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Purloining Peacock Feathers

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Harry rubbed small circles against his temples, pressing against the pressure points on either side firmly, in hopes of relieving some of the tension from his migraine. There'd been a rather loud argument going on outside the office for the better part of an hour, and the noise was beginning to wear on his already frazzled nerves. Breathing in slowly, in hopes of calming the desire to jump out of his seat and storm toward the door to see what was going on, Harry squeezed his eyes closed for a moment and counted to ten in his head. Somewhere around seven, however, a particularly loud bang of something being slammed onto a desk snapped what little was left of his self-control.

His feet stomped across the room as he crossed to the door, yanking it open and pausing as he took in the scene in front of him. Draco Malfoy stood in front of the department receptionist, his hands braced against her desk as he leaned over it slightly. His lips were pulled into a thin, pale line as he glared at Susan, who looked torn between slapping the furious looking man and running away from him.

"Susan, is there a problem here?"

At the sound of his voice, Susan nearly jumped out of her chair, spinning to face him as Malfoy straightened, looking him over warily. "Auror Potter, thank Merlin," Susan muttered, flushing pink when she realised that her voice had been a little louder than intended. "I mean, yes, sir, there is." Shooting a sidelong glance at Draco, she wrung her hands nervously as she focused on Harry. "Mr. Malfoy is demanding we send someone to his grounds for a theft charge for his birds, but-"

"Not for the bloody birds, you ninny," Draco snapped, running one hand through his hair in frustration. "It's their feathers."

Furrowing his brow in confusion, Harry looked at the other man sceptically, repeating his words to ensure he hadn't misheard him. "You want us to investigate the theft of some feathers?" Draco's eyes narrowed, his mouth opening to likely snap at him before Harry held up one hand to silence him. A few weeks before filing for the divorce, he'd wandered through Twilfit & Tattings with Ginny to browse for the clothing she insisted he needed to be 'stylish'. She'd caught sight of a rather expensive line of dress robes accented with peacock feathers, the tags for which boasted that they were the only robes shop in London to use Malfoy Family peacocks for their feathers- judging by the outrageous price of the robes, Harry had realized those feathers were worth quite a bit.

"I'll handle him from here, Susan," he said calmly, gesturing for the witch to sit back at her desk as he ushered Draco toward his office. "If you'll come with me, then..."

* * * * *

"And you haven't noticed anyone on the property?" Harry asked as Draco led him across the Manor grounds toward the peafowl pen.

"Do you think I'd have come to you if I had?" the other man asked, without turning to look at him. "Potter, if I'd had any idea who was behind this, I'd have hauled them in myself, rather than have you stalking about my property for Merlin knows how long."

Rolling his eyes at Draco's attitude, Harry stuffed his hands into his trouser pockets as they walked, scanning the grounds idly. "So," he said after a moment, hoping to break the awkward silence that had fallen between the two. "What made you start breeding peacocks in the first place? It's certainly not something anyone would have expected of you..."

"Of course they wouldn't," Draco muttered with an edge of bitterness in his tone. "Most didn't expect me to evade Azkaban, let alone do something productive for a living." Draco sighed, leaning his head back to glance up at the darkening sky above them with a frown. "I'm not quite sure why I did it. It just seemed the only thing to do. They're beautiful creatures, really; very calming to work with most times."

Harry nodded in understanding, looking the other man over out of the corner of his eye until Draco stopped to turn partially toward him. "This is the pen," he told him darkly, opening the gate and gesturing for Harry to enter. "As far as I've seen, these are the only ones whose feathers are being stolen, likely because it's the only fully enclosed pen on the grounds."

"Makes it easier to slip in and out, unnoticed," Harry murmured as he looked around the pen, receiving a nod of agreement from the wizard beside him.

"That's exactly what I was thinking."

* * * * *

"I think you're being too obvious."

Harry's brow furrowed slightly as he twisted to look over his shoulder at Draco. He'd been coming to the Manor almost daily for the past two weeks, checking for signs of trespassing or clues toward who had been stealing the peacock feathers before investigating the shops throughout wizarding London. Malfoy peacock feathers were worth a small fortune, and Draco had insisted that the thief would likely push off most of them through blackmarket sales to his usual clients. Not that Harry had succeeded in finding a single lead in that direction, but the other man still demanded he continue digging.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked, straightening from where he'd been checking the wards around the peafowl pen for signs of disturbance.

