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Paradox

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

par·a·dox noun \ˈper-ə-ˌdäks, ˈpa-rə-\

1 : a tenet contrary to received opinion
2 :
a : a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true
b : a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true
c : an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises
3 : one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases

Part 1

The bed dipped when Draco rolled off the man and gracefully jumped out of the bed. The dark blue silk covers slid down his perfectly shaped thigh and revealed his lithe, naked body. He searched his robes and pulled a pack of smokes from between the discarded pile of fabric, lighting one and throwing both the package and the lighter towards his lover.

"I've got to be going," he said while pulling his pants and trousers over his narrow hips, not even looking at the man still in the bed.

"I do not smoke," the other man said, but lit up a cigarette anyway.

"Sure," Draco replied with a sneer. "You don't smoke and you're not gay."

"Precisely," the man replied, dragging on the cigarette lazily.

Draco sighed. It was always like this. Every fucking time he'd answer the owl, Apparating his way across the country, jumping in bed and spreading his legs for someone that wouldn't even admit to being sexually attracted to men. He still wondered how someone could be so firmly in the closet he was even lying to himself.

The worst thing was he'd been falling in love with the man for a while now. The 'fuck and walk' routine was getting very old, very fast, and on top of that, it was starting to hurt him.

As he buttoned his robes, he vowed for what must have been the thirtieth time, that he wouldn't do this to himself again. He would ignore the next owl summoning him to the cold depths of the Hogwarts dungeon.

"If you're so bloody hetrosexual," he spat, "then what the hell are you doing with me?"

Severus Snape rolled over to crush the cigarette on the candelabra, making his long dark hair fall over his face before swiping it back behind an ear with his long, potion-stained fingers.

He looked up at the younger man with an emotionless expression. "I would assume that was blatantly obvious, Draco," he said, but the blond just raised his eyebrow in confusion.

The next words out of the Potions master's mouth were both bored and condescending, and they cut Draco straight through his soul. "You are available."

The young man closed his eyes for a moment and swallowed thickly. "So I'm no more than a whore to you, is that it?" he asked with his heart hammering in his throat.

"There's no need to be so crude," Snape said. "But essentially, yes."

Draco threw his cigarette butt on the hard stone floor and crushed it with his boot before angrily rushing through the door. He slammed it shut behind him and leaned against the unforgiving wood for a moment. 'Do not give in, Draco,' he thought while trying to fight back the tears. God, how could he be so stupid? Not once, not twice, but time and fucking time again. He'd never considered himself a masochist, but clearly things had changed over the past few months. Months in which he'd let his old teacher summon him and fuck him before tossing him out again.

His father would turn over in his grave if he knew his son had been putting out for the half-blood traitor. Of course, Draco didn't think Snape a traitor. No, the man had protected him and saved his life when he was confused and terrorized into doing the Dark Lord's bidding. The man had made sure that a young boy would not become a killer and condemn himself to a life in prison.

If Voldemort's death had saved him from a life of servitude, Snape had saved him from himself, and whatever the man put him through, he'd always be grateful for that.

Pulling himself together, he walked down the dungeon corridors, back up the stairs, and out the front door. Hogwarts ––the last place he'd ever thought to visit again when he walked away from the final battle with his parents. He'd been a coward, to walk towards them when all seemed lost. Shocked and weary to the bone, he watched Longbottom stand up and do what he hadn't had the guts to do himself. A boy, a pureblood like him, yes, but so much more of a man than he'd been himself at that point. There was something one could say for Gryffindor bravery; it might get you killed more often than not, but it was certainly more honorable than Slytherin self- preservation.

Before he reached the gates past which he could finally Apparate home to lick his wounds, he stopped dead in his tracks. A silhouette against the pale moon that shone over the lake, was a man. It wasn't particularly weird for someone to be standing at the bank staring over the calm water, though it was strange that someone would be doing so at three o'clock in the morning.

Draco took a few steps towards the lake, not sure what he'd actually do or say to the person standing there, but wishing to do or say something. Before he reached him, the man turned around and glanced in his direction. Draco startled, for he couldn't be sure from this distance, but the man looked shockingly similar to Harry Potter. However, what would Harry Potter be doing back at Hogwarts? As far as he knew, the man had some daring and life threatening job at the Ministry. He was one of their hitmen or whatnot.

He stood there, unable to move, until the man turned and stalked towards the castle. Draco turned on his heels, pushed past the gates, and Apparated home.

.

It was only a week later when Draco cuddled tighter against the long and warm form of his former teacher, holding on for just one more post-coïtal moment of bliss. Taking in the man's touch, his smell and his taste. Pretending for just a moment that this was more than what it ultimately was; his self-inflicted destruction.

"Don't you dare fall asleep, Draco. This is not a hotel," Snape snapped from beside him, clearly recovered from coming deep within the younger man's arse only moments ago. He sighed and rolled away from his lover, getting up and once again searching his robes for his cigarettes.

"I need a shower," he said, throwing the pack towards Snape and walking gracefully towards the bathroom.

"You can shower somewhere else," Snape replied. He stretched out, lit a smoke and dragged on on it, as Draco turned around with his mouth open in frustration.

"I don't care that you're an oblivious arse, and I care even less that you're an utter bastard, but I'm not walking through Hogwarts with cum sticking to my chest!" he all but yelled.

Snape reached out for his wand and swished it in the younger man's direction. Draco felt a tingle on his torso, and when he looked down, his chest was cleansed.

"Fine," he snapped. "This was the last time, you hear me, Severus? This was the last time I let you use me without giving anything back!"

"And pray tell, in what way would you have me 'give back'?" the man replied in a dry tone. "What is it you fantasize about after you leave my quarters at night, hmm? Some ill conceived romantic gesture? A declaration of some sorts? Wake up, Draco."

"I don't know, I don't even care, I just-" he said with a quivering voice. "I'm not your whore, okay?"

"Of course you're not," Snape said. "Just as you don't beg me for it, writhe nor plead."

"That was the last time," Draco said, barely convincing himself, and put on his clothes in silence.

Snape didn't reply until the blond was halfway through the door. "You'll be back," he said, unfazed, and Draco slammed the door shut behind him.

Why? Why was he still doing this? Why couldn't he just forget about the man and pretend the bastard was dead or something? Why did he keep Apparating to Hogwarts to have his heart broken over and over, for him to have to patch it back together before he once again walked back to his inevitable doom. He must be barking mad.

He made it out of the castle without being seen. If only Snape cared enough for him to use the man's Floo to get home. But just as well, he knew Severus didn't care about him, not one single bit.

Draco didn't want to go home. What was there anyway? A bottle of firewhisky and an empty bed, nothing special. Instead, he walked out to the lake and sat down on a large boulder. He'd been there for over an hour when a clear voice interrupted his thoughts.

"You were here last week as well," Potter said, stating more than asking.

"Yeah, I was," Draco replied and glanced up at the raven-haired man standing a little to his left.

"Why?" he asked.

"I don't see how that's any of your business," Draco snapped, his patience already running thin.

"It's not, really," Harry said as he sat down on the damp grass next to Draco's boulder. "I was just curious."

Draco thought about telling him, for a few confusing seconds, but why would he? It wasn't like he and Potter had ever been friends. The few times he'd seen the man since the war were strained at best. He'd tried to be civil on account of the man speaking at both his and his mother's hearings, but managed only barely. Potter had a way of getting under Draco's fingernails.

"It's peaceful out here, isn't it?" Potter asked, to Draco's surprise. Why was the man making conversation? Couldn't he just leave him alone? He really wasn't up for any bantering.

"I suppose," Draco answered. He shifted uncomfortably on his boulder, not exactly knowing if walking away now would be rude, and not exactly knowing if he cared in any case.

"I've come out here often at night since I've been back," Potter said, something dark clouding his well practiced smile.

"Back?" Draco asked, wanting to know why the man was at Hogwarts in the first place.

"I'm teaching Defence now," Potter clarified. "It's like coming home, though entirely different at the same time."

Draco was intrigued now. Whatever caused Harry bloody Potter, saviour of the wizarding world, to leave his exciting job and return to teach at their old school?

"How come it's different?" Draco asked, not daring to ask the question he really wanted an answer to.

"It's just not the same anymore, is it?" Potter replied, looking out over the lake with a melancholic expression colouring his features. "Dumbledore is gone, my friends have all moved on, even you."

"M-me?" Draco asked, not quite sure how him not being there would make the slightest bit of difference to his previous enemy. Though enemy might've been too strong a word. Adversary, yes.

"It's like when I met the ghosts of my parents, you know?" Potter asked, but Draco shook his head; he didn't know. "When I saw them, I was so happy. They were my parents after all."

Draco nodded; he could understand that. "But they weren't, not really. They couldn't hug me or take care of me. They were just a whisper of what used to be. That's what Hogwarts is to me now. It's just a whisper of a home, a lingering ghost."

"So why don't you leave?" Draco asked him. "I thought the Weasel clan all but adopted you?"

Potter winced and turned his head away. "Things have been... different. They love me, I know that, but it's been hard since Ginny broke up with me," he said into the distance.

"She did, did she?" Draco mused with half a smirk on his face. "What happened? Did she finally realize you weren't the golden boy hero she thought you were?"

He was joking, referring to the way the youngest Weasel used to fawn and fangirl over Potter right after he saved her from the Basilisk. That was why the softly muttered 'yes' shocked him to no end.

"What?" he cried out.

"Ginny never really accepted me for who I was," Potter explained. "I never realized it until one day she up and left me for 'not giving her the life she expected when she got together with the boy who lived'."

The last part he said while hooking the middle and index fingers of both his hands in the air.

"Her mother never told her that fairy tales weren't real?" Draco snapped disgustedly.

Potter chuckled and cast his eyes down to his feet. "Guess not," he said softly.

"Well, Potter," Draco said haughtily. "You can't really expect anything else from a blood traitor like her. Be glad to be rid of her and find yourself some decent woman."

"Don't call her that," Potter whispered.

"Whyever not?" Draco exclaimed.

"The war is over, Malfoy," Potter said sarcastically. "In case you didn't notice, the light won. Blood status isn't worth anything anymore."

"I know, all right?" Draco yelled. "I was just trying to cheer you up! Bashing the ex-girlfriend, you know? You'd be happy to know I don't care about purity of blood."

"Oh, okay," Potter murmured. "Thanks, I guess."

"If you really feel lonely," Draco said, "Pansy has always had a thing for you. I think she's single at the moment."

Potter chuckled again. "Thanks for the thought," he said. "But breaking up with Ginny did help me realize one thing. I'm as gay as carnival in Rio."

"Gay as what?" Draco asked, the fact that Potter just told him he liked men only sinking in a fraction of a second later. "You're what?"

"Gay, Draco," he said with a smirk. "A shirt-lifter, a ponce, queer, a poo-"

"Yes, I know what gay means," Draco snapped. "But when did you become one? It?"

When no answer but an annoyed sigh was forthcoming, Draco realized something else. "Since when do you call me Draco?"

"You'd rather I keep calling you Malfoy?" Potter snapped.

"Merlin, Potter, I didn't say that!" Draco answered exasperatedly. "Why must you make everything so fucking difficult?"

"Harry," Potter replied.

"W-what?" Draco replied, feeling confused.

"If I'm going to call you Draco, you might as well call me Harry," he explained.

"Why?" Draco replied, still not entirely sure what was really going on. He got all but tossed out on his arse by Snape, to end up having a surprisingly pleasant conversation with Harry bloody Potter, and somehow they now were or weren't on a first name basis after hating each other for 15 years.

"It is my name, after all," Potter, no, Harry, answered.

"All right, Harry," Draco said hesitantly. "Thanks for the conversation, I guess."

He pulled his cloak tighter around his body and stood up.

"You're leaving?" Harry asked him in an almost disappointed tone. Almost, because the saviour of the wizarding world would never be disappointed to see him, a Malfoy, leave.

"It's four am," he snapped.

"Yes, I suppose it is," Harry said while looking up at him, incredibly green eyes gazing through those widely unflattering spectacles. "Well, maybe I'll see you around."

"Yeah, see you," Draco answered noncommittally. He truly had no intention of ever setting another foot inside Hogwarts.

.

It had been four weeks when Draco finally relented. Four silent weeks without any summons from the cantankerous object of his affection. Four excruciating long weeks in which Draco came to doubt anything and everything he was worth. The man mightn't love him back, but he'd always been sure Snape at least desired him as much as Draco desired Snape. Some tiny fleck of confidence that told him the man at least preferred him in his bed to anyone else. However, the cold shoulder Snape was giving him hurt even worse than all the biting and cutting remarks thrown his way.

He gave up, swallowing his pride and doing something completely un-Malfoyish. He begged.

Severus,

I haven't failed to notice you haven't invited me to come over these past few weeks. I wonder if this has anything to do with the things I said last time. If so, I'd like to point out that I wasn't entirely myself when I made those statements and look forward to your reply.

Draco Malfoy

Well, it wasn't really an apology, nor was it an actual plea for a summons, but it was far more demeaning than anything he'd ever done before. Save for letting Snape use him in the first place. He just didn't know how to stop. It hurt to be with the man, but it hurt far worse to not be with him. Draco would take anything Snape deemed him worthy of giving, which wasn't much, but it would have to do.

He sent his owl and waited patiently for the reply. Well, he was patient the first hour or two, before starting to feel annoyed. By dinner time, Draco couldn't hold back his worry anymore. What if the man didn't want him anymore? What if he'd truly ruined what little thing he had? What if Snape had replaced him?

His musing was interrupted by the arrival of one of his oldest friends, Pansy Parkinson. The woman was formidable in the face of a sulking Draco, you had to give her that.

"You are not still mooning over Professor Snape, are you?" she snapped once she took in his forced smile. "Oh, Merlin, you are!"

She slapped him in the face, and ignored his answering glower while he reached up to touch his stinging cheek. "Listen to me, Draco Malfoy!" she screeched. "You are a strong man and a powerful wizard! You will not, I repeat, you will not behave in this completely unbecoming and shameful fashion. Do I make myself clear?"

When Draco didn't reply and cast his gaze to the floor, she grabbed his chin painfully and forced him to face her. "Do I make myself clear?" she repeated.

"But I love him, Pans!" Draco cried out. "I don't know what to do!"

"You're not in love with him, honey," she drawled. "You're obsessed! You've always wanted to please the man beyond reason. It's like you crave his approval like nothing else. It's unseemly, Draco, that's what it is! Completely inappropriate and frankly, it's beneath you!"

"Like you know anything about love! How many marriages was that, Pans?" Draco growled, knowing by the look on Pansy's face that he'd gone too far.

"Fuck you, Draco!" she bit back. "Fuck you and your farce of a relationship!"

She opened the door and shot him a final, angry glare. "Call me when you're ready to apologise!" she spat, slamming the door behind her under Draco's answering 'Not fucking likely'.

She had no right to say he didn't know how he felt about his lover. No right at all! He wasn't mooning; Malfoys didn't moon. He was just a little anxious for a reply from the man, that was all. A reply that still hadn't come.

