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Fifth time's the charm

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After the second incident - first the Great Lucius Disaster and then the Great Teddy Misunderstandment; Harry is now starting to think he's going to need a few more names for the foreseeable future -, Draco continues to avoid him.

Harry can't blame him, not really. He knows he fucked up. He's not stubborn enough to think he was right and he certainly doesn't pretend Draco has to talk to him. They both need their time - Harry needed it before and Draco needs it now. He's willing to wait.

(And no, he still doesn't exactly understand why. Maybe it's because he feels like this is the right thing to do, maybe it's because this is what his mother would've want, maybe it's because the war is over and they all need to grow up. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with how Harry felt when he was with Draco those first few times. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with the way he notices every single detail when Draco does anything. Of course not.)

Anyway, Draco needs time and Harry is willing to wait.

It turns out, Narcissa Malfoy doesn’t really care.

“It's so good to have you here again so soon, dear,” she smiles like she had nothing to do with why Harry is here again so soon. She's the reason why. She invited him. And Harry is willing to bet she's also the reason why Draco is, once again, playing the piano for them. “Isn't this marvelous, Draco? Of course it is, we're thrilled to have you with us.”

Draco doesn't say anything, he just keeps on playing, but Harry can see the way he rolls his eyes and it's really hard to repress a laugh.

“It's good to be here, Narcissa.”

And it is, good. Harry can't even manage to be angry at Narcissa Malfoy, not for this. Not when his first and only thought is that this is, quite frankly, something that Molly Weasley could've pulled. And it's really fucking hilarious.

So they chat and talk and drink tea and eat fancy looking biscuits - while Draco keeps playing and playing and playing. And the exact second Draco stops playing, Narcissa jumps - as elegantly as she can - up from the sofa.

“Oh, silly me! I forgot I have to check on Mipsy. She's our house elf, you see, and she's supposed to cook dinner but I simply must check on her! Draco, please, be a good host and keep Harry some company,” and just like that, she's gone. 

There are more than a few moments of awkward silence - moments when Harry can't quite muster the courage to look at Draco in his eyes, moments when Draco seems passionately focused on the piano - and in the end, right when Harry is ready to look like a fool by saying anything at all, Draco snorts.

“What she needs to check on, I don't have the slightest idea. Mipsy has cooked every single one of our meals since I was five years old and my mother has no idea how to make a sandwich,” he laughs but there's clearly fondness in his voice. “But sure, she simply must check on her!”

Harry can't help but laugh at the way Draco is mimicking his mother's words - and it's amazing, really, it's amazing how any awkwardness disappeared just like that. Draco crosses the room - and Harry just can't look away. 

“You mother is a force of nature.”

“That she surely is,” Draco hums as he sits right next to Harry. “And she always gets what she wants.”

“And what do you think she wanted, this time?” 

“I'm guessing leaving us alone. She knows we had some sort of... disagreement. And obviously, since you're Saint Potter, she thinks it's my fault.”

Harry finds himself smiling in spite of the nickname - because he can’t find any trace of the old snark in it, there isn't any trace of mocking at all. It feels more and more like a joke between two friends.

 “Don't be ridiculous. It's clear that your mother loves you more than anything in the whole world.” 

“Yes. She really does,” Draco smiles happily and Harry's heart flutters once again. “But she still thinks it’s my fault. She thinks I was too hard on you.”

“Well… don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that your mother has my back, because the opposite would scare me shitless,” Harry pauses when Draco snorts, glad to hear him laugh. “But I don’t think it was your fault. Or that you’re being too hard on me. I honestly fucked up.”

Draco hums accordingly but Harry can definitely see something in his eyes - something that tells him that Draco is going to listen to what he has to say, something that tells him that maybe Draco isn’t as angry as he was before. So, of course, Harry has to try. He wouldn’t be a Gryffindor if he didn’t.

“I shouldn’t have run away like that and I shouldn’t have told you things I didn’t really believe. And more than anything else I shouldn’t have dismissed what you did with your life in the past five years. It was really awful of me.”

Draco hums again, not bothering to look at Harry. “I guess I just don’t understand what made you suddenly act the way you did. I thought that things were going better between us. I thought since we couldn’t be friends maybe we could at least be civil to each other. So I just don’t understand… what did I do wrong?”

“It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Draco looks at him like he’s not convinced at all, so Harry decides this is a good time as any to let out everything he has inside. Well, almost everything.

