Draco arrived at Grimmauld Place at exactly eight. He had rushed home after training and spent an embarrassing amount of time rifling through his closet trying to decide what to wear. No matter how many times he told himself that this was not a date his instinct to look as desirable as possible could not be swept aside. He had finally decided on a flattering but casual shirt, and a pair of trousers that were just the slightest bit too tight, hugging his arse in all the best ways.
Standing outside of the large, gloomy looking house, Draco couldn't suppress flutter of nervousness in his belly. This was so much different than running into Potter on the street, or meeting up for a casual lunch in the middle of Muggle London where nobody knew their names. This was Draco coming into Potter's home, his private, personal residence. This had a kind of purposefulness to it that their lunches had lacked. It felt serious.
Screwing up his courage, he walked up the steps and knocked on the door. It swung open moments later. Potter looked flushed and out of breath.
"Sorry, lost track of time. I was all the way upstairs when I heard you knock. Come in."
"And you didn't think to Apparate instead of running down the stairs?"
Potter waved a hand dismissively and led Draco inside. "I told you, I don't like Apparating if I can help it."
The entrance hall was dark and more depressing than even Draco could have imagined. Next to the door was a horrifying umbrella holder than Draco thought looked alarmingly like a troll's leg. Down the hall, he could make out the eerie shapes of what he supposed must be the mounted house-elf heads. Draco shuddered.
"Right. This way," Potter whispered, creeping quietly down the hall towards a set of stairs.
"Is there a reason why we're whispering?"
Potter jerked his head towards the mysterious set of curtains in the middle of the wall. "There's a portrait there. She's a nightmare. It's best not to wake her up."
Draco flashed a commiserating smile. The halls at Malfoy Manor were filled with portraits of his ancestors, and most of them were far from pleasant. "Permanent sticking charm?"
Potter looked back, surprised. "I guess it's not just Walburga who was worried about being tossed in the bin."
"Unfortunately no. My mother still refuses to go down one of the hallways in the west wing. Apparently good old Septimus Malfoy, one of my ancestors from the 18th century, did not approve of her marrying into the family. Had some kind of feud with one of the Blacks."
Potter snorted as he led him down the stairs. "Well, if you ever figure out how to take down a permanently-stuck portrait, let me know." He paused at a large liquor cabinet. "Do you want something to drink? I can take you on a tour of the house after."
"Firewhisky would be good."
Potter nodded, opening a fresh bottle and pouring two generous glasses. Draco took the offered glass and sipped at the amber liquid, relishing the pleasant burn as it slid down his throat. Potter still held the bottle in his hand, looking from the glasses, to Draco, up at the ceiling, and back at the bottle. He shrugged, keeping hold of the bottle in one hand and his glass in the other as he gestured up the stairs.
"It's too much of a pain having to come all the way back down here if we want another drink."
Draco nodded. Practical.
Potter gave him the grand tour, gesturing outside at a small square of dirt with a proud smile as they walked past the courtyard.
"It's winter now, so it doesn't look like much. But I can't wait to plan out what I want to try and grow next year."
Draco made low, appreciative sounds. He shouldn't care one whit about Potter's silly vegetables, but he found himself oddly glad to learn about anything that made Potter's face glow like that.
They moved on, Potter showing off the house's various peculiarities and atrocities. It was clear that the Blacks had been wealthy, though the years of disuse had taken their toll. Their taste tended towards the dark and macabre, but Draco supposed there were all sorts of pure-blood families. He could easily picture Aunt Bella living somewhere like this. Draco shuddered again.
His favourite part of the tour was the tapestry room. He wondered why his family didn't have anything like this, something to proudly display their lineage for the world to see. It was fascinating and beautiful, the golden threads connecting them all together.
"I thought you might like that." Potter's voice was strangely flat. His eyes lacked the warmth that Draco hadn't even realised he'd become accustomed to seeing.
"Yes," he said carefully, after draining the last of his third glass of Firewhisky. "Why shouldn't I? It's incredible, the magic that must have gone into this."
Potter's lip curled. "Might be more incredible if it hadn't been mutilated, but I suppose that's just the price you pay for purity."
Draco's brow furrowed. "Excuse me?"
Potter gestured angrily to the tapestry, pointing out various places where Draco now noticed burned out sections of fabric. "That was where your Aunt Andromeda should be, but she was booted because she loved a Muggle-born. And here's where Sirius should be, but he didn't believe in pure-blood supremacy, so he got lopped off too."
