wasn’t a complete prat. He had changed. He was funny and kind and he had a passion.
He worked with Muggles and for Muggles!
He wasn’t at all the person Harry had once known and he had a hard time finding a connection between the person he had gone to Hogwarts with and the person he had met, first as K. Evans and now as himself. More than twenty years had gone by without them both actively being in each other’s lives and Harry was finding it difficult to bridge the gap and fill in the blanks.
He wanted to know more. He wanted to know everything. His curiosity was burning holes into him and it took him every ounce of willpower he had not to turn around and fire a million and one questions at Draco. He wanted to go back the next day and the day after that, but he resolutely told himself that he would be doing no such thing.
You’ve been nosy enough, he really does work in a coffee shop and that’s all you wanted to confirm, now forget about Draco sodding Malfoy, go home, and write your next bestseller, he chided himself while he walked down Westow Street until he reached a suitable alley to Disapparate from.
Chapter 11: 2019, Wednesday, 18th of September
The persistent sound of a sharp beak pecking against the cottage kitchen window made Harry look up from his laptop and frown. An unfamiliar tawny eagle owl with very distinctive ear tufts and feathers mottled with darker blackish colouring had perched itself on the windowsill outside, waiting for him to open the window.
Not bothering to pick up his wand, Harry waved his right hand at the window and spelt it open with a wandless spell. The owl hopped inside, flew over to the kitchen table and regarded him with big orange eyes. It blinked once, then extended its foot. Harry quickly untied the scroll of parchment tied to it and summoned a handful of owl treats from the cupboard beside the sink. He offered them to the owl, who tilted its head sideways and looked at him with a strangely familiar expression, one Harry could not quite place. It felt somewhat lofty and superior and well, sort of Malfoyish, if he was quite honest.
“Don’t you want a treat?” he asked.
The owl unblinkingly gazed him for a full minute, hooted, then snatched up a single owl treat. It swallowed it down and flew towards the window, giving Harry just enough time to shout thank you, before it disappeared completely.
Shaking his head, Harry broke the seal and unrolled the scroll.
Seriously, Potter, your stalking skills are abysmal!
It really is no wonder you left the Aurors…
There was no signature but Harry didn’t need one to know exactly who had sent him the letter.
Only Draco Malfoy was brass enough to complain about Harry’s reluctance to stalk him.
It had been five days since his visit to The Fresh Bean and although the temptation to return the next day had been almost overwhelming, Harry had forced himself to resist. It was amazing how much self-restraint one possessed when in the company of one Hermione Granger. He had nearly driven her around the bend by spending most of Saturday lounging around her kitchen while Ron was out at the shop working with George.
It hadn’t taken her long to figure out that he was using her as an excuse to avoid something he was trying very hard not to do. When he had refused to spill the news, she’d threatened to use physical force to get him to talk. Despite having known her for nearly three decades, she still managed to terrify the hell out of him when she had made up her mind about something or was furious with him over his annoying habit of keeping secrets.
When he had told her that Draco Malfoy owned a Muggle coffee shop out in Crystal Palace in South London and worked there too, she had merely sighed and put on the kettle to make tea. She hadn’t even asked for more details but Harry had voluntarily told her everything, including checking the place out under the disguise of K. Evans, and finally also as himself.
She hadn’t said anything to that either but merely pursed her lips tightly and shook her head.
Harry hadn’t bothered to ask about her opinion but had been somewhat vexed when she had forced him to repeat the entire story to Ron when he had returned home around six in the evening for tea. Harry had only very reluctantly complied with Hermione’s order to tell Ron everything and when he had finished, Ron had sighed loudly. He’d been silent for a minute or two and Harry had mentally prepared himself for Ron reading him the riot act. What he hadn’t been prepared for had been Ron’s resigned statement, I’ve been waiting for this day since Al started Hogwarts and wrote to you about being friends with Scorpius Malfoy.
Harry pulled himself out of his thoughts and stared at the scroll in his hand.
Was Draco challenging him to come back to the coffee shop or was he mocking him?
Was this a veiled invitation?
He couldn’t make sense of the meaning behind the note but it had successfully ignited that spark of intense curiosity, he’d tried so hard to ignore for the last five days.
He shuddered and rising to his feet, Harry exchanged his slippers for a pair of black runners. He flicked his wrist and his wand slipped out of his Auror-issued wrist holster, a little souvenir he had kept from his time as an Auror. He’d gotten so accustomed to carrying his wand in a leather wrist holster that he felt strange keeping it anywhere else. Pointing it at his shoelaces, he muttered a spell to tie them, then sheathed his wand and stood in the cottage hallway for several minutes, unsure about what to do.
Fuck it, he eventually thought and firmly concentrating on that dark alley near the coffee shop, he Disapparated only to reappear in Westow Street several seconds later. He touched his hand to the wall to steady himself, then straightened up and letter still in hand, he marched out of the alley and down the street towards The Fresh Bean.
Less than two minutes later, he pushed the door open, entered and inhaled deeply. A little bell above the door announced him and he still had his hand wrapped around the handle when his and Draco’s eyes met. They stared at each other for a moment and Draco’s lips curled into a sly smirk. Harry let go of the door and walked right up to the counter. Draco stood behind it and was busy fitting a triangle-shaped piece of brown paper into a cone-shaped thing that sat above a glass container.
Harry waved the parchment at him.
“Was that an invitation or are you just mocking me?”
“Well, you are here, so you tell me. Coffee?”
“I was about to brew an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.”
“Doesn’t tell me anything,” Harry frowned and Draco handed him a cup of freshly ground coffee beans. He inhaled deeply and had to close his eyes when the sensations were a bit too much to deal with.
The aroma was intense, though he had no way of describing it.
“You should be able to discern a floral and somewhat fruity scent,” Draco offered and lifting his nose out of the cup, Harry blinked. He felt a bit dazed and it took him a second to process what Draco had said. Once the words had sunk in, he took another whiff, breathing in through his nose.
“Smells like coffee to me,” he mumbled, somewhat disappointed that he couldn’t identify any floral or fruity notes.
“It does to most people,” Draco shrugged. “Takes a bit of practice to get a nose for it.”
Harry nodded and handing the cup to Draco, he tried his best not to flinch when Draco’s fingers briefly brushed against his as he took it back.
“Wait till it’s done, you might have more luck identifying the flavours then, they are stronger once the coffee is brewed.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“Do, I know what I’m talking about.”
Instead of responding, Harry perched himself on one of the wooden barstools in front of the counter and silently watched as Draco went about brewing the coffee. He literally had no idea what Draco was doing but he was still fascinated. Draco’s hands were quick and sure, moving through the steps of brewing the coffee as though he had years of experience, which he obviously had.
Up until a few moments ago, Harry’s idea of making coffee had been grabbing a random bag of ground coffee beans from the coffee aisle in the supermarket, making sure that it wasn’t decaf, and adding several spoonfuls to his Muggle coffee machine at home before filling the container with water and flicking the switch. It usually took several minutes for the water to heat up and run through the filter and once done, Harry was able to enjoy several mugs of steaming hot coffee and that was all that mattered to him. It gave him the caffeine boost he needed to write through the night or sit through an early morning meeting with his editor and/or publisher after working on chapter outlines and character sheets all night or staying up to nurse a sick child back to health.
Somehow, Harry had the sensibility not to mention any of that to Draco. He had the feeling that it wouldn’t go down so well. Instead, he changed the topic.
“So, I stayed away because I didn’t want to step on your toes—”
“Maybe I occasionally like it when someone steps on my toes…” Draco shrugged.
Harry didn’t know what to respond to that either and shuffled on the barstool, not because he wasn’t comfortable but because he didn’t have anything else to do.
Several minutes of silence passed between them and Draco finished preparing three cups of coffee, which he handed over Timothy, the handsome young man who had served Harry when he’d come to the coffee shop disguised as K. Evans.
With those orders finished, Draco poured another cup of coffee and pushed it across the counter and towards Harry.
“You can either just gulp it down or I can teach you how to taste it properly, the choice is yours,” he said and Harry responded without thinking.
“Teach me how to taste it properly.”
“Very well, take the cup and breathe in the fragrant aroma, see if you can identify those floral, fruity undertones now.”
Harry reached for the cup and did as told. He wrapped both his hands around the mug, lifted it to his mouth and inhaled deeply through his nose. The tantalising fragrance was just a little dizzying and he was very glad for the fact that he was sitting down.
“Now take a small sip and drink it right down.”
Harry followed those instructions too.
The coffee was pleasantly hot but not hot enough to burn him and he relished in the warmth that spread through his mouth.
“What does it taste like?”
“Bitter,” Harry replied and Draco rolled his eyes at him.
“That blend isn’t bitter, coffee hardly ever is, it’s got some acidity though, most African coffees do.”
“Ah,” Harry nodded.
He hadn’t understood a word of that and was about to take another sip, when Draco stopped him by placing a hand on his bare forearm. Harry only barely managed to stop himself from flinching away and stared down at the long, pale fingers that belonged to a smooth pale hand that presently rested against his skin. Draco’s hand was warm, pleasantly so, probably from handling various coffee containers all day and Harry couldn’t help but wonder whether they’d ever touched before. They’d certainly shoved each other on occasion and scuffled but he couldn’t remember a single occasion when they’d ever touched like this. It was an odd sensation, unfamiliar and strange, and Harry was glad when Draco pulled away. Not because he didn’t like the touch but it was so weird that he needed time to fully process it.
“Slurp it, it’ll spread the coffee evenly over your tongue and you’ll taste it better.”
Harry nodded again and followed the instructions silently. He felt somewhat stupid slurping his coffee while in Draco’s company and was half-prepared to hear Draco burst out laughing and mock him for doing something so stupid as—
He resolutely stopped himself from overthinking and slurped his coffee instead.
When Draco asked him to identify the flavours he had tasted, he once again drew a blank and frowned when Draco merely chuckled and poured himself a small cup of coffee. He took a small sip, then slurped and nodded approvingly.
“Floral, fruity and with clean acidity. A perfect tea-like finish, barely any aftertaste.”
“Could you translate that into English, please?” Harry couldn’t help but ask as he glowered at Draco over the rim of his coffee mug.
“Imagine a mixture of fresh berries, nuts, chocolate, and wine. That’s what you are or should be tasting. Yirgacheffe Coffee is the mother of all coffee beans. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee.”
“Why do you know so much about coffee?”
“Blunt as ever,” Draco rolled his eyes. “I’ve been doing this job for a decade, Potter.”
“Because I like coffee.”
“No, I mean why do you work here.”
“Because I own the place.”
“You know that’s not what I mean,” Harry frowned and took a few more sips of his coffee.
“Do I?” Draco acted deliberately obtuse and Harry felt his wand hand twitch.
“Don’t make me hex you, Malfoy.”
“In a place full of Muggles? Ex-Auror or not, I don’t think you’d disregard the Statute of Secrecy quite so blatantly,” Draco chuckled and Harry gave him a dark look.
“You are as infuriating as ever.”
“Why, thank you, Potter, I try my best. You are as easy to rile up as ever.”
“We make a right pair,” Harry sighed and continued to drink his coffee in silence while Draco picked up another order, Timothy handed him, and began making a different type of filter coffee.
Chapter 12: 2019, Saturday, 21st of September
Draco pushed the door to the staffroom open and poked his head inside.
“Tim, are you finished sorting through this morning’s deliveries?”
Timothy, who was crouching on the floor in front of a large cardboard box, looked up and nodded. “Last box, but I can take care of that one later if you need me to cover out front.”
“Please do. I’m famished. I absolutely need to get some food into me.”
Timothy rose to his feet and headed over to the wash basin to scrub his hands with warm water and soap. He turned his head sideways and grinned at Draco.
“Is that Drake-code for I want to spend an hour staring at my handsome boyfriend?”
Draco shot him a dark glower.
“Cheeky brat, mind that loose mouth of yours. Pot—Harry and I went to school together, that’s all. You and Claire are two nosy gossips. Have you two got nothing better to do?”
Timothy dried his hands with a towel and grabbed his apron from where he had discarded it on the table.
“What could possibly be better than gossiping about the bosses’ latest love interest?” Timothy grinned mischievously.
Draco quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Keeping your job?” he offered as Timothy crossed the room, tied his apron around his waist and pulled he door to the staffroom open. As he pushed past him, he winked and Draco scowled.
“If he isn’t your boyfriend, surely you won’t mind if flirt with him, will you?”
“I suddenly have the burning desire to set fire to that Master thesis of yours, Mr Martin.”
“Ha! I was right, you do like the man! You’d be daft not to, he’s hot, goddamnit, I’m freaking green with envy. Claire owes me ten pounds when she comes in, that’ll teach her not to trust the instincts of a gay man,” Timothy laughed, tapped the side of his nose and before Draco had the chance to respond, he had walked off to the counter to tend to a couple that was waiting by the cash register.
Draco felt the urge to throw a stinging hex after him but reminded himself that the boy was a Muggle and took a deep breath instead. He turned on his heel and reached for a serving tray with two cups of steaming hot coffee and his lunch, which he had left sitting on the counter when he’d gone to get Timothy.
Tray in hand, Draco made his way to the wooden staircase and headed for the second floor of the coffee shop.
This morning, when Potter had arrived, the coffee shop had been buzzing with customers and after handing him a cup of French Press made Brazilian Bourbon Santos, Draco had shooed him upstairs and out of his immediate sight because Potter wasn’t at all distracting, no he most definitely wasn’t.
Having made it to the second-floor landing, Draco looked around.
He spotted Potter at a table by the window, hunched over his notebook and a bunch of papers and parchments. Shaking his head, he walked over and cleared his throat.
Potter looked up from his writing and putting his Muggle pen down, he hastily cleared the table, making room for Draco to set the tray with their coffees down.
“This one is a real treat, so you better appreciate it, Potter,” Draco sat, as he gracefully folded himself into the wingback armchair across from him.
“A 100% Mavis Bank Estate Jamaica Blue Mountain Pour-Over, and yes, I know that tells you absolutely nothing. Trust me, it causes me more anguish than your grey cells working hard to process what I just said ever will.”
Potter tilted his head a little and threw him a lopsided grin. Draco tried not to notice the fact that the rays of the afternoon sun, streaming in through the window, made his unruly mop of black hair shimmer brightly.
“It’s all deliberate, Malfoy. It’s taken me years upon years to cultivate my lack of refined worldly knowledge and tastes. All with the sole purpose of making you feel superior, of course.”
“I see, someone owns a Thesaurus.”
“Believe it or not, but I also own several lexica and a 30-volume set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”
“It is 2019, ever heard of the Internet, Potter?” Draco smirked and when Potter started chuckling, he couldn’t help but join in.
“Touché, Malfoy, touché!”
Trying his best not to look smug, Draco handed Potter a coffee mug. He accepted it and Draco suppressed the urge to praise him when Potter inhaled deeply before sampling the coffee.
“Smells good, tastes divine too. What’s so special about this cup of coffee?” he asked after taking his first sip.
Draco took a sip of his own coffee and nodded approvingly.
“It’s one of the most expensive coffees in the world,” he answered. “Call it the champagne of coffee, except better, because really who wants that French sparkling rubbish when you can have good coffee.”
“Any reason it’s so expensive?”
“The Blue Mountain region in Jamaica is small but the high altitude and the mineral-rich volcanic soil combined with the sweet island sun and perfect cloud cover make for excellent coffee-growing conditions. Land is hard to come by and the demand for coffee made from Jablum cherries is high.”
“It really tastes absolutely fantastic. I don’t want to say it tastes better than anything I’ve sampled so far but I might have to,” Harry said with a blissed-out expression after slurping his coffee and letting the dark liquid assault the taste buds on his tongue.
“Mellow, rich and with delicate floral characteristics, it’s my favourite, or one of my favourites anyway,” Draco smiled.
“It’s a bit sweet. You didn’t add any sugar to it, did you?”
Draco shook his head and setting his coffee down, he reached for his lunch and taking the lid off the takeaway box, he ate a forkful of chicken lasagne.
“It’s naturally sweet.”
“I’ve not seen Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee on the menu,” Harry frowned and took another sip.
“That’s because it isn’t, Potter. This is my own personal stock. It’s far too expensive to import, I’d have to ask an exorbitant price for a single cup, it’s not at all feasible. I do accept orders from customers who wish to purchase the beans to grind and brew at home though. You get a certain discount when you place large orders with the coffee farmers directly.”
“Any special reason you deem me worthy of the honour to sample your own personal stock?”
“You stalk in style,” Draco said and unable to help himself he winked at Potter, who flushed a little.
Leaning back in his chair, Draco folded one leg over the other and continued eating his lunch.
“Tell me, Potter, is answering your fan mail merely a weird hobby of yours or have all those accolades and marriage proposals gone to your head and you left the Auror department to make a career out of devoting yourself fully to your faithful fans?”
“Made a career out of devoting myself fully to the task when my youngest fan Lily was born.
“Smooth, Potter, smooth, you’ve learnt a thing or two since Hogwarts.”
“As have you, Malfoy. But listen, it’s been over twenty years, would it be absolutely impossible to call me Harry?”
“It would be nice, Draco.”
Draco tried his best not to shudder. This wasn’t the first time Potter had used his given name, but it still felt strange to hear him say it. They’d always been Malfoy and Potter to each other, that had always been their thing, and Draco couldn’t see how twenty years could change anything about that.
“Tell you what, Potter, I’ll call you Harry if you tell me what you’re writing inside that notebook of yours.”
“I’m answering fan mail; didn’t we already establish that?”
“You weren’t this sassy at Hogwarts.”
“I was, Draco, you were just too busy with finding new ways to infuriate me to see it.”
Draco rolled his eyes but instead of making a brash remark, he continued eating is lunch, then suddenly set the takeaway box down half away through. He placed his fork on top of a napkin on the tray and holding Potter’s gaze, he sat forward and purposefully smiled in an irritatingly smug way. Not having entirely forgotten his Seeker skills, he lunged forward and snatched one of the parchments from Potter before he had a chance to stop him.
“Malfoy, don’t be a prat now.”
“You won’t tell, so I’m going to do what I do best.”
“Infuriate you,” Draco chuckled and held the parchment out of Potter’s reach when he tried to grab it back.
“Come on, Malfoy, Draco, we’ve been doing so well, don’t ruin in.”
Draco, who had yet to look at the parchment he had taken from Potter, held his gaze for at least a minute.
“Tell me?” he prompted, having the sense to respect Potter’s privacy, though his curiosity was trying its hardest to make him cross that boundary. The paper was practically burning a hole into his hand and it took him every ounce of self-restraint to stop himself from turning his head.
Potter sighed and drank his coffee instead of continuing to fight over the parchment.
“Probably. Tell me anyway.”
The hesitation was evident in Potter’s eyes and Draco found it endearing. He also immediately mentally slapped himself because there had never and would never be anything endearing about Potter. Or would there?
“It’s a rough draft of a chapter for my next book.”
Potter volunteered a surprising piece of information and Draco once again felt tempted to glance at the parchment but continued to refrain from doing so. Instead, he folded the paper in half and handed it back to Potter without ever having looked at it. As he did, he couldn’t help but frown and wonder whether Potter was taking him for a ride. He didn’t look it but there was something so odd about that statement that Draco was having a hard time making a connection between the Potter he knew and the Potter who had just told him that he was writing his next book. Draco racked his brain. He’d never seen any books with Potter’s name on the cover in Flourish and Blotts or any Muggle bookstore he’d ever visited.
“You write?” he asked dumbly, unable to come up with a more intelligent way of phrasing the question.
Potter nodded then shrugged.
“Not under my own name, but you probably already worked that out. I use a pseudonym.”
“Which is?” Draco prodded for details, curiosity thoroughly sparked.
Potter remained silent for several minutes and while Draco wanted to push him, he had enough sense to give the man time to work up the courage to tell him who he had become since he had left the Auror Department.
Upon hearing the name, Draco scowled and fixed Potter with a dark glower.
“As in K. Evans, the famous children’s book author?” he asked somewhat incredulously.
Potter had the decency to flush a little.
“The very one. I’m surprised you heard of me.”
“Blame Claire,” Draco muttered under his breath. “He— I mean you, were at the shop a while back. I remember Claire gushing about him— you when he— you left. This is a mindfuck.”
This time Potter flushed properly and Draco tried not to stare at his pink cheeks and ignored the urge to wet his lips. He firmly reprimanded himself. There was nothing exciting about a blushing Harry Potter.
“Al sent a letter the first week of school and mentioned that Scorpius wouldn’t talk about anything else but coffee beans after having spent most of the summer with you here, which I guess he usually does. I got curious but was too much of a wimp to show up as myself. I thought I’d just use my disguise, check out your new life and be done with it.”
“I must say, that worked out extremely well.”
Draco couldn’t quite stop the chuckle that escaped his throat and was pleased to note that Potter responded to it with a rather hesitant smile. He appeared to be somewhat uncomfortable though not uncomfortable enough to bolt. At least Draco hoped he wouldn’t. This conversation was rapidly becoming very interesting. So, Potter was a writer. He wrote children’s books. Draco felt mildly vexed over the fact that Potter had shown up at the coffee shop in his disguise but his own curiosity won out and he pushed his irritation aside in favour of learning more about who Harry Potter was now.
“I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. You were so nice and it didn’t fit the memory I had of you. I just had to see how you would react to meeting me without my disguise.”
“Which let you to stalking me.”
“Oi, Malfoy, that’s on you. I tried to stay away, you sent that owl goading me into coming back.”
“You could have ignored it,” Draco grinned.
“Yes, with our history, I’m sure that’s exactly what you thought I’d do after reading your note.”
Draco winked, and mockingly pressed his hand to his heart.
“I am honoured you find me irresistible, Potter.”
Potter — Harry rolled his eyes and reaching for his unfinished lunch, Draco subtly cast a warming charm over the dish and resumed eating. They sat in silence for a few moments, with Potter staring out of the window. He appeared to be a mile away and Draco was happy enough to leave him to his own thoughts. At least until after he had finished his lunch which he did several minutes later.
He set the empty takeaway box down while Potter turned away from the window to pick up his coffee. They looked at each other and smiled.
“I have to know. Did you leave the Aurors because you wanted to write or did you leave to save your marriage?”
“Neither,” Potter said. “I left to take care of the children.”
“Did the Weaselette not want to give up her career to become a stay-at-home mum to take care of Potter 1, 2, and 3?” Draco asked with a smirk and Potter glared at him but softened his gaze after a few seconds.
“We tried and failed to juggle fame, careers, and parenthood. Somehow, we forgot putting any effort into keeping the romance alive, or maybe we just stopped caring about the romance. What about you?”
“Marriage of convenience,” Draco shrugged. “Mainly did it to get my parents off my back. After the war I had enough of the whole you-do-as-we-say-nonsense. By the time Scorpius was born our fights had reached epic proportions, I think she even drew her wand on me a couple of times, so I told her I wanted out. She demanded a hefty chunk of gallons and left for America. Astoria hasn’t seen Scorpius in five years. He hardly ever talks about her now. Mind you, she sends Christmas and birthday presents but Claire is more of a mother to him than his biological mother ever was.”
“That’s tough. Gin sees the children as much as she can, granted, she has a crazy schedule but she does make time for them. She also makes a point to make it to all of James’ Quidditch games and she’s taught Al way too many hexes and jinxes. I tried to discourage him from using them but the boy is a Slytherin through and through and there’s absolutely nothing my Gryffindor influence can and will do to ever influence him. Lily never took to her mother, she’s my little princess.”
Harry’s wistful smile tugged at Draco’s heartstrings and he suddenly found himself missing Scorpius so intensely that his chest tightened painfully and he had to take a moment to compose himself. His son was his everything. While his marriage had been a sham and the divorce a nightmare, Scorpius, despite occasionally driving him up the wall, was his everything, his purpose in life. He had chosen happiness over bitterness over him. He had cast aside his parents’ stupid Pureblood traditions and beliefs to teach Scorpius that all people, magical or non-magical, were alike, and that believing wizards and witches were the superior race couldn’t lead to anything good ever.
“They change you,” he said, “children, I mean.”
“They absolutely do. My three rascals drive me mental but I wouldn’t change a single thing about them. Couldn’t imagine my life without them.”
“I hear you, Potter,” Draco smiled. “Why writing, though? I would have thought you stick with the Aurors, take over running the DMLE eventually.”
“That was the plan but Lily had other ideas. She was the definition of a fussy baby, she wouldn’t sleep in her cot and wail if I left her alone for more than an hour. Like I said, daddy’s girl. I started making up stories for her. Hermione pushed me to get them published and now here I am, writing under a pseudonym and using Auror-grade Polyjuice for public appearances.”
“I haven’t read any of your work. Claire told me I should, says you’re fabulous and that her girls love your work. She was hoping K. Evans might come back so she could ask him for autographs for them.”
“Are you asking on her behalf?”
Potter Harry laughed and Draco decided that he liked he sound of his carefree amusement. It suited him. Not having the fate of the Wizarding World resting on his shoulders also suited him. Not having to chase and capture dark wizards also suited him. Being a father suited Potter Harry. Being a writer suited him.
Draco wasn’t even aware that he had zoned out on Potter but snapped out of his musings when Harry snapped his fingers in front of his face.
“I asked you for Claire’s girls’ names,” Potter grinned.
Draco frowned and momentarily had to rack his brain.
“The youngest is called April, I think, she’s seven. Then there’s Edith and Rosalie. Why?”
Harry didn’t answer but merely ripped three empty pages out of his notebook and Draco watched intently as he reached for his Muggle pen and signed all three pages with a flourishing. He added a personal dedication for each of the girls, folded the pages in half and pushed them across the table.
“Tell Claire you bumped into K. Evans while she was off duty,” he said with a smile.
“If she brings all her girls’ books in just in case I bump into you again, that’s on you,” Draco chuckled.
“If she does, I’ll sign them, no matter.”
“You are an odd one, Harry Potter.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, but listen, if we’re going to keep talking about failed marriages and raising children, I’m going to need more coffee. Any chance I could persuade you brew more of those Jamaican Blue Mountain beans?”
“If you let me read a chapter of your unpublished work…”
“You drive a hard bargain, Malfoy.”
“Slytherin at heart.”
“Go make us some more coffee and I’ll show you the final draft of the first five chapters. It’s a children’s book, so you should fly through them.”
“You got yourself a deal, Po— Harry,” Draco smiled and slowly rising to his feet, he stretched a little, placed the two coffee mugs back on the tray and made his way downstairs to supply them with more coffee. That and to tell Timothy that he was on his own for the afternoon. He was quite aware that ducking out of the rest of his shift would result in Timothy mercilessly teasing him about the nature of his relationship of
Potter Harry but right this moment he couldn’t care less.
Chapter 13: 2019, Saturday, 5th of October
I do apologise for the delay in updating. I've not been feeling well and writing has been a bit of a chore rather than the pleasure it usually is. Regardless, I hope you enjoy this chapter. Just what is happening with those two?
Harry woke up to the sound of the persistent buzzing of his mobile phone on his nightstand. Bleary-eyed and uncoordinated, he rolled onto his side and reached for the vibrating device. He glared at it and was just about ready to throw it across the room or hit it with a silencing charm when he properly registered the name on the display.
Draco Malfoy Calling
Tapping the green button on the display, Harry lifted the phone to his ear.
“Malfoy, why in Godric’s name are you calling me at this ungodly hour?” he grumbled.
“Because you’re not answering your text messages, Potter.”
“I was asleep. It’s what? Five in the morning.”
“Like that’s any better,” Harry sighed and stretched. “What is so important that you needed an immediate response?”
“What about breakfast?”
Harry reached for his glasses and shoving them onto his face, he stretched again and switching to loudspeaker, he tapped onto a green icon with a speech bubble and found four unread messages from Draco. He opened them and his mouth began to water at the sight of a photograph of a cup of steaming hot black coffee and a toasted sandwich.
Draco Malfoy, 06:03 am: Potter.
Draco Malfoy, 06:05 am: Breakfast?
Draco Malfoy, 06:15 am: You know, it is polite to at least answer.
“Malfoy, why in Merlin’s name are you up at this unholy hour and why are you eating breakfast this early?”
“Because the coffee shop opens at seven-thirty. Now, are you coming over for breakfast or not? The coffee is still hot and fresh and what with being a wizard I can keep it that way a little while longer.”
“Malfoy, I swear, I’m absolutely going to kill you.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Why are you so sure of that?”
“I have coffee.”
“How is that an acceptable excuse for harassing me at six thirty in the morning?”
“I didn’t harass you. You could have ignored my call.”
“You would have kept calling.”
Taking Draco off loudspeaker, Harry stretched one last time and kicking his duvet back, he swung his legs out of bed and slipped them into his favourite kneazle slippers which Lily had forced him to buy a couple of years ago. He still hated them with a passion but seeing him wear those slippers made her happy and that was really all that mattered.
“I absolutely would have. So, are you coming for breakfast?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No, Potter, you do not. Get your arse out of bed and get over here already before I use modern Muggle inventions to hex you.”
“You’re so bossy, Draco.”
“You love it, Harry.”
Harry rolled his eyes, yawned, and got to his feet.
“For the record, Malfoy, I don’t love it, but give me half an hour and I’ll be there.”
“OK. The shop’s open. I’m in the back. Well, I’m upstairs in my flat now but I’ll be downstairs and in the back when you get here.”
“Alright, see you,” Harry nodded, pretending to have understood any of that. He ended the phone call, dropped his mobile onto his vacated bed, cursed the ridiculously early time Draco had kicked him out of the warm cocoon, he'd made for himself, and shuffled into the bathroom to relieve himself, wash his hands, and brush his teeth.
He jumped into the shower, washed his hair, hit it with a strong drying charm and not bothering to attempt to style it, he grabbed a pair of fresh boxer briefs from the top drawer of his dresser, then slipped into a pair of dark blue jeans and a long-sleeved Gryffindor-red shirt.
