Harry scowled at Malfoy’s door, but knocking again and again had produced no response. Anger mixed with worry mixed with bitterness. Malfoy was avoiding him—did he suddenly feel guilty about what he was doing to Harry?
Harry attempted to get into Malfoy’s house, and was surprised to find that the wards let him in. But it was empty.
Something prickled at the back of Harry’s neck. With haste, he apparated to Malfoy’s shop, but that was empty too. The street was quiet, but there was a new, horrible stench. Harry tracked it down to a fallen bag that he had seen hung up near the door at Malfoy’s house.
At eye level on the wall just above the bag was dried blood.
“No,” Harry breathed out. “Fuck. Fuck.” The shopkeepers—they would know. Harry barged into the shop right by where Malfoy’s things laid—Piquant Preserves.
“Hi!” Harry said to the shopkeeper. “Did you see Malfoy?”
The shopkeeper scoffed, her nose raising in the air. “That man dared to duel in front of my shop! I can’t believe the Ministry allowed him to open his shop on my street. The Aurors have already dealt with him, don’t you worry, Mr. Potter.”
“Actually,” Harry said, “Malfoy’s my friend, so mind what you say about him.”
The witch’s eyes widened, and Harry strode out of the shop.
Dealt with him—With a dark scowl, Harry made his way directly to the Ministry cells.
The two guards at the foyer of the Ministry Cells both stood up when Harry arrived.
“Mr. Potter, how may we help you?” Ashe asked, flicking his hair back.
“I’m looking for Draco Malfoy.”
“Oh, yes, he’s just down—”
The other guard, Loriss, jabbed Ashe’s side. “You’re not an Auror, Mr. Potter. Silverthorne warned me that you might attempt contact with Malfoy, and suggested that you visit the Healers.”
Harry strode right up to the front desk. “And has Malfoy seen a Healer?”
“The Ministry Healers are busy,” Ashe said.
“And if he dies in Ministry custody?”
“He won’t,” Loriss said. “Living with Voldemort didn’t kill him.”
Harry pulled a face, berating himself for wasting time. He used his own magic to push aside the barred doors to the Ministry cells. There were more people locked up than he expected. How many of them have been wrongly detained? Harry grimaced, but kept moving. None of them needed immediate medical attention as far as he could tell—he’ll deal with that later.
Malfoy was right at the end, where the cells were darkest and grimiest. He was awake, sitting up, and looking worse for wear. Dried blood tracked down his forehead. Malfoy turned to him, and his lips parted. “Potter?”
Harry released his breath. “Malfoy.”
“You’ve come at a bad time,” Malfoy said. “I’ll likely be out of Auror custody in a few days.”
Inexplicable anger rose in Harry. “What the fuck is with your attitude, Malfoy?” Harry immediately grimaced. It wasn’t Malfoy’s fault. “Tell me what happened.”
“I was headed to my shop when someone attacked me,” Malfoy said evenly. “I’ve already told this to the Aurors, and have agreed to Veritaserum and the extraction of my memory. They’ll release me eventually.”
“...This has happened before.”
“Again, I’m surprised you didn’t know.”
But it wasn’t in any of the Auror reports in Malfoy’s file. “I’m bringing you out right now,” Harry decided.
Malfoy stood up with a grimace, and went to the bars. “Potter,” he said. “Leave it. You’ll only make it worse.”
Harry shook his head. “You need to see a Healer. I won’t leave you here.”
“I don’t need a healer, it’s a minor wound. My pendant absorbed most of the attack.”
Harry had to take a steadying breath lest he explode in anger. “Malfoy,” he said, slow and steady. He reached a hand through the bars. “Do you trust me?”
Malfoy’s eyelids dropped, and Harry could feel the sense of irony. Slowly, Malfoy took Harry’s hand.
Breaking Malfoy out of the cell was a breeze. Harry himself dealt with Malfoy’s head wound. And then, Harry led them right up to the Minister’s Office.
