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Harry tried not to care when after the war, everyone he knew seemed to have made an agreement to stop paying attention to birthdays. He knew it was stupid: he was a grown man, an Auror even, and he knew his friends loved him; he didn’t need them to remember his birthday. It wasn’t like they forgot his birthday in particular, either. They all worked late nights and weekends, and the most that they did for anyone’s birthday was a few of them would be out at a bar some evening and someone might say, “Oi, Ron, isn’t it your birthday today?” or more likely, “wasn’t it your birthday last week?” and stand him a drink, and that would be it.

So Harry very sensibly didn’t mind, he didn’t, except every single bloody time his birthday came round, he woke up with the clear sharp knowledge that it was his birthday, and once again he wasn’t going to get anything and no one was going to remember or care, and it sent him right back to the Dursleys, to the cupboard, to being the unloved scrap beneath the stairs, especially after a few years there when he’d learned to hope for more.

He couldn’t say anything about it, either, because he didn’t actually want anything to change. He would’ve been lousy at getting people presents and remembering their birthdays, and since he wasn’t actually ten years old anymore, he didn’t expect to have his birthday remembered when he didn’t give it back. He just wanted it—like the starved ten year old child he’d been, unreasonable and longing.

So when four years after the war he opened the Daily Prophet in June and saw a wild splatter of society photos under the headline Many Happy Returns Indeed with the article saying The Malfoy heir celebrated hitting the big 21 with a blowout bash as he gained full control of the family trust estimated at 560M—well, it felt like insult to injury.

People had remembered Draco’s birthday, and it didn’t help for Harry to remind himself that they’d remembered it because he’d paid for his own party and sent them all invitations. Draco was still right there grinning out at him as massive magical fireworks went off over a lake behind his head, one arm round Pansy and another round Blaise with a champagne bottle dangling from his hand, his expensive robes disheveled and a dancing crowd all round him, and in another photo he was laughing as he cut a piece of a towering cake shaped like a dragon curled up on an enormous hoard of gold, something straight out of a ten-year-old’s imagination.

It almost made it worse that Harry did have the money to throw himself his own blowout bash for his birthday: of course he wasn’t going to, like a complete tosser; instead he was just going to spend his whole birthday wishing he had, like—a complete tosser. Harry crumpled up the paper and chucked it in the Floo and said out loud, “I’m going to forget all about this,” except then he noticed he’d spent so long glaring at it over his breakfast that he was running late.

He got to the Department fifteen minutes late, the last Auror in the door, which by the ironclad unwritten law of the office meant he was saddled with the worst assignment of the morning. Sometimes there were two or three to choose from, but today everyone had universally shoved one to the very bottom of the heap. Harry picked it up and realized, appalled, that he had to go over to Malfoy Manor because a busload of Muggles had got lost and ended up on the drive through the Malfoy grounds last night and landed right in the middle of the party, full of drunk wizards and witches whizzing round on broomsticks and casting noisemaker spells and dancing in midair. The Muggles were still on the grounds: Draco had put them all to sleep, but instead of putting Memory Charms on them himself, he’d just sent in a report for Aurors to come deal with the lot of them.

“Sorry, Harry,” Ron said, wincing, and several other people looked like they might’ve offered to take it off his hands, but Harry took a deep breath: it felt like a deserved judgement on him for behaving like a child, even in the privacy of his own head. “It’s all right,” he said, determinedly, and went over.

The party was still going—music playing and people dancing, a fresh hot breakfast being put out on tables by a rushing crowd of serving wizards even as Harry got there, as though Draco had expected people to stay all night and keep going. Draco himself was lying down in a sitting room, sprawled half-asleep on a velvet sofa looking like a debauched wreck: barefoot and his formal shirt unbuttoned halfway down with his tie draped loose round his neck, lipstick traces scattered along his jaw and cheek and bruises scattered over his throat. Harry stopped at the foot and kicked the sofa, jolting him up.

“Oh, fuck off.” Draco was wincing as he sat up, pressing the heel of his hand to his forehead. He squinted up. “Potter?” he said incredulously. “They sent you?

