Actions

Work Header

Fate Has Different Plans

Chapter Text

Harry ran towards the old oak doors of the ancient castle, that were thankfully still open.

He was late because he’d been arguing with Hermione and lost track of time. In the end, Hermione had just huffed, “Harry, you’re in this now, so like it or not, you should go. GO!”

Harry grabbed his mask, put it on and Disapparated with a loud shrieking noise.

Here he was, the doors snapping closed a moment after he stepped in, causing Harry to jump and turn his head back towards them so fast his neck cracked. His hand ran towards the holster on his thigh, unconsciously ready to face the mortal danger.

He scoffed at the door and turned again, taking a deep breath and straightening his shoulders. Now that he was in, he couldn’t run away anymore.

Especially when he saw two masqueraded figures waiting for him from the corner of his eye.

He approached them and took out an engraved letter with a red glittering outline and elegant handwriting that read “Official invitation to the 25th edition of the annual Magical Creatures Secret Ball.”

The tallest figure, masked as a colorful dragon, took it and regarded it carefully, waving their wand over it. They gave it back to Harry and said with a sharp voice, “Mister…?”

Harry cleared his throat, praying he’d be able to tell them his nickname without laughing like an idiot. “Mr. Prongs.”

Harry internally rolled his eyes at the silly nickname his father had come up with, but both Ron and Hermione had agreed that no one would know James’ nickname, and that Harry could use it safely. It was an unusual word indeed.

However, the two figures seemed impassive. The way they just stood there, asking and inspecting, faceless and emotionless — it was unnerving Harry.

The smallest one was dressed as a kangaroo; their costume had a big pouch on the front, from where they picked out a scroll with a list and crossed a line on it with an enchanted quill.

The kangaroo regarded him with a toneless voice. “You’re the last one, Mr. Prongs. Please remember the rules for tonight: we’ll place a spell on your mask, assuring that it won’t wear off and accidentally reveal your identity to the others. You are welcomed to socialize and find someone who sparks your interest; if you’re comfortable with voyeurism there’s plenty of sofas and pouffes in the common rooms. Otherwise, you can choose to stay in a private room. You’ll have to give spoken consent to go further in the knowledge of your partner and you’ll set your own pace. There are disguised bodyguards on every floor to ensure your safety. If you decide to practice something extreme, remember to agree on a safe word with your partner and the room itself will provide what you need. However, we welcome even only curious guests: if you want to watch, ask for permission — if you want to only talk make sure that that’s clear, and if you want to provide joy to yourself alone, that’s fine too. Is everything clear?”

Harry loosened the tie of his costume a bit, already feeling breathless, sweat forming on the small of his back. He was feeling less and less convinced about this evening. He let out a soft “yes” and the dragon figure took out their wand, waving it in front of Harry’s face. They pronounced, “Persona Clausus” and a soft blue light encircled Harry’s stag mask, securing it to his face.

It felt claustrophobic.

Harry sucked in a breath as the kangaroo figure continued, “That’s all set. One last thing to remember: your mask won’t wear off unless both you and your partner agree about that. Just say out loud that you wish to see your partner’s face and your secret will be revealed. Enjoy your night, Mr. Prongs.”

Harry thanked them and approached the only other door in the atrium, probably leading to the ballroom. He took a step towards it, panicking and feeling more than ever out of place. But if he’d made it to this point, he could go all the way through. He gripped the handle of the door and opened it.

As soon as he stepped foot in the room, the high pounding of the music hit his ears; he didn’t even catch the door closing behind him. After a moment, Harry was able to adjust to the loud music and the dancing lights and take a proper look at the situation. Before him, an indefinite mass of animal-masqueraded people were throwing their hands incoherently up in the air and moving their bodies with the music, some more obscenely than others. There was a bar counter at the right side of the room where a lot of couples were touching, flirting, kissing. At a second glance, Harry saw that not only were there couples making out — all around the place, groups of three or more people were “getting to know each other”.

Harry had nothing against any kind of sexual orientation or kink, but he was new to this world and he still needed time to accept his renewed sexuality.

This evening seemed a bit too far from his possibilities. So, he decided alcohol was much needed if he wanted to get through this alive. He approached the counter, asking for a glass of Firewhiskey. A couple next to him was fervently kissing and the one that seemed like a girl accidentally elbowed Harry in the ribs, causing the kiss to break.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” She was giggling, and with a wave of her head she pointed to her partner, “We were searching for someone to…join us.”

Harry looked at them and guessed the other figure was a girl too. He drowned a big gulp of his Firewhiskey and tried to gently decline. He’d just divorced Ginny because he’d discovered he was gay, on top of other things, so he wasn’t sure joining two women in whatever they wanted to do was a good idea.

He turned, leaning his back against the counter, his eyes glued to the people on the dance floor.

That was one of the reasons he’d been so reluctant about the idea of attending this masquerade ball. It was impossible to tell who the person in front of you was. Clearly it had a great perk: it was freeing to let go and not pay attention to the others’ appearances for once, and he was thrilled that people had no idea he was Harry Potter. But on the other hand, not being sure of who he was speaking with was starting to make Harry feel edgy about how to address others or how to start conversations. He had never been good with that, always clumsy, saying the wrong things in the wrong way; not to mention that he hadn’t flirted or made advances on anyone in the last 20 years.

Harry finished his drink and ordered another glass of Firewhiskey. Throwing himself in the middle of the dance floor wasn’t a good idea; the memories of his ungraceful dancing skills from the Yule Ball were still intact in his mind.

He decided to take a tour around the place and see what the common rooms and private ones looked like. He crossed the floor trying to avoid bumping into the people who were clinging to each other, rubbing their groins together and running hands all over each other.

When he got to the other side of the room he was slightly panting, and his cock was achingly hard in his trousers. Looking closely at other people almost fucking in the middle of the dance floor and getting touched and squeezed between bodies was having some effects on Harry, and the vague scent of men that hit him wasn’t helping his level of arousal. With the glass of Firewhiskey tightly clutched in his hand, Harry gave one last look at the people leisurely dancing.

Two guys were fucking with their mouths next to him when they broke the kiss and one of them stared into Harry’s eyes and slowly licked his lips. Harry’s cock gave a jolt at the sight and he quickly averted his gaze, palming himself through his costume and forcing himself to continue his wandering. He still wasn’t ready to have physical contact with someone else, even if his dick seemed to think differently.

He pushed the door in front of him open and found himself at the beginning of a long corridor, lit up by various lanterns that gave the atmosphere these “see-not see” vibes. All through the corridor, Harry could see many variously coloured sofas with different masked people on them, fucking, kissing, or doing any other kind of sexual activity together.

In particular, two men in a recess of the corridor made Harry’s blood rush to his cock, stiffening it even more. One of them was wearing a big mask that made his face look like an Occamy, and he was standing against the wall; the other one was kneeled in front of him, sucking his balls, his squid mask brushing slightly on the other guy’s groin. They seemed deeply involved in the act, continually moaning and swearing under their breaths and Harry found himself watching in rapt attention. After a minute, during which the squid guy took the cock in his mouth bobbing his head along the shaft, Harry noticed that some of the tentacles of the mask were stroking all along the Occamy guy’s body, sliding under his shirt, brushing his nipples, his sides, his hair. Some lower were grazing his hole and thighs. Harry was trying to imagine how it must feel to be touched in so many parts of the body at the same time when he remembered he had to ask for permission to stay and stare, but he couldn’t find it in himself to speak. He was having a hard time admitting he was enjoying looking at other men sucking each other off.

His mouth worked and then closed again. He was about to turn to leave when the man standing opened his eyes and told Harry, “You can stay and watch…if you want to.”

That caused the kneeled guy to stop sucking and turn to look at Harry; he smirked and licked his glistening lips for the drops collected on them. Harry unconsciously gave his dick a squeeze and licked his own lips. He found himself incapable of walking away, so he just nodded and stayed there until the first guy spilled his hot semen on the other guy’s lips, smearing them of cum and crying out loud. Harry opened his mouth, gasping silently at the sight before him and laying a hand on the wall to keep his balance as a wave of pleasure hit him in the groin. He flushed hot and as soon as he understood that he was still standing there, staring at those guys, he babbled some nonsense and ran away from the scene, shame hot on his cheeks. He found a door and opened it without thinking, sighing in relief when he saw that it was a bathroom. He could hear moans and growls coming from the cubicles, but there was no one at the sinks, so he reached them and splashed some cold water on his wrists and hands.

Harry knew that everything was consensual, and that if those guys hadn’t wanted to be seen they’d have searched for a private room, but he couldn’t help feeling abashed, as if he’d violated their privacy.  

Coming to this whole ball had probably been a bad idea — it was too soon for him to live such a strong experience. He dried his face with the idea of just leaving and going back home. He was a 37-year-old man with three children and a divorce on his shoulders, he shouldn’t have come here in the first place.

He exited the bathroom with an aching cock and a shattered emotionality. He retraced the corridor to go out, but when he opened the door to go back to the dance floor, he found himself in a dark room. At first he couldn’t see anything, but squinting, Harry saw there was scarce light coming from a window with a figure standing next to it, showered in moonlight. His heart skipped a beat.

The figure was dressed all in white, with tight trousers that hugged a perfect round arse. A plumage-y kind of appendix was attached above it, all white too; it looked like a peacock’s tail. It was widely spread, and it came up to his hair that was short and perfectly straight; it looked almost as white as his costume. Harry drew in a breath. The man must have felt him, because he spun his head towards him, leaving Harry completely speechless. He was wearing a white mask, covered in plumages and diamonds around the eye holes. The diamonds were almost too shiny in the darkness of the room and made the man’s eyes pop out more evidently: they looked like liquid silver.

Harry knew it probably should have triggered something funny, such a particular costume and animal, but all in all the man looked elegant and regal and Harry found himself transfixed by it.

They stared at each other for a moment, scanning their figures reciprocally until Harry felt a strong desire to know everything about that man; what he looked like in plain light, what his name was, what he did for a living, what his favourite ice cream flavour was, why he was there… Harry approached him, finally giving in to his instincts and abandoning the voice in his head that was telling him he had decided only a moment before to go back home.

Like almost everyone else’s masks, this peacock’s one was cut under the nose, leaving the mouth and jaw visible to allow easier access for kissing and partaking in sexual activities. When Harry came closer to him, the man smirked. Something about that mouth and that way of smirking looked familiar to Harry, who struggled for a moment to remember where he’d seen it before.

His thoughts were stopped when the man sneered, “Do you think you’ll speak at some point, or do you just want to stay here and stare at me? I mean, I do like people worshipping me, it’s just to know.”

A familiar sense of irritation waved through Harry, who tried to control it. He felt immediately bonded to this man and he didn’t mind a bit of a challenge; he could deal with it. “That’s how you flirt with people? I get why you’re here alone, after all.” Harry crossed his arms and grinned, waiting for the man’s next move.

His smirk widened, “I’ll have you know that I am here alone by choice. I don’t enjoy the chaos out there and it wasn’t entirely my idea to attend this party.”

Harry sighed and uncrossed his arms, stretching a hand towards the man. He could relate to him. “I understand that. I didn’t want to come either. I was actually trying to go back home when I opened this door. Can we start again? Hi, I’m Mr. Prongs.”

The peacock man considered his hand for a moment, then shook it. “I’m Mr. Plume.”

Harry smiled at the funny nickname, thinking it was actually very appropriate for him.

They stayed there holding hands a moment too long, until Harry realized and withdrew quickly, scratching the back of his neck in a nervous gesture.

“Erm —” “Do you want —” They started together and laughed at that.

Harry gestured towards the man to let him go first. He cleared his throat and started again, “Okay, so, do you want to sit down?” Harry smiled and nodded, following him to a bed inside the room that he hadn’t noticed before. They sat together and Harry remembered what the two figures had told him when he’d arrived — that the rooms were equipped to give you whatever you asked for. He conjured two flutes and a bottle of champagne and turned to the man, offering a flute. “I hope this is okay.”

The peacock man took it, touching Harry’s fingers and lingering a moment on them. “This is a very gallant gesture. Are you trying to get me drunk?”

Harry chuckled and poured some champagne into their flutes. “Actually, no. I’m a single father almost in my forties, I recently discovered I am gay and I’m here because my friends think it’s about time I find someone to try my new…tastes. But honestly, I think everything has its own time, right? This looks a bit forced to me, to meet new people in an organized event…if it has to be, it happens naturally, doesn’t it?” Harry stopped, tightening his lips and holding his breath. He gasped and resumed, “Oh Merlin, I’m sorry, I babble nonsense and talk way too much when I’m nervous. I’ll scare you off.”

The man snickered and took a sip of his drink. “It takes a lot more to scare me off. Plus, I’m used to dealing with nonsensical flows of words and thoughts. I can safely assume that if you’re talking to me, you don’t want to go back home anymore?

Harry smiled sheepishly and nodded, staring into those silvery eyes and thinking once more that he had already met this man somewhere.

His mystery partner resumed, “Good, because if I’m not crazy, there’s something between us. I can feel it in the air, and I’d like to deepen it.”

Harry blushed and thanked the darkness and the mask that it wasn’t visible. “You’re not crazy. But you said you wanted to be alone…”

The man levitated his flute to the bedside table — how many other things were there in that room Harry hadn’t seen? — and placed a hand on Harry’s thigh. “Don’t be daft. I’ve changed my mind, obviously.”

That irritating manner came back, but Harry tried to avoid thinking about it. Everything was going fine and he couldn’t help the strong attraction he was feeling towards his mystery partner. The hand on his thigh started stroking him and went slowly further up until it was close to Harry’s groin. He gasped and dropped his empty flute that crashed to the floor. The man took out his wand and vanished it, removing his hand from Harry’s thigh. Harry felt cold and hated himself for his little ‘gay panic crisis’, as Hermione would have called it. He was torturing his hands, and the man slowly raised a hand to brush Harry’s lips, whispering into his ear, “I thought you wanted this.”

Harry closed his eyes and shuddered at the sensation of his breath ghosting over his ear. He inhaled deeply and told him the truth, hoping it would be okay. “I-I want it, but… I’ve never…” the fingers on his lips pressed harder, blocking Harry’s mouth. The mystery man leaned over Harry’s lips, taking them in a heated kiss, cupping his face in his hands and moving his tongue sensuously inside Harry’s mouth. His partner launched himself into it, sliding his tongue over Harry’s, skimming his hands under his shirt to touch his chest, brush his nipples, making Harry quiver and moan in his mouth.

He pushed Harry on the mattress, breaking the kiss. He looked inside his eyes and said with a low voice, “You’ve never had a male partner. I heard when you said you just divorced your wife. That’s fine, I’m not exactly a playboy either. We can go slowly, do only what you want to do… do you consent to that?”