Hermione was rushing between rooms, looking determined and frazzled as usual. She immediately spotted him.
“Harry, what are you doing here?” she asked with a pointed look to Malfoy. “You’re not doing overtime, are you?”
“I’m here on some urgent problems in the DMLE. I just bailed Malfoy out from the cells—even though someone else attacked him. Fuck knows who else down isn’t meant to be!”
Hermione’s eyes darkened. “It’s been a while since their last audit,” she mused. “We’ll talk to Kingsley and Gawain and get this sorted, then,” she said. Her eyes slid back to Malfoy.
“I’m not leaving Malfoy,” Harry said.
Hermione gave an exasperated sigh. “Fine. You and Malfoy can attend the first part, and speak your evidence. I’ll deal with the rest.”
Malfoy was quiet as Harry accompanied him back to his house. Malfoy headed straight for his workshop, shedding his robes carelessly onto the sofa as he went.
“Malfoy,” Harry said, trailing after him. “I saw that your bag—with potions ingredients?—was on the ground.”
Malfoy glanced at him. HIs shoulders slumped. “Do me a favour, and vanish it. I’ll need to buy them anew.”
So Harry did, and he took the initiative to grab some takeaway for dinner too. In the time waiting for the food, however, Harry was left alone with his thoughts.
Hermione and Kingsley, and grudgingly Robards, were dealing with the DMLE. Robards had admitted that, yes, they had introduced a new initiative to “nip dark activity in the bud”. But Harry could tell from Hermione’s face that that wasn’t what she had in mind. Harry and Malfoy had left after that.
Inevitably, Harry remembered the sweet-dreams bracelet.
Despite Malfoy’s calm facade, Harry could see the slight difference in his expression, the slight curve of his back from a perfect posture as he worked.
Harry tried to focus on his own research. He had been so excited about doing something—making a modified Patronus charm that was easier to cast?—but he couldn’t drudge up the motivation.
Malfoy didn’t look up.
“Malfoy,” Harry said more loudly. “Join me for an early dinner?”
Malfoy startled. He stood up slowly, half leaning against the table. “Oh,” he said, gripping the fabric over his stomach. “I didn’t have lunch.”
Harry sucked in a breath at the thought of missing a meal. “That’s not good. Come on, the takeaway’s under a Stasis.”
There was curry, rice, naan, roti, and raita—for Malfoy. They ate at the dining table, and Harry was too concerned with making sure Malfoy ate to coax him into conversation.
“More?” Harry offered, when Malfoy finished his plate.
Malfoy shook his head. “Potter. What do you know of...deflecting the Killing Curse?”
Harry froze. “Why?”
Malfoy’s eyes were light, steel grey. “I can charm shields. But what good is it, if it won’t stop you from getting killed with the Killing Curse itself?”
Harry swallowed. “No one’s out to murder you.”
Malfoy’s lips quirked up, but his eyes remained serious. “You’re right,” he said, looking away. He pushed up from the table. “I’m being overdramatic.”
“My mum,” Harry said.
Malfoy turned back.
“My mum deflected the Killing Curse for me the first time. According to Dumbledore, it was love. And sacrifice.”
Malfoy’s lips thinned. “The second time?”
Harry paused. It wasn’t common knowledge, for a reason.
But Harry had to trust Malfoy back. Heavily, Harry said, “Voldemort killed the piece of his soul in my forehead instead of me.”
Malfoy’s eyes were hooded. “In both cases, a soul died. Your mother. The Dark Lord.”
Harry smiled sadly. “Yeah. But a sufficiently thick physical object would block it too. They don’t go through walls. Otherwise, really, really good aim to hit the spell head-on with a stunner also works.”
Malfoy nodded slowly. “Thank you, Potter.”
Harry shifted uncomfortably in Malfoy’s gaze. He quickly stood up too. “I—I think I’ll go home now,” Harry said. “Tiring day.”
Malfoy nodded. “I’ll see you later, then.”