“Where are the Muggles?” Harry demanded shortly.

“Sound asleep in their bus, which is right in the drive, where you came in. What are you waking me up for?”

“There’s no bus in the drive!” Harry said. “And why didn’t you just Obliviate them and send them on their way in the first place?”

Draco snorted. “And be accused of having done something to them and covered it up after? No, thanks. What do you mean there’s no bus in the drive?”

There wasn’t a bus in the drive, only a set of wildly careening tracks leading smash through several flowering bushes, over a hedge, and into the woods. “Right, you’re coming along,” Harry said.

“What? Why!” Draco said. “It’s not my fault someone took the thing for a joyride.”

“It was your party, wasn’t it? Anyway, I don’t know the grounds, and you do,” Harry said, but the real reason was he couldn’t resist the mean satisfaction of dragging Draco and his hangover all over the place. It took them two solid hours—Draco moaned most of the time, to Harry’s private glee—to track down the bus, rammed into a giant tree with a pair of drunk wizards knocked out in the driver’s seat. The actual driver and all the passengers were still peacefully snoring, even though they’d been tossed about.

“Now you’re going to help me,” Harry said, and enjoyed watching Draco fumble groggily through Healing Charms and Memory Charms, nearly managing to Obliviate himself a couple of times while he was at it. “You were all right enough to have a massive party, Malfoy, you can stand to do a little work,” he said, when Draco tried to beg off.

“What’s your problem anyway, Potter,” Draco muttered, leaning against a tree rubbing his forehead when they’d finished and Harry was setting the dented bus to rights. “Do you nurse some sort of grudge against birthday parties? Never had one in your impoverished life or something?”

“Fuck off, Malfoy,” Harry said, trying not to let that sting.

Unfortunately, Draco had always had an absolutely unerring gift for noticing weakness. “What, you haven’t? Well, that’s almost as pathetic as resenting mine. If you’re done indulging your petty envy, I’ll be going back to the house now.” Harry didn’t stop him, and went home himself afterwards, seething and mortified and still jealous, all at the same time.

He did try to forget about it, though not with much success as the days crept into July, and onward. Draco’s sneer lingered in his head, refusing to get out. Harry almost thought of throwing himself a party after all—just something small, a few friends—who’d wonder why he was doing it, and maybe ask, and then he’d be in for it— He shoved the idea away.

He woke up on the morning of his birthday, steeled for the sharp lonely bite again, and got up to make himself his solitary cup of coffee. And that was when the day got ten times worse, because a loud tapping came on his window, and when Harry jumped and stared, the Malfoys’ eagle owl was perched on the sill glaring in at him. And it had a present.

Harry stared at the box on his kitchen table for ten full minutes after the owl deposited it there and flew away. There was a card attached: Many happy returns of the day, Potter! —DM scrawled in Draco’s loose, limber handwriting, full of malicious glee. Harry knew perfectly well that it was going to launch a pie into his face if he opened it, but he couldn’t ask anyone else to help without the whole story most likely coming out. Finally he gritted his teeth and ripped the paper, which was lovely and heavy and tore in the most satisfying possible way, and opened the box, and took out—a light summer cloak, in dark shimmering green, clasped and embroidered along the hems in gold, and enchanted with charms of quickness and good aim.

It was exactly his size.

Harry used every curse-detection spell he could think of, and after it came up clean he tried it on still expecting it to give him an electric shock or something, but it didn’t. It was just a really fantastic cloak. It made him look good, too; it caught the green of his eyes. Harry stared at himself in the mirror, baffled. He had no idea what Malfoy was doing.

And then it dawned on him that he’d just got his one and only birthday present—an actual present, a really nice and thoughtful one—from Draco Malfoy. And meanwhile all the people he cared about were going to ignore it completely.

It was brilliantly nasty. Harry almost had to admire the genius of it. Even returning the cloak wouldn’t make him feel any better. He’d be thinking about it all day anyway. He glared at it in the mirror some more, and then he narrowed his eyes and stalked to his desk and grabbed pen and paper and wrote back, Thanks so much for the cloak, Draco—it’s really great, just what I needed. Best, Harry and folded it up and shot it into the Floo, and then he marched out of the house wearing the cloak. 

