Enchanted sunlight gave way to natural light as Draco engraved the Japanese Kanji for calm and clarity of mind onto soft gold, 平静を保つ, heisei o tamotsu.
The density of gold meant the spells would hold strong, despite the small size of the crescent-moon earrings. The alloyed copper and silver made the earrings more conductive to the infused magic and imparted its natural anti-dark-magic properties respectively.
Draco pulled off his magnifying glasses and shifted the earrings to a clear space. A moment of focus and a dab of magic later, the spell-characters activated, and all that was left was to soak the earrings in his Finishing Potion.
Draco rubbed his eyes and sighed. He cast an eye over the clutter of his workshop, and decided he had time for a quick nap before the day encroached. And even if the rest of the day went badly, at least he knew that the recipient would like his gift.
Harry pulled a face as he glanced down at the various wizarding shops in Diagon Alley. They all looked normal, and given whose birthday was coming up, none of it felt right.
He turned onto one of the narrower streets. Antique Books had a broad shopfront, cluttered with book—that would suit Hermione, but her birthday was over half a year away given that it was only February. There was also Piquant Preserves, and Marvellous Millinery, and Pendant Protegos & Charmed Creations.
Harry sighed and stuck his hands in his pockets. He turned, intent on heading to Muggle London instead when he noticed someone entering Pendant Protegos. They had heavy dark brown robes with silvery details along the seams, and long white-blond hair braided down their back. Their head turned slightly as they closed the door behind them, and Harry’s eyes widened.
Draco fucking Malfoy.
Last Harry had seen him was the War Trials, over four years ago. What the fuck was Malfoy doing in Pendant Protegos? If Harry remembered correctly, and he did, Malfoy had a deft hand at charming objects, from the Potter Stinks badges to the cursed necklace. Malfoy didn’t need to buy items from someone else. Eyes narrowing, Harry strode forward and pushed inside Pendant Protegos. The door opened smoothly with a chime.
The inside was larger than what the narrow shopfront suggested: wizarding space stretched wider beyond the shop front’s display, and long shelves of glass were against the wall, displaying dozens of items each with their own little card.
Malfoy was behind the counter, head tilted down as he wrote. He looked up upon Harry’s arrival.
Harry’s jaw tightened, and his eyebrows went up in askance. “Malfoy. You work here?”
Malfoy straightened. “I do,” he said, voice without the whine from his teenage years. He rounded the counter, eyes hooded. “How may I help you?”
Harry snorted, not fooled by Malfoy’s benign behaviour. “Place doesn’t look very busy. Who’s the owner?”
Malfoy’s lips tightened. “I’m the owner,” he said. “I’m surprised you didn’t know. After all, the Ministry inspects the shop regularly.”
Harry shrugged a shoulder. “You expect me to be up-to-date with whatever you’ve been doing these past years?” he scoffed. He strolled over to one of the glass cases and glanced at one of the captions next to a simple round silver pendant. Sterling silver. Infused with shield charms. Calibratable distance activation.
“Did you make these as well?”
Malfoy’s stance stiffened. “I did.”
Harry glanced at another piece of jewellery. It was a necklace with glass and stone beads. Glass charmed with Notice-Me-Not. Stone charmed with Protego and Muffliato.
The perfect kit for burglary, Harry realised. He slowly turned back to Malfoy. “You made these,” he repeated.
Malfoy gave him a flat look. “Yes. Should I expect a search warrant from you? Direct from the Minister’s Office?”
Harry shrugged. “No. Simply interested. I’m...looking for a gift,” he added, mixing in a touch of truth.
Malfoy’s eyes remained wary as he walked slowly over to Harry. “Protective pendants automatically activate a protego charm around the wearer when a malicious spell comes within its target range.”
“Rather paranoid if you’re not in a violent job,” Harry said with a sidelong glance.
However, Malfoy didn’t rile up as Harry wanted. Instead, Malfoy gave Harry an inscrutable look, and said, “If this form of paranoia does not hurt anyone, then what of it? A beautiful piece of jewellery.”
Harry’s jaw tightened. “And what led you to jewellery making?” he pressed.
Malfoy crossed his arms. “One thing led to another, and I needed them,” he said, words short and sharp. “Buy something or state your business, Mr. Potter.”
Harry bristled, despising the way Malfoy spat out his name like that. “Get off your fucking high-horse. No wonder your shop is empty as fuck, what that kind of attitude,” Harry scoffed. “Don’t you think I have the right to questions before any purchase?”
Malfoy’s expression darkened. “You’re thinking of that cursed necklace,” he said, silver eyes glittering like blades. “You have no need to purchase anything. I wouldn’t have expected you to.”
Harry crossed his own arms. “Oh, I am going to buy something,” he said defiantly. He pointed out a pendant inlaid with a red gem. “That one. Rubies, suitable for Gryffindors, don’t you think?”
Malfoy gave him a flat look. He made some shapes with his hand, and then reached through the glass to take out the pendant and chain. “Red apatite, actually,” Malfoy said. “Its greater reflectivity and light scattering allows for the inclusion of a Lumos charm, along with the pendant’s silver shield charm.” He held it out to Harry, and Harry warily accepted it.
Nothing happened when the cool metal touched his hands. It felt like a normal piece of jewellery, which made it all the more suspicious, especially when the gem’s red looked like blood in just the right angle.
“Good. This would be perfect,” Harry lied.
“Then allow me to package it,” Malfoy said. He took back the pendant and laid it in a black-velvet-lined box, making the silver bright, followed by its lid.
Harry handed over his galleons and accepted the pendant box. “Cheers, Malfoy.”
“Pleasure,” Malfoy said, sounding anything but. Which only made Harry more vindictive with the fact that he had bought something Malfoy hadn’t wanted him to buy.
Harry tingled with purpose. Back at Grimmauld Place, he found some books on investigative spells in the library room that Hermione had installed. Cross-referencing the books, he slowly took apart the pendant and extracted the inlaid charms. To his dismay, they weren’t Latin spell words, but rather ancient runes.
All the better to hide the dark magic, Harry thought. He painstakingly copied out the spirals of runes onto parchment—they all just looked like straight lines with random extra decorations—and headed back to the library room.
The Ancient Runes books were like all the others—big and heavy and intimidating. Harry ultimately took out a textbook on the topic: Ancient Runes Made Easy.
“Runes are an ancient script dating from the old Germanic languages prior to the spread of Latin…” the introduction started. Harry’s brain glazed over the words as it went on and on about the history of runic alphabets.
Not useful anyway, Harry justified, and flipped over to the portion of the book that contained a dictionary of runes and rubbed his eyes in anticipation of the upcoming headache. He slowly picked at the different runes, but he couldn’t quite tell where a word ended or started, let alone a sentence.
The window was darkening by the time Harry made a breakthrough.
One of the runes said myrkru, darkness. Yet, Malfoy had said the pendant was supposed to charm light.
Harry was right. With a deep sense of grim satisfaction, he got up and left for dinner with his friends.
At least she liked it, Draco reminded himself, as he closed the door behind him. At least one thing went well today. It didn’t help the crash, though, knowing that his home was empty, knowing that there was no one who actually wanted to see him, knowing that some people didn’t want him alive at all.
