Monday found Harry at the Ministry, surrounded by memos and shuffling files. Over a stack of papers, Harry snuck glances at Hermione, who was calmly writing a letter with one hand while twirling her wand with the other, mixing milk into her tea. The silence in the room grew more and more oppressive, until finally Harry couldn’t take it anymore.
“Alright, fine. Tell me what an idiot I am.”
“Do I need to tell you that?”
Finally Hermione put her work and her wand aside, and fixed her firm, yet understanding eyes on Harry. “From what you told me, it was a failure of communication.”
“I didn’t tell you everything,” he mumbled, thinking back to the way Draco’s soft hands had felt on his —
“Yes, and I’m grateful you spared me the details. I’m not Parvati, I don’t need a rundown of you and Malfoy’s sexual exploits.”
“I think I was the one exploited,” Harry groused. Hermione tsked at him.
“You’re an adult.”
Harry pointed at her. “You’re the one who sent me over there!”
“And again, you’re an adult. Now how did the Patronus session go? You know, the thing you were supposed to be telling me about, rather than Malfoy snogging you?”
Harry slumped back in the chair; it was comfortable, as was all Hermione’s office furniture. That was a calculation on her part — the more at ease various Ministers felt when visiting her, the easier it was to rope them into her schemes. “It went fine. He learned how to produce a corporeal Patronus. He’ll be able to go out in the field without any problems.”
“That’s wonderful to hear. Who would have ever thought,” she laughed lightly, “Draco Malfoy trying to make life a little easier for werewolves?”
“I’d have thought,’ Harry said quietly. “He’s changed so much.”
After a long, thoughtful sip of her tea, Hermione spoke. “You’re really sweet on him, aren’t you.” Harry shrugged. Wasn’t it obvious? “Have you tried to talk to him? Really talk to him? Not just respond to situations as they arise. You need to let him know how you feel.”
“What good will that do? He’s made his decision, I don’t want to push him.”
“I’m not convinced either of you have given the other enough information to make decisions.” Harry cringed inwardly; he was indeed keeping a huge secret from Draco, although Hermione didn’t know that. “At the very least, if you want to remain friends, you have to let him know the way he’s acting has hurt you. Not to goad him into a relationship, but because friends care about each other's feelings just as much as boyfriends do.”
“You’re right. As usual.”
“Now get out of here, I have a meeting. And Harry?” He turned back to her as he opened the door. “Good luck.”
The knob on the desk drawer glittered, polish reflecting as the sunlight hit it. Harry lay on the bed, his head hanging off, and contemplated the drawer upside-down.
He’d thrown himself across the bed like a spare blanket as soon as he arrived home from the Ministry and hadn’t moved in nearly an hour. The afternoon progressed; the sun moved across the sky, and a gentle breeze came through the window. As the curtains fluttered, the waning light hit the polished gold of the desk like a wink, taunting him. He knew exactly what was inside. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it since the Patronus lesson.
The wand Draco used now — the wand Harry had been so up close and personal with last week — was cherry. His original wand, though, that was hawthorn, and it rested in that desk drawer with the golden handle.
Parvati had said he could use something of Draco’s to test the soulmate threads in the Love room. That was before their daring rescue of Draco from the Room of Requirement, before he’d emerged a little bit broken and a little bit softer.
Before Harry had fallen in love with him.
It was so backwards, wasn’t it, falling in love with someone after you thought they might be your soulmate. But how was Harry to know that Draco would turn out to be so charmingly brilliant? So much quieter than he’d expected an adult Draco Malfoy to be, yet still intense? So infuriatingly attractive?
So careless with Harry’s heart?
Maybe that was unfair. Draco had said he didn’t want a relationship. And he wasn’t wrong, people could have casual sex. But he’d have to be stupid not to realise that Harry was waiting around for him, and Draco was emphatically not stupid. Not very emotionally intelligent, perhaps. Ugh. ‘Emotionally intelligent.’ Harry was beginning to sound like Hermione, breaking down love and relationships into logical bits. He needed a vacation.
He needed to give Draco back his wand.
Letting it sit there in his desk drawer was only prolonging the inevitable. What did he think he was going to do, test it now and risk knowing that Draco was indeed his soulmate but still didn’t want him? If Parvati even let him; she’d been pretty tight-lipped around him lately.
Draco did seemingly want him, at least in some way. Was Harry an idiot to turn down what Draco was offering? Friends with benefits? What if that was the only way he could have him?
No. Harry dismissed that notion almost immediately. He wasn’t one for casual relationships like that, and his heart was already involved. He still thought it might be possible to be friends with Draco, but he had to let him know that physical things were off the table, that it was only dangling a carrot in front of Harry.
He wasn’t going to bring up the threads; that could be seen as trying to manipulate Draco into being with him. If they couldn’t get together on their own, then the threads were pointless anyway, in Harry’s opinion. He needed to give Draco back his wand and tell him how he felt, in that order.