Just to piss you off, Malfoy, he gleefully thought to himself, summoned a pair of black socks and slipped them on before locating his wand and wand holster, which he had, strangely enough, left in his study. He put on a pair of black Oxfords and slipping a light grey jacket on, he holstered his wand, opened the front door, and stepped outside. Despite it only being early October, it was chilly and the sun was barely up. Harry shivered, zipped his jacket up, and concentrating on the dark alley near The Fresh Bean, he Disapparated on the spot. Upon his arrival, he took a moment to calm his churning stomach. He hated Apparition on an empty stomach. It always left him feeling queasy.
A few minutes later, he pushed the door to the coffee shop open. It was empty and the lights were still off but the bell above the door had announced him and as if on cue the staffroom door opened and Draco appeared.
“Took you long enough, Potter,” he said and drawing his wand, he locked the shop’s front door.
“Malfoy, you better hand over that coffee right now or I swear I will draw my wand on you and turn you into a ferret just like Auror Moody did in fourth year. But this time McGonagall won’t save you. Instead, I’ll lock you into a cage and keep you as my pet for when the children come home for Christmas.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Draco grinned and Harry glowered at him. He usually wasn’t this much of a grump in the mornings, fifteen years of parenthood had taught him how to pretend to be cheery in the morning, but somehow Draco managed to bring out the worst in him and he didn’t feel inclined to dial his temper back. Draco could take it, he was quite sure of that.
“Don’t tempt me,” he muttered under his breath and made his way over to where Draco was holding the door to the staffroom open for him.
“I’ve got a pot of freshly brewed Colombian Supremo Peaberry Coffee for you.”
“I don’t see how that warrants a six thirty wake-up call,” Harry grumbled. “I was up half the night writing, no thanks to you.”
“How is that my fault?” Draco chuckled. He let the door fall closed behind him and Harry watched him head over to the table in the centre of the room and pick up a large mug of coffee.
“I didn’t get any writing done yesterday afternoon, thanks to you. I do have a deadline to meet, you know? There are fines to pay if fail to submit my work on time.”
“I apologise. Have some coffee. It’ll turn you back into a decent human being, you unpleasant person.”
Harry scowled but he accepted the coffee gratefully. He wrapped both his hands around it, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
“I am a decent human being. After nine in the morning.”
“Sure, you are,” Draco smiled and his answer sounded so mocking that Harry felt the desire to punch him. However, his desire to drink his coffee was stronger and so he gave into that rather than the urge to physically maim Draco. He’d tried that once and it hadn’t ended well for them both. The memory made Harry nauseous and pushing it away, he resolutely ignored it. Sometimes leaving the past buried and forgotten was much more effective than dredging it up for the sake of making an atonement for something that should have never happened in the first place.
“Cherry-chocolate, malt and walnut flavours, the coffee trees from this region of Colombia are grown in volcanic ash,” Draco offered a few details about the coffee, just like he always did, but for a change Harry ignored him completely, or rather he allowed the words to wash over him while he took several small sips followed by a few larger ones and moved to sit on one of the chairs by the staff table.
His brain couldn’t process any of that information this early in the morning and not even the fact that he had spent nearly every day in the last two weeks at the coffee shop could change anything about that. He appreciated the exquisite coffee Draco plied him with but all the different flavours, origins, and other finer details of each brew still confused the hell out of him. He was rather surprised that Draco was yet to declare him a lost cause but he was sure that it would happen sooner rather than later.
“Still tells you nothing, does it, Potter?”
“If it pleases you, I think I can taste the walnuts.”
“Well, I am amazed, someone has been listening.”
Draco sat down across from him and offered him a toasted Ciabatta sandwich.
Harry took another few sips of his coffee, then put the mug down on the table and reached for one half of the sandwich. The grilled chicken, zucchini, and yellow bell pepper tasted amazing and Harry wasn’t even the least bit ashamed about the low moan that escaped from the depths of his throat as he looked at Draco and licked his lips.
“This is good. Did you make this?”
“Yes, found the recipe online, the internet is a strangely addictive thing, did you know that Potter? I’m thinking about adding it to the menu for the lunch rush. What do you think? It seems to compliment those Colombian coffee beans, I thought of adding it as a combo.”
Harry took another bite and fixed Draco with a hard glare.
“Did you kick me out of bed to use me as your personal guinea pig?”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Of course not, Potter. I merely took pity on a single parent, whose children are away at Hogwarts, and who happens to be a scatter-brained writer with an empty fridge.”
“My fridge isn’t empty, Malfoy. Never has been and never will be.”
Harry ignored the brief flashback at his life with the Dursleys, pushed it back into the depths of the darkest corner of his mind and gave up glowering at Draco. It was too much of an effort. Instead, he took another bite of his warm Ciabatta sandwich, chewed, and took a large sip of his coffee.
“Cooking is such a chore. Don’t you like being able to sit down at the table, enjoy your coffee, and eat your breakfast in peace?”
“If you stopped making up pathetic excuses for your underhanded Slytherin tactics I would be able to do just that.”
Draco chuckled and reaching for a large pot of coffee, he refilled Harry’s mug.
“Have more coffee, Harry.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes and while Harry slowly finished his breakfast, Draco sipped on a freshly pressed orange juice.
Once done, Harry picked up his coffee mug again and taking a few small sips, he stared at Draco, who was using his fingers to draw strange and intricate patterns onto the table top.
Nearly a month had passed since his first visit to the coffee shop to satisfy his curiosity an instead of doing that and then getting on with his life, Harry found it increasingly difficult to stay away from Draco, his superb coffee, and their stimulating conversations. Without Lily, the cottage felt too big and too quiet and while the silence meant that he could get more writing done, it also felt a bit suffocating.
Somehow, Draco and the coffee shop filled the void, Lily had left behind, perfectly.
Harry pulled himself out of his thoughts before he lost himself in them completely and broke the comfortable silence that that settled over them.
“You and I, it’s all a bit surreal, isn’t it?”
Draco quirked a questioning eyebrow at him.
“Is it? Despite your appalling lack of knowledge when it comes to coffee, you’re quite the conversationalist. I must admit, I enjoy our daily tête-à-têtes.”
“Why Malfoy, two compliments in one sentence, you’re going to make me blush if you keep this up,” Harry grinned.
Draco mumbled something that he didn’t quite catch but when Harry asked for clarification, he abruptly changed the topic.
“Am I forgiven for forcing you out of bed at this unholy hour or do I need to ply you with more coffee and food?”
“I’d say you should at the very least buy me lunch, then I might consider forgiving you.”
“If you stick around for the day, that can be arranged. There’s a lovely little Italian restaurant not far from here. They have the best pasta.”
“And pray tell, what should I do all morning while you’re busy making coffee?”
“Write? Didn’t you complain that I didn’t let you do any of that yesterday? You can catch up this morning if you like.”
“How very gracious of you, Malfoy, but I brought neither my laptop nor my notebook.”
“I’m sure I have an empty notebook or a couple of new parchments flying around in my study upstairs.”
Harry frowned. This was the second time that Draco had mentioned living above the coffee shop.
“What happened to Malfoy Manor?” he asked curiously.
This time it was Draco’s turn to frown.
“Nothing happened to it, well I redecorated and renovated a couple of times since the war but that’s about it.”
“Do you still live there?”
“Over the summer or whenever Scorpius is at home. Why the sudden interest?”
“Because you mentioned a flat above the coffee shop earlier and just brought it up again. I got curious.”
“You do know that curiosity killed the cat, didn’t you?” Draco smiled.
“I’ll take that risk. Tell me?”
“It’s an old Victorian house. As you know the first and second floor are part of the coffee shop. The previous owner turned the third and forth into a lovely penthouse. There’s even a rooftop garden. I prefer to stay here when Scorpius is at Hogwarts or I’m opening the shop in the morning. It’s a lot more convenient.”
Harry nodded. Convenience had been the main reason why he and Ginny had made Grimmauld Place their base but after he’d left the Aurors and Ginny had spent less and less time at home with him and the children, renovating his parents’ cottage in Godric’s Hollow had become somewhat of an outlet for his frustrations over the fact that his marriage was in the midst of breaking down and that neither he nor Ginny cared enough to do anything about it. The day they’d signed the divorce papers, he’d taken the children and relocated to his ancestral home for good. The cottage appeared small from the outside but it was heavily infused with magic and therefore much larger on the inside. Surprisingly the children had loved it and moaned about having to stay at Grimmauld Place with their mother, not because they didn’t enjoy spending time with Ginny but because they didn’t like the house.
“Do I get a tour while you fetch me that notebook or is that too much of an invasion of privacy?”
Draco laughed and the sound sent a pleasant tingle of something strange surging down Harry’s spine. He sat up a little straighter and hastily finished his coffee.
“I’ve got to open up the shop but I promise I’ll give you the grand tour after lunch,” he said and getting to his feet, he rounded the table and briefly squeezed Harry’s shoulder as he passed.
“Wait here, I’ll be back in a minute.”
With that he Disapparated and Harry stared at the empty spot beside him. He sat his coffee mug down and touched his hand to his shoulder, touching the same place, Draco had just squeezed and shook his head. Their encounters were getting weirder by the day. Now they didn’t only bicker and sass back and forth but also laughed together, discussed current events, Wizarding and Muggle, and talked about their children, Hogwarts and life in general.
What’s next? Harry mused.
Apparently, lunch for two at a nearby Italian restaurant followed by a tour of Draco’s Muggle flat above his Muggle coffee shop.
Harry shook his head.
Draco Malfoy had turned out to be even more of a conundrum than he had initially anticipated and his curiosity wasn’t in the least bit satisfied. He was well and truly hooked and wanted to know everything there was to know about Draco. Most pressingly, why he owned and worked at a coffee shop. Over the last two weeks, he’d asked the question a few times but so far Draco had always either successfully dodged it with a sly comeback or changed the topic altogether.
Chapter 14: 2019, Sunday, 13th of October
Well, on top of everything that's been going on, I've got a head cold but I actually dreamt about this particular chapter last night. The scene was just begging me to write it and I couldn't resist.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“All right, Potter, put that on,” Draco said, trying to sound business-like as he all but thrust a black apron at Harry.
He received a glower in return, which he resolutely ignored. Like Potter could ever manage to scare him.
“Do I have to? I don’t work here.”
“You do right now. You said you wanted to make your own filter coffee and that requires an apron.”
“I thought it required coffee beans.”
“Sassy,” Draco grinned. “I’m not above using a wandless stinging hex on you, Potter, so dial it back.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know how.”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Just put the apron on.”
Draco refrained from saying anything else and perusing the shelf of opaque air-tight coffee containers, he hesitated for a few moments but eventually chose Single Origin beans from Panama. Despite being regularly underappreciated, one could never go wrong with an exquisite blend from Central America.
Coffee bean container in hand, he walked over to the counter were Potter was idly waiting by the Syphon coffee maker. He’d taken quite a liking to watching it produce a fine cup of dark goodness but when Draco had, on more than one occasion, offered to teach him how to use it, he had baulked.
Too much glass, he’d reasoned, I don’t want to risk breaking it with my clumsiness.
Draco had assured him that he could afford to replace it, but Potter had vehemently refused, citing his lack of desire to find himself on the receiving end of the wrath of a Malfoy. That reason had made Draco laugh but he’d also given it a rest and after a bit of back and forth, as it was common between them, they’d finally compromised. Potter had given into his curiosity and agreed to learn how to, hopefully, produce a drinkable cup of Chemex Pour-Over filter coffee.
“Right, Potter, listen up. This is one hundred per cent pure Panama coffee from the Boquete Estate, the oldest coffee manufacturer in that region. Grown in the highlands, these beans have a medium body, great aroma and high acidity.”
The frown on Potter’s face told Draco that he had understood less than half of what he had just said and with a mild sigh, he handed the coffee bean container over to Harry.
“Open it up, breathe in the fragrance. It’s a medium roast, full of aroma and the flavour is going to come out beautifully with the Chemex, if you follow my instructions that is.”
Potter took the container from him and as usual, their fingers briefly brushed against each other during the exchange. Draco kept a straight face but couldn’t quite deny the tingling the sensation that travelled up his arm.
Over the course of the last week, they’d been casually brushing against each other a lot more than before and their touches had become more frequent. It wasn’t anything Draco had consciously started to do but rather a natural result of the amount of time they’d been spending together recently. It had been well over a month since Potter had waltzed right back into his life and while their blossoming friendship still gave Draco the shivers, he couldn’t deny how good it felt to have someone, besides Pansy, in his life to talk to. With Potter he didn’t need to hold back, he could be himself, in every sense of the word and it felt good. Somehow, without really talking about it, they’d drawn a line on their less than amicable history and decided to start anew and the thrill of being able to finally call Potter his friend excited Draco more than he was willing to admit to himself or anyone else for that matter.
“Oi, Malfoy, snap out of it.”
Draco blinked and looked a bit confused.
“I asked you what medium roast means, three times. Where on earth did you go?” Potter grumbled and Draco watched him stick his nose back into the coffee bean container.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve told you that already,” he sighed.
“You throw all sorts of coffee knowledge at my head all day long, Malfoy,” Potter rolled his eyes, “if you want me to remember it, write a book.”
For a second, Draco felt the irresistible desire to cast that wandless stinging hex but he pushed the urge aside in favour keeping the peace between them. That and the fact that they weren’t alone in the coffee shop and Claire and Timothy were watching them like hawks. Draco was sure that the two of them half-expected him to start making out with Potter or something equally as shockingly revealing.
“You’re the writer, Potter, you do it,” he grinned and resigned himself to his fate of having to, yet again, explain to Potter, in plain terms, what a medium roast was.
“Medium roast beans are brown in colour, Harry, if you pour some into the palm of your hand, you’ll see that quite clearly,” he paused and patiently waited for Potter to pour a couple of beans out of the container and onto his hand and then continued with his explanation. “As you can see those beans have no oil on the surface. They lack the grainy taste of a light roast but exhibit more balanced flavour, there’s also more caffeine in them compared to a dark roast.”
“I always thought, the darker the roast, the higher the amount of caffeine,” Harry said with a surprised look on his face that made Draco smile and shake his head.
“Nope, they don’t. Dark roasts are excellent for making espresso and there’s not much caffeine in a tiny shot, however, it does give you a boost, especially after lunch or dinner. If you really want something with plenty of caffeine to kickstart your day, you want to look for beans that are a light roast or medium.”
“I think I can remember that.”
“We’ll make a coffee connoisseur out of you one day.”
“You sure? I sucked at Potions, don’t you think you’re putting just a little bit too much faith in me?”
Draco gave Potter a pointed look.
“This is coffee, not Potions, Harry. If you listen and follow instructions, which I do realise you have a major problem with, you’ll do a half-decent job.”
“What if I want to do more than a decent job?”
Draco remained silent for a while, then chuckled when a wicked thought hit him.
“That would require the use of the Imperius Curse,” he said.
Much to his surprise, Potter nearly doubled over laughing.
“Good luck with that, never mind that the DMLE has traces on all three Unforgivables, but I can throw off the Imperius Curse faster than you can finish the incantation and I don’t even need a wand for it.”
“I’m intrigued. I’m almost tempted to try just to find out if you’re telling the truth.”
“Tempted enough to risk immediate deportation to Azkaban?”
“I did say almost.”
“You can use my wand, they never put a trace on that one after the war. Ex-Auror privilege and all.”
“Still the Golden Boy who can do no wrong. Aren’t they just the tiniest bit afraid that you’ll lose your mind and go nuts just like Voldemort did?”
“Apparently not. Shall we get back to making that coffee?”
“Absolutely,” Draco nodded and grateful for Potter’s change of topic, he reached for a beautiful piece of equipment with a glass filter cone and decanter. “Right, so like I said, we’ll use the Chemex to do this.”
“Why does it all have to be made of glass?”
Harry let out a little exasperated sigh and Draco smiled.
“Would you like me to hit it with a sticking charm?” he offered and Potter’s hesitation let him believe that he was considering the offer. Eventually, though, he shook his head.
“No. I’ll be careful.”
“Good, let’s get started. As you have already witnessed plenty of times, the basic process for a good Pour-Over is the same, we are going to pour hot water over ground coffee beans to make coffee. Regardless of the skill and effort used, this basic process will always result in a cup of coffee but we want to use a little bit more finesse than that.”
“Right, to bring out the flavours and all.”
“Bravo, someone’s been listening.”
“I always listen to everything you say, Draco. Contrary to what you may think of me, I consider you to be a most intriguing person.”
“My, Potter, was that a compliment?” Draco mockingly pressed the flat of his free hand to his chest and Harry rolled his eyes at him.
“Well, it wasn’t an insult.”
“I learnt from the best, James has got a shockingly potty mouth, he’s full of sass too.”
“Don’t blame it on your child, you were a lost cause long because that innocent boy came along,” Draco laughed.
Potter’s eyes sparkled with mirth and his lips twitched as though he was trying to suppress a smirk. Along with his stylish new glasses, which were quite different from the horrid frames he’d worn back at Hogwarts, he looked quite youthful and handsome enough for Draco to find staring at him mildly distracting. He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to the Chemex Pour-Over in his hand, setting it down on the wooden counter next to him.
“Back to the coffee,” he said, unsure whether he was reminding them both or just himself that they should be making coffee instead of flirting with each other.
The thought stopped Draco in his tracks and he barely managed to keep the frown off his face. Flirting. Was that what they’d been doing ever since their lunch date a week ago? They’d certainly exchanged a lot of random compliments and had spent half of last Sunday night up on the rooftop garden, sharing stories about their lives until well after midnight.
“We need hot water, don’t we?” Harry asked and Draco was grateful for the obtuse question.
You’re losing your touch, Malfoy, he reprimanded himself.
“We do, if you do this at home, you’d use a plain kettle and thermometer to get the right temperature water, but since we’re in a coffee shop we have a hot water heater with three different pre-set temperature settings. We’ve got ninety degrees Celsius, ninety-five and ninety-eight which, if needed, I can bring to a full boil in a matter of seconds.”
“Which temperature is best for these beans?”
“Anything between ninety and ninety-six degrees, that’s our sweet spot.”
“OK, so I’ll just fill up one of these strange watering pots?”
“In a second, place your filter first,” Draco said and reaching for a single-use light-brown paper coffee filter, he handed it to Potter. “Just place it inside the cone, then get the water.”
Potter nodded, did as told, then grabbed a watering pot, as he’d called it, and while it wasn’t strictly the term Draco would have used, he didn’t care to correct Harry and tell him that the thing was, in fact, a stainless-steel drip kettle. Instead, he waited for Potter to return with the hot water and then instructed him to rinse the filter.
“Why?” Potter asked as he followed the instructions.
“If you don’t, you’ll end up with a cup of coffee that tastes like paper which is just disgusting. You also want to pre-heat the carafe to make sure you serve a hot cup of coffee instead of some lukewarm undrinkable concoction even a coffee-loving dog would turn down.”
“Are dogs even allowed to drink coffee?” Harry frowned.
“Right, now that I’ve rinsed the filter and pre-heated the carafe, what’s next?”
“Pour the water out and place the filter back inside the cone and the cone on top of the carafe.”
Draco patiently waited for Potter to comply with his order, then reached for the opaque coffee container, a stainless-steel cup, and a kitchen scale.
“We’re going to make about a litre of coffee so you’ll need roughly sixty grams of beans.”
Taking a step back, Draco watched as Potter expertly measured out exactly sixty grams of coffee beans, before closing the air-tight coffee bean container and putting it aside.
“I need to grind these, right?”
“I do have a hand grinder, but that little electric Muggle coffee bean grinder over there does such a good job I’ll spare you the slavery.”
“How very kind of you,” Potter smiled.
They both walked over to the coffee bean grinder and Draco explained where to pour the beans in, where to place the stainless-steel cup and how to choose the type of grind they needed for their Pour-Over.
“We’ll go for a medium to medium-coarse grind, it looks a bit like sea salt and will give us maximum flavour.”
Potter remained silent and merely nodded in acknowledgement. They waited for the electric grinder to finish, then Draco instructed Harry to gently pour the freshly ground coffee beans, which smelled heavenly, into the wet filter inside the Chemex Cone.
“Be sure to get a nice, even bed. We don’t want to compress the grounds, that’ll stop the flavour from getting out and will produce coloured water that looks like coffee but doesn’t taste like it.”
Draco rather appreciated the concentrated look on Potter’s face and his lack of sass. He liked the fact that Potter was taking this seriously and was trying to produce an excellent cup of coffee. He felt tempted to tell him so but suppressed the desire to compliment for now. There would be time for that sort of praise later. Or mockery, depending on the quality of the brew Potter was about to make.
“We’re going to bloom the grounds.”
Potter frowned to express his lack of understanding and Draco smiled.
“If you pour the hot water over the grind all at once, you’ll get a giant mess. You want flavour, aroma, and high quality, so take your time. First, you’ll need another drip kettle full of hot water.”
“That I can do,” Harry nodded, grabbed the stainless-steel kettle, and headed off into the direction of the water heater. He measured about 1200ml of hot water and returned. Draco shuffled aside, making a little more room for him, and advised to start pouring.
“Right, start from the centre of the coffee bed and pour in a circular motion, spiralling your way out to the edge of the filter,” he said and Harry began to pour.
Draco immediately reached out and placed his hand on top of Potter’s.
“Slow down, we just want the grind to bloom. We’re just going to saturate the grounds and we don’t want anything to flow out of the filter just yet.”
“Ah,” Potter nodded and turned his head slightly to meet his gaze.
Draco’s breath caught in his throat, those intense emerald green eyes were thoroughly distracting him from the task at hand, but somehow, he managed to guide Potter’s hand in a circular motion as they slowly poured the hot water over the ground coffee beans together.
A few seconds later, Draco gently levelled the kettle in Potter’s hand and guided him to set it down on the counter.
Potter coughed lightly and instead of pulling his hand away, as Draco had half-expected he would, he kept it resting on the handle. Draco, somewhat conscious of the fact that he had no reason to keep his hand on top of Potter’s, was vaguely aware that he should probably withdraw but could not bring himself to do so, not even when Potter cleared his throat again.
“Now what?” he mumbled hoarsely and his low husky voice sent an unexpected shiver down Draco’s spine.
“We wait,” he whispered.
“About thirty to forty-five seconds.”
“When do we know when these are up?” Potter asked, staring at him with an unblinking gaze.
“We— You—” Draco felt his voice break and silently cursing himself, he cleared his throat and started again. “You get a feel for it if you do it long enough.”
He coughed again and very grudgingly broke their eye contact.
“This step ensures that the coffee has time to de-gas. We don’t want any carbon dioxide in our coffee, doesn’t taste good—”
“No, it wouldn’t—” Potter mumbled beside him and Draco felt his ear tingle as he ignored the fact that Harry couldn’t possibly know whether carbon dioxide negatively affected the taste of coffee or not.
“Look,” Draco whispered. “When the grounds expand from the release of gas, it happens to resemble a blossoming flower, that’s where the term bloom comes from.”
“Beautiful,” Potter breathed and Draco shivered.
Salazar, get a handle on yourself, you’re just making coffee together not snogging his face off, Draco thought and forced himself to inhale deeply in a useless attempt to calm his frayed nerves.
He had no idea why he was suddenly thinking about snogging Potter; the thought hadn’t occurred to him before. He quickly pushing that idea to the back of his mind and reminding himself of the task at hand, he squeezed Harry’s hand. His mind was going crazy with his inability to decide which name to call Potter. Half of him wanted to stick with Potter, like he’d always done, and the other half wanted to exclusively start referring to Potter as Harry. Neither half agreed to let other half have an inch and his brain was a confused mess.
“You can start pouring the water again,” Draco mumbled and grudgingly withdrawing his hand, he watched as Potter slowly, and in a circular motion began to pour the coffee.
Every so often, Draco had to remind him to stop to allow the water to flow through the coffee to extract all the flavour and after four agonisingly slow minutes, during which Draco couldn’t help but notice that he had no reason to stand this close to Potter, their upper arms were touching for Salazar’s sake, the Pour-Over was finally done and Potter set the drip kettle down.
“Now what?” Potter repeated the question he’d already asked several times during this process and Draco tore himself away from the fact that he had paid such close attention to Harry that he’d noticed the slight tremble in his hand.
“Swirl, pour, enjoy,” he smiled and grudgingly moved away to procure four pre-heated mugs from the steriliser. “You can offer those two gossips over there a cup too if you like,” he said, absent-mindedly waving into the general direction of Claire and Timothy. He purposefully avoided looking at them because after how close he and Potter had been standing for the last while, he had no doubt what these two tittle-tattlers were whispering about. Instead, he busied himself with removing the used coffee filter and cone from the glass carafe and watched as Potter carefully swirled the contents of the hot glass container and then filled the four mugs of coffee.
He grabbed two and carried them over to Timothy and Claire. Both accepted his coffee without any hesitation and when he returned, Draco handed him his own coffee. He watched as Potter wrapped both his hands around the mug but refrained from drinking. It was obvious that he was eagerly waiting for Draco’s expert opinion and picking up his own mug, Draco inhaled deeply, closed his eyes, then sampled the fresh brew.
“Perfect,” he mumbled and when he opened his eyes, he found Potter staring at him with a frown and a rather strange expression on his face. Draco couldn’t quite work out what was going on in Potter’s mind and offered a smile in the hope that it would ease Potter’s frown. It didn’t.
“I am. It’s a good cup of coffee, you did well, Harry.”
“If you’re lying—”
“Try it yourself. I, for one, like it and I never have nor will I ever lie about good coffee.”
Potter did and he was about to open his mouth when Claire approached them. She was grinning madly and Draco only barely suppressed the urge to sigh.
“Excellent coffee, Harry,” she praised, then turned towards him. “Draco, you should hire him, he’s got potential.”
“I’ve got a job,” Harry mumbled into his coffee mug and Draco noted the faint blush that was colouring his cheeks.
“He’s got a lot more to learn but I’m inclined to offer him an internship. It’s been a while since I trained anybody who possessed even an ounce of natural talent, little Timothy over there being the exception,” Draco said, feeling cheeky enough to tease Harry without directly addressing him.
Potter’s cheeks turned even redder.
“You should really consider that offer. Drake is the best Coffee Master between Guatemala and Ethiopia, he’s got the awards to prove it too,” Claire said and Draco glowered at her.
Harry’s head snapped up at that statement and his blush paled as he looked at Draco with a curious expression.
“It’s nothing, she’s making a mountain out of a molehill, as usual,” Draco said hastily and shooed Claire away before she divulged any other embarrassing secrets about him.
“Awards?” Potter asked nevertheless and Draco sighed.
“Drink your coffee, Harry Potter, before I take my praise about its quality back.”
Potter grumbled something entirely incomprehensible and ignoring him, Draco sipped on his coffee and marvelled at the fruity flavour with its dark cocoa tones. It was quite perfect and much better than he had expected Harry’s first attempt at producing a drinkable filter coffee to turn out.
What exactly is going to happen next?
P.S. If you have the right equipment and you follow Draco's instructions, you will actually get a decent filter coffee. These aren't made up. *grin*
Chapter 15: 2019, Friday, 18th of October
“I once spent nearly two hours trying to find Scorpius in that maze,” Draco said as they slowly came to a halt several feet away from the entrance to the impressive free hedge maze in Crystal Palace Park.
Autumn was in full swing and the sun was out in force, drawing large throngs of people out into the open. The sun offered bright warming rays of light and much like most of the population, Harry hadn’t been able to resist the temptation.
After a week of drizzly rain, the sudden good weather had made him bold. Unable to concentrate on his writing, he had abandoned the final few chapters of his latest children’s novel. Instead, he had harassed Draco until he had given in and agreed to take the afternoon off to accompany him to the nearby walk for an extensive leisurely stroll to bask in the warm autumn sun, a mild, comfortable breeze and plenty of green space.
Draco had prepared them two large cups of freshly roasted Kenya Kangunu which he had praised to the high heavens and back as one of the best coffees to come out of Africa. The words he’d used to describe the region the coffee came from had left Harry swimming with beautiful images of Mt. Kenya, a lone 17,000-foot peak jutting out of an expanse of flat grasslands.
He’d painted an incredible word picture of the stunning lower slopes of the mountain that had left Harry wondering whether Draco had visited the place in person. According to him, dense forests surrounded the base of the mountain, above which a belt of bamboo encircled the impressive peak and the higher one ascended, the more the landscape changed to timberline forests of small trees and then bushes and hardy grasses. The mineral-rich volcanic soil apparently resulted in a beautifully balanced, vibrantly flavourful coffee with white flower aromas, zesty lemon-lime notes, and a subtle blackcurrant sweetness.
By the time Draco had finished his tale, Harry had all but snatched the paper takeaway coffee cup and inhaled deeply, then taken a few small sips of the freshly brewed Syphon brew and looked so positively blissed out that Draco had burst out laughing and asked whether he was high.
Yes, high on what you do to me with your coffee, Malfoy, Harry thought and jumped when Draco suddenly elbowed him in the side.
“Ow, fuck, Draco, whatever was that for?” he grumbled and glared at Draco who scowled darkly.
“Did you hear anything I just said?”
Harry frowned and racked his brain. He remembered Draco saying something about Scorpius and the maze they’d stopped in front of. Harry glanced at the tall dense hedgerow that made up the outer wall of the maze and shuddered. He hadn’t been this close to a maze since the Triwizard Tournament in his fourth year and the memory of that made his blood run cold. He automatically took several steps back and out of the shade into the warmth of the sunshine.
Draco tilted his head to the side and looked at him with a frown and slightly puckered lips, pressed tightly together.
“Potter, are you all right? You look a bit pale.”
“Yeah, just not particularly fond of being this close to a maze, that’s all,” Harry mumbled and watched realisation dawn on Draco’s face as they both found themselves transported back in time to when darkness had truly descended upon the Wizarding World for the second time the night Harry had found himself on an old creepy cemetery, witnessing the return of Voldemort.
“Shit, sorry, Harry, I completely forgot. I just let the memory of chasing after Scorpius distract me and didn’t think of anything else. I hardly think about all the darkness anymore, it’s depressing and I prefer not to dwell on it all. For Scorpius’ sake and my own personal sanity.”