Harry gave a short nod. “Have a good night, okay, Malfoy? Get some proper sleep, and a proper breakfast tomorrow.”
At that, Malfoy’s eyes crinkled a little. “Yes, Potter,” he said dryly, the corner of his lips curving up.
Harry smiled back, stomach churning, and wondered what was wrong with him. Because if he trusted Malfoy, if there was no love charm on the bracelet, then...that meant all of Harry’s feelings were his own.
Draco wasn’t going to use sacrificial magic. He wasn’t going to use his soul or anyone else’s.
But what if love had played a part?
Draco scrapped his original plans and took out his well-worn copy of Ancient Runes Made Easy.
Invoking love from the caster in magic was uncommon and highly specialised. However, it sounded quite similar to a Patronus charm. Instead of invoking happy memories to ward off Dementors, Draco needed to invoke up affection, tenderness, love, to form a shield capable of blocking Dark curses.
By the power of my love, let me protect you, or með veldi minnar ástar láttu mik vernda þik.
He jotted down the runes from memory, and referenced back with the textbook.
It was in West Norse; ást for love, vernd for protection.
The runes were roughly contemporary, using diacritics, and not of the form that would have been used by the Ancient Norse. But, if he had wanted something technically consistent, he would have used the block scripts of modern Kanji or Hanzi, instead of Ancient Runes, which was a mix of time periods and locations.
Its looseness was what Draco wanted. Because the emotion of love could not be truly conveyed by spell words, and the runes allowed Draco to focus internally.
Draco engraved the runes on what would be the reverse side of the largest petals. On the smaller piece, he placed his new auto-activated cushioned Protego, and on the tiniest, simple spells for healing, safety, and warding.
After the engraving was done, Draco leaned the metal pieces with a soft brush, before moving everything to the heat-proof basin. He used tweezers to place tiny amounts of low-melting-point filler metal at the center of the largest piece, and placed the next one on top, aligned just so. Using a gentler incendio, the two pieces were brazed together, repeated with the third piece, and the inner stamen and pistils of the flower.
Draco now had to enchant it.
The little steel stargazer lily was deceptively delicate in the palm of his hand. He had to admit it—he was making it for Potter. He needed to say the words, infuse his magic, and do so with intent.
Draco’s chest ached as he thought of Potter. That bright flash in Potter’s eye when he came down to Draco’s cell. The firm voice as Potter spoke to the Minister for Magic, in defence of Draco. The nibble on Potter’s lips as he focused on the defense books. The curve of his lips, the crinkle of his eyes when he talked to Draco. That bright sound of his chuckle and his laughter that was becoming ever more frequent.
Draco’s eyes closed as he brought forth the feeling filling his chest.
By the power of my love, let me protect you.
The lily warmed in his hand, humming with infused magic. He knew, deep in his soul, that if he tested it, it would work. Perhaps not against the Killing Curse, but against anything else...
There was a lump stuck in his throat, and his eyes prickled.
Draco sucked in a breath, and swallowed. He went through the motions of tempering the steel lily, whisking away billowing steam with an Evanesco, and left it to soak in a potion that would impart extra durability and a resistance to dust and scratches.
His head felt like it was floating. He hadn’t realised he could fall in love like this. He tried, thinking about it—could he touch Potter like that?
The thought didn’t repulse him, but he didn’t feel that burning desire that he had seen on other people.
He sighed, and berated himself. It didn’t matter, anyway. He could have as many tender feelings towards Potter as he wanted, but Potter would not return them, even if he wasn’t straight.
Auror Chang watched with mild interest as Draco pulled the history of the cast spells from his dragon pendant. While he held it in place, hovering above the desk between them, Chang nudged her wand in and extracted out the cling of the stunner. With ease, Chang nudged the slip of magic into a round glass sphere.
They were in her office in the DMLE: Potter had picked her to take Draco’s case.
“That will be enough to track down your attacker, Malfoy,” she said.