That flashed Harry’s memory with the rules for the night. This peacock man seemed honest, and he was taking his arousal to sparks he hadn’t felt in a long time, so he decided to say out loud, “Yeah, I consent. Do you?”

He felt the man skidding closer to him. “Sure, I consent. I guess we’re not engaging in anything too racy, but we can have a safe word if you want to. Something you or I can say if we’re doing something that the other doesn’t like. For example, it could be green.”

Harry stared at him, open-mouthed, thinking he’d been lucky to find someone who seemed to know what he was doing. The man kissed him on the neck, and Harry realised he was gaping at him without saying a word, so he rushed to agree to that. It felt a bit impersonal, but it made sense to have such rules with a complete stranger.

The man kept kissing and licking Harry’s neck, covering every inch of his skin with gentle brushes of his lips and tongue, supervising Harry’s response to those and insisting on the points that made Harry moan louder and shiver or clench the man’s sides in pleasure. Harry couldn’t quite see his face or his body, but he could feel him with all his other senses and that was even more arousing — the idea of being so enigmatic about it all making him comfortable.

Then the man laid down on the bed and pulled Harry on top of himself, slowly rocking his hips. Their cocks touched through their trousers and Harry saw stars in front of his eyes. The sensation of a cock rubbing against his own was exhilarating and he wanted to grind against it harder. So he did, he started grinding against the mystery man’s cock with wild abandon, hands splayed on his chest, eyes closed. He felt the man grasping his hips and whispering, “Open your eyes.” Harry did, and when he could finally focus on his eyes, he saw the same lust he was savouring reflected in them.

Harry felt close, but he didn’t want to come like this. Now that he was in this situation, he wanted to make the most out of it. Doing so as everything he did — without thinking and throwing himself head first into the situation — he levelled up from the man’s groin and stripped himself from his trousers and pants. The mystery man undressed too and when Harry laid between his legs, with his crotch right in front of his eyes, his mouth watered at the sight of that hard-slicking cock. He didn’t waste any time and he gave a tentative lick at his sack, going up to the tip of his cock, where he felt the salty taste of droplets of pre-come. Hearing the other man moaning while he tasted him made Harry hungry to have more of him. He had no idea how to give a blowjob, the only experience he had was the one he’d witnessed earlier, and so he tried to replicate that. He took the tip of the cock in his mouth, trying to shield his teeth using his lips, and he slowly sank down, taking inch after inch into his mouth until he couldn’t get any further and it brushed his throat. It instinctively made Harry gag, and he pulled out coughing a bit.

The mystery man giggled and looked down at him, saying with an affectionate tone, “It’s normal if it’s your first time. Don’t force yourself, it’s good even if you don’t swallow my entire length.”

Harry blushed and felt abashed by his low performance, but the man stroked his hair gently. “Don’t worry, you’re doing fine. More than fine, I like it.”

Encouraged by his words, Harry tried again, being careful not to gag this time and hollowing his cheeks to suck on his cock. The man cried out and pulled at his hair a bit, yanking Harry’s head up, stirring him into action. Harry started bobbing his head up and down with increasing speed, using his hand for the length he couldn’t fit in his mouth and fondling his balls with the other hand, just as he liked doing with himself.

He was licking the head of his cock when the mystery man sobbed, “Fuck, I — I’m coming, pull out if — ” but Harry had no intention of doing so: he took his cock even further down and swallowed every drop of cum that splashed in his mouth, groaning around his dick and trying to look up at the man. He released his cock and wiped his mouth with his hand, feeling more contented than he could remember in the last years of his life. His mystery partner sighed, shifting to make room for Harry next to him. He breathed, “It was very good for your first time.” The praises the man kept giving him were making gooseflesh raise all over Harry’s body, and he wanted to hear him whisper sweet words to him all night long.

The man placed a hand on Harry’s dick and licked his lips. “But now we have to take care of this.” Harry’s heart hammered in his chest and he laid down next to him, trying to picture how it would be like to see another man sucking his cock.

The man, though, didn’t lower himself between Harry’s legs. He reached for his wand and muttered a lubricating spell, the same one every guy learned at Hogwarts when he started to wank. He slicked his fingers and kissed Harry softly on the lips, then on the jaw, reaching his ear and whispering, “I want to give you something really special. Do you trust me?”

Harry nodded frantically, not trusting his voice to come out evenly. He liked a good wank, but it wasn’t like it was something new to him. However, he tried not to be too disappointed by the turn of events.

His mystery partner started touching his collarbone, reaching his nipple and circling it with his thumb. The sensation of someone taking the time to explore his body, what he liked, made Harry arch his back under the man’s touch, gasping and quivering. He closed his eyes: he couldn’t see anything anyway. He felt the fingers skimming lower, lingering over his belly button until they moved to his cock, smearing the precome Harry had released, then to his balls, and then to the rim of his hole, slowly circling it, lubricating it…

“Fuck!” Harry couldn’t help but shout.

The man froze. “Is this too much? You can use the safe word.”

“No!” was Harry’s immediate response. “No, I mean, I’m sorry, I just…I didn’t, um, I trust you.”

He felt the man’s lips stretching into a smile on his neck as he started to brush his finger on Harry’s hole again, tickling his nerves. Harry knew it was something some people liked, but he’d never tried it. His sexual life had always been very regular and free of experimentations. But now he was cursing himself for not trying that before; it felt electrifying and he was already greedy for more. Harry gasped and moved against his partner’s finger that finally slipped inside while he purred sweet things to Harry’s ear, “Mmmh, your hole is so tight and hot, you’re doing so good, yes,” making Harry feel dizzy. The finger pushed inside, slipping out a bit when it became too tight and then pushing in again until the knuckle brushed Harry’s buttocks.

The man moved it a bit, tentatively, and Harry moaned out loud, clutching his arm, throwing his head back into the pillow. He croaked, “More, please more,” and the man started fucking him with his finger, faster and harder until it curved inside of Harry and brushed a spot that had his stomach clenching and his vision blurring. Harry rocked his hips, fucking himself against the finger to get more of that sensation, and then the man slipped another finger inside of Harry, grazing that same sweet spot and turning Harry into a shivering mass.

The man whispered to Harry, “Do you like it? That’s your prostate…I bet you can come just from me stroking it, look at you, you’re so turned on by it, you’re riding my fingers.” Those words, that voice that sounded so familiar to Harry, were the last straw. He moved his hips in a ragged rhythm, the fingers finally brushing his spot every time they moved inside him. He came all over himself and his chest, cock completely untouched, his toes curling on the sheets and his cries somewhere between moans and sobs.

The mystery man fucked him throughout his orgasm and then took out his fingers, cleaning Harry with his wand, leaning beside him with his head on Harry’s chest. Harry felt a surge of tiredness and yawned, stroking the man’s hair. The muscles of his face were aching from how much he was smiling, and he said, “It was…fuck, it was amazing.” The man chuckled, and a soothing silence wrapped around them.

The more time passed, the more Harry mulled over the same question, and in the end he asked it, anxiety taking the best on him. “Do you, erm, do you want to, you know, take off the masks?”

It was a hard question; Harry himself didn’t know what to think. On the one hand, he’d felt something connecting to this man since the very first time he’d glanced at him near the window. On the other hand, it could break the magic between them. And then there was this feeling that Harry had already met him, and wouldn’t it be a disaster to discover it was someone he knew? Maybe a coworker?

The peacock man twisted his head up towards Harry’s face and answered, “I sincerely don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Harry felt a strong disappointment wash over him. He knew it made sense, not revealing themselves, but as soon as he realized he wouldn’t ever know who he was or meet him again, he stubbornly wanted to take off his mask.

His internal turmoil must have been visible on his face, because his mystery partner looked down at him and added, “I mean, I just don’t want to ruin the perfect memory we have of this evening.”

Harry thought about it and agreed it would be too awkward to take off the masks. He sighed and straightened up on the bed. “You’re right. Well, thanks for this anyway. It was…enlightening.” Harry got up and started to dress, his feelings a mess.

He was ready to go when he heard a strained voice, “Yeah, it was good for me too. I don’t really have many occasions to meet someone else.”

It sounded regretful and again Harry felt that stupid desire to know everything about this man and connect with him. But he couldn’t, so they just shared what must have been the most awkward handshake in the history of handshakes, and exited the room, taking different ways.

Chapter Text

“Tell me you didn’t!” Ron scrubbed a hand on his face, huffing.

Harry blushed a deep red, “I — what was I supposed to — I mean!”

Hermione dramatically put her cup down on the kitchen table, shaking her head. “I can’t believe you found someone you liked, someone who clearly was enjoying his time with you, and you let him go! That’s so stupid, Harry, really.”

Harry rolled his eyes and furrowed his brow, already sick of the argument. It hadn’t seemed that big of a problem at the moment, in the fumes of after-sex. “That’s romantic!” He tried.

Hermione took out a notebook and a pen, channeling her best investigative skills. “Tsk, romantic. Harry, repeat to me everything he told you. We’ll find him. So, he introduced himself as Mr. Plume and he had a white peacock costume, right? That’s particular, albino peacocks are rare animals, it could be a clue. And you said he had…white hair? That’s characteristic too.”

Harry sighed and looked down at Hermione’s notes. “Mione, thanks for your help, but really, it probably was meant to go like this. It’s okay. It’s fine. Great, even.”

“Say that once more and I’ll believe you.” Ron raised an eyebrow at him.

Harry scoffed. “It’s fine. Let’s go to Diagon, shall we?”

They called their children, who were running and chasing each other in the garden, and in a flash of green, they Apparated to Diagon Alley.

“Dad, Dad, can we go to Quality Quidditch supplies?” “I need to shop for new quills and pieces of parchment for Hogwarts, Mum!” “No way, I need my books! Dad, you promised me you’d take me to the library!”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione shared a panicked look before laughing at the chaos their beautiful children brought to their lives. That silenced them, who were now regarding their parents as if they’d grown an extra head.

“Dad…?”

Harry looked down at Lily and kneeled to puff her cheek. “Listen guys, why don’t we all stop at Florean Fortescue’s first for a big ice cream?”

An excited chorus of “yeee” and “let’s go!” soared into the sky and Hermione leaned her head on Ron’s shoulder. “Merlin, thanks Harry. Ice cream always makes everyone agree.” Harry winked and together they reached the parlour, between a “James come here!” and a “Rose, put down your book, this is not the right moment to read!”

Once there, they sat down at a table, people eyeing them. After all those years, they still occasionally asked them for an autograph or a photo together, or they simply stared at them, whispering about heroes and winning the war. Harry always shrunk between his best friends, hoping people would get the hint and leave him alone; he’d never gotten used to the fame his name brought.

The children all sat close, eating and chatting happily. Ron and Hermione engaged in a hushed debate over the next steps for the day, trying to include Harry as well, but he was still thinking about his mystery man and how they had parted ways without a second glance. He should have known he would regret not revealing their identities. He was trying to catch up with Ron and Hermione when a man entered the shop and a golden reflection caught Harry’s eye. He peeked at the door: Draco Malfoy stepped through it with his son hand in hand, sun kissing his perfect hair.

It wasn’t like they never met anymore —  they usually had brief and awkward conversations in the Ministry atrium or at the Quidditch stadium during the games, but Harry’s heart always skipped a beat when they had those encounters. Hermione squeaked next to him and her eyes widened impossibly. She turned to Harry, mouth opened, breath taken, when a cry startled them.

“Dad, there’s HARRY POTTER!” Malfoy’s son was pointing at Harry, a big grin plastered on his face. Malfoy waved his hand towards them, blushing. They returned the greeting and Harry thought that the blush looked cute on his face. And then he had to pinch his thigh hard to remind himself it was Malfoy he was thinking about.

“Don’t point at people, Scorpius, it’s rude.” But his son was already running towards them, arms going everywhere, hair fluttering with his movements. Malfoy walked behind him, wary, reaching the table with a face that clearly said, ‘I’d rather be anywhere else than here.’

As soon as Scorpius reached Harry, he started talking, and Harry worried he’d faint from not breathing for too long. “Hi, Mr. Potter, I’m Scorpius Malfoy, surely you know who I am? You hated my father at school, I guess so. It’s an honour to meet you, I’m a BIG fan of yours. And of course, I’m your fan too, Miss Granger-Weasley, and yours, Mr. Weasley. You three are a legend! Dad, Dad, take out the book, take out the book!”

Malfoy gently tried to counter, “Scorp, I really don’t think Po — I mean, Mr. Potter would like to —” but Scorpius started again, more insistent.

“Oh, I don’t think he will mind for his number one fan! Please, please, please!” Draco sighed and took out a tiny book from his coat, mouthing “sorry” to Harry.

Sorry? Sorry?? What the hell?

As if nothing excessively important was happening, Malfoy Engorgioed the tiny book and passed it to his son, his face taking an alarming shade of red. It was the most famous children book about Harry’s feats during Hogwarts and the war.

A shit-eating smile appeared on Ron’s face. “Merlin, I can die happy. Malfoy’s son is our fan! Our number one fan!”

Scorpius turned towards him, furrowing his brow. “Excuse me, I don’t think that’s the tone a gentleman would use!” — Harry saw Malfoy smirking behind his son — “Anyway, Mr. Potter, I was wondering if you’d sign this for me. Please, please, please, please, p —”

“Yes! Yes, of course!” Harry was starting to seriously worry about Scorpius’ breathing through his flow of words.

Scorpius handed him the book and resumed, “That’s great, I’m so excited! Oh! I’m sorry, I’m so rude! I didn’t introduce myself to your kids, but I know everything about you too! You’re James, right? It’s great to know you. And you’re Albus, Merlin, you’re identical to your father, do you know that? And you must be Lily, your hair’s so red, Dad, have you seen how red her hair is? And you’re Hugo Granger-Weasley. I think that’s a great choice to use both your surnames, by the way. And you’re Rose, wow, you’re so many!”

The children were all staring at Scorpius with their mouths open, only Albus finding the courage to reply a weak, “Um, hi, you — you’re identical to your father too, I guess.”

That seemed to startle Scorpius for a moment, who crooked his head towards Albus and smiled. “Yes! I am! And that’s an honour, my father is the best, I mean, he’s handsome. Anyway, Mr. Potter, is it true that you slew a Basilisk when you were twelve? And that you three escaped Gringotts riding a dragon? That’s incredible! You’re so brave! And you confronted an Acromantula and survived? Seriously? Mr. Weasley, you drove an enchanted car in your second year at Hogwarts? And —”

Malfoy put a hand on his son’s head and stroked his hair gently, whispering, “Scorpius, take a deep breath.”

