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a little bit of grit

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Draco arrives at dusk. The sky overhead is a dull and darkening orange, the moon full and high and the stars already visible out where he is, in the middle of nowhere. There is mud on his shoes, his ankles, splattered along his calves, the trail he’d had to walk damp with the constant drizzle. He swallows a tired sigh and carries on.

The Inn is only a little thing: shoddy at best, the grass overgrown and half the lights bust or broken. It’s hardly what he’s used to, but then, he reasons, he’s not here for a holiday. His work will only take a day, two at most; it’ll do.

He pushes past the wooden door, the hinges squeaking as it falls shut behind him, and scans the foyer for a reception desk. The woman on shift doesn’t acknowledge him as he approaches, her eyes glued to the book she’s reading even as he reaches the counter.

“Name?” she asks, turning a page.

Draco’s too exhausted to indulge his irritation. His response is swift, clipped. “Malfoy,” he tells her, half-expecting the usual disdain, but there’s no reaction here, not like there would be in the wizarding world. Instead, the woman reaches above her and fumbles for a key, not bothering with small talk.

“Room twenty-seven,” she says, pointing to a doorway past his shoulder. Her accent is heavy: thick and northern. He smells cigarettes and stale bourbon on her breath. “Up an’ to the left.”

His thanks is murmured as he turns on his heel. He follows her directions and finds a series of stairs, several other patrons milling around as he trudges over worn carpet, its threads fraying to reveal the wood underneath. No one talks to him and he doesn’t talk to them, the occasional curious glance ignored as he makes his way to his room.

The room itself is exactly what he’d thought it would be: small and sparse, clean, but only just. Draco dumps his bag on the bed and sits beside it, eyelids heavy as he reaches to undo the clasps. He aches for a nap, but he knows it wouldn’t do him any good; he has a hard enough time sleeping away from Scorpius as it is, never mind when he’s in some Muggle dump with mattresses harder than Malfoy Manor’s marble countertops. There’s work to be done anyway, he thinks, and dinner to get to in an hour. He’ll be better off if he waits.

Sitting back against the headboard, Draco summons his research and lays it over his lap, the edges crinkled and parchment faded. His handwriting is uncharacteristically messy, the notes written for his eyes only; Fyeed is scrawled across the top of the first page, several arrows drawn beneath and linking to additional information. A special kind of flower, it says, known for its healing ability: rare and useless if not picked the morning after the full moon. Draco has spent the past three months trying to find it, his last two attempts leading him nowhere but empty fields and weed-ridden forests. He’d scouted properly this time, though—had even recruited his father for help—and he knows he’s in the right place.

He has no intention of leaving empty handed.

 


 

In addition to information on the flora surrounding the Inn, Draco’s research consists mostly of potion recipes revised; he has an overdue order at home, the elixir’s usefulness dependant on the seeds of the fyeed flower, and he can’t leave it waiting any longer. His client is already too sick for most Healers to bother with, and he knows he’s their last chance. It’s why he’d planned his trip meticulously, every potential variable thought through to ensure success.

But even the most punctilious plans can go to shit, especially when coming across a dead man is not something one prepares for.

He’s in the dining hall when it happens. It can hardly be called that. The room is dim and cramped, most of the Inn’s visitors seated as they’re served tea. Draco sits tucked away in a corner, a half-empty plate in front of him and a gobstone held between his fingertips. He’d found it amongst his money—most likely put there by his son, he thinks. It seems to be Scorpius’ latest habit, hiding things where they ought not to be. He can only imagine the fun his parents are having with it.

He rolls the ball between thumb and forefinger now, absentminded as he stares out the room’s high windows, the sky overhead an endless span of black and glittering white. The chatter around him is mostly a haze, uninteresting and unimportant. Or, at least, it had been until he’d heard it: that familiar tone, carrying across the room. Low and not as smooth as it once was, but still distinct, unmistakable, familiar.

Severus.

Draco’s head whips around, his gaze flicking across the room until he finds what he’s looking for. He almost doesn’t believe it. Hadn’t expected it, at the very least. But there he is, standing at a counter on the far wall, his elbow resting atop the bench as he’s bent forward in conversation, the woman beside him old and seemingly sickly, her frail frame almost dwarfed by the coat she wears.