Draco's stomach clenched. Of course. He had been wondering when this would happen, when not mentioning the elephant in the room between them would get to be too much. "And what does that have to do with me?" Draco asked coldly. "I didn't burn them off the tapestry."
Potter scoffed, a sharp, angry sound that Draco hadn't heard from him in years. "Like your family wouldn't have done the same."
"Probably. But if you think nothing has changed, if you think I'm exactly the same as my parents, then why the fuck am I here, Potter? You are the one inviting me to lunch and offering to give me back my wand. Which, by the way, I still haven't seen. So why are you going through all this trouble if you think nothing is different now?"
Potter glared and poured himself some more Firewhisky before offering the bottle to Draco. "Your wand's over there." He gestured to the slim box on the side table. "And yeah, things have changed. You've changed. But how much, really? I mean, how much can you change in just a few years." Potter looked almost lost, as if he wanted to believe Draco was different, but could not reconcile that idea with their past.
He slumped back onto the couch, and Draco joined him. Draco was silent as picked up the box and opened it. His wand looked just like he remembered, and his hands shook as he reached out. He ran a finger lovingly down the smooth wood, as he thought about how to respond.
"I am not sure what you want me to say. I was on the wrong side of the war, and not just because we lost. I—I am proud to be a pure-blood, proud of the customs and traditions and history passed down through my family. But what the Dark Lord wanted…
"I was a child, a stupid child who thought I knew everything, thought I was prepared to play adult. By the time I realised how wrong I was, I was already in over my head. I regret that, I regret a lot of things. But I don't regret doing what I could to keep my family safe, and I can't turn back time."
Potter slumped, looking tired and weary and so much older than his twenty years. "I know. It's different with you now, I can tell you're trying and making an effort. But I still can't even tell my friends that we've been hanging out. I don't keep secrets from them, but how can I tell them about this? They'd never understand. They'd be furious and they'd have a right to be." Potter ran his hands through his hair, making the already wild strands stand up in chaotic clumps. "Hermione still has nightmares of what happened in your Manor, still bears the scars of what Bellatrix did to her. Ginny was nearly sacrificed, nearly consumed by Voldemort because of the diary your father gave to her. And Ron...you almost killed him. I almost watched him die, a casualty of your idiotic plan to—"
"He is not the only one who almost died. And Granger is not the only one who has scars." Draco's voice was low, and he regretted his outburst almost immediately. He was on the wrong side of the war after all; he didn't get sympathy, and deep down, Draco knew he didn't deserve it. What were his hurts compared to those of Potter's friends? To the countless others the Dark Lord and Draco's own family maimed and killed for the sake of purity and power.
Potter's eyes flicked down to Draco's chest, and Draco knew he'd caught Draco's meaning. Surprisingly, instead of outrage that Draco dare compare his measly scars with the suffering of the more worthy, Potter whispered, "I'm sorry." His words sounded round, full, and Draco could tell that they had both already had too much to drink. This probably wasn't the smartest idea. But apparently he was rather fond of stupid ideas. He downed another gulp of Firewhisky as Potter turned shining, too-green, too-open eyes on him. "Really. I—I didn't know what that spell did. I never would've cast it if I had, but that doesn't excuse it. I should have found you, should have—"
"I wouldn't have accepted your apology. I would have tried to make you feel guiltier, called you and your friends some horrible names, and probably would have attempted to cast something equally nasty at you while you were leaving."
Potter blinked in surprise. "Huh. I wouldn't have thought you'd admit that."
"Like I said, I am...I am trying to be a better person, trying to think for myself and form my own opinions. It's not always easy, and let's be honest, I have rather farther to travel on my road to redemption than most. But I don't want to be like that boy anymore, that boy who knew nothing of the world, who was scared and cowardly and whose entire universe was built on ignorance and hate. I may not agree with everything that you and your merry band of Gryffindors are trying to do to our society, but I am not my father. A point of great contention between us, and one which he does not miss an opportunity to berate me over."
Potter snorted. "Can't hardly blame a person for not getting on with Lucius Malfoy, but what's he got to complain about when it comes to you? Seems to me that he's the one that got your family into this mess."
Draco laughed, the sound hollow and bitter as he leaned back on the tattered green sofa and stared up on the curved ceiling. "He doesn't approve of my profession, you know. Quidditch is too common. I might get my hands dirty."