Scorpius stopped and looked around the table, his cheeks reddening. He closed his eyes and took three deep breaths. Malfoy kept stroking his son’s hair and Harry’s heart melted; he would never have guessed Malfoy would be such a caring parent.

Scorpius opened his eyes again. “I’m sorry. I, I know I…I mean, I just…I talked a bit too much and I, I didn’t want to, I mean, erm.”

Hermione tried to assume a reassuring smile and talked to him with a sweet voice. “Don’t worry, Scorpius, it’s good you have a lot of things to say. At least you talk, Rose here is in a rebellious phase and she doesn’t ever speak with us, always reading or writing. Isn’t it true, sweetheart?” Rose stuck out her tongue to her and held her chin up in the air. Hermione had tried to say it jokingly, but it was starting to become a hard phase for her and Ron and the annoyance transpired through her words.

Scorpius turned towards Rose, a little smile on his face. “You know, once my therapist told me I probably talk this much because I need to fill in the void my mother’s death left inside me? So, I think I get you. It must be overwhelming for you to talk, you’re a lot of people, I mean, I guess you need to shut them down sometimes and just be by yourself. That’s okay, don’t talk if you don’t feel like it, you deserve your readings. Is that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by the way? I love that book!”

Rose’s face lit up and the corners of her mouth quirked up. “Thank you, Scorpius.”

Ron’s eyes went bigger than saucers, Hermione’s mouth fell open. It had been a while since they last got to hear her say something other than “Hi.” Scorpius only winked at her and she blushed a bit, an involuntary giggle escaping her.

Harry flicked his gaze to Malfoy: his eyes were shiny, and he was still rubbing his son’s hair, compulsively, mechanically, but it was clear his mind was somewhere else. He cleared his throat and tried to smile. “Okay Scorpius, now that you stole everyone’s attention with your rambling, we need to go. We’re late. Say bye.”

Scorpius didn’t seem inclined. “Oh yeah, we were going to my grandparents’, you know them! I can’t wait to tell them I met all of you! I bet Lucius will have a heart attack. Oh, Dad! Dad! Can we stop to buy pet food? I want to feed the peacocks!”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione froze. Ron spoke first, directly addressing Scorpius, “Ah you mean, albino peacocks, right?”

Scorpius grinned. “Of course! They’ve been with our family for centuries, the Manor is the last place where you can find them in England, did you know?”

Ron couldn’t hold back anymore and burst out laughing, scaring Hugo, who was sitting next to him, tears in his eyes, hand on his belly. Hermione gasped loudly, both her eyebrows flying under her bang. And then all clinked in Harry’s mind, the gears of his thoughts all clinging together.

How the fuck hadn’t he thought about that before?! Malfoy Manor was swarmed with those damned albino peacocks! The almost white hair and Mr. Plume’s saying he was used to dealing with nonsensical flows of words and thoughts... Fuck, Malfoy was Mr. Plume! Malfoy was the first man Harry had ever had a sexual experience with!

Harry’s pulse quickened madly.

Malfoy seemed astonished by their reactions at first, but then the realization must have sunk in him too. He opened his mouth, covering it with a hand, the tip of his ears gaining a red tint. Scorpius looked at them with a scowl. “Why are you all so weird? Did I say something wrong? Our albino peacocks really are —”

“We got it! Scorp, we all got it, thank you. Say. Bye.” Malfoy talked fast, looking everywhere but in their direction.

Harry felt his gut clenching like he was on a roller coaster, his mind a mess. They were all saying their goodbyes, Harry barely registering what was happening. All he could think was, ‘I had sex with Draco Malfoy and I liked it and he’s here and I have to play cool, play cool Harry!’

He got up, stretched his hand towards him and blurted out, “It was good to see you again, Draco. I mean, Malfoy. I mean, Mr. Malfoy. Err, nice hair. I mean. Goodbye.”

Ron sniggered, amused. “Well done, Harry.”

Malfoy looked at Harry’s hand like it could have been mortal to shake it, but then he took it, looking into Harry’s eyes. “Yeah, goodbye.”

He and Scorpius walked out of the ice cream shop, Malfoy almost dragging Scorpius, who glanced at them one last time and waved his hand again.

As soon as they were out, Hermione gloated playfully, “I knew it! When Malfoy entered the shop, I knew it was him!”

Ron smiled at his wife. “We know it, love, you know everything. Merlin, mate…Malfoy. I can’t believe this.” He started laughing again, their sons regarding them with perplexed faces.

Their ice creams long forgotten, melted in their hands or cups.

Albus talked first, cleaning his hands. “Well, that was a ride. I didn’t know one could talk so fast.”

Hugo nodded. “And so much! He said a billion things in such a short time.”

Lily smiled. “Yeah, he said my hair is very red. I think it was a compliment?”

Rose blushed and whispered, “He’s — he’s nice.”

James looked at his father, an eyebrow raised. “Yeah, he really is. Doesn’t seem like Mr. Malfoy’s that bad a person, I mean, he’s raising Scorpius alone, right? Must be tough.”  

Ron cleared his throat, finally able to control his laughter. “Well, we knew him years ago. Who knows if he’s changed and how.” He eyed Harry meaningfully.

Harry groaned. “Erm, right. I’m glad you all liked the Malfoys, really. Now, I believe we had errands to do…?”

They spent the rest of the afternoon wandering in Diagon Alley. Harry’s mind kept showing him memories from the night of the ball, the information he had on Mr. Plume, and he couldn’t get his head off the thought he’d given a blowjob to Draco Malfoy. God, he was a 37-year-old man, just divorced, three children, and he felt like a teenager going through his first crush. A crush on his former school nemesis. Merlin.

Later that evening, after Harry left his children at Ginny’s home and came back to Grimmauld Place, Malfoy was still stuck in his thoughts, like an annoying pulse at his temples that he couldn’t shake away.

On the spur of the moment, he grabbed a quill and letter and started writing.

“You’ve got a brave son.”

Thoughts about what Scorpius had said earlier wouldn’t leave Harry. It must have been hard for Malfoy to deal with his wife’s death and his son’s issues with that. But they seemed attached to one another and Harry admired them for that. He folded the tiny letter and sent his owl to Draco Malfoy, hoping it would find him.

At first, he hadn’t wanted a new owl — Hedwig’s death still weighed in his heart. But he’d soon realised that it was nearly impossible to live without one while being a war hero, Head Auror, a divorced father and a wizard in general. It was something needed in their society. So, he’d gotten Puckie. He was a tiny owl, but always gentle-mannered and very efficient. All in all, Harry was happy to have him.

The reply from Malfoy came barely twenty minutes later.

“Like his mother.

Bye,

Draco Malfoy (It’s rude to send an anonymous letter, Potter).”

Harry smiled and he felt his heart in his throat from the excitement. He always loved the challenges Malfoy put up with him, whether they were verbal or physical.

He scribbled back,

“How are the peacocks?

Prongs”

He spent the next ten minutes pacing back and forth in his kitchen, impatient to get Malfoy’s reply. Puckie let it fall on top of Harry’s head,

“Great, thanks, you idiot.

What do you want, Potter?

DM”

He stared at the letter for a whole minute, considering Malfoy’s question. What did he want? He shrugged, took the quill.

“A cup of coffee together?

Prongs”

Puckie left and Harry immediately regretted writing that. A coffee together, really? A date? He was too old for this. But that didn’t stop him from feeling excited as a kid who’s just discovered chocolate.

Then he saw the reply attached to Puckie’s leg.

“No. Leave me alone.

DM”

A wash of disappointment ran through Harry. He could swear he’d felt a connection with Malfoy, both at the party and when they’d seen each other earlier at Florean’s. He thought they’d been flirting right now.

He threw the letter into the fireplace, and the flames brightened. He should have known better than toying around with Draco Malfoy.

That night he tossed many times in his bed, trying to get some sleep. Was it really that hard to date someone? With Ginny it had been natural, obvious; she’d been pining after him for at least five years when he finally noticed her; she was the one taking initiative in her hands, asking him out, kissing him for the first time. He hadn’t had to court her, and now, twenty years later, he had no idea how to do that. Maybe he shouldn’t do it at all, maybe he really was too old for such things.

It had been a bad idea to attend that ball from the beginning, but Ron and Hermione had insisted it could help him start anew with his love life.

Or maybe the problem was Draco Malfoy. Yes, they were very different people, and there was a lot of water under the bridge, but could they really erase years of hatred, the events of the war? He should forget everything about him and move on.

*****

A week later, Harry was having a bad Sunday morning; a nasty cold was getting the best on him. How that happened at the beginning of August, Harry had no idea.

Ginny brought their children to the sea, but since he couldn’t join them, Harry stayed home and was currently trying to get out of bed to have breakfast.

He quickly prepared some bacon and was pushing the food around the dish, not really hungry, when Hermione appeared through his Fireplace, stepping out of it and brushing ash off of her.

She always went to Harry’s when he was sick to make sure he was eating and hydrating himself. She walked into the kitchen with a smoking pot in her hands.

“Harry! How are you? Are you eating? I cooked you chicken soup.”

Harry scrunched up his face. “‘Mione, no offence, but your chicken soup is the worst.”

She rolled her eyes and placed the bowl on the table with a scowl. “Actually, it’s Ron’s.”

Harry grinned in relief and took a glance of the soup: it seemed delicious. “Thank you, guys, but I’m a grown man, I can take care of myself.”

Hermione crooked her head, pursing her lips. “Harry, you’ve been…weird lately. We’re worried. Is this because of Malfoy and the fact that you — ”

“Hush! No! I mean, maybe? But not because! Ugh. Let me start over.” Harry blew his nose and resumed with a nasal voice, “Am I disappointed with the way things went? Sure. But, I mean, he is Malfoy, we wouldn’t have stood a chance anyway. And I don’t want him, of course. He was a Death Eater, ‘Mione, he — his father tried to kill me, and…Really, he’s Malfoy. No way we’d date, right? It’s okay, I’ll find someone. And even if I don’t, I’m happy with my life as it is.”

Hermione took Harry’s hands in hers, stroking them, and smiled affectionately. “You’re doing it again, Harry.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “What?"

“Settling for things the way they come to you. Lowering your standards. Self-convincing yourself. You’ve been doing it all your life, Harry. Stop. If you want something, you fight for it. I’m not talking about Malfoy, but about everything in your life. You, more than everyone else, deserve happiness. Promise me you’ll think about this.”

Harry looked away, torturing his bottom lip. It was true; he kept doing things without thinking about himself, what he really wanted. It happened first with Ginny and then with his career. He loved his ex-wife, he really did, but he hadn’t had the time to work on himself before starting something with her, the time to explore his sexuality, and the results were a dead marriage and a new level of sexual charge that he had no idea how to extinguish. And oh yes, yes, he loved being Head Auror, except that he hated it. It had seemed the most logical thing to do when the war ended, and he’d dived into it without a second thought. Working in the fields had been great, but when he became Head Auror bureaucracy and papers suffocated him and he’d been living with a constant headache since then.

Hermione was right, he needed to think a bit about himself now.

He settled his gaze on Hermione again, taking his teeth off of his bottom lip. “Yeah, okay, I promise. Thank you, ‘Mione, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

She winked and opened her mouth as if to speak, but hesitated for a fraction of a second. Then, she tried, “You know, I think Malfoy looks different, don’t you? You could always write to him.”

Harry hummed, making a frown. “I — I already did. Merlin, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you guys, but it didn’t seem important, you know. Usual things, I asked him out, he said no, end of story.”

Hermione’s eyes filled with pity and her voice went smaller. “Oh honey, I’m sorry.”

Harry waved a hand at her. “It’s okay, really. We just did stuff once, it’s not like I’ve lost the love of my life.”

Hermione smiled. “Right! But I want to see you taking some time for yourself, okay?”

They kept talking about different topics during their lunch together, Hermione’s presence helping Harry stay awake and not collapse in the bed. When they finished eating, Hermione went back home, assuring they would meet again soon.

Once he was alone, Harry thought long about Hermione’s words and got to the conclusion he’d ask for some time home from work. He was the Boss, actually, and he’d never missed a day of work since he’d first joined Auror Training. He deserved it.

The next morning, Harry gulped a Pepperup potion and showed up at the Ministry to ask Rick, his best Auror, to take his place during his time away. He set up the last things, signing a few papers still waiting for him on his desk, dividing the duties between the task forces, sharing a tea with his secretary.

The first mouthful of fresh air he took when he exited the Auror Department made Harry feel giddy. For the first time in his life he was free. And it was exciting and terrifying at the same time. He had an entire month to dedicate to himself and he had no idea where to start, but he had every intention to make the most out of it.

Once back home, Harry fidgeted with his hands, not knowing what to do. He looked around his living room and felt a harsh grip in his throat, making it impossible to swallow or breathe. Harry’s eyes watered and he closed them, knowing too well the signs of a panic attack when he was having one. He tried to visualize a white panel in his mind, slowly filling with soft colours, until he finally wasn’t thinking about anything in particular and his throat loosened again. He opened his eyes, took a great gulp of air and then three deep breaths from his nostrils.

With trembling hands, Harry reached for a piece of parchment and a quill and wrote to his Mind Healer. He didn’t need her, really, but after the war he’d felt a big void inside of himself and Luna had suggested he talk with someone that hadn’t lived the war with him. And so he’d found Laura. They didn’t meet regularly, but she was always a reference point for Harry, and he knew he should write to her right now.

Clenching his teeth, he wrote,

“Hi, Laura,

I wanted to tell you that I took a month home from work. I’ve decided to take time for myself, isn’t it great? Yes, it is, so why am I having a panic attack? No, but I’m fine now. Really. Just to know.

Thank you,

Harry Potter.”

He sent Puckie with the letter attached to his leg and put the kettle on to make a hot chamomile. He needed to calm down.

The reply was almost instant.

“Harry, dear,

Come to my office at 3 p.m. I’ll wait for you,

Laura.”

Harry sighed; he had hoped she wouldn’t ask to meet, but he knew he needed to sort things out.

At 3 p.m. sharp, Harry was waiting for Laura to call him to her office, torturing the hem of his t-shirt. After two minutes where he wondered if simply leaving, she called out, “Harry! Come in!”

Harry blinked and got up, walking into the office and sitting down on the brown leather armchair.

Laura sat at an identical armchair in front of him. “Harry, it’s good to see you again. Tell me about your decision, then. You seemed unsure in your letter.”

Harry was chewing on his cheek. He cleared his throat. “Yeah, well…it was a sudden decision. I had a…a…um, an experience, and it made me think I should take time for myself and, um, so I did. I went to the Department and took a month home. But then, when I went home, I felt, I don’t know. Lost? I don’t know what to do?”

Laura smiled reassuringly. “You said you had an experience. Why don’t you tell me about it?”