Draco strains now, to listen. As if his brain thinks his eyes deceive him. But nothing changes. The man remains, the voice the same—burnt into his memory: his name called in a classroom, hissed in a corridor, whispered as he lay, curled and convulsing, on the cellar floor. His stomach jolts. His fingers flex. The gobstone falls from his hand and he has to scramble to catch it, his gaze fixed across the room as a cigarette is brought to the man’s mouth, his chin tilted, collar shifting, the span of skin exposed scarred with a series of slashes. Black eyes meet his, and Draco swallows.

His heart is in his throat.

 


 

“Didn’t your mother teach you staring is unbecoming?”

It comes from behind him. Draco had dropped his gaze the second he’d seen Severus start to move, had felt oddly like a school-boy again, caught doing something he had no business being around. He looks up now, though, neck craning, eyes dancing over a figure he’d thought he’d forgotten. Evidently he’d been wrong, his brain cataloguing all the slight changes: the scars, white and faded where they run along Severus’ neck, his jaw; the hair, longer than it had been before, a hint of grey visible in the strands tied at his nape; the clothes, no longer the billowing cloak but rather well-worn items from an inconspicuous Muggle wardrobe. Different but the same. Different, but still Severus.

“You’re hardly in a place to lecture,” Draco says eventually, trying to summon his old self. He knows he falls short.

Severus’ mouth twitches as he steps forward, coming round to take the seat across from Draco without invitation. The cigarette is brought to his mouth as he settles against the hard back, the exhale of smoke swirling around them. “You never could be subtle.”

Draco feels a flicker of anger: the first emotion he’s able to identify. It runs up his spine, white-hot. He’s abandoned the gobstone in favour of his drink, and he holds the glass securely between his hands, his fingers clenching, knuckles white. “You were dead the last time I saw you,” he says, his voice tight, body tense. Betrayal or something like it slips through his teeth and fills the space between them; Draco wants to berate himself but can’t.

“Looks can be deceiving,” Severus responds. It’s flippant in a way that crawls under Draco’s skin, in a way he’d never have expected from what he remembers of Professor Snape: cold and cautious, so far from flippant it was scary. It makes his mind scramble, desperate to make sense of what he’s seeing, to get past the brick wall in his brain screaming he should be dead he should be dead he should dead he should be d

“I mourned you,” Draco says, mostly to himself. It’s what he’s struggling with, a distant part of him thinks: logic trying to creep its way into his confusion. Trying to understand how a man he’d cried for, a man he’d grieved, could be sitting in front of him now, seemingly unscathed aside from a few scars.

He takes a deep breath and holds it, slowly letting it out through his nose.

Severus hums, almost inaudible over the hall’s chatter. The last of the smoke is blown to the side, the smell of tobacco pungent. “I suppose you want an apology,” he says, then, stubbing his cigarette on the edge of Draco’s plate.

Draco watches him, an eyebrow arching. He doesn’t think Severus would give him one, even if he meant it. “Go fuck yourself,” he says, voice cracking at the end. The urge to scream it claws at his throat, and Draco clamps his teeth down on his bottom lip, trying to dispel it. The pain brings momentary relief: a point for him to focus on.

Severus’ lips curl, the flash of sharp, yellow teeth disappearing as quick as it comes. His arms are held up in surrender. “If you say so,” he says, almost amused, and Draco feels a spark of anger again, the flicker growing to full-blown flames. The glass between his fingers starts to tremble as Severus stands without another word.

He walks away unbothered. Draco watches, fighting the urge to follow.

 


 

He doesn’t go after Severus, but he does leave the dining hall, seeking solace in his room.

He walks the short strip of carpet, pacing back and forth as he tries to get a grip on his emotions. They sit in his breast, angry and volatile as they swell beside bone, leave his chest tight.

He’d meant what he said: he had mourned Severus. Maybe more than he’d mourned anyone, save Astoria. He still remembers the long, lonely nights he’d spent locked in a cell in Azkaban, impatiently waiting trial while his mother urged Potter to pull every string he could. They’d had the Dementors back by that point, their cold embrace his only company aside from his cellmate’s screams. He’d spent his nights shivering, knees to his chest and back to the wall, his throat thick with the urge to cry as he was forced to relive every moment of loss, every moment of pain or humiliation or the sheer helplessness that’d plagued his time spent under the Dark Lord’s thumb. There were certain things that kept coming back to him: pressure points, really, and Severus had been one of them. The memory of the man, the last words his mother had said before the Aurors had caught up with them, her voice soft the way it got when she was trying to be gentle. He’s dead, she’d told him, not wanting to speak Severus’ name, and through the shock, the denial, the hint of indignation, Draco had felt it: that profound sadness. Grief splitting his heart in two.