Moving back to his parents wasn’t an option, for the same reason why Draco wasn’t out with Pansy “meeting new people” and for the same reason why Draco wasn’t out with Blaise on the pull.
I could fake it, Draco tried to tell himself. He’d seen how other people behaved. But the thought of acting for years and trying to be normal made Draco miserable.
It was hours later that Draco was finally able to drag himself into his workshop that took up the majority of his warehouse conversion. He headed to his drawers of gemstones. Rich green emerald for cheering charms.
Draco set the gem soaking in a calming draught first. He then took out bronze wire to make a cabochon wrap—bronze for light against the cold. Rune-engraving was impossible, but given that it was for Draco himself, he didn’t mind spell-charming it, and then rebuffing as necessary.
The jitteriness remained as he worked, feeling like he didn’t quite fit in his skin. He found himself glancing towards the door frequently, half-fearing that Aurors would appear—half hoping they would just to get it over and done with.
He went to bed when he finished, bronze necklace around his neck, emerald in its wire-wrap held loosely in his hand. He curled up, hugging his pillow and fell into a fitful sleep.
Harry grinned at the manic that was Sunday at the Burrow. He played with the kids first, nevermind that he had seen most of them throughout the week on babysitting stints on his days off from the Ministry. He then helped Ginny, George and Ron supervise the four- and three-year-olds on Quidditch brooms. He ended up being drawn into the kitchen to help Molly.
Eventually he was kicked out the kitchen with a platter of appetizers. He spotted Luna, Fleur and Bill seated out in the back and decided to head over.
“Food, anyone?” Harry asked, conjuring a table for the platter.
Bill grinned. “Cheers, Harry.”
Harry pulled a seat up next to them. “Whatcha talking about?” he asked, going to grab a morsel for himself.
Luna tilted her ear towards Harry, curling her hair behind her ear. “Aren’t my new earrings lovely?”
They were pale gold crescent moons, and if Harry looked closely, he could make out a moon-texture on them too.
“Yeah. They’re pretty...conventional, though?” Harry said.
Fleur snorted. “Really, Harry, The charms work on it is exceptional and highly unique. I might get a piece myself.”
Harry glanced to Bill, and Bill laughed.
“Better let Fleur pick rather than attempt a secret gift,” he said, with a besotted smile at Fleur.
“Oh, right!” Harry pulled out a small item from his pocket and resized it to a poorly wrapped shape. “Happy birthday, Luna.”
Luna beamed and immediately unwrapped it. It was a pair of socks with radishes on them. Luna’s smile widened. “They’re fantastic, Harry!”
Harry grinned and relaxed back to enjoy the conversation.
Monday morning, Harry headed to the Ministry, and in particular, down to the Records in the DMLE.
“Oh, hi, Harry,” Cho said when she saw him down the corridor. “Are you collecting the monthly reports now?”
“Right, yes,” Harry said. He accepted her reports, along with the reports from other senior Aurors. Exuding an air of I’m meant to be here, he then headed into the DMLE Records Room. Draco Malfoy’s file was easy to locate. Harry made a duplicate copy and slipped it into his pocket.
With all the reports in one arm, Harry finally headed up to the Minister’s Office—but made sure to drop by the tea room first. Putting on a casual smile, he knocked on Hermione’s door and entered.
“Harry!” Hermione said. “What are you doing in today?”
“Admin never ends,” he said, pulling a face. He handed her the senior Auror reports—she’ll delegate it to someone else, Harry knew, and placed a mug of tea on the tinest spare space on her desk.
Hermione snorted. “Thanks, Harry,” she said, her suspicion melting away as she took a deep drink.
“Any requests for dinner tonight, then?” Harry asked.
“Something not fussy to eat,” Hermione said with a tired grin.
Harry nodded. “Gotcha.” He gave her a wave, and headed back to Grimmauld Place without further incident.
He cast some alert charms and a handful of privacy charms around his desk first. Then, with anticipation—and knowing that he was technically breaking Ministry rules, but also technically not since his administrative position meant that he was allowed to read the majority of reports—Harry opened Malfoy’s file.
Every month, there had been another investigation at his jewellery shop. Unable to find any signs of Dark Magic, they said. No discrepancies between Gringotts accounts and business ledgers. One of them noted that Slow business. Could be a front for a criminal organisation. Malfoy has no formal Charms qualifications.
Harry pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes consideringly. He remembered vaguely that there was a door behind the counter—what lay in that back room? And who helped Malfoy make all those pieces of charmed jewellery—assuming all of them were real?
A little older was the business application, which was completed just under half a year ago, and filed a year before that. The boringly familiar form had Harry moving on.
There were some incomplete assault charges; Unknown witch, Morning, Horizont Alley, Diffindo, one of the charges read. Harry was fucking unsurprised, skimming over the numerous reports. Fucking bad Auror work clearly meant old pureblood-”sympathy” was protecting Malfoy from being charged and prosecuted. Harry was right—
Attacker: unknown witch.
Victim: Draco L. Malfoy
No, that couldn’t be right. Harry rubbed his eyes and frowned at the report, but the words didn’t change.
Rather paranoid, Harry had said of the protego pendants. Was Malfoy actually justified? Harry rubbed his eyes again. Something didn’t match up.
...Unless Malfoy had provoked those attacks, and made a report to appear as a victim.
Harry firmly put the incomplete assault charges away: it wasn’t his job to follow them up.
Next were the parole reports. Harry skimmed over the interviews: all dry, and extremely repetitive.
Last were the War Trial papers.
Harry clenched his jaw as memories surfaced. The loud loud loud public, the constant flash of cameras, and shouting from the Wizengamot. Harry could hardly remember what he actually said in those trials, but he did remember how emaciated Malfoy had looked.
Each report had an updated image of Malfoy, and through the four years, Harry could trace how Malfoy’s face filled out a little more, and how his hair lengthened.
There was no point for Harry to look through the War Trial papers, he knew what Malfoy did. Instead, he turned back to the newer reports.
A criminal front.
What if the items on sale themselves where the criminal product? Harry scoured Malfoy’s file again, but found no thorough examination of the items themselves, which was a glaring omission.
Harry glanced at his own examination of one of Malfoy’s items. He placed Malfoy’s reports into the drawer with Malfoy’s insincere “thank you” letter after the War Trials and Malfoy’s old hawthorn wand.
Then, Harry started on the runes and the pendant all over again, feeling a sense of purpose that he never felt at the Ministry.
Vǫrn gegn myrkru illgirni. Vǫrn gegn myrkru fjarveru ljóssins.
Protection against dark-malice. Protection against the dark absence of light, Harry had finally translated the runes, once he realised they were in Old Norwegian in particular.
Harry hated the grammatical and sentence structure of ancient runes. Harry spent much too long just staring at the spell fragment, in the Ancient Runes textbook, er skygia gratur ok skæra þuer hirdis hatr, which apparently meant lamentation of the clouds and ruin of the hay-harvest and abomination of the shepherd. It wouldn’t have surprised Harry if it had been a common spell wizards had used on muggles, or on other wizards they despised.
Frustrated, Harry abandoned the Ancient Runes textbook once again and glared at the bits and pieces of the pendant that Harry had taken apart. He couldn’t put it back together: a Reparo didn’t work.