Easier said than done.
And so here he was, at the door of Draco’s flat once again. He shuffled his feet on the bare tile; Draco didn’t have a welcome mat. Should he knock again? He should have owled, this was stupid. Just as Harry was about to give up and turn around, he heard the lock disengage, and then Draco was standing in front of him with a puzzled expression.
“…Harry? What are you doing here?”
“Hi!” Harry said, a touch too loudly. “I was thinking, after the last time I was here…” Draco’s face shuttered, and Harry rushed on. “I mean, your wand, when you were casting, it made me think. Do you want your old one back?”
“My old one?” Draco paled. “You don’t mean —” He peered out into the hallway with a furtive glance, then beckoned Harry inside. He stopped in the kitchen. “I didn’t think you would…” He shook his head, then gestured at the hob. “Can I offer you tea?”
Hospitality was a good sign, so Harry said yes, leaning against the counter as he watched Draco prepare the kettle. Neither of them spoke up during the process; Harry wondered if Draco was also thinking of those intimate moments they had shared last time they saw each other. It had been so sudden, so out of character. Maybe Harry didn’t know him as well as he thought. Draco glanced up as he poured the tea and caught Harry staring. “T-two sugars, right?” he asked, then shook his head, going for the sugar bowl without waiting for an answer. He knew exactly how Harry preferred it.
They drank their tea quietly while standing in the kitchen, until Draco finally broke the silence. “So you came here for…”
“Right.” Harry reached in his pocket and drew out the hawthorn wand. Only now did it really hit him that he’d never again have the opportunity to sit up late at night and think about its presence in his house, or open the drawer for a peek.
“I didn’t think you’d keep it.”
“I know, I should have given it to your mother, but honestly, I didn’t think she’d welcome a visit.”
Draco shook his head. “No, I mean… because of what you did with it. I thought you’d have gotten rid of it. Snapped it, or — or put it in a museum, or…” And then Harry understood. It wasn’t who Harry had gotten the wand from, but what he had done with it.
“I suppose it’s an important part of history now. But I didn’t think it was anyone else’s business. Anyway, it wasn’t mine to get rid of, was it?”
Before he could change his mind, he thrust it out at Draco, who stepped back, a bit alarmed.
“I didn’t kill him with it, you know,” Harry assured Draco. “I’ve never cast that curse. It was all about protection, and our connection, and his own spell reflected back on him. I promise, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Hesitantly, Draco reached out, hand open. For a moment they both stood unmoving, before Draco sighed and took the wand from Harry.
“You’re supposed to point the handle toward someone when turning over a wand, you know. Not the casting end.”
“Oh, er, sorry.”
Draco looked at Harry with what could only be described as fondness, and then down at the wand. “I didn’t think I’d ever see this again,” he admitted.
“I know you have a new one, but it’s still yours. It worked well for me…” Harry trailed off, remembering how the hawthorn wand had responded after he had disarmed Draco, how he was a bit surprised at that fact, given their antagonism. Somehow that all seemed a world away now, standing in the kitchen of Draco’s flat, tea cooling in his mug.
“You kept it with you,” Draco said quietly to himself, stroking a finger over the wand just as Harry had once done. His voice sounded strange, and Harry couldn’t place whether he was upset or pleased.
“Like I said, it wasn’t mine to get rid of.”
“You thought about me?”
Truthfully, Draco hadn’t really been in Harry’s thoughts much right after the war. His death was a sad addendum, a what-might-have-been, on top of all the other tragedies. Harry didn’t want to say that, though, so he only nodded.
Draco made a soft noise in his throat, and then he was letting the wand drop from his hands next to the sink with a clatter and crowding into Harry’s space, pushing him back against the counter. Harry looked back in shock, face inches from Draco’s wide, desperate eyes. “You kept it with you,” he said again, and leaned in for a kiss.
As before, Harry’s first instinct was to give in. But they’d been here, and it didn’t end well, so he put a hand up to stop Draco. “Wait. We need to talk.” Draco backed up, eyes downcast.
“I’ve bollocksed things up, haven’t I. You don’t want me anymore.”
“Not like that. Not just for… fun.”
“You think that was fun?” Draco laughed hollowly. “I wanted to be with you so much. I just couldn’t stand the thought of you only wanting me recently.”
“Recently?” Harry recalled quite a while of wanting Draco.
“And then when you gave me space, didn’t try to push, I thought — wait, maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe things like that don’t matter to him.” Draco looked at Harry hopefully. “Maybe it was real.”
“Why wouldn’t it be real?” Harry asked, insulted. “I mean — is it real for you?”