"I mean the culprit hasn't struck once since you started this investigation, Potter," Draco sighed, in a tone that said this should have already been obvious. "Clearly, the problem is that your constant presence on my property is far too obvious. You'd have better luck catching whoever it is if you didn't hover quite so much, don't you think?" Harry arched one eyebrow curiously, although he remained silent, and Draco shook his head in frustration. "Fine, you're the Auror after all, Potter. I just don't think we'll make a bit of progress getting to the bottom of this with you always puttering about."

"Perhaps you're right," Harry agreed quietly, looking away from Draco to survey the pen again. Most of the birds were missing at least one feather from their tails, although a few had lost up to three. Although it didn't seem to bother them too much, the gap was still noticeable enough to detract from their beauty a fair bit. A few of them eyed him warily when he looked at him, keeping a bit of distance between them and retreating if he even breathed in their direction. "I'll stay away a bit more over the next week and we'll see if you get another hit."

* * * * *

"I should make you buy me a drink," Draco taunted as he sauntered into Harry's office three days later. The dark-haired wizard lifted his head from a stack of paperwork to meet his grey eyes before sitting back in his chair. Harry had stayed away from inspecting the Manor for two days, and had intended to visit within the hour before Draco had pushed his way into his office with a satisfied smirk. "The thief has struck again."

"You seem far too pleased about that fact, considering you've hauled in Aurors to put an end to exactly that." Draco's smirk faltered slightly at that, being replaced by a scowl until Harry rose from his seat and began tugging his robes on over his Muggle clothes. "All right, all right, I get it, Draco," Harry said, flashing him a small smile as he directed the other wizard toward his office door. "You were right; now, why don't you show me the latest 'victim'?"

* * * * *

"Honestly, Potter, how do you survive on your own?" Draco asked in amusement as he aimed his wand at Harry, casting a drying charm over him and watching as his clothes went from still lightly damp to fully dry. The other man's eyes widened briefly before he almost seemed to snuggle into the fabric of his robes, causing Draco to chuckle. "I'm surprised you manage anything at all when a proper drying charm is still beyond your capabilities."

Harry shot him a half-hearted glare that disappeared when Draco smiled back. "Still a right git, I see," he murmured, glancing at the glass door that faced out toward the grounds, which showed that the downpour they had raced through to make it back into the Manor had picked up even more.

"Always," Draco said proudly, lifting his chin slightly before giving into a chuckle and waving Harry after him as he moved toward his kitchen. "Come along, Potter, and I'll make us a spot of tea." Stunned by the invitation, Harry followed after Draco silently, raking his eyes over him appraisingly as they walked.

The time since the war had changed Draco for the better, in his opinion. Most of his air of arrogance had dissipated over the years, although his pride had remained intact. Without as many needling comments, the other wizard's personality was infinitely more tolerable and finally seemed to properly complement his appearance. Of course, Harry was already fairly familiar with Draco's looks after the his featured spread in Wizard Weekly as the wizarding world's current Most Eligible Bachelor.

When they entered the kitchen, Draco gestured for Harry to claim a seat on one of the tall stools positioned in front of the island as he busied himself with the tea. "So, Potter," Draco started, tapping the kettle with his wand to begin heating the water, "Seeing how your divorce from the Weaslette has continued to remain headline material-" Harry groaned and dropped his head into his hands, receiving an amused chuckle from Draco for it. "Relax," Draco said with a faint smile as he fished out two cups from a cupboard. "I was going to ask how you're holding up."

Lifting his face, Harry blinked in astonishment at Draco's back, stunned into silence until the other man turned toward him and placed one of the cups of steaming tea in front of him. "I...thank you," Harry muttered, curling his hands around the cup and sighing softly as the warmth spread through his palms. "Actually, I'm holding up just fine. I'm the one who asked for it to begin with, and Gin was nice enough about it in the end, after she got over the initial shock."

"I imagine coming out at the same time likely wasn't your brightest move." Draco smirked over the edge of his cup, his eyes glinting with amusement when Harry dropped his head again.

"No... and I wish that that particular detail of my private life could have been left out of the staggering amount of Prophet articles they've run since the announcement."