There was nothing for it. Harry grabbed his Invisibility Cloak and headed out.
Under his invisibility cloak, Harry examined the front facade of Protego Pendants & Charmed Creations. The main sign was in the style of Malfoy’s handwriting, and along the door and window frames were the faintest motifs of dragons. Harry leaned in closer, squinting at the dragons. They had different shapes, and some repeated: was it a secret code? The shop glass, as narrow as the door, displayed various silver pendants. He looked past them, but it was dark inside.
His frown deepened when he realised the shop was closed. A glance at the opening hours revealed that the shop was only open three days: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Hardly a viable business model. Which made it all the more likely that it was a front for something more sinister.
I could submit an anonymous tip to the DMLE, Harry thought. But his stomach flipped at the thought of it, and he shook it off. All those past inspections had found nothing.
Drawing his wand, Harry did a little trick he had learnt during his (failed) Auror-training that pushed apart the molecules to make an opening.
To his surprise, it didn’t work. Harry jumped back at the sudden crack of apparition. Malfoy’s face was twisted in bitter resignation as he approached the door. Wand drawn, he began casting.
Harry took another step back, and froze when Malfoy’s head snapped to him.
Trust the fucking cloak!
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed. He stepped forward towards Harry.
Even though Harry knew Malfoy couldn’t see him—and knew that the cloak was impervious to charms and spells—Harry uncomfortably shuffled back.
Malfoy’s jaw tightened, eyes flickering down to the ground. He turned, and unlocked the shop, and headed inside. The closed sign flipped to open.
Harry let out a breath. He moved to the glass and settled in to watch.
However, for the next hour, Malfoy simply sat behind the counter, writing and occasionally summoning some books. No one else entered the shop, meaning Harry couldn’t slip in.
Eventually, Malfoy packed everything up and exited the shop. Harry was ready, throwing a tracker spell at Malfoy’s boots.
But the spell bounced off with a sizzle of magic, that for the briefest moments revealed a shield around Malfoy. Malfoy didn’t even glance back: he turned on the spot and Apparated away.
Harry slammed a fist down on the door. WHAT THE FUCK? His spell wasn’t malicious at all, it wasn’t dark, and yet Malfoy had repelled it.
Malfoy must think he’s so fucking high and mighty. He must think he’s so powerful and smart.
Didn’t matter anyway, Harry thought grimly as he apparated back to Grimmauld Place. He’ll make and have dinner with Ron and Hermione first. After that...he knew where Malfoy Manor was.
Draco stalked through his house, stomach boiling. The nerve of Potter—as if Draco wouldn’t notice his attempted break in, or the flash of his shoes underneath that invisibility cloak. Draco had been gracious enough to open the shop—a clear invitation for Potter to come in and talk. Except he hadn’t, and he’d even fucking tried to stick Draco with something as Draco left.
Not fucking innocent at all, Draco seethed.
He headed out for his afternoon meeting, and his anger only simmered down when Fleur Delacour greeted him outside the Caffè Nero.
« Bonjour, Madame Delacour, » Draco replied in kind.
« Fleur, s'il te plaît, » she replied, eyes sparkling. « Thank you for meeting with me, » she continued in French.
« The thanks is all mine, » Draco demured.
Fleur held the door open, and they headed inside for coffee and a table. Draco cast a discrete Muffliato around them and produced a notebook with various jewellery designs. Fleur flipped through it with clear appreciation.
« These are adorable, » she said, a smile curving. She ran a light finger down the page, nodding slowly.
The tight ball in Draco’s chest eased a little. « Merci, » he said, and started to build a discussion about what Fleur wanted to commission from him.
Cold, wet, and fucking miserable, Harry apparated back to Grimmauld Place much too late—early in the morning of the next day. He collapsed into bed for a short nap, already dreading the day ahead sifting through papers at the Ministry.
Staking outside Malfoy Manor had gained Harry nothing. No, he needed to return to the original source of his suspicions: Malfoy’s shop.
Under the cover of night, Harry set up monitoring spells around Malfoy’s shop, and in every spare moment in which he hadn’t plans with his friends, or babysitting Teddy and the other kids, or sorting Ministry paperwork for Hermione, Harry was there, under his invisibility cloak, watching. He even took some of his work breaks there, lurking—at least it made him more energised on the return.
On the days the shop was open, Malfoy appeared five minutes before the opening time, and left five minutes after closing. There were a handful of customers. One of them was a repeat customer, though they never left with anything. Malfoy’s shop was in a dead-end street, and the foot traffic was sparse. But even Marvellous Millinery had thrice as many patrons.
Outside closing time, there was nothing. Through the week, then two weeks of surveillance, there were no suspicious figures entering the shop, no suspicious figures loitering around the shop.
Nothing. It may have well been dead.
A teeth-grinding impatience set in him, and one day, Harry slipped into the shop behind the repeat customer under the cover of his invisibility cloak.
Malfoy’s face was tight, eyes flickering to the door, and to the witch. “Ms. Juneberry,” he said, nodding stiffly. “How do you do?”
“Oh, just looking, dear.” The witch drew a pale-wood wand, and started muttering some basic dark-magic detection spells. A sparkle of silver meant the shop came up clean. She pursed her lips and adjusted the fall of her robes. “All seems to be in order,” she said.
Malfoy’s head dipped. “Thank you, Ms. Juneberry.”
Juneberry pursed her lips as she scanned the items on display. “Nothing new,” she muttered under her breath.
Harry held back a snort. There had been no other customer between her visit yesterday and her visit today—there was no need for Malfoy to restock.
“Well, I’m very busy,” she said more loudly. “Good day, Malfoy.”
Harry took a quick step back to avoid her path. To Harry’s dismay, Juneberry pulled the door shut behind her as she left. Harry glanced back at Malfoy—maybe he could try a strong Notice-Me-Not.
Malfoy was staring elsewhere, so Harry drew his wand, and nearly fucking dropped it when Malfoy spoke.
“What do you fucking want, Potter?” It was sharp. Bitter. “If you’re going to skip the search warrant, you may as well skip the Veritaserum warrant too and just issue whatever verdict you wanted.”
Harry kept his mouth shut, and waited.
Malfoy smirked. “Oh, Potter.” He drew his wand, and a fine mist appeared in the shop. Water condensed onto the glass, and Malfoy turned and looked Harry straight in the face. With a snap of movement, Malfoy stalked around the counter and straight towards Harry. Harry raised his wand, stepping back.
Malfoy’s eyes darkened. He reached out and yanked. Harry scrambled to keep the cloak on him, but Malfoy held it tight in fist, and by then, it was too late.
Harry tilted his chin up. “This is a shop. I’m allowed to be here.”
Malfoy threw the cloak back at Harry. “Terribly interesting watching, isn’t it?” he drawled. “Learnt anything in two weeks?”
“I’m merely healthily skeptical,” Harry said, squaring off back at Malfoy. “You’re right. I am thinking of the cursed necklace. I suppose you must buy this stuff cheap from a muggle jewellers’ and markup with your charms.”
Malfoy’s jaw tightened. “So that’s what you want.” He threw his head back and strode to the door. His eyes glittered. “Well then. Let’s go.”
Harry’s feet propelled him through the open door. “Where?” he demanded, eyes narrowed when Malfoy offered his arm.
