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“Potter, a word.”

Harry paused, feathered quill hanging mid air—splattering his report with a glob of ink. He grimaced, looking up to see Malfoy hovering in the open doorway.

“What do you want, Malfoy?” Ron asked, beating Harry to the question. “Your office is on the other side of the floor. I know you were partnered with Harry here while I was on paternity leave but I’m back now so you can sulk off back to your office.”

Ron caught Harry’s eye and grinned, lifting an eyebrow at him as if to say see, we don’t need him.

Privately, Harry was of the opinion that Malfoy had been actually been a good partner—reliable and steadfast—during Ron’s absence. Admittedly he’d also been a complete and utter pain in the arse but it was Malfoy so that was basically a given. But Harry resisted the urge to say any of that out loud. Ron had only been back at the Ministry for a week now and had already had two minor breakdowns—the first when Harry pointed out that Malfoy had a good way of organizing case files and the second when Harry mentioned knowing how Malfoy took his tea. Ron blamed them both on the stressors of juggling parenthood and a career but Harry knew that it was more than that. He knew that the fact that he and Malfoy had worked well together for the last few months, successfully closing several cases and not killing each other, had led to Ron fearing he was somehow replaceable as a partner and a best mate.

Harry had tried to tell him otherwise but Ron had gone a bit red in the face like Molly and insisted he wasn’t worried about anything to do with Malfoy, so Harry was wisely letting that door remain shut. At least for now.

“Weasly, it’s so nice to see you not in robes covered in spit up today.”

Ron’s cheeks went splotchy as he frowned. “I wish I could say there as anything nice about seeing you, but sadly I’ve never been as good of a liar as you have.”

If Malfoy was offended, he hid it well—brushing imaginary lint from his robe sleeve and feigning disinterest.

“As I was saying to Potter, and Potter alone, I need a word.”

“What for?” Harry asked, swiveling his chair around to get a better look at Malfoy without craning his neck.

He was dressed in the same standard issue Auror robes as everyone else. But unlike Harry, whose robes were hanging over the back of his chair, or Ron’s, whose were undone and hanging open to reveal his Chudley Cannons shirt beneath, Malfoy had his done up perfectly. The buttons across his chest gleamed brightly and the collar lay smooth against the fair skin of his neck.

Harry swallowed, shaking his head. Now was not the appropriate time to notice how Malfoy’s bloody robes fit him. If Ron could read his thoughts he would’ve kicked Harry beneath the desk. Thankfully mind reading was not a skill Ron possesed.

“You filled out page four wrong for the Abbot case. I’m going to need you to follow me to my office and make the necessary corrections.” When Harry didn’t immediately jump up, Malfoy sighed heavily, raising his eyebrows. “Immediately.”

“You know you're not Harry’s boss. You can’t just barge in here and make demands of his time,” Ron snarked, seemingly even more put out than Harry was. He appreciated the camaraderie even if it wasn’t necessary.

If Harry had learned anything being partnered up with Malfoy the last few months it was that his bark was infinitely worse than his bite. Whatever imaginary issue Malfoy thought he’d found with Harry’s report could be easily handled and then Harry could get back to his own office and back to his life. A life that did not include Malfoy on a daily base.

Not anymore anyway.

“Its fine, Ron. I’ll be right back, yeah?”

Rob grumbled something unintelligible, face screwed up in obvious displeasure. Harry made a mental note to bring Ron back a very strong, very sweet cup of tea when he finished dealing with Malfoy.

“Honestly you make flobberworms look fast,” Malfoy tutted. “This century would be preferred, Potter.”

Ron gave Malfoy one last withering look before resuming his paperwork.

Harry resisted the urge to make a rude gesture in Malfoy’s direction, instead pulling his robe on as slowly as humanly possible.

Malfoy let out a displeased sound not unlike a wounded erumpent when he realized what Harry was doing. It did not deter Harry in the least, who smiled to himself, taking great pleasure in the tedious process of doing up all twenty seven shimmering silver buttons across the chest without magic.

“So what exactly did you want?” Harry asked, shoving his hands into his robe pockets and rocking on his heels.

“I really have to wonder how on earth you’ve survived thus far if your listening comprehension is so slow. I told you, you filled out the—“

“I did not fucking fill out page four wrong and you know it,” Harry snapped, patience worn thin.

Things had been fine and dandy back in his and Ron’s office. But they weren’t there any longer. They were in Malfoy’s office. The place they’d spent most of their time over the last few months—first because Malfoy insisted and then because Harry found he rather liked the peace and quiet that came from working in there since no one ever knocked on Malfoy’s office door with inane questions the way they did Harry’s. It was just that being back in Malfoy’s office was dredging up things best left in the past.

“Potter, you are the most insufferable human being I’ve known in my entire life.”

Harry grinned. “Thank you.”

Malfoy pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned. “I cannot fucking believe I like you.”

“You—wait, what?”

“I suppose the word like would be an over exaggeration to describe how I feel. A more accurate representation of my feelings for you would be to say that I slightly less than hate you.”

It was Harry’s turn to sigh. Malfoy wasn’t making any bloody sense, as usual lately.

“I have a lot of reports to finish, Malfoy. Just tell me what you wanted so I can go back.”