"Like he hasn't been doing that for years." Potter reached forward for the bottle of Firewhisky, the muscles in his forearm standing out as he gripped the bottle and poured. Draco was fascinated by the shift of tendons, the way they twisted and rotated, tapering down to the fine bones of Potter's wrist. He had the sudden urge to drag his teeth along the thin skin there, to feel the pulse of blood beneath his tongue. Potter made an inquisitive sound, and Draco closed his eyes against the image, his head spinning as he tried to recapture the thread of their conversation. Right, Lucius.
"You know, I said something similar. He was not amused." Draco brought his glass up to his lips, frowning when only one fat drop of Firewhisky rolled onto his tongue. "And then there's my reluctance to marry. He can't seem to fathom why I might want a few years of freedom before chaining myself down to some pure-blood witch and popping out another heir for him to help groom." The thought of his father getting his hands on Draco's hypothetical children sent a chill down his spine. He knew his father loved him, but it was a different kind of love, the kind with strings and obligations. The kind that slowly strangled you with the weight of expectation, that paralysed you with the very real fear of its loss. He did not want that for his children.
"D'you not wanna get married?"
Draco sighed gustily. "Not to a woman. Which is the only kind of acceptable marriage for a Malfoy it seems."
Potter gasped, a soft, hiccupping sound, and Draco's heart raced as he realised what he had said. He turned to look at Potter, whose eyes were wide with comprehension and several other emotions that Draco was too drunk to place. It wasn't as if Draco hadn't been dropping hints for months. Potter would have had to be an idiot not to have realised, and Draco had long since (reluctantly) admitted that Potter was no idiot. Draco reached for the Firewhisky, this time drinking straight out of the bottle. It was immensely satisfying, doing something so uncouth.
Potter cleared his throat, and out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw him hastily look away, his cheeks flushed. Though that was probably from the alcohol. Draco held out the bottle, and Potter accepted it with careful hands. He hesitated only a moment before taking a long gulp. Draco's stomach fluttered.
"I—I should really," Draco broke off, distracted by the way the lamp seemed to have tripled right in front of him. The lamp was hideous enough when there was only one. Three of them having the audacity to exist at once seemed like an insult to lamps everywhere. He blinked, and there was mercifully only one again. A small mercy. He wondered if Potter would mind terribly if Draco vanished it out of existence. "I should really head home. S'late."
Potter shook his head vigorously, then looked like he regretted that action immensely. "You can't Apparate."
Draco scoffed. "'Course not! That's why I was gonna Floo."
Potter frowned. "My Floo is restricted. You won't be able to get to the Manor from here."
Draco furrowed his brows. Right. The Manor was restricted as well. "I...guess I could take the Knight Bus." The idea of taking the Knight Bus in his current state of inebriation sounded most unpleasant, and he fought off a wave of nausea. Though it would probably be entertaining to see his parents' faces when he arrived at the Manor in that common monstrosity, as his father liked to call it.
"No, no, no. You can stay here! I've got loads of bedrooms."
"I don't want to cause any inconvenience." Draco could give a fuck about being an inconvenience, but he wasn't sure that staying the night was such a good idea. He could not for the life of him remember why that was though.
"S'no bother. Honest. If you take the Knight Bus, you'll end up being sick all over yourself. You don't want that, do you?"
He really, really did not. "Alright then, I'll stay the night."
Potter gave him a blinding, slightly dopey smile. Draco's heart raced, and he felt suddenly light-headed. It must have been the alcohol starting to go to his brain.
"I—I think I'm quite tired now, actually."
Potter nodded and led him up several flights of stairs until they reached the fourth floor. Draco swayed when they finally reached the landing, leaning back against the door Potter gestured at.
"Salazar, were there no rooms on any of the lower levels?"
"Sorry," Potter murmured with a sheepish smile. "My room's at the top, and I thought I'd give you the one next door."
Draco nodded and closed his eyes, his head spinning as he wondered why Potter would want him next door. When he opened them, Potter was standing right in front of him, so near Draco could make out the individual strands of hair that fell across his forehead, covering his distinctive scar. Draco's hands twitched with the urge to sweep the hair aside. Harry's head was cocked, his eyes curious and conflicted as they swept over Draco's face.
Draco tilted his head up in an unspoken challenge, unsure of what he was daring Potter to do, but unable to resist pushing back against whatever it was that he saw in Potter's gaze. Potter let out a strange, garbled sound and leaned forward. He paused for a moment, staring into Draco's eyes, his lips a hairsbreadth away from Draco's own. Draco's heart felt like it might beat itself to death with the force of its thrumming, and Draco licked his lips as his mouth went dry. Potter was so close that Draco's tongue slid across Potter's lower lip as it swept over his own, and that was apparently the last straw.