Malfoy’s lips curved into a dark smile. “Wouldn’t you want to know?”
Scowling, Harry grabbed Malfoy’s arm. The side-along yanked him to a London street. Malfoy led him inside one of the buildings.
Harry narrowed his eyes as he took in what was Malfoy’s living areas: the empty walls, the sparse furniture, pillows and blankets piled on the sofa, books piled on the coffee table.
Further in, the ceiling opened up to a cavernous room. Shelves and cabinets were packed, up against the walls. In the center were rows of tables, and on each table there was a different set of tools and objects, including a table that looked exactly like a miniature potions bench, complete with half-sized cauldrons and implements. Tall windows let in light at the far end, revealing nondescript gardens.
Malfoy stripped off his robes, revealing his waistcoat and puffy-sleeved shirt. He crossed his arms, facing Harry. “Whatever you want, Potter. I’d answer. I’ll make anything for you.”
“You make everything yourself,” Harry said, not quite believing it.
“Oh, of course not—”
Harry started to smirk—
“—The Earth and planetary processes led to the creation of metals, gems, and magic,” Malfoy drawled. “I merely combine them together.”
Harry scowled. “You’re a fucking bastard.” He stepped forward, crowding Malfoy back into the shelves. “What’s your deal, Malfoy? What’s your fucking angle? How did you get this place? Who are your suppliers? Who did you bribe to get the Ministry's approval for your shop?”
Malfoy rested his head back against the books, smiling at Harry as though Harry was a fucking idiot who needed to be coddled. “We needed protection, after the War. Nothing like hexings to the back to push one into action. There is no angle, Mr. Potter. I source my supplies from various companies in Muggle London and beyond. Perhaps you’ve heard of real estate agents. And Deputy Minister Granger herself stamped my business application form. So.” Malfoy’s eyes gave a slow blink. “What would you like, Mr. Potter?”
Harry’s stomach bubbled. Hermione? No offence to her, but she must have accepted it when she was in a rush. “La-di-da, Malfoy. What are you charming the jewellery with?”
Malfoy raised a hand. A summoned book slapped into it with a thud and he shoved it against Harry’s chest. “Go on. Have a look.”
Harry grunted. He had to shift back to open the notebook. Malfoy’s handwriting and runes filled the pages.
Defence from the dark-malice. Defence from the dark-absence-of-light, was the English underneath mostly-familiar runes. The rest though was hard to decipher, and Harry now knew first hand how the runes did not directly translate to English, since they weren't written in English at all.
For all Harry knew, the English translations were the benign meanings. For all Harry knew… “Where are your other books? Your...research logs? Your rune texts and proper translations?”
Malfoy stared at him. A hand cut through the air. “Look around, Potter!” he spat out. “Go then! Pick whatever you damn want from the shelves! Go on! Do your investigation! Call in the Aurors! The Hitwizards! The Unspeakables! Look. Poke. Touch your fill!”
“Hey, calm down, Malfoy.”
Malfoy growled. Books flew from the shelves, and Malfoy shoved them at Harry. “My first notebook. My working notes. And another. Go on! Take it all, Potter!”
Harry scrambled to hold all of them.
“And oh, you want a proper translation? Then take a fucking look at this!” With that, Malfoy dropped a copy of Ancient Runes Made Easy on Harry’s feet.
“Fuck!” Harry stepped back, toes throbbing with pain. “What the FUCK, MALFOY?”
Malfoy sucked in a sharp breath. “Just trying to be helpful, Mr. Potter.”
Harry bared his teeth. He dropped all of Malfoy’s precious notebooks to the floor and drew his wand. He became irrationally angier when Malfoy refused to draw his own wand.
“Go on,” Malfoy said. He tilted his head back, a hand bringing his braid over his shoulder. “No one to witness anything. Your word against mine.”
Harry seethed. “What are you implying, Malfoy—”
Fuck! Harry turned his head to see Luna walking towards them carrying a basket.
“Harry,” she said, brows crinkling.
Malfoy pushed his hair back and stepped away from Harry. “Luna,” he said, voice soft. “How may I help you?”
Luna glanced at Harry. “I wanted to thank you for those earrings, Draco,” she said, holding up the basket.
Harry struggled to think on the onslaught of fragments. “What—Malfoy made those earrings? You two know each other? Do you feel safe alone with Malfoy?”
Luna stepped up alongside Draco, physically putting one of his hands onto the basket handle. “All since that incident in the Manor,” she said calmly.
Malfoy flinched. “Luna, really, it was a gift—”
“And I want to give you a gift,” she insisted, giving Malfoy a stern look.
Malfoy tilted his head, accepting the basket. “Arigato gozaimasu,” he said to Luna.
Harry felt invisible. Harry felt like an intruder.
And then Luna looked at him, and Harry felt guilty. He lowered his wand, scarcely able to believe what he had just done, was about to do.
There were reasons why he had flunked out of Auror training. There were reasons why he was just working admin for Hermione. And now, he struggled—struggled with the fact that he let all that anger cloud his judgement. Hating Malfoy, fine. But attacking him? It’s not the War anymore!
“I think,” Luna said slowly, “That you were about to leave on an urgent matter you have forgotten.”
Harry glanced at Malfoy, but Malfoy wasn’t meeting his eye.
Humiliation bubbled in his stomach, and anger welled in his chest. This was Malfoy’s fault. If Malfoy had just been polite, and open and good from the very beginning, it wouldn’t have come to this. Harry gritted his teeth and pointedly turned away from Malfoy.
“Thanks for reminding me, Luna,” he forced out. “Have a good day.” Harry marched out, out of the workshop, out of Malfoy’s living quarters, out of the building.
And then it was just Harry. Standing on an unfamiliar street and feeling like fucking shit.
The inlaid spell was Defence from the dark-malice / Defence from the dark-absence-of-light. In Old Norwegian and subsequently runes, this becomes:
Vǫrn gegn myrkru illgirni. / Vǫrn gegn myrkru fjarveru ljóssins
uarn : gæhn : myrkru : ilgirni / uarn : gæhn : myrkru : fiarveru : liosins
Natural light gave way to enchanted light gave way to natural light as Draco worked with furious determination. Furious at Potter. Furious at himself.
He carved the green wax, a dragon ouroboros because he was a fucking idiot who sabotaged himself, always had since he was born. A thin sprune attached it to the base of the cylindrical flask. The silica investment took a few minutes to mix, a couple of sections to vanish the air bubbles. He poured the thick liquid into the flask with the wax dragon and left it to sit for an hour, after which it headed for the kiln under an accelerated time-bubble for three hours.
Draco took that time to make and infuse two small blue lapis lazuli gems with sharp-clarity-of-mind. Because he had been fucking stupid with how he’d attempted to deal with Potter.
Luna had picked up his notebooks and Runes textbook, but when Draco looked at them, he immediately recalled Potter’s disbelief, his scowl, his suspicion. So instead, he refreshed himself on Traditional Hanzi—they were more consistent than Ancient Germanic and Norse Runes, at least.