Harry blushed, not sure about wanting to share it. But Laura was a professional, she couldn’t judge him, right? He replied with a weak voice, “A sexual one? I…was with a man for the first time, but we were masked, I didn’t know who he was. It was, erm, good, and then…” Harry inhaled deeply and looked into Laura’s eyes. She seemed unaffected by his confession and Harry found the courage to finish his story.

“And then I discovered who the man I had this experience with is…and he’s someone, um, someone I already knew and didn’t actually like. But that night was so good, you know, so I just thought about asking him out, but he said, well, he obviously said no.” Harry’s chest filled with hurt once again.

“Why do you say that he obviously said no? Is this because you don’t like each other reciprocally?” Laura was calmly writing on her notebook, the sound of it soothing Harry’s nerves.

He sighed. “Yeah, we were nemesis at school. I have no idea why we had to meet again in such a circumstance, really. Erm, but it’s okay, I’m feeling fine.”

Laura’s mouth quirked up. They’d known each other for too long to be completely impassive. “Are you, Harry? It seems pretty tough. Your first experience with a man and it’s a rejection. It would be understandable if you felt discouraged or disappointed.”

Harry mumbled, scraping the armrests of his chair, “I guess so…”

Laura wrote something on her notebook and gently said, “Harry, don’t be ashamed of what you’ve done. It’s normal that you need to go through new experiences right now and you deserve to have them. Don’t you think?”

Harry dropped his gaze and scratched a cuticle on his fingers. He didn’t know what to think, so he told her, “I don’t know. I’m a father. I’m old…”

Laura laughed and that startled Harry, who raised his gaze to meet hers again. She shook her head. “Oh my, Harry, old. You know I’m much older than you, right? Thirty-seven is still young. And you’re a father, so what? Fathers don’t have sex?”

Harry considered her words. Ron probably had sex with Hermione, indeed. He sniggered at the image that formed in his mind and rubbed his hair. “Merlin, you’re right. It’s just that I feel so confused sometimes.”

“That’s normal, Harry. You’re going through a big change right now. So, tell me, you said this experience made you think about taking time for yourself. How so?”

Harry smiled, relieved they’d stopped talking about Malfoy. “Well, Hermione suggested it, but I agreed. I could have avoided a lot of things if I’d done this before and sorted myself out.”

Laura crooked her head. “Don’t reprimand yourself, Harry, we’ve talked about this. History isn’t made of “ifs” and “buts”. Focus on the present. I think you had a great idea, actually. And it’s pretty standard to feel lost now. When’s the last time you skipped work?”

Harry’s forehead painted with a frown. “Never?”

Laura huffed. “Wow. And now you have a month. That’s exciting. I can give you some tips to deal with it, okay?”

Harry nodded, eager to know them. She handed him a notebook and a quill and told him they’d write them down together.

First thing: go at your own pace. Listen to your body, it knows what you need. You’ll probably need to sleep more these first days, that’s okay. It’ll adjust with time.

Second : think about what you have always wanted to do and never got the occasion to. You once told me you wanted to paint. You can start with that and see where it leads you.

Third : spend time with the people you love. That means your friends, but also your children. My suggestion is to see each of them in separate times, to rediscover them, getting to know each of them better.

Fourth : go out. You’ll feel the need to stay home and laze around and that’ll be okay at first, but then you’ll need to go out, do things, meet people, get back into the game.

Fifth : start a journal where you’ll write down your feelings day by day —  what you think, you do, etc. It’ll help us at the end of the month to take stock of the situation.”

She stopped talking, giving Harry the time to finish writing. Then, she added, “Harry, please remember that these are only suggestions. You’re welcome to do as you see fit and contact me for everything you may need.”

Harry looked at what he’d written worrying his lips. “I think these are great suggestions, looking at them already makes me feel safer. But I have a question…about my children. Erm, if I go out with only one of them, won’t the others feel as if I’m neglecting them? I mean…I don’t know.”

Laura’s mouth stretched into a warm smile. “Harry, as long as you’re clear with them and explain that you’ll take the time to stay with each one of them separately, I’m sure they’ll be excited about this. They need time alone with you as much as you do.”

Harry nodded. He was still a bit dubious, but he trusted Laura, she had always given him good advice. They said their goodbyes agreeing to meet again the week before the end of his month home.

On the way home, Harry decided to make a few stops to buy the things he needed: a new journal, green with a dragon on the cover (Harry tried to convince himself it didn’t mean anything), a sketchbook and various kinds of pencils. He decided to start with drawing rather than painting, to see if he really had a good hand or if he was only imagining it. He still bought some canvas, brushes, temperas and watercolours, though, to have the possibility at hand.

When he got home, he immediately opened his new journal and wrote in it:

Day 1: anxiety.

Then he added:

Bought a stock of pencils and a sketchbook. Some canvas, brushes...Excitement. Inadequacy.

He closed it and unfolded his to-do-list for the month, staring at the third point: he should schedule his time with his children. They’d come back from their trip with Ginny on Friday, so he still had some time to think his plan over.

He wrote again in the journal:

Thoughts about spending time with my children. Happiness.

Harry closed his eyes, his usual headache knocking at him. He went to lay down in his bedroom a bit, trying to follow the first tip and get some rest. It had been an intense day.

*****

Ten days into his free month, and Harry was loving it.

Drawing was giving him immeasurable joy. He’d discovered he could get lost into it, forgetting to eat or drink, spending entire hours sketching, colouring, trying different techniques.

He’d found out he loved drawing people, making portraits or creating original characters, sketching ballerinas or his children. Everyone was proud of him for his works — it seemed like he really was good at it. Once, even Dean, who was well known in the world of art, complimented him for how much he was improving in such a short time. They’d remained friends after the events of the war and Harry had a great time hanging out with him and Seamus, who were now boyfriends.

Lily, in particular, loved his father’s new hobby; Harry decided to spend the time together with her exploring colours, different outlining, pencils, inks. They had a great time together, and Lily went back home with a portrait her father had made of her, clutching it tight to her chest, showing it to everyone and hanging it in her bedroom. Harry had never realised he could have all that fun with an indoor activity. He’d always thought Quidditch was the only valid hobby.

Lily and him even tried out painting, and that’s when Harry found his real strength: he started with simply splashing colours on the canvas, Lily observing him, laughing together, painting their clothes and cheeks as well. But eventually, he started mixing colours, brushes, and styles to create final works that gave Harry a sense of fullness he had never experienced before — well, that wasn’t entirely true. He felt it when catching the Snitch too.

Day 12: drawing with Lily. I noticed she likes to hug me but prefers not to cuddle too much. Also, she loves pancakes with chocolate and talks a lot about some “Charlie” in her class. Should I be jealous? The whole day was thrilling. I thought I knew my daughter, but I guess I should spend more time with her. Gladly surprised.

My headaches are diminishing.

After that day, he tried to give form to his vague memories about his parents through painting: it turned out to be cathartic and intense, Harry crying over the canvas, the tears mixing with the colours, deforming their faces, their shapes as distorted as Harry's memories of them. Harry realised he’d involuntarily used an array of cold colours, grey, blue, indigo, dark green. The lines were shakier, messier, as if he couldn’t contain his emotions. They contrasted greatly with the vibrant colours and the definite lines he’d used the previous day with Lily.

It was so therapeutic that Harry decided to paint everyone else he’d lost and still mourned: Sirius, Tonks, Remus, Dumbledore, Cedric, Hedwig, Dobby, Fred, Snape.

That day the page of his journal was soaked in tears:

Day 14: painting memories. Grief. Pain. Liberation. Starting to heal.

He went to bed wondering how many other things that he hadn’t had the chance to explore yet were still carving holes in his soul. He added:

Itching to know myself better.

The next morning, Harry stared at a new blank canvas, his Muse silent. He closed his eyes, gripped a brush and started painting. After the first lines, he opened his eyes and his mouth fell open: not only had he been able to paint something decent, but his mind had supplied him…Malfoy. As they’d met at the Masquerade Ball. It was rough, of course, but it was unequivocal: he’d drawn Malfoy in his white peacock costume, with the plumage-y mask, the diamonds, the tail. Harry stared at it, torn between tearing it in a million pieces or perfecting it. Finally, he settled for finishing it.

Work done, Harry looked at it and realised he’d managed to vividly remember Malfoy’s body and face even if they hadn’t seen each other clearly that night. His senses had apparently been on alert, registering everything, and had found a way out in painting.

His feelings were showing in all of his drawings and this one wasn’t an exception: Malfoy looked regal, fierce. The lines were sharp, white was the prevalent colour, but the lips were a bright red, the corner of his mouth bowed in his typical smirk, eyes a shiny grey, a soft green shade outlining his body.

Day 15: I’m screwed. Malfoy is still stuck in my head. I think something has always connected us, since school time. Confusion. Belly fluttering. Fuck. Fuckiting fucks.

Headache didn’t show up today.

The next day it was his day with James. Harry was already a bundle of nerves at the idea: James was going through his rebellious phase and he didn’t know what to expect from their day together. Ginny brought him to Grimmauld Place at lunchtime and Harry suggested going to that sushi place James loved so much. Thankfully, he agreed without making a fuss.

They were eating spring rolls when James narrowed his eyes to Harry. “I know what’s happening.”

Harry looked at him with his chopsticks mid-air. “You mean…?”

“I mean, I know you’re having a midlife crisis. I’ve read about those. At a certain point, you decide your life isn’t good anymore and you want to change it, so you do crazy things.”

Harry chuckled. “Oh yeah? And which crazy things am I doing?”

James, his own son, all but smirked, “I saw your painting and your drawings. There are a lot of them about a man. It’s always the same one, the one with the white hair. It’s Mr. Malfoy, right? Are you gay?”

Harry choked on his spring roll and downed three big gulps of water to gain time to think what to say to his 13-year-old son who had just asked him if he was gay. When he stopped coughing, he looked at James and stammered, “I — I’m… He’s, yes, he’s Draco Malfoy, but…we’re not together. Even if…I am gay, yeah.”

James remained silent for a time that felt endless to Harry. In the end, he was smiling when he spoke. “I figured that much. That’s okay with me, you know? As long as you’re happy, Dad.”

Harry struggled to acknowledge that this was his son, James, who’d once spent an entire night telling his parents he demanded to be left at Hogwarts during Christmas because he was sick of them.

He was moved that James would be so open with him, and they concluded their day together laughing and playing Quidditch as they hadn’t for a long time. Too long.

Day 16: I came out to James and he was supportive. He told me he’d always felt me as a distant figure because of my work, but that he was happy to spend more time with me. I feel so joyful lately…if I’d told my 9-year-old self that my life would be this beautiful by now, he’d have laughed at me. Today’s word: Love.

He closed the journal and took his sketchbook. It was the third one he bought, he had completely dived into his newly discovered skill. He opened it and scanned it: James was right. He’d made an embarrassing amount of drawings of Malfoy. He lightly brushed his fingers on drawing-Malfoy’s mouth, almost tasting his kisses again. It was illogical, really, that he was still thinking about him. He needed to try something new, to get him out of his head. He scribbled a quick note to Ron:

“Tomorrow night out?

Harry.”

He fell asleep before seeing Ron’s reply,

“Sure. I’ll write to Neville and Dean too.

Sleep well,

Ron.”

*****

The morning after their night out, Harry couldn't remember well what had happened. His head was throbbing, and his mouth tasted like a troll had pissed in it.

He was too old to get this drunk. Why hadn’t his friends stopped him?

With a zombie arm, he reached for his bedside table to take his glasses. Beside them, he felt a tiny vial that had a note attached to it. He took it and brought it close to his eyes. “Good morning, princess. Take this, you’ll need it. See you in the kitchen. — Nev.”

Harry sat straight on the bed and drank the potion, immediately feeling better. He put on his glasses and walked to the bathroom with a hand on his — for whatever reason — sore lower back, and he managed to wash his teeth and face. He caught a glimpse of his reflection and made a disgusted face: there were two dark circles under his eyes, that were still half-closed and bloodshot.

He dried his face and padded to the kitchen, where he found a happy Neville eating French toast.

For a frightful moment, Harry thought he’d slept with Neville. He’d come out as pansexual when they were twenty, and right after Harry’s divorce there had been a weird moment between the two of them when Harry had believed they could have something together. Neville was always overly sweet with him, taking care of him, and Harry had been newly gay and vulnerable. They’d kissed once, but there hadn’t been any sparkle, nor passion. They’d laughed at their foolishness and stayed closer than ever, as friends.

Looking at him calmly eating his toast made Harry rationalise: Neville would never take advantage of a tipsy person.

Harry cleared his throat, startling Neville, who looked at him and beamed. “Ooooh, people of England, here he is! The man of the hour! Harry Potter! Good morning, princess.” An ear-to-ear grin appeared on his face.

Harry snorted and sat next to him, grabbing a French toast for himself. “Fuck you, Nev. What are you doing here? I can’t remember what happened last night…”

Neville clasped his shoulder. “I bet you don’t. You were stoned like a monkey. I’m here because we wanted to make sure you’d be alive this morning, but Dean and Seamus disappeared at some point of the night and Ron had to go back home — apparently Hermione got sick last night. I’m telling you, she only wanted Ron home early.” He winked, slapping Harry’s arm.

Harry could imagine that to be true; he took a bite of the toast. Munching, he said, “My head is killing me. Tell me something about last night, please. And why does my back hurt?”

Neville smirked. “Where to start! We went to that muggle gay bar where drinks are served in weirdly shaped glasses. After a few, you decided to go dance and you hooked up with a guy, he was actually good looking. So, as for your back, I just think you danced too much. You’re old, Harry. Well, anyway, you two kissed and then you introduced him to us, do you remember him? I think his name was Matt or Mike or something with an M.”

Harry stared at Neville with his mouth sealed. He didn’t remember this guy, not even a flash.

He shook his head and Neville shrugged. “Well, we were drinking together when you said something like ‘Where’s Draco?’ Let me tell you, it was a bit weird. The guy, we’ll just call him Matt, asked you who Draco was, and you said, and I’m quoting you here, ‘My boyfriend, of course.’ That’s when Matt threw his drink at your face. It was fun, actually.”

Harry’s head snapped up and his eyes widened. “What?? My what ?? That’s not true! Oh, dear Godric.”

He dropped his head on the table and Neville dipped his hand in Harry’s hair. “Oh, c’mon, Harry, you were wasted, don’t worry. We actually had fun. You didn’t find someone else because you wanted to stay faithful to your boyfriend, but we danced a lot. I’m sure some memories will resurface during the day.”

Harry banged his head on the table again, grumbling, “Nev, why? I didn’t even have proper sex with him. We had always hated each other. Ugh.”