He was about to write another letter, one that contained some true and serious begging, when a large, dark owl tapped his kitchen window. Recognizing the owl as Snape's, he quickly let the bird in and took the letter tied to its claw.

Draco,

On the stipulation that you are done throwing infantile tantrums like a spoilt little child in my presence, I will expect you Friday at 9 pm.

SS

The young man sighed in relief and sagged back against the kitchen wall, sliding down to the floor. How had he ended up in this situation? A situation where his mind was completely taken over by thoughts of Severus Snape? How had that man acquired so much power over him that a rejection or an acceptance from him changed his entire state of mind?

.

That Friday he stood wringing his hands in front of Snape's door. He breathed in and out a couple of times before finally knocking.

His heart leapt when the door swung open and a very irate Severus Snape appeared. "You're early," he snapped, moving to let the young man through.

"Good evening, Severus," he said in a shaking voice. "How are you?"

"Fine," the Potions master answered and closed the door behind him. Draco wasn't fazed by the lack of courtesy from his lover, and tried again.

"How was your day?" he asked while sitting down in one of the armchairs in front of the fire.

"Fine," the man stated again, sounding more annoyed this time.

"My day was great," Draco said, ignoring Snape's failure to reciprocate the question. "I went to Gringotts today and ran into Theodore. He wanted me to tell you tha-"

"You're not here on a social call, Draco," Snape said, cutting in on him. "And as you're early, I would appreciate it if you'd refrain from bothering me and leave me to my work. You can wait in the bedroom if you cannot control your excessive chattering."

Draco's shoulders sagged in defeat, and he made his way through the door leading to his lover's bedroom. Once inside, he carefully stripped to his pants and sat down on the bed. 'A booty call', that's what Muggles called an engagement like this. It annoyed him to no end that it hurt so fucking much each time Snape cut down his every attempt to make their encounters more personal, more meaningful.

Why he still even tried, he wasn't sure. He just knew he'd do whatever it would take for the man to acknowledge his sexuality and develop some sort of feelings for him.

He was all but drowning in his disappointment when the door opened and Snape walked in. The man opened the many buttons of his robes with a flick of his wand and draped the black fabric over a nearby chair. Without a single look in Draco's direction, he pulled his trousers and pants down, exposing pale and scarred flesh to the damp, dungeon air.

Draco drank in the sight with parted lips. The man wasn't beautiful in any sense of the word, nor was he toned or particularly appealing to anyone but the young blond. Draco sagged back into the pillows on Snape's bed, waiting for him to join him there.

Snape ran a single finger from Draco's navel to his clavicle, making him hard and shivering with just that touch. He then closed his hand over the younger man's shoulder and led him to turn over to his stomach.

Draco hoped, every time, that this would be the time when Severus would fuck him on his back. That he could look into those dark eyes as the man's cock pushed past his tight ring of muscle. He hoped, but never expected as much, and this was clearly not that time.

He buried his face into the pillows as Snape pulled his pants down and muttered a lubrication spell that slicked and relaxed his entrance. He felt the blunt head of the Potions master's cock push against him and bit down on his bottom lip when the man entered him in one smooth thrust.

Snape never made a sound while fucking him. Draco would be writhing and moaning, begging for the man to take him harder and faster, but his lover never so much as breathed louder than usual. The only sound he did make was the sound Draco always dreaded to hear. It was a low groan that came with a stiffening of the man's body and cum flooding through his passage. The sound that meant it was over.

He yanked at his own erection and quickly made himself come. It felt... lacking, in some way. The sex wasn't forced or bad. If anything, he loved having his lover's cock inside him, loved the feel of the stretch and slide, but there was no connection. Draco was having sex and Snape was having sex, at the same time, but never together.

The young man closed his eyes and waited for his breathing to calm down while he pressed his back against the warm body behind him. A calloused hand rested on his thigh, which probably meant Snape was still in some oblivious post-sex state, because he would only touch Draco like this when he didn't realize he was doing it.

Not wanting to be kicked out by the man's condescending words, Draco sat up and reached out to grab his robes. Like always, his pack of smokes was easily within reach and he quickly lit one. This time he didn't pass the pack and lighter to Snape, who was eyeing him surreptitiously. He haphazardly put on his clothes and walked towards the door without muttering a word.

"What? No heated parting words?" Snape said from the bed, and Draco slowly turned around.

"There really isn't any point, is there?" he asked rhetorically. "Besides, I've got no time to exchange snappy remarks. I've got plans."

He was lying, and somehow he knew that Snape knew it. The man narrowed his eyes before shrugging. "Just as well," he said, waving his hand dismissively.

'Damn it!' Draco thought. Even when he was trying to make his exit with his pride intact, Snape had a way of turning it around and making him feel unworthy and unwanted again. The man never gave a single inch, like he enjoyed hurting him. However, Draco was fairly sure Snape didn't really enjoy anything; at least he never let out that he did.

He all but fled the dungeon quarters and made his way to the castle doors, dead set on Apparating away from this place as fast as possible.

"Hey, you," he heard when he crossed the corridor leading to the great hall. Turning around, he saw Potter, no, Harry, leaning against the wall.

"Evening, Potter," he replied with a nod of his head. He couldn't be sure in the nearly dark corridor, but it looked like the other man winced at his words.

"I thought we agreed on you calling me Harry?" he said and took a step towards Draco. "Visiting your godfather?"

"My what?" he asked confused. What on earth was the man talking about?

"Professor Snape," Harry clarified. "He's your godfather, isn't he?"

Draco almost choked on a sour chuckle. "He most certainly is not," he answered, tasting a little bile in the back of his mouth at the thought of having sexual relations with someone holding that position.

"Oh," Harry just said.

"Whatever made you think that?" Draco asked, still a little exasperated.

"I don't know," Harry said shrugging. "It's what everyone was saying back when we were in school."

"You don't think that my father would've ever allowed someone with a defiled blood status like Snape's to be my godfather, do you?" he said. "No, my godfather was Regulus Black."

Harry opened his mouth into a perfect 'O' and his eyes widened. "Regulus Arcturus Black? Sirius's brother?" he asked and Draco nodded. "Does that make us godcousins or something?"

Draco chuckled. "I guess it does," he answered, never having really thought about it like that.

"Well, seeing we're practically almost not really family," Harry started "would you care for a drink?"

Draco wanted to say no and yes at the same time. Thinking about the alternative, having a drink at home, alone, made him accept. "Sure," he said. "It's not like I have anything better to do."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't overwhelm me with your enthusiasm," he chuckled. "Come along, I'm up in the tower."

.

"It's quite sad that you're bunched up at Hogwarts on a Friday night, isn't it?" Draco said without any real venom in his voice.

"You're the one that has nothing better to do than accept my invitation," Harry retorted.

"Touché," Draco said. "No, but seriously, where's the other two parts of the happy trio? I thought you guys were joined at the hip."

Harry sighed and turned the firewhisky around in his glass. "Hermione and Ron have a kid now; Rose, she's adorable. I understand they can't up and leave her with Molly while they go and have fun with me. Though I miss them, you know?" he said, surprising Draco with his openness. "Why aren't you out on the town?"

"I didn't really know how long my earlier engagement would last, so I didn't make any plans," he said without really saying anything. It was bullshit, of course. He hadn't gone out on the town for months now, another reason why Pansy was angry with him. He sighed and gulped back a large mouthful of firewhisky.

"Get up!" Harry commanded, making Draco look up in confusion. "Get up!"

"What? Why?" Draco asked.

"We're not sitting here like a bunch of pathetic losers!" Harry exclaimed.

"Speak for yourself," Draco replied dryly. "I bear no resemblance to any kind of loser in my worst of hours."

Harry just glared at him and raised an eyebrow. "Fine!" Draco snapped. "Where will you have us go?"

The raven-haired man, who had just gotten up from his chair, sagged back into it. "I don't really know," he said. "We used to go to 'the Three Broomsticks', but since Lavender Brown bought it from Rosmerta, I've been vehemently trying to avoid the place. That woman is vile!"

Draco chuckled, remembering the slightly overweight girl who used to walk after the Weasel and called him Won-Won at every chance.

"I know just the place," he said with a gleam in his eye. A gleam that immediately seemed to put Harry on edge.

"That sounds ominous," he said, eying the blond suspiciously.

"Not at all," Draco said, reaching out to grab the man's wrist. "I think it's high time you embrace your recently discovered sexuality, don't you?"

"No, not really, no," Harry replied, trying to pull his wrist out of Draco's grasp.

"Oh, Harry, Harry," he said. "All work and no play makes you a very dull and unbecoming queer."

Harry sniffed and turned his head away from the other man. "Riiiiiight," he said.

"Come on!" Draco said, unrelenting. "Get up off your tight arse and get changed! I'm taking you to London!"

He moved to open Harry's wardrobe and searched through the man's clothes. "Have you got nothing decent?" he asked. "These are all worn jeans and teaching robes!"

Harry shrugged and joined Draco at the mahogany wardrobe. "It's not so bad," he said, picking up a faded pair of jeans. "These are only two years old."

"Not so bad?" Draco screeched, taking the pair of jeans from Harry. "Those are positively ancient! They hold no form at all! No self-respecting wizard would wear anything like this! Even the Weasel clan knows how to dress better than this! How on earth do you hope to find a guy who will appreciate your arse if you don't show it?"

Harry scowled and snatched back the jeans, throwing them onto the floor of the wardrobe and closing the door. "Maybe I don't want anyone appreciating my arse!" he snapped. "Maybe I'd like to find someone who will appreciate a nice conversation, who likes my personality better than my looks or scar."

Draco huffed. "Sure you want that," he said. "You're a romantic Gryffindor, after all. But how on earth do you plan to find a guy like that if they won't look at you twice? Hmm?"

"A guy like that doesn't mind a pair of old jeans, Draco," Harry replied, his conviction slightly wavering already. "We're not all rich and spoiled snobs like you."

"Yeah, and fairytale princes still ride you off into the sunset on white horses," Draco retorted. "Some of us live in the real world."

"Fine!" Harry snapped. "Why don't you dress me then, oh, all- knowing fashion guru."

"I like the sound of that!" Draco said with a wink. "You okay with Flooing to my place?"

.

Two hours later, Harry looked at himself in the mirror, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. "Good God!" he exclaimed while turning and admiring his own assets in the mirror. "I don't look like this at all while naked!"

"Like what?" Draco called from his bathroom.

"I don't know, fit, I guess," Harry replied. He couldn't believe how well the Slytherin green shirt looked on him. He usually went for reds, staying true to his old house. Even the occasional blues and yellows were represented in his wardrobe, but green wasn't a colour he'd ever choose for obvious reasons.

Besides that, the pair of black low slung skinny jeans that left no room for his wand hugged his arse like a second layer of skin. He felt exposed and vulnerable in this outfit.

"They are clothes, Harry, not Glamours," Draco stated. "It won't show off anything that isn't naturally yours."

"Are you sure?" Harry asked in an uncertain tone. "I'm fairly convinced my arse doesn't normally look this, this..."

"Firm?" Draco asked and swatted said arse as he walked back into the bedroom. "Get over yourself, you look hot! Except..."

"What?" Harry asked, blushing over the unexpected compliment.

Draco reached out and took his glasses, folding them and throwing them on top of the discarded pile of Harry's robes. "There, much better!" he said, stepping back and crossing his arms over his chest.

"Hey! Give those back! I don't wear them as an accessory, you know? My eyesight is really bad!" Harry cried out, but Draco didn't pick them back up. Instead, he pulled out his wand.

"Are you a wizard, Potter, or not?" he said with a sigh, and flicked his wand.

"Wow!" Harry called. "You healed my eyes!"

"I most certainly did not," Draco replied, sliding his wand inside his sleeve. "I spelled the air in front of your eyes to resemble the effect the lenses have on your sight. Really, Harry, if I hadn't known you in school, I'd think you were completely dense. It'll last for an hour or two, and then you'll need to replace it. It'll irritate your eyes in the long run though, because it also takes away the moisture out of the air and leaves your eyes very dry when exposed for a long time."

"Oh," Harry replied sheepishly.

"Enough about you!" Draco said haughtily. "How do I look?"

He twirled around and wiggled his arse at Harry, who suddenly felt his mouth turn very dry.

"Uhm, good, you erm," he muttered. "You look good."

"Good, hmm?" Draco asked, looking in the mirror himself. "Guess I'd better change then. I always look good, I want to look great tonight."

"You do!" Harry said hurriedly. "Look great, I mean! But aren't you worried someone will grab your arse or something?"

"Why on earth would I be worried about that? In fact, I expect they will! Just look at it!" he said and wiggled his arse again.

"Well, I imagine not very many girls would be grabbing it in a gay bar," Harry explained. "Aren't you bothered by some men wanting to get their hands on you?"

"No, of course not!" Draco said, really not understanding what Harry was going on about. "I'd be more bothered if they didn't want to get their hands on me."

It finally dawned on him when he looked at Harry's puzzled expression and he laughed. "Merlin, Harry, did you really think I was straight?" he asked and Harry nodded. "Well, I'm not! I'm 'Gay as a carnivore in Rio', I believe you called it."

Now it was Harry's turn to laugh. "What?" Draco asked.

"A carnival in Rio, Draco," he corrected. "It's a Muggle expression. It's like a parade of people dressed up in colourful costumes, dancing through the streets of Rio de Janeiro."

"Oh," Draco replied. "Yeah, that makes much more sense."

He threw a last glance in the mirror and turned to face Harry. "Let's go, or all the good looking guys will be taken!"

"How can they?" Harry retorted cheekily. "We haven't even arrived yet!"

.

"This is a Muggle club!" Harry called out, before realizing where he said it and clamping his hand in front of his mouth.

"Obviously," Draco replied, and dragged the other man through the thick ground. "I don't fancy taking home and fucking Mister-Sizzling-Hot to wake up next to Mister-Worn-Off-Glamour the next morning. Here you at least see what you get!"

"Speaking from experience?" Harry asked, looking around at the barely clad young men writhing their sweaty bodies all over the dance floor.

"Unfortunately, yes," Draco said and turned to face Harry. Without any hesitation, he laid his hand on the man's waist and started dancing gracefully.

"W-what are you doing?" Harry asked, his face flushed in embarrassment.

"What do you think I'm doing?" Draco replied. "I'm dancing with you! Now don't just stand there. Move!"

Harry glanced around him again and saw the way all those other men moved. "I can't dance," he said and pulled away from the blond.

"Of course, you can!" Draco said. "There's nothing to it. You just move your hips from side to side and back and forth like this." He showed Harry how to move by taking his hips in a vice grip and grinding him against his own body in a very sensual and tantalizing way.

Harry couldn't help but stand there while his cock started to pay attention to the delightful friction. When Draco's eyes snapped up to look him in the eyes, he blushed furiously and pushed the man away. "I can't dance, okay?" he cried out and turned away.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw Draco stare after him with a weird gleam in his eyes. "I'll get us some drinks!"

It took him about fifteen minutes to get through the throng of men at the bar. Once he finally caught the attention of the bartender, he ordered two pints, and forced his way back to the last place he'd seen Draco, but Draco was no longer there. Harry scanned the floor and finally saw a flash of white blond hair move in the middle of a small group of men. He got closer, meanwhile taking a sip of ale.