Draco nodded shortly, and let the magic of the pendant flow back. Assessing Chang’s pursed lips, Draco said, “You know who it is.”
Chang hummed. “I believe so. He’s been suspected of being part of a recent vigilante group, but we haven’t been able to pin him down. With your help, we will.”
Draco stilled. “Vigilante...against ex-Slytherins?”
Chang shot him a look. “What of it?”
Draco thought back to Pansy’s old pendant. “I might have yet more evidence back at my house. And another witness.”
Chang’s lips quirked. “Then by all means. Now, Malfoy, about your past reports of attacks. Would you happen to have any evidence from the past few years?”
“Mostly. Auror Chang. I’m sure Potter didn’t expect you to go through my file. If you picked any other file—”
Chang gave him a steady look. “You’re friends with Luna, Malfoy. I respect her, and hence her friends.”
Draco relaxed at that motive, which he understood.
“And these pendants are quite nifty,” she added. “Thought of making them for the DMLE?”
“I could make one for you,” Draco countered. “Since you’re friends with Luna.”
Chang gave a short laugh.
Pansy took some convincing. “Just because you’re Luna’s friend doesn’t mean I am,” she pointed out. She swiped Draco’s toast and eggs.
“But she has a delightful undercut,” Draco said casually.
“No,” Pansy said. “Really?”
“Would I lie?”
“I find it hard to believe anyone queer would willingly be an Auror,” she retorted.
Draco said nothing, instead making more toast and eggs.
“...Did you say today?” Pansy said.
“She’s actively working on the case. If you just go straight to the Auror department, she’ll meet you. You can take some of my old pendants with you.”
Pansy rolled her eyes. “Right. So, glorified owl.”
And if Pansy wasn’t refusing, she was as good as going. Draco summoned the box of old pendants he had prepared the night before, and went back to his breakfast.
After Pansy left, Draco headed to his shop. He was prepared for the crowd outside his shop—heavy Notice-Me-Nots cloaked him, and he managed to make his way to the front door unnoticed before it was impossible to miss him.
He turned his head away from the bright camera flashes and went inside, flipping the sign to open.
The reporters rushed in, throwing him questions about his past, his present, his political alliance with Potter, and speculations of the attack. Draco gave them bland smiles and told them that he was working, and that he’d only take appointments that had been accepted by both Pansy Parkinson and Luna Lovegood.
The majority of the reports slinked away after that, giving way to the curious and suspicious mages. A dozen of them were honest enough to actually buy something: typically the little pieces, like earrings and necklaces, charmed with calmness, or focus, or energy, rather than the defensive pendants.
There were even some who asked about commissions—but Draco didn’t know them, and he didn’t feel up to it, so he had to decline, and say he wasn’t taking commissions, but perhaps if they came back the next week? It would weed out the less serious ones, at least.
Draco ended up overshooting his closing time: in part due to the people who were actually in his shop, and in part in wait. But Potter never came, and Potter wasn’t in Draco’s house either when he returned home.
Maybe I was his pity project, and he’s done now, a snide voice curled up Draco’s chest.
Potter’s busy with the Ministry, the more logical side of Draco argued—he had seen the Ministry shake-up in the papers.
Draco fingered the small box in his pocket, which he had taken with him just in case. His heart rate picked up when his front door opened but it was Pansy rather than Potter.
“You might be partially right,” she said.
Draco quickly pulled his hand out of his pocket. “About what?”
Pansy’s lips pursed. “Cho looks like she’ll actually investigate properly. It might get easier to walk around the wizarding areas, but I’m not holding my breath for the next few years.”
Draco matched her wry face.
“Look. Draco. About last time?”
Draco frowned. “When?”
Pansy grimaced. “Are you really making me—right, yes, you are. When I insinuated that you should get laid.”
Draco said nothing.
“I shouldn’t have. If you don’t want to, I should respect that,” she said, grimacing a little. “Dinner? At a restaurant, not a bar.”
Draco exhaled. “And what brought that up?”