Neville kept stroking Harry’s hair, comforting him. “Harry, hun, can I be honest with you?”

Harry twisted his face on the table to look at him. “Always, you know that.”

“Good, because it’s not that much of a surprise that you two ended up together. There was always a great energy between you, and you always tantalized each other; if it wasn’t Draco chasing you, it was you chasing him. And honestly, that kind of hatred, so powerful, looks a lot like a cover for something else. If you don’t like someone, you just dislike them, why all that hate?”

Harry closed his eyes, trying to process what he’d just heard; he’d already suspected as much. He puffed, “Yes, except that we didn’t end up together. It was fortuity.”

Neville opened his mouth and Harry cut him, “Don’t say it!” but Neville sighed anyway, with a hand dramatically posed on his forehead and the other on his heart. “It was fate.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “There’s no such thing, you git.”

They laughed together and then Neville handed Harry a letter. “Oh, by the way, an owl brought this letter while you were sleeping.”

Harry read it and his stomach dropped. “Fuck! Ginny says she’ll need to bring Albus here this afternoon instead of tomorrow because she had an unexpected call from work. She’ll just leave James and Lily at their grandparents’. Bloody hell, how am I supposed to spend quality time with him if I’m this wrecked?”

Neville took out something from the pocket of his trousers, handing it to Harry. “I’ve always got one of these with me. It’s a ginger root, a muggle plant with powerful anti-nausea properties. Just chew on it and you’ll feel ready to face your afternoon. I’ll go back home now. Good luck, Harry!”

Harry hugged Neville and watched him Disapparate with a loud pop.

By the time Albus arrived, Harry was ready. He’d showered, changed clothes, munched the root, cleaned the house, watered the plants. He had also had the time to open his journal. When he’d started writing some memories had come back to him:

Day 17: last night I went out with Dean, Nev, Ron and Seamus. Couldn't remember anything this morning (alcohol), now something’s coming back. Couldn’t stop thinking about Malfoy, but all in all, I had fun and no headache (if you don’t count the alcohol-related one).

Albus is arriving unexpectedly. Hope that goes well.

Albus entered the house jumping into Harry’s arms and they hugged tight. His son clutched to him like a koala and squeaked, “I’m so happy we get to spend the day together! James and Lily kept talking about their fabulous day with you and I was out of my skin waiting for this day. Where will you take me?”

Harry smiled and kissed Albus on the head. “I’m happy too, champion. I had a crazy thought: what about a day at the Amusement Park?”

Albus’ eyes lit up. “Oh yeah, it’s that Muggle thing, right? Where they sell cotton candy and you win a fish if you can shoot down all the tin cans?” Harry laughed, nodding. It was clear his son liked the idea.

They walked all the way to the Amusement Park, enjoying the Muggle London life, looking at the shop windows, stopping to admire some buskers.

Once at the Park, Albus wanted to go buy some cotton candy straightaway. They were lining for it when Harry heard two very different reactions behind him at the same time:

A muttered, “I can’t believe this.”

And a screamed, “Albus! Mr. Potter!”

Harry turned around and found himself in front of his biggest dream and nightmare: Draco Malfoy. He blushed up to the root of his hair, at a loss of words.

Luckily, there was someone who was never speechless. Scorpius hugged Albus and started talking. “It’s so great to meet you again! I’m so happy! Dad, wasn’t I talking about them only a few days ago? It was so good to meet you, my dad keeps talking about you, Mr. Potter.”

Malfoy’s eyes widened and his cheeks tinged a soft red; a shiver ran down Harry’s spine. Did that mean Malfoy thought about him too?

Malfoy cleared his throat and mumbled, “I don’t. Scorp, what…? Erm, well, it was good to meet you, but — ”

Scorpius threw his arms up in the air. “I’ve just had a brilliant idea! We could spend the day together! I know this Amusement Park by heart. I used to come here with my mum, it was our thing, you know? She loved it, said that it was good to escape the Wizarding World from time to time and that it feels romantic to spend time here. We used to always go to the Ferris wheel. Dad doesn’t like it, I know that, but he brings me here because he doesn’t want me to be sad.”

Albus blinked and slowly smiled at him. “I think it’s great you’ve this thing together. And, I’d love to go to the Ferris wheel. I also discovered a secret place the last time I came here. Dad, can I take Scorpius there? We’ll meet again here in ten minutes, promise! You can buy cotton candy in the meantime.”

The children pouted at their fathers, who could only agree when confronted with that. Once they stepped away, Harry turned towards Malfoy again, who immediately said, “It’s your turn.”

Harry’s eyebrows wrinkled, his mind racing to understand what he meant. “I — I don’t understand, I mean, it was you who turned down my invitation…”

Malfoy slapped a hand on his face, shaking his head. “Potter, you’re an imbecile. It’s your turn in the line. To buy cotton candy. And everyone’s staring at us because we’re making them wait.”

The tips of Harry’s ears felt hot, and he hurried to buy it, muttering some excuse to the waiting line behind them. They stood next to the cotton candy machine, holding their cotton candies and waiting for their children.

Harry glanced at Malfoy. “So you…um, you talk about me?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes, huffing. But Harry saw that colour was raising again on his cheeks. “I was speaking ill of you, of course. Don’t delude yourself.”

Harry raised an eyebrow at him. “Okay. I talk about you too, just so you know.”

Malfoy tried to hide behind the cotton candy, but Harry saw him smiling. Before he could say anything else, their children came back running towards them, their faces masks of pure joy.

Scorpius didn’t waste time. “Dad, you won’t guess what Albus showed me! There’s a whole area behind the carousels where they keep some mysterious machines that make the weirdest noises. You should see them! Anyway, while walking there we saw the hall of mirrors and guess what? Albus and Harry have never been in it! Can you believe it? We must take them there!”

Draco exhaled slowly and pinched his nose. “Okay. We can do that. Once.”

The kids exulted, took their cotton candies, and ran ahead of their fathers, while Harry and Draco followed them. Malfoy tucked his hands in his trouser pockets. “I guess we’re stuck together today. You’ve really never been to the hall of mirrors?”

Harry scratched his neck. “Nope, it seemed a bit…claustrophobic. Err, Malfoy, why didn’t you want to have a coffee with me? I thought you’d enjoyed our time together.”

Malfoy side-eyed Harry. “I did.”

Harry looked at him, but Malfoy didn’t add anything. Harry was about to ask again when Albus’ voice reached him. “Dad, we were thinking about doing a sons versus fathers challenge. We’ll team up and the first team who can find the way out wins a double ride in the Ferris wheel!” Scorpius was right next to Albus, fidgeting with his hands, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, but managing to let Albus talk in his place.

They reluctantly agreed and Malfoy whispered to Harry, “Please, let them win,” making Harry snort.

They bought their tickets — “Malfoy, let me pay.” “Okay.” “You’re supposed to pretend to be shy and offer to pay yourself.” “This is not a date, Potter. If you say you’re paying, who am I to say no to that?” — and as soon as they entered the house, their kids and them took separate ways. It was pretty dark, the place set specifically to scare them, but Harry had no problem with the darkness. The real issues were the narrow corridors and that Harry could feel the tight clutch of the mirrors around him clamping at his throat. He groaned and felt a hand on his shoulder. Then a mouth near his ear, whispering, “Potter, are you okay?” Malfoy’s breath made Harry quiver, but it also eased his nerves.

Harry took a deep breath. “Yeah, it’s just. It’s constricted here. I don’t enjoy narrow spaces.”

Malfoy didn’t reply, but from that moment his hand never left Harry’s arm as they kept wandering inside the house, Harry ahead, Malfoy closely behind, bumping into each other, hips brushing.

At a turn, a recorded shout reverberated through the walls, scaring Harry, who stumbled back, crashing against Malfoy. Malfoy readily clutched his waist to keep him upright and didn’t let go when Harry was standing again. “Erm, Malfoy…”

He felt Malfoy’s heart pounding fast against his back and then a hand slipped under his t-shirt. Harry’s cock twisted, his voice broke. “M-Malfoy, what are you doing?”

Malfoy’s voice was husky. “Fuck, Potter, I can’t stop thinking about our night together. And when I realised it was you, fuck, fuck. I want you.” He kissed Harry’s neck, licked a stripe up to the soft spot behind his ear.

Harry’s knees got all jittery and his blood redistributed in his body in a blink. Malfoy’s hands kept lightly stroking his belly under the t-shirt, skimming upward, brushing his hard nipples. Harry arched under his questing touch and rested his head on Malfoy’s shoulder, growling, “I want you too, but, Merlin, our kids are — are here somewhere a-and you told me to leave you alone…” His breathing was ragged, and he was losing the grip on his self-control.

Malfoy’s hand skimmed lower, towards the front of Harry’s trousers. “I know…It’s just that we shouldn’t. Our history, and... I…”

“Panicked?”

A pause. Malfoy’s hand stopped. “Yes. But it seems I can’t get you out of my head.” His hand started again, brushing against the hard bulge of Harry’s trousers.

A whisper. “Let me have you.”

Harry moaned, incapable of holding it back. With the last straws of self-control that remained, he tried to reason, “Malfoy, our sons…this is a public space, for Merlin’s sake.”

Malfoy squeezed Harry’s cock from the front of his trousers, licked the shell of his ear. “But this is an impasse, people avoid it and it’s very dark, there are only soft red lights, it’s…thrilling, isn’t it?”

It wasn’t logical, but Malfoy’s words were lost into the spiral of arousal that was swirling inside of Harry. He twisted his neck so that he could kiss Malfoy, who hummed in approval, and Harry was caught in a riptide of pleasure into that mouth that was invading his dreams, that taste he kept feeling on his lips whenever he thought about their first meeting at the Ball, that flickering tongue that was dancing with his own. When they broke the kiss, Harry was panting and all but meowled, “You already have me.”

Malfoy grunted and spun Harry around so that he faced the mirror. Harry could feel Malfoy’s hard shaft burning on his arse cheek. He splayed his hands on the mirror in front of him and Malfoy covered Harry’s hands with his own, intertwining their fingers.

They locked eyes in the mirror, and Harry saw thousands of Harrys and Malfoys grinding against each other, reflected endlessly, the mirrors returning their entwined bodies in an unbounded reproduction of arousal, heat, broken breaths, moans.

Malfoy brought a hand to Harry’s trousers and unfastened them, lowering them together with his pants under Harry’s arse cheeks. He caressed and squeezed them, gasping, “Sweet Salazar, your arse is perfect, Potter.”

Hot spikes of pleasure flowed through Harry’s body and he felt Malfoy murmuring something, a wetness sliding in his crease, towards his entrance. Malfoy’s slicked cock brushed Harry’s hole, making his own dick release a spurt of precome.

When had Malfoy loosened his trousers? Did Malfoy want to…? Harry’s mind ran and he found his voice again. “Malfoy, I…I don’t think it’s — I’ve never… and we don’t have time to — ”

Malfoy’s shaky inhalations ripped through Harry. “Merlin, Potter, I don’t want to! I know it’s…calm down, okay? I won’t, I won’t penetrate you.”

Malfoy’s lubricated hand went to grip Harry’s cock, pumping along the shaft in tight strokes, twisting a bit when arriving at the tip, making Harry’s eyes roll back.

Harry started thrusting his hips in rhythm with Malfoy’s hand and sensed Malfoy’s cock rubbing in his crease with increasingly rambled movements.

They barely had time to find the right rhythm when Harry felt his orgasm mounting inside of him. He flicked his eyes up, looking into the mirror: the scarce lights made their infinite reflections look like shadows, like they were being watched by other countless forms of themselves. That thought brought him around the twist and Harry came, tightening his lips to avoid shouting out loud, spilling hot semen on Malfoy’s hand.

Malfoy flicked his gaze up too, locking it with Harry’s, opening his mouth in a silent cry. His movements stilled and hot sticky stripes coated Harry’s arse. Malfoy bit down on Harry’s neck, grazing his teeth on his tender skin, making gooseflesh run down his back.

They took a moment to catch their breaths and they hurried to clean themselves with a flick of their wands and fasten their trousers.

Harry didn’t know how much time had passed, but it must have been pretty fast, their arousal already tortured by weeks of desire. He turned around and leaned his back on the mirror. “Oh god, this was…”

Malfoy’s breath ghosted over Harry’s mouth, lips against lips, as he whispered, “Fucking perfect. Why is it that everything we do feels so alive?”

Harry smiled against Malfoy’s lips, capturing them in a quick kiss. “I don’t know, but I think we should find the way out now.”

They found it a few minutes after, their sons already waiting for them outside, playing with branches as if they were fighting with swords. They didn’t see their parents straightaway and Malfoy stopped before reaching them, observing. “Our sons like each other. That’s some weird twist of fate.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “There’s no such thing as fate, Malfoy, please.”

Malfoy smirked, raising an eyebrow. “Ouch, our Saviour is cold as ice. You’re a tough guy, eh? Nothing breaches you.”

Before Harry could reply that he wasn’t cold, thankyouverymuch, that he’d simply learned that destiny is in one’s own hands, their sons sighted them and ran towards them. “We won, we won, we won! Losers!” they chanted together.

As promised, Malfoy and Harry bought their kids tickets for two rounds on the Ferris wheel — “So, I’ll offer again.” “Okay.” “Malfoy, goddamnit, at least try!” “Oh, no, Potter let me pay.” “That’s the best you can do? Ugh, leave it.” — and waited for them, chatting about this and that.

Malfoy seemed warmer, and of course Harry had to go and ruin everything. “So, about that coffee together…”

Malfoy didn’t turn his gaze to Harry. “You know my answer, Potter.”

“It’s Harry.”

That made Malfoy twist his face, raising his eyebrows. “Okay… Harry. Does this mean I’m Draco now?”

His name on Draco’s lips sounded dirty and Harry’s gut clenched. He cleared his throat. “Yes! We’re grownups, for Merlin’s sake. I can’t understand, Draco. At the Ball everything was perfect, and I didn’t hear you complain earlier in the hall of mirrors… Bloody fuck! Is this because you’re ashamed of being gay? If it’s in dark places where no one can see us it’s okay, but the moment I ask you to go out…”

Draco wrinkled his eyebrows. “What? No! I’m not ashamed! Although, I must say dark places have a certain charm... Um, no, it’s just that I’m a busy man. I don’t have the time for a…relationship. Is this what you want?”

Harry scoffed. “I just want a coffee with you!”

“Well, I don’t have time for that either,” was the toneless reply.

Harry felt the anger boiling in his veins. “So what, is this all a joke to you? Telling me you think about me, that you want me?”

Draco turned towards the Ferris wheel. Their children were stepping out of the cabin. “Leave it, Potter.”