He got loads of compliments on it, which he accepted through gritted teeth. Hermione said, “Harry, that’s a lovely cloak. Isn’t it your birthday today? We should go out for a drink.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek before she dashed on to her next meeting, and Ron stood him his lunch and a slice of slightly stale cake from the commissary, beaming at him. “Thanks, Ron,” Harry said, struggling to shove down his deeply unsatisfied inner child. He went out with everyone after and accepted a couple of drinks and then at last the day was over and Harry could try and forget all about it. But it took him most of the next month before he managed to stop feeling a pang every time he caught sight of the cloak, which he’d grimly left in the front of his closet out of determination not to let Malfoy get to him.

And then just when he’d finally got over it, the owl showed up the last day of August with another present, note attached saying cheerily, Saw this and thought of you! —DM. It was a pair of fantastically light but secure glasses, in his actual prescription, with a button you could press to activate a Night-Viewing Charm. Harry glared at them speechlessly. Draco couldn’t actually mean to keep sending him thoughtful gifts just to remind him there was no one else doing it, except that seemed to be exactly what Draco did mean to do.

Harry tried to write another fake thank-you note, but it kept coming out too angry and revealing, and finally he realized that it wasn’t going to be enough just to say a false thanks. He had to send a present back, only what he was supposed to get for a wizard who was worth 560 million Galleons he didn’t know. Fortunately, Harry had a tried and true solution for any situation where he didn’t know what to think: he asked Hermione.

“Harry, a really great present isn’t ever about how much it costs, whether it’s expensive or not,” Hermione said. “It just needs to be—something they haven’t got for themselves, for whatever reason. If they’ve got loads of money, then you’ll want to get them something they wouldn’t think of buying, or something that you can’t buy for money. But who is this you’re trying to buy a present for?”

“Er, it’s a long story,” Harry said, and escaped. He went to the nearest Apple store and bought an iPhone on his plan and had it engraved To Draco from your friend Harry for the finishing touch and shipped it off to the Manor on the fifth.

That turned out to have been an absolutely terrible idea. There was literally no one else Draco knew with a mobile, so Draco started texting him. All the time, with mindless little false-chatty notes like how’s your day going and catch any miscreants so far and did you catch last night’s game, so Harry’s hip was constantly buzzing, and once, for a really special touch, beeping loudly while he was in the middle of a warehouse trying to sneak up on a gang of smugglers bringing in a shipment of fermented dragon blood for the black market. All right, so it was his own fault for not remembering to mute his phone, Harry admitted to himself as he got helped gasping onto the stretcher, but no one else in his life found it necessary to text him incessantly during the work day.

He entertained himself while waiting his turn with the cursebreakers by typing in the long angry message he wouldn’t send, yelling at Draco for being a bastard who’d nearly got him killed and yeah sorry his parents had been fucking murdered by Draco’s good pal Voldemort and he’d been raised by people who hated him, Draco could take his presents and texts and shove them right up his own arse. It was a relief to get it all out even if Harry wasn’t for a second going to give Draco the satisfaction of letting him know he’d got that much hold of Harry’s goat.

Then the Scorching Curse managed to break through the Elevatio Charm the mediwizards had given him for pain relief while he waited, and when his vision cleared, he looked down and he’d sent it by accident. At least Draco didn’t text him back, probably because he was too busy rolling around laughing hysterically with his friends over how pathetic Harry was and how easily he could be taunted.

The curse was a really nasty one, too: the cursebreakers thought he’d been hit by another hex at the same time that had mostly glanced off his Protego, but which was intensifying the effect. They sentenced him to a week in the wards getting counters put on every few hours. Loads of people came by to check on him the first couple of days, of course, but by the fourth, he was alone in bed staring at the ceiling in agonized boredom, and that was when Draco showed up in the doorway.