Pansy shrugged. “Remember that queer-friendly bar I mentioned? Talked to some witches, and they mentioned not wanting. Not because of society’s purity culture, but because they didn’t want to. I realised I’ve kinda been a shit friend, haven’t I? Sunk to Blaise’s level.”
Draco snorted. “Then I’ve been a bad friend too,” he admitted. “Do you have a reservation?”
“Nope,” Pansy said brightening. “But once they see us dressed fabulously, they won’t be able to refuse.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “You better pick something for me, then.”
“Of course,” she said, leading the way to his wardrobe.
After appropriately dressed, they headed out to Muggle London. It was luck, really, that got them a table at Pansy’s favourite Indonesian place, rather than their attire, but Pansy had given him a smirk nonetheless.
“Say,” Pansy said, after a perfunctory look over the menu. “What’s this about Harry Potter? Saving the day again?”
“Well, you already know all about it,” Draco said.
Pansy raised one eyebrow.
“Fine. We went on a trip to the Scotland Highlands for gemstones.”
Pansy’s eyes widened, and she smirked widely. “You didn’t. You did!”
“He picked up pretty pebbles,” Draco said with a roll of his eyes, but he couldn’t keep the fond smile off of his face, and Pansy knew it.
“Finally became friends, then,” Pansy said, with an encouraging smile.
“He’s been helping with new charms,” Draco admitted. “Well—not lately but before.”
Pansy’s brows rose. “Better him than me. But so that’s what it takes.”
“Pansy.” Draco pulled a face. “Thanks ever so, Pansy. But really, how is life treating you?”
“Attending muggle classes,” Pansy admitted, smirking a little. “Programming. Apparently muggles think girls and women aren’t as good at it. So.” She shrugged.
Draco smirked. “Don’t leave me hanging, Pans.”
“Oh, never,” Pansy said. She waved the waiter for some cold drinks—“For the sick burn”—and launched into stories that had Draco smirking and realising just how much he had missed his best friend.
“So.” Hermione looked at Harry straight in the eye across their dinner table. Ron was serving their food.
“Yeah?” Harry asked. “Cheers, Ron.”
Ron grinned. “Nice to have edible food after all the vomit-flavoured stuff at the joke shop.”
“So,” Hermione repeated. “Draco Malfoy.”
“Did you know he was getting attacked?” Harry evaded. “And who else, you know?”
Hermione winced. “I had suspected, but there was but a scant paper trail. The problem is that there are multiple factions in the Ministry, including the DMLE. One side favours the old guard, another disfavours anyone connected to the Death Eaters, one side is staunchly anti-creature rights.” She gave a heavy sigh. “It’s a lot. So we have some officers letting people off lightly, and other officers that’ll do the opposite—and it’s a huge mess.”
“Sorry,” Harry muttered.
“People are people,” Hermione sighed. “So I suspected, yes, but it wasn’t at the top of my agenda—I thought higher level changes would percolate down...Harry.”
Harry blinked. “Yeah?”
“What about Malfoy? How did you even know that he was down in the cells?”
Harry glanced at Ron, but Ron was looking curious too, albeit with a funny expression on his face.
Harry sighed. “You remember those plans I have sometimes? Those books I borrowed?”
Hermione nodded. “Of course. I thought you were attending night classes.”
Harry gave a short laugh. “No way, Hermione.” He cast his eyes down to his food. “I was at Malfoy’s. He has a lot of old books on defence magic, you know, different from the stuff we picked up during the War. It was interesting to look at, and improve those charms Malfoy has on his jewellery. I thought it’ll just be—I don’t know—casting a spell on premade jewellery. But there’s a really long process, and Malfoy knows how to literally make tiny little things from metal and gems, and he uses heaps of different types of runes and alphabets, and there’s even a potions component to it. I can only contribute to the spells, kind of, but it’s not bad, you know. It’s not like the Ministry, feeling like a cog in a big machine—if I give Malfoy a spell, and he writes it down in runes, or whatever, and engraves it onto some pendant, then we can actually test right there if it works, if it’ll be useful…”
Harry flushed when he realised he was rambling. “Sorry,” he muttered, and took a mouthful of food to shut himself up.