“It’s OK, it’s been twenty-five years, I should be over it. Irrational, unfounded fear.”
Draco wordlessly took a step closer and placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder. He squeezed gently and smiled warmly. The comforting touch sent a rush of warmth surging through Harry and he wanted to thank Draco for his perceptiveness but the words stubbornly refused to make it past his lips and instead remained stuck in his throat.
“You don’t have to be over anything if you don’t want to,” Draco said softly and Harry once again found himself at odds with trying to make a connection between the boy who had tormented him at Hogwarts and the man who loved coffee, was smart, knowledgeable, funny, and thoroughly down to earth with a sassy disposition and possessed a unique brand of quick-witted humour.
“Time heals all wounds and all,” Harry shrugged, trying not to let Draco’s comforting gesture distract him from keeping up with the conversation. He had a penchant for daydreaming, it was what made him such a good writer, and while he usually managed to control himself, Draco made it rather difficult to stay focused. Those intense grey were quite distracting and thoroughly bewitching.
He also rather liked the feel of Draco’s hand resting on his shoulder and for a split-second, he lost himself in the fantasy of strolling through the park with Draco’s arm thrown around his shoulder while he had his own arm loosely wrapped around Draco’s waist. The thought surprised him and he resolutely pushed it aside lest it resulted in him making a fool out of himself by making an inappropriate suggestion or Merlin forbid place his own hand on top of Draco’s and gently squeeze those long pale fingers he had come to find strangely attention-diverting.
“There’s no limit on how long it’s supposed to take you to get over something. I can’t begin to imagine what that night was like for you and to be quite honest, I don’t really want to. You can take twenty-five years to get over it or even an eternity if that’s what you want or need. To be frank, I don’t like mazes either, or well I feel somewhat indifferent about them.”
Harry chuckled and felt a pang of loss when Draco slowly pulled his hand away. He followed it with his gaze, stared at it for a moment or two, then looked back up and at Draco’s face.
“What’s your excuse for hating mazes?”
“Scorpius,” Draco grinned. “It was a Saturday afternoon when he ran into the maze and there were too many Muggles around for me to use magic to find him. So, I had to do it the old-fashioned non-magical way.”
“Oh, so you’re allowed to blame things on your child but I am not allowed to blame my shortcomings on my three ruffians?”
“Slytherin House would have taken care of all your shortcomings and turned you into a smart chap but you insisted on joining the dark side—”
“Slytherin would have taught me how to hide my shortcomings behind an iron mask of cool indifference,” Harry cut Draco short and pierced him with a pointed look.
“And what did Gryffindor teach you? It’s been nearly thirty years and you still haven’t realised that red does not match your eyes, not even a little. All you seem to have learnt is that reckless bravery and no back-up plan is the way to go when it comes to solving problems.”
“I vanquished him, didn’t I?”
“Oh, you did not just go there, Potter.”
“I so did, Malfoy.”
“I’ve nothing to say to that,” Draco raised both hands in mock-surrender and Harry laughed.
“Giving up so soon? Come on, that’s not the Draco Malfoy I know. After all those embarrassing losses at Quidditch, surely you’ve learnt to dig your heels in and fight to the end when it comes to our little verbal sparring matches.”
Draco crossed his arms over his chest. His icy glower was positively bone-chilling and his black pupils resembled poisonous death daggers. Harry forced himself to keep a straight face and instead quirked his eyebrow in a silent challenge. When Draco turned his head to glance at the entrance to the maze, Harry’s felt the goosebumps break out all and he mildly regretted his big mouth.
Clearly, he was right, my stupid Gryffindor bravery does frequently get me into trouble, he thought with a scowl but decided to play it cool. Bring it on, Malfoy, I can take whatever you’re about to dish out.
“Let’s take a walk through there,” Draco said and uncrossing his arms, he pointed at the maze. “Let’s see how much of a brave fool you really are.”
“You’re playing dirty.”
“Slytherin prerogative,” Draco smirked.
Harry hesitated for several minutes and he weighed up his options. He really wasn’t fond of a stroll through a massive hedge maze but it had also been twenty-five years and he was quite certain that there was no dark surprise waiting for him and Draco at the centre.
“Look, Potter, if it makes you really uncomfortable, please don’t do it just to prove a point.”
“It does make me uncomfortable, but you know what, Draco, today is as good as any day to test my boundaries.”
“Well, if it helps, let me give you an incentive—”
“What? Are you going to hold my hand through it all?”
Draco quirked an amused eyebrow and Harry hastily averted his gaze to hide the blush that was rapidly colouring his cheeks an embarrassing shade of red. He had no idea what had made him say those words but he also didn’t regret his silly joke. These past couple days, they’d been getting a lot more flirtatious with each other and while Harry didn’t think that there was anything to it, or at least he didn’t allow himself to read anything into the whole thing, he also thoroughly enjoyed the zesty twist their flirtatious little remarks brought to their daily conversations and sometimes late night texts or hour-long phone calls.
“I was going to offer that you can ask me anything you’d like to know, no restrictions, and promise you an honest answer but if you’d rather I take you by the hand and coax you through the maze, as one would do with a timid Hufflepuff, I can do that too.”
Harry rolled his eyes and feeling rather bold, he wordlessly headed towards the maze and only stopped when he’d reached the entrance. He turned his head and looked back at Draco, who had yet to move from their earlier spot in the sun.
“Malfoy, are you coming or was this all just some elaborate hoax?”
Draco exasperatedly threw his hands up into the air, caught up with him and glared.
“You make the best compliments,” Harry laughed and repressed the desire to throw his arm around Draco’s shoulder. Since they were of similar height, he expected it to be quite comfortable but since he wasn’t prepared for the weird look Draco would undoubtedly shoot him, he decided to remain civilised. After all, Draco wasn’t Ron.
They silently entered the maze and some five minutes into their unhurried walk over the gravelled path, Harry decided that his earlier trepidation had been entirely unfounded and that he was well and truly over his apprehension of mazes. The one or other odd ray of sunshine found its way between the tall dense hedges and longer they walked, the more Harry relaxed. He cast the one or other subtle sideways glance at Draco and their eyes met twice. They smiled and walked in comfortable silence, which Harry broke with a silly question after another five minutes of peaceful quiet.
“Malfoy, will you protect me in case we come across a Boggart?”
Draco chuckled and the sound sent a pleasant shudder rushing down Harry’s spine. He turned his head and winked.
“Absolutely, Harry Potter. I’ll have your back but only if you promise to cast a Patronus if we happen across a Dementor.”
“That I can do. Will you run to the Prophet and sell them that story along with an exclusive look at your memories?”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Tempting, Potter, but no. Your secrets are safe with me.”
“You know what, Draco, I do actually trust you to keep my secrets.”
“I told you about K. Evans, didn’t I?”
“I didn’t really give you a choice.”
“True, but you also didn’t go blabbing about it.”
“Not my style.”
You changed so much, Harry thought with silent admiration and they continued their stroll through the maze.
Ten minutes later they had managed to get completely off-track and not even backtracking their steps helped to get back onto the right path; no matter where they turned, they found themselves meeting a dead end. They were merely going around in circles and that, of course, resulted in a good-natured fight between them with Harry challenging Draco’s mental faculties since he’d walked through the maze once before.
Draco retaliated with a wordless stinging hex that made Harry yelp and he massaged his left buttock to ease the pain.
After a whole ten-minute disagreement on how to go about either finding their way back out of the maze or making it to the centre and nearly stalking off into opposite directions, they eventually decided to work together.
Another fifteen minutes later, they finally stood in the dead centre of the maze and admired a beautiful white pagoda surrounded by bare rose bushes. Countless of thick rose vines slithered along the walls of the pagoda and they sat opposite each other inside the round gazebo and stretched their feet out.
“One tiny spell and we’d be sitting amidst fragrant yellow, pink, and white roses,” Draco mumbled.
“And how are you going to explain that to any Muggles?”
“Magic?” Draco grinned.
Harry rolled his eyes. He wasn’t worried that Draco would draw his wand to cast that spell but the thought of sitting inside a sweet-smelling pavilion was most definitely alluring.
Spring, he thought, we’ll just come back in late spring, the roses will be in bloom then and maybe we can even bring the children and have a picnic or something. I’m sure we can sneak them out of Hogwarts for a weekend.
He snapped right out of his silly daydream and turning his attention back to Draco, he caught him smiling softly. His own lips automatically curled upwards to mirror the smile and stretching a little further, he nudged Draco’s foot playfully with his own.
“I believe you owe me the honest answer to a question of my choice.”
Harry didn’t even need to think about the question, it came to him in an instant.
“Why coffee? Why The Fresh Bean?” he asked.
Draco raised an eyebrow at him.
“Of all the gazillion things you could ask me, this is what you want to know?”
“Yes, this. I asked before but so far, you’ve always been evasive. Now I’ve finally got you cornered.”
“Sneaky, Potter, sneaky.”
“I learnt from the best.”
“And, pray tell, who might that be?” Draco asked with a smirk.
“He’s sitting right across from me. Now quit stalling and answer the question already.”
“You’re so impatient.”
“Only because I know you’re trying to use delaying tactics.”
“Are you answering my question?”
“Do you want to go back to the shop? I seemed like you rather enjoyed those beans from Kenya, I can make us a French Press.”
“Quit it. Out with it. Why coffee and why the shop?”
“Coffee is the most precious drink in the world, so, why not? I’ve always had a penchant for the finer things in life and that’s exactly what coffee is, especially when you know how to make it well.”
“Still not answering my question.”
“You asked why coffee, I believe I just answered that.”
“I also asked why the shop, you didn’t answer that. Malfoy, stop being deliberately obtuse, you’re smarter than that.”
“Why, Potter, any compliment from you tastes sweeter than honey.”
“Whatever you’re trying, it’s not working, Malfoy.”
“I think it’s going to rain soon.”
“There isn’t a single cloud in the sky, you fool.”
Draco let out a long sigh, nudged Harry with his foot and stubbornly remained silent for several minutes before finally revealing the truth.
“I won a bet.”
“What do you mean you won a bet?”
“Exactly what I said,” Draco sighed again, stretched his arms, and interlaced his fingers behind his head. “You remember Pansy, don’t you?”
“Parkinson? She was your girlfriend back at Hogwarts, wasn’t she?”
Draco chuckled. “That, Potter, is a story for another day. But yes, Pansy Parkinson.”
“OK, I’m intrigued, but first I want to know the coffee shop tale.”
“About ten years ago, I stupidly made a bet with Pansy. I was running low on caffeine and thoroughly grumpy because the barista took forever to make our drinks. I may have told Parkinson that I could make better coffee faster and she took me at face value. Tricked me into a bet to get through a whole month of working in a Muggle coffee shop without blowing the place up or quitting.”
“And you couldn’t resist?”
“No. Mind you, as I already said, I obviously won the bet. I made it through the first month. It wasn’t easy and honestly, I’ve no idea how I actually did it but I did it.”
“And how did one month turn into ten years?” Harry asked, genuinely intrigued.
He had expected just about anything, from Draco making a bold statement to show his father how wrong Lucius Malfoy was about Muggles to a temporary bout of insanity that had never quite faded. That the whole reason Draco worked in a coffee shop, he also owned, stemmed from a bet was, however, extremely surprising, and rather hilarious.
“I started to enjoy myself. Astoria had left, I only had Scorpius and the Manor was oppressing and too big. I figured it would be a great opportunity to teach him different values. Claire— Her oldest daughter is Scorpius’ age, they went to a Muggle school together.”
“Malfoy, you are full of shocking revelations.”
“I didn’t expect to find myself here either. That very first week was hell. I’d prepared myself, you know, took some time to get familiar with Muggle money and I made up some simple story in case people asked about my life but I literally knew nothing and I was struggling. I went home every evening wanting to give up.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Every night the first thing I did was to check on Scorpius and I would just sit beside him and watch him sleep and think that I didn’t want him growing up knowing his dad was a quitter so I stuck it out. The former owner took me under his wing and taught me personally and by the end of the month I was kind of in love with the job.”
Draco sounded so sincere that Harry’s respect for him increased tenfold.
“How did you end up buying the place?”
“Padraig, the man who owned the place, his wife Ivy got really sick and after two years of treatments doctors gave up and said there was nothing they could do. She’d never travelled outside England and he wanted to take her to see the world so he sold the shop. By the time he made that decision I’d fallen in love with the place and the job so I made him an exorbitant offer. Nearly gave him a heart attack, poor sod, I gave him well over what he’d been asking. Took a week to finalise the sale and they left on their trip around the world two days later. Ivy died six months after that on a coffee farm in Ethiopia, just didn’t wake up one morning.”
Harry tried to swallow past the sudden lump in his throat but didn’t quite manage to. He did, however, manage to suppress the urge to sniff and gently cleared his throat, then got to his feet.
“You are a good man.”
“Blame it on the coffee, all that darkness mellowed me out,” Draco chuckled and turning, Harry looked at him and held his gaze for several long moments.
“You are full of surprises, Draco Malfoy.”
Draco smiled and his eyes twinkled with mirth and Harry made a bold decision.
“Dinner, tomorrow night, don’t say no, please?”
It took Harry every ounce of self-restraint to keep himself from freaking out when Draco remained silent for a full minute and he nervously held his breath. For some reason, he absolutely didn’t want Draco to turn down his unexpected invitation. He wasn’t quite sure why but he wanted to have dinner with him and he didn’t care about the fact that he probably looked and sounded rather desperate.
“Where are we going?”
Draco’s simple question stunned him but he kept it together, smiled, and refrained from punching the air as he forced himself to slowly exhale and then breathe in deeply.
“My place, I’ll cook. I’ve got a few surprises of my own.”
“Poisoning unsuspecting dinner guests?” Draco mocked and just like that the somewhat heavy spell between them broke and Harry rolled his eyes as they started another round of mindless bickering.
“Great, I’m looking forward to it.”
Chapter 16: 2019, Saturday, 19th of October
I'm just going to post this chapter and run, like really fast.
“Can I top you up?”
Draco nodded and did his best to hold his wine glass steady while Harry poured him a refill of a beautiful honey-touched crispy Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau 2015 Cuvée Silex with perfectly balanced lemony and creamed-apple flavours. Potter’s excellent choice of wine had thoroughly surprised him but so far, he’d kept his feelings of reverential respect to himself.
Dinner had been an outstanding culinary delight and their conversation had been thoroughly stimulating. Potter’s scintillating wit and unabatedly good humour had occasionally made it rather difficult to focus on the food and when Potter had suggested a nightcap in the living room, Draco had been quick to accept the invitation. The idea of spending just a little more time in Potter’s indisputably charming company appealed to Draco more than he was comfortable to admit to himself.
“If you’re trying to get me drunk, it’s working, Potter.”
“Should I be worried?”
“You scare me.”
Draco chuckled and getting to his feet he wandered over to the wall of framed family photographs across the room. He didn’t particularly want to get off the very comfortable sofa in Potter’s cosy living room but Harry was sitting a little too close for comfort and they were both on their third glass wine. While he wasn’t drunk, he did feel just a little bit tipsy and since he didn’t think that placing his hand on top of Harry’s thigh and leaning close was entirely appropriate, he decided to bring a little bit of distance between them.
He’d already scrutinised the photo frames on the mantlepiece. They held photos of Sirius Black and a very old photograph of Harry with his two best friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Draco had skipped over that photo and instead discovered that Potter looked like a slightly older version of his father only a little more handsome in a rugged sort of way.
While he’d seen photos of Potter’s parents in the Prophet before, he’d never paid them much heed and had been surprised to discover that Harry’s mother had been stunningly beautiful. Her long, wavy auburn-ginger hair gave her an angelic sort of look and she had a mesmerizingly sweet smile. In one of the photographs she and James Potter were dancing in front of a water fountain and the unadulterated love in her eyes had given Draco the shivers. He’d been glad that Harry had chosen exactly that moment to enter the room, holding a bottle of red and two wine glasses.
“Potter, seriously, have you never heard of a photo album?” Draco asked as he perused the framed photographs of Potter’s three children that decorated most of the wall.
James Potter bore a striking resemblance to his father. His hair was just as messy and he looked exactly like Harry, minus the glasses of course. Albus Potter was just as easy to discern, mainly because Draco had seen photos of him on Scorpius’ mobile phone. Officially, Hogwarts did not permit the use of mobile phones but each September when Scorpius left for the new school term, Draco pretended not to see him slip it into his robes and so far, the boy had been smart enough not to have it taken off him.
Sly, cunning, and resourceful, Draco thought proudly and took a sip of his wine.
“You sound just like James.”
Startled, Draco turned his head and found Potter standing beside him. He quirked a questioning eyebrow and took another sip of his wine to cover up his surprise. He hadn’t at all noticed that Potter had gotten up from the sofa to join him in front of the wall of framed photographs.
“The children spend most of the year away from home, it’s nice to be able to just walk in here and look at all those special moments. Makes me feel less lonely. James always mocks me for it, tells me to just get with the times and just look at my phone. I’ve tried to explain it to him but he takes great pleasure in poking fun at his old man.”
Harry let out a wistful little sigh and Draco only barely resisted the urge to wrap his arm around Potter’s shoulder to offer a bit of comfort. He also wanted to object and tell Harry that he wasn’t old but thought the response petty and buried it in the depths of his stomach along with some wine. Potter’s words resonated with him and he suddenly found himself missing Scorpius a little more than he usually did. To distract himself, Draco pointed at what he presumed to be a recent photograph of Potter’s youngest, Lily.
“She looks a lot like your mother.”
Harry’s chuckle drew his attention away from the photograph and he turned his head sideways to glance at Potter.
“Everyone always says she looks like her mother. I suspect it’s because of the hair.”
“Do you have a photograph of your ex-wife?”
Potter pointed at a family photograph and Draco looked at it for a minute or two, then shook his head.
“No, she looks like your mother.”
“What makes you say that?”
Draco turned his head again and smiled.
“Her eyes, they are as expressive as Lily Evans’ eyes.”
The rather smitten look in Harry’s eyes made Draco feel rather flustered and just a little hot. He averted his gaze and staring into his wine glass, he ran his fingertip along the rim.
“I know you’re not supposed to have favourites and I swear I love them all with everything I’ve got and then some but Lils is the glue that holds the four of us together. James is on his best behaviour when his little sister is around and I don’t even need to say anything and while I never manage to convince Al to drag his nose out of his books, Lily does. I’m aware that you probably think I’m complete lunatic but that girl could ask me for the moon and, Draco, I swear I’d find a way to get it for her.”
“Oh completely. From the day she was born.”
“Scorpius used to be pretty clingy when he was younger but he’s a teenager now and wants more independence. His words, not mine.”
“They grow up way too fast.”
Draco nodded and glanced at the family portrait, Potter had pointed out to him a few moments ago. It appeared to be a rather recent photograph and he couldn’t help but notice the distance between Harry and his former wife. Instead of standing next to each other with the kids seated in front of them, they stood at opposite ends of the frame.
Harry had his arm wrapped around James while Ginevra had her arm wrapped around their second son. Lily stood between her two older brothers and they each had one arm protectively wrapped around their little sister. It was a lovely family photo but the tension between Potter and his ex-wife was rather obvious. They both appeared unable to be completely at ease in each other’s company but Draco admired them for still being on speaking terms. The last time he’d spoken to Astoria in person had been the day they’d signed the divorce papers and he’d forked over an exorbitant one-off alimony payment.
Draco shuddered at the mere memory of his spectacular failure of a marriage and suddenly the silence between him and Potter felt oppressively uncomfortable. He decided to break it at once.
“Did you ever think about getting back out there? You know, find someone special.”
Potter’s first response to his completely random question was a burst of laughter. It was a soft, low belly laugh that made Draco feel funny and not quite sure how to handle it, he did the only thing he could think of; he glared icy daggers at Harry. It had the desired result. Potter fell silent but his amusement was evident in his distractingly green eyes and Draco blinked several times.
“Malfoy, don’t tell me you are under the impression that I’ve been a recluse since my divorce?”
“Have you been?”
“No, most definitely not, but I’ll be honest with you, I never actively looked for anything serious. I’m pretty sure you’re going to tell me I’m just using it as an excuse, but being Harry Potter kind of makes it hard to find someone. I never know what they’re after.”
“Galleons, most likely. Or fifteen minutes of fame and a front page spread in the Prophet. So, just a bunch of meaningless raunchy one-night-stands then?”
“You make it sound like I’m some sort of sex maniac. And again no, there have been a few more-than-one-night-stands.”
“Are you? A sex maniac that is.”
Potter scowled darkly over the rim of his wine glass but his eyes gave him away; he was more amused than annoyed and that suited Draco just fine. Even though the conversation was mildly inappropriate, he was rather enjoying himself.
“No, absolutely not.”
“Shame, I thought you were a closeted sexual deviant.”
“Sorry to disappoint, Malfoy, just your average bloke with a healthy sex drive. Nothing devious or maniac about me.”
Draco teasingly quirked an eyebrow at Potter and held his gaze for several seconds. He wanted to ask a couple more intruding questions but he also didn’t want to push Harry too far and ruin their wonderful evening.
“Don’t you feel lonely sometimes? I can't imagine you being single for the rest of your life, Potter.”
The words slipped out before Draco managed to bite his tongue and he looked a little sheepish but relaxed when Harry merely smiled and sipped on his wine.
“Would I sound pathetic if I told you that I feel lonely all the time?”
Draco shook his head.
“Not pathetic, just honest.”
“It does get rather lonely sometimes, but as I said, being Harry Potter doesn’t exactly make it easy to find someone. Being K. Evans doesn’t help and being a wizard and a single parent complicates matters even further.”
“Women are suckers for devoted single dads.”
“Who says I want a female companion? I think we’ve established that I swing both ways.”
“Well, I wasn’t exactly sure.”
“Now you are. While gender isn’t an issue, I will admit that I prefer men.”
Draco tried his best not to keep the surprise off his face. He recalled Potter joking about receiving a marriage proposal from a young wizard and remembered that he hadn’t taken offence at Draco’s suggestion of his interest in a casual relationship with a younger man and while he’d been surprised back then, he’d also been loath to jump to conclusions. Still, these past few weeks, they’d both been getting increasingly flirtatious with each other.
All those little, lingering touches, flirty banter, and at times dubious conversations and long stares suddenly made a lot more sense. While not strictly confusing, Draco could feel himself react to and reciprocate Potter’s casual advances in ways he wasn’t entirely sure how to interpret. They were extremely friendly with each other but Potter hadn’t once expressed explicit interest in taking their relationship further and Draco enjoyed their newfound friendship far too much to jump to conclusions and take things into a direction that could either make or break them.
“What about you? Anyone special in your life? You and Timothy are rather flirty with each other.”
Harry’s question pulled Draco out of his thoughts and back to the present.
“Nobody special and yikes, that boy is twenty-three years old, Potter.”
“Legally an adult then.”
Potter winked and Draco glowered.
“I am not amused.”
“I can tell. You like them older then. Older and mature.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? And who says I’m gay?”
“Hold the press, the Saviour has spoken, must be true then.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“We both know you don’t mean that.”
“We're both right then, I don’t.”
“Are you gay then?”
“Salazar, Potter, have a bit of poise.”
“No can do. Do I get an answer?”
“You’re like a dog with a bone, aren’t you?”
“When it comes to you, yes. Always have been.”
“At least you’re honest.”
“Shame I can’t say the same about you.”
“Oh, for the love of Slytherin, yes, Potter, I am gay and I have been since my teens.”
“So, Parkinson was never your girlfriend then?”
Draco laughed and finished the last of his wine.
“She was my girlfriend alright, at least as far as my parents, the professors, and nosy dormmates were concerned.”
“Smooth, Malfoy, smooth. Did Snape buy it?”
“Not for a second. He never said anything though.”
“He was a decent man. He was—” Harry trailed off and Draco, though curious, didn’t question him.
“Loyal to a fault,” he said.
Harry nodded and they fell silent. There was a strange sort of sparkle in Potter’s eyes and there was an odd sort of tension in the air between them. Draco found himself taking a step closer and wasn’t even remotely surprised when Harry did the same. They stared at each and Draco felt the inexplicable urge to run his fingers through Potter’s unruly hair and even though his fingers twitched, his arm refused to obey him. He also felt the intense desire to press his lips against Potter’s and since he had no idea where that thought had come from, he resolutely cleared his throat and shoved his free hand into his trouser pocket lest he found himself doing something stupid with it.
Too much wine and talk about sex, he thought and thankfully Harry also snapped out of whatever had possessed him. He took a step back, ran his fingers through his hair and looked mildly embarrassed.
“I’ll open another bottle.”
Draco wanted to object and tell Harry that this wasn’t a good idea at all but he did no such thing. Instead, he stared after Potter’s retreating form and let his eyes wander around the room. Feeling a bit panicky and worried that Harry was upset or put out about their almost-kiss — Draco had no better way of describing whatever strange thing had just so randomly transpired — he decided that he simply had to make sure before he worked himself into a frenzy.
Empty wine glass in hand, he left the living room and made his way to Potter’s large kitchen. He found Harry at the kitchen island, clumsily fighting with a corkscrew and a brand-new bottle of red wine. He entered the kitchen, set his wine glass down on the counter and with blatant disregard towards acceptable social norms, he placed his hand on top of Potter’s and stopped him from destroying the corkscrew or the bottle of more-than-decent wine, rather than getting the cork out.
“It’s stuck,” Potter mumbled.
“Let me,” Draco offered.
He took the bottle and corkscrew and a minute later the bottle was open. He gently set it down on the counter and looked at Potter, who tilted his head ever so slightly to the side and curiously held his gaze. Draco swallowed hard.
“What are you doing?”
“Then quit staring at me like that.”
“I didn’t mean—”
Draco frowned and breaking their eye contact he looked at the bottle of wine. He suddenly felt the intense urge to down all of it. He felt on edge and thoroughly out of his depth. The last several minutes made absolutely no sense to him.
“Are we OK?” he blurted out and picked up the bottle to study the label with feigned interest. Since when had he become incapable of controlling his mouth around Potter?
Since you were eleven, a treacherous voice in his mind offered unhelpfully. It sounded a lot like Pansy Parkinson and Draco vowed to hex her six ways from Sunday the next time she came by the coffee shop.
“Why wouldn’t we be?”
“It’s just— Oh, never mind.”
“More wine then?”
With the bottle still in hand, Draco reclaimed his previously abandoned wine glass and feeling the sudden need to bring several feet of distance between him and Potter, he walked out of the kitchen and returned to the living room. He was painfully aware of the fact that Harry was hot on his heels and glanced at the full wine bottle in his hand.
You are a mistake, he thought, but once back in the living room, he poured them both a generous glass anyway and putting the bottle down on the coffee table in front of the sofa, he sat down, leant back, suppressed a sigh, and drank his wine.
Potter joined him on the sofa, though he wisely sat down on the other end and for a while they sat in silence, each quite obviously lost in their own thoughts. Halfway through that fourth glass of wine, Potter broke the silence with a rather random Quidditch question. After another few moments of awkwardness the strange tension in the room finally dissipated and before long, they were engaged in a heated discussion over the latest Quidditch scores and team formations.
Chapter 17: 2019, Friday, 25th of October
“You absolutely owe me, Malfoy.”
Harry ungracefully fell back into the comfortable large grey wingback armchair, stretched his limbs, and groaned. He was quite aware that his current way of sitting was anything but flattering but he was past the point of caring enough to make a good impression.
Claire’s daughter’s school had unexpectedly called to let her know that her eldest had injured herself during P.E. class. An ambulance had taken her to the nearest hospital for proper care and upon receiving the news Claire had lost her head completely. She’d been a blubbering mess and Draco had dragged her into the staffroom to calm her down before sending her on her way, telling her she wasn’t welcome back until she was sure her daughter was all right.
Draco had phoned Timothy to check if he was able to swing by to help but his faithful and overly cheeky part-timer was all the way out in Chelmsford, spending quality time with his beloved grandmother. Claire’s unexpected family emergency had meant that the coffee shop was wholly understaffed and with the lunch crowd threatening to descend upon the place, Draco had nearly suffered a panic attack followed by a nervous breakdown.
Harry had, without giving it any consideration, offered to jump in and since his coffee brewing abilities were woefully subpar, he’d manned the cash register, served food and only brewed the one or the other Pour-Over while Draco had spent the afternoon running back and forth between the filter coffee brewing station and the espresso machine, making well over a hundred cups of coffee.
It was now eight o’clock in the evening and too tired and too hungry to even consider Apparition, Harry had gratefully accepted Draco’s invitation to join him upstairs in his flat. After closing, they’d cleaned and straightened out the shop together to ready it for the Saturday morning breakfast crowd. As a result, every single muscle in Harry’s body ached and throbbed with overexertion and he couldn’t help but wonder how he’d ever survived active Auror duty in his twenties.
Sure, he tried to keep fit and worked out occasionally, but moving chairs and tables and mopping floors was something he hadn’t done in years. If he was entirely honest, beyond occasionally doing the dishes and cooking for the children, he hadn’t cleaned the Muggle way since he’d left the Dursleys. After refurbishing Grimmauld Place and moving into the old Victorian townhouse with Ginny, he’d invested in a few household spell books and it had taken him only a few weeks to get a hang of most of the spells. They’d made life so much easier.
“Do you need me to kowtow to show my servile deference?”
“Know what now?”
Harry frowned and looked at Draco, who was casually leaning against the doorframe, holding a plastic bag with their late dinner. He still wasn’t over the fact that Draco knew how to use a Muggle smartphone app to order takeaway but he knew better than to make a big deal out of Draco behaving like an ordinary Muggleborn wizard.
“Kowtow. Potter, show some common knowledge already, won’t you? It’s when you kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of deep respect, worship, or submission.”
Draco pushed away from the painted wooden frame and sauntered into the room. He dropped their dinner into Harry’s lap, kicked his shoes off and folded his legs underneath him as he sat down on the sofa. Harry once again found himself struggling to consolidate the memory he had of a stuck up teenage-Draco with the vastly different adult-Draco that sat before him in his black Muggle jeans and expensive midnight blue Cashmere jumper. No-one ought to look his good in such simple clothes after a long, hectic day at work.