And so, it was Potter again. Before Harry knew it, Scorpius and Albus reached them and they all said their goodbyes, parting, the children hugging tightly, Harry’s chest still filled with resentment.

When he went back home, Albus safe at his grandparents’, he hurried to add his afternoon in the journal:

Amusement Park with Albus. Met Draco and Scorpius, spent the afternoon together. Anxiety, Hope, Sex, Alive.

Draco turned me down again. Anger. Confusion. I’m a fucking idiot. And great, he’s Draco now. Damn.

Headache is killing me.

He slammed the journal closed, feeling itchy, restless. He grabbed a brush and a canvas and started pouring colours on it, frantic, messy, nervous.

By the time he finished, his hair was sticking to his forehead, drops of perspiration on his temples, neck, mouth. He wiped his forehead with his arm and looked at the painting: it was Draco again, but a younger version of him.

It was sixth year Draco, with dark deep circles under his eyes, a watery and hollow gaze and tears down his cheeks. The Dark Mark was a strong black, the snake slithering out of Draco’s arm, encircling his wrists, clasping them.

He was on his knees, blood dripping from his shirt, fresh cuts on his chest.

Harry felt a sudden dizziness and ran to the bathroom to empty his stomach. He rested his head on the toilet seat a moment, thinking. Drawing and painting was bringing out feelings and pieces of his life that Harry had buried deep inside of himself and he’d assumed it was a good thing, but he probably needed to see Laura. He’d write to her the next day. For the time being, he added on the journal:

Painted about Sectumsempra. Physically sick.

*****

Laura had seen all his drawings, paintings, his journal. They’d talked for two hours, and Harry was almost feeling sick by the end of the therapy session, but they were able to sum up a couple of things.

The time spent with his children had been restorative for them all — the feelings Harry wrote to accompany the notes about those days always had good connotations.

The main indicator were his headaches: they were always better when he was around his children and when drawing, especially Draco. Even the days spent with friends were denoted by lightness and happiness.

The only hard days were the ones when painting brought to the surface the pain of the war, his grieving, and of course Draco’s second rejection.

Laura concluded that this new hobby was having a therapeutic effect on Harry; they discussed the still intense topics and scheduled further appointments to dig deeper into them. In the meantime, he was to keep drawing and painting and see what else came up to later confront together.

As for Draco, Laura didn’t overbalance too much. She agreed he was ambiguous, but only suggested Harry try to distract himself and go out more often. Time’s the best solution for a broken heart, she said.

Harry went back home at a slow pace. He felt drained of every feeling, empty, tired. He sat on the armchair of his living room, right in front of his last painting of Draco. He felt better now: he knew he hadn’t really wanted to injury Draco to death back then — his feeling of guilt had slowly evaporated from his heart, pouring over the canvas.

He threw his head back, leaning it over the armchair, closing his eyes.

An hour later he woke up with a start, his neck and shoulders hurting from the uncomfortable position. He must have fallen asleep without realising it. He scratched his eyes and noticed a letter resting on his coffee table, that read, “To Mr. Prongs.” His heart skipped a beat and jumped in his throat. He grabbed it with trembling hands and read it:

“Harry,

I know things aren’t great between us right now. But I’m not writing to you for this reason.

At the Amusement Park I saw that my son was happy and thoughtless as he hadn’t been for a long time. He can’t stop talking about Albus and how he’d like to see the whole gang again. He especially nominates Rose, the “cute” reader (I’m quoting).

We’ve gone to the therapist and he agreed that this new friendship is having a good effect on Scorpius — he seems less fidgety and more inclined to think before speaking.

I know I have no right to ask you this, but I’d be your eternal debtor if you’d arrange a day out with Albus and the Granger-Weasleys. I’m asking you from father to father, but I can understand if you don’t want to see me again.

Yours,

Draco.”

Harry stared at the letter for five minutes without knowing what to think. He reread it several times.

He’d written it to Harry and Mr. Prongs, not to Potter. Was he trying to bribe him? Or was it a sign of something more?

And what about the last line? Of course he’d be willing to help Draco. Harry was not a monster, he’d always help a kid in need. He’d been one himself, after all, he could never deny lending a hand in difficult situations.

Not to mention the “yours, Draco” line.

Yours? Really? Either Harry was in fact the clueless mess his schoolmates claimed he was when they mocked him, or Draco was giving off very conflicting signals.

He put down the letter on the coffee table and frowned at it. He had no idea what to answer — he just knew that before doing so, he should talk with Ron and Hermione.

He grabbed a fistful of Floo powder, shouted “Granger-Weasley’s” and Vanished in a swirl of green.

He stepped out of their fireplace cursing the uncomfortable wizarding way of travelling and spotted Rose reading on the sofa. She raised her head and nodded silently at him.

Harry tried anyway. “Hi Rose, I’m sorry if I arrived here without announcing. How are you?”

She stared at him, without blinking and with a face that said, ‘you know I’m not gonna talk to you.’

Harry smiled awkwardly, sighing, and waved her off in search of his best friends. He found them in the backyard, sunbathing on their deck chairs, two colourful drinks on a little coffee table between their chairs.

“Ah, such model parents!” Harry reached them laughing and sat on the grass next to them.

Ron grinned. “Hugo is at his friend’s and Rose is... being Rose. We deserve a bit of peace and quiet. Anyway, mate, what are you doing here?”

Hermione sipped from one of the colourful drinks and smirked at him. “He can’t live without us, Ronald. Poor baby Harry is lost without his best friends. But we’re here to welcome you, sweetheart, aren’t we?”

Harry rolled his eyes and snorted. “Idiots. No, I actually have to ask you something. A favour. Um, I received a letter earlier, from Draco.”

At this, Ron made an annoyed sound. He was starting to say something when Harry interrupted, “No, I know, Ron, but he needs help with Scorpius. He wrote to me that Scorp’s therapist told them he’s getting better since he befriended Albus and often shows desire to meet all of our children together again…”

Hermione pulled her sunglasses up her head and nodded. “That’s sweet, Harry. Draco seems like such a caring father. I have no problem with arranging something together. We could invite them over and prepare some good snacks for the children. Besides, Scorpius is the first one who’s managed to get some words out of Rose, so he’s very welcome.”

Ron raised his eyebrows. “A caring father, but the usual git. He’s treating Harry like he’s at his mercy. I bet he’s formed some plot in his mind. Yep, I don’t like him.”

Harry sighed. “Ron, that’s not a surprise. Ugh, I don’t know, I think there’s something more to him. I guess it wouldn’t be easy for him to come out to the Wizarding World either, you know, and with me of all people. He’d get a lot of harassment and negative publicity.”

Hermione seemed to think about it, her eyebrows knitted. “Mmh, yeah, and seeing his relationship with Scorpius, I really think he worries that a situation like that could bother his son. I say, ask him if they’re free this Saturday and we’ll see how that goes. Okay?”

Harry reached for Hermione, hugging her tight. “‘Mione, you’re the best.” They turned to Ron, looking at him with pleading eyes. Ron narrowed his eyes to them, but in the end agreed to it on the condition that Harry bought him tickets for the next Quidditch game if Draco turned out to still be the arsehole he was at school.

Harry went back home feeling more light-hearted, but his heart was doing somersaults at the idea of seeing Draco again.

Without knowing exactly what he was going to write, Harry headed to his desk in the living room, taking out a letter and a quill.

“Draco,

I’m happy to hear that Scorpius is getting better! In that regard, I talked with Ron and Hermione and they suggested we could organize something at their place this Saturday. Will you be free?

We’d love to see Scorpius (and you) again.

Bye,

Harry.”

He stared at the outcome of what had ended up being an entire afternoon spent writing letters to then scratch them and start over: every time he’d been either too cold or too talkative, losing himself in long descriptions of his feelings and bombarding Draco with questions. Finally, he’d settled for something impersonal. He had never been good with words, so he’d guessed it would be safe to just mention he was okay with planning something for their children. That ‘ (and you) ’ was probably going a bit too far, but he hadn’t been able to resist leaving a door open for them.

He still wasn’t sure about the letter, but he settled to send it before changing his mind again and having to rewrite it a thousandth time.

He called Puckie, stroked his head, fed him a treat and sent the letter to Draco Malfoy.

Sighing, Harry took out his journal and wrote:

Day 18: went to see Laura. She helped me understand some things happening inside of me. Relief.

Draco wrote to me to arrange something with our children. Agitation. Giddiness. I’m a blushing mess. He’s a jackass. Oh my god, I’m seeing him again in three days. If he’s free. He’ll be, won’t he? Why do I sound like a teenage girl? Damn.

He blushed at the mess he’d written and put the journal away. The next thing on his to-do list was skidding through his mail. He’d gotten a lot of letters during these days at home, but he never opened anonymous letters. They were usually from pestering fans and he was sick of dealing with them. Today though, he’d received a letter from the Department of Aurors; he couldn’t avoid it.

It was Rick, his substitute for the month, updating Harry with the last news about their cases and minor administrating issues.

Harry read it and noted down two or three things he needed to tell him, then left the letter open on the desk to reply later. A massive headache started torturing him out of thin air. He was ready to go to bed, let the darkness wrap him and hope that the headache would simply go away; he was doing so well lately, his horrible headaches had disappeared, except for when he felt particularly…angry or disappointed with himself.

Harry looked at the letter again, everything finally snapping together.

It wasn’t the light, it wasn’t Laura’s session, it wasn’t looking at Draco’s painting nor the fact he’d written to him. It was Rick’s letter that had made his head throb again.

Harry took his journal, running through it, searching for his notes. He never mentioned his work. Not once. He’d simply erased it, as if it was something that had never existed. And his headaches had almost disappeared, his mind free. Could it be a coincidence? Harry wasn’t sure.

He laid his back on the chair, massaging his temples. Actually, he’d delved into the Auror Program right after the war, without thinking too much about it. In it, he’d found something that had helped him keep his mind off the nightmares and the feeling of guilt, the anger, the panic attacks. He had never stopped to think about himself, his life, his interests. It probably hadn’t been entirely healthy for him, so Harry was glad he’d decided to take this time off work.

At first, being an Auror had made Harry feel proud of himself, safe and happy. The truth was that he had started living for real when he’d discovered he was a wizard at age eleven. And then, he’d stepped foot in Hogwarts for the first time and immediately knew he was home.

If there was one thing he was sure about, it was that he wanted to protect this world, the world that had given him friends, family, love. He wanted to do everything he could to keep it safe — he had died for that reason! And maybe that was it: maybe it was when he’d died that he’d forgotten something in that limbo he’d found himself in.

He’d left behind his will there. The part of himself that was meant to exist without others.

There was a moment when he’d known that he wanted to stay in that limbo, to die, to let everything go away from him. But he’d come back for others and once alive again, he’d forgotten to claim himself back.

Without him realising it, silent tears streaked down Harry’s cheeks, bringing out his headache. He wiped his face with a hand and took a few deep breaths.

He needed to quit his job. It had given him an excuse to bury his pain and help the Wizarding World settle after the war, but now it was time to let someone else be the hero and find something that would make his heart warm and sated.

Harry was still drowning in the confusion of this new awareness when Puckie flew in, hooting happily and bringing Draco’s reply. It was short:

“Harry,

It would be perfect. I’ll be eternally thankful.

Yours,

Draco.”

Again, he’d addressed it to Harry and signed it with “yours”. Harry sighed and knew he had to write something down in the journal to clear his mind:

It has been…an intense day. Rick wrote to me about work stuff and I felt so angry that I still have to deal with dark magic, dark wizards, people still hanging on my every word... Things need to change, I need to change and do something that will allow me to find the peace and tranquility I’ve never had. Will I be able to?

By the way…Draco’s free. We’re meeting on Saturday. I have to be cool, ffs. It’s for our kids. But if I get the occasion, I’ll talk to him and end… whatever it is we were doing. Doesn’t feel good thinking about it. Crap.

Chapter Text

Harry Flooed to Ron and Hermione’s one hour early.

As soon as he looked into Harry’s eyes, Ron reached for him and clasped his shoulder. “Harry, calm down. Do you want to me to punch him for you? Because I would.”

Harry snickered and tried to ease his nerves. Albus and Lily were already lost somewhere in the house, enjoying their friendship with Hugo and Rose. James was at his grandparents’. “I’m too old for them, I won’t come,” he had said. Harry had rolled his eyes and tried to convince him, but James had pulled a stunt, saying he wasn’t his siblings’ babysitter. In the end, Ginny and Harry had agreed to let him stay with Molly and Arthur.

He decided to take advantage of the fact he was early to talk with his best friends about the thoughts he’d had the previous day. He sat down on the living room sofa next to Hermione and put an arm around her neck, and she let her head fall on Harry’s shoulder. Ron was adjusting his notes for a new trick he and George had come up with.

“Guys, I need to tell you something. I don’t know who to talk about it with.”

Ron and Hermione shared a panicked look: the last time he’d said so, he’d declared that he was having erections looking at other men’s arses, so their fear was understandable.

Harry went on, “Oh, stop making that face, guys! This time it’s something…it is something related to my job… I — I am thinking about quitting it.”

Ron and Hermione shared another look — this time of pity. Hermione opened her mouth and then closed it.

It was Ron who spoke instead. “Mate, I think it could be a good decision. Why, em, why do you want to?”

Harry looked at him, frowning, not believing what he was hearing. “Do you really think so? Because I…these days at home have been great, but it’s not just because of that. The other day I was thinking and I realised…I realised I didn’t think of myself when I made this choice, you know? Oh, Godric, I don’t know if I’m making any sense.”

Hermione took his hand. “Oh Harry, you are. We, we saw you struggling with this job, honey. You always complained about it, about your headaches, about how much you hated being behind a desk all day… We’ve tried to tell you throughout the years, but…”

Harry scratched his neck. “But I always dropped the topic, saying I was fine. Yeah. The fact is…I know I need to change things, but… what, what can I do? I can’t — I’m not good at anything else! Defense Against the Dark Arts was the only thing I could do at school!”

Ron shook his head, like he was about to talk with a child. “Harry, please. You can do so many things, really, and I hate that you can’t see it.”

The fact that the two most important people in his life were supporting him and comforting him made Harry’s eyes sting. He was so moved that he didn’t know how to reply.

Hermione cleared her throat. “Erm, may I? Why don’t you think about something regarding art? I mean, you’re very talented, Harry, and you clearly have fun with it.” She was curling a strand of hair with her fingers; Harry knew it meant she wanted to say something else but was restraining herself so she wouldn’t annoy him.

He smiled and prodded her. “You already have a suggestion, don’t you?”