“You like him,” Ron said.
Harry’s eyes darted to Ron. “He’s not bad.”
“No—” Ron started.
“Ron, don’t!” Hermione hissed.
“I meant, you seem to like him. You never talked about Ginny this much.” Ron stopped. “Which is not the point. You know that Dean’s bi. And there’s Percy and Oliver, and fuck knows about Charlie, given that he never talks about anything other than dragons.”
Harry didn’t meet Ron’s eye. “It’s not like that. Sure, he’s nice to look at, and he’s fun to hang around, but I don’t want to—you know.”
Hermione reddened. “We weren’t mentioning that at all!”
Ron made a face. “Malfoy’s an acquired taste. I don’t find him nice to look at. And—” Ron added more loudly with a self-deprecating grin, “It’s not like I can’t appreciate someone like Viktor Krum.”
Harry chuckled weakly. “Your scrapbook, right.”
“Take it from me,” Ron said, smiling, “It’s not as complicated as you think, if you communicate.”
Harry pulled a face. “Yes, Ron,” he said in an exasperated tone.
It was a week later that Harry made it to Malfoy’s house. He was…too busy, and not ready to face Malfoy. He hadn’t been sleeping well either, with the sweet-dreams bracelet shoved in his kitchen lest he accidentally put it on at night.
“Potter!” Malfoy said, smiling hesitantly as he opened the door. “You look like you should be taking an afternoon nap.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Thanks, Malfoy, and you look ever so stunning.”
Malfoy’s cheeks pinked, and he scowled. “Come in,” he said, turning his head away. “Oh, and nice shirt, Potter.”
Harry tugged at it self consciously. It was a deep green, which he didn’t know how he felt about.
“Just in time for afternoon tea,” Malfoy said. “Cake?”
“Please,” Harry said. “I need the sugar kick.” He felt all jittery, butterflies in his stomach as he and Malfoy set up the cake and tea and plates and cutlery.
Harry tried to take a quick sip of his tea, but it was too hot and burnt his mouth instead. Face twisting, he quickly put his teacup down.
Malfoy pointed his wand at Harry’s face, and a moment later, a soothing sensation coated his mouth and tongue.
“Oh, cheers, Malfoy.” Harry glanced down at his tea. “Actually. I wanted to ask you something.” He slowly took out the box which had the sweet-dreams bracelet inside.
Malfoy’s lips pressed together. “Didn’t it work?”
“It did,” Harry admitted. “It was really good. I didn’t even realise until I stopped wearing it.” He wanted to say something, but he couldn't quite yet. So instead, he asked, “How did you come up with it?”
Malfoy gave Harry a frown, like he didn’t quite believe Harry. “I was trying to make a good-dreams item,” he finally said. “Dreamless Sleep is addictive, and drinking calming draughts before sleep isn’t a viable long-term option...”
Harry’s heart twisted, his stomach became heavy. “Oh,” he said, rather quiet. Malfoy had nightmares too…
“Moving out of the Manor was good. But, well, it still happens more often than I’d like. I had some prototypes. But you know, after that incident, I thought you would appreciate it. It uses a mixture of a modified, weakened calming potion and a positive-emotion echoing spell, and the metal is soaked in a Softening potion to mimic the softness of clouds.”
Harry’s stomach dropped. Malfoy was sincere.
“But you said it did work. It doesn’t anymore, then,” Malfoy said. “May I?”
Suddenly, Harry didn’t want to hand over the sweet-dreams bracelet. Because it probably did still work, and all of Harry’s dreams…
“If something went wrong with it—it was never my intent.”
“I know,” Harry said, squirming. “I just had a weird dream, I suppose.” He still didn’t relinquish the bracelet. “What have you been working on lately?”