The blond was moving like a god, and he surely wasn't the only one to think so. There were hands all over his body, sliding up and down his arms, his thighs, his stomach. Harry didn't think he'd ever seen anything as sexy as Draco being touched by all these strangers.

Still, it pulled at something inside him. It wasn't fair! These guys didn't even know the man, and they were allowed to have their hands all over him.

Draco looked up and winked at Harry, showing his obvious approval of all the attention. Harry was seething inside. Well, not really, because he couldn't care less about Draco being all felt up, now could he? But something was definitely going on inside him. Something he wasn't familiar with. Something very close to jealousy, but not close enough, because that would be ridiculous.

He huffed and finished his drink, setting the glass on a nearby table and gulping half of the other pint down. Draco narrowed his eyes at the sight, but Harry ignored him. He drank the rest of the beer and put that glass away as well. Twitching his neck and shaking his hands, he moved closer to where Draco was dancing, set on showing he could get some attention as well.

He might not be a very good dancer, but in the half dark like this, who the hell cared? The alcohol was already buzzing through him pleasantly, and the music was clearly pounding a rhythm into his head that couldn't be ignored. He placed his hands on the small of his back and swayed his torso from left to right, his feet firmly planted on the dance floor.

It didn't take long before he felt a warm body press against his back. Fueled by the confidence this gave him, he started grinding his arse into the stranger's groin, his hands now steadily making a way from his chest to his stomach. Hands that were soon joined by another pair, and another. Harry's heart was beating wildly in his chest, his blood rushing excitedly through his body, pooling in the obvious bulge in his tight jeans.

He reveled in the feeling of being desirable, of being wanted. His eyes were still closed when a set of soft lips met with his and a rogue hand cupped his erection. He moaned lightly and parted his lips, allowing the stranger's tongue to invade his mouth. It tasted like cherries––overly sweet, sugared cherries. Not at all a taste he liked, but he didn't care, because someone was kissing him. Someone wanted to kiss him, not because he was the bloody boy who lived, and the kiss just went on and on.

Some commotion made him look up and meet a pair of angry, grey eyes. "Let's go, Potter!" Draco snarled. "This place is a bust!"

Slightly dazed and completely confused by Draco's apparent discontent, he followed the other man outside. He was pulled around the corner and into a dark alley, where Draco Apparated them both to his London flat.

"W-what?" Harry asked as Draco pushed his robes and glasses into his arms.

"You're drunk, Potter," Draco stated. "Go home!"

"I'm not drunk!" Harry drawled, not entirely sure how the room instantly turned from sharp to blurry.

"Sure, Potter," Draco replied, pushing him towards the fireplace. "You're perfectly sober, that's why you were letting a bunch of strangers practically fuck you on the dance floor."

"Oh, come on! I was just enjoying a bit of a snog!" Harry cried out, feeling very frustrated. It was one thing to be completely cockblocked, but another to be cockblocked by an argument with Draco fucking Malfoy.

"A bit of a snog?" Draco asked, his voice going higher than he thought possible. "The guy had his hand down your pants, for Merlin's sake!"

What? No! That couldn't be right. Harry didn't remember having a hand down his pants. He looked down to where the supposed hand would have been, but saw nothing but blurry splotches of colour.

"I can't see," he said, feeling a little put out. There was a reason for him not being able to see, he just couldn't remember it.

"Your glasses are in your hand, Potter," Draco replied dryly. "The spell wore off."

Right! Spell that temporarily made him see without glasses. He shoved his glasses back on his nose and looked around the room, catching his own reflexion in the mirror.

Three angry red marks coloured the skin of his neck and throat, his hair was horribly mussed, even worse than usual, and his fly was... open. "Fuck!" he said, dropping his robes as he hurried to zip himself back up.

"Yes, that's what I said," Draco muttered. "They were getting ready to fuck you right there."

"I wouldn't, I mean, I didn't even notice!" Harry said with another of those pretty blushes on his cheeks. Draco looked away.

"Clearly," he said. "Now I think it's time you went back to Hogwarts, don't you think? I'll pick up my clothes when I visit next."

Harry nodded, picked up his robes, and took a pinch of Floo powder being offered to him in a gold plated box. He wanted to say something else, maybe some sort of goodbye, or thank Draco for the evening, however it turned out, but thought better of it. Instead, he threw the Floo powder at his feet, called out his destination clearly, and disappeared in a flash of green flames.

.

A week later Draco received another owl from Severus, summoning him to come over late on Friday night. He didn't really acknowledge the fact that there was a rush of excitement going through him at the prospect of running into Harry again. Instead, he fully focussed on the fact that he would be with Severus again, another chance to convince the man they belonged together.

He dressed in his best robes and fussed over his shoulder-reaching hair for what might have been an hour. He liked the way the longer hair looked on him. It wasn't flat like his father's had been, but cut in a meticulously arranged mess of layers that fell over his eyes when he leaned forward. It made him seem both younger and more mature at the same time. Boyish, yet dangerous. Pansy often told him he reminded her of a rebel.

Pansy. He would really have to owl her soon. She was after all his best friend, and he missed her even, though her constant meddling and lecturing were driving him insane.

This wasn't the time to think about her. He needed to calm down and prepare himself for tonight. He had only about an hour before he had to Apparate to Hogwart's gates. Unless.

Throwing a pinch of Floo powder into the fire, he called out to Potter's quarters.

"Harry?" he asked once the connection was established. "Harry, are you there?"

"Draco!" Harry called out excitedly. "How are you? You want to come through?"

"I'm fine, I just wanted to ask if I could use your Floo later to come through," he answered. "I usually Apparate, but I hate the walk up to the castle from the gates."

"Uhm, sure, I guess," Harry replied, a little put out. "Do you want to go out after your visit?"

"And have a repeat of that porn show you gave last week? I think not," he answered, smirking at the now familiar blush on Harry's cheeks.

"I'd hoped we could avoid another scene like that," Harry said, not giving up just yet. "I can be good, I promise."

"We'll see," Draco said. "I'll come through in about an hour, all right?"

"Sure, Draco," Harry replied. "Are you visiting Professor Snape again?"

"I don't remember ever saying I was visiting Severus," Draco said, not quite sure why it bothered him so much to have Harry know.

"Of course you're visiting him," Harry said. "Who else would you be visiting? I can't see you playing wizard chess with Flitwick or Hooch. I'm not stupid."

"Could've fooled me," Draco smirked, still not directly answering Harry's question.

"Look, as much as I enjoy breaking my back talking to you, you might as well come through and have a drink before you have to go down to the dungeons," Harry said, stepping back to let the other man through.

"Fine," Draco said, and checked himself in the mirror one more time before Flooing through.

"Damn, Draco, aren't you dressed up to the nines!" Harry called out and whistled for good measure.

"I'm always dressed well, I fail to see how today should be different," he answered flatly, not wanting to give his secrets away to the man he tentatively wanted to call a friend.

"You're dressed to kill," Harry smirked. "Something between you and Snape I don't know about?"

Draco paled but quickly composed himself. "What on earth are you talking about, Potter? Severus and I are just friends."

"If you say so," Harry replied and poured two glasses of firewhisky. "He is one sexy son of a bitch, though. If I wasn't so horribly appalled by his complete lack of social skills and personal hygiene, I'd go for him myself."

Huffing and taking a gulp of whiskey, Draco turned and looked out the window overlooking the Quidditch pitch. "It would be a waste of time," he said sarcastically. "The man is convinced he isn't gay."

"And you're convinced otherwise?" Harry asked.

"I have no opinion on the matter," he replied before skillfully changing the subject. "So you wanted to go out again tonight?"

"Well, I don't know how long you expect to be in the dungeons, but if you're back at a reasonable time, yeah, I'd love to go out again. I promise I won't drink as much this time, nor to let myself be mauled in any way," Harry said solemnly.

"Fine, I don't think I'll be longer than an hour, so I don't really see a problem," he answered, feeling a bit of relief at the thought of not having to go home to an empty apartment after leaving Snape's quarters.

.

"You're late," Snape snarled when he opened the door for Draco.

"I'm sorry," the younger man replied. "Harry was in the middle of some crazy story about his old job and I forgot the time."

His old professor raised his eyebrow at the careless statement. "Harry," he said coldly. "Harry Potter? Why were you there at all, Draco?"

"Why do you care?" Draco snapped back, but answered when the older man just kept staring him down. "I used his Floo to get here, we're sort of friends now, going out with him later."

"Are you?" Snape asked, not really expecting a reply when he turned and made his way to the bedroom, opening the buttons of his robe as he went.

Draco quickly followed.

Today was different somehow. Not obviously different, but some of the most peculiar things happened. For one, Snape didn't prepare him with a spell, but instead slid his long fingers sensually in and out of Draco's arse. Secondly, halfway through the sex he leaned in and kissed, kissed his shoulder. And if that wasn't strange enough, Snape got up off the bed before the younger man could move after his orgasm and came back with a decanter and a couple of glasses.

It wasn't like he wanted to cuddle or talk, but Draco surely knew something had changed. He wasn't thrown out of there during their post-coital cigarette, nor was he thrown out directly after. Instead, they drank some firewhisky together in silence, until Snape collected his glass and pushed him to turn over again. For a second time that same night did Snape fuck him. Not roughly or fast the way the first time went, but slowly. He even reached around and got Draco off before he orgasmed himself.

The blond man wasn't sure what to think. Was this the start of something new? Were Severus's feelings for him finally changing? He didn't know, didn't dare to hope. For now, this was good, perfect even. He felt warm, safe and accepted.

"I've got an early morning tomorrow," Snape said after hours of sex and afterglow. "I think it's time for you to leave. You can use my Floo to get home if you'd like."

Flooing home... Harry... Fuck!

He then realized what had changed. Snape hadn't wanted him around longer, no feelings were forthcoming, nor would they ever be. He didn't want him, he just didn't want Harry to have him. Which was fine, because he wasn't interested in Harry in that way, was he? If he were, he would have certainly thrown a tantrum when the man was almost being raped on the dance floor of some Muggle club.

Which he basically had.

Fuck!

Confused didn't even come close to whatever Draco was feeling. He couldn't be interested in Harry, could he? He was in love with Severus, had been for a long time. Still, the guilt that swept through him for keeping the other man waiting the entire night told him differently.

"Yeah," he replied absentmindedly. "I mean, no. I kind of stood Harry up tonight, might as well apologise before I go home."

"Fine!" Snape snapped. "Go see Potter!"

"What the hell is wrong now?" Draco asked, getting further from understanding the older man by the minute.

"Why would you think anything is wrong? Go! Find your Potter and get out of my quarters!" the man said icily.

"Oh, for the love of," Draco cursed. "Why do you care if I spend time with Potter? It's not like you're fucking him."

The man didn't respond and something was wrenching in Draco's stomach. "Oh my God! You are! You're fucking Potter behind my back! Aren't you?" he yelled.

"I don't see how anything I do or anyone I fuck concerns you," the man bit back. "Go, get out! Go home, or go find Potter, I don't care. Just get out of my rooms!"

Draco felt like a beaten puppy when he pulled the door closed behind him. He didn't even fully understand why the thought of Snape fucking Harry hurt him so much. Who the fuck was he angry at? Severus? Harry?

He really didn't know what to do. He should've Flooed home from Snape's fireplace. He should've just left the both of them to do whatever they pleased. Like he cared. Snape was an arsehole, he always had been. Draco knew this and he still fell in love with the bastard.

But Harry, naive and clueless Harry. Harry who got drunk off a firewhisky and a pair of pints. Harry who blushed so prettily when he was embarrassed. Harry, who ended the enmity between them and looked so disappointed when he Floo called him earlier. He couldn't believe someone like him would let himself be used by the likes of Severus Snape.

That was it. That was exactly what was bothering him. True, Harry said something about thinking Snape sexy earlier, but didn't he say that he was appalled by him in some way? And didn't he say last week that he wanted someone to have a conversation with instead of them admiring his arse? That didn't sound like the type of person who would go for casual sex without commitment.

He had to talk to the man.

He rushed up to Gryffindor tower and banged on the portrait to Harry's room, rousing all the portraits in the corridor.

"Keep it down, will ya, lad?" one of them shouted from a few feet away. "He's not there!"

Draco turned to face the redhead that was talking to him from a gilded frame. "What do you mean, 'he's not there'?" he asked, but the portrait huffed and waved him away.

"He left a little while ago, love," a blond woman called from another frame. "He didn't look very happy. Of course he never really looks happy, now does he?"

"Do you know where he went?" he asked the woman. "Was he wearing a cloak?"

"Of course he was, dear," she answered him with a smile. "Who would ever go outside without one in this weather?"

"Thanks," he muttered and ran back to the stairs, hoping he was right in thinking the man would be at the lake.

And sure enough, he was right. Now that the moon was gone and the stars were the only thing that lit the dark night, it was harder for Draco to see Harry standing by the lake. But see him, he did.

"Harry," he called out softly, not wanting to startle a very powerful wizard any more than tickling a sleeping dragon.

"You're still here!" Harry answered in a surprised tone.

"Of course, I am," Draco replied. "I said I'd be back, didn't I?"

"You also said you'd be an hour," Harry retorted, still not having looked at him.

"Things got... complicated," Draco said. "I'm sorry I kept you waiting."

"It's okay, Draco," Harry said softly, his gaze now firmly focussed on the ground. "I understand you'd want to spend time with your lover more than go out with me. You should've just said."

"Why do you say that?" Draco asked.

"There are a million ways to add one and one, Draco," Harry said while finally looking up at him with those amazing green eyes. "It still only ever adds up to two."

"I-" Draco tried, but didn't really know what to say.

"You could've just said you two were in a relationship," Harry said. He sounded sad and beaten and Draco really didn't want him to sound that way. He wanted to see that bright smile again, the one he showed the other week when they were just talking.

"Some relationship," Draco stated. "He actually tried to convince me that he was fucking you on the side."

"He what?" Harry cried out, disgust written all over his face. "I never!"

"I know that," Draco replied. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm not even sure what I'm doing with the man."

Harry opened his mouth to answer, but Draco cut him off.

"I know what it is we do," he tried to explain. " I just don't know what I'm doing doing it, you know?"

"Erm, no," Harry replied, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I really don't. I mean, you have sex right?"

Draco nodded and dropped his gaze to the ground. "Do you love him?" Harry asked tentatively.

"I'm not sure," Draco answered honestly. "I thought I did, but now I'm not sure."

"What changed?" Harry continued.

"Nothing, I don't know. I shouldn't be telling you all this. It's of no importance," Draco mumbled, not really ready to tell the other man what had been going through his head the past hour. The past few days even, if he was truly being honest with himself.

"Something changed," Harry stated factually. "I can see it in your eyes. What is it, Draco?"

Draco's head snapped up and green eyes met intense grey ones. "You," he whispered, barely audible.

Harry's eyes widened in surprise. Hoping he wasn't wrong, Draco closed the distance between them and slowly leaned forward.