It’d taken a long time to put it back together, not that doing so had done him any good.

Now, Draco takes his son’s gobstone in hand and throws it without thinking, satisfaction warming his chest when it hits the wall with a harsh thud. It’s short lived, the momentary relief disappearing almost the second it starts, but it lets him breathe easy, if only for a minute.

He’d felt stupid, then, he recalls. Annoyed with himself for getting so worked up over a man that had lied to him: constantly and rigorously and without remorse.

He feels even more ridiculous now, knowing it’d all been for nothing.

 


 

Fyeed flowers can be found in small clusters along the bush that surrounds the Inn, their orange petals hard to miss when surrounded by so much green. By the time Draco reaches the right opening, the sun has risen, the last scraps of night-time barely visible on the horizon, and Severus is already crouching down beside a series of small shrubs, a wicker basket levitating in the air beside him and brimming with the very flowers Draco had come all this way to find.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Draco says. It’s barely more than a breath, but Severus hears it anyway. He stops mid-movement, head turning to watch as Draco approaches, one hand resting on his hip in a manner reminiscent of his mother. “The rest are mine,” Draco calls out, trying his best to sound definitive.

Severus snorts. “If you think I’m giving up fyeed seeds because of your inability to wake up at a—”

“Oh, piss off.” Draco drops to his knees beside Severus and pulls a miniature container from his pocket, muttering under his breath as he transfigures it back into its normal size. “You’re the reason I was up all night, anyway—coming back from the dead like some sort of fucking va

“Save the theatrics,” Severus says. He inclines his head toward his basket. “What would you even need them for?”

Draco gives him his best glare. “I brew,” he says. He reaches forward and pulls a handful of shrubbery out by the roots, carefully placing it in the container he’d brought specifically to keep the plant fresh. He wants to try growing fyeed flowers himself—has gone as far as to prep a section of the Manor’s gardens; Merlin knows it’ll be easier than coming here every time he needs them.

“You,” Severus says, a note of incredulity to his tone.

Draco bristles. “Yes, me.” He tilts his chin, looking up at the other man. “You used to say I was good at it, remember? Or was that another one of your lies?”

Severus ignores the obvious jab. “I’m merely surprised that a Malfoy would bother himself with such trivial labour. Surely there was a fortune to fall back on?”

Draco hates the insinuation. Can feel last night’s anger rushing back. He struggles not to roll his eyes, feeling all of sixteen again. “My parents aren’t dead,” he says. “I wasn’t magically bestowed billions of Galleons when I fulfilled the family duty and produced a bloody heir. And even if I was—” He shifts, mud seeping into his trousers as his knees sink further into the sodden earth. A hard edge creeps into his voice. “—I don’t do it for the money. I do it to help people.”

It’s strange, saying those words with such fervour. They sound uncommon on a Malfoy’s tongue, and a distant part of Draco wonders if he’s the first of his ancestors to ever say it and actually mean it. From the look Severus gives him, Draco guesses it’s a fair assumption.

“I do contract work for St. Mungo’s,” he explains, turning to pluck a flower from the evergreen. “Research, mostly. On ways to treat blood maledictions.”

He’d been hired a year after Astoria’s death. St. Mungo’s’ Department of Research had contacted him discreetly, unwilling to make it common knowledge that they’d gone and sought an ex-Death Eater to head a project that dealt heavily with Dark Magic. Draco had been reluctant at first: Astoria’s death still raw. She’d left him with a newborn and it’d nearly been his undoing; he’d lasted less than a month before he’d yielded to his mother’s incessant offerings and moved back home, his research starting as little more than something to fill the space Astoria had left behind.

At first it had just been idle reading: sleepless nights spent in Malfoy Manor’s library, scouring through tomes he’d already read after Astoria’s initial diagnosis. His mother had found him more than once, eyes red-rimmed and cheeks wet, his sight bleary as he skimmed page after page, desperate to find something—anything—he might’ve missed in the hopes that he could save someone else from his fate. It’d moved onto brewing eventually, and then full-blown experimentation. He’d always had a love for potions, but he hadn’t anticipated how calming the methodical nature of it would turn out to be. Even Scorpius had loved it, his eyes wide as he sat on Draco’s hip, little hands reaching for every ingredient he could find.