Malfoy regarded him. He swallowed, and took out a small flat box from his robes. “This.” It floated over to Harry and landed in his lap.
Harry’s heart thudded in his chest. He shoved his sweet-dreams bracelet back in his pocket, and slowly lifted the lid on the new gift. Nestled inside on crushed black velvet was a delicate silver stargazer lily, hanging from a very fine silver chain.
Harry touched it with the pad of his finger, and it felt warm and familiar.
“It’s made out of steel,” Malfoy said softly. “The smallest petals are enchanted with low-level wards and general healing. The secondary petals have a cushioned shield charm…”
Harry looked up when Malfoy paused. “The large petals?”
“Remember our conversation about deflecting the Killing curse? The spell on the largest is By the power of my love, let me protect you.”
“The bracelet didn’t give me a nightmare,” Harry said. “Far from it.”
Harry glanced up right into Malfoy’s eyes. He quickly looked down again. “It was unexpected. And—” Harry took a deep breath. “It was a pleasant dream, just not something that would happen in real life.”
Harry frowned, swallowed. Because if the sweet-dreams bracelet had worked, then kissing Malfoy was a sweet dream.
“Potter? Are you alright? I could grab a headache potion—”
“No. I’m fine.”
Malfoy served them both some more tea and cake, and Harry’s eyes were uncontrollably drawn to Malfoy’s fingers.
He had butterflies in his stomach. And an extremely strong fixation on Malfoy’s fingers and eyes and hair. But he didn’t feel like he could go down on Malfoy. Which. Fuck. Now that he was thinking about it, he was curious. Curious about what Malfoy looked like without all the puffy and flowing wizarding clothing. Curious about what Malfoy did before bed—did he sleep with that braid on? Could Harry braid it for him?
Then something was wrong with Harry. Sex would be so much easier. They could just—fall into bed and have angry sex, and separate.
But he couldn’t.
“Well,” Malfoy said, smoothing his robes. His mouth was downturned, eyes heavy. “That’s my gift to you, whether or not you use it.”
By the power of my love.
“I dreamt about you,” Harry confessed. “And it wasn’t a nightmare. It was just—handholding. Kissing.”
Malfoy tensed. “Nothing more?”
“Nothing more,” Harry echoed. “Which—it’s weird. I had sex dreams as a teenager! I mean, they were all faceless, and vague, but—” Harry grimaced. “Too much information,” he mumbled.
“I don’t feel it,” Malfoy said. “I can’t feel, in my bones, why others can simply look and know they want to have sex. I’ve never told anyone. To like you and not have the rest of whatever it is I’m supposed to be feeling...Potter. I can’t—don’t do this to me.”
“Malfoy. What I’m trying to say is—that maybe I like you too. It’s just different. It doesn’t feel—I don’t want to tumble onto a bed and fuck like rabbits. I know Dean and Seamus did when they got together, and hell, Hermione and Ron eventually did, too. I would rather—”
Malfoy’s eyes were wide. “Yes?”
“I would rather braid your hair,” Harry admitted, flushing. His chest felt all fuzzy.
“Let me get this straight—or not, as it were,” Malfoy said, voice strained. “You...do like me? Romantically? But you don’t care for more?”
Harry mused on the word romantically. It...felt right. If he just ignored the sex thing, yes, it felt right, even if everything else didn’t make sense. Slowly, he nodded.
A tentative smile formed on Malfoy’s face. “Potter. I can’t believe that we would align.”
Harry reached a hand out—out into the abyss, the chasm between them—and his heart jolted when Malfoy grasped it, until they were holding each others hands. Malfoy’s hands were firm, smooth, soft.
He tugged Malfoy’s hands, tugged Malfoy closer on the sofa. A smile bloomed on Malfoy’s face, and it was so much better than Harry’s wispy dream.
“Draco,” he tried out.
“Harry,” he said, a slight roll in the r’s.
Harry laughed, feeling lightheaded, and Draco chuckled back.
Soft hand, grey eyes, light laughter. There was just one thing left.