“That won’t be necessary,” Harry mumbled.
He suddenly felt rather self-conscious about staring at Draco and busied himself with placing the contents of the bag on the coffee table between them. They’d squabbled a bit over what to order for dinner. Astonishingly, Draco had been hellbent on ordering Italian stone oven pizza but Harry had somehow talked him into ordering a curry.
“Then how would you like me to express my eternal gratitude to you?”
You could kiss me, Harry thought and promptly banned that idea from his mind lest he accidentally said it. While he the idea of kissing Draco Malfoy didn’t repulse him, they’d even come close once or twice, he wasn’t prepared for the awkward conversation that was bound to follow. He didn’t even fully understand his attraction to Draco and where it had come from.
Yes, Draco was extraordinarily good-looking, gloriously quick-witted, and brewed the best coffee in the world but they’d also been out of touch for twenty years and were still trying to establish their odd friendship. Their casual banter, easy-flowing conversations and all those flirtatious little gestures and remarks made forgetting the past easy but Harry just didn’t want to jeopardise their flourishing camaraderie.
“Free coffee for life,” he said before his prolonged silence resulted in uncomfortable tension.
“You’re cheap, Potter.”
Draco’s sly smirk was only mildly concerning.
“Then don’t say such things.”
“You got my hopes up and then you crushed them again.”
Harry didn’t even attempt to hide his amusement.
“Draco Malfoy, the deviant. I didn’t know you had a penchant for biting people.”
“Not people. Just you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You seem— biteable.”
Harry rolled his eyes and reached for his spicy lamb curry. He picked up a plastic fork, took off the lid and inhaling deeply, he let the aroma of the fresh seasonings assault his senses and focused on eating his dinner. He didn’t even want to contemplate the possibility of Draco biting him. It wasn’t a disturbing thought but mildly arousing and tonight he simply didn’t have the energy to fight off a throbbing erection.
A frustrated groan nearly escaped his throat and Harry hastily stuffed a large forkful of curry into his mouth. The last thing he needed was to give Draco even more ammunition than he already had. The man had the unique ability to turn absolutely anything into a sexual innuendo and while Harry wasn’t exactly innocent, he liked dirty puns as much the next guy, becoming a father had made it so much easier to keep the jokes above the waistline.
“Seriously though, Harry, I really appreciate all the help today. You didn’t have to do that.”
“It’s what’s friends are for, aren’t they?”
Instead of answering him, Draco bit into his vegetable samosa and chewed thoughtfully. Harry shoved another bite of spicy lamb curry into his mouth.
“Look at us, Potter. After all that animosity, we managed to become friends after all.”
“We should toast to that.”
Harry watched him finish off his samosa and clean his fingers on a napkin. He then rose to his feet, walked across the room, and unlocked a liquor cabinet with a quick flourish of his wand. The doors sprung open and he reached for two tumblers and poured a generous amount of Ogden’s Old into each glass. He returned a moment later and instead of sitting down, he remained standing and handed one glass to Harry, who set his dinner down on the coffee table and accepted the drink.
He purposefully brushed his fingers against Draco’s and was hyperaware that they stared at each other for longer than strictly necessary. It had somehow become a new thing between them, staring at each other until one of them had had the decency to look away. A nagging voice at the back of his mind tried to remind him that drinking highly potent alcohol on a nearly empty stomach wasn’t the smartest idea but Harry shut it down and held his glass up until Draco gently knocked his own against it.
“To friendship,” he mumbled.
Draco’s smile was distractingly charming and the tension between them was suddenly so thick that Harry momentarily struggled to remember to breathe. He cleared his throat, took a sip from his Firewhiskey, and let the drink burn down his throat. His eyes watered a little at the intensity of the heat that flowed through him and he was convinced that the drink wasn’t solely responsible for that. When Draco licked his lips a part of him wanted to throw caution into the wind. Something told him that Draco wouldn’t mind finding himself pushed into the sofa cushions and—
Harry resolutely set his drink down and picked up his dinner with the very intention to resume eating. His thoughts were racing and his mind was spinning and discounting the night he’d proposed to Ginny, he couldn’t quite remember the last time he’d felt the intense desire to be impulsively foolish.
I can’t take much more of this, he thought and busied himself eating while Draco returned to his previous position on the sofa.
They ate in silence and when they’d finished and Draco had disposed of the empty boxes, Harry was about to suggest that they call it a night when Draco beat him to it and suggested that they head up to the roof garden. Harry’s aspiration to return home to Godric’s Hollow, sit in his empty, quiet kitchen and take a few calming deep breaths dissipated immediately and he followed Draco up onto the roof. They brought their drinks and a full bottle of Firewhiskey along with them and while Draco shamelessly reclined in a hanging wicker egg chair, Harry remained standing.
It was a clear cool night and despite his tiredness and his protesting sore muscles and bones, Harry felt more comfortable in an upright position than sitting down. Draco was distractingly handsome and turning his back on him, he took a large sip from his drink and looked out over the city while the liquor nearly burned holes into his oesophagus as it slowly travelled through him. He hardly ever drank Firewhiskey anymore and was feeling just a little lightheaded.
“Tell me something about you nobody else knows.”
Draco’s odd question cut through the comfortable silence and Harry turned and leant back against the bannister. He took another sip of his drink and shoved his free hand into his trousers to stop himself from fidgeting with the hem of his shirt. He stared at Draco for several long moments and quaffed the remainder of the powerful amber liquid in his glass for a bit of Dutch courage. Most of his life was an open book but Harry still had a few secrets nobody knew about. He wasn’t entirely sure why he’d chosen this titbit but he suspected he was aiming for the bombshell effect.
“I cheated on my wife before we got divorced.”
If Draco was at all shocked by that revelation, he hid it well and Harry blamed it on the fact that he was an aristocratic Pureblood and former Slytherin. At times Draco truly was an open book, easy to read, vulnerable, and exposed but most of the time he still liked to guard his thoughts and keep his expressions nonchalant. He appeared casually calm and relaxed and Harry unsuccessfully tried to ignore the fact that it bothered him. He wasn’t particularly proud of having stepped out on Ginny before they’d had officially broken things off but it wasn’t like he could do anything about the fact that he had. He preferred open contempt over Draco’s blatant display of his lack of interest and he was about to tell him so when the bottle of Ogden’s Old floated over to him and refilled his tumbler.
“Does she know?”
Draco’s question threw Harry a little and he sipped on his drink before answering.
“I confessed during a particularly vicious argument. Threw it at her head more likely.”
“I can’t imagine that conversation went down well.”
Draco smirked and Harry felt himself relax, though he was sure that the rising alcohol levels in his blood were to blame for his declining anxiousness. The part of him that was a responsible adult and single parent with a successful career told him the smart idea would be to stop drinking, however, the part of him that enjoyed hanging out with Draco Malfoy and confess old sins encouraged him to continue with the consumption of the highly potent alcoholic beverage in his hand.
He watched Draco take a sip from his own drink, then stand up and join him by the bannister.
“Tell me more.”
Draco’s voice was husky and low and it travelled down his spine, making him shiver before it spread out into all the wrong places.
“Not much to tell.”
“Tell me anyway.”
Harry lifted his tumbler to his lips but instead of drinking, he looked at Draco over the rim of his glass and their eyes locked. The intense heat that swirled in those smouldering grey orbs was nearly unbearable and Harry swallowed hard. Draco stood a bit too close for comfort but if he was honest, which he didn’t want to be, it felt like Draco was still too far away and Harry suddenly found himself yearning for the feeling of a muscular body pressed up flush against his own, preferably while he was in a horizontal position and sprawled out on a bed, unable to move. He tipped a generous amount of whiskey into his mouth, swallowed, and cleared his throat.
“We met at a Muggle club. I’d had too much to drink and one thing led to another. It wasn’t romantic and it didn’t last long. It was a hurried back alley fumble.”
“Nothing wrong with those.”
The effects of Draco’s sly grin travelled straight to Harry’s groin and he cursed it and his suddenly overactive libido for quite literally giving him a hard time.
“I’m going to be bold and assume your hurried back alley fumble was with a man.”
“Ingenious as ever, Malfoy.”
Harry chuckled into his glass.
“Was it good?”
“You’re oddly interested.”
“And what if I am?”
“Does the idea of me fumbling about with a man in a dark back alley excite you?”
Harry didn’t even blush when he asked the question. He blamed the Firewhiskey and promptly drank more. So, he and Draco were practically undressing and fucking each other while talking about one of the reasons that had contributed to the failure of his marriage. What else was new?
“Only if it was good.”
“I had better.”
Draco quirked a curious eyebrow at him and Harry pretended to zip his lips.
“I don’t kiss and tell, Malfoy.”
“What about fuck and tell?”
“You don’t seem offended.”
“I’m too drunk to care.”
“You’re not nearly drunk enough, Potter.”
“Why? Do you plan to have your wicked way with me?”
“Is that a dare?”
“You’re pissed, Malfoy.”
Harry groaned and gingerly sat up in bed, trying to shield his eyes from the bright autumn sunshine streaming into the window. His stomach lurched unpleasantly and as he looked around the unfamiliar room, he hastily pressed his hand over his mouth and inhaled through his nose. The nausea was unbearable and feeling his head spin, he threw the covers back and leapt out of bed. He yanked the door to the room open and dashed out into the hallway.
“Straight down the hall, last door on the right.”
Draco’s familiar posh drawl cut through the buzzing in his ears and the haze in his mind and Harry blindly followed the directions and stumbled down the corridor, pushed the door to a large bathroom open and all but toppled inside. He fell to his knees in front of the toilet bowl and his stomach lurched a lot more viciously. He retched bitterly and promptly emptied the contents of his stomach into it.
His pitiful vomiting sounds echoed through the cool, tiled room and several minutes passed before he managed to calm himself enough to stop the incessant convulsions.
He sat back on his haunches and gratefully accepted several sheets of toilet paper and a glass of water. His hands shook a little and he wiped his mouth then gargled with the cool water to rid himself of the horrid lingering taste of bile in his throat. He was vaguely aware of the fact that he wasn’t wearing his glasses or proper clothes.
“Remind me why I am in my underwear?”
Draco’s teasing chuckle made him want to throw up all over those pale bare feet. He squinted and tried to focus but failed and gave up.
“I don’t know. Last night, when I offered you the guestroom you were still fully clothed. I suspect you stripped after I left,” Draco answered and Harry groaned.
“Why am I in your flat?”
“Because we got drunk last night and you were adamant to Apparate home to Hogwarts. I tried telling you that you don’t live there anymore and haven’t in well over twenty years but that seemed of little concern to you.”
“And why are you so cheery?”
“What’s this? Twenty questions? I had a phial of Hangover Potion. Use your brain, Potter.”
Harry scowled and flushing the toilet, he slowly and unsteadily rose to his feet.
“Please tell me you’re planning to give me one of those, I think I’m dying. I’m too old to get drunk.”
Harry clutched his stomach and tried not to heave. He pressed his lips together and inhaled deeply through his nose.
“I agree, you’re an old fart.”
“Malfoy, you cruel monster, hand over the potion before I throttle you.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
Harry briefly contemplated throwing himself at Draco but he suspected that any fast movement would result in the return of his nausea and was utterly grateful when Draco offered him that phial. He took it, uncorked it, and downed the dark sickeningly sweet liquid in one go. He suppressed the urge to retch and closing his eyes, he took several deep breaths and let the magic concoction burn away the alcohol that remained in his bloodstream. His stomach settled, the fogginess in his head cleared and the throbbing headache disappeared.
“Thank Merlin for magic.”
“Or thank Draco Malfoy for having the sense to have a stock of Hangover Potion at home.”
Feeling marginally better, Harry chuckled at Draco’s sassy remark and blinked. He still couldn’t see very clearly and taking a chance, he wandlessly summoned his glasses. They almost immediately flew into his outstretched hand and putting them on, he sighed and fervently tried not to feel embarrassed about being nearly naked while Draco was fully clothed.
“Please tell me you made coffee.”
“Of course, I made coffee. What do you take me for? South American beans. A French Vanilla Light Roast, velvety smooth, low acidity, and with a butter vanilla flavour. I promise, you will fall in love with it.”
“You’re not so bad looking yourself, Potter.”
Harry had the decency to blush at Draco’s compliment and fled the bathroom in search of his clothes from last night.
Draco’s laughter reverberated around the flat and escaping into the guest bedroom, Harry closed the door behind him, leant back against it and wished he’d told Draco to level the playing field instead of running off like a scared first-year Hogwarts student.
Chapter 18: 2019, Sunday, 3rd of November
I have to say, this was a thoroughly fun chapter to write. Thanks go to K, my amazingly dorky and wonderfully amusing friend. You light up my life!
Draco relaxed back into the cushions of his favourite wingback armchair and idly sipped on his Kenya Thirikwa Single Origin Double Espresso. Howver, the cranberry-like brightness peeking through a curtain of roasty flavours and the lingering taste of pecan and dark brown sugar failed to excite and invigorate him the way it usually did. Thoroughly incensed described his current mood perfectly and only because he was old enough to know better than to lose his temper over something as abysmal as a newspaper article.
He reached for his still warm chocolate croissant and biting into it, he savoured the buttery taste and took a moment to delight in the rich melted chocolate that filled the inside. His tongue darted out to scoop up a stray crumb and he the Prophet’s front page recaptured his attention.
He frowned and couldn’t help but wonder why he still bothered to read that rag. It wasn’t like they ever managed to print anything even remotely interesting. It was a sorry excuse of a newspaper; the newsworthy headlines were getting increasingly laughable with each edition. These days, all the Prophet managed was to be extremely intrusive and gossipy. Claire’s favourite Muggle rag, The Sun, was somehow able to supersede the Wizarding World’s pathetic attempt at printing reliable news and that really was saying something.
“Should’ve bought the Prophet and burnt down the building when I had the chance,” Draco muttered darkly, finished his espresso, and gave the front page yet another scowl.
Harry and Ginevra Potter
Britain’s Estranged Golden Couple Shows United Front at Eldest Son’s Hogwarts Quidditch Match
Is a Reunion Finally on the Cards?
Draco wasn’t particularly interested in the drivel the Prophet’s reporter had written about the fact that Harry had attended his son’s Quidditch Match, Slytherin against Gryffindor, the first match of the season. Harry attended every single one of his son’s matches and the fact that he did so was old news.
Still, he couldn’t help but skim over the article and what he read positively made his blood boil. He clenched his fists, growled, cast a vicious Incendio on the newspaper and gleefully watched it float in the air above his large mahogany desk and burn brightly. When only a dusting of ashes remained, he vanished those with a casual wave of his hand.
Harry was not about to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife and certainly, he wasn’t enamoured by her brilliant career or the fact that half the world hailed her as the best Captain to ever lead the Holyhead Harpies with brilliantly unorthodox game tactics.
Was he the only person on the planet who had bothered to take a proper look at the photograph of Harry and his estranged wife?
They looked positively uncomfortable and awkward in each other’s company!
There wasn’t the tiniest spark left to ignite. They were two people who had three children together, no more, no less.
*One Day Earlier*
Harry zipped his jacket up all the way to fend off the wintery chill of the Scottish Highlands. Compared to the Midlands it was decidedly colder up north and he bitterly regretted the fact that he hadn’t brought his scarf along. He shoved his hands into his pockets, shuffled from one foot to the other and gave Ginny an awkward smile which she didn’t reciprocate. Not that there was anything unusual about that.
“I’m taking the kids down to Hogsmeade for an early dinner. Join us?”
Ginny shook her head.
“I’ve got to get back to London. The match lasted longer than I thought it would.”
“It’s just dinner, Gin.”
Ginny looked rather exasperated and Harry tried his best to ignore the fact that they were seconds away from yet another pointless argument. It was all they ever did.
“Don’t call me that, Harry. I said I have to—”
Harry scowled and resolutely put his foot down.
“The children miss you!” he snapped.
Ginny’s expression was near murderous but Harry didn’t give a flying broomstick. She had never intimidated him and he wasn’t about to let her believe that anything had changed in that department.
“I’ll see them next weekend.”
“Yeah, like hell you will. For fuck’s sake, Ginny, all I’m asking for is two hours of your time to spend with our kids. Is that so hard to do?”
“I’m not doing this, Harry. I said I’ll see them next weekend and I’ll try my best. I can’t help it if that’s not good enough for you.”
Seriously, sometimes you act like you never wanted James, Al, and Lily in the first place, Harry thought darkly but was smart enough not to say those words aloud. Ginny hadn’t been the maternal type of woman in a very long time and he knew that he was partly to blame for that. Apart from their respective careers, a lot of things hadn’t really worked out for them and Harry could, to an extent, understand her bitterness. But her stubborn need to hold a grudge ten years after their divorce, well, that he could not understand. Weren’t they old enough to act like responsible adults? Sure, he hadn’t been the best husband but she hadn’t been the perfect wife either. The least she could do was try and be civil for the sakes of their children.
“Ginevra, hasn’t it been long enough? Let it go. Please.”
Ginny opened her mouth, undoubtedly to make a scathing remark about something or other that had transpired during their marriage, but closed it again when James, who had clearly changed out of his Quidditch gear in record time, ran up to them. Instead, she smiled warmly and high-fived her son.
“Excellent match, Jamie! You’ll be playing professional Quidditch in no time,” she praised and Harry forced himself to smile.
Aurors, he wants to join the Aurors, and you’d know that if you spend just a little more time with your own son, he thought bitterly.
Gryffindor had, of course, won the match, and James was as high as kite. He was bouncing up and down and grinning from ear to ear. His good mood somewhat lessened Harry’s sourness. He took a step back and passively listened as Ginny started discussing Quidditch tactics with James and was more than happy when Lily, who completely ignored her mother, came running up to him. He crouched down and she threw her arms around him.
Harry hugged her tightly and lifted her into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him square on the nose. Harry pulled a face at her and she laughed.
“I missed you, Dad.”
“I missed you too, honey.”
He hugged her a little tighter and relished in the fact that she was still a sucker for his hugs and cuddles. Now that she was attending Hogwarts, Harry was determined to cherish every single day that she let him wrap his arms around her. He planted a kiss on her cheek, tickled her sides and laughed when she squealed and squirmed out of his arms and back onto the ground. She playfully slapped his hands, scowled at him, then wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled into his side.
Thank Merlin for you, my little sunshine, he thought and turned his attention to a very sourly-looking Al, who strolled over to him with Scorpius Malfoy trailing not far behind. They both looked rather subdued and when James unabashedly mocked Slytherin’s very recent loss, Al glared icy daggers at him and Harry couldn’t help but think that his son acted just like Draco Malfoy. The thought entertained him but he wisely kept his amusement off his face.
“Shut it, James!” Al snapped and crossed his arms over his chest.
James opened his mouth to make a vicious comeback but Harry quickly cleared his throat and stepped in with a stern look.
“Play nice, Jamie. Gryffindor won, be happy about that, no need to rub salt into the wounds.”
“You’re no fun.”
Harry laughed and wrapping his other arm around Al, he pulled him into a hug, bend low and whispered a little something into his ear. He straightened up and looked completely serious, while Al giggled beside him, then ducked out of his embrace and walked over to Scorpius to chat with him. They shared a few laughs before Scorpius patted Al on the back and left to make his way back up to the castle.
Al pushed his hands into his robes and walked back over.
“Mum, are you joining us for dinner down in Hogsmeade?” he asked and Harry pointedly looked away.
Ginny was in the habit of soliciting him to make up excuses for her absence at family dinners and today, Harry wasn’t in the mood to help her out. If she was too busy to stay for dinner with their children, she could explain that to them. He heard her sigh.
“I’m sorry, Al, I’ve got to get back to London. I’ll try and visit next week.”
“Likely story, Mum, you always say that,” James said and Harry turned his head to watch him cross his arms over his chest and glare at his mother. “What in Merlin’s name is so important that you can’t stay and have dinner with us and Dad?”
To Harry’s complete surprise, James moved to stand next to Al and even threw an arm around his brother, who looked downright startled at the unexpected show of affection, especially considering what had just transpired on the Quidditch pitch.
“James—” Ginny sighed.
She looked at Harry, who shrugged in an I’m-staying-out-of-this sort of way. He was aware that he was being mean, and possibly even a little childish, but he couldn’t help it. These days, Ginny brought out the worst in him.
“Yeah, whatever. Used to it. Just bugger off, like you always do. At least Dad’s got his priorities straight.”
“James Potter! You will not speak to me like that,” Ginny snapped. She looked positively thunderous and Harry bit the inside of his mouth. He wanted to cheer James on but even he couldn’t bring himself to be this vicious.
“I’m not scared of you,” James said sassily.
“Jamie, please. She’s your mother.”
James turned his head. He looked cross and Harry didn’t blame him but his fatherly duties prevented him from showing that outright.
“Some mother. She’s never around!”
Harry glanced at Ginny. She could easily fix this but she didn’t seem inclined to do so. He swallowed his exasperation over her stubbornness and tried to appease James instead with a little bit of magic.
“Treacle Tart and Butterbeer.”
James expression softened a little and the hint of a smile appeared on his face. Much like Harry, he was completely obsessed with the sweet treat and when he was in a foul mood, a single mention of it worked wonders.
“Yeah, Jamie, let’s head down to the Three Broomsticks and order a massive plate of treacle tart,” Al came to the rescue, supporting his brother. “We can celebrate Gryffindor’s great victory and all.”
Al wrapped an arm around James’ waist and pushed him into the direction of the path that led down to Hogsmeade, purposefully diverting his attention. Ginny mouthed an apology at him and disappeared in the crowd without as much as a goodbye. Harry swallowed his own irritation and taking Lily by the hand, he dragged her along and they followed her two brothers. She skipped beside him and happily sang the words of a pop tune, Harry had never ever heard before. He smiled fondly and thanked his lucky stars for his three children.
They made it to the Three Broomsticks in no time and even though the small pub was quite crowded they managed to snag a table in a corner and ordered dinner, three plates of a double portion of treacle tart, and one portion of chocolate fudge cake, because Lily was the only member of the family who couldn’t stand her father’s favourite dessert.
The four of them ate and laughed and joked around and the more time Harry spent with the three rascals that had stolen his heart the day they’d been born, the more his annoyance over Ginny’s refusal to join them dissipated. The mood around the table was good, James wasn’t mercilessly mocking Al, who wasn’t continuously quoting passages from his favourite books and Lily was excited to tell him about all her classes and all the new spells she’d already learnt. She even demonstrated a few. Her execution was flawless and Harry couldn’t help but sing her praises until she blushed profusely.
Everything was good. Near perfect even.
Sitting back, Harry looked back and forth between his children and decided that there really weren’t many things in life that topped spending quality time with James, Al, and Lily and he suddenly considered himself to be very lucky. He had no regrets whatsoever.
“So, Dad, do you have any news for us then?” James asked suddenly, unexpectedly turning the conversation on him.
“I’m almost finished with my new book,” Harry offered but all three of his children looked unconvinced, as though they clearly suspected him of keeping secrets. They also looked rather bored. James and Al had never cared much about his writing. Sure, they supported him in his endeavours and willingly read his manuscripts but Lily was the only one of his children who was his biggest fan.
“Is that all you’ve been doing, Dad?” Lily asked.
Harry reached for his butterbeer and took a rather large sip. He thought about Draco and couldn’t help but grin as a flood of very pleasant memories invaded his thoughts.
“I’ve been drinking loads of coffee.”
Al frowned, Lily looked curious and James, well Harry had no idea how to describe his eldest son’s expression.
And, of course, it was James who asked the very question, Harry didn’t know how to answer. Mildly terrified, he decided to be as evasive as ever and therefore buy himself some time.
“An old friend.”
It wasn’t a lie. He’d known Draco a long time and although their conversations were sometimes a tad bit inappropriate, they were friends.
James looked at him with the sort of don’t-bullshit-me-Dad expression, he’d seen countless of times, and Harry suppressed the urge to sigh.
“You’re seeing someone.”
And there it was. The bold accusation, Harry didn’t know how to deny. He supposed he was seeing Draco, just not in the way James meant it. Although would that be so bad? Draco wasn’t the boy he’d once been. He was funny, intriguing, smart, and extremely handsome. Harry resolutely stopped himself there. He wasn’t ready to open that can of worms.
Instead, he glanced at his butterbeer and fervently wished it was Firewhiskey.
“Dad, are you dating?” Al wanted to know.
Lily had propped her head up on her elbow and curiously regarded him with her piercing green eyes. She was old enough to understand her brothers’ questions but she was oddly calm about it and Harry didn’t know what to make of it. She didn’t look disapproving or worried or sad. If anything, she looked— Amused?
“I’m not dating anyone. I’ve just been spending time with an old friend. Someone I went to school with,” Harry said, deciding to stick as close to the truth as possible. He tried his best to remain calm and ignored his gut instinct, which told him to run. He had two teenage boys and a Lily was a very smart and intuitive young witch. Chances that he would manage to keep anything from them for very long ranged between slim and non-existent.
“You really should find someone, Dad,” Lily piqued up. “We don’t want you to be lonely.”
“I’m not lonely, Lily, darling.”
“Dad! You spend all day writing stories for children. I mean, I love books but even I don’t spend that much time with my nose in one,” Al said.
Harry sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Firewhiskey. Where was the damned potent alcohol when you needed it?
“Yeah, Dad, Al is right. You really should get out there. You know, find someone,” James added his own two knuts.
Harry looked back and forth between his three children.
“What’s this?” he asked. “Some sort of intervention?”
“I suppose you could call it that,” Al grinned. “Only, we didn’t really plan it. If we had, it would be much worse. For you, I mean. Not for us.”
“Honestly, you three.”
Harry shook his head.
“Why are you so adamant that I should find someone? Aren’t you at all worried that I’ll spend less time with you?”
“You’ve always put us first, you’d never start forgetting about us,” Lily said with such a serious expression and a tone that made her sound much older and wiser than she was that Harry’s chest tightened uncomfortably.
“Yeah, we’re not worried about that,” All agreed. “Besides, Dad, what’s the fun in being single anyway? Even James has got a girlfriend.”
“Al! You useless bloody Slytherin, can’t you keep anything to yourself!”
Harry quirked a curious eyebrow at James.
“Not denying it then, big man?” he teased, pouncing on the quaffle Al had unintentionally thrown into his ring.
“In order not to further incriminate myself, I choose to remain silent.”
“Out with it, already! Who is she? Is she pretty?”
James shook his head profusely and hid his blushing face behind his butterbeer.
“I can just ask Al, you know.”
“If you do and he tells you, I will kill him.”
“She’s a fifth year Ravenclaw,” Lily outright stabbed her brother in the back and Harry laughed even harder. So hard he had to wipe a few tears from the corners of his eyes.
“Thanks, Lils, darling,” he chuckled and pulling a galleon out of his pocket, he slid it across the table to her. “Ravenclaw, huh, Jamie? Smart and pretty?”
James blushed crimson red, mumbled something about needing the toilet and fled the table so hastily that he not only spilt his butterbeer but also stumbled over his own feet.
Harry shook his head and grinned at Al and Lily.
“She’s not really his girlfriend, but James fancies her like mad,” Al said. “He spends loads of time with her in the library and goes red about twenty times when they talk.”
“You really are a Slytherin,” Harry said and finished off his butterbeer.
“Of course, I am, Dad.”
Al had he sliest grin, he had ever seen, on his face and Harry couldn’t help but think that, given half a chance, his son and Draco would get on like a house on fire. Never mind the fact that they were both Slytherins, but they were both insanely smart, sharp, and very witty. Their characters were much alike and Harry fondly blamed Scorpius Malfoy’s influence for his son’s cheeky disposition.
“Now, Dad, come one, you have to tell us, you are seeing someone, aren’t you?” Al suddenly turned the tables back on him and Harry groaned.
“No, Al, I really am not.”
Al looked unconvinced.
“I swear I’m telling the truth,” Harry feebly tried to assure his children.
“Maybe you could try Muggle online dating. Susan told me that’s how her parents met.”
Harry did a double take and stared at his daughter, unsure of what to say or how to react to her bold statement.
“You need someone to take care of you while we’re at Hogwarts,” she said and moving off her chair, she clambered into his lap, threw her arms around his neck, and hugged him.
“Oh, Lils,” Harry sighed and pointedly ignored the big lump that had formed in his throat. “Honestly, I’m fine. I’m not lonely. Don’t worry.”
“If you’re sure,” Al said, looking entirely sceptical.
“I think it’s about time I return you to the castle, otherwise your kind Headmistress will revoke my privileges of taking you out after Quidditch matches,” Harry said, pushed Lily off his lap, and pointedly rose to his feet. “You two stay here, I’m going to get your brother.”
Harry crossed the pub, entered the men’s restroom, and found James leaning against the wall beside a small window, staring off into space with a subdued expression. Thankfully they were alone and Harry decided that, despite the less than perfect location, he had to talk to his eldest son.
“Not a chance in hell. I’ve never done that before and I’m certainly not going to start now.”
Harry walked up to James and leaning against the wall beside him, he gave him a friendly nudge.
“You know, Jamie, I’m perfectly OK with you having a girlfriend, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend, Al and Lily are talking shit.”
Harry clicked his tongue and James’ choice of language but said nothing. Now was not the time for silly reprimands of that sort.
“I’m also OK with you fancying a girl. Or a boy. Either one is fine with me.”
James mumbled something incomprehensible and Harry nudged his shoulder again.
“What’s her name?”
“Don’t screw it up.”
James pushed away from the wall and turned to look at him.
“You’re really OK with me liking a girl?” he asked, awkwardly shuffling from one foot to the other.
“Why wouldn’t I be? Just, you know, be careful if you two ever— you know, do more than kiss somewhere in a deserted classroom.”
“Eek, Dad! That’s like literally the last thing on my mind!”
“Not for much longer,” Harry smiled.
“I really hate you.”
“Good, I love you, too, James.”