“I freaked out. I know you're absolutely gonna judge me about that, but it's the truth. I freaked out. I suddenly realized I was spending a whole lot of my time with you and your mother. Mostly I realized I was enjoying that time with you. And then your mother started talking about your father and it was like I realized only that moment that your father was also Lucius Malfoy. And I started thinking about everything he had done in the past, about how many members of my family he had hurt. And I- I began to wonder what would they think about this? Would they hate me because I enjoy spending time with you and your mom?” 

Draco doesn't utter a single word - and doesn't look at him, not one single time. Harry isn't really sure he's doing good but being honest is the best thing he could do - so he keeps talking. 

“I know it's stupid but I can't really ask my parents what would they think about anything. Or my Godfather. And I guess I thought that my only known family wouldn't have taken well the thing. You know, since there's this dumb feud between your family and the Weasleys. And I panicked. And I ran.” 

“You're one weird man, Potter. You didn't freak out in front of the Dark Lord himself but you freaked out because of this?" Harry is fully expecting this to be some sort of a drag, but instead Draco is smiling. "I guess we have more in common than we knew. Every stupid thing I did, I did for my family. The one time you fully freak out, it's because of your family.” 

It takes one look for both of them to start laughing - and it's weird and surreal and amazing at the same time.

“I think we could be more than civil to each other,” Harry offers his hand for Draco to shake, and the irony of the gesture doesn't go missing. “I'd like to be your friend, Malfoy.”

“Took you long enough.”

“Yeah. Took you long enough to stop being a stuck up snob.”

“I beg your pardon? I still am a stuck up snob.”

“Seriously, though, I completely understand if you need more time. I'll still come here to take tea with your mother and we'll tell her that we're okay so she doesn't have to go check on Mipsy.”

“If you can look over everything that happened in the past, I guess I can look over the One Time Harry Potter Freaked Out.”

“Come on, it's not the first time.”

“No, but it's the first time you freaked out because of me.”

 

The second time they see each other, after that feeble reconciliation, Draco Malfoy is riding the already mentioned big, inflatable neon pink flamingo filled with glitter.

And that alone is the weirdest sentence Harry has ever thought of.

But seeing with his own two eyes Draco Malfoy - riding a big, neon pink inflatable flamingo filled with glitter in a huge pool, wearing only a small swimsuit and a pair of floral sunglasses? That is a complete different thing altogether. Weird doesn't even begin to cover what Harry is feeling.

(Aroused, however, has a nice ring to it.)

“Uhm,” he tries to say something, anything, but the only thing that manages to escape his throat is some kind of pathetic, strangled noise. There's no way that those legs are human. No way. The way Malfoy is stretching like a fucking cat is driving Harry completely mad. And he's been there for less than two minutes. Fuck.

“Potter. Did my mother send you?” Draco asks lightly, sipping on his colorful drink - and, seriously? A bright pink drink with a bright pink straw and a paper umbrella? Who does that? It's way easier to focus on the fun part of what he's witnessing - judging by how tight his pants suddenly are, the fun part is harmless. The part where he wants nothing more than fuck Draco on that particular pink flamingo is really, really dangerous.

And it's a damn shame Harry has never been too good with  the avoiding dangerous situations thing

“Sort of. We were having the usual tea and she said she wanted to make sure you hadn’t drowned.”

“Well, as you see I’m perfectly fine.”

“Yes you are. I mean, yes, you're fine. I mean, you're okay. You're not dead. Not yet,” Harry decides to shut his mouth before he can say anything more stupid than what he already said. Why does he always have to look so dumb in front of Draco Malfoy, that he'll never understand. It's been going on since the first year at Hogwarts and it has never stopped.

“... Is that a threat, Potter?” Draco is almost snickering, by now, and Harry has to admit this is a nice alternative from their school day. It doesn't sound like he's making fun of him. It sounds more like banter between friends. And Harry really likes it.

“If I had any doubts about your sexuality-”

“If you had any doubts about my sexuality you haven't paid enough attention in school. Like, at all. My sexuality was the least best kept secret of the whole castle.”

“Trust me, I paid way too much attention to you.”

There's an awkward silence after those words and, as usual, Harry would really fucking love to own a time-turner to go back in time and kick his past-self ass. The fact is, he doesn't have one. And, even if he did, Hermione would probably keep it. So the best he can do is try to survive his mouth’s attempts to make him the dumbest person alive.