Some of the characters had multiple meanings in their English closest equivalent: 保護 bǎohù for protection, defence, safeguard. And 禔, tí for happiness and peace and good-fortune. Which was fine, which was the point. He’d pack them in tightly, on the underside of the dragon, after he cast the dragon in bronze—bronze for dynamic magic that shifted constantly: alert magic that could react faster to an incoming threat.
His head buzzed with that inward anger. That he had felt unsafe in his own home. He won’t be in the future, not again, not if he could do something about it.
“Harry,” Bill said. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Harry glanced at Molly, whom he was helping. He should have expected her to shoo him out.
“What’s up, Bill?” he said as he fell in pace beside Bill. They headed out the back door and out into the surrounding area.
Bill gave him a gentle look. “I heard,” he said, sounding a mix of brotherly exasperation and disappointment.
Harry recoiled. “Don’t tell me you’re best mates with Malfoy too!”
“I believe that Draco’s current actions supersedes his past,” Bill said slowly, fixing Harry with a firm look. “I’m not asking you to be friends with him. I’m not friends with him. But I think you could take this opportunity to hash things out with him—and him with you. Luna—”
“So it was Luna!” Harry scowled. “She fucking—”
Harry slammed his fist into his palm, and scowled and ran his hand through his hair. He was about to insult Luna, and it made him feel sick. “I hate what I did, alright? Happy now, Bill? You’re not my fucking dad. I can’t believe I even...I’m supposed to be above all that shit. ‘Cept I can’t even hold a fucking job without Hermione. That’s—favouritism, isn’t it?”
“Nepotism,” Bill said, and then shook his head. He rested a hand on Harry’s arm, and Harry felt himself calming down, felt more grounded. Bill continued, “You’re human, Harry. You make mistakes. But I know you can and have done better. I believe in you, Harry.”
Harry’s brows scrunched together, a lump in his throat. “Bill…”
“I might not be your dad, but I am your big brother,” he said. He messed up Harry’s hair, and Harry ducked his head in response, a small smile on his face. “If you want, Fleur and I can help moderate a meeting between you and Draco. Yes, Fleur has been in contact with Draco,” Bill added.
Harry quickly wiped off his automatic scowl of suspicion. He shook his head. “I think...it would be better if we talked in private.”
Bill gave Harry an approving pat on the shoulder. “Remember, there’s no need to be friends. Just...talk.”
Harry nodded, and Bill smiled back. He slung an arm around Harry’s shoulder, and the two headed back to the Burrow.
Draco rubbed bleary eyes. It was early morning, and he had worked through the night once again. On unsteady feet, he headed to his kitchen looking for something to eat. He started when the door opened.
“Gomen kudasai,” Luna said, walking in—Please forgive me for bothering you.
Draco immediately shook his head. “Please, you are welcome anytime,” he replied in kind. “How are you?” he asked, even if it wouldn’t make sense in Japanese.
Luna pursed her lips. “I’m here for you,” she said.
Draco took a calming breath. “Luna. I’m fine. I’ve just been working, and the flow got away from me.”
“Harry will come and speak with you,” she said.
Draco stared at her. “Luna…”
“In this, he will mean well, or I’ll have a harsh word with him,” Luna continued. She gave Draco a look.
Which meant Draco needed to mean well, or Luna would have a harsh word with him. It was inevitable. Draco sighed. “Did he mention when this talk will be happening?”
Luna shook her head. She moved to the counter and produced a container of food. It was a gift, and half an apology wrapped up in one.
Draco accepted it, just as he accepted the fact that he would have to converse with Harry Potter once more, and just as he accepted the fact that he now had something else to make.
Harry lurked outside Malfoy’s shop, pacing. The shop said Open, and Malfoy was inside, and there wasn’t any other customers, and it was near Malfoy’s closing time, which meant it was a perfect opportunity. But Harry’s hands were clammy, and his gut was angry while his stomach flipped while his lungs tried hard to keep breathing normally.
The door opened. Harry jumped back as Malfoy stepped out, locking the door behind him.
“Good afternoon, Potter,” Malfoy said. An eyebrow raised. “I could see you through the shop window.”
Harry cursed himself. Instead of replying, he held out his offering. “These are for you.”
Malfoy’s lips pursed as he took the cellophane-packaged bag of cookies. His eyes flicked back up to Harry. “Should I be suspicious over whether or not they’re poisoned?”
Harry winced. “They’re not. I’ll even eat one, if you want.”
“...I shouldn’t have implied,” Malfoy’s voice was strained. He shrank down the cookies and tucked the package away. “Shall we find a muggle cafe? I’ll pay.”
The two of them walked in silence down to a nearby apparition point. This time, Malfoy’s side-along wasn’t as violent, and they settled down at a table with their drinks in the nearby Soho Coffee.
Harry simply let the coffee warm his hands. Now that they were sitting face to face, Harry couldn’t quite look at Malfoy’s face. “Well…”
“Perhaps I should start first,” Malfoy said. “I have to apologise—I am apologising for all the things I did in school. The insults. The fighting. The badges.” Malfoy grimaced. “Breaking your nose. That entire sixth year. The War. There are likely more infractions you remember that I don’t—and I’m. I’m sorry.”
Harry gripped his coffee a little tighter. “Great,” he said drily despite himself. “That really makes everything better.”
Malfoy’s eyes were dark. “And that’s why an apology is never enough. That’s why I hadn’t tried, aside from Luna who reached out first. But that’s a bad reason for not apologising. So I am. Muggles and muggleborns and all. They’re not...they are different. But no less deserving of being treated like people. After the War, I was forced to interact with Muggles. I took up a jewellery apprenticeship.”
Harry perked up, and Malfoy gave him a wry look.
“I’m not going to be best friends with a Muggle. My entire life is magic, and such deception would never make a good friendship. But I won’t make the same mistakes. I’ll endeavor to not be complicit, either.” He gave a bitter snort. “Much to my parents’ disapproval.” He sighed, and met Harry’s eyes.
“Maybe it’s not enough, maybe it’ll never be enough. But nonetheless. Will you forgive me?”
Harry stared at Malfoy. At his sincere grey eyes, the way his lips were pressed together, and Harry felt it in his gut.
People can change. Malfoy has changed.
Harry had thought Malfoy hadn’t mattered, really, in the grand scheme of things. Malfoy had been a pawn, and Voldemort the true villain. But clearly Malfoy did matter. Malfoy’s apology mattered.
Most—not all, but most—of Harry’s tension faded. “I do,” he said. Harry was rewarded when Malfoy relaxed, lips softening from their tight press. Malfoy took a sip of his drink, and it was Harry’s turn.
“Firstly. I’m not such a big shot in the Ministry as you think,” Harry admitted. “I mostly sort papers and make Hermione caffeinated drinks. I failed Auror-training because—it reminded me too much of the war. And the culture...it was toxic.”
That was the word Hermione had used. But while Hermione could keep on fighting for changes in the DMLE and the Ministry as a whole, Harry couldn’t, not really, though he’d tried to help however he could to make Hermione’s workload less.
“I fought Voldemort. I fought for equality, not for the reverse to happen.” Harry paused, gathering himself up. “So I’m sorry I tried to attack you. Without even thinking properly, like in sixth year. But not thinking, careless attacking—that’s not an excuse.”
Malfoy gave a head-tilt of acknowledgement. “I forgave you for sixth year a long time ago,” he said. He smiled, even if his eyes were a little empty. “Back then, I wouldn’t have protested if it’d killed me.”