James exasperatedly threw his hands up into the air and Harry laughed and threw and arm around his son.
“Come on, big man, I’ve got to get you guys back to the castle.”
Draco’s mobile phone beeped and reaching for it, he got to his feet. He went to leave the room but stopped when he saw the sender’s name. With a smile he tapped the screen and opened the message.
Potter: My son (James) went and got himself a girlfriend.
Draco chuckled and hit the reply button. His thumbs flew over the keyboard and he tapped out a short response.
Potter: Malfoy, you’re rotten filth.
“Just getting in first. Besides, you wouldn’t like me any other way.”
Potter: You’re mean. I really don’t like you very much right now.
“Does that mean you usually like me?”
Potter: Silence is golden. Lily suggested I try online dating. My children worry that I’m lonely.
Draco slipped his phone into his pocket and left his flat to return to the coffee shop. Not bothering with an apron, he reached for one of air-tight opaque containers from the shelf behind the counter and set about making two cups of coffee. His mobile phone beeped again and taking it out, he opened Harry’s unread message and smirked.
Potter: I’ve got you, haven’t I.
“Not an answer to my question. Try Match, Tinder is apparently only for casual hook-ups only.”
Potter: I’m shocked. Why do you know this?
Potter: You are unbelievable.
“Thank you. Any more compliments you’d like to throw my way?”
Potter: I could think of a few.
“Are you flirting with me?”
Potter: Are you delusional?
“I’m talking to you, Potter, you tell me.”
Potter: Some friend you are. And here I thought you might offer me a cup of coffee and a bit of your time.
“I’m not a qualified counsellor. But I know a lovely lady two doors down from the coffee shop.”
Potter: Bloody Slytherin.
“Is that the worst you can do?”
Potter: I really want to hex you right now…
“Come, open your front door, then.”
Potter: I swear, Malfoy, if you’re fucking with me…
“Not yet… Now, open the front door.”
Draco held on to this phone and precariously balanced a paper tray with two large takeaway cups of coffee, which he had put under a Stasis and a Non-Spillage Charm. Miraculously, the coffee had survived his jump from the coffee shop to Godric’s Hollow. He impatiently waited for Harry to open the door and when he did, Draco couldn’t help but smirk. Potter looked positively gobsmacked and Draco really wanted to take a picture of that moment to savour it forever.
“Angolan Beans, taste plain as day but in terms of good, strong coffee they absolutely get the job done,” he said.
“Why are you here?” Harry asked with a frown.
He looked quite handsome but Draco wasn’t about to tell him that any time soon.
“You asked for a friend and coffee.”
“I—” Harry trailed off and shook his head. “How did you even know I was home?”
“Call it intuition. Are you going to invite me in or are we drinking this coffee on your doorstep? While I’m fine with that, I’d really prefer if we didn’t.”
Harry, still looking completely bewildered, took a step back into the house.
Chapter 19: 2019, Thursday, 7th of November
Let's keep that tension burning for a little while longer, shall we? *smirk*
Feeling somewhat giddy, Harry pushed the door to The Fresh Bean open and stepped into his new favourite haunt. He inhaled deeply, relishing in the familiar strong scent of freshly ground coffee beans and freshly baked goods that seemed to perpetually waft through the air. The soft music playing in the background and the distinct chatter of the patrons further teased his other senses and he smiled and felt himself relax.
Over the last two months, he’d grown so accustomed to coming to The Fresh Bean that walking into the coffee shop was just like returning home after an especially dreary day at work. A cocoon of warmth engulfed him and gradually dispelled the nasty chill of late autumn. It carried the promise of an especially harsh and cold winter and Harry wasn’t looking forward to the lack of sunshine and the freezing cold temperatures of December.
This morning’s meeting with his editor had been anything but fun and apart from feeling a little queasy from the Polyjuice Potion he’d taken, he also wanted to flush his latest book down the toilet and give up writing altogether.
Maybe Draco needed part-time barista…?
His stomach reminded him of the fact that he’d yet to eat lunch. He let his eyes roam around the shop, instinctively seeking out Draco and spotted him casually leaning against the counter and engaged in a conversation with a tall athletic stranger.
He watched Draco laugh in response to something the man had said and unconsciously clenched his fist inside the pocket of his knee-length black winter coat. He glowered at the dark-haired stranger, offended by his very presence. When Draco leant in and placed his hand on the man’s forearm, Harry saw red. He felt strange wisps of raw magic flare up inside his chest. They spread through him like wildfire, intent on consuming him, and his wand hand twitched as he contemplated whether he might get away with firing a wandless Tripping Jinx at whoever Draco was talking to. He decided that he wasn’t quite that childish, made a conscious effort to take a deep breath and swallowed the angry growl that threatened to escape his throat.
He pulled his hand out of coat pocket, adjusted his laptop bag’s shoulder strap, and fixing the stranger with a withering death glare, he made his way over to the counter. Halfway there, Draco turned his head, looked directly at him, and quirked a curious eyebrow. Harry redoubled his effort to look dark and menacing and scowled in response to Draco’s trademark Slytherin smirk.
He approached Draco and whoever he was talking to and staggered a little when Draco unsuspectedly threw an arm around his shoulder.
“What’s got you looking this sour, Potter?”
Harry grumbled something incomprehensible in response and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Bad day?” Draco asked. “There’s coffee for that, you know.”
“You appear to be too busy to make me some,” Harry said scathingly, unable to completely hide his displeasure over having inadvertently witnessed Draco’s blatant flirting. He tried to remind himself that he was being irrational but for some reason, he felt intensely possessive of Draco and was loath to share him with anyone else. He knew that he was being ridiculous but it still didn’t change the way he felt.
“I’m never too busy to take care of my best friend, but let me introduce you to Jeff first. He’s the one with excellent connections to small independent coffee farms all over the globe. He just came back from Costa Rica with a bag of absolutely magical coffee beans and I’m positively dying to make a Pour-Over to sample them.”
Harry forced himself to swallow his unfounded feelings of hostility towards a man he’d never met before, stuck a fake smile onto his face, and grudgingly extended his hand to shake Jeff’s.
“Pleasure to meet you. I’m Harry.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Harry, but I’m afraid I’ve got to run. Drake, I’m off to Uganda tomorrow but I promise we’ll do dinner when I come back.”
“Rwenzori Mountains, don’t forget. I want those beans, otherwise, no dinner.”
“You drive a hard bargain, Drake. You know I’ll get you those beans.”
“You better, Jeff, you better.”
Jeff mock-saluted. He turned on his heel and reached for a thick winter jacket and a backpack. He slipped into his jacket and when he leant in to hug Draco, Harry decided to start planning his murder. It was a quick, friendly hug and it only lasted for several seconds but Harry hated it with a passion and when Jeff bid him goodbye, he nodded curtly.
The moment they were alone, Draco turned to face him and Harry had the sense to look slightly embarrassed. He was suddenly hyper-aware of just how obvious he’d been and it made him feel self-conscious. He’d no claim on Draco. They were friends, no more and no less. Draco wasn’t his to get all possessive over.
“What was that all about, Potter?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure, you don’t. The green-eyed monster came out to play, didn’t it?”
“Don’t be silly, Malfoy.”
“Fine, I’ll drop it. But only until you’re sufficiently caffeinated.”
Harry tried not to look too hopeful but failed miserably. He was hungry and grouchy and just a little annoyed with himself and when Draco squeezed his shoulder and smiled warmly, something in the pit of his stomach flipped excitedly.
“Coffee and food, coming right up. Go, leave your things in the staffroom. I’ll make us coffee and warm something delicious up for you.”
Harry smiled gratefully and moved past Draco. He was about to lean against the door to the staffroom to push it open when long fingers wrapped around his wrist and held him back. Draco stepped up to him, fixed him with his silvery grey eyes and his lips curled into a wicked smirk.
“You know, Potter,” he said, his voice too low and too husky, “jealousy isn’t a good character trait to have, but you make it look hot. Please, carry on.”
Draco squeezed past him, turned, reached for a bag of coffee beans, and walked off while Harry stood in front of the staffroom door with his mouth hanging open. He feebly tried to process what had just happened but his mind refused to make any sense of it. Instead, he found himself staring after Draco’s retreating form and swallowed hard as his gaze fell onto his nicely-shaped round arse. He involuntarily licked his lips and briefly closed his eyes in a desperate attempt to control himself. For some reason, pouncing on Draco and pushing him back against the nearest wall was rapidly becoming a very good idea.
Get a hold of yourself, you’re not sixteen anymore, Harry told himself and tearing his eyes away from Draco’s arse, he leant against the door to the staffroom and entered it backwards.
“Fuck, just fuck.”
Leaning against the wall beside the window, Harry tipped his head back, closed his eyes and tried his hardest to focus on his breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out. He had no idea how he had gone from feeling vexed over his editor’s comments about his latest work to an inexplicable pang of jealousy to feeling extremely aroused in less than a second. He couldn’t make sense of the effect Draco had on him but he was so excited that trying to control his body’s reaction to Draco’s glaringly obvious invitation to be openly possessive was just a little painful.
Harry wasn’t an idiot. They’d been openly and casually flirting with each other for several weeks now but they’d never done anything to acknowledge that fact. Except, now they had. Draco had. He’d boldly called him out for his jealousy and even asked him to keep on doing it. Harry’s mind threatened to short-circuit and setting his laptop bag down on the floor beside him, he made one last desperate attempt to calm himself. He felt both hot and cold and suddenly getting something to eat wasn’t all that high up on his to-do list anymore. He wanted something else. He wanted Draco and the fact that he had just admitted that to himself, scared him.
For a moment, he contemplated Apparating out of the staffroom and home to Godric’s Hollow but he dismissed that thought as foolish. Instead, he pushed himself away from the wall, walked over to the table and poured himself a glass of fresh lemon water from the glass carafe on the table. He gulped it down, then filled another and finished that one off too. It didn’t calm his nerves any more than taking deep breaths had done but his mouth no longer felt parched. He unbuttoned his coat, shrugged it off his shoulders and placed it over the back of a nearby chair. He pressed his slightly sweaty palms to the edge of the table, closed his eyes, and made one last attempt to focus and settle his overactive imagination before resolutely turning around to make his way back out into the shop.
Coffee, he needed coffee. That and maybe a tumbler of Firewhiskey.
Chapter 20: 2019, Sunday, 10th of November
Draco swallowed an exasperated growl and lowered the manuscript in his hand. He let it rest in his lap and fixed his eyes on Harry’s back, glowering darkly at his ever-moving form.
Harry flinched, stopped pacing immediately, and turned to face him. He clasped and twisted his hands together and nervously shifted from one foot to the other and back again.
“You hate it,” he mumbled and Draco ignored him completely.
“For the love of Salazar Slytherin, you are driving me around the bend, Potter! I’d rather you didn’t walk a hole into that rug. I’m quite attached to it. It’s also been in the family for at least a century and I’d like to keep it for a couple more decades.”
“I would have never guessed that.”
He rolled his eyes, reached for his coffee mug and taking a few small sips of the hot beverage, a perfectly balanced creamy blend from Hawaii, from the remote district of Ka’u to be exact. He relished in the lingering light milk chocolate flavour with its undertones of almond sweetness and keeping his eyes fixed on Harry, he elegantly crossed his legs.
“I hate repeating myself, Potter, and you know that. Now sit down already. Or did you recline on top of an anthill this morning and a bunch of them crawled up your arse?”
Harry scowled at him, probably because of his crude language, but he grudgingly moved over to the sofa and ungracefully let himself fall into the cushions. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked thoroughly put out. Draco briefly contemplated straddling his thighs and distracting him with a deep slow-burning kiss that had the potential to end in something else altogether but pushed that thought aside and focused on the matter at hand.
“This was a mistake.”
“What was a mistake?” he asked, purposefully playing dumb.
He drank a little more of his coffee and regarded Harry curiously.
“This. Letting you talk me into showing you the unpublished manuscript.”
Harry sighed softly. His distress, though Draco couldn’t for the life of him fathom where it was coming from, was plain as day. Harry uncrossed his arms, sat forward, and reached for his own coffee mug. He wrapped both hands around it, relaxed back into the cushions and looked up. Draco caught his gaze, held it for a few moments and offered a sincere smile that, much to his dismay, did absolutely nothing to improve Harry’s rotten mood. He’d never seen him this anxious before and he couldn’t deny that he liked this slightly insecure side of him. It was a stark contrast to the sassy and confident demeanour, Draco had grown accustomed to. Something that quietly hinted at a man, who, despite everything he had achieved in life, still craved the love and support of another human being, of someone who understood him.
When Harry had announced that he had finished his latest book, Draco had pestered him for a sneak preview for days on end. He’d relentlessly bugged him about it but Harry had repeatedly brushed him off with an array of ridiculous excuses. He’d been a stubborn git and refused to give in right up until this morning when he’d come to the coffee shop, hugging a printout of his manuscript to his chest, his hair just a smidgen more dishevelled than usual and with dark circles under his beautiful emerald green eyes. Draco had ushered him out of the shop and upstairs into his flat and after plying him with fresh coffee and a warm chocolate croissant, Harry had wordlessly passed him the manuscript.
“Don’t be silly, Potter. I happen to like the story.”
The compliment resulted in Harry staring at him with a completely gobsmacked expression. He frowned deeply and looked rather unconvinced. Draco wanted to laugh but he swallowed the urge to do so; there would be time for mocking later, there always was. Right now, he had the feeling Harry would throw a Stinging Hex or worse at him and he wasn’t in the mood for that kind of foreplay.
“You like the story?” Harry asked.
He sounded completely disbelieving like he wasn’t a well-known published author or had ever received any praise about his writing and like millions of children around the world didn’t like his books and the stories he told. Draco tried his best to remain nonchalant.
“That’s what I just said, isn’t it?”
Harry started to say something but trailed off and fell silent. Instead, he focused on his coffee and stared at it as though it was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen in his entire life. Draco gave him a moment of solitude with his own thoughts, then broke through whatever haze had resulted in Harry clamming up.
“Cat got your tongue?”
Draco couldn’t quite resist teasing Harry just a little. The creases on Harry’s forehead deepened.
“No,” he shook his head. “I just didn’t expect you to like it, that’s all. It’s a silly children’s story.”
Draco furrowed his brow and silently scrutinised Harry for a full minute. He had the feeling that there was an actual reason for Harry’s sudden lack of faith in his own creation and he wanted to find out what it was. This kind of attitude wasn’t like Harry and casting his mind back over the last few days, Draco had to admit that he’d been somewhat subdued and unusually quiet since Thursday. He’d done is best to play it down but Draco had noticed, even though he hadn’t said anything. He’d wanted to but something had held him back. Draco briefly wondered whether whatever was bugging Harry was related to something he had said that day or something that had happened but decided that Harry’s low spirits had nothing to do with their light-hearted flirtations or the fact that he’d delighted in Harry’s obvious but entirely unfounded jealousy. Something else had happened, Draco was sure of that, and he was suddenly determined to solve the mystery.
“What’s the matter with you, Potter? I was under the impression you rather enjoyed making up stories about dragons and other fantastic creatures.”
“I do— Like it, I mean. It’s just—” Harry paused as if trying to collect his thoughts, then changed his course of direction altogether. “Do you really like it?”
He looked so utterly sheepish and self-conscious that for a moment, all Draco could see was a seventeen-year-old boy with the weight of the world resting on his shoulders. The image replayed in his mind and his chest tightened painfully as he remembered trying to explain to Scorpius why his mother was no longer living with them. The face Scorpius had made when he’d asked Draco if his mother didn’t love him anymore; it had shattered his heart into a million tiny shards. Harry’s current expression came to a close second and Draco reprimanded himself for being such an extravagantly emotional fool. Tempted to move over to the sofa and throw an arm around Harry in the hope that it would comfort him, Draco swallowed a sigh, set his coffee mug down, and splayed his hand out over the manuscript.
“Yes, Potter, I really like it. It’s a great story.”
Harry held his gaze for a moment, then averted his eyes and let out a low sigh.
“My editor doesn’t think so.”
“Your editor is a fool.”
“She’s asking for a bunch of rewrites and normally I respect her opinion because she’s usually got a point but this time, I think she’s wrong.”
“What rewrites is the bint asking for?”
Harry hesitated, then resolutely sat forward, placed his coffee mug on the coaster on the table in front of him and reached for his laptop bag. He produced a second copy of the manuscript, one that looked tattered and had markings all over it. He held it up for Draco to see and looked so forlorn that Draco uncrossed his legs and moved to the edge of his armchair. He dithered for half a minute, then got to his feet, moved over to the sofa, and deliberately sat right next to Harry. He did it in one fluid motion and with a lot more elegance than Harry showed whenever he plonked himself into the cushions. Their legs pressed together and as he reached for the worn manuscript, Draco tried his best not to let the warmth, radiating from Harry’s leg, distract him. He was aware that there was no need for them to sit this close together but he enjoyed it and Harry didn’t seem to mind either.
“Talk me through it,” he said encouragingly and turning his head, he held Harry’s gaze for several long moments. Staring at each other until neither one of them could stand the obvious tension any longer had become a little game between them and Draco felt a tingling wisp of magic jolt down his spine. He lived for those moments, a few seconds where literally anything was possible, where they were entirely open with each other, baring their souls and letting the other in. Growing up, it wasn’t something they’d ever done but since getting to know Harry properly he’d come to cherish their special little moments and he was sure that Harry did too. He blinked and resolutely resisted the urge to rest his hand on top of Harry’s thigh. Instead, he cleared his throat, reclined but kept his leg firmly pressed up against Harry’s, and turned the manuscript’s first page.
Three hours later they found themselves in the kitchen with Harry raiding his fridge and chopping up vegetables and dicing a slab of fresh, delicate lamb before throwing it all into a wok and stirring it almost constantly. He did it all with a sort of familiarity that Draco liked a lot more than he cared to admit at this moment in time. Harry paused every now and then to drink his coffee, answer one of Draco’s questions or explain something or other about the plot.
They’d gone through most of the manuscript and Harry’s spirits had lifted considerably the longer they kept at it. At first, Draco had been hesitant to offer his opinion and worried that he might upset Harry and drive a wedge between them, he’d limited himself to making polite remarks but Harry’s displeasure at his lack of severely critical comments had made him change his tune quickly. He’d thrown caution into the wind and, just like he’d done with Timothy’s Master thesis, Draco had offered his opinion with little regard as to how it made Harry feel. It had resulted in several intense arguments but Harry hadn’t taken the slightest bit of offence. He’d taken all of Draco’s observations in his strike and before long a beautiful discussion had ensued as they passionately dissected every single one of K. Evans’ editor’s comments.
Harry’s order pulled Draco back into the present and blinking, he lowered the tattered manuscript and his coffee and focused on Harry, who was offering him a taste of what would soon be their lunch on a wooden spoon.
Draco found himself complying and parting his lips, he allowed Harry to feed him a spoonful of whatever delightful concoction he’d produced. The intense aroma of cumin filled his mouth and he gently bit down on a cube of crispy lamb that was so delightfully buttery tender on the inside that Draco couldn’t help close his eyes for a moment to properly savour the taste. The bold spice mix that included chilli peppers and Sichuan peppercorns along with the taste of fragrant Asian cooking oil with plenty of aromatics such as ginger, garlic, and onion exploded in his mouth and Draco let out a satisfied little moan.
“Good?” Harry asked with an expectant expression.
“Fucking divine,” he said.
“It’s nothing special, just a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”
Harry dismissed his praise and with a growl, Draco lunged forward, grabbed the wooden spoon, and smacked it across Harry’s arse.
“Ow, what was that for?” Harry gave him a lost puppy look and rubbed his buttock.
“Dismissing my praise. This Slytherin won’t stand for it.”
“Oh, my humble apologies, Mr Malfoy. I did not mean to upset you. I’m ever so thankful that you let me take over your kitchen to cook for us.”
“There, that’s a lot better. I’m impressed, you do have some manners, Potter.”
Draco handed the wooden spoon back but regretted it when Harry mockingly rolled his eyes at him. He tried his best to ignore it and putting his coffee mug and Harry’s manuscript down on the counter beside him and headed over to the cupboard on the far side of the kitchen.
He silently lay the table, topped up their coffees and five minutes later, Harry filled their plates with fragrant Jasmine rice and the marvellous lamb stir-fry he’d produced. They sat down across from each other and Draco couldn’t help but watch Harry eat before he started on his own lunch.
“You know, Potter, I could get used to this.”
“What? Me, serving you?”
Draco resisted the urge to roll his eyes but vowed to hit Harry with a fierce Stinging Hex just as soon as they finished eating.
“No, you idiot. Us, spending time together.”
“I thought you were already used to it.”
“I’m not in the habit of taking a good thing for granted.”
“I’m a good thing, huh?”
“You’re ruining it now, Potter.”
“Draco, would it really pain you to call me Harry?”
“I like calling you Potter, Potter. But to appease you, I think of you as Harry.”
“You think of me?”
“Oh yeah, all the time.”
Draco winked suggestively and Harry choked a little. He hastily reached for his coffee and took a sip, then cleared his throat. Draco smirked.
“All the time?” Harry asked, his voice a little raspy and thick of something suggestive, Draco didn't dare contemplate lest he found himself unable to resist the urge to jump Harry and drag him off to his bedroom.
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“I don’t know what you think I’m saying.”
“Draco…” Harry trailed off and instead of finishing his sentence he stuffed a spoonful of stir-fry with rice into his mouth and chewed, then swallowed.
They held each other’s gaze and Draco shuffled a little in his seat. Not because he was uncomfortable, although his trousers did feel a little tight, but because he liked the idea of teasing Harry and adding a bit of spice to their flirty banter.
Harry cleared his throat, put his fork down and Draco watched him toy with the napkin beside his plate. He wanted to reach out and toy with Harry’s hand in much the same manner but resisted the temptation.
“So, erm, the Falcons are playing Puddlemere next Saturday,” Harry said.
Draco arched a questioning eyebrow at him.
“They are,” he affirmed.
“I thought we could go see the match. I’ve got tickets. VIP tickets.”
“A date?” Draco asked and positively delighted in the way Harry’s cheeks pinked.
“If you, erm, if you want.”
“Sure, I’d love to be your arm candy, Potter.”
Draco grinned and Harry let out an exasperated groan.
“You drive me crazy, Malfoy.”
“Good to know.”
“Tosser,” Harry grumbled and Draco laughed.
“Nothing wrong with a bit of tossing every now and then, Potter,” he teased.
Harry held his gaze for a moment, then nodded.
“While I concur, this conversation has gone completely off topic.”
Draco grinned. He took intense pleasure in making Harry uncomfortable for all the right (and probably also wrong) reasons.
“Of course, it’s much better when someone else does it for you but in the absence of a suitable partner, it’s the next best thing.”
Instead of responding, Harry resumed eating. Draco, content to let the images, his words had produced, linger in his mind, did the same and they ate in silence for several minutes but Harry eventually spoke up again.
“Draco,” he said and Draco lifted his head to look at him.
“We’ll make the front page of the Prophet if we go together.”
“We probably will.”
“Are you OK with that?”
“I don’t care, it's not like I've never been front page news before and you're well acquainted with the Prophet's penchant for printing lies. Let them print whatever they want.”
“Maybe we should tell the children…”
“Tell the children what?”
“Tell them that we’re, you know, friends. Just in case the Prophet prints some poppycock about our Hogwarts rivalry. I’m not sure I’d want James, Al, and Lily to read about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Scorpius knows that we’ve been spending time together.”
“You told him?”
Draco shook his head.
“No, you did,” he smiled.
Harry’s confused expression was downright endearing and Draco wanted to savour the moment forever.
“You told Al that you’ve been drinking loads of coffee. Your boy is a smart cookie, you know. He didn’t end up in Slytherin for no reason. He and Scorp made a connection between you asking about the coffee shop and your off-handed comment about drinking a lot of coffee recently. Scorpius sent me a message a couple of days after the Quidditch match asking about us.”
“What did you tell him?”
“Just that we went to Hogwarts together but couldn’t stand the sight of each other back then and that we’ve been getting to know each other.”
“Nothing else then?”
Draco quirked a curious eyebrow.
“Is there anything else to tell, Potter?”
Harry’s cheeks pinked and he looked rather embarrassed.
“No, I mean, just, ah never mind. Are we going to the match then?”
“Sure,” Draco smiled. “But I expect that you pick me up on time and take me there like the perfect gentleman that you undoubtedly aren’t.”
“Don’t ruin it, Malfoy.”
“I’ll endeavour not to.”
Chapter 21: 2019, Saturday, 16th of November
Harry let his gaze wander around the Quidditch pitch. They were an hour into the game and the current score was 60:60. It was very much a case of one team scoring and the other retaliating with a successful goal of their own. Both the Falmouth Falcons and Puddlemere United were excellent teams. They each had very strong and very vicious players and bloody fantastic Seekers, however, so far, neither one of them had spotted the elusive winged golden ball, though it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Both the Falcon’s Seeker and Puddlemere’s Seeker were merely biding their time and testing each other’s patience. Harry was convinced that if they were to really put their mind to the task, they’d spot, chase, and catch the Snitch in no time.
Watching them circle the pitch and bait each other into performing skilful and daring manoeuvres filled Harry with a sense of longing for the thrill of chasing through the air at breakneck speed while trying to evade unfriendly bludgers and constantly throwing off the opposing team’s Seeker. He hadn’t played a proper Quidditch match in several years and tonight’s game had him at the edge of his seat, imagining himself astride the latest Firebolt, whizzing across the pitch, repeatedly diving and ducking.
Draco’s voice cut through the roaring cheers of the crowd and turning his head, Harry found himself staring right at him. Their faces were mere inches away from each other and the sudden, unexpected closeness momentarily distracted Harry from devoting his attention to the game. He was vaguely aware of the commentator’s magically amplified voice but too preoccupied to hear the actual words.
A large portion of the spectators cheered loudly but Harry was too busy letting his gaze flick between Draco’s eyes and his luscious lips. He swallowed hard and pulled back a little. He really wanted to do quite the opposite and while the VIP booth afforded them both a decent amount of privacy, it didn’t shield them from the sophisticated high-resolution cameras of the Prophet’s reporters. He was fine with people seeing him in Draco’s company but he most definitely wasn’t ready to see a photograph of him and Draco snogging at a Quidditch match on the front page of Britain’s most notorious Wizarding newspaper.
Draco’s sly grin made Harry shudder and he frowned. That look could mean only one thing; Draco was up to no good.
“Malfoy,” he said warningly, lest he did something they’d both regretted, though he was sure that Draco wasn’t about to go overboard. At least he hoped he wasn’t. After all, this was Draco Malfoy and if Harry had learnt one thing in the time since they’d gotten reacquainted, then it was that he couldn’t trust Draco to be predictable. That word didn’t exist in his vocabulary and Harry found it both vexing and exciting, though these days he was leaning more towards excitement rather than exasperation over the things Draco said or did.
“Tell me, Potter, are you a betting man?” Draco asked with a mischievous sparkle in his eyes and Harry heard the warning bells go off inside his head.
Say no, his voice of reason told him while another urged him to do the exact opposite. He hesitated for a few moments, held Draco’s gaze but resolutely broke away when those silvery grey orbs started to make him feel faint. Still, he managed to completely surprise himself with his response.
“Given the right incentive…”
Two can play this game, he thought victoriously and reprimanded himself instantly. Still, Draco’s approving grin hadn’t gone unnoticed. It mildly terrified him, not because he’d noticed it but because the more time he spent with Draco, the bolder he became. These days, it was like he was turning into a complete Slytherin and he was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he’d even thought about soliciting Al’s help with advice on how to behave like a proper cunning and resourceful little snake.
“How would you feel about making a little bet about the outcome of the game?” Draco asked.
Harry considered for a moment. The rational part of him told him that no good could come from making such a bet and that Draco was bound to be a sore loser. The part of him that craved the rush he got from being a bit daring told him that at nearly forty years of age he had absolutely nothing to lose.
“Go for it, Malfoy.”
“Ever the reckless Gryffindor.”
“Still the scheming Slytherin.”
“But of course,” Draco smiled. “Now, Potter, I say Puddlemere is going to win the match tonight.”
“You’re mental, they are good but the Falcons are going to make a clean sweep.”
“Delusional as always. You were always under the impression that you were the better Seeker.”
“I am the better Seeker, Malfoy. Slytherin lost every match we played against each other and with my son on the team they’re continuing to do so.”
Draco growled and feeling an angry wave of magic roll off him, Harry hastily threw up a wandless shield charm. He did so just in time. Draco’s Stinging Hex bounced off it and scorched the floor beneath them instead.
“Are we going to hex each other or are we going to make that bet?” Harry asked boldly. “Because honestly, Malfoy, I’m okay with either one.”
“Do you really want to give me the satisfaction of whipping your arse in a duel? All you ever do is cast Expelliarmus.”
“It did help me van—”
“I swear, Potter, if you finish that sentence, I will trounce you with a series of extremely vicious spells.”
“Is that a promise?”
Draco quirked an eyebrow at him, then suddenly leant in and placed his hand suggestively on Harry’s thigh.
Shuddering, Harry stared at it and bit his bottom lip firmly when Draco applied a little bit of pressure. A rush of heat surged up his thigh and pooled low in his groin and he barely managed to resist the urge to shuffle in his seat.
For a split-second, Draco was so close that he could to feel the warmth of his breath and all Harry wanted to do was to lean in and close that tiny gap between them. Those lips looked so utterly inviting and over the last few weeks, Harry had spent too much time thinking about and imagining what it would feel like to kiss those lips. He suddenly yearned for his father’s invisibility cloak and even briefly contemplated Apparating them both to Godric’s Hollow and preferably straight into his bedroom. He’d never felt such strong and all-consuming sexual attraction to anyone before and it made his head spin and his cheeks flush. His lungs suddenly seemed to require a lot more oxygen and this heart thrummed so fiercely that he was sure it was bound to burst out of his chest.
Dazed, he let his own hand rest on top of Draco’s and squeezed gently and was utterly grateful when Draco brought a little bit more distance between both their faces.