“What would you say if I told you I have a very important question for you?”

“I'd say: well, let's hear what the very important question is.”

“Has your father already see you like this? I mean like pool and inflatable giant flamingo and everything else.”

“Well I sure fucking hope so,” Draco laughs - and it's the best sound in the whole world - taking another sip of his drink. The pink flamingo glitters in the sun and the reflection makes Draco's hair shine even more. “I'm not sure he ever got the your son is the worst possible kind of gay memo so I've been trying to convey the message in other ways. Less subtle ways.”

“Oh, you mean like the pink flamingo you're riding?”

“… I mean, he could see me riding worse things. I'd say I'm going easy on him.”

Harry almost chokes on thin air and Draco laughs again. Suddenly Harry realizes exactly why Malfoy's laugh is making him feel so good. It sounds so free it's almost scary. Draco has never sounded free. It's new and exciting and Harry is sure - more than anything in his life - that Draco is feeling like he's feeling. It shows in his eyes.

“But I'll have you know I'm not doing this only to rile up my father. I mean, it's a pretty big reason, don't get me wrong. Lately I've been doing a lot of things to rile him up. The closest thing I'll manage to a revenge, I guess. It's kinda petty but fun, nonetheless.”

“And what are the other reasons?”

“It's fun. I've always wanted a pool, you know? I spend a lot of time in my potions lab and since I'm not a vampire I still enjoy my fair share of sun. And how to better enjoy it than floating in a pool on the gayest thing I could buy?”

“Fair enough," Harry flashes his brightest smile. "Mind if I join you?”

“No, Potter, you can’t," Draco suddenly sounds so serious Harry is afraid he said something he shouldn't have - then he notices Draco's smirk and the glint in his eyes. “This flamingo isn't big enough for the both of us.”

“Well, I imagine you can conjure something equally gay and obnoxious.”

“It'll absolutely be my pleasure,” Draco smiles once again and Harry decides that's the perfect moment to throw himself into the water, making an absolute mess of the pool side, his clothes and, of course, Draco.

Malfoy doesn't utter a single word for a few seconds - but if looks could kill, Harry would've been already dead. When he finally talks, he sounds almost as terrifying as his mother.

“Well, now I just have to kill you. I'll send a note to the Auror department, tell them how sorry I am that I had to orchestrate your demise.”

They're both laughing like kids and there's something, right there in Harry's chest, that speaks of hope and love and future. When he doesn't think about it, he's almost not afraid of it.

 

The third time they see each other, Harry has something to ask. Narcissa assured him everything would be okay but Harry can’t be certain. It’s difficult, more difficult than anything else he has ever done, more difficult than anything he’ll ever have to do.

(Not a single one of the Voldemort related encounter has ever scared him so. Not even Voldemort himself. Nothing compares to the task ahead.)

“I’m in extreme need of your help, Malfoy,” he blurts out as soon as he sees Draco, trying to get everything off his chest as fast as possibile. The sooner he asks, the sooner it’ll all be over.

“Uh, that sounded so good. Say it again. Let me focus so I can relive the memory in a pensieve for the rest of my life.”

Draco is sketching something on a loose piece of paper, leaning on a very comfortable looking couch. He looks like the very picture of relax. He also looks straight out of Harry’s latest dream - and that’s a whole other thing.

“Very funny. I need your help. Please.”

“You need my help with what, exactly? Need to find some sense in the nest you have on your head?”

“Close enough, but I doubt even you would manage to help me with the hair. No, I need help with clothes.”

“No shit, Sherlock,” Draco deadpans.

“Have anyone ever told you that you’re rude as fuck?”

“Honestly? No, I’m mostly only rude towards you.”

“That's very nice to know. Anyway. The Minister… suggested that I wear something other than my Auror uniform for the next big event,” Harry tries his best to ignore the it’s about damn time he hears coming from Draco’s mouth. “And I don’t- I mean, I don’t really have any experience in the fancy clothes department.”

“While I wholeheartedly agree, that's not completely true. The robe you wore during the Yule Ball was lovel- I mean. Nice enough. Pretty decent.”

“I didn’t choose it, though.”

“What? You- oh, well. That explains why it was lovely.”

“Thanks. Again.”

“Never fear, Potter, I’ll help you find some decent clothes. And I won’t even require payment, I’ll have you know. I’m doing this pro bono. You’re my charity case of the month.”

