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As Pretty as You Are

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It wasn’t Draco Malfoy’s way to keep a thought to himself or to be quietly unassuming. And that wasn’t really what was behind his reticence. Not really. And it wasn’t quite penance either. But ‘it’s my birthday Friday’ was a little too close to ‘do you love me?’ and that just wasn’t the sort of question he could bring himself to ask. Directly or indirectly. Draco suspected that it’s impossible to want to know and not be terrified of the answer. He’d certainly been prized before. He was not sure he’d ever been loved, and he didn’t think he was ready to find out.

Draco went to bed Thursday evening trying to tell himself that really twenty-one and twenty are no different. Nothing to take notice of, really. Birthdays were for kids anyway. As nonchalantly as he tried to think, he couldn’t quite dispel the squirming in his tummy. It was a bit like Christmas Eve, if Christmas Eve were dreadful and made you sweat into your pillow til it was too damp to sleep on. 

Harry always seemed to have a sense for that sort of thing. Draco reckoned Harry assumed he was having uncomfortable thoughts about Malfoy Manor or the war and felt a twinge of guilt for the sympathy he was getting under false pretenses. But Harry curled up silently to Draco’s back, brushing gentle, bristly kisses on the nape of his neck, and the warm, undemanding bulk of him eked enough calm out of Draco to send him eventually to sleep. 

The morning of his twenty first birthday, Draco woke to morning sunshine falling across his pillow and a half-empty bed. He sat up, about to call out for Harry, but at the bedroom door, he heard a sort of scrabbling mingled with muttered curses, then a quiet, “Alohomora!” 

The door clicked softly and swung open, and Harry walked into their bedroom, laden with a tray covered over in what looked like an assortment of festive items. A delectable fragrance wafted in with him, and Draco’s mouth began to water. 

Harry grinned at him, “Morning.”

Draco smoothed his bedhead, “Good morning. What’s that?”

“This?” Harry came forward, kicking off his slippers and slid back into his spot next to Draco on their bed. “It’s breakfast. Well.” He pointed to an egg cup with a sprig of a little pink flower in it, “That’s honeysuckle, which I don’t think is edible, so don’t eat it because I’m rubbish with antidotes. That’s coffee, which I reckon you’re familiar with because I’m pretty sure you drink about twice as much of it as is good for you. Those are strawberries. You eat them. Well they’re meant to be eaten. Not sure you’ve heard of fruit? Since as mentioned, you seem to live on coffee.”

“World’s most hilarious boyfriend. I see it in your future. Where will you display your cup?”

 Harry grinned broader and paused his speech to kiss Draco’s cheek. “And that,” he indicated a lovely little poofy thing rising out of a white ceramic dish. “That’s my favourite bit. It’s a raspberry rose souffle. It’s nearly as pretty as you are, isn’t it? Not sure how you’re going to work up the nerve to eat it, but you’d better because I’ve been practising my souffle technique with Kreacher for a month now. It was the gayest cake I could think of,” he added. 

“It looks it,” Draco took the spoon from the tray and scooped a tiny bit from the souffle. It was exquisite, “Oh my god. It’s fantastic.” He took a much bigger bite. “How did you ever learn to make this? It’s like. It’s more magic than magic.” 

Harry beamed, “Well, for your birthday I wanted you to have something really special. Took every bit of willpower not to eat it myself, to be honest. You’re lucky I love you.” 

Draco swallowed hard, “Yeah. Suppose I am.” And he fed Harry the next bite of souffle.