Harry blinked, eyes focusing. “Malfoy?”
“Wouldn’t have protested. I don’t seek death,” Malfoy said.
It struck a chord in Harry. Harry had tried to talk to Hermione about it, but she believed so strongly in actively pursuing life, in actively avoiding death. But Harry couldn’t feel it like that. But Malfoy understood.
Harry took in a shaky breath. “So. Will forgive me for my recent actions?”
Their gazes held, and Harry’s heart beat and Harry’s lungs breathed.
“It sounds like we’re getting married,” Harry said, offering a smile.
Malfoy snorted, a smirk growing on his face. “It does.”
“I took apart that pendant I bought from you ages ago,” Harry admitted. “Looked at the runes. But now I can’t put it back together again.”
Malfoy fidgeted. He produced a small box and slid it across the table towards Harry. “Actually. I made something else. As part of my apology.”
Harry glanced at Malfoy, and opened it up. Nestled snugly inside was a bracelet, made of moon and star and cloud shapes.
“The sweet-dreams bracelet,” Malfoy murmured, finger hovering of the bracelet. “It helps invoke happier sleep by helping to regulate the air temperature around you, and there’s a calming component. And if you place it near your ear, you can activate music, which you can charm to be whatever you want. Right now, I’ve charmed it with Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. To use it, you simply need to hold it before you go to bed, and think of anything that has made you happy, or calm during the day. Any positive emotion will be repeated.”
“Wow. Malfoy. I...thanks.” He stared at the bracelet, let his finger brush along it. It was metal, but it felt supple and soft like fabric—Malfoy must have charmed it somehow.
“I could still fix your pendant, for free,” Malfoy added. “Just bring it to the shop...or to my home.”
“Really,” Malfoy said.
“I’ll come by tomorrow afternoon,” Harry decided.
Harry held out his hand. And after a moment, Malfoy took it with a firm, warm shake.
Harry couldn’t tell if it was the sweet-dreams bracelet, or the wonderfully blue-sky morning, or that absence of guilt and suspicion and anger, but Harry woke up the next day feeling more refreshed than he had in ages. The bracelet’s magic was subtle: he didn’t notice it in the morning until he took it off.
Rejuvenated, Harry cleaned up—he destroyed his copies of Malfoy’s files and all of his subsequent notes. He retrieved all the pieces of the pendant, and he decided to bake some scones.
The surprised look on Malfoy’s face when Harry gave him the scones really was much better than all the dark looks before.
“I packed jars of jam and cream,” Harry added pointedly.
At that, Malfoy snorted. “Please, join me for afternoon tea then,” he said dryly.
They headed to Malfoy’s workshop, and Malfoy cast his own diagnostic spells on the pieces.
“It’s not as poorly as I feared,” Malfoy said.
Harry rolled his eyes, and trailed after Malfoy as he dropped the gem into a potion. For the pendant, Malfoy cast some unknown spell, and gently shaped it back to its original form with light long fingers and tiny-headed soft hammers.
After the pendant was cleaned, Malfoy infused the runes with magic: He didn’t say anything, instead placing the tip of his wand on the pendant. A soft glow of magic issued from the pendant, which only faded away when Malfoy lifted his wand. But if Harry looked at the corner of his eye, he could catch a magical shininess from it.
The red gem—red apatite, Malfoy reminded him—was slotted into its old position. Malfoy then used slender pliers to bend the prongs back into position.
With a smirk, Malfoy presented the pendant back to Harry.
“Thanks, Malfoy,” Harry said, gingerly taking it. His fingertips could detect the slight buzz of fresh magic, something he was increasingly becoming familiar with.
“You’re welcome,” Malfoy said graciously. “Set up afternoon tea in the lounge, will you? The tea leaves canister is on the counter.”
Harry pulled a face. “Tea leaves?”
“...Leave the tea to me,” Malfoy’s voice was strained.
Harry smirked. “Cheers, Malfoy,” he said, affecting a jaunty tone. He grabbed the scones, jars and cutlery from the kitchen and placed everything on the coffee table, after he shoved enough books aside (gently shoved, since Harry knew Hermione and hence the basics of Book Care). He startled at the knock on the front door.
He froze, waiting to see if there was another knock. Instead, Malfoy hurried by to open the front door.
“Bonjour, Fleur!” Malfoy said, followed by some more French that Harry didn’t understand.
Harry quickly straightened when Fleur entered.
“We were about to have afternoon tea, if you would join us,” Malfoy continued in English.
Fleur’s eyebrows went up. “Afternoon, ‘Arry,” she said, a knowing look in her eye.
“Hullo,” Harry said.
“I must depart soon for afternoon tea with my children,” Fleur said. “Next time?”
“Of course. If you’ll follow me…”
The two blondes—though Malfoy’s blond was more white—headed to the workshop. Harry snatched up a book with a lot of pictures, intent on appearing like he was doing something when the two came passing back.
It turned out that he’d picked up a book on Defensive Magic which honestly fascinated him. When he looked up, he was surprised to see Malfoy sitting next to him on the sofa and pouring them both tea.
“Gone home,” Malfoy said, with a smirk hovering over his lips.
“I was good at defence back at Hogwarts,” he said defensively.
Malfoy peered at him over his cup of tea. “I have many more such books on defence, though most of them are either related to potions or runes.”
“But I could translate for you,” Malfoy offered.
“—If you help me with something in return.”
Ah. Honestly, Harry found that he wouldn’t mind spending more time with Malfoy.
“You’ll need to tell me what it is before I can agree,” Harry said with a pointed look.
Malfoy rolled his eyes and stood up, and Harry made himself a scone in the meanwhile—clotted cream first.
Malfoy returned with a notebook, and he crinkled his nose at Harry.
“It should be jam first,” he said.
Harry shrugged. “Tastes all the same once you chew it,” he said. He took another bite for demonstration. “So,” he said, after swallowing, “What are you working on right now?”
Malfoy gave Harry a thoughtful look. “Well, in Korean history, silver chopsticks and cutlery is used in part to detect poison—or rather, arsenic.”
“You want to have poison-detection charms on cutlery?” Harry jumped in.
Malfoy blinked. “Oh, no, they’ve already done so, centuries ago. No, rather, I have a ring in mind that will detect malaise from the air. However, I haven’t been able to track down a sufficiently compact spell to fit upon a small ring.”
Harry sat up. “I do know one, kind of—I use it for quick scans on the stuff bought up to the Minister’s Office.”
Malfoy leaned back in his chair and lifted his tea cup. “Now do tell more, Potter.”
And so Harry did—and just like that, he settled into a new routine with Malfoy.
It was a few weeks since Draco had started working with Potter.
His project with Potter was in its own station, tiny strips of metal infusing in different tester potions. But right now, Draco was working on a commission, smoothing an opal down to size.
Once the opal felt soft to touch, Draco submerged it into a tiny glass cauldron bubbling away with a modified clarity-wit potion. It would take a day for the potion to infuse, and would leave the opal with a rainbow shine and sparkle.
Pausing briefly to stretch, Draco moved over to his main desk where he had his engraving and shaping tools and glasses. He slipped the glasses on, adjusting the sight-magnification charm to bring the delicate piece in place at the center of the clear circle into sharp relief.