“You’re never going to let this go, are you.”

“Never.”

And that is how Harry Potter find himself shopping in the company of Draco Malfoy - something Rita Skeeter would pay Hagrid’s weight in gold to be able to report. Luckily enough, they both agreed to cast some minor glamours and everything should be okay. At least Harry hopes so.

Apparently Draco is on a roll, because after the whole trip to Diagon Alley, Harry is now forced to shop in twenty five different muggle shops while Draco rebuilds his wardrobe from scratch.

“Are you sure you're okay with this?” Draco at least has the decency to ask - and fuck, Harry is okay with this. Completely okay. One hundred percent okay.

Draco is surprisingly nice the whole time - albeit the occasional snarky comment: he doesn’t berate Harry when it’s clear he has zero knowledge of the fashion lingo, he doesn’t try and force him to wear something Harry would never wear.

 Quite the contrary, really. Draco makes sure everything Harry’s trying is also comfortable and very much something Harry could like. Even when he gives him something he has never wore before, Harry doesn’t feel out of place.

“You could do this as a job, you know,” he whispers almost reverently, watching his own reflection in the mirror. He has never looked so good and he honestly wants to look like this for the rest of his damned life.

“Oh, this would most definitely give my father an aneurism. Draco Lucius Malfoy, heir to the Malfoy fortune: personal shopper.”

“Well, I don’t care what your father thinks, you did an amazing job. I’m glad you accepted me as your monthly charity case.”

Draco doesn’t answer, too busy trying to decide between two ties Harry thinks are absolutely identical, but Harry takes that small smile as a victory.

“Let me buy you lunch,” he blurts out before he can think properly, blushing slightly when Draco looks at him pointedly.

“You don’t have to.”

“No, I know I don’t have to. But I want to.”

“Well, then,” Draco sniffs, trying (and failing) to hide another smile. Harry’s counting them. “I shall warn you my tastes are quite expensive.”

“It’s a good thing I can afford you, then,” he replies quickly, One look at Draco’s slightly wider eyes and he realizes that what he just said sounded an awful lot like flirting.

And what if it is, flirting? Would that be so bad? The voice in his head - the one that usually spends most of the time talking about how handsome Draco is - doesn’t stop suggesting that, and Harry has no idea what to do or what to think.

Having lunch with Draco, alone, is better than he expected.

 

The fourth time they see each other, Harry is drinking with the whole lot of his friends and Draco walks into the Leaky Cauldron with his own clique.

(To be fair, Harry shouldn’t call it a clique anymore. It’s just that they look so much like a clique, it’s difficult to drop the habit. He wouldn’t be surprised to see them sport the same leather jacket with something Slytherin related embedded on their backs.)

They end up sitting at the same table, still divided between two distinct groups. Not that Harry’s paying attention to something else than the way Draco is sipping on his drink.

“So, it turns out Davis’ sister was shocked to hear her brother’s gay,” Pansy Parkinson is whispering really loudly with the voice everybody knows as I’ve got some juice gossip tidbits and I’m going to share them with you wheter you like it or not. “And I was like, damn girl, he was a Slytherin, of course he’s not straight.”

The whole Slytherin part of the table starts snickering and that’s the exact moment Seamus decides to intervene. Loudly.

“You mean to tell me there isn’t a single straight person in the whole Slytherin house? Come on Parkinson, that’s impossible and you know it!”

“No, that’s absolutely true. First Slytherin’s rule: no one is straight.” Zabini replies in a heartbeat, immediately followed by Parkinson. “I was thinking about girls, when I was sorted. How about you guys?”

“Boys,” both Nott and Draco reply at unison, highfiving each other with a grin. 

“Both,” the two Greengrass sisters and Zabini add, less than a heartbeat later.

“Apparently straight people are only to be found in Gryffindor,” Ron mutters, face half buried in his chips.

“Speak for yourself,” Hermione blurts out and every single person turns to look at her. She blushes slightly and glances quickly towards Ron before talking again. “I mean. I love Ron and everything but-”

“The beauty of the female flower doesn’t go wasted on you?”

“You’re partial to the sapphic shores?”

“Your door swings both ways like an old saloon doors?”

“You’re all for equal opportunity in the bedroom?”

“And outside the bedroom,” Hermione replies without even thinking, right before blushing even harder than before. The Slytherin part of the table erupts in screams while Nott proposes to make Hermione an honorary snake.