Hermione released the strand and grinned cheerfully. “Yes! Oh, Harry, but if you don’t like it, say it! It was something that hit me out of thin air. I was reading this book about how art can help healing some illnesses and… I shared it with Ron, and we remembered that you were so great as a teacher during our fifth year. What if you used your art skills to help struggling kids? We have so many children that would love a bit of a distraction at the hospital, and you could explore your limits with your art and share it for a good cause!”

Harry’s heart skipped a beat and he knew, deep inside, that that was something he wanted to do. His eyes filled with tears and he hugged her and Ron, telling them he would think about it.

After that, they settled for easier topics, chatting of this and that until Harry finally heard a knock on the door and his head snapped towards it.

Hermione got up and went to welcome Draco and Scorpius in the house.

Scorpius was already starting to talk. “Hello, Mr. Potter, did you know that — ”

Harry patted his head and interrupted him. “Scorpius, call me Harry, okay? We’re friends now.”

Scorpius grinned, nodding; he didn’t have time to say anything else — the whole gang had heard him entering and they all came to greet Scorpius and disappeared again with him, along with hugs and a shy “Hi Scorpius” muttered by a blushing Rose. Scorpius had replied hugging her, making her blush deepen.

Their children gone, Draco stood in the middle of the living room, fidgeting with his hands like someone who doesn’t know what to do with them. In the end, he stuck them in his trouser pockets. “Well, I, erm, I’ll come back to pick Scorpius then at…what time?”

Hermione snorted and waved him off. “Don’t be silly, Draco. Stay, I made tea and biscuits.”

Ron narrowed his eyes at him and whispered to Hermione, “Did you call him Draco? Bloody hell, does our daughter have a crush on Malfoy’s son?”

Hermione nipped him on the arm and dragged him away to the kitchen, leaving Harry and Draco alone in the living room.

Harry could feel his heart thundering in his throat. He was holding his breath, desperately trying to come up with something to tell Draco, but his mind was blank.

Draco broke the silence. “Potter, breathe, for fuck’s sake, or you’ll faint right now and I’m not catching you if that happens, I’m warning you.”

Harry winced, stars already appearing in front of his eyes. He inhaled sharply feeling hot all over. He really seemed like a teenager dealing with his first crush.

He shook his head to get a grip on himself. “Ah ah, always so nice, you are. Erm…Do you, um, would you like to see the house, maybe?”

Draco shrugged, looking around and scoffing. “Well, we don’t have anything better to do, do we?”

Sighing, Harry stood up and led Draco through the house that was built on two floors. He showed him the two bathrooms, the children’s bedrooms and the paintings Ron and Hermione had hung throughout the house until they arrived at the big library Hermione had built as soon as they bought the house.

Draco entered it with a look of awe on his face. Harry smiled: he looked younger like that and a pang of desire spiked inside him.

Draco’s voice distracted him from his fantasies. “This is…fuck, this is huge.” He caressed the covers of the books with delicate fingers, reading some titles, scanning through them. Harry could understand him: he, who wasn’t invested in reading, always thought this library looked magnificent and regal, with thousands of shelves divided into sections, labeled by author, genre, year of publication, in a neat order that gave him a reassuring feeling of calmness. There were armchairs draped with blankets where to read and lanterns suspended in the air, together with plants. A big glass door bathed the whole room in light.

Draco stopped by an armchair, looking around the library. “She uses an expanding charm in the room. That’s clever.”

Harry approached him, halting behind him. He hesitated for a fraction of a second before brushing his hand on Draco’s back, who twisted his face towards Harry in a frown. “Harry, this is not the place…”

Harry kept stroking his back. “I know, you idiot. I just — I just want to talk. Please, Draco.”

Draco turned completely at that, resting a hand on the back of the armchair, and exhaled slowly. “About what?”

Harry’s anger started to boil. “About…what…?! Are you kidding me? Draco we…we almost…”

Draco huffed. “Harry, let me be blatant here. Are you gay?”

Harry’s mind blacked out. “What? Why? I mean, I…of course I…You’re a man… wasn’t, wasn’t that clear?”

Draco raised an eyebrow, incredulity clear in his voice. “You want to talk, to be honest, you want to, what, have a coffee together, out there in the light? And you can’t even say out loud that you’re gay.”

“That’s not true! I did! I told James and Ginny, Ron, Hermione…I can say it! I am, erm, I’m gay.” His voice was almost a whisper by the end of the phrase.

“Oh yeah, you told that to the safest people in your life. But what about coming out to the entire Wizarding World? With me at your side? Did you think about that? People would go mad, call you a traitor, maybe threaten you, judge you. And what about your workplace? What if you lost it because of me? Damn, you’re a lost cause.”

Harry blinked at that. It made sense. But then another thought hit him. “Is this why you didn’t want to have a coffee with me? And why you only let your guard down when we were in the dark, safe from people’s looks and judgement?”

Draco only gave a tight nod. Harry smiled an ear-to-ear grin. That made Draco snap. “Why the fuck are you smiling now?”

Harry stepped closer to him. Their chests were brushing, he could almost feel Draco’s heat radiating from his. “Because… you’ve been thoughtful towards me. You thought about me, and my feelings, and what could possibly happen to me and my life if I  were the usual reckless git I am and simply held your hand or kissed you in a coffee shop, rather than thinking about yourself.”

The tips of Draco’s ears reddened, and he tried to back away, but Harry grasped him by the waist. Draco’s voice stuttered, “I — That’s not t-true. I really haven’t the time for…for… and Scorpius, he — he needs — ”

Leaving his self-control somewhere out of the room, Harry captured Draco’s lips in a kiss. It was chaste, but it left them trembling nonetheless.

When they broke apart, Harry nudged Draco’s nose and whispered, “Look, you’re right. Maybe we could wait, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun in the meantime. You could have told me that it was bothering you instead of being a mysterious bitch, though.”

Draco opened his mouth to reply, faking offense for being called a ‘bitch’, when Hermione’s cry reminded them where they were.

“Draco! Harry! Where are you? Tea is ready!”

They separated as if a lightning bolt had pierced through them and made their way back to the kitchen laughing. “Good Lord, Harry, we seem like bloody teenagers sneaking around to snog.”

When they entered the kitchen, the children were already drinking their teas and eating Hermione’s biscuits. Ron threw an exasperated look at Harry, who shrugged and grabbed a treacle tart, not feeling particularly keen to try Hermione’s biscuits.

Scorpius looked at them, chuckling. “Where were you?”

Looking at him carefully, Harry noticed that Scorpius looked calmer, indeed. He wasn’t playing with his hands and his words were more punctuated.

That was until Harry understood what Scorpius had asked and cursed himself for not having prepared an answer to that. He was searching in his mind for a different reply than ‘we were snogging’ when Draco spoke. “Harry was showing me Granger’s library. I mean, Hermione’s.” He moved his gaze to her. “It’s really beautiful, by the way. Your charm to extend it is quite powerful.”

Hermione smirked, trying to convey confidence. “Is that a compliment, Draco Malfoy?” she asked, but her cheeks flushed, and Harry knew she was exulting inside because someone had finally noticed the spellwork and effort she’d put into her library.

Despite the suspicious glares Ron was directing towards Draco from time to time, Harry was happy to see that they could all get along in the same room, leaving the past behind. He knew he’d have to face those arguments with Draco if they were to become more involved, but for now he concentrated on enjoying their bright time together.

After a few minutes Harry saw, with a sideway glance, Scorpius and Albus whispering to each other and snickering. He took a sip of his tea and prepared for whatever they were planning.

Not long after, indeed, Albus was casually shrugging and addressing him. “Oh, you know, Dad, we were thinking that maybe we could all sleep here tonight and then you and Mr. Malfoy could come pick us tomorrow morning?” The kids all turned towards Ron and Hermione, who laughed shaking their heads.

Ron put a hand on Hugo’s head, stroking his hair. He replied, amused, “Of course you can stay. It’s actually a good idea! What do you think, Malfoy? You and Harry could stay here for dinner and then — ”

“NO!” Albus and Scorpius shrieked together. Scorpius cleared his throat, “Erm, I mean. We actually thought…that…we want to be here without you two.”

Draco’s eyebrows flew up to his hairline and his eyes crinkled along with the smile that formed on his lips. “Ah, is that so?”

Albus and Scorpius could barely hold back their grins and the other kids were laughing up their sleeves; they all seemed suspiciously like partners in crime.

Scorpius went on, “Yeah, you know, it’s the first time I have a sleepover with friends. You two could have dinner together, if you feel lonely without us…and you could spend the evening together.”

Albus’ face was so twisted in the effort to restrain a laugh that his lips were turning white. Scorpius seemed to have inherited the same blank mask his father had.

Harry and Draco shared a look, and Harry could see in his eyes the very same question that was crossing his own mind: were they that obvious?

In the meantime, Hermione was hiding her face behind Ron’s shoulder while the latter, the git, was openly laughing. He roared, “Oh sweet Merlin, your sons are so precious.”

Eventually, Hermione managed to control her laughter and she showed her face again, her eyes reddened and watery. “Godric, give me the strength. I think your kids had a great idea, actually. Come pick them up tomorrow morning, we’ll have breakfast together, okay?”

Albus and Scorpius threw their fists in the air, triumphant. Harry asked himself when he’d become the protagonist of a soap opera, but tried to concentrate on avoiding bursting into flames from how much he was blushing.

They said their goodbyes to the children and resolved with Ron and Hermione to come back the following morning at nine.

Harry and Draco approached the fireplace and, after spending a long and awkward second staring at it, Harry turned his gaze to Draco. “So, um, do you want to have dinner with me? At my place! I live at Grimmauld Place, you should recognise it. No one would know, besides our sons, err...”

Draco crossed his arms and sneered. “You should recognise it’ . Harry, it was my aunt’s house. I’m in the tapestry of their genealogical tree. Anyway, it can be done. One dinner. No coffee, though.”

Harry frowned. “What’s with you and coffee, really?”

Draco grabbed a pinch of Floo Powder. “I don’t like it.” He stepped into Ron and Hermione’s fireplace and disappeared.

A moment before Harry’s departure, Ron grabbed his arm, making him turn over. His best friend looked at him with a serious face and said, “Be careful, Harry.”

Harry knew he was lucky to have a friend like him, who cared for his happiness, but right now he had a waiting Draco in his living room, and he didn't want to make him stay there alone for one more second. He brushed Ron's hand off, smiling and assuring him that he was a grown up and Head Auror, so really, there was no risk.

When Harry finally managed to appear back at home, he found Draco standing in the middle of his living room, something in his hands. Slowly approaching, Harry recognised what Draco was looking at and stopped, panicking.

Draco was skimming through his sketchbook.

Bloody hell, Draco was skimming through his sketchbook full of Harry’s drawings of him!

Draco turned his head and sighted Harry, regarding him from over his shoulder. “Harry, are these…is this…is this me?” His voice was so naturally awestruck that a smile stretched Harry’s lips.

“Draco, I…yes, it’s you, of course. It’s just that…your lines, you know, the lines of your body, they’re good to…study proportions. You’re, um, well proportioned.” Harry felt his belly fluttering in agitation. He looked obsessed, like a stalker, he knew that.

Draco’s face morphed into one big frown. “What? Proportions? I…” He lowered his eyes to the sketches again. “Oh, fuck me! Did you do these?!”

Harry huffed impatiently. “What’s the surprised tone? Yes! I did those! I…” The rest of the sentence died on his lips. How could he explain the relief he felt when he could draw the thoughts that mulled over in his head, how easily he could express himself through drawings and paintings instead of speaking and debating with others?

Draco lightly caressed the page of the sketchbook, tracing the lines of Harry’s drawings with his fingers. He closed it with care and laid it on the coffee table.

With slow steps, Draco reached Harry in front of the hearth.

Harry sucked in a breath, ready to hear those words he was sure were on Draco’s mind. ‘You’re a freak, goodbye’. Instead, Draco raised his hands to stroke Harry’s cheeks. He then cupped his face, sealed their lips. It was as if time and life and everything Harry knew had ceased to exist; only he and Draco remained. Only those sweet lips, that wicked tongue, those breathy moans. They kissed and then, soon enough, not only their mouths were sealed.

Their chests smacked against each other, their groins rubbing together, their hungry hands running all over their bodies. Draco pushed Harry back until he hit the wall and pinned him against it with his weight, their kisses becoming messy, needy, their breaths shallow. Harry gripped Draco’s arse cheeks, squeezing hard, pulling him closer, grinding against him.

Draco grazed Harry’s throat with his teeth, licking his pulsing vein, peppering kisses on his jaw, nudging his earlobe. Harry groaned and his voice cracked. “D-Draco, I don’t want to — to come like this.”

Draco stopped and looked at him. He licked his lips. “You taste sweet.” He gave Harry another kiss on the lips, rocking his hips against him one last time.

He then broke the kiss and stepped back, without letting go of Harry’s waist. “You draw me.”

He wanted to know, and Harry’s heart beat thunderously in his chest, his throat dry. He swallowed thick and tried to gain time. “How about we sit down with good food and talk things out? I’ve been told I’m a fair good chef.” He tried to smile, but at this point he was almost sure he looked like he was having a stroke.

Draco scrunched his nose in disbelief. “You? A chef? Let’s see that.” He leaned to give Harry another kiss, who readily pouted out his lips, waiting to be captured into another wave of pleasure.  

They reached the kitchen walking side by side, their hands brushing lightly.

Harry cooked a simple but tasteful dinner for them. It felt incredibly intimate and familiar to share a moment like this, the two of them finally able to see each other and to do so in such a different way.

Harry cooked as muggles did: it was a habit he’d never lost. He knew it was silly and that magic could do everything in his place, faster and probably neater. But cooking with his hands, slicing food, mixing ingredients, always managed to keep Harry’s mind focused and free of anxiety and hard thoughts.

Draco didn’t miss the opportunity to comment on his weird and servant-like way of cooking, making snarky remarks about his chef skills, that were somehow “conspicuous”, as opposed to his potion ones, that were abysmal and, really, how could that be possible when the two activities looked so similar?

During dinner they talked about everything, from Quidditch to the war, from their kids to their jobs. Harry explained to Draco the rough patch he was facing right now, what being a hero really meant for him, how he was thinking about changing jobs, and how it was difficult to accept his sexuality. Draco proved to be a great listener, considerate, giving thoughtful and caring advice and sharing his personal issues about his wife’s death, his own sexuality, the problems he still met for having the Dark Mark.

Harry couldn’t believe the easiness with which they could talk and he was comforted to find they had lots of things in common.

Their conversation got more heated when they discussed the things that had happened between them in the past. It drained them to dig into the depths of the war, trying not to judge, only to listen, to share the reasons behind choices and hatred. Some tension built up, and Draco became more reserved on his inner thoughts about this topic, nervous tics appearing: he started to scratch the skin around his nails, to blink several times in a flash, to drop his gaze to his hands, avoiding Harry’s eyes.