“Yes!” Draco nodded vigorously. “At first, I tried so hard not to think of it. I wasn’t going to — to try and trap you or something. And then we… well, it was nice to be courted, I suppose. I figured if you were the one pursuing, I couldn’t be a terrible person, right? I wasn’t manipulating you.” He began pacing, as much as one could in the small kitchen. “But then I found out you did know, and I assumed that’s why you pursued me. I felt… I felt worthless, like you could only want me if it’s destiny. But it’s not, is it? Not if you’ve been thinking of me all this time?”
It dawned on him what Draco was talking about. Destiny. “Draco, do you mean… do you mean the threads?”
“Of course! I —” Draco stopped his rant and looked at Harry warily. “Wait, what did you think I meant?”
“I'm not sure, but not that. I thought — maybe how you’ve changed, or…” He looked away, and caught sight of Draco’s wand on the counter. “Why did it matter to you that I kept your wand? Did you think I tested it?”
“Tested? No, I only meant that…” He was becoming more unsure of himself by the minute, if the way he was wringing his hands and biting his lip was anything to go by. “If you liked me before Parvati told you.”
“Draco,” Harry said tentatively. “I’ve known about the threads since before we pulled you out of the Room of Requirement.”
It shouldn’t have been possible for Draco to go any paler, but he did. “But I thought… when Parvati mentioned her research… that you had only just found out.”
“She’s not a matchmaker, she’s a meddling arse,” Harry grumbled under his breath. Parvati must have hinted at her work in the Love room on the threads when she’d spoken to Draco at the Ministry. “I’ve suspected about the threads since I heard of them and remembered how you acted in the Forest.”
Reeling, Draco braced himself against the table. “Is that why you saved me from the Room?”
“How can you ask that?”
“I don’t know what to think, I only…” Draco shook himself. “Tell me exactly what happened. I think you owe me that much, Harry.”
“What, you want some exposition?” The joke fell flat. “Alright. You said something about our threads being cut too soon, when you tried to shake my hand. That stuck with me somehow, and I mentioned it to… to Dumbledore. When I saw him.” No matter how much time passed, this part of Harry’s history would always be raw and hurting. “He seemed sad. When I heard the children’s story later on, the one about the threads, it came back to me. I asked Parvati, and she told me working in the Love room had proved they were real, but a secret. For many reasons.”
“I think now I understand why.” Draco pulled out a chair but didn’t sit down, simply leaned over the back..
Harry joined him at the table, but didn’t take a seat quite yet. “Talking about you meant talking about the Room, which gave her the idea to fix it. It wasn’t because I thought you were my soulmate or something. I promise.”
“And then… you just never told me something so monumental? As we wrote to each other, became friends, became something more, it never occurred to you to say “by the way, I know all about those pretty glowing threads that tie our hearts together.”
“That’s a very romantic way of putting it.”
“You know what I mean.” Draco was looking anywhere but at Harry.
“You didn’t say anything either,” Harry pointed out. “And I think it was for the same reason — you don’t want them to matter, I don’t either.”
“It’s hard to forget something like that, though, once you know it.”
“I did my best. And remember, I don’t know for sure. All I know is that my soulmate was dead, or something like it. But I don’t know if it’s you, and frankly, I don't care.”
Draco scoffed. “How could you not care? It's only your destiny.”
“Fuck destiny!” Harry cried out, startling Draco into jumping back a few inches. “I was a pawn of destiny for years! I didn’t want that to decide who I fell in love with!” He smacked the table with an open palm, then pointed at Draco. “And then you had to come along, all newly repentant and sweet and charming and bloody attractive and — and — argh!” He threw his hands up and sank down in a chair in a huff.
“You didn’t want to want me. I understand, we were definitely at odds in the past.”
“No,” Harry assured him. “I didn’t want to have to want you. But even with all that, even fighting it, I fell for you. And you fell for me. Shouldn’t that tell us something?”
“That we’re idiots?”
“That we’ve made our own destiny.” Harry put his hands out, and motioned for Draco to come over. He did, slowly, ending up between Harry’s legs, looking down at him. Maybe Harry's friends were meddling, but they were also right about one thing. Harry had to come clean about what he really felt for Draco, with no room for misinterpretation. Once again, he had to be brave.
“Draco. I like you. I mean, I really really fancy you. I think I’m falling in love with you. And I have no idea if you are really my soulmate or not, but that doesn’t matter a whit. What does matter is that we have fun together, and you are amazing at snogging, and I’d like to take you out to dinner this week.”
Draco hesitated, then raised his hands to Harry’s shoulders, leaning in. “Are you sure you aren't saying that just because we're meant to be together?”
“I already told you. We don't know that. And I don't care.”
“I told you what I saw.”
“Well, seeing is believing.” Harry reached up and took Draco's hands from his shoulders into his own. “Do you know what I saw? I saw you walking alongside me. And then I saw you tumble out of that room, with a fresh start. And then I saw you find your place in the world, trying to make it better, to be a better person.”