“Alright, Potter, here’s the deal, if Puddlemere wins you owe me a favour.”
“What kind of favour?” Harry asked warily.
“I’ll think of something.”
Harry didn’t like Draco’s roguish smile one bit but he decided that he’d gotten to know him well enough not to regret agreeing to such vague terms and so he nodded.
“And if the Falcons win—”
“Same, I owe you a favour.”
“Shouldn’t we be a bit more specific?” Harry made a feeble attempt at suggesting that they clarify the rules but Draco shot him down instantly.
“Now where’s the fun in that, Potter? Live a little, if you can indulge in drunken fumbles in dark alleyways with perfect strangers, then you can agree to owe me a favour.”
“That was once, Malfoy, once! You scare me. Correction, you terrify me.”
Draco raised an eyebrow at him.
“Pity. I thought I excite you…”
Both, Harry thought but didn’t quite manage to bring himself to say that word aloud.
“I’m not a coward, Malfoy.”
“I didn’t think you were, Potter.”
Lifting his hand off Draco’s, Harry held it out to him and after a moment of hesitation, Draco removed his hand from his thigh and they shook hands.
A little other an hour later, the game ended with a score of 270:120 for the Falcons and while Harry looked gleeful, Draco grumbled and scowled darkly and tried his best to look menacing as they left the stadium and headed over to one of the designated Apparition Points. He kept his arms crossed over his chest and even though Harry absolutely wanted to tease him about his narrow loss, he knew better than to push Draco’s buttons. Instead, he had the sense to give him a moment to acquaint himself with his loss.
The only reason Draco had suggested their little wager had been because he’d been convinced that Puddlemere United would win the game and for the longest time it had looked like that but then the Falcon’s Seeker had performed a daredevil flying manoeuvre in a bitter attempt to outfly Puddlemere’s Seeker as they’d both chased after the Snitch. He’d pursued it all the way to the ground and caught it less than ten feet above the sandy pitch, levelling his broom at the very last second and showing off the Golden Snitch as it pathetically struggled in his fierce grasp.
They silently threaded into the queue of excited Falcon fans and subdued Puddlemere supporters and as they slowly edged forward, Harry, suddenly irrationally terrified that their little bet had caused an irreparable rift between them, turned to look at Draco, and resolutely placed his hand on his forearm, squeezing it gently to get Draco’s attention.
“Malfoy, look, let’s just— you know, let’s ignore the bet.”
Draco shot him a positively withering death glare.
“Potter, I may be in a mood because I lost our little bet but I’m not childish enough to ignore it happened. The Falcons won and therefore I owe you a favour. You may make your demand.”
“Are you sure?” Harry looked unconvinced.
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Of course, I’m sure. I can be the bigger man here, just give me another hour to digest the fact that I’ll probably never win against you and we’ll be good.”
“Damn, Draco, you really are nothing like the brat you were at Hogwarts.”
“I was never a brat, Potter, that was all you. I was an arrogant and condescending snobbish prat.”
“Wow,” Harry said, genuinely surprised and just a little speechless.
Draco’s expression softened a little and he smiled.
“People change, Potter.”
“They do,” Harry nodded. “And you changed in the best possible way. Can I take you for dinner?”
“Thank you and yes you can.”
Chapter 22: 2019, Friday, 22nd of November
Friendly warning, please remove all sharp objects from your vicinity in case you feel like stabbing me after you've finished this chapter. In the meantime, I'm going to join the witness-protection-programme, just in case.
Draco carefully set the large French Press Pot down on a wooden tray. He'd filled it nearly to the brim with a truly special Single-Origin Dark Roast from arid mountains of Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula. Lush and full-bodied with hints of cocoa and dates, it gave off a complex, pungent aroma that bewitched Draco’s senses. He was truly excited about sharing yet another cup of exquisite coffee with Harry, who'd come to thoroughly enjoy trying different types of coffee from all over the globe.
He added two mugs and a plate of Crunchy Almond Biscotti and drew his wand to cast a Non-Spillage Charm, then picked the tray up and made his way upstairs. Harry had claimed his usual spot by the window and was bend over his thick, black notebook, furiously scribbling away with an ordinary Muggle pen. Draco stopped at the top of the staircase and shamelessly watched for a while. There was something strangely electrifying about watching Harry write.
He appeared concentrated and lost in his task, thoroughly detached from the outside world, and Draco couldn’t help but wonder what he was writing on. His mind wanted it to be a vivid description of their lips meeting in a lusciously passionate kiss but that was just a pipe dream and he chastised himself for his ridiculous childishness yet didn't quite manage to let go of the fantasy.
They’d gone over Harry’s latest manuscript in minute detail and after discussing it at length, Harry had started to make various changes, all of which his editor had greatly approved of. As a direct result, Harry had been in an extremely good mood these past few days. He’d been exceptionally flirty all week and his continued sass made it rather difficult for Draco to keep his composure. They'd reached the stage were they were blatantly flirting with each other, even in the presence of other people. Even Claire and Timothy had stopped making fun of them but just looked at them both with blank looks.
Still, this kind of behaviour, where they both wanted each other but neither made a move towards achieving that goal, it wasn’t something he had much experience in. It made restraining himself rather difficult and just a tad bit unbearable, especially because he was certain that Harry, too, wanted to take things between them beyond a platonic friendship. Over the last few weeks, Draco had lost count of how many times they’d come close to kissing, yet, each time they found themselves standing close enough to do so neither one of them took the final step.
Somehow, they were content to indulge in the slow-burning tension that fuelled their attraction but Draco’s patience had started to wear thin. In addition to that, the fact that Harry still hadn’t cashed in his favour rubbed him up the wrong way. He was over the fact that he’d lost the bet they'd made at the Quidditch game and even though Harry wasn’t holding the owed favour over his head, just knowing that he had a free pass to make a demand but didn’t use it drove Draco right out of his mind. He wanted Harry to make some outrageous demand, something completely out there, and he was seconds away from grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him hard until he did so.
Pushing the thrumming desire to stun Harry, straddle his thighs and kiss him senseless to the furthest corner of his mind, Draco approached the table and gently set the tray down.
“Put that away, I’ve got a treat for you.”
Harry looked up and his beaming smile sent a delightful shiver down Draco’s spine.
“Don’t you always?”
“This one is especially good.”
“I could really do with a little pick-me-up. What’s the time?” Harry asked and luxuriously stretched a little in his chair.
The movement made Draco's mouth water and to distract himself, he cast a casual glance at the expensive watch he'd fastened around his right wrist earlier today. He didn't wear it often but he couldn't deny that it looked good and he liked the sparkle.
“Half past eight. Shop’s closed, lights are out, cleaning is done.”
“You should have called me to come down and help.”
Draco smiled and sank into the comfortable armchair across from Harry. He poured them each a cup of coffee and taking his own, he balanced it on top of his thigh and leant back into the cushions behind him.
“I was lazy, I blacked the windows out with a spell and did it with magic.”
“Lazy indeed, and very much unlike you.” Harry grinned and Draco watched him reach for his own cup of coffee. “What’s this then?”
“Arabian Mocha Sanani, a desert miracle with a distinctive wildness and a strong penchant for defying the odds and disregarding the rules. Reminds me of you and your hair.”
“If it’s meant to be a compliment, I like it.”
“Well, it wasn’t meant to be an insult.”
“Why, Malfoy, have you finally decided to change your tune?”
“Never, Potter. Not until I get you over to the dark side. Now drink up, this brew doesn’t taste good cold.”
“Aren’t you going to tell me all about this Arabian Mocha Sanani and what makes it so special?” Harry asked but lifted his cup to his lips and took a sip. He let out an approving hum and Draco smiled, then offered up the information Harry had requested.
“Compared to the coffee farms in South and Central America and other parts of Africa, these beans grow on barely cultivated land. The plants miraculously sprout from spring water oases and rock-hewn terraces and every single coffee cherry is an outstanding example of nature’s perseverance in the face of even the aridest conditions.”
“It tastes bloody divine. I think I can taste a hint of cocoa.”
“I am impressed, Potter. You’re getting better at this.”
“I’ve got a good and patient teacher.”
“My, Harry, aren’t you a sweet talker?”
“I do try, I do try. Anything else you want to tell me about this coffee?”
“Hm, not much else to tell, except the farmers in Yemen use a centuries-old method of rendering the beans, it’s all done by hand, from start to finish, drives up the price but those beans are worth every penny. The picking, the drying and the milling, everything is done by hand. They don’t believe in machines. As a result, they produce truly marvellous coffee. It’s rare, it’s wild and the flavour is reminiscent of a spicy wine. It really is quite perfect.”
Feeling quite serene, Draco sipped on his coffee and folding one leg over the other, he frowned at Harry, who regarded him with a strangely intrigued expression.
“I like listening to you talk about coffee. You’re passionate about it and it’s sexy, really damn sexy.”
Draco quirked an eyebrow at Harry.
“Why thank you, Potter.”
“Not too inappropriate then?” Harry asked after a moment of hesitation.
Draco shook his head.
“No, just— just right.”
“Alright then,” Harry nodded and reaching for a Crunchy Almond Biscotti, he dipped it into his coffee and bit a quarter of it off.
Draco watched him chew it and idly sipped on his coffee. They sat in comfortable silence though each time their eyes met, they lingered, smiled and somehow it felt like they were having an entire conversation without uttering a single syllable.
Sometime during their silent exchange, Draco refilled both their coffee mugs but instead of drinking more coffee, Harry left his mug sitting on the table and moved his hands to the back of his neck. He tilted it to the left and then to the right and grimacing, he attempted to give himself a neck rub.
“Sore neck?” Draco asked.
“Hmm, too much writing,” Harry nodded. “I’m all stiff and tense.”
Draco dithered for a bit, something that was rather unlike him, then decided to throw caution into the wind and setting his coffee mug down, he uncrossed his legs and got to his feet.
“Right, neck rub it is,” he said and fully expected Harry to blanch and tell him not to bother. Instead, Harry surprised him with a wide grin and an expectant expression.
“Would you? I was going to ask but I thought it might be pushing it a little...”
“It's not pushing it a little. I offered, didn’t I?”
“That you did. But only if you don’t mind.”
“Stop acting like a bloody Hufflepuff, Potter, you're giving me goosebumps and they're not the good kind.”
Draco stepped behind Harry’s armchair and lightly smacked his shoulder with the back of his hand.
“I could give you the good kind, if that's what you wanted," Harry mumbled, then, continued a little louder, "Also, what’s wrong with Hufflepuff? My godson was sorted into Hufflepuff and he’s turned into a wonderfully bright and smart young man.”
“That would be because he’s my cousin and because he's inheritedly a Black, like my mother,” Draco chuckled.
He rested his hands on top of Harry’s shoulders and pressing his thumbs to the base of his skull, he applied a bit of pressure. Harry hummed in approval and increasing the amount of pressure, Draco began to rub little circles along the base of Harry’s skull, slowly fanning out to the sides of his neck and then back again, gently easing the tension out of the stiff muscles.
“Feels good,” Harry sighed contently and Draco felt him relax underneath his touch.
“When was the last time you had a proper massage, Potter, those knots are terrifyingly tight.”
“Sometime over the summer, Lily likes to rub my shoulders sometimes.”
Even though Harry was unable to see his expression, Draco couldn’t quite resist rolling his eyes.
“I meant a proper massage. From a professional.”
“Harry, you truly astound me. A proper massage is right up there with good coffee and fine wine, dark chocolate and great sex.”
“I’d feel inclined to agree, this is really good. You're amazingly good at this.”
“Does this mean we’re even? Favour fulfilled?”
“You wish, Malfoy, you wish. This was all you. You offered. I’m going to keep that favour for another time.”
Draco felt Harry’s chuckle in the palms of his hands and it sent a pleasant jolt up his arms and down his spine. He shuddered a little and squeezed Harry’s shoulders harder, punishing him for his cheek.
Harry yelped but neither pulled away nor told Draco to stop. Instead, he relaxed into the massage, fell silent, and Draco tried his best to ease the most prominent tension knots. He lost himself in the task and Harry’s little humming noises. Every now and then, when Draco caught a particularly tight muscle, Harry moaned softly and while Draco found the sound immensely distracting, he did his absolute best to try and ignore it.
His whole body thrummed, alive with excitement and the pleasurable sensations of rubbing his fingertips over Harry’s bare skin. It was an oddly intimate moment, and the closest they'd been yet. It was a moment Draco wanted to savour for as long as he possibly could. He let his fingers slip further underneath Harry’s woollen jumper to massage between his shoulder blades and positively delighted in the way Harry pressed back into the touch and let out a low, appreciative groan.
The words let’s take this upstairs and into my bedroom boldly lingered on the tip of his tongue but Draco couldn’t bring himself to make that suggestion. It wasn’t for lack of courage, of that he had a lot and he never hesitated to be blatantly forward with a potential lover, but because this moment between them was private and personal. Despite his growing arousal and the painful tightness in his trousers, Draco did not want to be the one to lean in for the kill. He had no logical explanation for it but wanted Harry to make that move. Some part of him craved the validation of Harry being the one to move things along, he wanted the definite proof that this was exactly what Harry wanted. He had never experienced such strong sexual attraction and the feeling was completely addictive. It made him float and—
Harry’s hand suddenly squeezed his own and pausing his massage, Draco forced himself to return to the present and abandon yet another pipe dream about what losing himself in the feeling of Harry's lips pressed against his own might feel like. Divine, he was fairly sure of that. Oddly enough, he was convinced that Harry was a marvellous kisser.
“What?” he asked and tried to clear his voice. It sounded uncharacteristically raspy and oddly low, almost like he was in the throes of intense love-making and seconds away from his climax.
Weirdly enough, Harry’s voice sounded just as hoarse and when he looked up at him, Draco swallowed hard and very nearly lost his resolve to keep it together.
Instead of their usual vibrant green, Harry's eyes were almost black now and downright smouldering with unconcealed desire. Harry’s unflinching heated gaze burned right into him.
Draco tried to clear his throat but failed.
He wasn’t even sure how to describe the sound he’d just made.
To his ears, it sounded not human and animal-like.
“Potter…” he squawked.
“I— Do you— do you want me to— to stop?”
Draco berated himself for stammering his way through that question but he couldn’t think clearly anymore and when Harry rose to his feet and turned to face him, he didn’t remove his hands from Harry’s shoulders but instead gripped them so hard that he was momentarily afraid he would leave bruises behind, then decided that he didn't care.
“No, absolutely not, don't you dare,” Harry breathed and when he ever so slightly leant forward, Draco’s breath caught in his throat and suddenly breathing didn't seem all that important. It was a chore he couldn't bring himself to concentrate on.
He couldn’t help but wonder how it was possible that staring Harry sodding Potter into the eyes made him feel like he was a sixteen-year-old teenager who was about to lose his virginity.
“Draco.” Harry spoke again, his voice still raspy and low.
It sounded sensual and inviting and as though Harry was perfectly in control of his mental faculties though Draco highly doubted that that was truly the case. Then again, his mind was foggy and he felt dizzy and right now logical thinking wasn’t very high on his to-do list. In fact, the only thing on his to-do list that was of any kind of importance was closing that blasted gap between him and Potter— Harry.
“Potter, I swear, if you don’t—” he said.
He’d never wanted anyone as badly as he wanted Harry. He could barely stand the tension anymore. It had finally gotten to the point where it was too much, too intense. He needed more, a lot more...
"Fuck, Draco, kiss me."
Chapter 23: Still 2019, Friday, 22nd of November - Thirty Seconds Later
Judging by the comments you guys left me, you didn't mind the cliff hanger all that much. I assume it was delectable and resulted in some rather over-active imagination?
Eternal love and praise go to K, without whom this chapter would have not been written. You truly are my BBE (and no, I'm not giving you too much credit)! You have no idea how glad I am that you suck at controlling me. *giggles uncontrollably*
Also, like, can I just say wow? You wonderful, amazing, sweet people know how to make a writer feel special. I mean, all the comments? The love? The appreciation? I'm speechless. I want to bow before you and shower you with chocolate and eternal love.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
No sooner had the words left Harry’s mouth, did Draco’s mouth crash down on his, claiming his lips with uninhibited want. All Harry could do was to groan into the ferocious kiss. He placed his hand on top of the backrest of his armchair to steady himself, and willingly surrendered to the assault of Draco’s lips. There was nothing chaste or shy about the way their lips moved together. This was raw passion and it was exactly what Harry wanted. He wanted it wild and rough and unrestrained. He wanted to feel all that tension explode between them.
He wanted it intimate and wet and he wanted it to ignite those strong and entirely uncontrollable emotions he’d been fighting to suppress ever since they’d stopped being rivals who were in the process of getting to know each other and had become friends who flirted heavily and brushed against each other all the time. Things with Draco were an all or nothing sort of thing, they had always been that way and it wasn’t something they would ever manage to change. He didn’t want to change anything about it either. He needed it to be exactly like this, reminiscent of the kind of relationship they’d once had but so much better, so much more mature.
Harry grabbed Draco’s hip, squeezed hard enough to bruise, and pulled him closer, desperately needing to feel his hard, naturally toned body flush against his own. A little tilt of his head gave Draco a better angle and they both parted their lips to deepen the kiss. Tongues slithered and met, hunger and fervent desire took over completely and Harry lost himself in the sensations of the most sensual kiss, he’d ever shared with anyone. It was a million times better than what he’d imagined would happen. It was real and zealous and possessive. It was a perfect give and take, a wonderful back and forth.
He greedily swallowed a series of tiny moans that fell from Draco’s lips and right into his own mouth. The thought to hit the brakes and go a little slower briefly crossed his mind but he abandoned it the second Draco’s fingers twisted themselves into his hair and his tongue wound itself around his own again. Instead, he pulled Draco an inch closer and redoubled his efforts to kiss him senseless, to rob him of his sanity, to leave him wanting more, wanting everything. He needed Draco to feel everything he felt and he wanted to feel everything Draco felt.
Right this moment, Harry wanted it all. He barely managed to resist unquenchable desire to Apparate them both to Godric’s Hollow and straight into his bedroom. Of course, Draco’s bedroom was all but a staircase and a corridor away but Harry had never been inside and that made Apparition impossible. He supposed he could Apparate them both upstairs and to the living room but the overwhelming burning in his lungs made it impossible to think properly, let alone concentrate on anything beyond the fact that he was finally kissing Draco, that they were finally locked at lips, sharing the moment they’d both been fantasising about for weeks on end.
All that anticipation was finally breaking loose and there was no stopping it.
But predictably, lack of oxygen eventually made it impossible to continue the kiss and grudgingly breaking away, Harry inhaled deeply and pressed his forehead against Draco’s.
“Wow,” he breathed, not knowing what else to say.
“Wow indeed,” Draco responded and Harry delighted in the fact that his appraisal of their first kiss lacked finesse and eloquence.
I reduced you to this, he thought gleefully, then promptly found himself distracted when Draco chased his lips and they continued.
This time their hands didn’t stay in one place but roamed freely, exploring vast unknown territory. Their second kiss was a little less desperate but still every bit as passionate. And bolder, so much bolder.
Draco’s nimble fingers trailed down his back and found their way underneath his jumper. They teased the warm skin on his lower back, sending a series of several pleasant tingles surging up his spine, and Harry wanted more, so much more.
He twisted his fingers into Draco’s form-fitting pullover, absentmindedly marvelled at the softness of the garment, and moaned when those long slender fingers teased the bare skin at the top of his arse. It felt like Draco was about to let him slip underneath his jeans and into the waistband of his boxer briefs to explore and tease his buttocks and it made Harry’s breathing hitch up several notches.
Feeling stupidly courageous, Harry responded to Draco’s cheek by dropping his own hand down to his buttocks and unashamedly squeezing the firm, toned flesh beneath those tailored black slacks.
Draco yelped, broke away from the kiss and fixed his eyes on him. He looked like he wanted to devour him with more than just his mouth and while Harry’s body had no objections to that, his brain decided to be rational. He pressed the flat of his hand to Draco’s chest and held it there, needing a moment to digest. Draco’s next words made that so much harder.
“I want you, Harry.”
The blunt statement and he desire in Draco’s eyes, made Harry’s knees buckle and unable to tear his gaze away from Draco’s, he stared right into those silvery grey pools of smouldering heat. The blackness of his pupils sucked him in and he had no doubt that Draco had meant what he’d said. That look, it spoke volumes and swallowing hard, he curled his fingers into the fabric of Draco’s jumper. He felt a bit faint like he’d forgotten to eat. He also felt like he was surviving on pure adrenaline.
“I— Draco, tell me this isn’t going to change a thing between us,” Harry mumbled.
He was suddenly irrationally terrified that having given in to the kiss meant they’d ruined their tender friendship, possibly beyond repair. There was no denying that they had strong feelings for each other, feelings that went beyond simple sexual attraction and curiosity. Harry had satisfied his curiosity about the male gender in his twenties and this didn’t feel like something that they could brush off come morning. Well, maybe they could, but Harry was loath to even try.
He tried to be rational about it but most of his blood was currently pooling somewhere low in his groin, making his cock twitch with excitement at hearing Draco Malfoy tell him that he wanted him. It made thinking hard. It made it nearly impossible, to be honest. It made everything that didn’t sound like damnit, I want you too irrelevant.
Draco’s hand came up and he placed it on the side of his neck. The gesture was sweet and comforting and Harry’s wildly thumping heart skipped a beat. Draco’s thumb brushed over his cheek and Harry leant into the gentle touch and let out a content little sigh of relief.
“Harry— if you want me to lie and tell you nothing is going to change, I will. But you and I both know that kissing already changed things. I think we are both mature enough to acknowledge that. Now, the question is, do you want to stop here or do you want to give this thing a chance?”
“You— Draco,” Harry paused and sighed.
He ran his fingers through his messy hair and looked at Draco. Somehow messing it up even further, if that was at all possible, calmed him somewhat. He wanted to continue kissing Draco. He wanted to do more than just kiss him but he also really cared about the relationship they’d built over the last few months.
“You are important to me. I— I need this— our friendship.”
“We can add this to that.”
“I’m not going to be just another notch on the bedpost then?”
“Potter, I’m actually offended. If I’d just wanted to fuck you, I’d have done that two months ago. I have never ever held back this long, it’s not my style.”
“Neither have I. Now, take me upstairs,” he said, kicking his hesitation into the curb. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest move but when it came to being reckless, he had a rather impressive record of accomplishment and he wasn’t about to stop now.
Stopping and going home was the last thing he wanted right now. He also didn’t want to think. He wanted to enjoy this. He wanted to be bold and chase after whatever had grown between them over the course of the last few months.
“Sure?” Draco asked.
He reached for Draco’s hand, curled his own around it and squeezed, then loosely interlaced their fingers, and leant in to capture Draco’s lips in a kiss.
This one was slow and tender and not at all like their feverish kissing from minutes ago. It was a little more reserved, a little more mature. A physical reassurance that they were making the right decision and that giving into their desire to be intimate wasn’t the colossal mistake of two men thinking with their pricks rather than their brains.
Somewhere along the way, Harry felt Draco gently tug him into the direction of the staircase that led up to the third floor and his flat. Harry followed without properly breaking the kiss – they never paused long enough that he considered it to be an actual break – and they stumbled up the stairs.
With each step, Harry’s anticipation grew and he poured it into the kiss, adding fuel to the fire. He was happy to let Draco take the lead and by the time they’d reached the top of the stairs and had tripped over each other’s feet and the threshold, he was desperate to take things beyond kissing and touching and groping. How they were still fully-clothed was a complete mystery to him. How they hadn’t fallen over and landed on top of each other or toppled down the stairs was even more of a miracle. It was as if some invisible force watched over him, making sure what whatever was about to transpire between them would happen without a hitch.
They made it to Draco’s bedroom and standing in front of the closed door, they stopped kissing long enough for Draco to turn the doorknob and push it open.
Suddenly eager to get inside, Harry attempted to nudge Draco into the room but found his efforts met with mild resistance.
“What—?” he asked with a half-frown.
“Are you really sure about this, Potter? Because, if we go inside, I’m not letting you go again.”
Draco’s voice was low and hoarse and it sent thrills of excitement down Harry’s spine. There were no words that could adequately express how much that question meant to him and thoughts of slowly stripping Draco naked and revelling in the chance to explore a vast expanse of gloriously pale skin preoccupied his already frayed mind. He had never been surer of anything else in his entire life. This absolutely was what he wanted, even if the idea terrified him mildly. Still, he pulled himself together and kept his composure. Enough to make a silly little joke.
“Malfoy, you are about to strip me naked and I’m about to let you. Are you really going to call me Potter while we do this?”
“Absolutely. It’s going to be our kink. Now, answer my question.”
“Are you always this bossy in bed?”
“Come inside and find out?”
That one word seemed like the perfect response and the last thing Harry was willing to say. Draco walked backwards into the room and pulled him along.
Nervous beyond comprehension, Harry followed.
Draco let him over to the bed and gently pushed him onto the mattress. Harry let himself fall, then shuffled up but kept eyes glued onto Draco, who took his shoes off, then kicked off his own and crawled onto the bed.
“Fuck, Draco, you’re hot,” Harry whispered. He couldn’t quite comprehend how Draco managed to look this freaking good simply crawling up the bed. The way his body moved was utterly sensual and it made Harry’s groin burn with desire.
Draco’s wicked grin woke the butterflies in his stomach, they fluttered and summersaulted and when Draco straddled his thighs, he grabbed his jumper and pulled him down and into a searing kiss. Draco fell forward and willingly reciprocated. They kissed, hungrily and with feverish desire and managed to entangle themselves in a heap of limbs with their bodies pressed flush together. Draco rolled his hips and ground them down and Harry’s hands flew to his buttocks, holding him in position, needing more, more, more.
He wanted to tell Draco so but their mouths were otherwise engaged and somehow wasting his time on words when kissing Draco was so much more fun, seemed entirely counterproductive.
They kissed and rolled about the bed and although Harry ended up on top every so often, Draco always somehow managed to get the upper hand and Harry was happy to give in.
Fully-clothed frotting had never felt so good. Kissing had never felt so good. Harry couldn’t get enough of it. He arched his back and thrust his hips up and repeatedly pulled Draco down and against his body as they kissed and explored and hands roamed freely, above, and underneath their clothing.
At some point, Draco resolutely pulled away, braced himself on his arms and hovered over him.
“Malfoy—” Harry breathed, twisting his fingers into Draco’s jumper, and holding on tight, lest Draco got the ridiculous idea to put even more of a distance between them.
“I need you to get naked, right now.”
“Go for it.”
Draco arched an eyebrow at him, then smirked devilish.
Harry briefly wondered whether goading Draco had been a mistake but he didn’t have time to contemplate the issue properly.
He felt a wisp of magic sweep over him, then all his clothes were gone and he was naked, aroused, hard, and pinned to the bed. Nobody had ever stripped him with a magic spell and he while he’d always thought that slowly peeling each item of clothing off was sexy and perfect, Draco had just changed his mind. Using magic and feeling the power of the spell rush over him felt so much better.
“Malfoy, you didn’t.”
Draco continued to smirk.
“You said to go for it, Potter.”
“You know that’s not what I meant,” Harry tried to keep a sense of decorum, though why he didn’t now.
“Did I? Do I?”
“I am, aren’t I?”
“Are you going to do something about it?”
“You know what, Potter, I think I will.”
Draco’s low chuckle made Harry’s cock twitch with excitement. He watched, mesmerised, as Draco sat back on his haunches and reached for the hem of his jumper. Harry’s breathing hitched and his breath caught in his throat. For a moment, a terrifying fear gripped him but he shoved it out of the way and vowed that no matter what he was about to see, he wasn’t going to allow it to change a thing between them. Instead, he propped himself up on his elbow and watched as Draco, with one fluid motion, pulled his jumper off and carelessly tossed it over the edge of the bed.
Before Harry could take a proper look, he leant forward and caught his lips in a slow and teasing kiss. Harry let himself fall back into the cushions, pulled Draco with him, and ran his fingertips up and down his spine, relishing in the softness of the warm skin beneath his touch.
They kissed for the longest time but at some point, Harry worked his hands between their bodies and made short work of Draco’s belt buckle, the top button and zipper of his trousers. He pushed it down, slipped both his hands inside and cupped Draco’s bare buttocks, squeezing them firmly.
“Get these off, Malfoy, I want to see you naked.”
“No. Naked. Now.”
“Fuck, you’re hot when you get all bossy, Potter.”
Draco complied and shuffling on the bed, he took off the remainder of his clothes, threw them off the bed, then sat back on his haunches and let his arms dangle at his sides. Harry drank in the thrilling sight before him, licked his lips and sitting up, he trailed a single fingertip down Draco’s chest. He stopped below his navel but not quite at the base of Draco’s beautiful long hard cock and smiled.
“You’re fucking gorgeous, Draco.”
“You’re quite something yourself, Potter,” Draco replied with a mischievous wink.
They gorged on each other’s bodies for a moment, then Harry, unwilling to resist any longer, wrapped his arms around Draco’s neck and pulled him into a heated kiss. They fell back into the cushions and Harry groaned into the kiss as their naked erections properly pressed together for the first time. He lost himself in the kiss, the sensations rushing through him, setting his entire body on fire, and making his toes curl. Somewhere along the way, he spread his legs further and Draco slipped into a slightly better position. They kissed and moved in unison, thoroughly submerged by the desire to relieve the extreme sexual tension they’d allowed to build up between them over the course of the last few months.
Draco strayed from his lips, left a trail of wet kisses along his jawline and down his neck and nipped and suckled gently, then pulled back to look down at him. He rolled and thrust his hips and Harry sucked in a sharp breath and surrendered to the tremor that surged through him. This was so good, too good.
“Harry, do you— do you want to— fuck?” he rasped and Harry’s entire body filled with a craving so deep that he momentarily forgot how to breathe. He squeezed Draco’s sides, just above his hips and when he finally remembered that he had to fill his lungs with air to keep his brain from permanently malfunctioning, he inhaled sharply.