Harry blinked twice and then craned up his head from the pillows to make sure he wasn’t imagining it, but no, it really was Draco, standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets. Harry gawked at him, in rising indignation: he’d actually come to harass him in hospital

“I’m sorry,” Draco said abruptly, short-circuiting Harry’s thoughts so completely that Harry went perfectly blank and couldn’t come up with anything to say. Draco evidently took that as an invitation, because he came into the room and looked over Harry’s extremely bandaged leg. They were dosing him with Recorium Potion twice a day, but the new skin was growing in very slowly because the curse hadn’t lifted completely yet. “Are you going to be all right?”

“Yes?” Harry said, doubtfully. He was going to be all right, but why was Draco asking.

Draco brought out a small cut-crystal flask, barely enough to hold a teaspoon, full of faintly glowing purple liquid, and put it on the bedside table. “We had some Regeneratio Potion at the house,” he said, which was like saying oh yes, we have the Crown Jewels lying about, only those would’ve been easier to get hold of than Regeneratio.

“What are you doing?” Harry said, unable to bear it anymore.

Draco glared at him. “I was trying to annoy you, not gut you. Or get you killed.”

“Oh.” Harry digested that. “Well, good job on the first,” he offered, after a moment.

Draco threw himself into the chair next to the bed. “It’s not like that’s ever been much of a challenge, Potter.”

He ended up staying the rest of the afternoon. Harry had never actually sat and talked to Draco before. If someone had asked him how Draco had any friends, Harry would’ve said it was people sucking up because of his money, but it turned out he was really clever at making conversation when he wasn’t busy taunting people. Harry found himself laughing and talking freely and so distracted he didn’t even notice the hours creeping away, and then suddenly it was five in the afternoon and the mediwizard in charge of his case came by on rounds and approved trying a drop of the Regeneratio.

They got the bandage open—Draco retreated hastily to the far wall of the room with his face screwed up—and the mediwizard carefully let one violet drop fall, and Harry yelped despite himself as the still-bubbling part of the wound aggressively slammed shut and the new skin ran over it like a curtain being pulled. They discharged him at once, and fifteen minutes later he was dressed and out on the street, highly relieved but a bit disoriented by the speed of it all, and he looked at Draco and said without thinking, “Want to get dinner?” because he was starving and he’d only had hospital food for the last four days.

Draco took out a gleaming pocket watch and looked at it. “It’s early, but I imagine they’ll seat us at Bolliver’s.”

The restaurant wasn’t quite open for dinner yet, but the head waiter did seat them. A crowd filled in over the next three hours, which Harry vaguely noticed, but he was mostly busy talking with Draco about Quidditch and Auror work and learning oddly interesting things about land use, which it hadn’t occurred to him Draco would know anything about, but it turned out that he was having to work quite hard to restore the Malfoy estates, which it turned out Lucius had more or less run into the ground by draining money from his tenants at an outrageous rate while doing no repairs.

“Can’t you just pay an expert to fix things?” Harry said.

“That’s how my father got into the trouble in the first place. If you hire someone to stand between you and the estate, it’s easy to ignore everything but how much money they hand you each month,” Draco said. “I wouldn’t even have known how bad things were if…well, if we hadn’t holed up for a year after the war. I didn’t have anything to do but ride around and see how badly things were going to seed.” He smirked. “Half the reason I threw that party was to get a thousand of my richest friends to pour money into the neighborhood.”

“Oh,” Harry said bemusedly. “What was the other half of the reason?”

“To have a smashing party for my birthday, obviously,” Draco said. “It’s not a sin to want one.”

“No one seems to care anymore,” Harry said, before he could help himself.

“Yes, you’re all too busy saving the world. Take a bloody weekend off once in a while.”


Draco kept texting, afterwards, only now Harry didn’t mind anymore. They texted back and forth a few dozen times most days, actually, and when Harry found himself free and alone on an evening or a weekend, he started getting into the habit of texting Draco to see if he wanted a drink or to go out. Draco almost always already had plans, but he’d tell Harry to come along anyway—to some wizarding nightclub, or a party on a yacht somewhere. It was like taking an occasional dip into his sparkling life. Harry thought he wouldn’t like it because he wouldn’t know anyone, or because everyone would know him, which was why he mostly preferred to stick with his friends when he went out, but Draco shepherded him along, and it turned out in his circles, he was more of a celebrity than Harry was.