He doesn’t want to admit that the reminder of Severus might’ve helped, too. Especially not when the man is looking at him now, wry amusement colouring his gaze.

“How gallant,” Severus deadpans. It makes irritation spike beneath Draco’s skin. “And why would you be interested in blood maledictions?”

Draco looks Severus in the eye. “Because it’s what killed my wife,” he says, proud when his voice doesn’t shake. He plucks another fyeed flower, pulling it harsher than necessary. Silence follows his words: thick and uncomfortable. Draco waits until it’s suffocating before he speaks again. “What, no smart retort?”

Remorse flickers in the black of Severus’ eyes, something like guilt flashing across his features. “Draco—” he tries, but Draco cuts him off before he can finish.

“Forget it,” he says. He looks away, down toward the flower in his hand. He runs his fingertips over its silky-soft petals and sighs. “But I mean it: the rest of these are mine. I have a potential cure and a client willing to test it. You’re not taking that from me.”

He half expects the man to argue—it seems likely, somehow, with the way he’s been acting—but the argument never comes. Instead, Severus’ response comes in the form of footsteps, leaves crinkling under heavy boots as he walks away.

When Draco dares a glance, he finds the other man long-gone, his basket of fyeed flowers left behind.

 


 

“What do you need them for?”

Draco is standing on the threshold of Severus’ room, arms crossed and eyes blazing. He’d let his anger fester to the point that he’d prowled the dining hall at lunch, searching for Severus to pick a fight. He hadn’t been there, though, and so Draco had wound up at the bar instead. Two drinks in and he’d tried to charm the receptionist for Severus’ room number; four and he’d resorted to bribery.

Now, he stares at Severus, a fair bit past tipsy, his head a mess.

“What,” says Severus. His expression is cautious, the look he gives Draco almost concerned.

Draco ignores it. “The flowers,” he clarifies. He barges past Severus and into the room, not missing the bags laid out over the single bed; obviously the other man had been packing. “What do you need them for?”

Once he’d finished sorting the fyeed flowers, Draco had returned to his room, anger fighting with exhaustion as he tried to untangle his emotions. He’d wanted to make sense of it: not how Severus could be alive, because the how was easy—bottle fame, brew glory, a stopper on death—but why Severus being alive had affected him so. Why he couldn’t seem to think of anything else. Why the thought of Severus faking his death and disappearing felt so bloody much like betrayal.

That was the crux of it, really. Betrayal wasn’t a new feeling, not with Severus, but this type was different. This type made Draco feel like he was seventeen again, huddling with his professor in old, run-down buildings, his days spent waiting for news from the Dark Lord, for a word to let them know they no longer had to hide. There had been something there, Draco had thought, all those years ago. Something that had sprouted between the long nights and the shared meals and the way Draco had kept trying to say sorry while Severus kept telling him to shut it. An almost, he thinks, now. A maybe. Something that never was but could have been; would have been, Draco amends, if Severus had just got over himself. Circe knows he’d wanted.

He’d been in the midst of reliving buried memories when the realisation had hit: it wasn’t Severus faking his death that’d upset him so much, but rather the fact he’d willingly extinguished the potential between them. It was ridiculous, Draco knew. He was an idiot to be upset about something that’d happened over a decade ago, something that’d happened a lifetime ago—he’d gone on to have a wife and child, for Merlin’s sake—but upset he was. Before Astoria, Severus was the only person he’d ever come close to loving, and to have him ripped away without warning… well.

“Don’t tell me you’ve taken to drinking your sorrows like a—”

Answer me.”

It’s louder than Draco intends it to be, but it has the desired effect. Severus quiets, hesitating for a moment. Draco sees it in the way he frowns, the muscles of his jaw twitching.

Eventually, he admits, “I pay my way selling in underground markets.”

Draco stares at him, the noise that leaves his mouth half-scoff, half-sigh; his disbelief is obvious. “You deal poisons,” he says, not quite a question.

Severus’ brow furrows. “No.” His tone has an irritated edge to it. Draco watches as he turns and shuts the door, protective wards cast with a flick of his wand. “I sell common potions to those who need them. To those who can’t afford to buy them at market value.” He walks toward Draco, his step stuttering when Draco moves away. “The fyeed seeds were meant for a batch of Ensola Draught I intended to sell to an old contact in Knockturn Alley. It’s why I’m back in England.”