“All right, all right” Draco groused. “You don't have to make me sound like some saint.”
“Oh, I wouldn't fancy you if you were a saint,” Harry laughed. “You're much more enjoyable this way, sometimes prickly and sometimes sweet.”
Draco tried to hide a smile but wasn't entirely successful. “What did you mean by testing it?” he asked at last.
“Oh, right. Parvati told me about it. It's something they do down in the Love room, if you have the person you think is your soulmate with you, they can cast a spell to reveal the threads. If it's done on yourself, the thread simply points in the direction they are. If they're dead, the thread is torn.”
“And the wand?”
“If you have something of theirs, something that was very close to them and imbued with their magical signature, you can use that as well.”
“All that time, and you never tried it?” Draco raised a hand to Harry's head to brush some of his unruly hair aside. “You really didn't care if we were meant to be together,” he said, wonder in his voice. He leaned forward, but didn't go in for a kiss; instead he rested his forehead against Harry's and closed his eyes.
Harry enjoyed the moment of closeness for a moment before saying, “Since I didn't test it, if I didn't want it to be true, I could've just pretended it wasn't and gone about my business. Doesn't that say something, that I fell for you anyways?”
“I'm not sure,” Draco murmured. “I've never had the luxury of pretending. I've wanted you for as long as I can remember.”
Shocked, Harry pulled back. “Even before the forest?”
“I was rather deep in denial, and distracted by my frankly awful life at the time. But yes. At least in some fashion. I hated you, I wanted you, I hoped for you to be victorious.”
“Right.” Harry recalled Draco’s surprising support during their ghostly encounter. “Would you… would you have ever said anything if you hadn’t seen the threads back then?”
“I can’t imagine I would have, no. Even if I’d admitted my feelings to myself.”
Harry grinned. “I suppose it’s good I made the first move, then.”
“You?” A disbelieving laugh bubbled out of Draco’s lips. “I’m the one who kissed you first.”
“But I was giving signals!”
“Please. You’re as indecipherable as a broken scrying mirror.”
Parvati had told him as much as well. “Sorry about that.” He reached up to trace Draco’s bottom lip, still not wanting to kiss just yet, but wanting the contact. “How can I assure you of my interest now?”
Draco kissed his fingers lightly. “The talking was a good start. We should have done that much earlier.” He turned back toward the hob and put the kettle on again. “If we’re going to have a long discussion, more tea is in order.”
“Is that what we’re doing?”
“If we want to make a go of this, then yes.” Water boiling, Draco gathered their cups and placed a fresh bag in each.
Much later that night, Harry looked down at Draco, who was curled up in his arms under a blanket. They’d spoken for hours, and Harry was emotionally exhausted, but hopeful about their future.
“Do you want me to go?” he whispered to Draco, who shook his head.
“You’re warm,” he mumbled sleepily.
“Yeah, but if we sleep on the sofa, we’ll be sore in the morning.”
“Bed’s nice.” Draco pulled away, yawning. “Keep your hands to yourself, though. I know I’m tempting but I just want to sleep.”
“Who’s the one who jumped me during a lesson?” Harry snickered. He felt comfortable joking about it; they’d covered Draco’s reasons (desire, frustration, a sense of impulsiveness he’d been repressing since coming back to life) during their long talk. He followed Draco to the bedroom and snuggled under the covers, which were much softer than the blanket.
Harry was nearly asleep when Draco spoke again. “You said you don’t really know how it works.”
“The Stone. I wasn’t even dead. What if it was interfering? What if the threads aren’t even real?”
Harry turned over to face Draco. “I thought we decided the threads didn’t matter in the end.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” Draco tucked his head under Harry’s chin. “It’s just hard to try and forget them, when I’ve thought about it every day for so long.”
Deep down, Harry knew Draco was right. They’d never be able to forget the possibility — probability, now Harry was convinced — that they were in fact soulmates. “We don’t have to… forget them. Just choose not to let it define us.”
“Right. Like we’ve decided.”
“Right.” Harry breathed in the soft scent of Draco’s hair. “And anyway, the only way to know for sure is to go to the Love room.”
Draco didn’t respond for so long that Harry thought he had fallen asleep. “Let’s not,” he said at last. And then, a moment later: “Maybe someday.”
“Maybe.” Harry kissed the top of his head. “Goodnight, Draco.”
As Harry surrendered to sleep, he decided it didn’t matter if he ever saw the threads. If Draco wanted to, he’d oblige — he was curious, he couldn’t deny that. But he didn’t have to know. They would forge on and form a relationship on their own terms, and the threads couldn’t make them happy — only they could make themselves happy. A strong enough bond would last even a negative response from the threads.
Draco had walked with Harry in the darkness, after all, and Harry had pulled him from the flames. They didn’t need destiny. They had each other.