With an engraver with a fine, thin point, he slowly added details to the piece that Ginevra Weasley had commissioned from him; the circling lines of the radish, and the delicate structures of the two gold leaves. Inside, he had space for the opal, and the tiniest message, For My Love.
Despite everything that happened to her, Draco thought Luna was lucky. He wasn’t jealous of Luna having Ginevra, but more that Luna had Someone. Someone who loved her so much that they would go to Draco to commission a present—a present that wasn’t even for any particular special day, but just because Ginevra loved Luna.
As for Draco...he had his mother, and Pansy, and Blaise. He had Luna, sometimes. Potter, recently. But most of the time, he was alone. Alone in his shop, in his workshop, or alone in his house in general. He paused at his engraving to touch the dragon pendant underneath his clothes: it issued a warm sense of safe at his nudge.
He finished etching in For My Love on the inside of the locket. He took off the glasses and headed to the final polishing station in his workshop.
“Oh, DRACO!” came Pansy’s call.
Draco kept polishing, and didn’t flinch when Pansy rested a hand on his shoulder.
“What’s been keeping you lately?” she said, conjuring a tall stool next to him.
“Busy with commissions,” Draco said, not looking up. “And how are you?”
Pansy leaned in. “That looks really pretty.”
“Thanks ever so, Pansy.”
“Romantic,” she added pointedly. “You should go out more. Talk to people.”
Draco gritted his teeth and hunched over as he continued the final touches on the locket. “Talk about what?” he said. “It never works, Pansy. All I do is jewellery making and runes work and experimental potions.”
“Which—ergo—you should get out more and do stuff,” Pansy said. “Or you could, you know, have a stiff drink and get laid. Who the fuck cares about pureblood propriety? And for that matter, you’re a man, not a woman, so that virginity nonsense doesn’t even apply to you.”
Draco bit his tongue to stop a retort, muscles stiffening. He already knew he was somehow different. It wasn’t even—about being gay like Blaise had tried to get him to confess.
“I’m busy,” he said a little sharply. “It’s complex and interesting, and highly preferable than what you’re implying.”
When Pansy didn’t say anything, Draco stopped and looked up.
Pansy had a complicated expression on her face. “Maybe you should...see a Healer?”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” he snapped. “I’ve already done my time seeing a mind healer.”
Pansy held her hands up. “I didn’t mean it like that,” she said, expression contrite.
“Are we going out for dinner tonight?”
Pansy’s eyes dipped. “There’s a get together at one of the new wizarding bars. Thought you could come along—it’s queer friendly. But actually, I wondered if you could update my defense pendant?”
“No. And of course, I’ll do that right now.” Draco left the locket on the table and turned fully to Pansy.
Pansy undid the necklace from the back of her neck, and lifted the pendant to Draco.
The amount of magic left in it was dangerously low—enough for at most one weak Protego. But he had updated it hardly a month ago.
“I have some new ones,” he said abruptly. “They have updated spellwork—there might be one that’ll match your outfit tonight better.”
After he had Pansy sorted out with a handful of new charmed pieces, Draco took a closer look at the spellcasting history of Pansy’s old pendant.
The Notice-Me-Not charms had been broken somehow, and the triggered Protegos had used more magic than expected. A coldness spread in Draco’s belly, and he pulled out his notes for some of the more powerful charms work he could do.
With Malfoy hovering over his shoulder, and the Ancient Runes text open in front of him, Harry attempted to translate some of the detection and defense spells he knew into runes. Harry finished with a slash across the bottom and looked back up at Malfoy.
“...Perhaps I should do the translation,” Malfoy said. “After consultation with you with the intent of the spell.”
“I’ll write you a list,” Harry decided, “Of the spells that I know, as well as some dark-magic counters.”
Malfoy’s eyes widened a little. “Oh. You will?”
Harry shrugged. “Yeah, sure. I’ll just pop back to Grimmauld Place for some books.”
Now, Harry had never thought he was much of a swot. He had been a quidditch player in Hogwarts, great at practical defence-against-dark-arts, had gone on physical missions during the War. But Malfoy was right, there was something about researching defensive magic that had Harry engaged: he was constantly comparing new spells to old ones, finding the patterns of similarity, and points of difference, between them. And recently, sitting at one of Malfoy’s desks in his workshop, Malfoy’s books and his own books scattered across the table, Harry was starting to think up new spells that merged and combined old ones with a touch of his own twist.
And perhaps he could talk about this with Hermione too, but Hermione wasn’t here. Malfoy was, and Malfoy was receptive to Harry’s questions. Because yes Harry could create a new, better spell, but wouldn’t it be even cooler if Harry could tailor a spell to some suitable materials that Malfoy would eventually use to make the charmed objects?
“Well,” Harry said as he scoffed down Thai takeaway at Malfoy’s dining table. “I never thought I’d willingly work late nights.”
Hermione and Ron were out on their date night, and Hermione had looked relieved when Harry told her had actually had plans too. She had been more than happy to lend Harry some of her books, too.
“But it doesn’t feel like work,” Malfoy said.
Harry smiled. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Malfoy’s eyes softened, and Harry felt softened too. Harry hadn’t felt this connected with someone since he’d become best-friends-forever with Ron and Hermione.
“Say,” he said impulsively, “Why don’t we go for a picnic someday? Get out of your stuffy house?”
“It’s a warehouse conversion. It’s not stuffy,” Malfoy said primly.
“Or we could go gemstone mining. There has to be places in the UK, right?”
“A day trip.”
“You don’t open the shop most days,” Harry pointed out. “And I only work part time. Why not? You might be able to gain extra benefits from refining gemstones yourself.” Harry smirked when he saw Malfoy’s expression wavered. Malfoy had already decided: Harry just needed to convince him just a tiny more…
And so, in the following week, Harry and Malfoy were dressed for the outdoors and traipsing around Loch Tay in the central highlands of Scotland. It was more of a hike on the Cairngorm mountains than a treasure-search per-se, but Malfoy didn’t seem to be complaining, and Harry certainly wasn’t.
“We don’t need gems,” Malfoy muttered. “Wood, stone, they can all be charmed, and with their own specialities.”
Which led to Harry searching the ground for nice rocks and pebbles.
“Stone and pebbles aren’t as reflective,” Malfoy told him as he accepted Harry’s collection with good humour. “It makes them more suitable for slow-release spells, like temperature charms, or energy enhancers without the post-caffeine crash.”
“Now that could be a huge cash cow,” Harry said. “Bet Hermione wouldn’t mind one.”
Malfoy rolled his eyes and shooed Harry back into looking for rocks. After Malfoy found some quartz using fancy detection spells he’d read up on before the trip (Swot, Harry had accused him, and Pot calling the kettle black, Malfoy had retorted), they headed to a nice spot overlooking the rolling mountains, and Harry took out the picnic he had prepared earlier.
They ate, and they talked, and Harry sprawled back and viewed both Malfoy and the scenery.
The way that Malfoy’s eyes fixed on him as they talked: the way Malfoy’s attention was focused on him, was intoxicating, and Harry was loathed to depart from Malfoy at the end of the day.
But they didn’t say goodbye, they said I’ll see you later.