Potter pressed forward, his lips taking Draco's in a desperate caress. Draco opened his mouth instinctively, sliding his tongue into Potter's mouth as his world turned upside down. Potter's mouth tasted like sweet smoke, and Draco couldn't get enough. It seemed Potter couldn't either. He let out little hungry sounds as he sucked on Draco's tongue, his mouth moving with unexpected skill. Draco's knees felt weak—an effect he was entirely blaming on the alcohol—and he was pathetically grateful for the solid weight of Potter all along his front, pressing him firmly back against the door. Draco sighed into Potter's mouth, bringing his hands up to slide through Potter's unruly hair. It felt like silk in his hands, so much softer and smoother than he had ever imagined—not that he had imagined it, of course. He certainly had not imagined what Potter's lips would be like against his own, what his chest would feel like pressed against Draco's, how firm his back would be beneath his fingertips. Draco moved his palms down Potter's spine, desperate to feel Potter's full arse in his grip. But the moment his fingers reached the curve of Potter's arse, it was as if a spell had been broken.
Potter broke the kiss, jumping back at least a foot and looking terrified and bewildered. His hair was even more of a mess than usual, his cheeks flushed, and his lips red. He looked gorgeous and very, very confused. Draco tried not to groan, the force of his arousal making him feel irritated at the sudden halt of their pleasurable activities.
"I, err, therearepyjamasinthedresser," Potter said in an unintelligible rush. "Goodnight." He turned and fled to the room next door, running inside and slamming the door. Draco threw his head back against the wall with a heavy thud.
He was far too drunk and too turned on to deal with this shit. By the grace of Merlin he managed not to slam his own door, stripping down and throwing himself onto the bed. Closing his eyes, he wrapped a hand around his persistent erection, wanking himself hard and fast to the memory of Potter's warm body plastered all along his own.
When he finished, he cleaned himself off and summoned the pyjamas, pulling them on quickly and burrowing himself under the covers. He had known that coming over here would be a mistake, and look at what had happened. He was disappointed at missing out on a potential shag, but more worrying was the kernel of fear that they'd fucked up whatever it was that they had been building towards. Draco had come to enjoy Potter's company, their secret lunches and entertaining banter. He didn't want to lose that because of an ill-advised kiss.
He resolved to talk to Potter in the morning. He didn't care how awkward it was, he wasn't letting an unfinished drunken fumble take away one of the few enjoyable things left in his life.
He headed downstairs towards the kitchen, the stairs seeming much more manageable now that he was no longer drunk off his arse. Not for the first time, he thanked Merlin for his god-given ability to mostly avoid the unpleasant hangovers that followed a night of hard drinking. He could always take a hangover potion to get rid of the slight heaviness and lethargy, but Draco had found that the intense nausea that followed the potion was rarely worth getting rid of such mild after-effects.
Besides, he thought, as he walked into the kitchen and saw a rough-looking Potter, it seemed unlikely that Potter had any hangover potion on hand. If he had, surely he would've used some for himself.
The kitchen smelled heavenly, and Draco was pleased to see the makings of a full English fry-up being dished up onto mismatched plates.
"Wasn't sure if you'd be staying for breakfast," Potter mumbled. "Figured I'd make extra just in case." He handed to plate to Draco, somehow managing to completely avoid eye contact.
"I wouldn't miss it," Draco said cheerily. "Awkward morning afters are par for the course, but I don't usually get breakfast out of it."
Potter choked on a bite of toast and Draco winked at him as he took a delicate bite of eggs. The food was delicious, though somehow Draco was not surprised that Potter was a decent cook. He seemed so appreciative of food—being able to cook seemed like such a natural extension.
Potter sputtered and looked away, a dark blush staining his cheeks. Draco wanted to enjoy the moment, but he knew if he didn't put Potter at ease now, things would go pear shaped rather quickly.
"Listen, Potter, it's not a big deal, alright? I know it didn't mean anything. We were both drunk, and I had just told you I like men. It's natural that you might have felt a little...curious." Potter frowned, but turned to look at him. "Seriously. Don't worry about it."
Potter nodded slowly. "You're sure? I didn't mean to…"
"I know you didn't. It's forgotten, alright? I was honestly so pissed, I barely remembered it this morning." That wasn't strictly true. No way was Draco forgetting about that kiss anytime soon. Potter did not need to know that.
Potter smiled, his expression relieved. Draco was sure he only was imagining the glimmer of disappointment he thought he could see lurking in Potter's eyes.