Harry just looked like a deer caught in headlights, eyes still comically wide, mouth shaped into a tight 'O', his lips all pouty and incredibly kissable. At least Draco thought them to be incredibly kissable; the most kissable lips on the planet, actually. In fact, he couldn't think of anything other than kissing those incredibly kissable lips.

Their noses bumped at first, mostly because Harry twitched his face while Draco closed the last few inches between their mouths. The kiss itself was completely awkward and bumpy, like they were both kissing for the very first time. Still, to Draco it was the best kiss he ever had, and he was sure Harry would feel the same once he got past the shock of kissing the other man.

Draco opened his eyes and searched Harry's face for his reaction. He hadn't really moved. If it wasn't for the fact that his lips seemed to be a little more moist than a minute ago, you wouldn't have been able to notice a difference at all.

Then all of a sudden Harry seemed to snap out of it and flinched. Draco's heart fell and he took a step back, hoping the man wouldn't curse him all the way back to London.

Harry's eyes focussed on Draco and he looked unsettled. "Snape's going to kill me now, isn't he?" he asked and Draco just stared at him dumbstruck. "I mean, you kissed me."

Draco still didn't really understand and Harry reached out to shake his shoulders. "You kissed me, Draco!" he shouted. "Snape's lover kissed me!"

He turned and walked towards the lake. "I'm so dead," he whispered into the dark night before he turned back to face the blond man. "Why the hell did you kiss me?"

"Because I wanted to!" Draco answered. "Why are you so upset? Because I kissed you? Or because you're deluded into thinking that Snape will care even the slightest bit?"

"What? I don't know! Neither! Both! Why?" Harry cried out, throwing his hands into the air.

"Because I'm going to kiss you again," Draco whispered and laid his hand against Harry's cheek. The man gasped, his eyes turning a bit murky as Draco inched closer again.

The second kiss was so much better than the first one, while the first one had already been so bloody perfect to start with. Draco couldn't hold back the moan from passing into Harry's mouth when the other man parted his lips and slid his tongue over Draco's upper lip.

Harry's hands clung to his robes as if he wasn't entirely sure if he was going to push Draco away, or pull him closer. This incredibly powerful, but completely guileless man needed more than a quick tumbling shag in the middle of the night. This man deserved to be wooed to the best of Draco's abilities.

This was what made him pull back from the kiss and look into those amazingly green, clouded eyes and whisper his goodnight.

"W-what?" Harry asked in a panicked voice.

"Goodnight, Harry," he whispered again. "I hope you dream of me, because I will certainly be dreaming of you."

God, that was cliché, but completely honest, nonetheless. He turned, walked slowly to the gates, and with one last look over his shoulder, Apparated home. Leaving a thoroughly confused raven-haired man standing like a statue beside the lake.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

Part 2

 

Draco blinked his eyes open early in the afternoon on Saturday. Lazily stretching he basked in the afterglow of one amazingly spectacular dream. “Harry,” he breathed and smiled.

Peculiar how life had a way of twisting you inside out, dropping you on the steps to despair and depression, only to pick you up and show you how wonderful it all can be. Because that was exactly what it had done in the last few weeks. Draco was finally able to open his eyes and see, really see that the future wasn’t as bleak as it used to be.

All because someone managed to worm his way into his thoughts. All because of Harry.

“Harry,” he breathed again and thought of all the things he could do to woo the man. Draco was a pureblood after all. And even when blood status had nothing to do with the worth of a wizard, the old traditions were still superior when it came to courtship. Harry deserved the very best.

He’d already mucked it up partially because kissing someone without their explicit permission was certainly not courteous. He wouldn’t go back and change it for anything though, because that kiss had just lit up a part of him that had been doused in darkness for so long. All he wanted to do now, was smile his arse off and go see Harry.

He practically jumped out of bed and rushed naked into his living room. He pulled out some sheets of parchment and dipped his quill into the inkwell. Putting the quill to the parchment, he frowned. What was he going to write?

Worrying his bottom lip between his teeth, he ran through a few of the options. Everything he thought of was discarded. Too sappy, too cheesy, too corny, too dramatic. Harry wouldn’t fall for anything so manipulative. The man loved honesty more than anything in the world, and that was what Draco should give him.

 

Harry,

I had a wonderful dream last night. You were there, which would’ve made it wonderful in any case. It wasn’t sexual or anything, more... I don’t know... Comfortable. We were sitting by the lake in spring, just talking, and when I looked into your eyes, I knew that that was the way I could want to spend the rest of my life.

It’s weird, I know, for I’ve spent so many years not liking you. Wasted so many years not liking you, that I can’t help but think what would’ve happened if you had taken my hand in first year.

I know, that’s all water under the bridge now, and more than likely it would’ve ended up with my father betraying our friendship and turning you over to the Dark Lord the first time you came over to the Manor.

The Manor. You know, this is the first time I truly miss that place since it was taken. Not because of the riches and status that came with it, but because it could be so much more. It reminds me of you, in a way. All that beauty, all that possibility that was never truly fulfilled. It was never appreciated for what it should have been, what it wanted to be; just a home.

Now I find myself longing for it, to fill its halls with laughter and family in a way they have never before been filled.

I’m not trying to overwhelm you or push you into something you and I are both not ready for, but I can see it. Can you?

This is not a declaration of undying love, because that would be absurd. Still, I think I could fall in love with you, I know I could fall in love with you if I give it a chance. So this is more a declaration of my intentions. I’m not looking for a one-off or a bit of fun. You deserve more than that. I deserve more than that.

I hope you don’t regret our kiss last night, and I hope you feel the same way I do.

Draco

 

He read it over a few more times before he rolled up the parchment and sealed it with wax. He had another letter to write, one he should’ve written over a week ago.

 

Pans,

You were right.

I was wrong.

Owl me.

Draco

 

When he’d waxed that one as well, he called his owl and sent both letters on their way. He contentedly went through his morning routine of showering and ordering breakfast from a nearby bakery, convinced this weekend could bring nothing but joy and new beginnings.

 

.

 

By suppertime, he wasn’t so sure anymore, but he pushed away the doubt when Pansy showed up to hear the scoop on whatever made Draco change his mind about Severus Snape. He told her, why wouldn’t he? She was his best friend, and even though he was horrible to her and failed to apologize in any way, she was there, she’d always be there.

Her opinions were slightly less welcome than she was though.

“You what?” she screeched. “Are you mad? Switching one completely absurd obsession for another is not a way to prove your sanity! Think, Draco! It’s Harry Potter!”

“Calm down, Pans,” he answered, wincing through the ringing her obnoxious voice was creating in his ears. “This isn’t anything like with Severus, okay? Harry likes me as well. I think.”

The doubt must’ve been clear in his voice because Pansy slapped her hand against her forehead. “By Salazar,” she whispered. “You’re diluted, Draco, you need help.”

“Pans, please,” Draco replied while rolling his eyes. “There’s something there, I know there is. Can’t you just hold your pessimism this once and support me?”

She sighed and pulled him into a hug. “You always have my support, Drake,” she whispered in his hair. “I don’t want to see you hurt, is all.”

“I won’t be,” Draco answered and returned the hug.

They spent the rest of the evening talking about every little thing Draco liked about Harry, and slowly Pansy became a believer.

When she finally left late at night, Draco allowed himself to feel the doubts that started to fester as the day passed without a single word from Harry. He’d been so sure that the other man liked him, but why wouldn’t he have responded to Draco’s owl? It just didn’t make any sense.

Though if he was wrong, and Harry hadn’t been interested in anything other than friendship, he could see how his letter would have pushed the man away. Though he still would’ve expected a gentle let-down. That was just the kind of guy Harry was. Wasn’t he?

He had a hard time falling asleep, and when it finally came, it was restless.

 

.

 

By the time the owl tapped on his kitchen window in the late afternoon the next day, Draco was filled with anxiety. He jumped up when he saw the unfamiliar owl, sure that it was finally a letter from Harry and rushed to open the window and accept the roll of parchment.

 

Draco,

If you’re available, see me at 8 pm tonight.

SS

 

Draco’s heart fell. He had no idea what to do. Visit Severus even though he had a chance to have a real relationship that was both equal and mutual? Or did he?

It might be a very Slytherin way to go about it, but a cold shoulder was a definite message in his world. Besides, he was sure he’d read in an interview some time ago, that Harry said he was almost sorted into Slytherin in the first place. There was at least part of a snake in the man’s character.

Or maybe Harry was playing games with him. Some sort of ‘hard to get’ ploy to get him to do whatever the man asked of him. Maybe that naive and clueless disposition Draco liked so much was nothing but a ruse. It didn’t really make sense anyway, that one of the most powerful wizards in the world would be like that. He certainly hadn’t been when they spent their days making each other miserable in school.

And Draco was tired of games, so fucking tired. He’d been manipulated by Voldemort, death eaters and his father his entire life. He’d been nothing but a pawn in their schemes and ploys and he’d had enough. He wasn’t about to crawl to the boy-who-lived no matter how much he liked him. Maybe Pansy was right, maybe he was going mad.

At least with Severus, he knew where he stood. Their encounters were far from perfect, but at least he came to know what to expect from the man. Maybe he should just go and accept it was all he deserved, be content with the cards life dealt him.

It was with that thought that Draco found himself in front of Snape’s door at 8 pm sharp. With that thought, he sadly answered the man’s sneer with a smile when the door opened on the second knock. With that thought that he turned around onto his stomach and bit back his disappointed tears when Severus tossed him out barely half an hour later.

It was with that thought that he comforted himself as he slowly made his way back up the stairs and out of the castle.

“Draco?”

The voice shocked him out of his musings and he snapped his head up to meet an intense green gaze. Harry looked pleasantly surprised to see him and something inside Draco’s chest pulled together tightly. Guilt.

“Were you looking for me? I just got back from St Mungos,” Harry said and Draco paled in response.

“What? Why?” he asked, worried that something might have happened to the man. But he looked fine, a little tired, but otherwise fine. He just wanted to be sure in any case. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Harry answered. “Rose is really sick though, they don’t know what’s wrong with her.”

The small happy smile on Harry’s face faltered, revealing an exhausted, worried and clearly pained expression. Draco felt the world fall away from under his feet. How could he have been so fucking stupid?

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” he muttered, taking a step closer to the other man, but stopping himself before he reached out.

“That’s okay, you couldn’t know,” Harry said, an infinitesimal smile returning to his mouth. “Your letter made all the difference though. I felt so alone between all those Weasleys, and then I just... didn’t. Thank you, Draco. I wanted to write to you sooner, but I really wasn’t in the right state of mind to write anything worthy of your words.”

Draco thought he was going to be sick, his face turning even paler and tonight’s dinner trying hard to make its reappearance. Merlin, he’d really fucked it up. Literally.

“I know you just came all the way back down, but would you come up to my rooms and have a drink?” Harry asked and Draco only barely managed to nod in response.

They were silent when they climbed the many stairs up to Gryffindor tower while Draco was racking his brain frantically to think of a way to tell the other man what had happened. How did one explain how his doubts were so overwhelming that he’d run straight back into the arms of a man who’d used him for months just a day after writing a letter like that. How did one explain that what he’d written was nothing but the truth if his actions clearly stated something completely different?

His chance was taken away though when they reached the corridor to Harry’s rooms.

“Well, hello, dear. I thought we’d see you back after you went after our Harry Friday night,” the blonde woman he’d spoken to the other night said and she moved into the red-headed man’s frame. “See, Nigel? I told you he’d be back.”

“How could I not see, woman!” the male portrait snapped back. “You wake me up every single time someone passes through these corridors!”

Harry froze slightly, but still opened his door without a word and Draco swallowed thickly when he followed the other man inside.

“You weren’t here for me , were you?” the man asked after Draco closed the door behind him.

“No,” he whispered, nearly choking on the word.

“Okay,” Harry replied and Draco had no idea what that one word meant. He just stood there, unmoving, anticipating a blow to follow, but not entirely sure.

“Okay,” Harry repeated and inhaled sharply before turning to face the other man. “And the letter? What you wrote, did you mean it?”

“Yes!” Draco cried out quickly. “I just thought-. You didn’t answer and I thought you didn’t feel the same way, I-.”

He realized that nothing he could really say would change anything. It was all up to Harry now. Sweet, loyal Harry who’d spent the entire weekend worrying over his best friends’ kid while Draco thought the worst of him.

“It’s okay, I guess,” Harry replied soothingly. “It’s not like you cheated or anything, we aren’t even dating.”

Draco breathed heavily in relief. It would be okay, Harry wasn’t angry with him. “I’d like us to be,” he said softly, hope flaring in his heart.

“I don’t know, Draco,” Harry said and dropped his gaze to the floor. He was clenching and unclenching his hands in rapid succession. “What you said in your letter, I feel it too. I know I could easily fall for you. I just don’t know if I can handle falling for someone that is still in love with someone else. I’m not sure I can take that risk.”

“It’s not a risk!” Draco said before really thinking. He just wanted this man so much, he’d say anything to convince him.

“Isn’t it?” Harry responded lifting his head and staring at him intently. “Can you honestly tell me you’re not in love with Snape?”

Draco wanted to say yes, and in the past, he probably would have to get what he wanted, but he couldn’t lie. Not to Harry. Because Harry was important. Harry deserved the truth.

“I’m sorry, Draco,” Harry whispered when he didn’t answer. “I need to think about this. I’ll owl you.”

Draco moved to reach out, but the other man took a step back, clearly not willing to be persuaded at that moment.

“I’m sorry,” Draco said, not exactly sure which of his many faults he was apologizing for. He took a pinch of floo powder from the tiny cauldron Harry held out to him and with a last look and his heart heavy in his throat, he flooed home.

 

.

 

Draco waited patiently. Well, if you count bouncing off the walls, throwing tantrums at Pansy (who called him an idiot for going back to Snape in the first place) and spending a ludicrous amount of galleons on therapeutic wardrobe shopping as patiently.

Two weeks of this ‘patiently’ waiting where he went over every minute spent with Harry repeatedly, and missing the man a tiny bit more every time.

What he didn’t do, however, was run back to his old lover the moment the first summoning owl came. Nor did he respond to the second, third and fourth one. No, Harry would come around and owl him, and then they were going to be dating and it would make Draco happier than he’d been in a very long time, if ever. He was not going to ruin it all by giving in to this obsessive addiction.

Pansy told him why she thought he kept going back to his old head of house. The woman had read some Muggle books on psychology and was convinced that Draco was just looking for a father figure to approve of him. But she said it was also quite possible that he kept going back to punish himself.

Just to make sure he’d behave, she gave him a rubber band to wear around his wrist. He was supposed to snap it if or when he even had the smallest thought about the older man. Draco reluctantly used it, and after the first week, he hadn’t even really needed anymore. Still, he felt like a bloody house elf for physically punishing himself each time his doubts turned his thoughts to the dark and damp dungeon.

Though after two very long weeks, his ‘patience’ was rewarded when a large grey owl tapped on his window in the early evening on Thursday.

 

Draco,

I wanted to say ‘no’ and forget all about it, I truly did. The thing is, my dreams and waking thoughts wouldn’t cooperate. At all.