“Then why leave them for me?” Draco asks. “I don’t need all of them.”

“No,” Severus agrees. “But you deserve them.”

It’s earnest. Serious in a way Severus hasn’t been since Draco had found him in the dining hall, in a way that reminds Draco of the man from his memories. He’s oddly comforted.

Severus steps closer, and Draco can see him struggle with what he says next. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

His voice has gone soft. Draco is once again reminded of being seventeen: of nights spent forced in each other’s pockets, of rare, whispered reassurance and the way Severus’ eyes would look for him, the protective gleam comforting in its familiarity, in its promise. It makes Draco’s chest swell with things he doesn’t want to name.

“Why?”

The softness vanishes. Severus looks at him as if he’s daft. “Why do I not wish to hurt you?” he repeats slowly, as if explaining to a small child. “Surely you c—”

“Why leave in the first place?” Draco corrects. “Why hide?”

If Severus falters, Draco doesn’t catch it. “Do not tell me you cannot understand why I lied,” he says. “Why I left.”

Draco shakes his head, impatient. “Lying I understand,” he says. Lying is something he always understands, but this especially. Potter’s tales of Severus’ work as a spy were one of the things he’d agonised over in Azkaban; he’d spent hours, days, weeks, reworking his mental image of Severus, trying to figure out who the man was between the new information and what he’d experienced himself. His initial reaction had been the same sense of burning betrayal he feels now, only understanding had followed shortly after, forgiveness with it. “Leaving, too. But why play dead?”

Severus’ response is simple. “I saw an opportunity and I took it. You would have done the same.”

“No,” Draco says, and on this he’s certain. “I wouldn’t’ve. I couldn’t leave the people who love me behind. The people I love. My parents—” He cuts himself off, the thought making an image of a life without Scorpius flash through his mind’s eye. He shakes his head to clear it. “No.”

Severus sighs. “I wasn’t leaving anyone behind.” It’s said as if it should be obvious. As if Draco should know this. “I had played my part in the war and there was nothing else left. If Potter hadn’t succeeded, the only thing waiting for me was a slow and painful end.”

Nothing else le—” Draco makes a choked sound, incredulous. “What about me?” he says, and immediately regrets it. It reveals too much, he thinks. Makes him vulnerable. Heat rushes to his cheeks, the pale skin turning a soft pink. It’s worse when he sees Severus’ eyes widen slightly, some of his earlier softness returning, the lines of his face relaxing.

He opens his mouth but says nothing, the silence deafening.

Draco takes pity on them both. “What about the people you fought for?” he adds. “They think you’re a bloody war hero.”

At that, Severus scoffs: quiet and resentful. “Do they?” he asks. His mouth twists to a small, humourless smile. “Do they really? All of them?”

Draco falters. He’d been released from Azkaban the same day the Ministry had awarded Severus a posthumous Order of Merlin, First Class, and he still remembers the outrage—both at his own acquittal and Severus’ praise. Despite Potter’s reverence, every supportive voice had been met with one of disdain, every commendation an instigator of discourse. Too many had been unwilling to look past the title of Death Eater to recognise the circumstances around it; Draco had had half a mind to leave England himself.

Severus looks at him as if he knows what he’s thinking.

“You forget I lived through the aftermath of war once before,” he says. “I know how harsh it can be. I had no desire to do it again.”

“But—”

“Why do you care, Draco?”

Quiet, again. The low tone cutting through Draco’s sentence like it used to do a rowdy classroom. Draco chews on his bottom lip. He doesn’t have an answer, at least not one that makes any bloody sense. Not one that isn’t utterly embarrassing. He looks at Severus and says the only thing that comes to mind, the single word almost shouted, said like it explains everything.

“Because!”

It rings out in the room, silence following. Severus arches an eyebrow.

“That’s not an answer.”

Draco glares, half-hearted. He can feel the effects of the alcohol waning, can feel his head clearing. He feels self-conscious with Severus waiting, watching, looking at him as if he can see right through to his very soul. He fidgets where stands. “Because I missed you,” he admits eventually, the truth of it jarring. He runs his tongue across his bottom lip—a nervous habit—and swallows. “Because I cared about you. Because you left before I had the chance—before I was ab—before we could—”

He shuts his mouth, hates being so inarticulate. He runs a hand through his hair and tugs, the pale strands tangled around his fingers. Nerves flutter in his stomach, their intensity growing with each passing second; latent longing sits beside them.