Harry doesn’t quite know what to think, let alone what to say. He has never even consider the possibility that one of his friends could be queer. Let alone Hermione, who clearly always had a thing for Ron. He has never even consider the possibility that one of his friends could be queer too. And the way Hermione just came out to their whole group of friends without even thinking?

She has always been braver than him, that’s for sure.

“You okay, Weasley?” someone asks and Harry finds himself listening closely for the answer. Is Ron okay? If he’s okay with his girlfriend being bisexual, he would be okay with Harry too, wouldn’t he?

There’s a moment of awkward silence while Ron glances between Hermione and the rest of the table. Then he shrugs.

“Why shouldn’t I be? She loves me. Too late for everybody else, boys and girls. Hah,” and that particular response is rewarded by Hermione’s laugh and an embarrassing amount of kissing.

“So, the whole Slytherin house is gay,” Dean repeats like he’s looking for confirmation. “I have a question but I want assurance I won’t be exed.”

“No deal. Depends on the question.”

“… Did you folks only date each other?”

“For Merlin’s sake, Thomas, we were most definitely not the only gays in school,” Parkinson huffs and rolls her eyes - and to be honest, that was kind of a stupid question, Harry has to admit.

Draco snorts and takes another sips of his drink. “Quite the contrary, in fact.”

“Yes, Draco can confirm this. After all he has slept with pretty much every-”

“Pansy Parkinson I will forcibly shut your mouth if you don’t stop right now.”

“Gay or bisexual guy in school.”

Draco opens his mouth, most likely to curse the girl, but Zabini and Nott exchange a dangerous look and stop him before he can say anything.

“What does she mean, Draco? I thought I was your first and only one!” Zabini gasps, feigning indignation. And he does a good job at it, really. “How could you do this to me?”

I thought I was your one and only!” Nott exclaims, taking Draco’s hand in a dramatic gesture. “Everything we’ve shared, all the placed I’ve fucked you- and it all meant nothing!”

“And you’ve fucked guys of other houses? How could you? Were they Ravenclaws? I bet they were!”

“I fucking hate you both,” Draco deadpans, freeing his hand and basically drowning in his drink. The Slytherins are all laughing - and half of Harry’s side of the table is laughing too.

The voice in Harry’s head, though, is not laughing at all.

 

The fifth time they see each other, Harry falls completely and utterly in love. In retrospective he should’ve known that he had a huge weakness with kids and family and everything like that.

In retrospective he should’ve known that. He really should’ve. It makes sense that family is his greatest weakness - and strength, yes, of course, but this is most definitely not the moment for an Albus Dumbledore pep talk.

It makes sense that seeing the guy he has a small crush on - small, what you feel for him is anything but small, Harry - with a child couldn’t be of any help at all. It makes absolutely perfect sense. The thing screamed danger from every direction.

But, once again, one could say Harry has never been too good with the whole staying away from danger thing. And the thought of missing Draco and Teddy trip to the zoo together was absolutely ridiculous. Harry would’ve crossed the Forbidden Forest thrice to be able to be there.

“Have you ever been to the zoo, Harry?”

“Just once, actually.”

“Only one time? We should come again and again and again!”

“Let’s start with this one trip, okay buddy?”

“What’s your favorite animal, Draco?” Teddy asks, holding his cousin’s hand in one and Harry’s hand in the other.

“I’m contractually obliged to answer snakes but I guess other animals are pretty cool too.”

“Like what, like what?”

“I like sea animals. Like sharks and whales and seals.”

“Seals are cute. Sharks are scary.”

“They’re misunderstood. They’re not scarier than, I don’t know, lions or tigers. And they’re beautiful.”

They go on talking about animals for hours and Harry couldn’t be happier. Everything in this particular day feels like perfection. The ice cream they get for Teddy and for themselves feels like perfection. The homemade sandwiches they eat for lunch while they watch penguins feel like perfection. The way Teddy smiles the whole time feels like perfection.

Everything Draco does and says feels like perfection. The way he talks with Teddy - like he’s one of his peers and not a five years old -, the way it’s clear he can’t say no to anything Teddy asks. The way his eyes light up when they get to see seals swimming underwater feels like perfection. The smile Draco gifts him whenever Harry says something smart or does something nice feels like perfection.

I want this, he thinks suddenly, and it’s in that precise moment Harry knows he’s completely and utterly fucked.