I find myself thinking about all the possibilities and how crazy I would be to give up on them before we even tried. But I’m scared, terrified really, to open myself up to possible disaster. I’m scared to want to have something that’s worth having. A lover, a future and a family. Each time I came close to having that, it was ripped away, and each time it took a tiny piece of me.

But when I finally realized what I was so afraid of, I remembered something professor Dumbledore said to me the day Voldemort was defeated.

He said: “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”

Maybe he knew then that I would one day find myself in this position. He knew so much, and I was always so angry that he wouldn’t tell me anything. Now I think he told me exactly when I needed to know. So how could I not listen, when he’s never lead me wrong before?

I’ve been living without love for much too long, Draco. Been pushing people away for much too long. Not truly letting them in out of fear of losing them again. So here’s the deal; We hang out, we talk and we explore this thing that is clearly between us. But I don’t want to go any further than that for now, which means no kissing.

Please let me know if you can agree to that.

Harry

 

Draco wasted no time in sending his reply. Short, but to the point.

 

Harry,

Yes! Yes, yes, yes!

Draco

(p.s. Not that I’m complaining, but will you ever explain to me how Professor Dumbledore came to pass this great wisdom on to you almost a year after he died?)

 

It wasn’t long before the grey owl was back with another roll of parchment.

 

Draco,

Join me for dinner in the Leaky Cauldron tomorrow night at 7, and I’ll tell you all about it.

Harry

 

Draco sent back a confirmation of their date and immediately floo called Pansy to ask for her help in deciding what he would wear the next evening.

Of course, that wasn’t because he would be unable to dress himself, or because he was as excited as a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, but because he knew that his friend would appreciate the request. Besides, there was nothing as good as a relaxing night with a friend and a good bottle of port.

Well, maybe a date with Harry.

 

.

 

“So how has life at Hogwarts been?” Draco asked after ordering something without really looking at his menu. Not that he wasn’t picky about what he ate, he just couldn’t keep his eyes off the man sitting across the table from him. He’d truly missed Harry.

“Much the same as always,” Harry answered with a breathtaking smile. “Filius still talks a lot, Minerva still has that motherly stare that makes you feel like you’re eleven years old, Hagrid still risks the lives of our students with his ‘interesting’ animals and professor Snape still graces us with his sunny disposition.”

At the last comment, he eyed the other warily. A test, Draco knew. He raised his eyebrow and stared the other man down until he flushed prettily. Still, he tried to act as though he was completely innocent.

“The man has been even more grumpy though, these last two weeks,” he continued, his eyes focused on the red tablecloth.

“If you want to ask me something, just ask, Harry,” Draco said flatly. He liked the man, he really did, but he didn’t play games. Harry would be wise to understand this early on.

“I’m sorry,” Harry replied, eyes still on the table. “I guess I just wanted to know if you’d seen him.”

“I haven’t,” Draco said. “He’s invited me, but I haven’t gone to him since that Sunday.”

Harry fumbled with the cloth now, clearly uncomfortable and not knowing what to say. It was as if he’d expected him to have been with Snape in these past two weeks.

“Harry,” he said softly. “I’m serious about this. About you and me. That last time, it was a stupid mistake. A decision I should never have made.”

The other man nodded in reply, though he didn’t seem completely convinced. Damn, Draco really wished he’d never responded to that owl. Which reminded him of something.

“How’s Rose?” he asked and Harry’s head snapped up in surprise.

“She’s better, thank you for asking,” Harry replied smiling. “They still don’t know what was wrong with her though. She was glowing blue and had trouble breathing.”

“How did they cure her if they don’t know what was wrong with her?” Draco asked.

“They didn’t,” Harry answered. “It just went away. Their best guess is that she was just exhibiting very early accidental magic.”

Draco frowned. Of course, it sometimes happened that very small children had flares of accidental magic when threatened, but only when threatened. “How do they figure that?”

“Well, it started when Ron had her with him at WWW,” Harry started explaining. “Something went wrong with a potion he and George were making and toxic fumes spread through their workroom. First, they thought her problems were due to the toxin, but now they think she threw up a shield to protect herself. One that apparently made her unable to breathe properly.”

“Leave it up to a Weasley to almost get killed by protecting herself,” Draco muttered.

“You know,” Harry said softly. “If we’re going to work, you might have to ease up on them a bit.”

“Damn it, really?” Draco said with a wink. Harry nodded in return, a small smile returning to his face. “Damn it!”

He looked thoughtful for a minute, smirked and opened his mouth to say something else, but Harry stopped him. “You might want to spend another minute thinking that over.”

“Oh, all right,” Draco grumbled. “Anyway, I believe you owe me a story.”

Harry raised an eyebrow, but before Draco could clarify the waitress showed up with their dinner. He scowled at the unidentifiable bowl of stew set in front of him and looked at Harry, who was excitedly rubbing his hands together as a steaming shepherd's pie was placed under his nose. He looked up when Draco groaned and shot him a ‘hey-you-ordered-that-yourself’ look while shrugging his shoulders.

“Can I get you another drink?” the waitress asked, eyeing a very unhappy looking Draco.

“A firewhiskey,” he replied. “Actually, make that a double.”

“A glass of milk, please,” Harry said.

“Milk?” Draco asked him exasperatedly. “ Milk?

“Shut it,” the other man responded, again sporting one of those enticing blushes. “I like milk with my dinner, all right?”

Draco chuckled and lowered his spoon into the stew with a lot of uncertainty.

“So, are you still friends with Goyle?” Harry asked.

Draco’s spoon froze mid-air. “No changing the subject, Potter,” he said before asking wearily; “Why?”

“You really want to talk about my choice of beverages?” Harry responded. “And I was just wondering who I would need to be ‘nice’ to.”

“No, you were going to tell me that story you owe me,” Draco said. “And I never said I would be nice to the Weasels.”

“What story?” Harry asked. “And don’t call them ‘weasels’.”

“The story of how you had a talk with professor Dumbledore after he died,” Draco answered. “And I never said I would be nice to the Weasleys .”

“Oh,” Harry said softly.

“Well, come on,” Draco pushed. “Spit it out.”

Harry looked uncomfortable and used his fork to play with his food. Draco cringed, unsure how their playful banter ended up like this. Staring into his stew he wondered why he always seemed to screw everything up around Harry.

“It was the day I killed Voldemort,” Harry said. Draco lifted his gaze and his heart leapt when he took in the wounded expression on the other man’s face.

“You don’t have to tell me,” he quickly said, earning him a weak smile.

“No, it’s okay,” Harry responded. “It’s just hard to think about that day, is all.”

Draco nodded, he still woke up from nightmares about that day sometimes. Not just that day, but the days directly following it as well. Aurors coming to the Manor and arresting him and his parents. The subsequent trials. His father being sentenced to life in Azkaban as he and his mother went free. His father’s murder by the hand of one of his victims on the way to the wizarding prison. His mother’s suicide. And then Snape, who took him back to Spinner’s End when he had lost everything.

“Anyway,” Harry said, pulling him from his dark thoughts. “When I found out that part of Voldemort lived inside me, I knew I had to die. I let him kill me.”

“What?” Draco breathed. “Part of him lived in you? And what do you mean ‘you let him kill you’?”

“I can’t really go into details,” Harry said. “Because it was agreed some of it should never see the light of day, but let’s just say that he couldn’t be killed unless he killed me.”

“You died,” Draco said shocked.

“I’m not exactly sure on what happened,” Harry said.

“But, you died ,” Draco repeated.

At that point, the waitress came back with their drinks and her gaze shifted from one man to the other and back again. “Are we alright here?” she asked. They both nodded and she left with a last doubtful look over her shoulder.

“When Voldemort’s curse hit me, I ended up in some sort of halfway place and Dumbledore was there,” Harry continued. “I had a choice, to either go back or not.”

“And you chose to come back,” Draco stated.

“It was a... tough decision,” Harry replied. “I knew they were all waiting for me. My mum and dad, Sirius, Remus... But Dumbledore said that by going back I’d have a chance to keep more people from suffering.”

“How could you not jump at the chance straight away?” Draco asked, trying really hard to understand.

“I don’t know how to explain it, Draco,” Harry answered. “I’d fought so long to survive at that point, and when I learned I had to die... Well... Once I accepted it, I felt so calm, I don’t know... Safe, maybe.”

Harry stirred his dinner again with the fork and contemplated the rest of his explanation before looking up at Draco again. He was watching him intently and Harry realized that no one had ever listened to him like this before. No one had ever tried to understand him like this man was doing.

“I felt I’d earned it, to finally rest. I was so tired. Death, it was my reward for giving the world everything I was. Going back just meant more pain and suffering,” he said as Draco lowered his eyes.

“That’s almost exactly what my mother said in her letter,” Draco whispered. “She’d done her part, making sure I was safe. She said that being alive was more of a punishment than being dead.”

They were silent after that, eating their almost cold dinner without really tasting any of it. Both of them not really knowing what to say.

When their meal was finished, Harry paid the bill and they walked out into the cold night. The darkness gave Draco the courage to ask Harry a question that had been occupying his thoughts.

“Do you think I’m a coward?” His voice sounded cracked and broken and he cringed.

Harry turned toward him and lay his hand on Draco’s shoulder. “I think you were faced with an impossible choice,” he said. “I was there the night Dumbledore died, Draco.”

His eyes opened wide in shock, Harry had been there. He couldn’t understand how the man had seen him almost kill the man that had been so important to him and was still able to see a possible future with Draco.

“You lowered your wand,” Harry said. “Before the death eaters burst through the door... You lowered your wand.”

“I was scared,” Draco muttered, dropping his gaze to the ground.

“Yes, you were,” Harry replied. “Everyone would be in that situation, but you lowered your wand, Draco.”

He didn’t understand what the other man was trying to tell him. He still felt so confused about that night. He’d been so scared, and then the death eaters had been there, and then Snape killed Professor Dumbledore. It all happened so fast that his mind had never had a chance to catch up.

He lifted his chin and stared at Harry, trying to see the message in his eyes.

“You didn’t lower your wand because you are a coward,” Harry said. “You lowered your wand because you knew that killing him would be wrong. It takes courage to do that, knowing what the consequences would be.”

Draco chuckled darkly. “I don’t think I was even thinking that coherently, Potter.”

“Nevertheless,” Harry said. “You lowered your wand.”

“Thanks,” Draco replied, feeling slightly better than Harry had seen him in one of his weakest moments and hadn’t found him wanting.

“No, Draco, thank you ,” Harry said. Draco gave a weak smile in acceptance, completely oblivious to what the man was thanking him for.

Harry smiled in return, feeling a little closer to him than before. He didn’t think Draco was a man that easily opened up to anyone, and he felt honoured that he’d opened up to him.

“So,” Draco said when they reached a safe place to apparate. “I guess this is goodnight?”

He was hoping with all his heart that it wasn’t good night, that they would go to a club, or just hang around in his flat. Harry awkwardly held out his hand and Draco stared at it like it was covered in something really nasty. When he looked up into those green eyes, he saw a breathtaking smile aimed at him.

“I had a lovely evening, Draco,” Harry said. “Thank you.”

Draco looked down at the hand again and tentatively shook it. “As did I,” he replied, brushing his thumb over the palm of Harry’s hand. He wondered how strict the no kissing rule was and contemplated leaning in and brushing those puffy lips with his, but Harry saw the gleam in his eye and pulled back.

“Well, good night,” Harry said, pulling out his wand, ready to turn on his heels.

“Harry?” Draco quickly said, catching Harry’s attention. “When will I see you again?”

Harry smiled. “Would you like to visit Rose with me this Sunday?” he asked. Draco thought about it for a second. Rose meant Weasels, an undefined amount of Weasels. Merlin, Harry was almost perfect, almost , save for those Weasels.

“I’d rather not,” Draco replied, being rewarded with a disappointed look. “But I’ll come along if you’d like me to.”

“Brilliant!” Harry said excitedly. “Floo in around one and we’ll make for to the Burrow from there!”

Draco couldn’t help but return that smile and watched Harry disapparate before going back to his own flat. What on earth had he gotten himself into? The Burrow. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he’d heard Harry and Ron talk about it before. If his memory served him well, it was the place Ron grew up in, his childhood home. This could only mean that he wouldn’t be meeting just Rose, Ron and Hermione, he was meeting the entire family.

“Oh, bloody hell!” he groaned and accioed a bottle of firewhiskey.

 

.

 

“Don’t act like you’re better than them,” Pansy said with her index finger against the side of her mouth, her thumb under her chin to emphasize the way she is thinking. “Oh and don’t say anything bad about Gryffindors.”

Draco sat at the breakfast bar and listened intently to his friend. This was Harry’s family, at least as close to Harry’s family as possible. He really couldn’t muck this up.

“No superiority, mine nor Slytherin’s, got it,” he replied. “Anything else?”

“We’d better plan your outfit to your underwear,” Pansy replied. “You don’t want to look like you put a lot of thought to it, but you don’t want to look too haughty either. Even with their combined salaries, they might not be very rich.”

“All right,” Draco confirmed. “No fancy clothing.”

“There was a no kissing rule, right?” she asked and Draco nodded.

“Why?” he asked. “I know better than to kiss in company.”

“That’s the thing,” she replied. “Those people are disgustingly affectionate. You’d never know they were pureblood if it wasn’t common knowledge. Do try to show some affection, though. A hand on his shoulder in passing, brushing his arm or even looking into his eyes lovingly. Try to let that famous Malfoy mask down a bit.”

“Act like a love-struck fool, that’ll take a bit of work,” Draco sighed. “Was that it?”

“Compliment Mrs Weasley,” Pansy said. “Which is part of your upbringing in any case, so I’m just adding it to be sure you come up with a compliment before you go. No glaring at that Ginny girl, if she’s there. Read the articles in the Daily Prophets I gave you on Ministry dealings and don’t ask about Ron’s involvement in WWW unless they bring it up themselves.”

“Why not? I’ve been wondering about that.” Draco asked, standing up from his barstool and reaching for the kettle to put up some water for tea.

“Well, I was talking to my friend Astoria the other day, you remember her, blonde and pretty? Anyway, she was talking to Angelina, their kids are in some toddler Quidditch team together, and she told Astoria that George’s depression was getting worse,” Pansy explained. “The official story is that Hermione didn’t want Ron to stay with the Aurors after Rose was born, but the truth is that George needed his brother with him.”

“Oh, all right,” Draco said. “Mr Weasley is still in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts department, right?”

Pansy rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Draco,” she said. “You really don’t follow the news, do you? He’s been promoted ages ago! He’s head of the office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects.”

“There’s still use of that now?” Draco asked. During the war, defensive spells and protective objects were in high demand, and a lot of people had tried to gain some profit off that. But Harry destroyed the threat, so the problem should be solved now.

“Of course there is!” Pansy said, eyeing him like he was crazy. “Think, Draco! No one forgets a war that easily, people are still paranoid. Yes, The Dark Lord is dead, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean another couldn’t stand up and try to take over.”

“We still have Harry to save the day,” Draco said sarcastically, waving the irate fear away.