It’s been forever since he’d felt this way—since he’d indulged in his desire. He meets Severus’ eye and makes a split-second decision.

The space between them is closed in two quick strides. Draco is taller than Severus now, and it makes it easy to back him against the wall, to keep him there, one hand cupping Severus’ jaw as he lowers his head to kiss him. It’s not what Draco used to imagine—not what he’d used to fantasise about as late-night comfort, the indecency of it so much more profound when Severus was sleeping only a room away—but he thinks it’s better for it. This kiss is messy, more emotion than anything else. His fingers dig into Severus’ jaw, his teeth catching on Severus’ bottom lip. He kisses him until he’s out of breath, until his chest is heaving, until he can feel Severus’ erratic heartbeat on his tongue, the other man clinging to Draco’s shirt.

When they pull apart, Draco doesn’t stray. He stays close, his hand sliding over Severus’ neck, fingertips feeling the pattern of scars left by Nagini’s bite. “Because you left before I could do that,” he says, all but panting. His eyes are stinging, are no doubt glistening with the tears threatening to spill. It’s not that he would change things—not if it meant losing Astoria, not if it meant losing their son—but the months after his release from Azkaban had been some of the darkest of his life, and if there’s one thing he’d wanted, one thing he’d longed for, it was the man standing in front of him now. “Because you—because I—”

Cold hands touch his face, and Draco hates the way shame burns behind his cheeks when the tears finally spill. Severus pulls him forward, mouth seeking his, and holds him close, the second kiss much slower, softer, sweeter.

“It would have been inappropriate,” Severus says, after.

A laugh catches in Draco’s throat. “I don’t care.” His hands drop, arms winding around Severus’ waist. He pulls him as close as he can possibly get and drops his forehead to Severus’ shoulder. “I still wanted it.”

Severus’ hand runs up along his spine, the touch so soft, so tender, that Draco fights the urge to shiver. “I know,” Severus says quietly. “So did I.”

“Bastard,” Draco mumbles. He tightens his hold on Severus. “You’re a bloody bastard.”

Severus snorts. “I know,” he says again. He urges Draco up, back, hands taking hold of Draco’s wrists to direct him toward the bed, the bags cleared with a murmured spell. He catches Draco’s mouth again, nudging him toward the mattress.

Draco goes willingly.

 


 

“You still haven’t admitted I was right,” Draco says later, as they lie in Severus’ dark hotel room, their clothes strewn and the sheets twisted around them. He’s lying almost on his stomach, head cushioned by Severus’ torso, the other man half-sitting against the wall.

“Hmm?”

Severus’ fingers are running through his hair with slow, methodical strokes; Draco leans into it like a needy cat, his body aching in a way he’d almost forgotten. He doesn’t like to think of himself as touch-starved, but it’s hard to deny after he’d just been faced with the evidence. Sex with Severus had been overwhelming, every touch, every kiss, every bite, pull, thrust, the feel of him—it’d felt like he was on fire, the pleasure too much and not enough all at once. Draco had only just recovered.

“You said you left nothing behind,” he clarifies, words spoken against Severus’ skin. He doesn’t miss the way Severus’ fingers stutter.

A long pause follows.

“I confess,” Severus says eventually, “I was wrong.”

Draco’s chest fills with warmth. With something like vindication. “And?” he asks, twisting to catch his eye.

He’s teasing, the corner of his lifted in a small smirk. In the dark of the dying night, he can only just make out Severus rolling his eyes.

“And you were right,” Severus says obligingly. He pinches Draco’s ear. “Brat.”

Draco laughs, soft and airy, a sound he hasn’t heard from himself in years. He shifts against the bedding and reaches for Severus’ spare hand, interlocking their fingers together and bringing them to his mouth. He kisses cold skin, his thumb brushing over the spot his lips had touched. “I won’t reveal your secret, you know,” he says after a moment. “I’m not naïve enough to think you’d come back with me, either—”

“Good,” Severus interjects, half-joking. “I was worried you might.”

“—but,” Draco continues, giving him a pointed look. He hesitates, his heart once more in his throat. He tightens his hold on Severus’ hand. “Will I see you again?”

Severus’ eyes soften, any sign of jokes vanishing. He squeezes the nape of Draco’s neck, a long, tense moment passing before he nods: the only confirmation offered.

Draco supposes that has to be enough.