"Wishful thinking, Potter. Although it may work in your favour in the end." Harry arched one eyebrow in question. "Now that it's public knowledge, the women may stop banging down your door and give you some peace and quiet." The corners of Harry's mouth turned up into a smile before he shook his head with a quiet chuckle.

"Strangely enough, I suppose you're right."

"Of course I'm right," Draco sniffed imperiously, although the slight twitching of his lips gave away his lack of seriousness. "I'm a Malfoy, after all."

* * * * *

"What kind of an Auror are you, Potter?" Draco snapped peevishly, throwing his hands up in frustration. "You've been looking into this for well over a month now, and you've continued to find nothing to give you a clue who's behind it all?"

"What would you prefer I tell you, Malfoy?" Harry retorted, folding his arms over his chest defensively. "If I'd found anything, I'd have shared it with you, but I haven't." The other man's lips pulled into a thin line and Harry sighed, reaching out and clapping him on the shoulder lightly. "Look, give it a bit more time. Whoever it is is bound to leave something sooner or later, you just need to be patient." The tension around Draco's mouth eased slightly as he nodded.

"Now," Harry continued, dropping his hand and flashing Draco an uncertain smile. "Would you be at all interested in getting that drink I owe you?"

* * * * *

"How long were you planning to continue doing this, exactly?" Harry started at the sound of Draco's voice, stuffing his hands quickly into the pockets of his robes as he spun to face the other man. Months of training and years of field work weren't enough to keep the hint of guilt out of his expression as he cleared his throat.

"What- uhm... What do you mean?"

Even in the dim, early morning light that peeked in through the open door of the pen, Harry could make out Draco rolling his eyes as he took a few steps closer. "Really, Potter, how thick do you think I am?" Before Harry had an opportunity to answer, Draco had backed him against one of the walls, sending the peacocks that had hovered in that corner scattering to the opposite side of the pen.

"How many thieves decide to lie low, simply because an Auror will be coming to the scene later in the day?" Draco asked, placing his hands on either side of Harry as he leaned in closer to him, smirking when Harry's eyes widened slightly and his throat worked to swallow a lump of nervousness. "Of course, the real tip off was the convenient timing to your first 'discovery'. You seriously underestimate me, if you think I wouldn't get suspicious when you just happen to find a torn scrap of robes two days after I mentioned the lack of evidence."

"I-I, uhm...."

"The real question in all of this, of course-" Draco continued, moving one hand to grasp Harry's jaw firmly to prevent him from looking away, "is whether you took this case simply to cover your arse, or for a different reason."

Harry's cheeks tinted slightly as he withdrew his hands from his pockets, shakily offering the few plucked peacock feathers to Draco. "I-I haven't sold them," he murmured nervously. Draco's eyes darted to the now-rumpled feathers before returning to Harry's face as he pressed himself closer to the dark-haired man.

"So it was a different reason, was it?" he asked quietly, watching Harry as his eyes fluttered closed for a moment at their proximity. "I suspected, after you took me out for drinks last week. Perhaps I'll make you a deal then, Potter..."

"A...A deal?" Harry asked uncertainly, his eyes opening again to meet Draco's gaze.

"I'll give you what you've been after- or at least we'll see if it will work," Draco stated, slipping one of his hands slowly behind Harry's head to thread his fingers into his hair. "And in exchange, you'll stop touching my birds. Is that acceptable to you?"

Harry's breath caught in his throat as Draco leaned in a bit more, until their lips were nearly touching. The other man's breath washed over him, sending a faint shiver of arousal rippling through him, directly to his groin. "I'm waiting, Potter..."

"Deal," Harry breathed, his fingers uncurling from around the feathers he still held, allowing them to float down to the ground at their feet. Before he could get his arms around the other man, Draco pressed their lips together roughly. He pressed his body against Harry's chest, letting out a quiet hum of approval when Harry's arms wrapped tightly around his waist to pull him closer.

When they finally broke apart, Draco took a small step back as his hand slid down to stroke Harry's cheek lightly. "You have a strange way of catching boyfriends, Potter," he murmured breathily.

"Yes, well, luckily for me-" Harry unwound his arms from Draco's waist to close his fists around the front of Draco's robes, pulling the other man flush against him again. "You don't seem to mind."