One early warm spring day, Harry decided to surprise Malfoy. After dropping by Diagon Alley, he headed to Malfoy’s shop.
He held the two cups of ice cream in hand and squinted—with wandless magic—to pull Malfoy’s shop door open. “Oi, Malfoy—” he called out.
Two Aurors turned to face him.
“Mr Potter,” one said. He gave Harry a firm nod.
“Mr. Potter,” the other one said. She glanced at him, and then back at Malfoy. “You know of Mr. Malfoy?”
“We’re friends,” Harry said. He shifted closer to Malfoy, and held out one of the ice cream cups. “There was a special treacle tart flavour. Thought I’ll get one for each of us.”
Malfoy gave him a strained smile. “These Aurors are here for my monthly inspection. You don’t mind waiting?”
Harry’s expression flattened a little. He took the initiative to cast a cold-charm over the ice creams and leant casually against Malfoy’s shop counter. “I’ll wait right here.”
The two Aurors glanced at each other.
“Right,” the witch said. “We’ll begin the diagnostics.”
The two Aurors cast aggressively, in both the front room and the back area which Harry knew had a kitchenette and a bathroom. They proceeded to ask Malfoy questions—under a Muffliato.
So this is what an “inspection” looks like, Harry thought, eyes narrowed. He tracked the Aurors as they headed to the door on their way out, before saying, “Business inspections are done by the Regulations subdepartment. This is a waste of DMLE resources.”
“This is simply part of our preventive strategy,” the witch said with a condescending smile. “Better to nip things in the bud before someone gets hurt.”
Harry gave the witch a suspicious look. He hadn’t heard about this particular initiative. “I’ll have a chat with certain people, then.”
“Please do, Mr. Potter.” The two Aurors nodded their heads in a facsimile of politeness, and left.
“That wasn’t an inspection, that was a search,” Harry told Malfoy. “You could refuse them if they don’t have a warrant...technically.”
“Technically,” Malfoy agreed. He sighed, and took his ice cream. “Treacle tart is your favourite flavour, not mine.”
“All the more for me if you don’t finish it then,” Harry shrugged.
Malfoy gave him a deadpan look. “Absolutely incorrigible, Potter.”
“Oh, I don’t even try.” Harry grinned and made a huge scoop with the little spoon that was provided.
The ice cream and Malfoy’s presence chased away Harry’s unsettled feeling. He’d talk to Hermione later: right now, he was following Malfoy back to his house for another researching afternoon together.
In the quiet early morning, when only the memory of Potter’s presence occupied the workshop and when the skies were still dark, Draco started on a new project.
Instead of silver, he selected a more down-to-earth steel that was just as reflective. With an eye on an image of flowers in one of his books, Draco used a dark marker to trace out three increasingly small flower-shapes on the thin sheet metal, and a Metallum Diffindo charm on a metal pen to cut the pieces out. The edges were sand-papered and needle-filed down til they felt smooth and buttery.
A short Incendio and a longer cool-down in air annealed the steel, making it soft enough for Draco to firmly shape. Draco diligently hammered the petals into grooves in the fixed wooden block of the table, constantly adjusting, selecting different groves, to get the flow and curve he wanted. The overall cup of the petals was formed by hammering the center onto a firm cushion.
Draco then made the delicate little stamen and pistils using tiny tweezers and funneled incendios to attach tiny spheres of metal to the tips of steel wire. He also made a tiny little hole near the top of one of the petals, where he’ll later hook up to a fine chain.
Done for the session, Draco let the pieces rest in a discreet black-velvet-lined box. He allowed himself a smile as his eyes traced the shine, the curve, the shape of the pieces. It was beautiful, and he hoped his recipient would accept it.
Harry felt a soft haze of dream. Indistinct chatter, a twinkle of laughter, and fine fingers charming more than just the shiny jewels.
Soft kisses, fingers threading fingers, grey eyes and a bright smile that bordered on a smirk...
Harry woke up, a feeling of warmth in his chest. Thin strips of sunlight that peeked through the gaps in the curtains bode well for the day ahead. Harry rolled over, half expecting Malfoy to be in his bed.
And then Harry made the last jump to proper wakefulness.
That made no sense. Fine, yes, Harry’s chest felt light and fluttery at the thought of kissing Malfoy. But there wasn’t...anything else. There was no burn in his chest like there had been with Ginny.
The sweet-dreams bracelet on his wrist was warm with Malfoy’s magic.
Harry felt cold. Had Malfoy somehow charmed a delayed love spell into it? Harry’s head fogged up, barely seeing as he tugged the bracelet off and dropped it at its usual spot on his bedside.
He had planned to surprise Malfoy at lunch, skiving off from work. But the thought of seeing Malfoy made him sick.
They were friends, Harry repeated to himself. He didn’t want to kiss Malfoy, or any wizard at all. It was just a hypothetical, a stray thought of what it would be like if he were gay.
A dream, a bitter voice inside of him said, that was due to the bracelet.
Calm. Deep breaths. Slow thoughts. Harry had already been suspicious of Malfoy when there was nothing. What would Malfoy gain from Harry’s affections?
Fame. Increased standing in the wizarding world. A better name for the Malfoys. Increased patronage at Malfoy’s jewellery shop, which surely wasn’t breaking even.
Each new reason Harry found made his chest tighter, his stomach heavier. Each new reason gave weight to Malfoy’s purposeful love charm on the bracelet.
Because the opposite reason—that Harry imagined kissing Malfoy on his own—made absolutely no sense at all.
And so Harry didn’t surprise Malfoy with lunch that day.
The shop was closed for the day, hence Draco was at home for lunch. To his dismay, his cold food cupboard was lacking. It was the final push that led Draco to finally leave the house. He headed to Wizarding London first to restock his potions ingredients, and found himself smiling fondly when he saw the treacle tart ice cream being boldly advertised outside Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. Maybe one day he’ll take Potter to his favourite ice cream place in Muggle London.
“What are you smiling about?” A wizard, standing outside the ice cream parlour, scowled at Draco.
Draco quickly took a half step back. “Nothing, sir,” he said.
The wizard sneered, but he didn’t come any closer, and Draco hurried away, head ducking down from the looks the interaction had drawn.
His dragon pendant was a solid weight against his chest. He turned the corner to his shop. The street was quiet, as most people were out for lunch, and the tension in Draco’s chest eased as he saw his shop whole and untouched.
The red stunner slammed into the pendant’s raised shield so hard that Draco was thrown forward, head knocking painfully against a shop facade. His bag of potions ingredients thumped against the wall with sounds of cracking and a horrid smell. Need to add a cushioning charm to the pendant, a ridiculous voice in his head said. Draco pushed back from the wall, pain blooming, when another spell came from the side and knocked him off his feet.
Draco grimaced and turned to face his assailant. His face was obscured with a charm, the fucking bastard.
“Everyone’s too polite to say it—but it’s high time you heard it, Malfoy. No one wants the likes of you Death Eaters here.” He raised his wand and pointed unerring to Draco’s heart and sneered. “Now allow me to teach you a lesson.”
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.
By the power of my love, let me protect you. Með veldi minnar ástar láttu mik vernda þik. meþ : uældi : minar : astar : latu : mik : uærnda : þik.