“A kiss?” Harry asked.
Draco took off Harry’s glasses. They clattered onto the coffee table, and Draco placed his newly freed hand on Harry’s cheek. The flecks of grey and silver in Draco’s eyes—and why would he care for all that other stuff he was supposed to, when he could study them on and on?
Their heads tilted, noses bumping, and Draco’s lips touched his.
And it was soft. So soft and so light. The moment felt timeless, and Harry felt deeply, thoroughly connected.
Draco’s lips lifted, and he placed a kiss on Harry’s cheek, then his other, and his nose, and his forehead, making Harry all crosseyed.
“Malfoy,” he grumbled.
“Draco,” Draco said. “Mr. Malfoy is my father.”
Harry blinked and shoved his glasses back on. “Draco.”
Draco exhaled. “Harry.” He had a grin on his face, and Harry felt a silly grin on his face too.
“Your research is still there, waiting for you,” Draco said.
“Yes, I thought about that,” Harry said, straightening up. “What if you layered the building blocks of a Patronus charm? In a normal casting situation, you need to form a complete Patronus for it to be dense enough to ward away Dementors, and for it to be able to hold a message. But if you’re making a patronus-charmed pendant, then you have the time to just layer and layer, so that the final trigger is sufficient.”
Draco grinned. “Smart, Potter. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Cheers, Malfoy, for being a prick.”
“You, Potter, are a bastard,” Draco declared. He primly took a sip of his tea.
“Hmmm,” Harry rubbed his chin exaggeratedly. “No idea if I was conceived out of wedlock or not, actually. Good excuse, anyway. What’s your excuse for being a prat?”
Draco smirked, eyes bright. “Oh, but have you seen my father? Puh-lease, Harry, darling, I have a license to be so much more pretentious.”
Harry grinned. “Just finish your cake. Something like gold, right? It’s dense, and we’ll pack in the layered semi-Patronus charms.”
Draco’s eyebrow went up. Harry had the urge to poke at it, so he did.
“Potter,” Draco yelped. “Maybe I should take back my gift.”
“No way!” Harry took out the lily and placed it on around his neck. A soft thrum of magic emanated from it, making him feel warm and cosy. He blinked, and looked back at Draco. “Help me make something like it for you.”
Draco gave him an unimpressed look. “And now you’ve ruined the surprise.”
Harry shrugged. “But I don’t know how to make it myself,” he said philosophically. “Better you know, than wonder why I want it.”
“Charming,” Draco drawled.
Harry smiled back. “It is, isn’t it?”
Draco slipped out of bed early, leaving a warming charm behind for Harry who was still asleep. The sun was just rising, and Draco was in the mood to work. In particular, he was in the mood to tackle the mood-ring idea that Ron had put forth.
Opal for the main gem, Draco decided. Bronze for the dynamic nature of moods. The bronze could pick up the wearer’s emotion much like how the sweet-dreams bracelet did, albeit Draco needed to make the emotion detection automatic, rather than focused.
He pulled out the well-worn copy of Ancient Runes Made Easy, for there was no point complicating a spell when there wasn’t space on a piece of jewellery to complicate it.
Detect/see. Emotions/Feelings. Draco found the runic version of the Revelio charm, and the root term for emotions was common in a number of spells relating to changing one’s mood. He’ll have to add a hook spell to it, so that the opal would display different colours depending on the mood detected.
Though, for the prototype, Draco took out some scrap metal and a glass bead, and started working.
Later, he would have breakfast with Harry before Harry went to work. Later, he would head out to his shop, which was finally breaking even. Later, he and Harry would be meeting a fair number of their friends for dinner at new wizarding restaurant, and they’ll laugh with good grace at the all the sex jokes. And later, they would return back home and lie in bed.
But right now, there was the knowledge of Harry nearby, the warmth of the pendant Harry had helped him make against his chest, and the delicate jewellery coming into being between Draco’s fingertips, ready to be infused with magic.