“Yeah,” Pansy said. “That’s another thing you shouldn’t bring up. From what I understand, Harry isn’t very comfortable being the Saviour of the Wizarding World. I think he’d rather be normal than anything else.”

“He will never be normal,” Draco said and Pansy gave him the stink-eye. “No! That’s not what I meant! He could never be normal because he’s extraordinary. Not in a Boy-Who-Lived kind of way, but in a Harry kind of way.”

He took the whistling kettle from the stove and poured it into the pot, adding some very fragrant tea leaves and bringing it to the breakfast bar. He poured both of them a cup before resuming his explanation.

“He’s strong, physically, mentally and magically. And he has this presence, you know? One that says he’s met the world head on and came out blazing on the other side? But at the same time he’s so clueless and naive!” he said. “It’s like magic and people still amaze him. He’s been through enough to be numb and lifeless, but he doesn’t ever give up on all of us. He looks at people and sees the best of them, the best they could be.”

Draco sat down again and held his cup with both hands. “Harry could never be normal,” he repeated. “To say he is, would be an insult to everything he is.”

Pansy reached out and stroked his cheek with her soft slender fingers. “You really like him, don’t you, Drake?” she asked. He didn’t respond, recognizing the rhetorical nature of her question. She knew him all too well. “I’m happy for you.”

“I just hope Harry will still like me after tomorrow,” Draco said. “How many Weasleys are there anyway?”

“Let’s see, there’s Mr and Mrs Weasley,” Pansy said counting them on her fingers. “Percy and Audrey with their kids Molly and Lucy. Then there’s Charlie, who never married. Of course Bill and Fleur and their three kids Victoire, Dominique and Louis. There’s George and Angelina with their Fred Jr. and Roxanne. And to top it off, there’s Ron and Hermione, with the youngest Weasley; Rose. And don’t forget Ginny, who is currently dating our good old friend Blaise.”

“Blaise?” Draco cried out in shock. “Blaise is dating a ginger?” He tried to stop himself from laughing, but soon ended up toppled over with his hands on his knees.

“I-imagine them h-having children!” he tried to say in between heavy breaths. “H-his complexion and h-her h-hair!”

Pansy was trying to look stern, but the corner of her mouth was twitching in amusement. “Stop it, Draco!” she admonished. “That’s a horrible thing to say!”

“Yeah, but just imagine it!” Draco tried again.

Pansy turned her back towards him and shook her head. “I’m sure they will have beautiful babies,” she said. “And ginger hair is a recessive gene.”

“A what?” he asked.

“Honestly, Draco,” she said. “Read a book every once in a while, will you? For someone that used to be so obsessed with heritage, you know very little about genetics. When someone has red hair, it means that both parents gave the child the gene for red hair, because if it was combined with any other type of gene, the hair wouldn’t be red.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” he asked.

“Blaise is as purely black as he is magic, and black people tend to not carry genes for red hair,” she explained in a tone that made Draco feel like a five-year-old.

“We are magical, Pans,” Draco said haughtily. “Do you know how uncommon this shade of blond is? Or Harry’s eye colour? There are certain hereditary aspects that are imbued with magic, making them dominant despite the fact that they are naturally recessive. Therefore, Blaise will have wonderfully brown, ginger babies with the Weasel.”

“You have a point,” Pansy said. “But, you forget the fact that ginger is a girl, and magical heritage usually only travels the male line.”

“True,” Draco replied. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how strong those family genes are.”

“All right,” Pansy said. “To go back on topic, I count twenty Weasleys and Blaise.”

“Twenty?” Draco cried out horrified. “ Twenty ?”

Pansy nodded, an evil smile on her face.

“Bloody hell,” Draco breathed, quickly taking a sip of his tea.

“Language, Draco,” Pansy said. “Just hope that Blaise will actually be there. He knows how to be the only Slytherin in a lion’s den. If you follow his lead, you should be fine.”

“Bloody hell,” Draco said again, hoping with all his might, that not all Weasels would be there.

 

.

 

When Draco stepped through the floo and into Harry’s rooms, he was wearing a pair of grey woollen trousers and a smart looking black turtleneck. Harry himself was wearing one of his rundown sweaters and a pair of faded blue jeans.

“Remind me to take you shopping sometime soon,” Draco said as a greeting.

Harry just rolled his eyes while Draco brushed the soot off his clothes. “A good afternoon to you too, Draco,” he said. “How was your weekend?”

“Yes, yes, greetings and whatnot,” Draco replied. “My weekend has been marvellous so far, though I have a feeling that it’s about to be a lot less pleasant.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” Harry said.

“You do realise you have an extended family of twenty Weasleys, right?” Draco replied. “Twenty people who have more reason to hate me, than to like me.”

“Why, Draco!” Harry cried out with an amused glint in his eyes. “Are you telling me you’re worried about the opinion of my friends?”

“Most definitely not,” Draco said, his chin held high while Harry tried his best to hold in the chuckle that was ready in his throat.

He wasn’t worried about their opinions, not in the slightest. He was , however, worried about the influence their opinions had on Harry. What if they made him choose? Would Harry choose him? Would he want Harry to choose him?

“Whatever you say,” Harry mused. “Are you ready?”

Draco seemed hesitant for a moment. “How many of them will be there?”

“I imagine all of them,” Harry answered, making Draco wince. “Though Charlie isn’t usually, still works in Romania, and I think Bill and Fleur are currently in France.”

“So that’s fourteen gingers,” Draco asked.

“Fourteen Weasleys, Blaise Zabini and I think Molly told me my Godson Teddy and his Grandmother would be over for supper,” Harry confirmed.

Draco took a step back, his face turning pale. “Teddy,” he said. “Teddy Lupin.”

Harry nodded, not entirely sure what the problem was.

“Nymphadora Tonks’s kid?” Draco asked. Another step back towards the fireplace.

Harry nodded again. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“With his Grandmother Andromeda Tonks?” Draco asked just to be sure, already knowing the answer.

“Yes, Andromeda Tonks,” Harry said, reaching out to the other man. “Will you tell me what the problem is?”

“Potter,” Draco said. “Do you really think it’s a good idea for me to sit down at the same table as my estranged aunt? The aunt whom my parents pretended was dead? The woman whose husband, daughter and son in law were killed in the name of the man my family served?”

Harry closed the distance between them and lay both his hands on Draco’s shoulder. “There’s no hatred between you, unless it is in your heart,” he said. “When I told her something was growing between us, you know what she said?”

Draco shook his head feeling unnaturally uncertain. He looked at Harry from under his eyelashes, eyes full of hope for something unfamiliar.

“She asked me if I thought you’d want to meet her,” Harry said softly, comfortingly. “Whatever caused the rift between her and your parents, is rendered obsolete. You are not them, Draco. You can make your own decisions about who you accept in your life.”

Draco pondered over that for a minute. Did he want to know his aunt? They were his last living relatives and deep inside he ached for that type of connection to someone else. A connection that told him he belonged somewhere. At least he wanted to meet her and see if she was anything like his mother. Merlin, how he missed his mother.

He didn’t want Harry to know how nervous this actually made him, what if his aunt didn’t like him? Or Teddy? The boy was his godson after all. He decided to make light of the situation and replied to Harry’s words, rather than his message.

“Unless they are Weasleys,” he said and cocked an eyebrow at the other man.

“I’m asking you to be civil and give them a chance, not to become their new bosom buddy,” Harry replied laughing.

“As if that would ever happen,” Draco muttered and let himself be lead to the fireplace.

Harry floo-called the Burrow and asked to step through. Only seconds later Draco’s senses were being assaulted from all sides. People calling their names, red hair moving in and out of view, a large woman, probably Mrs Weasley, pulling him into a suffocating hug, some delicious smell lingering on her robes.

“Come on, mum,” someone called out. “Don’t squish him!”

“Draco, dear,” the woman said. “Welcome to our home. I’m delighted to have you.”

Another hug cut his breath off. Only once she moved away did Draco remember his manners.

“Thank you, Mrs Weasley,” he said, frantically trying to come up with the compliment he’d prepared. “You, erm... You smell good.”

He could feel himself flush as the people around him laughed and chuckled. He could hit himself for that comment. What a lovely home you have, Mrs Weasley. You’re wearing a lovely robe, Mrs Weasley. No, he’d have to say she ‘smelled’ good. By Salazar, kill me now!

He glanced around the living room and saw a lot of unfamiliar faces. Of course, he’d seen the adults before, but not the horde of small children running about. A tiny hand pulled on his trousers and he was horrified to see the hands clutching the expensive fabric were covered in some sort of jelly.

“Lucy!” Harry cried out. “Look at your hands! You know better than that, missy!”

He picked her up and threw Draco an apologetic smile. He just waved it away like it hadn’t bothered him. The quickly scourgify he cast while Harry’s back was turned earned him a scrutinizing glare from Ron.

“You’ll be scourgifying the threads off around here,” he said softly, making Draco very nervous. “Kids, they make a mess.”

He could hear the accusatory undertone but didn’t understand the implication.

Ron made a show of looking at all the kids in the room. “Harry loves kids, he does,” the man said. “Isn’t bothered about sticky hands or dirty clothes. He’ll probably want a house full of them.”

Draco narrowed his eyes at Harry’s best friend for a few seconds. “I imagine there’s a lot I’d have to get used to, if I want this to work out. He’s worth it though,” he replied.

Ron looked shocked at his admission but quickly recovered himself. “Look, I’ve never really liked you, Draco,” he said. “And I’m not at all impressed by the way you managed to get him to smile so bright and hurt him as well in the course of one weekend.”

Draco opened his mouth to protest, but Ron cut him off. “You are however the first person, other than the kids, in years who actually managed to pull that kind of emotion from him. For that I’m willing to give you a chance.”

He looked surprised, but he was thankful in any case. To get the benefit of the doubt from this man could give him an honest chance of working things out with Harry.

“One chance,” Ron said. “If you screw it up, I’ll hunt you down and destroy you.”

Draco’s eyes widened, feeling slightly afraid of the former Auror. Ron slapped him on the back, making him almost topple over. “Just joking,” he said. “I might kick your ass all the way to London, but you’ll live to tell the tale.”

“Funny,” Draco replied with a sneer.

“Hey Draco,” Harry called from halfway across the room. “Come meet Rose!”

Draco shot Ron a challenging look before joining Harry at Hermione’s side.

“Hey, Draco,” Hermione said. In her arms was a tiny baby girl. All red and wrinkled. Two little blue eyes staring up at him as she let out a small wail.

“She’s beautiful,” he said in reply and reached out a finger toward Rose, but pulled it back quickly.

“Isn’t she?” Hermione said with the smile of a proud mother beaming off her. “Would you like to hold her?”

He took half a step back. “I-I don’t know how,” he said.

“Just sit down, there’s nothing to it,” Harry said and practically pushed Draco down beside Hermione.

“Here,” she said, carefully handing over her precious daughter. “You won’t break her, Draco.”

When the girl was finally in his arms, he couldn’t do anything but stare down at the slightly wiggling baby. He curled his hand around her and watched how she took a surprisingly firm hold on his finger.

“Would you like some tea?” Mrs Weasley asked, making him reluctantly look up.

“Yes, please, Mrs Weasley,” he said.

Harry ran his hand down Draco’s arm and looked down on the two of them smiling brightly. “I’ll help you, Mrs Weasley,” he said and walked after her to the kitchen.

Draco turned to Hermione. “I feel like I should apologise,” he said. He’d truthfully disliked the Weasleys in school, for they always taunted him and pretended to have some superior morals. Hermione, however, had mostly treated him fairly. Yes, there had been the time she’d punched him in the face, but it was hardly ever unprovoked. He’d always secretly respected her loyalty, as misplaced as he’d thought it to be, her wit and her perseverance in earning top grades. His own grades had only ever been that high because of the fact he didn’t want to come in second to her. Which he had in every class save for Potions.

“Whatever for?” she asked.

“For being a git and calling you ‘Mudblood’,” he answered.

“We were kids, Draco,” she said, looking at him warmly before dropping her eyes to her daughter, who was making small noises of content in his arms. “When the time came, you made the right decisions.”

“I never had the future of the wizarding world in view,” he answered. “I’m not a hero like you or Harry. I was really rather selfish.”

“Harry told us about that night on the astronomy tower,” she stated. Draco just shuffled uncomfortably on the couch.

“A perfect example,” Draco replied dryly. “I know Harry has some romantic idea of what went on inside my head, but the truth of it was, that I didn’t give a rat’s arse if killing the headmaster was right or wrong. I just didn’t want to be the person to do it. Didn’t think I could live with myself if I did.”

He eyed Hermione curiously. “Does this change your opinion of me?” he asked.

“No, it doesn’t,” Hermione replied. “The crux of the matter stays the same, you are not a murderer. We do what we have to, to protect ourselves and the ones we love. Me, Ron, everyone in this room. We see things happening and tell ourselves we don’t care, because we can’t afford to care.”

Draco looked down at the baby in his arms. Such innocence, free to live and grow up in a world where she didn’t have to choose between a bad thing and something that was inherently worse. Her parents created such a world for her, she could grow up to be proud of them.

“Draco, you were born between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “It is a miracle that you came to make these decisions at all. Your heart must be incredibly light and strong, to be able to withstand such darkness and remain honorable when the dust settles.”

Draco huffed. “Honor,” he said. “I’d curse it if I had any because it would’ve gotten me killed.”

“Codswallop,” Hermione replied. “Honor isn’t acting irresponsibly and charging whatever bad thing is threatening you and those around you. If that were honor, we’d have never won the war.”

She lay her hand on his knee and squeezed lightly. “Honor is doing what you reasonably can to face up to what you believe in. If you hadn’t had that, we’d all be dead right now.”

“Why?” he asked, not at all sure he knew what she was talking about.

“If you had killed Dumbledore, Voldemort would’ve known the Elder wand was yours, and he would’ve killed you, even though Harry’d already won it off you,” she explained. “And I saw the look in your eyes, Draco, when the snatchers brought us to the Manor. You knew exactly who we were and that it was Harry behind that disfigured face. You didn’t want it to end there, and that had nothing to do with self-preservation.”

“Yes, it did,” he said.

“I don’t see how,” she answered. “Delivering him to Voldemort would have pardoned every fault your family had in his eyes. Instead, you gave us time.”

“I didn’t want to live under his rule, all right? I had no interest in seeing the light defeated,” Draco whispered. “I just wanted to take my mother and get as far away from it as possible, and she would have, if not for my father. She made her marital vows, I didn’t, I was just born into that mess. I never had that choice.”

“And why didn’t you want to live under his rule?” she asked. “Someone like you would’ve thrived in a world like that.”

“Because it’s wrong!” he all but cried out. A few heads were turning and Rose squirmed in his arms. Ron took a step towards them, but Hermione waved him away and Draco continued. “ He was wrong,” he whispered. “How could being a pureblood be so much better, when we give birth to idiots like Greg and Vince? I think of them, and then think of you, and I cannot see how they would be better than you. You were the best student in that school. And then there’s the way the lines are kept pure. Did you know my father had a younger sister?”