“Merlin yes, but— can we— like this? Just like this?” he asked and instead of answering, Draco kissed him hard and thrust his hips forward. It was a silent affirmation and Harry lost himself in the sensations of the kiss and what Draco was doing. It was delicious, truly delicious.
They didn’t say much else after that. Instead, they let their lips, tongues, and hands do the talking. Harry spread his thighs a little wider and wound his legs around Draco’s calves. They kissed, deeply and hungrily, and Harry let his hands roam freely, exploring every inch of Draco he could comfortably reach. He squeezed his buttocks, teased the crack between them but never actually let his hands slip inside to tease more intimately. At some point, Draco mumbled a lubrication spell and the conjured thick clear fluid turned rutting against each other into a through treat with sensations Harry didn’t know how to describe.
It felt like his entire body was burning hot, every nerve ending was alive and pulsing and his skin tingled everywhere. His heart pounded and his lungs struggled to supply him with enough oxygen to satisfy him fully. What turned him on the most though wasn’t all those new feelings and the excitement but the knowledge that Draco felt the same. Judging by the way he moved and the way he kissed his enjoyment was obvious and it drove Harry wild.
The whole thing didn’t last especially long, for that they were decidedly too high-strung but when Draco tensed and shook and shuddered and came above him, spilling his come between them and making his spent cock easily rub up against his own, Harry didn’t manage to hold back or draw out his own climax. Instead, he wrenched his mouth away from Draco’s, threw his head back, groaned loudly, and thrust his hips up. His buttocks clenched and bollocks tightened, his cock twitched and his body spasmed. He came hard, releasing his come and adding to the wonderful mess between them.
Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms, too spent to really care about the sticky mess they’d made, kissed lazily and Harry grinned goofily.
“If you rubbing your cock against mine feels this good, I’m not sure I’ll survive the real thing,” he mumbled against Draco’s lips and they both chuckled.
“You’ll survive. You mightn’t be coherent for a while but you’ll live. If it gets too much, I promise to Rennervate you. And just for your information, Potter, this was the real thing. Non-penetrative sex is a thing too, you know.”
Harry rolled his eyes.
“You know what I meant, Malfoy. Just because you’re bloody handsome, make fantastic coffee and sensational in bed doesn’t give you the right to be a prick.”
“Well, don’t make it so frightfully easy to wind you up then, Potter. I can hardly help myself.”
“Blame me, why don’t you.”
Harry grumbled but didn’t feel annoyed. This was them, this was the way they were and he was glad that sex hadn’t changed anything about that. Still, he stuck out his bottom lip and attempted to pout but Draco merely captured it, sucked it into his mouth and kissed him slowly and sweetly.
They continued to bask in post-orgasmic bliss, drifting back and forth between light slumber and lying awake in each other’s arms and sharing a ridiculous number of slow kisses.
At some point, Harry pulled back and gazed at Draco for several long moments before finally plucking up the courage to speak up. He was mildly worried that whatever he was about to say would kill the mood but he had to know.
“Are you going to kick me out?”
Draco raised a questioning eyebrow at him.
“Why would I do that?”
“I don’t know…” Harry mumbled.
He felt his face heat up and knew that he was blushing which made him feel rather self-conscious and despite the very comfortable temperature in the room and the warming spell, Draco had cast over them a while ago, he wished for a blanket to pull over his head and vanish under.
“Harry— I thought I made this clear, this wasn’t a one-time sort of thing for me but I am happy to reiterate if it makes you feel better. I’d very much like to— you know—”
Draco shrugged casually.
“Yes. If you want, that is.”
“I do— want that,” Harry answered without hesitation. It seemed like the natural thing to say and he rather liked the idea of adding hot sex to their endless banter and meaningful flirting over coffee and dinner. It had appeal, a lot of appeal.
“Great. That’s settled then. Now, how would you feel about a nice hot shower, a midnight snack in bed and some serious kissing, maybe another round later, if we feel up to it?” Draco asked with a grin and instead of answering right away, Harry pulled him in for a fierce kiss that left them both panting.
“Shower, food, snogging. Malfoy, you really are a big old softie.”
“Shush, don’t tell anyone. You’ll ruin my reputation as the reigning Slytherin Ice Prince,” Draco said with such sincerity that Harry struggled to keep it together.
He burst into a silly fit of giggles and not even Draco slapping his upper arm could make him stop.
Instead, he started laughing and before long tears were streaming down his cheeks and he was clutching his sides to lessen the sting of the lack of oxygen. His cheeks ached and his stomach hurt in the most delightful way.
Draco watched him for a while, shook his head, called him a raging lunatic, and then joined into the mindless laughter.
They both laughed in a breathy, gleeful way and until they were both breathless, yelping at the stinging pain in their sides and wiping their tears off their cheeks.
“Whatever that was, Potter, it was bloody good. I’m definitely keeping you around.”
“You know what, I think I’m going to continue to stick around. Now, Malfoy, I believe you said something about a shower?”
“I did, let’s go,” Draco nodded, heaved himself out of bed and when Harry made no attempt to move, he dragged him off the bed and they playfully wrestled and kissed all the way to the bathroom and into the spacious shower cubicle where they kissed some more.
Well, I'm not even in the least bit sorry for how this chapter turned out. I did have a proper nervous breakdown and wanted to skip this scene altogether but somehow my muse, despite not feeling well, pushed me back on track and got to me produce something I'm actually rather proud of.
You have no idea how difficult it was to spent 45K worth of energy on writing a slow burn only to have to suddenly throw that out of the window and produce something that changed the course of the entire story. Now, let's take this home, baby.
Chapter 24: 2019, Saturday, 23rd of November
Draco leant back against the kitchen counter and picked up his coffee cup. He inhaled deeply and nodded approvingly. Yes, this Pour-Over had turned out quite well.
He’d chosen a Toraja Sulawesi White Eagle from the mountainous region of South Sulawesi in Indonesia, a rather rare type of bean. It's price reflected that but good coffee deserved a hefty price tag and nobody could convince him otherwise. The smooth unique flavour, sweet aftertaste and balanced acidity gave him just the right amount of energy to feel relaxed and awake, though this morning he'd woken up feeling rather on top of the world and like he'd already consumed several cups of his favourite beverage. This cup of coffee was merely to satisfy his body's craving for caffeine and to give him something meaningful to do while he contemplated whether to remain in the kitchen or return to bed. He crossed one ankle over the other and continued to flip through today’s local Muggle newspaper but didn’t do more than casually glance at the headlines.
“Draco Malfoy, do you always drink your coffee in the nude?” Harry asked from the doorway and Draco turned his head to look at him. He grinned and thoroughly enjoyed the delectable sight. It wasn't often he got to drool over a half-naked man standing in his kitchen doorway. Draco could most definitely get used to it.
Harry was wearing the pair of black boxer briefs, he had given him late last night and a t-shirt he’d clearly snagged from his wardrobe, though Draco didn't mind that he'd clearly rooted through it without permission. His hair was a mussed and his glasses slightly askew. He looked like he wasn’t quite awake yet and Draco wanted to walk him right back into the bedroom, push him onto the bed and ravish him instead of having breakfast.
“Only when I’ve got company.”
Draco grinned and winked at Harry who rolled his eyes.
“It isn’t exhibitionism if I do it in the privacy of my own home, Potter.”
“It is when you have someone staying over and you know they will eventually walk in on you.”
Draco crooked an eyebrow at Harry. His early-morning Gryffindor logic thoroughly amused him.
“Does it bother you?”
“Oh? How so?”
This time, Draco really couldn't suppress the urge to smirk.
“It makes me want to drag you back to bed for a repeat of what we did last night.”
“Who would have thought... Harry Potter is insatiable when it comes to sex. Hold the press, this is most definitely front page news.”
Harry walked into the room, leant against the kitchen counter across from him and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Says the guy who made me come three times last night and did the same himself.”
“Are you complaining, Potter? Because I can withdraw any privileges of you getting to enjoy my sexual prowess just as soon as I granted them.”
“I am most definitely not complaining and you better not do the same when I bend you over the kitchen table and fuck you six ways from Sunday.”
“Such filth. And you kiss your children with that mouth. I'm shocked, truly shocked. You're a proper deviant, Potter. Oh my, this is truly refreshing, why did I wait so long for this? If I'd known you were this licentious I'd have made a move a long time ago.”
Harry looked at him with an expression that bordered on I-will-hex-you-if-you-continue-to-mock-me and then hit back with just as much vigour.
“I kissed something else with that mouth last night and I will happily do so again, right here, right now, if you want me to do.”
Unable to suppress his amusement over the ridiculousness of their Saturday morning conversation any longer, Draco snorted into his coffee cup. He uncrossed his ankles and placing a hand on the kitchen counter, he adjusted his stance. Despite the hilarity of the moment, Harry’s words were having a rather profound effect on him and he could feel his blood rush south. Since he was in his birthday suit and had nothing behind which he could hide his arousal, he hastily busied himself with pouring Harry a cup of coffee.
“Now look who is bothered,” Harry teased and Draco threw him a menacing death glare, then schooled his expression into one of cool nonchalance.
“I’m not bothered, Potter, I’m horny as hell,” he said and smiling sweetly he handed Harry his coffee. "It's a big difference. If I was bothered I'd transfigure you into a toad."
When Harry took the steaming coffee mug from him, Draco noted that his hand was shaking slightly but instead of pointing that out, he simply pushed away from the counter and stepped forward. He thoroughly enjoyed ruffling Harry's feathers and had done so since they'd first met. It was something he just couldn't stop himself from doing. At this stage it was second nature and now that he had permission to make all sorts of lewd remarks to fluster Harry, he was enjoying their little game even more.
“I’ll go put some clothes on, then we can have breakfast.”
He took a step towards the door but stopped when he felt Harry’s fingers close around his wrist and turning his head, he shot Harry a questioning look.
Harry smiled, pulled him closer and letting go of his wrist, he slithered his bare arm around his waist.
“Don’t. Stay.” Harry whispered and the low and seductive tone of his voice sent a shiver down Draco’s spine.
Draco let Harry silence him and when drawn into a rather zealous Good-Morning-Kiss that left him breathless and wanting more. His cheeks felt hot and his heart pounded in his chest. He wasn’t entirely sure what to make of Harry’s enthusiastic attack and but decided not to investigate its origin. Some things were meant to simply be enjoyed, not questioned. He settled for a silly smile. It wasn’t an expression he used very often but considering that he was presently stark naked and he and Harry had spent the night repeatedly getting frisky with each other, he decided that propriety was the last thing that mattered.
“Do you have to go downstairs today?”
“Claire is opening up, I can be late.”
“Can you also stay away entirely?”
“I want to spend the day in bed with you.”
Feigning a cough, Draco winked. That could definitely be arranged. Spending the day in bed with Harry sounded like a perfectly wonderful idea and he most definitely had enough coffee in the house to help keep their stamina up.
“I think I have a bit of a sore throat. It would be best if I took a day off work to recover in bed.”
“You like it.”
“I do. I also like you.”
Harry blushed. He clearly hadn’t intended on saying those words aloud but Draco didn’t mind hearing them. In fact, he wouldn't mind hearing these words regularly over the course of the next few hours.
“I happen to like you too, Potter, but if you go shouting that from the rooftops, I’ll hex you.”
“I can keep a secret…for now.”
“For now,” Draco affirmed. “Now, am I allowed to get dressed?”
“What for? If you do, I’m just going to make you take it all off again after breakfast.”
“Fine, I’ll stay naked. But just so you know, you’re a dirty little voyeur.”
Harry shrugged and sipped his coffee.
“What can I say, I like a good-looking man as much as the next gay bloke, especially when he's as handsome as you.”
“Well, well, well, listen to that, aren’t you smooth, Potter, aren’t you smooth?”
“I suppose I am,” Harry grinned. “What’s for breakfast?”
“No idea, go check the fridge and figure it out. I’m just responsible for the coffee.”
“Which, by the way, is excellent. Where is it from?”
“Oh. That’s a first, I don’t think I tried coffee from that region before.”
“It’s the Crown Jewel of all Toraja Arabica coffees.”
“You say that about every damn bag of beans.”
“That’s because I know my coffee and everything I make you sample is pure gold. Also, there is no such thing as bad coffee, there are just imbeciles who don't know how to make a decent pot. Which, you know really does amaze me. I'm a Pureblood wizard and even I know what Google is. It's 2019, for Salazar's sake. Although, if I'm perfectly honest, I'd rather people remained oblivious about how to make coffee and came to The Fresh Bean instead.”
Harry rolled his eyes, pushed him away and headed over to the fridge. Draco smiled to himself, drank his coffee and ogled Harry’s delectably taut buttocks with unrestrained delight. He quite liked the way those boxer briefs stretched over the muscular cheeks and couldn’t quite help but lick his lips when his mind began to wander and his thoughts became rather pornographic in nature. He would happily forgo breakfast and eat Harry instead…
“Malfoy, stop staring at my arse.”
Of course, Potter had to ruin the fantasy.
“My, Potter, you say the sweetest things.”
Draco caught the look Harry threw him and they both dissolved into a completely uncharacteristic fit of giggles, yet Draco couldn’t find any fault with it. He hadn’t been this happy in years. Well, he'd been happy but there was something about the way he felt when they were around each other that was entirely different to the happiness he felt at being able to work in the coffee shop and make beautiful coffee for all of his customers. Harry ticked absolutely all the boxes. He was smart and funny, just the right amount of dorky, extremely easy on the eye, he appreciated great coffee, and was passionate in bed. He was a lot more things than that and the thought of just how compatible they were terrified Draco just a little.
There were a million and one ways that this could all blow up right into their faces and go pear-shaped but he refused to panic about that. For once, he wanted to enjoy. Because there were also a million and one ways that this could all go perfectly well and a small part of him fervently hoped this was going to be the case.
Finishing his coffee, Draco resolutely shut his mind down and reaching for his mobile phone, he tapped out a quick message to Claire to let her know that she and Timothy would be on their own for the day as he was taking a sick day. She replied with a winking smiley face and Draco rolled his eyes at the screen then stealthily snapped a photo of Harry in his half-dressed state. He presently had his head in the fridge and was perusing his contents and Draco wanted to savour the moment.
Chapter 25: 2019, Wednesday, 25th of December
I do enjoy writing a scene with Harry and his three rascals. I also enjoy adding a bit of Draco to the mix. I hope you'll enjoy it too.
Harry relaxed back into the soft sofa cushions and contently sipped on his coffee which was a complete delight. He was still in his pyjamas and he had no intention of making himself presentable to the outside world anytime soon.
Draco had given him a bag of sun-dried Vale Verde Estate coffee beans from Brazil and he couldn’t get enough of the crisp notes of green apple and dried plum with a lingering brown sugar sweetness. The fact that he consciously noted those delicate underlying flavours amused him and smiling to himself, he watched his children go mental.
In Harry’s mind, when you were a parent, this absolutely was the best part about Christmas.
Gift shopping had, of course, been a nightmare, as had been trying to keep the gifts safely hidden after picking the children up at King’s Cross but being able to sit back and watch his three rascals be, well, children; it truly was what made Christmas magical.
It was barely gone seven in the morning but James, Al, and Lily had loudly torn into his bedroom just after six and had jumped up and down on his bed until he’d given in and clambered out of it. He’d somehow managed to make them wait with charging into the living room until he’d brewed his coffee and they each had their hands wrapped around a large mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream.
After that, they hadn’t been able to show anymore self-restraint and were now giddily opening their Christmas presents.
Harry basked in their excited exclamations of joy as they each located their gifts and enthusiastically tore the wrapping paper off. He would never tire of seeing the glee on their faces. It was everything. The way they laughed and the happiness that radiated off them in waves; it filled Harry’s heart with so much love that it felt like it threatened to burst out of his chest. Overnight, all three of his children had somehow turned back into excitable five-year-olds and even James, who frequently told him that he wasn’t a child anymore, was thoroughly enjoying himself.
Feeling just a little sentimental, Harry reached for his mobile phone and secretly took a video. He wanted to savour the moment forever and while his Pensieve was very useful for revisiting all those precious moments, it wasn’t something you could easily carry around with you. He generally kept his phone nearby, much like his wand, and thoroughly delighted in flicking through the hundreds of pictures and videos of James, Al, and Lily.
Harry smiled and stopping the recording, he snapped a candid photo with the intention to print it out and add it to the ever-growing collection of framed photos on the wall across the room. He was about to put his phone down again and continue drinking his coffee when it vibrated and a notification on the screen informed him that he had a new message from Draco. He tapped onto it and chuckled as he found himself staring at a selfie of Draco sat on the floor of the Manor’s informal sitting room. He was holding a mug of coffee and Harry noted an oversized Christmas tree and Scorpius in the background.
Draco [07:16 a.m.]: He’s drowning in wrapping paper. I may have gone overboard. Merry Christmas, Potter. X
Harry shook his head and tapped the reply-button.
“You’ve got only yourself to blame, you’re spoiling that boy. And I’ve no business saying that, I did the same. Merry Christmas! X”
He added the photo, he’d just taken, and hit the send button, then locked his phone and put it away. Lily clambered up onto the sofa, curled up next to him and Harry instinctively wrapped an arm around her and kissed the top of her head.
“I love my Hair Chalk Salon, thanks Dad,” she said and Harry hugged her a little tighter.
“You’re welcome, honey.”
Lily loved Teddy’s ability to change his hair colour at will and since she was unable to do so, Harry had, after weeks of research, found a Muggle Beauty Kit for Girls that would enable her to apply colourful streaks to her hair and wash it out after. Apparently, a little bit of Muggle magic went a long way in capturing a young girl’s heart. Harry mentally patted himself on the back and flinched when James chose exactly that moment to let out a screech that was high-pitched enough to nearly cause his eardrums to burst.
Harry had just about enough time to levitate his coffee cup onto the nearby coffee table, then found himself with an arm and lapful of an overexcited fifteen-year-old teenage wizard.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! You are the most awesome dad in the entire universe and I love you forever and ever and ever!”
James’ excitement and his unadulterated declaration of love made Harry laugh and he ruffled his son’s unruly mop of hair. After much contemplation and less than five minutes after walking into Quality Quidditch Supplies on Diagon Alley, he’d brought James the latest Firebolt Supreme. He’d hidden it behind the Christmas tree and it clearly had taken James a while to spot it, but now that he had, he was beyond exhilarated.
“You’re welcome, Jamie. Something to impress your new girlfriend with.”
James grinned at him and Harry’s eyes fell onto Al, who stood in the middle of the room, holding a Deluxe Pranking Kit from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. He looked a bit lost and the sight tore at Harry’s heartstrings. With some effort, he manoeuvred James onto his left side and wrapped an arm around him.
“I’ve got room for one more, come here already,” Harry said.
He didn’t have to tell Al twice. His son immediately put his Christmas present down and despite his thirteen years, he climbed onto his lap and Harry attempted to hug all three of his children at the same time. It was awkward and they all protested vociferously but Harry didn’t care. He simply hugged James, Al, and Lily tighter. They, of course, tried to wriggle out of the forced group hug but Harry reasoned that it was Christmas Day and that he could, therefore, take advantage of his children. They objected strongly and after torturing them for a while longer, he eventually eased up and allowed them to comfortable settle beside him on the sofa.
“Aren’t you going to open your Christmas presents, Dad?” Al wanted to know and Harry smiled.
“I have all my presents right here with me.”
James rolled his eyes at him and Harry gave him a pointed look.
“I thought I was the most awesome dad and that you loved me forever and ever,” he teased.
“Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop you from being embarrassingly sentimental, Harry Potter.”
“I prefer Dad, thank you very much and it’s only the four of us here.”
“It’s Christmas, I’ll cut you some slack.”
“How very gracious of you, James,” Harry grinned, unable to feel vexed over his son’s cheek. He was sassy and hardly ever minced his words and Harry didn’t want him any other way.
He regarded his children for a moment and relished in the fact that they were home with him for the next few days. Teddy was due to come over later and Molly had invited them over to the Burrow for the annual Weasley Christmas Feast but for now, it was just them and Harry intended to make the most of it. There was nothing better than spending quality time with his children and he didn’t want to miss a minute of it, even if James continuously mocked him for the sentimental drivel he spouted – James’ words not his own. Al tended to look at him as though he was keeping secrets and Lily forever worried that he spent too much time alone, writing.
Damn it, I love the lot of you and I’m not ashamed to tell you so, repeatedly and until it comes out of your noses, Harry thought and swallowed past the sudden lump in his throat. He took a moment to compose himself, then boldly decided to take the plunge. Now was as good as time as any to find out how his children felt about their dad no longer being single.
“I’d like to ask you guys something.”
“What?” James, Al, and Lily replied in unison and Harry chuckled.
He felt inexplicably nervous but was loath to let his children know that he was worried about their reaction and what they might think of him, especially because he’d never actually told them that he liked men. It simply had never been an issue but he was sure that he and Draco were onto something. Whenever they were together, Harry felt good, more than just good and he wanted to keep that feeling. He wanted more of it and preferably for a very long time.
Aware that he was about to drift off into a world of his own, Harry pulled himself back and looked at his children. They were expectantly looking at him and he suppressed a sigh. He had no idea how to start this conversation and he most definitely hadn’t thought it through but now that he had opened that particular can of worms, he had no choice but to proceed.
“So, well, your old man was wonder—”
“You’re not old, Dad. You’re not even forty,” Lily protested and Harry smiled. He hugged her a little tighter and kissed the top of her head affectionately.
“Thanks, Lils, I love that you’re my biggest fan.”
“Dad, don’t stall,” Al reminded him with a stern look that made him seem like he was much older than thirteen.
Harry suppressed yet another sigh. He couldn’t help but wonder how Draco was faring. They’d both decided to talk to their children about their budding relationship and for some reason, Harry had managed to convince himself that Draco was handling this whole thing a lot better. He was sure that he was being ridiculous but somehow he’d convinced himself that Draco was a lot better at sitting his son down to have an honest heart to heart between father and son.
“Right, well, here goes nothing,” Harry finally let out that sigh. He looked first at James, then at Al and finally at Lily.
Stop being an idiot, Potter, these are your children and they adore you, they won’t begrudge you a little bit of happiness, a voice inside Harry’s head, one that sounded like Draco’s posh drawl, reprimanded him. It made him want to laugh but he suppressed the urge.
“Alright, I was wondering how you three might feel about me dating someone.”
“Are you?” James asked him outright.
Harry hadn’t expected anything else.
“Dad totally is seeing someone,” Al said and Harry couldn’t help but admire his son. It was impossible to sneak anything by him. Harry wanted to ask him whether one had to be a true Slytherin to learn that trade or whether it was a talent some people possessed and some didn’t.
“Yay!” Lily clapped her hands excitedly.
“Would you hold your horses for just a bit, please?” Harry feebly tried to rein his children.
Even though he had yet to tell them any specifics, all three of them looked rather excited and Harry felt himself relax a little.
“Fine, yes, I am seeing someone but it’s early days. I just wanted to know how you felt about me being in a relationship with someone.”
“Can I just say refer to the conversation we had in the Three Broomsticks? If you don’t mind, then I don’t mind,” James was first to comment.
Harry wanted to hug and squeeze and kiss him but he resisted the urge. It was Christmas but James thoroughly enjoyed telling him that he was allergic to parental affection. It had become a little running joke between them and Harry loved testing James’ boundaries as much as James enjoyed returning the favour. Still, having his son’s approval meant the world to him and he wasn’t about to jinx it by forcing a hug on him. There would be time for that later. After breakfast. When Teddy brought over the special surprise, he had helped Harry organise.
“Thank you, Jamie.”
James shrugged and Harry looked at Al, who regarded him with a thoroughly strange look but before he could ask him what his thoughts were, Lily had scrambled into a kneeling position and thrown her arms around his neck.
“Dad, this is great news,” she said enthusiastically and with a massive grin. “I told you so many times already, you need someone to take care of you.”
Harry wanted to remind her that he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself but swallowed those words and wrapping two arms around her, he hugged her instead.
It took a few minutes for Lily to quench some of her excitement and when she did, Harry turned his attention towards Al and waited for the inevitable. He could tell that Al was about to drop the bombshell, though he sincerely hoped that his son might give him the chance to explain. Then again, he doubted that he would get to be this lucky. Al was extremely smart and bright. He was also a prankster, though not quite in the same way as James. He was sneaky and sly and usually managed to make people believe that he was completely innocent. James on the other hand, he had mischief maker written all over him and what with his sass he couldn’t convince anybody of his innocence, least of all Harry.
“It’s Mr Malfoy, isn’t it?”
And there it was, the question Harry had been hoping not to hear.
Suddenly the room was eerily silent and Harry could feel three pairs of eyes burn into him. Both Lily and James knew exactly who Mr Malfoy was. Al mentioned Scorpius Malfoy frequently enough for them to know that Mr Malfoy was Draco Malfoy, Scorpius’ father.
Into the deep end it is, Harry thought.
Another few moments of silence passed and Harry tried to mentally ready himself for an avalanche of questions but was surprised to get only one.
“Is that the real reason you and mum got divorced? Because you like men?” James asked and Harry folded his hands in his lap. This was payback for not planning this whole thing.
Should’ve plied you lot with pancakes first, Harry chastised himself. Draco was right, he was still as impulsive as he’d ever been and even at nearly forty, he hadn’t managed to fully rid himself of his penchant for doing things without planning again. He could practically see Hermione’s disapproving face in front of his eyes and hear her scolding him. He blocked her from his mind and focused on James’ question.
“Absolutely not. Your mother and I fell out of love a long, long time ago. We simply had different ideas about our future careers and what we wanted from each other.”
“Right…” James sounded like he didn’t believe a word of what Harry had just said.
“Jamie, I’m telling you the truth and you know that I am. There’s no need for that kind of attitude now.”
James that the decency to look a little sheepish and even muttered a Sorry, Dad, under his breath. Harry ruffled his messy hair and said nothing more about the matter. It wasn’t easy to be fifteen, Harry remembered all too well, and James generally didn’t respond well to harsh reprimands and punishments. He was a smart boy who listened to reason, unlike Al who had a mind of his own and when one wanted to change his opinion of something, one needed a tome of proof. Lily, while also extremely smart, truly had a heart of gold and it always took precedence over her decisions.
“OK, well this did not go as planned, not that I had a plan in the first place, but since none of you have hexed me yet or stormed from the room, refusing to speak to me ever again, I’m going to boldly take this as a good sign. I’m not very good at this but I’ll try and explain a bit. I’ve known that I like men, I’ve known for many years, and I apologise for only telling you now. I’d never intended to keep it a secret from you, only I never really cared about anyone enough to want to introduce them to you and so I figured it wasn’t important. I think I was wrong, I’m sorry.”
Harry fell silent and looked at his children.
Lily reached out and slipped her small hand into his. He squeezed gently.
“Dad, are you happy? Like I mean does Scorp’s dad make you happy?”
The two questions threw Harry a little but he couldn’t help but nod his head.
“Yes, Lils darling, I am happy.”
“Then I don’t care about anything else,” she said and Harry wanted to weep uncontrollably but composed himself and decided to have his little cry later tonight when he was alone in his bedroom.
Lily had such a beautiful and kind heart and Harry couldn’t help but suddenly remember Draco’s words from months ago. That time when he’d stood in this very room, looked at a photograph of Lily and told him that his sweet little angel looked just like his own mother. He squeezed her little hand tight, then resolutely pulled her into his arms and hugged her to his chest. She threw an arm around him and buried her face in his shoulder and Harry never ever wanted to let her go again. He wanted to stay like this forever, he wanted Lily to stay like this. He suddenly felt incredibly possessive of his little girl and he wanted no man to ever touch her. He wanted her to keep her innocence and never ever experience hurt or loss or sorrow. Eternal happiness was all he wanted for her.
The lump in his throat grew a little bigger and he hastily looked at Al, who sighed rather dramatically.
“Honestly Dad, and for Salazar’s sake, please don’t ask about the details, but I owe Scorp ten galleons now so excuse me if I’m not particularly pleased. I swear, I’m with Lils, as long as you’re happy, I’m good, I’m just a sore loser and I don’t want to hand over the money.”
Harry only barely managed to suppress his laughter. He snorted softly and bit his bottom lip to distract himself from his urge to burst into a fit of giggles.
“I kind of want to know more about this bet,” he said.
All looked horror-stricken.
“No, Dad, no. Trust me, you absolutely do not want to know any details about that but if you could kindly lend me ten galleons, I’d be forever grateful.”
“Am I going to see them again at some point?”
Al rolled his eyes.
“Dad, I’m in Slytherin, do I really need to answer that question?”
“No, Al, you don’t. I know I’ll never see them again.”
“Great. Can I have the money then?”
“If you do the dishes after breakfast?”
“Darn, when did you become so Slytherin?”
“I learnt from the best and for a lot longer than you, my friend.”
Al looked anything but happy and after a little bit of grumbling, he eventually agreed to the terms with a muttered fine but gave Harry a positively withering look when he asked whether he could use magic to get the job done and Harry told him outright that for every spell he used, he’d take away a galleon.
“You should’ve never been in Gryffindor, Dad,” Al said and before Harry could respond to that, James piqued up.
“You know what, Al, I’m starting to think you’re right. Our dad is positively devious.”
Harry didn’t even try to suppress his smirk and the mischievous glint in his eyes.
“My darlings, you haven’t seen anything just yet, but before I show my true colours, can I interest anyone in a large helping of pancakes with custard and chocolate sauce?”
The only answer got Harry got to his question was three rowdy children rising to their feet and storming out of the living room. He shook his head and slowly getting to his feet, he allowed himself a lazy stretch, then regretfully glanced at his coffee. It had gone cold and Harry had no desire to drink it. Instead, he grabbed his phone and unlocked the screen.
Draco [07:22 a.m.]: The fact that you acknowledge your faults without me having to point them out to you, is commendable. Miss you x
Harry stared that the message for a good few moments, felt a slightly painful twinge in his heart and wistfully hit the reply button.
Next year it’ll be the six of us, he thought.