“We fucking have to talk about this, Draco, if we want to start something together.”

Draco’s face went even paler and he blurted out, “There are some things about the war, about that period...I think I need time to share them, okay? And Harry… I’ve already told you about the ‘something together’ issue. It would be chaos to date, to — to have a relationship. Paparazzi would constantly be to our heels, we’d disintegrate after a few weeks. And, we’d have to come out to the Wizarding World, I don’t think I’m ready for that.”

Harry listened without blinking. He took a deep breath. “We don’t have to tell the world tomorrow, you know? We can keep our masks on for a little while still, Plume . Ouf, why didn’t you tell me all of these things before? You acted like a real twat, Draco.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “I tried to! I wanted to talk with you, but… I was afraid of ruining things with you. I wrote dozens of letters for you, but it’s simply something I’m not good at. I mean, what am I supposed to say, Harry? That I’ve had a crush on you since the first time I saw you, that I hated you because you didn’t want to be my friend and that when I understood you were Mr. Prongs I nearly had a heart attack because, dear Salazar, I finally had you, but…that then I panicked because you had only wanted me because you didn’t know who I was? I’m — I’m not that kind of man, I won’t tell you these kinds of things!”

Harry giggled and a genuine smile twisted his lips. “You amaze me, Draco. You try so hard to be this impenetrable man, but you’re such a fluffy teddy bear. You say you’re not that type of man, but you do realise you just told me all of those things, right?”

Draco blinked and flushed deeply. His mouth opened, then closed. “I…”

“You wrote me letters! And you had a crush on me when we were first years at Hogwarts? I can’t believe this.” The thrill was starting to make Harry feel high. Astonished, he went on, “I don’t know about first year, but sixth…” Harry smirked and hoped he would look sexy.

Draco shook his head. “Hush, Potter. And excuse me? I was at my worst during sixth year! I always had dark circles under my eyes, I was thinner than a fucking parchment, I looked like a ghost! And my hair, oh my god, it was so dry!”

Harry laughed. “A nice ghost, though! And black suits you. With that arse, then…”

Harry got up and took Draco’s face in his hands, kissing him, his neck, his collarbone. In a rush, he Disapparated them both in his bedroom, stumbling back on his bed.

Draco fell crotch first on top of Harry, moaning, “Harry, was that really necessary?”

Harry sneered. “I couldn’t wait one more second! I — I want to…have sex with you.”

Draco readjusted himself so that Harry’s legs encircled his waist and he propped up on his elbows, looking down at him. His eyes widened. “You — now?”

Harry blinked. “No, tomorrow??” He slid his hands under Draco’s shirt, scratching his nails on his back, feeling Draco’s body quiver under his touch.

Draco bit hard on Harry’s neck, moaning. He murmured, “Idiot. I mean, I just…you’ve never had sex with a man… How would you prefer to do it?”

Harry’s hips were rolling on their own accord against Draco’s, their breaths melting together in hushed sighs. He had to close his eyes to gather his thoughts, his mind already blurry with lust. “I…since we had our first night together, oh Merlin, I keep thinking about you inside of me. I want to feel your hard cock filling me, Draco.”

Draco closed his eyes and opened his mouth, a groan escaping his lips. “Are you trying to make me come in my pants? Fuck, Harry, that’s… aaah, yes.” He wiggled his hips, making their cocks bump, spreading even more the damp spot on Harry’s jeans.

Draco started undressing Harry with unsteady hands, while Harry did the same to him, suspecting his hands were just as shaky as Draco’s.

When they were completely naked, Draco cleared his throat and buried his face in Harry’s neck, licking and kissing in a way that sent spikes all over Harry’s body. Harry was anxious about what they were about to do, but the arousal was pulling at him so much that he couldn’t think anymore. He only needed one more thing: he wanted to see Draco, this time.

He brushed his hands over Draco’s head and, grabbing his hair, he pulled up to make them see each other. He whispered, “Fuck, Draco, I want to turn on the lights. I want to see you while you thrust into me, your face when you come, your body slamming into mine… I want to see you.”

Draco shuddered and nodded in his neck, breathing “yes please” and whispering a quick Lumos. He peppered Harry’s chest with kisses, licking his nipples and going further down, taking his hard cock in his mouth, sucking on it — oh my fucking god, Draco Malfoy is sucking my cock — sliding down to his balls. He tickled them, whispering, “Fuck, I’m gonna taste you and you’re gonna like this so much.”

Draco muttered a cleaning charm and Harry felt his magic tingling on the skin of his entrance. Before the meaning of it sunk into Harry, Draco was licking a long stripe on his hole, making Harry clench the sheets and cry out loud.

Draco slowly circled his rim, then pushed his tongue inside, grazing Harry’s nerves. In mere minutes, Harry was a whimpering mess. He needed more, but he had no idea what that meant. When Draco added first one, and then two fingers along with his tongue inside of Harry’s hole, his body vibrated and he rocked his hips against Draco’s tongue in an erratic rhythm, seeking his orgasm, babbling nonsense, prying Draco, his voice almost sobbing, “please Draco, fuck me already, fuck me” and Draco only quickening his rhythm, covering him of praises, “you’re so sweet, Harry” — “aah yes, you’re so hot, so good.”

When Harry gripped Draco’s hair, sobbing that he was close, Draco startled and pulled out, wiping his mouth with his hand. Harry gave a frustrated moan but was soon distracted by the sight of Draco covering his cock with lube, his mouth half-closed, his eyelids heavy. He stared at Harry and kept stroking his cock in slow tugs, grazing his teeth over his bottom lip. He then aligned it with Harry’s entrance and thrust in, stopping only a few seconds every inch he pushed in, finding Harry ready and loosened for him.

Once he was all settled in, he leaned over Harry’s lips and captured them in a sloppy wet kiss, wiggling his hips, finding the right angle. Harry’s entire body was so sensitive that every little movement Draco made had him moaning and sighing and moving together with him, until Draco brushed his sweet spot and Harry clenched his arse cheeks, arching into the pleasure.

Draco groaned low in Harry’s ear, stopping, and, with a tight voice, he mumbled, “Fuck, Harry, I — Merlin, I won’t last long. You’re too hot and so tight…” He was fisting the sheets, his eyes closed and a frown between his eyebrows.

Harry moved his hips, fucking himself on Draco’s cock; that made Draco’s eyes flicker open again, but his body was still contracted in a clear attempt to control himself. Harry pulled Draco close and whispered back, “Then come, Draco.”

That did it; Draco gasped and then started thrusting in faster, never breaking eye contact with Harry and sighing “Aah, I love this” when he came, leaking hot inside Harry. Those words and Draco’s tone brought Harry over the edge and he came too, releasing his orgasm in hot white stripes on his chest, some drops hitting his chin. He pulled out the last ones with a few lazy jerks at his cock.

Draco licked away the drops on Harry’s chin and dragged out, lying next to him. Harry spelled them both clean and crawled close, resting his head on Draco’s chest and hugging his waist, entwining their legs.

Harry sighed and kissed the tender skin under his lips. Looking up at Draco, he said, “You were…oddly kind. I feared you’d fuck me to death.”

Draco pinched him and sneered. “Fuck off, Potter. What a way to ruin moments, really! I didn’t want to hurt you!”

Harry propped up on his elbow and raised his eyebrows, a hand on his heart in mock shock. “Sweet Merlin, you’re putting your thirteen-year-old self to shame!”

Draco snorted and they laughed together, tucking themselves under the sheets, Draco cuddling Harry’s hair, stroking his calves with his feet, hugging him tight to his chest.

They fell asleep like this, sated and full of love.

*****

Aguamenti!

A splash of cold water swamped Harry’s face. He woke up with a start, rubbing his eyes and gulping air. A steady hand gripped Harry’s t-shirt and yanked him sat on the bed.

“Harry, for fuck’s sake, WAKE UP!” Draco was roaring right in his face.

Harry tried to open his eyes to look at him. “Wha..? Draco, wha’ happ’n’d?” With his mouth full of sleep, he couldn’t bring himself to completely wake up. He stretched his arms above his head and a sharp thwack to his abdomen made him fully open his eyes and bend at the waist, glaring at Draco.

“It’s eleven in the morning, Harry! E-L-E-V-E-N. We were supposed to go pick our kids at nine! Two hours ago!” Draco scrambled to get dressed and Harry looked at him, amazed, while he stepped into Harry’s trousers, reached for Harry’s t-shirt and put on Harry’s Holyhead Harpies’ socks.

When Draco finally reached the mirror, he groaned, “Damn! I look like…like…like you!” Draco flashed him a disgusted face, his nose crimped.

Harry scratched his hair, reached for his wand, dried his face. Smiled.

The rays of the sun were bathing Draco’s perfect shape, his golden hair, his diamond eyes. The light made him look even more beautiful than he usually was. Harry’s heartbeat quickened at seeing Draco wearing his own clothes. “Idiot! You look good in my clothes. You always look good. Posh arsehole.”

Draco snorted and moved to reach the bed, but Harry stopped him. “No! Wait! Stay there. The light is perfect. — Accio! — Don’t move.” His sketchbook and pencils flew to him, landing neatly on the bed.

“Harry, we don’t have the time! We are late!” Draco tried to sound annoyed, but he was already checking himself at the mirror for Harry’s drawing.

Harry shook his head. “I mean, our kids are with Ron and Hermione, I don’t think anything bad is going to happen anyway. Now stay still.” Harry started drawing, glancing at Draco from time to time, sketching his lean body, his still curled hair, his sleepy eyes, his slender fingers tucking a strand of hair behind his ear, his hip bones slightly visible under Harry’s crumpled t-shirt.

Harry was finishing the drawing when the house gave a low thrum and a vibration crossed the walls. Draco’s hand ran to his wand and he looked at Harry with worried eyes, hushing, “Someone broke into your house! What kind of weak protective charm do you use?!”

Harry’s mind raced, still fuzzy from the morning sleepiness, and then settled on a calming thought. He whispered back, “Woah, Draco, don’t worry. My protective charms are opened to Ron and Hermione in every moment.”

And then his mind raced again, together with Draco’s. They sucked in a breath when they heard Ron calling, “Harry! Harry, are you here? Why aren’t you answering our calls?” Along with Albus’, “Daaaad! I bet you’re still sleeping!” and the sound of steps reverberating through the door, coming closer.

Draco was madly trying not to panic. “Oh fuck, Harry, our kids, it’s too soon, they can’t see us — ”

The door of Harry’s bedroom banged open, Albus practically running in, Scorpius right behind him. Draco and Harry froze, staring at their kids. It must have looked funny: Harry in his pyjamas, sprawled on the bed, sketchbook and pencils everywhere. Draco dressed as… Harry, standing in the middle of the room.

Scorpius’ face split up in a huge grin. “I told you, Al! I knew they were boyfriends! Our parents are in love, love, love, looooove.” Scorpius high-fived Albus, who giggled, and they ran away, crying together, “Draco and Harry, sitting in the tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes love, then comes marriage — ”

Harry and Draco scrambled to follow them to the ground floor, where they found Albus and Scorpius still singing, amused, the other children joining the sing-song and Ron and Hermione with frowns on their faces. As soon as they saw Draco and Harry, they cracked up and laughed until tears sparkled in their eyes.

Harry looked at Draco and blushed, realising what they looked like. He tried to babble something out, “We were, um, talking, about, um, coming to pick you guys, and, um.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Oh dear Merlin, Harry, you’re horrible at this. Shut up. We’re sorry we were late, guys. Is everything okay?”

Hermione managed to calm herself to reply a laughed, “Yeah, we just came here to see if Harry was okay. We would have come to yours after, but well, I guess we solved it faster like this.”

Draco blushed and started torturing his hands, looking at Scorpius. He reached him and crouched in front of him, smiling. “Scorp, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you…that, um…”

Scorpius’ eyes warmed in a way Harry wouldn’t have thought possible for a child. “That you’re gay? Dad, I knew. It’s not that difficult to guess. I’m okay with it, I’m happy you finally found someone that makes you happy! I like Harry. He’s okay.”

They hugged and Harry felt his eyes stinging. He looked at Lily and Albus. He knew it wouldn’t be easy to explain this thing to them, but he was excited to start something with Draco. Albus was nodding alongside with Scorpius and hugged Draco too, saying he liked him as well.

Harry crouched and Albus went to hug him too, dragging Lily with him, who meddled in the hug and looked like she wasn’t understanding much, but wanted to share some of the flowing love.

Ron and Hermione looked at them with amused faces and Ron muttered a “we’ll speak later” to Harry, sticking out his tongue to Draco, who replied with the same gesture.

They all went to the kitchen to have breakfast and, while the others were chatting without paying attention to Draco and Harry, he whispered to Draco’s ear, “I know you didn’t want to come out to your son like this, but… I guess fate had different plans for us? You know, I don’t mind a bit of… light, finally.”

Draco clenched Harry’s hand under the table. “Now you’re blaming fate? Um, this is bearable, but…let’s wait before we come out to the entire Wizarding World, please?”

Harry smiled against his cheek. “Better than blaming myself for ending up with Malfoy, the Ferret. AH, joking! Don’t worry. You’ll tell me when you’re ready.”

Later that day, Harry wrote in his journal:

Day 21: the day with Draco and Scorpius was perfect. We decided to try things out. Excitement. Heart thrumming.

And. We. Had. Sex. We actually had sex and I loved it. Fuck, I’m so gay! And, we came out — accidentally — to our kids. Fear. Anxiety. But also, happy to start this journey with Draco. We’ll see where it goes.

Oh! And my headache never showed up again.

 


 

Epilogue

After three months together, Draco moved in with Harry. At first, it had been difficult to make things work, but now, after six months of cohabitation, they were happier than ever. Harry loved how Draco had gotten used to wearing Harry’s favourite jumpers around the house, how their bodies perfectly fitted together while sleeping, how sex was always hot and spontaneous.

A few weeks after they started living together, Harry had also inaugurated a new wing in Hermione’s hospital where he helped ill children through drawing and painting. He had quit his job as Head Auror almost immediately after his month home, and had started studying art therapy. He was happier than he could have ever guessed in his life, even if some days were still hard.

That was one of those days — the condition of one of the children he worked with had aggravated so much that she couldn’t get out of bed. Harry was still adjusting to dealing with illnesses and death every day, but Hermione was helping him, encouraging and giving him precious advice, and Harry was learning to live with it step by step.

Nonetheless, he still wrote down his feelings from time to time. He took out his journal that evening, opened it and when he got to the last page, he startled.

Draco had added two new lines in his elegant handwriting.

It’s six months we’ve been living together, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m ready to take off the masks.