“Yes I’m sure you’re absolutely dying to get back to Weasley. He’s a much better friend and partner than I could ever be, right? Now that you don’t need to resign yourself to working with me you can go back to pretending I don’t exist like you have been all week.”

“Excuse me?” Harry choked out, too shocked to say much else.

Malfoy averted his gaze, staring at his Auror certification that hung on the wall beside a photo of him with his mother. Harry tried to will Malfoy to turn and look at him again but unfortunately it didn’t work.

“You heard me,” Malfoy said a moment later. “Go back to Weasley. Run along now I have no need for you.”

Only years of therapy and Auror mandated meditation classes helped Harry calm his temper—breathing deeply through his nose and biting back the sharp retort that was on the tip of his tongue. Fighting wasn’t going to do anyone any good.

“I was doing what you asked,” Harry said, forcing the words out slowly—inflicting them with what he hoped sounded like a fuck ton more calmness than he inwardly possesed right at that moment.

He’d thought getting along with Malfoy when they were nothing more than work acquaintances had been difficult. Doing it now was infinitely worse. Now that Harry knew exactly what the other man was like when he let his guard down. Worse still when he could recall the lingering taste of firewhiskey and chocolate from their first and only kiss last week.

Last week, right before they’d found out Ron would be returning from paternity leave a fortnight early.

Right before Malfoy had told Harry in no uncertain terms that they were better off as nothing more than colleagues.

“Oh for fucks sake,” Draco exclaimed, spinning around to face Harry. A bit of his perfectly slicked back hair had escaped, falling into his eyes. “You never listen to a bloody word I say. Why in the absolute fuck would you start now you fucker?”

“Fuck you,” Harry shot back, still trying to process Malfoy’s words but definteily feeling offended.

“You make me crazy, you know that, Potter.”

“Yeah, well the feeling is mutual,” Harry shot back, tilting his chin up defiantly at Malfoy.

Then to Harry’s complete and utter surprise Malfoy pulled his wand out of his wrist holster, cast a quick silencio and screamed. Not a soft grunt or a shriek but an honest to goodness scream.

Harry was so startled he didn’t react immediately, instead simply remaining quite still with his hands at his sides and his mouth agape as he stood there in the middle of Draco Malfoy’s office wondering what the fuck had happened in the last few months that something like this was now his life.

Then, because life apparently had a way of surprising Harry even when he thought nothing could surprise him, Malfoy strode across the room and cupped Harry’s face in his hands before leaning down to kiss him. Malfoy didn’t taste like firewhiskey and chocolate this time, he tasted minty like the breath freshening charm Harry knew he favored. His hands were cold but his touch gentle as he deepened the kiss—cradling Harry’s face between his hands and knocking his glasses askew.

When Malfoy pulled out of the kiss a few seconds later Harry was dazed—hands still at his sides and his lips kiss-swollen. It took him a few extra seconds to accept that yes, Malfoy had just kissed him. He reached up to straighten his glasses, then tried to do the same to his hair but gave up when it became clear the weird piece sticking up in the front was going to stay there like that, making Harry look a bit like a deranged elf.

“So uh, is this an I don’t hate you kiss or— “

“Insufferable. Pain in my fucking arse. Absolutely the most difficult fucking human alive. What in the bloody fuck am I going to do with you? I cannot believe this is happening to me,” Draco moaned. “Fine, if you absolutely must know I like you a perfectly normal and healthy amount. No more and no less. And don’t let it go to your massive head either. There, does that make you happy?”

Harry pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, trying to fight back a smile. “It’s a start.”

Malfoy guffawed, looking deeply put out. It was cute. Harry would be mad at himself for having those kinds of thoughts about Draco fucking Malfoy but since Malfoy had kissed him first it was his fault. That thought alone made Harry smile.

A start,” Malfoy echoed. “Oh sweet Merlin, what else do you want?”

“A date,” Harry answered.

“A date,” Malfoy repeated.

“Yes,” Harry affirmed, preparing himself for the downfall. It didn’t come.

“Oh, well— yes. You have my Floo address. You can pick me up at eight. I appreciate imported chocolates and good food.”

“Anything else?” Harry asked, chest fluttering as he fought back a smile.

Draco cleared his throat, cheeks pinking. “You may also wish to prepare for the possibility of not returning to your own dwelling tonight. Just in case.”

Just in case. Oh. Oh.

Harry didn’t bother containing his smile any longer. “I knew you liked me.”

Draco scoffed, reaching out to fist a hand in Harry’s robes and pull him close. “You’re never going to let me live this down are you?”

“Not a fucking chance,” Harry agreed, settling his hands on Malfoy’s hips.

Before Malfoy could say anything else, Harry rose up to kiss him, pleased at the little huff of surprise Malfoy let out as Harry’s lips touched his—even more pleased to be the one doing the surprising for once.

Malfoy acquiesced to him easily, and Harry was somehow both surprised and not at all surprised at how easily they slotted together. When Harry eventually broke the kiss it was only to catch his breath, resting his forehead against Malfoy’s and giving him a shit eating grin he knew would drive the other man bonkers.

“Absolutely insufferable,” Malfoy muttered, winding his arms around Harry’s waist.

“Right back at you,” Harry exhorted. “Besides, you’re stuck with me now. So there.”

Malfoy sighed dramatically, fingers spreading out across Harry’s back as he settled his palm at Harry’s lower back. “Yeah, I suppose I am.”