Hermione shook her head. “Well, he did. She died when she was six or so, out of the blue some rare wizard virus claimed her. Which is odd, because she rarely left the house,” Draco said. “There no documented accidental magic on her, none at all. I looked into it, because I thought it strange. Malfoys are very meticulous in documenting every ounce of magic displayed. Well, I found many children like my father’s sister. They all died young, without ever showing any ability.”

“What are you saying, Draco?” Hermione asked. She was looking horrified, like she’d drawn the same conclusion he had, and she probably had.

“I think my family has been killing off squibs for the past two millennia,” he said barely audible. “I think all that inbreeding left us magically unstable. And I think it’s worse for other families because Malfoys at least allow half-bloods into the family. I think that if Voldemort had gotten his way, there wouldn’t be a wizard left in a few hundred years.”

“I think you’re right,” Mr Weasley said. “I know both the Weasley and the Prewitt families used to do it, centuries ago. It used to be a common practice amongst the pureblood families.”

“But that’s, that’s horrible!” George yelled. “We can’t be descended from anyone killing their kids!”

“Blood does not make character, George,” Mr Weasley said softly but firmly. “The only difference between the Weasleys and the Malfoys, is that our family changed their ways generations ago. The Malfoys only just started. Am I wrong, Mr Malfoy, in believing you feel quite opposed to those ways?”

“I’m not sure,” Draco said honestly, and George growled. “I mean, there’s a lot of customs that are appalling, and even more that are outrageously outdated. Still, there’s a lot of history in our customs. I’m not entirely sure that all of them are bad, and I think it would be a shame to see some of them go.”

“Still thinking yourself better than us, aren’t you, Malfoy,” George said.

“No, not really,” Draco answered, trying to figure out what he’d said wrong and how he could fix it before Harry returned. “I think it’s more about wizarding culture than pureblood superiority.”

“Right you are, Mr Malfoy,” Mr Weasley said. “After all, we haven’t given up all our family customs, just the ones we disagree with.”

Harry and Mrs Weasley came in with an entire lunch spread floating in front of them on two huge platters.

“A sensible man you got here, Harry,” Mr Weasley said, patting Harry on the shoulder. “Knows how to think for himself, he does.”

Mrs Weasley took the now sleeping Rose from him and patted his head like he was a child. He felt somewhat accepted by the elder Weasleys, though George still eyed him suspiciously.

“Hasn’t Ginny arrived yet?” Harry asked, causing a jealous surge to pass through Draco. Sure Harry was gay, but he had been with the girl, and he was obviously aware she wasn’t there.

“She should have,” Angelina said, walking in with her Daughter on her hip. “I thought she said they’d be here around lunchtime?”

“Oh they’re just running a little late,” Mrs Weasley said. “They were having breakfast with Mrs Zabini this morning.”

“Uh-oh,” Draco muttered.

“What was that, dear?” Mrs Weasley asked him.

“I cannot imagine how that could be a pleasant affair,” he said. “My sympathy goes out to Blaise if he’s introducing Ginny to his mother.”

“What’s that supposed to mean!” both George and Ron yelled. They shot to their feet and their hands were twitching towards their wands. “Don’t you dare insult my sister!” Ron added.

Draco threw up his hands in defense. “I wasn’t trying to insult her!” he said quickly. “I’m merely suggesting that Blaise’s mother isn’t very understanding when it comes to blood and blood traitors.”

Now Ron’s wand was actually in his hand and Draco looked at Harry for support. The man had his eyebrows raised though, as if he wasn’t entirely sure Draco wasn’t trying to insult the Weasleys.

“I-I don’t think you’re blood traitors,” he pleaded, face paled and eyes frantic. “Really, I don’t, and I wouldn’t care anyway!”

Mr Weasley held up his hand at Ron and George, telling them to back off without any actual words.

“By Salazar,” Draco cursed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Blaise obviously likes Ginny if he’s willing to defy his mother’s wishes like that. She was never a supporter of Voldemort, but she shared more than one of his ideas.”

Hermione lay her hand on Draco’s knee again. “We’re sorry, Draco,” she said, earning her a huff from both her husband and his brother. “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on petty prejudices that hold no ground nowadays.”

Draco hung his head. “It’s fine, really,” he said softly.

The entire family looked uncomfortable when Harry sat down on the arm of the couch and put his hand on Draco’s shoulder.

Then Percy shocked everyone when he stepped forward and spoke to Draco for the first time that day. He held out his hand to Draco and smiled nervously. “Cease fire?” he asked.

Draco took his hand and smiled back. “I’d like that,” he said.

“Draco!” a voice called from the front door. “Imagine seeing you here!”

“Hey Zabini,” Draco replied. “I could say the same for you. I heard you defied the beast today.”

Blaise chuckled as Mrs Weasley took his cloak and pressed a light kiss to his forehead. “She almost breathed fire this time,” he answered, echoed by a high nervous laugh from the red-haired girl behind him.

“Ginny,” Draco said with a nod in her direction.

Her eyes widened and she looked at Harry who threw her a warning glare. “Hey, Draco,” she said while looking anywhere but at him. If that was how it was going to be between them, it was okay. He did, after all, come accompanying the man she’d grown up thinking she wanted to marry. Even if he hadn’t turned out to be the person she thought he was.

The silence was still changed and it seemed like Blaise was trying to figure out what caused it.

“Let’s eat,” Mrs Weasley said and Harry breathed in relief.

“Let’s,” he said and offered Draco a sandwich. He gladly took it and hoped that this day wouldn’t get any worse. After all, he’d only been there for barely an hour and it had already almost come to a duel.

He glanced at Harry, who was now having a discussion about food with little Molly.

“But unca Harry, I don’t like pumpin pies!” she said loudly.

Harry smiled affectionately and caressed her little red cheek with his thumb, effectively brushing away the crumbs that were sticking to her face. “Why not, sweetie? I think they’re very tasty.”

She rolled her eyes, as if her thoughts on it were fairly obvious. “The orange bits make me nevous!”

Audrey laughed and shook her head while all faces turned to Percy. “Don’t look at me,” he said. “Aud gives her way too much leniency when it comes to food!”

“Actually,” Mrs Weasley said. “I remember you being much the same when you were younger. Always having some strange reason for not eating what I served you.”

“Bloody prince, he was,” muttered Ron, and everyone laughed again.

This wasn’t so bad, Draco thought. This was what family was all about. Even though he felt as lonely as Harry seemed to feel in the face of spousal bantering, he would work hard to become a part of it. For Harry, if not for himself, because he hadn’t lied when he told Ron the man was worth it.

Molly was now showing Harry the correct way to eat a creamy lemon tart, the stuffing spreading all over her cheeks as she tried to shove it into her mouth in one go. The man was laughing and helping her keep the mess from falling to the floor. He looked back over his shoulder, trying to get eye contact with Audrey when he caught Draco staring. He smiled and held his gaze for a moment before looking on to find his intended target.

“Audrey,” he called out across the room, still laughing. “Your daughters are obscene!”

“Well don’t bloody encourage them!” she yelled back. “It’s hard enough trying to get them to behave at a dinner party.”

Harry laughed even harder. “Oh, I can imagine the look on the Minister’s face!”

“It’s not funny!” Audrey replied. “Lucy was hiding her sprouts in the Minister’s wife’s handbag! We didn’t catch on until the poor woman put her hand in, half the sprouts had been chewed on!”

Molly was not reaching her hands up at uncle Harry, jumping up and down impatiently. “Unca Harry,” she called and Harry turned back to face her. He picked her up, setting her securely in his lap and listening intently to the soft words she was mumbling.

Harry really was great with children and he’d be an awesome father one day. Draco just hoped he would be around to witness it, maybe even share it with him. He liked kids, he liked them alot, but he was worried that he’d be as bad a father as his own had been.

It was a shame those kids wouldn’t have Harry’s amazing green eyes though, not unless he found a woman willing to carry the child. Still he couldn’t imagine Harry wanting that, not if there were unloved children in the world who had no parents. And Draco knew all about those children.

Magical orphans got easily adopted, as long as their parents were magic as well. There was almost always a close or more distant relative, and within their world gifted children were cherished. A child like that would never be without parents.

Muggle-borns, however, were at great risk of spending their entire childhood in the system. They would just disappear into the void, not being tracked down until they were eleven years old.

By that time it was often too late, like Tom Riddle they’d have been shunned and feared for the strange things that happened around them. Draco often wondered what would’ve happened had Voldemort grown up in a loving home, whether the man was born cruel, or turned that way.

Harry caught his eyes again and smiled so happily that he felt his own mouth morph into a grin. Of all the things he could be thinking about, he was thinking about adopting children with Harry. They weren’t even really together yet, they were just hanging out. What had it come to, if this man was able to shake his world on its hinges and make him imagine things he’d never before thought possible? Did he really care?

No, he decided. He didn’t care that he was changing every minute of every day, for he was changing for the better. He was becoming a man worthy of Harry Potter, and he’d be damned if he ruined it now.

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting to know Harry’s extended family. They really were good people and he didn’t think them half as annoying as he used to. Even Ron and George reluctantly let up and pulled him into a conversation about Quidditch.

Draco carefully followed Pansy’s well thought out plan; No talking about touchy topics, be affectionate with Harry and keeping away from Slytherin superiority. Though the latter was hard when Blaise praised and almost serenaded their old house. Blaise could get away with it though, for he’d never really been involved in anything back in school. He couldn’t, so he just shut his mouth and grit his teeth whenever the Weasleys engaged in petty house rivalry with Zabini.

His old school friend often looked at him pleadingly, hoping Draco and his sharp tongue would come to his rescue, but he’d been good overall. Pansy would be proud of him.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

Part 3

 

His nerves returned when the floo flared and his aunt asked to come through. He’d never actually seen Andromeda Tonks, and he was shaken badly when she stepped out of the fireplace. Fear caught him at the back of his throat and he startled backwards. “No,” he breathed. “No, you’re dead.”

Harry caught him around his arms and chest, holding him in place while whispering into his ear. “It’s not her, Draco,” he said. “It’s not Bellatrix, look.”

His warmth felt safe and soothing and he calmed down enough to see the difference. Andromeda’s eyes weren’t radiating madness, nor cruelty. They were not the eyes of the woman who’d tortured him and his mother after Draco failed to kill Professor Dumbledore. These eyes were softer, more gentle and careful.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “My resemblance to my older sister must be quite shocking to you, Draco. I hope you’ll come to realise that appearance is where the likeness ends.”

“Yes, of course,” he replied still a little shakily. “If you’ll allow me to get to know you, Mrs Tonks.”

“None of that, dear boy,” she said. “You’re family, so call me aunt Dromeda, or Andromeda until you’re more comfortable.”

He nodded at her and gave her a small smile. “And who’s this?” he asked, dropping into a crouch to face the eight-year-old clutching his Grandmother’s skirts tightly.

If he wasn’t positively sure this was Teddy Lupin and not Harry’s secret child, he would’ve sworn they were related. The boy had the exact same green eyes and messy black hair as the older man had, and even the shape of their mouths was very similar.

“Draco, meet your first cousin once removed; Teddy!” Harry said proudly as if presenting his own child. “Did I get that right?”

Andromeda chuckled. “That’s exactly right, Harry. He’s been nagging for you to take him up on your broom all day.”

“Brilliant!” Harry cried out and messed up the unkempt black hair of the small boy even further before he leaned into him and whispered conspiringly. “I love an excuse to go flying.”

Teddy beamed up at his Godfather and let go of his Grandmother.

“Teddy,” he said. “Would you like to meet your cousin Draco? He’s a really good friend of mine.”

The boy looked up at him shyly and then turned back to Harry. His mouth formed the word ‘no’, and even though the sound couldn’t be heard, the shaking head said everything. Draco felt his heart drop a few feet. It hurt to be so easily rejected by a child.

Harry patted the boy on the shoulder and turned to face him. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “He’s always like this. Takes him a bit to warm up to new people.”

Draco nodded his head in comprehension, but he couldn’t help but feel it was something to worry about. Teddy was one of the two people who could be considered as close relatives, his family. The last family he had.

Andromeda tapped his shoulder and he turned to face her. “Draco, I’m sorry I didn’t contact you sooner,” she said. “Frankly, I was afraid you wouldn’t welcome the chance.”

“I understand, Mrs- Andromeda,” he replied. “I could say the same for myself. Until this morning, I was afraid you’d see nothing but my parent’s son.”

“I brought something when I learned you would be here,” she said. “I don’t know if you’re interested, but your mother secretly kept writing to me when my family disowned me for running off and marrying my Ted. There are few letters, for she wasn’t able to write often, and most of them are about her marriage with Lucius, but there’s five or six about you.”

Draco’s eyes started stinging, but he was dead set on holding back the tears.

“She stopped writing around your second birthday,” she continued. “I think your father found out about our communication. However, I’d like you to have them.”

“I, I can’t take them,” he replied. “They’re yours.”

“They’ve done all they can for an old woman like me,” Andromeda said kindly and lifted his chin for him to meet her eyes. “It’s time they moved on and healed another wounded heart.”

Draco’s eyelids fluttered closed and he breathed in deeply before he opened his eyes again and looked at his aunt gratefully. “Thank you,” he whispered and she let go of his chin, handing him a stack of envelopes which he quickly shrunk and slid into his pocket. “Thank you,” he repeated and smiled.

During supper, he sat next to Harry, who made him feel welcome and wanted at the table. They brushed their hands every now and then, and each time Draco felt overwhelmed, Harry would know and rest his hand on his knee in a supporting fashion. Each time he did, Draco looked up at him warmly, thanking his lucky stars for a chance with this man.

He could feel those young green eyes on him though, their studying gaze never faltering. He felt scrutinized by the eight-year-old, wondering what standards the boy would measure him to. He was scared he wouldn’t hold up to whatever the boy felt his Godfather deserved.

During desert, the most amazing thing happened though. Hermione gasped out loud and bumped her elbow into Ron’s arm, pointing covertly at the boy. Ron proceeded to alert both Angelina and George. By the time Angelina tapped on Audrey’s shoulder, almost every head was turned towards Teddy, who now only had eyes for his food.

Draco’s mouth was gaping and Harry reached out his hand to gently close it with a broad grin. “I guess you passed his test,” he said and Draco could just blink.

“How did he do it?” he asked an amused Harry. He blinked again, but the sight hadn’t changed. On the opposite side of the table sat a boy with startling green eyes and long platinum blond hair.

“He’s a Metamorphmagus,” Harry answered. “Though we all joked he was stuck. He hasn’t changed a thing since he settled on his resemblance to me.”

“Blimey!” cried Blaise, who’d only just noticed the cause of the disturbance around the table. “He looks like a lovechild of you and Harry, Drake. Wait till I tell Pansy!”

Draco groaned, knowing exactly what Pansy would do with information like that. “Please don’t,” he said, making everyone at the table laugh.

“What’s it worth to you?” Blaise answered with a mischievous grin.

“Anything!” Draco pleaded. “I’ll give you my firstborn!”

This caused a wave of gasps and horrid cries around the table.