“I’m a dashing reformed Dark wizard of ancient lineage with a vast fortune, Potter,” Draco said loftily. “Much more exciting than a stodgy Auror who hasn’t done anything exciting since he left school.”

 “I’ve caught thirteen Dark wizards in the last year!” Harry said. “I took down an ogre last week by myself!

Draco waved these trivial feats away. “But did anyone see you doing it?”

Then one Saturday morning he texted Draco and got back can’t, miserable and dying, it’s all over for me, farewell cruel world, etcetera. Harry went over to the Manor to find him swathed in blankets on the sofa in the drawing room, bleary and faintly green. “What’d you do to yourself?” Harry said, brewing him a batch of Neville’s recipe for Hangover Infusion over the fire.

“I didn’t do anything to myself,” Draco groaned out, his head back against the arm of the sofa with his eyes closed. “Someone dosed my drink with Ineffable Lure, I had to drink a vat of Bilgey’s Soporific.”

What?” Harry said, standing up and whirling round. “Who?” His hands were clenched by his sides.

Draco didn’t even open his eyes, just extracted half an arm from the depths and flipped it dismissively. “If I’d stuck round long enough to figure out who, I’d have ended up shagging them; or worse, if they were clever enough to have a special license and a minister tucked away close enough for use beforehand.”

“So you’re just going to let them get away with it?”

“This sort of thing happens every few months!” Draco said. “It’s an occupational hazard of being rich and handsome. Please tell me that’s ready, I’m not sure if the stench isn’t worse than the hangover.”

 Harry turned back long enough to pour Draco a goblet full, and he carried it over to him. Draco choked and gagged and whined his way through the dose, but as soon as he’d got it down, Harry could see it start to work: Draco lay back again, but the green was fading out of him.

“I’m going to find them,” Harry said grimly, after he’d watched Draco finally relax completely, with a sigh. “Where were you last night?”

Draco snorted. “Going to defend my honor and virtue against all comers, are you?” opening his eyes and looking up at Harry as he said it, his mouth smirking. Then the smirk fell off his face, and Harry discovered his heart was pounding oddly quick, and then he met Draco halfway, cradling his head and supporting his shoulders up off the sofa so Draco could pull his head down and kiss him.

They spent half an hour on the sofa necking before Draco demanded, gone a bit rough-voiced, “Look, are you the sort who likes to take things slow or not? I can work with either, but you might tell me before I start taking off your clothes.”

“I—don’t know yet,” Harry said, panting, because actually he’d never, “but go ahead, and I’ll stop you when I find out.”

Draco paused and then said, levelly, “Right, come on,” and dragged Harry upstairs to his bedroom and proceeded to strip him lingeringly, giving him plenty of time at each stage to decide that actually this was more than slow enough. Harry groaned helplessly when Draco decided to spend an unreasonably long time just nuzzling round his hips and waist, an endless tease that he just wouldn’t end until Harry finally lost all patience and shoved down his own underwear, and then Draco made a pleased humming noise against his skin and slid down and sucked Harry’s cock into his mouth just like that.

“Oh God,” Harry gasped, grabbing at his head, his hips rising involuntarily off the bed, and Draco pressed him down and worked his tongue over him just as tormentingly slow. Harry writhed as much as Draco would let him, which wasn’t enough, and finally ended up clutching the headboard and breathing in enormous gulping whines of desperation before Draco abruptly shifted and gripped the base of his cock and sucked him off hard and fast in a final delirious rush.

“Wow,” Harry said, drunkenly, afterwards.

“Yes, I know,” Draco said smugly, stretching out alongside him, and Harry rolled over and kissed him.

They made out a while longer, and after he got his breath back, Harry said hopefully, “So is there more?”

“Greedy, aren’t we,” Draco murmured against his throat, walking his fingertips lightly onto Harry’s thigh, a sly promise. “Cake and ice cream?”

“Yes, actually,” Harry said. “And you can throw in some balloons while you’re at it.”  

# End