“They know. It went surprisingly well. Did you know that your son and my son made a bet about us? Miss you too x”
Draco [08:35 a.m.]: Of course, I know. Your son owes my son ten galleons.
“Which I agreed to give him in exchange for doing the dishes. Did Scorpius tell you any details about the bet?”
Draco [08:37 a.m.]: Scorp said it would be better for my sanity if I didn’t.
“Hmpf, Al told me the same. Do you reckon we might get it out of them?”
Draco [08:38 a.m.]: Not a chance, they are both Slytherins. Potter, you have a lot to learn.
“Teach me, oh wise one.”
Draco [08:39 a.m.]: I’d rather fuck you, but all right.
Harry coughed and spluttered as he read that last message and was eternally grateful when his impatient brood of children started hollering for him to hurry up. He shook his head, decided to ignore Draco’s filthy cheek for now and locking his phone, he slipped it the chest pocket of his pyjamas and grabbed his mug of cold coffee and his wand. He headed into the kitchen and as he set about making pancakes for James, Al, and Lily, he tried his best to remain calm and collected. He told himself that he wasn’t at all bothered by Draco’s flippant remark. It was a lie but one Harry desperately clung to in a rather pathetic attempt to keep his wits about him and stop the pancakes from burning in the pan.
Chapter 26: 2020, Tuesday, 21st of April
“She could have at least allowed us to Floo straight into her office, instead of having us trudge up all the way from Hogsmeade,” Draco grumbled.
Harry cast a sideways glance at him and chuckled.
“Like that little bit of exercise is going to do you any harm.”
“Potter, whatever are you insinuating?”
Draco’s dark glower only made Harry want to laugh harder. He resisted for all but ten seconds, then burst out into a fit of laughter and promptly had to stop walking. Despite regular Auror training throughout his twenties and a more-or-less regular exercise regime, climbing the steep path leading up to Hogwarts while clutching his sides laughing was just not something, he was able to do.
A moment later, Draco clipped him around the head and he yelped and rubbed the sore spot.
“Ow, fuck, Malfoy, whatever was that for!”
“For acting like a complete buffoon.”
Harry grumbled, then looked at Draco and boldly held his gaze.
“But you love me,” he said without having given the choice of his words any conscious thought. It was only after they had left this mouth that he realised that he had used a certain four-letter-word. He swallowed hard and shoving his hands into his jean’s pockets, he wondered whether it was still safe for him to Apparate back to Hogsmeade and then Floo to London to board whatever transcontinental flight left Heathrow Airport next.
“Salazar, Potter, Headmistress McGonagall sends us both Howlers to summon us to her office because of whatever mischief Scorpius and Al got up to now and you choose this moment to, in a roundabout sort of way, tell me that you love me?”
“Justkindaslippedout—” he mumbled under his breath and glanced into the direction of the magnificent castle that towered over them.
Nope, Apparition was most definitely out of the question. Hogwarts’ wards were too strong and splinching was inevitable. The only option was to run. Or try and summon a broom, mount it, and escape.
“And here was I thinking you were some sort of crazed romantic fool who was holding back on the account of not scaring me away,” Draco chortled with unrestrained amusement.
Harry briefly abandoned his plans to flee the country and looked at Draco. He didn’t look in the least bit put out and there was a warmth to his expression that Harry didn’t really know how to describe. It made him feel fuzzy and he found himself talking a step closer to Draco.
“I could be if you wanted me to.”
“Merlin no, you’re flawed enough as is, there’s no need to create irreparable damage by resorting to such extreme measures.
“You’re truly something else, Malfoy.”
Draco winked suggestively and Harry had to momentarily look away to stop himself from dragging him into the Forbidden Forest to have this wicked way with him before they faced the music in Minerva McGonagall’s office.
She’d been adamant that they both come by her office to discuss Scorpius and Albus’ recent series of pranks but hadn’t actually mentioned any particulars. Harry didn’t quite like walking into an unknown situation. It made him wary, but since Draco didn’t seem overly concerned with the Headmistress’ summons, he decided to remain unperturbed until he knew all the facts.
“Come on, Minerva McGonagall isn’t the kind of person who will take kindly to waiting, especially not when it’s our sons giving her grief.”
“Innocent until proven guilty, Potter. Remember that.”
Draco’s smile was mildly worrisome but Harry pushed his trepidation to the furthest corner of his mind and as they continued their stroll up to the castle, he allowed his earlier slip of the tongue to occupy his thoughts instead.
Ever since they’d started dating, his feelings for Draco had only grown in intensity and some evenings, when they were both alone together, he struggled to keep them bottled up inside. The way they looked at each other, the comfortable way they acted around each other, like they’d been together for years rather than just several months, it all made Harry want to grab Draco by the lapels of his spring leather jacket, pull him close and tell him that he loved him with every fibre of his heart. Yes, so far, he’d never given in to the temptation to say the words that appeared to perpetually remain stuck to the tip of his tongue.
He had no idea what had possessed him to say those words now, and especially when they had more important things to deal with than have an honest heart-to-heart about the direction into which their relationship was heading. The Prophet had, naturally, printed a whole lot of nonsense about them – in fact, they still did – but Harry failed to muster up the energy to engage with the newspaper. He’d, however, sent them a formal letter to inform them that if they as much as printed anything about his children or Draco’s son, he’d sue them for willful defamation of character and disregard for a minor’s right to privacy along with causing lasting psychological damages.
The editor-in-chief had responded instantly and ensured him that the paper wouldn’t dream of invading James, Al, and Lily’s privacy and that they wouldn’t print anything about Scorpius Malfoy either but that guarantee hadn’t stopped them for concocting stories about how he and Draco had gotten together and how long their romance had been going on.
He’d gotten annoyed about it once or twice but Draco had talked him off the ledge and plied him with good coffee and plenty of kisses. He’d then dragged him upstairs into his bedroom for a completely different kind of distraction that had left Harry too tired to think about anything beyond falling asleep with his head buried in the pillows and one arm firmly wrapped around Draco’s waist.
Still, the fact that he’d uttered a certain four-letter-word irked him and he wished for a do-over so he could consider his words more carefully.
“Potter, are you okay?” Draco asked and looking up, Harry nodded absentmindedly.
Draco didn’t particularly look like he believed him but they’d reached the concealed entrance to Minerva McGonagall’s office and Harry glanced at the gargoyle and muttered the password. The stone figure turned to reveal the hidden staircase behind and they both began climbing the few steps that led to the door to Minerva’s office.
Harry let Draco go first and received a frosty glower for his kindness. Once at the top of the staircase, Draco knocked on the door, which immediately flew open with the help of a magic spell.
It had been years since Harry had visited and he curiously looked around. Massive bookshelves with tome after tome lined the walls. These days, the decoration had a distinctive Scottish feel to it and it felt homely and inviting with the fresh scent of baked goods wafting through the room. The smell reminded Harry of The Fresh Bean, yet he did not want to be here. He wanted to turn on his heels and leave. He’d spent too much of his youth in this office to appreciate it in any way.
Most of the portraits on the walls were pretending to sleep and glancing around Harry instantly spotted Dumbledore and Severus Snape. They, too, appeared to be asleep but Harry knew better than to believe their subpar acting skills. For starters, Dumbledore’s amused smile was a sure-fire giveaway as were Snape’s eyes, which he opened a tiny bit ever so often.
Harry attempted to sound cheery when he spotted his old professor stand behind her desk, slightly leaning on a cane. He couldn’t help but think that she hadn’t changed much at all. She certainly hadn’t visibly aged and he was about to compliment her when she looked at him over the top rim of her glasses and fixed him with a hard expression that made him want to back away. Even some twenty years after leaving Hogwarts, she still managed to terrify him and he wanted to run. He still had a hard time calling her Minerva but several years after the war, they’d both sat down for a long chat and she’d insisted that they adopt more familiar terms. Harry had, of course, baulked at the mere idea but Minerva McGonagall wasn’t a woman you said no to.
“Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy,” she said and motioned towards the two comfortable-looking wingback chairs that stood in front of her desk.
Harry slowly approached and waited for Minerva to take her seat behind her desk before he seated himself. Draco followed suit and casually throwing one leg over the other, he leant back and interlaced his fingers, which he rested in his lap.
“So, Headmistress, what is this all about?” he asked outright and without qualms.
Harry merely shrank further into the seat and fervently wished that he knew how to transfigure himself into an armchair cushion.
Minerva regarded him carefully, then rested her cane against her chair, leant back and rested her arms on the armrests of her chair.
“Your sons have broken into the Gryffindor common room with the sole purpose of causing mischief and mayhem.”
“Minerva, I know Al can be a bit cheeky but I doubt he and Scorpius would do—”
“Do you have any concrete proof that my son and Harry’s son were the perpetrators?” Draco interrupted him outright.
Harry only barely managed to suppress a groan.
“The entire room, including several of the boys’ dormitories were rigged with prank toys from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.”
“Headmistress. I sincerely hope that this isn’t your proof.”
Harry wanted to place his hand on top of Draco’s thigh to urge him to be quiet before he did more damage than good but Minerva was faster.
“Mr Malfoy! What do you take me for? I understand any student in the school can purchase prank toys from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes however I am also in the possession of a full list of items currently available for sale at the shop an several of the prank toys used were not on that list.”
“That merely narrows the suspect pool but it doesn’t mean that Scorpius and Al are the guilty ones.”
“The Slytherin Prefect confirmed that neither Albus nor Scorpius was in their dorm at the time.”
“No Slytherin Prefect in his or her right—”
This time Harry resolutely stopped Draco from continuing with his quest to bait Minerva into turning him into a toad or worse. A little over twenty years had passed since the war and the four Hogwarts houses were more united than they’d ever been. Slytherin and Gryffindor obviously still despised each other but these days they mostly limited themselves to expressing their strong feelings during heated Quidditch matches and other competitive games. He knew that Draco knew that but then again Draco was the type of person who occasionally liked to show just a little too much sass and Harry was determined to stop him from inflicting lasting damage.
“Minerva, are you absolutely certain that our boys did the crime?” he asked.
When Minerva turned to look at him with her lips pursed into a fine line and her eyes hard as stone, he instantly shrunk a little further into his armchair and only barely resisted letting his eyes dart around the room in search for an escape route. There had to be some secret passage out of the office and where was Fawkes when you needed him anyway? What was it about Minerva McGonagall that always made him feel like he was eleven years old?
“I am positive,” she said with conviction.
“May we speak with them?”
“I forbid them to leave the Slytherin dungeons but I can have them brought up.”
“Could we talk to them alone first?”
Harry knew that he was pushing his luck and forcing himself to sit forward and straighten his back, he smiled.
“I know my son, Minerva, I will find out what happened. This ex-Auror might be rusty but I still remember a thing or two about interrogating a suspect.”
“Potter, I swear I will string you up by your—”
“Draco Malfoy, do not finish that sentence!” Severus Snape’s voice suddenly boomed from his painting and Harry promptly turned his head away to suppress a smirk. He had to bite his lip hard to keep his composure but failed when he glanced at Draco, who looked nothing like the nearly forty-year-old man he was but everything like a scared twelve-year-old boy.
“For Salazar’s sake, Severus, are you trying to give me a heart attack?” he grumbled and Harry fully expected to hear a snarky retort from Severus but was surprised when the portrait of the man remained silent.
Minerva tasked a house elf with informing the Slytherin Prefect to bring Al and Scorpius to her office and when they finally trudged in some fifteen minutes later, they looked anything but happy. They looked even less delighted about seeing their fathers and shuffled uncomfortably from one foot to the other while their headmistress excused herself.
“Meet me in the transfiguration classroom when you’re done,” she simply said before departing and closing the door behind her, she left her office.
Harry, who had gotten up when the boys had walked in, felt Draco lean close. He felt Draco’s hand rest on his lower back and given the fact that they were at Hogwarts, Harry wanted to pull away but refrained from doing so.
“Let me handle this, Potter. This needs the touch of Slytherin finesse, not the brazen stupidity of an ex-Gryffindor.”
Rolling his eyes and crossing his arms over his chest, Harry merely shrugged and said nothing but made a mental note to make Draco pay for his insolent remark. He presently had no idea how but he was determined to figure something out.
“Well, well, well, there’s my Slytherin prankster. Scorpius, you did well, my boy. I’m so proud of you. And Al, you too of course. Absolutely well played.”
“Dad, how stupid do you think I am? Praising me for my alleged misdeeds to try and get me to admit? What’s this? Slytherin 101 for first years?” Scorpius drawled with a raised eyebrow.
He defiantly crossed his arms over his chest and threw Draco the kind of challenging look, Harry only ever got from James whenever he called him out on his bullshit.
“Worth a try. Potter, your turn,” Draco said and turning his armchair around, he slumped into and Harry glared at him.
He really didn’t want to question Draco’s parenting skills, partly because he knew what he did, but when Draco had told him he’d handle things, Harry had been convinced that he had a plan. Apparently not.
Harry suppressed the urge to sigh and looked at Scorpius Malfoy and his son. It was ridiculous how close the two boys were. Compared to him and Draco, they were complete opposites and strongly reminded him of how close he, Ron and Hermione had been. Of course, what with Scorpius and Al being true Slytherins, what made their friendship even more explosive was the fact that they each acted like the one-half of the Weasley twins. Harry took a moment to brace himself, then decided to show Draco how a true almost-Slytherin handled a disobedient teenager.
“Right boys, so it would seem like there’s no concrete proof that you two actually committed the crime but your headmistress is convinced that you did and I can assure you she will punish you for it, regardless. Now, there are two ways we can go about solving your problem. One, you confess right now or two, I will get in touch with some of my ex-colleagues in the Auror department and call them over to conduct a thorough investigation. I know that some of the pranks Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes sell, require the use of non-standard activation spells and those leave traces of magic. A Ministry-level Priori Incantatem should do the trick. We’ll know exactly which wand was involved before dinner is ready,” Harry said and to make a point, he crossed his arms over his chest and stubbornly held Al’s and Scorpius’ gazes.
After a few minutes of very uncomfortable silence, Al finally caved only to receive a sharp elbow nudge to his side from Scorpius.
“Dad, you wouldn’t—” he whined.
“I absolutely would,” Harry said, remaining steadfast.
He had no intention of involving the Auror Department to solve the mystery of who had pranked the Gryffindors but neither Al nor Scorpius needed to know that. He could also cast a Ministry-level Priori Incantatem without the help of a team of Aurors.
While they waited for the two boys to make up their minds, Harry chanced a sideways glance at Draco, whose smirk renewed his confidence. He was idly toying with his wand, completely at tease and Harry winked at him.
“I swear it wasn’t us!” Al eventually broke the silence.
“It wasn’t. Someone is trying to set us up.”
“Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, if that is a lie, you will be scrubbing the Manor’s grand staircase with a toothbrush over the summer holiday,” Draco said.
“I’m not lying,” Scorpius said with a healthy dose of indignation. “The prank toys belong to Al and me, I’ll admit that much, but we didn’t break into Gryffindor Tower.”
“And why is it that the Slytherin Prefect confirmed that you were not in your dorm when the setting of the traps took place?” Harry asked.
“Dad, honestly, what third-year goes to bed at nine in the evening. I’m pretty sure you didn’t,” Al said, sounding a tad more accusing than strictly necessary but Harry decided to let it slip. “Besides, we keep all our stuff from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes in an old treasure chest in a hidden space in one of the old classrooms in the dungeons and Scorp charmed the lock to alert us if someone finds the chest or tries to open it. We both have a little coin that glows red and turns hot when that happens. We, of course, went to investigate but we were too late, the box was already empty.”
“Does anyone else know about the chest?” Draco wanted to know.
Both Al and Scorpius shook their heads.
“No, Dad,” Scorpius said. “Not unless they followed us, of course.”
“I see,” Harry nodded.
It took another two hours to solve the case and required the assistance of both the Gryffindor Head of House and the Slytherin Head of House, as well as an announcement from Minerva over the newly installed Muggle intercom. She threatened the removal of two-hundred house points as well as detention with Professor Longbottom out in the greenhouses until the end of the term.
After a whole lot of back and forth and Harry resolving to take a trip up to the Gryffindor common room to cast a few spells, it finally turned out that Al and Scorp had managed to rile up a fellow housemate and to get his own back the boy, along with the help of several friends, had decided to make them pay. Minerva sent a Howler straight to the boy’s home, issued a hefty punishment and Scorpius and Al even had the decency to apologise to her for their cheek when she’d accused them of a crime they hadn’t committed. In return, Minerva expressed her regret for having been quick to judge and plied them with a large plate of Scottish shortbread.
She also forced some on Harry and Draco, apologised profusely for calling them up to Scotland and tried to tempt them into staying for dinner.
Harry, somehow, managed to politely turn down the invitation and after checking in with Lily and stopping by the Quidditch pitch to watch James practice, they finally headed back into Hogsmeade and Apparated back to London.
Too tired to cook or go out, they retired to Draco’s flat, ordered ordinary Muggle pizza and drank a whole lot of coffee.
Draco stood behind Harry’s chair, leant forward, and resting one hand on his shoulder, he placed a large mug of steaming hot coffee in front of Harry. Instead of pulling back, he leant even closer and placing his other hand on Harry’s shoulder, he kissed his cheek.
“What kind of coffee is it?” Harry asked, sounding a little distracted by the unexpected attention.
“A blend of the liveliness of Latin American coffee along with the heft and the lingering herbal spiciness from Sumatran beans.”
“It smells divine.”
“And it tastes even better. It’s hearty, rugged, and untamed, a bold coffee for the adventurous at heart.”
“I’m not feeling very adventurous tonight. I’m just tired. In the five years that Jamie’s been at Hogwarts, Minerva never once called me in and he’s done plenty of mischief over the years.”
“If you ask me, good old Minnie is losing her touch a little, she could have gotten to the bottom of the problem herself.”
“Hm, I guess calling us in to deal with our sly offspring was easier.”
“I reckon she just wanted to see it with her own eyes.”
“See what with her own eyes.”
“Whether we’re really together or whether the Prophet is misinterpreting the photographs their reporters have snapped of us over the last few months.”
“Do you think we convinced her?”
Harry turned his head slightly and with a smile, Draco captured his lips and stole a kiss.
“Dunno, we should have probably snogged or at least held hands or something equally coupley.”
“We can make up for it now.”
“I thought you were tired?”
Draco quirked an eyebrow at Harry and stepping around the chair, he perched himself on the table in front of him and summoned his own coffee mug.
“I’m never too tired to enjoy you, Draco Malfoy.”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“I liked it better when you assumed that I love you.”
Harry blushed profusely and hastily busied himself with drinking his coffee.
“Yeah, about that. Sorry. That kind of just slipped out.”
“Slipped out? I don’t think so, Potter. I’m going to be bold and say that you are in love with me.”
“And what if I am?”
Draco hadn’t quite expected that bold a response but it didn’t put him off either. While the depth of his feelings for Harry terrified him just a little, he was old enough not to let them freak him out. He was also mature enough to recognise a good thing when it hit him square in the face and this relationship with Harry was most definitely a very good thing. He truly enjoyed every moment they spent together. Harry’s sass was delightful, his writing was exquisite and well, the sex was just a wonderful bonus.
“Then you are,” Draco shrugged. “Look, Potter, I’m not the most romantic guy in the book and I won’t say this all the time but I absolutely and unequivocally mean it. I love you.”
“You love me?” Harry asked, looking somewhat shocked.
Draco suppressed his urge to be sassy.
“Yes, I do.”
“I love you too,” Harry said quietly, speaking over the rim of his coffee cup.
Their eyes locked and for a long moment, neither one of them felt the need to say anything. Eventually, Draco smiled, reached out and taking Harry’s hand, he intertwined their fingers.
“Thank you for deciding to stalk me again.”
Harry grinned at him.
“Turns out you were worth the effort.”
Chapter 27: EPILOGUE: 2021, Tuesday, 7th of September
Well, all good things must come to an end eventually and I'm afraid that this rollercoaster ride has reached it's final destination. I've had so much fun writing this, it was an amazing journey and I even made a new friend! Coffee really does bring people together, in every sense of the word.
Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments, you have made this past month so memorable. I won’t forget your kindness. Currently down with the flu and just knowing you’ve enjoyed / are enjoying this story is better than any painkiller I could take.
“What did you make?” Draco asked without looking up from the hardcover book in his hand.
He turned the page and felt the mattress dip as Harry sat down on his side of the bed and shuffle into a slightly more comfortable position.
“Galápagos San Cristóbal,” Harry replied, expertly levitating a tray with a French Press Pot and two coffee mugs, and gently setting it down between them.
“Ah, yes, the perfect proof that altitude isn’t everything when it comes to growing excellent coffee,” Draco said, nodding in approval.
Compared to coffee beans from other regions, San Cristóbal thrived at an altitude of 450 to 1,200 feet above sea level, a much lower level than any other coffee. This was due to the Humboldt Current passing through twice a year. It carried cold winds and rich nutrients that mingled with the island’s fertile volcanic soil and intense equatorial sun, creating an unexpectedly subtropical climate. As a result of that Arabica coffee trees that would normally grow at elevations of 3,000 feet were able to flourish at an altitude one-third of that.
Over the last year and a half, Harry’s ability to choose a good coffee had improved considerably and these days he brewed a more than decent cup of coffee but Draco doubted that Harry knew the exact reason that gave Galápagos’ coffee its typically sweet caramel flavour, juicy acidity, and a soft chocolaty mouthfeel.
“Out of curiosity, why did you choose those particular beans?” Draco asked, finally looking up from the book in his hand. He attached a delicate snake-shaped silver bookmark, with two emerald eyes to the page he was currently reading and snapped the book closed.
“Because you were waxing poetic about them when the delivery arrived last week after we came back from dropping the children off at King’s Cross.”
“Blame it on me, why don’t you?” Draco rolled his eyes.
He stretched carefully and watched as Harry poured the coffee and handed him his favourite dark green mug. Draco wrapped both hands around it, inhaled deeply, and let out a content sigh.
“You’re getting exceptionally good at this, Potter.”
“Well, what can I say, I practically live with a Coffee Master who regularly forces me to do hard unpaid labour in his coffee shop.”
“What do you mean you practically live with me?”
“Potter, don’t offend me, you live here, full stop. Not practically. This place is as much yours as it is mine. And I may not pay you with money but I’ve certainly not heard you complain about all the hard and unpaid labour I perform in our bedroom. Or did you forget last night?”
Harry shuffled a little and Draco delighted in the faint pink tinge to his cheeks.
“I did not forget,” he said and quickly raised his own coffee mug to his lips hand hastily busied himself with taking a few sips.
“Pity, I was about to offer to refresh your mind.”
Draco thoroughly enjoyed teasing Harry. While Harry was full of sass and gave as good as he took, Draco lived for moments like this when he made inappropriate comments and Harry flushed or did something that would stop him for having to answer a question or continue participating in the conversation. It had become their little thing, something belonged just two the two of them and that they never did while around the children.
Harry was anything but shy. He generally chased after what he wanted and got it too. But occasionally this somewhat coy side of him came out to play and tempted Draco in a way he didn’t know how to describe. When he wanted to, Harry could be extremely charming and fiercely dominant. He also most definitely knew how to be seductive but those sweet moments when he would turn away, fidget or do something else that was just a little out of character, well, it was those times when Draco’s knees buckled and his heart thrummed so loudly that he could hear it pound like it wanted to break through his ribcage.
“How come you still aren’t finished with the book?”
The change of topic made Draco smirk.
“I finished it on Sunday, I’m reading it for the third time.”
Despite trying absolutely every trick in the book and then some, including shamelessly recruiting the help of James, Al, and Lily, he hadn’t been able to talk Harry into letting him read the manuscript of his latest book. Harry had stubbornly refused to satisfy his curiosity and in doing so he had nearly driven Draco to the brink of insanity. Harry’s first adult novel, published under his real name instead of his pseudonym, was due to hit the shelves today but on Saturday morning Harry had woken him up with breakfast and coffee in bed and afterwards, he’d presented him with an advance copy of the book.
After months of unsuccessfully trying to get Harry to surrender a copy of the finished novel, he’d been so desperate to read it that after Harry had fallen asleep, he’d turned the light back on and nearly devoured the 420-page novel overnight.
“And?” Harry asked.
Draco purposefully played dumb.
“What do you think?”
“Isn’t the fact that I’m reading it for the third time in almost as many days a dead giveaway as to what I think about it?”
Harry looked at him over the rim of his coffee mug and held his gaze for a full two minutes before responding.
“Knowing you, Malfoy, you’re reading it for the third time just so you can write me a long list of things I should have changed prior to submitting the manuscript for publishing.”
For a moment, Draco pretended to look hurt but the fact that Harry’s sass amused him to no end meant that he didn’t do a very good job of it.
“Will you believe me if I tell you that the book is perfect just the way it is?”
“I will,” Harry replied without hesitation.
Instead of reaching for his wand, he wandlessly levitated the tray from the bed onto the nightstand on his side of the bed and shuffling into a kneeling position, he moved closer and sat back on his haunches before leaning in to steal a kiss.
Draco gave it willingly and sneaking his hand around Harry’s neck, he pulled him a little closer and deepened the kiss. The position was slightly awkward for Harry, who had to raise his buttocks off his haunches again. When Draco pulled him even closer and wound his fingers into his unruly mop of thick black hair, that was just this side of soft with a little coarseness to it, Harry almost lost his balance. He somehow managed to place his hand on Draco’s thigh to stop himself from landing flat on his front and spilling both their coffees in the process but let out a low disgruntled moan which Draco promptly swallowed.
A while later, when they were thoroughly out of breath and had managed to spill some coffee, after all, Harry curled up at his side and Draco welcomed him with open arms. He placed his coffee on his nightstand and reached for the book that had somehow slid between his calves.
“As a matter of fact, Potter, there’s a little thing you could change.”
“I knew it,” Harry chuckled but there was no resignation in his voice.
Draco turned his head sideways, raised an eyebrow at Harry and then opened the book on the dedication page. He’d read it several times, but the words still charmed him. He smiled and felt his heart skip a beat or two.
For my children, Jamie, Al, Scorp (yes!) and Lils
You are my greatest joy.
Without your love, I wouldn’t be the man I am.
You keep me caffeinated and sane.
I love you. X
Tracing the dedication, Draco tried his best to keep his emotions under control but Harry’s public declaration of love made him feel things, good things. He was sure that a photograph of the dedication page of Harry’s novel would end up on the front page of the Prophet but right this moment, Draco couldn’t care any less about the media furore that was bound to happen the moment the Wizarding World worked out that Harry Potter had written an adult romance novel titled Coffee Secrets.
“Draco— Put me out of my misery already.”
Harry’s whine made him sound like a five-year-old rather than a grown man of forty-one. It was annoyingly adorable though Draco was loath to admit that to himself and he most definitely didn’t plan to confess it for anyone to hear. There were things even Harry Potter didn’t need to know about.
“There’s no autograph, Potter. You had the audacity to give me an advance copy of your book but you didn’t even take the time to sign it.”
The expression on Harry’s face was one of pure disbelief and Draco fought hard to suppress the urge to burst out laughing. He was, of course, only messing but Harry didn’t need to know that.
“Dead serious,” Draco nodded.
“You’re unbelievable,” Harry shook his head. “Give it here, I’ll sign it for you.”
He wandlessly summoned a Muggle pen from somewhere, presumably the study, which had once belonged to Draco but which he had boldly claimed as his own, reasoning that Draco didn’t need a chair and a desk to make coffee and that he could use his laptop at the kitchen table. For his cheek, he had ended up with a stinging hex to both buttocks.
Draco handed the book over and frowned when Harry shuffled away and held it at such a weird angle that Draco was neither able to see the page, nor the movement of the pen.
A few moments later, Harry closed the book, hesitated for a moment then grudgingly handed it over. Draco didn’t quite know what to make of his facial expression, it was strangely unreadable but took the book anyway. He smiled, opened the book, and promptly felt his jaw fall open.
He stared at the words, read them several times, and blinked rapidly, wondering whether he was imaging things. While not opposed to the idea, this wasn’t something they’d ever discussed, beyond allowing James, Al, Scorpius, and Lily to tease them about the fact that they frequently acted like an old married couple. Draco had no idea what an old married couple was supposed to act like but if they behaved like he and Harry did, he most definitely wanted in.
In true Potter-style, Harry had jumped the gun. He’d gone and done something reckless and lifting his eyes off the page in front of him, Draco slowly turned his head and looked at Harry, who was gnawing at his bottom lip and looked like he was on the verge of a panic attack.
Unwilling to stall, Draco found himself answering the question with a single word.
It was Harry’s turn to let his jaw drop open and stare at him in complete disbelieve.
“Yes?” he asked.
Draco rolled his eyes.
“No, Potter, I frequently accept marriage proposals just for the crack of it. Of course, yes, you absolute idiot!”
“I love you too, Draco.”
“Well, I’m glad we’re on the same page then. Now, I’ve never done this because I, you know, didn’t get married for love, you, however, have. That makes you more experienced in the matter. What do we do now?”
“Kiss?” Harry suggested.
“We do that all the time. Any other options?”
“The children would kill us.”
“Now here’s an idea I like the sound of.”
“Tell me why I put up with your filthy mouth.”
“Because you like what it does to you.”
Harry rolled his eyes skyward.
“Merlin, save me.”
“Bit late for that now, isn’t it?”
Draco couldn’t help but mock.
“Could you be at least a little romantic?”
“I could,” Draco nodded.
Discarding the book, Draco shuffled, tackled Harry into a horizontal position and rolled on top of him.
“My heart’s racing at a million miles an hour and I want to cry I’m so happy but if you breathe a word of this to anyone, dead or alive, I will—”
“Shut up and kiss me already, Malfoy.”
Draco wanted to say something else but for once, he couldn’t think of an appropriate comeback and so he did exactly what Harry had told him to do.
He shut up and kissed him until they were dizzy and giddy from the lack of oxygen and then he kissed him some more while he silently thanked Pansy Parkinson for daring him to work in a Muggle coffee shop and Harry’s unquenchable curiosity.