“What?” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “As far as I’m aware, wizards can’t bear children. And besides, I wasn’t really planning on passing on these faulty pureblood genes anyway.”

The adults around the table were still eyeing him warily, while the oldest children were trying to figure out what was going on. Everyone was staring at Draco.

“Oh come on,” he said. “Stop expecting me to stand up and flash you my Dark Mark!”

And just like that, Harry leaned in and pressed his lush lips against Draco’s cheek. “There’s the snarky Malfoy I’ve come to like,” he chuckled and Draco’s recently kissed cheek flushed red. As did the other.

"So that comment earlier was complete bollocks," Ron stated. " You don't want any children.

Draco glanced at Harry, who looked equally wistful and curious for his answer.

"I do, eventually," he said, his gaze fixed on those emerald eyes. "I don't know what good I'd do as a father, but I imagine there's much I could give a child that would otherwise have nothing."

"Adoption then, rather than surrogacy," George added. "What, our Harry's genes aren't good enough for you?"

Draco sighed, hoping this family would look at him with anything other than contented mistrust.

"They are, and should we progress to that stage, I'm sure Harry and I will discuss all options," he answered while turning to face George. "Though I don't see the point in going through all that trouble to bring a child into this world, while there are orphanages filled with children who have very little chance of being adopted.

Harry reached out and squeezed his thigh in quiet support. "I agree," he said, something close to awe colouring his voice.

"You don't mind the child wouldn't be magical?" Andromeda asked.

"No," Harry answered quickly. "A child's magical ability is not important to me, at least. Not really. I just want a family."

Though Draco was convinced of the sincerity of Harry's words, he couldn't help but hear the quiet resignation.

"Actually," he said. "There are a lot of magical children who have no parents, their need is much greater for parents such as ourselves."

"Bullocks," Ron replied a little angrily. "You know as well as I do, that magical children are very well cared for within our world."

Harry winced and Draco returned the comforting squeeze to the man's thigh. He didn't know the details, but he was aware Harry's childhood hadn't been all happy. Even the man's short posture and the showing of his ribs all through school was proof of that.

"Magical children with magical parents, yes," Draco replied. "However, muggle-born orphans do not usually come into view until they receive their Hogwarts letters."

"Because the registry that tracks down magical children doesn't work until they're eleven," Mr Weasley said.

"There are ways around the registry," Draco clarified. "We wouldn't be entirely sure, but the muggle papers report stories every once in a while that indicate a magical child is involved. Freak occurrences and such."

Harry winced again, and though he wasn't entirely sure what he'd said wrong, he received a glare from Ron.

"I think it's the wizarding world's job to take care of these children as well, they are at risk of growing up in the worst of situations if we don't."

"What do you mean?" Hermione said. "There's nothing wrong with growing up in the muggle world. I had a very happy childhood.

"Yes, but you were raised by loving parents weren't you?" Draco replied. "The children we are talking about are being raised in orphanages, with next to no chance of adoption. They are feared and shunned, the caretakers are always very thankful when an offer for education in a fully paid boarding school arrives."

"But we do take charge at that point," Mr Weasley said. "It surely couldn't be that bad?"

"Too little, too late," Draco said. "Don't you ever wonder, what Tom Riddle would've grown up to be, had he spent his youth in a loving home? If he would've been the same sadistic bastard if he'd grown up in our world? This isn't about the muggle vs the wizarding world. It's about the right of every child to be loved and cared for, whether they're magical or not."

"He's right," Harry said in a small voice. "You all have no idea what it's like to grow up with people who fear and hate you."

Harry squeezed Draco's thigh again, looking for some sort of strength and Draco lay his hand on top of Harry's, curling their fingers together and holding on. He understood the other man better than anyone else at the table could. Maybe he hadn't been feared or hated by his parents, but Draco sure didn't have the kind of love growing up as the Weasleys did. And he'd seen the children from those orphanages, the desperate longing in their eyes as he explained to them that they were special and that he would help them find a family.

So far Draco had managed to have eleven children adopted into loving homes, with parents who understood what magic was and knew to cherish rather than fear it. Seeing as he didn't yet know how to bring this idea to the wizarding public, he'd placed 9 children with squibs and 3 with muggle families who already had older magical children. The last few he'd found through headmistress McGonagall, the only person who knew about his so-called adoption agency.

Now it wasn't really an agency, it wasn't like one could walk in and ask for a child. Draco found both the children and the families by himself, trying to find the perfect match. It was his payment, his making up for his family's crimes, his atonement for the choices he made himself.

It didn't go fast enough though. Eleven children in three years and he'd found almost forty children in Europe at the same time. He needed to find more families willing to take them in, but he didn't have a clue how. He was Draco Malfoy, unemployed, unworthy and unliked. Who would give him the time of day long enough to listen to what he had to say?

Maybe he should hire someone, he had enough money. The one thing his father had unconsciously done for him was to safeguard his own assets by placing almost all his galleons in his mother's vault. The Malfoy vaults had been confiscated, but his mother could keep her own vaults as she had been cleared of all charges. Draco had enough left to live the rest of his life in luxury, and then some.

Little rich orphan, just like Harry. Maybe they were more similar than he thought, in some ways. Everything else they'd just have to overcome if it could be overcome.

At least his future with Harry looked more bright than his chances with Severus had ever seemed, and he realized that there were things he wanted to share with him, secrets, hopes and dreams. Harry would listen to them, maybe even share some of his own.

"Well, I think your plans for family expansion are very honourable, Draco," Molly said with a smile. "Every child deserves a loving home, and I'm sure you'd be able to provide one, with or without our Harry."

"Thank you, Mrs Weasley," he answered. At least she accepted him, maybe even liked him.

"Talking about providing for a child, what do you actually do, Malfoy?" Ron grumbled.

"Ron!" Hermione and Harry called out as one.

"What?" Ron said. "We all know Harry's got money, and as far as I know all the Malfoy assets were taken. I just want to make sure he isn't planning on living off our Harry."

"What's with all this 'our' Harry?" Harry asked exasperatedly. "I am not a child, you know? I'm very capable of deciding for myself what I plan to do with both my money and my lovelife. I didn't bring Draco to have him scrutinized by all of you, I brought him because..."

He rubbed his forehead with his left hand while his right hand was still clutched in Draco's. "I brought him because I really like him, and I wanted you all to meet him as someone I like."

Arthur looked at the man with a glint in his eyes. "We know you're very capable, Harry," he said. "But this is what a family does. We give your romantic interest the third degree and pester you about grandchildren."

"But I'm not, you know, family," Harry said in a broken voice. "Ginny broke up with me, I'm not anything."

Draco saw Ginny looking down at the table with a guilty look on her face. He didn't know what was actually happening, but something in her look and the tone of Harry's voice made the hairs rise at the back of his neck.

"Whatever made you think that?" Mrs Weasley cried out. "You're not my son because you're Ron's friend, and certainly not because you were dating my daughter! I met a scrawny little thing at Kings Cross years ago, and I instantly felt responsible for him as no one else seemed to feel that way. And I've grown to love you, Harry James Potter! Do not ever doubt that! You're family!"

"Yes Mrs Weasley," Harry said, peeking at Ginny over the rim of his glasses. The girl was still staring at the table looking very pale.

Draco wasn't the only one who noticed. "Ginny?" Mr Weasley asked. "Is there any particular reason that Harry has the idea he isn't part of our family any longer?"

“I didn’t mean it, alright?” she cried out. “You know I didn’t mean it, don’t you, Harry? I just said that because I wanted you to stop being so-”

“What?” Draco said. “So him? He’s only ever been himself, Ginny. It would be foolish to even try to change him into something he’s not. And I happen to think he’s just perfect the way he is.”

He was so angry to think she tried to blackmail Harry with the only family he ever had, he didn’t even stop to think what he was saying. This was probably the most unMalfoyish thing he’d ever said. He blushed, furiously.

“You do?” Harry asked. The goofy smile on his face was so freaking adorable, that Draco didn’t even bother to hide the way he felt.

“Yeah, I do,” he answered with a foolish grin himself.

Ron cleared his throat and cut straight through the tension. “So you’re not just with him for his money?” he asked, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Oh, please,” Draco said rolling his eyes. “You really don’t think my father would’ve let the Ministry take all his money, do you? Only the Malfoy vaults were taken, my mother’s vaults remained untouched. I just hope Harry here isn’t interested in me for my money.”

Ron snorted and threw one of his Brussel sprouts at Harry. “He hasn’t got a clue, does he?”

“You don’t even have a clue,” Harry grinned. “How would he?”

“Boys, this really isn’t a polite conversational topic,” Mrs Weasley said. “How’s Teddy doing in school, Andromeda?”

The rest of the conversation was mostly taken over by Audrey, Andromeda and Mrs Weasley, who were comparing wizard preschools with homeschooling, but Draco didn’t mind. He had a feeling that the Weasleys accepted him, if only a little, and if not, Harry liked him anyway.

After dinner, they stuck around long enough for Harry to take Teddy up on a broom, and Draco felt only slightly jealous. Even if he wasn’t exactly sure which of the two he was jealous of. He both wanted that easy kind of relationship with his cousin and with Harry. Though he’d have his chance at both if he had a say in it.

They Flooed back to Harry’s quarters at Hogwarts, but Draco thought it best not to stay. It had been a long and somewhat emotional day, and maybe it was better for them to have some breathing room before things went too far, too fast.

He did steal a kiss, despite Harry’s strict rule of no kissing. It wasn’t a very long one, nor a deep one. Just a faint brushing of lips against lips, barely even noticeable if Draco weren’t so very aware of every single cell in Harry’s body. But it was okay, enough, for now.

 

.

 

Of course Pansy would be in his kitchen when he got home. She clapped and squealed, though she would never ever admit to it, when she saw the smile on his face.

“I take it it went well?” she stated more than asked. “Well, come on, tell me about it! You got the Weasleys to like you then?”

“Poor me a drink, sit down and ‘maybe’ I’ll tell you about it,” Draco replied dryly, making himself comfortable on one of the stools around the breakfast bar.

“Get your own damned drink!” Pansy snapped and sat down beside him. “If you want someone to serve you, get a bloody elf! And don’t even think about withholding anything, this would’ve been a horrible day if it weren’t for me.”

Draco lay his head on her shoulder and sighed minutely. “I’m in love, Pans. I’m completely, head over heels, out of my mind in love with Harry Bloody Potter.”

“Yes, yes, way to state the obvious,” Pansy replied, rolling her eyes at the sappy state Draco had reverted to. “But how did it go?”

Her voice rose higher toward the end of the question, making Draco wince slightly, as it was said only inches from his ear.

“Fine, it went fine,” he answered in a bland tone. “Did everything you said, behaved myself even when Blaise went on and on about how much better Slytherin was than Gryffindor, and I even kept myself from hexing Ginny into next week. The nerve of that girl! Can you believe she tried to blackmail Potter into being who she wanted him to be?”

His voice was angry and Pansy just raised an eyebrow. “She said he wouldn’t be family anymore if she left him. He actually believed it, the annoyingly insecure git. Sometimes I could just punch him, if I thought it would make him open his eyes and see himself clearly.”

Pansy chuckled. “Good Merlin, we are talking about Harry Potter. The Saviour of the wizarding world! Boy-who-bloody-well-wouldn’t-die! What would he be insecure about?” she asked heatedly.

“Oh, I don’t know. Everything?” Draco replied with a sigh. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I think he’s got the lowest self-esteem in the universe.”

“You would be wrong,” Pansy answered dryly. “That title is yours.”

“I do not have low self-esteem!” Draco replied angrily.

“Sure, Drake,” Pansy replied. “That’s why you let yourself be fucked and used by a man twice your age and with enough bile to fill an ocean.”

“He’s not that bad!” he sputtered.

“Come on, Draco!” Pansy cried out in frustration. “Even the man’s sarcasm uses sarcasm!”

“Just- don’t, okay?” he replied, rubbing his palm over his forehead and letting out a defeated sigh. “I just want to forget about him, not further extend on the dubious feelings that man brings out in me. Potter. Harry . I should be thinking about Harry, as he’s- Well, actually, I don’t know what the hell he is to me. If you would believe the Weasleys, we’re already married and preparing to raise a Quidditch team.”

Pansy chuckled and stepped away from the breakfast bar, pulling a bottle of Firewhisky from one of the cabinets and pouring two drinks. “That bad, was it?”

“Yes,” Draco replied, taking the tumbler Pansy reached out. “ No! It wasn’t really bad, except-”

He sighed.

Pansy sat back down and lay a hand on his shoulder. He stiffened automatically. She’d been his best friend and confidante for years, but she was one of those tough love people. Not one for hugs and kisses. He wasn’t used to being comforted. Still, it felt kind of nice, in a disgustingly sappy way.

“You do realize that I will be brutally murdered by no less than twenty Weasels, and probably even Blaise if I count the fact that he introduced little Weaslette to his mother , if Harry and I don’t work out?” Draco said, his head bumping against the breakfast bar, only to tilt to the side to catch his friend’s eyes at the mention of their school mate's mother.

“He introduced her to the Black Widow?” Pansy asked, mouth gaping. “She does realise Mrs What's her spousal name this week most likely killed all her husbands and never got caught, right?”

Draco shook his head, the corner of his mouth perking up against his will. “Only you would say that out loud,” he said and Pansy huffed.

“I don’t understand why, though. She’s been brought in by Aurors more often than your father was. Everyone knows she did it, we just don’t know how ,” she replied pulling her hand away and leaving a strangely cold void behind.

Draco winced and turned his head back to gaze at the fine grain of the bar top from closer than he could focus on what he saw. He pulled his head back slightly and bumped his forehead against the hardwood a few times. “What on earth was I thinking?” I muttered.

“About Blaise’s mother?” Pansy asked with a confused frown. “And stop acting like a house-elf!”

“No!” Draco cried out, sitting up straight again and facing the window. “About my father.”

“You’ve lost me,” the woman said and took a sip from her tumbler. “What’s he got to do with anything?”

“Different worlds!” Draco spat. “Potter and I are from two completely different worlds.”

“Yes, worlds you each left behind,” Pansy answered. “You’re the little rich kid who can’t thrive on pure luxury any longer and sits around on his arse all day, he’s the little poor kid who grew into a fortune and doesn’t know which way to turn after he completed what he sees as his life’s goal. There’s only one world now, Draco. One uncomplicated world in which you both muck about without having the faintest idea what you’re doing. Stick together and you both might end up somewhere! And practice calling him Harry, Drake, it’s a bit disconcerting to not be on a first name basis with your lover.”

“He’s not my lover,” came Draco’s snappy retort.

“Yet!” She replied. Her mouth held such a wide grin that her teeth were actually showing menacingly.

“I should just give up while I’m ahead,” he said and rested his chin on the breakfast bar, simply eyeing his untouched tumbler.

Pansy punched his shoulder.

“Auw!” he cried out in shock. “What was that for? I bruise easily, you hag!”

“Wear it proud!” she said sternly. “A reminder of how stupid I think you are! What silly little thing is making you say that anyway?”

“Graaah!” Draco bit out in frustration, sitting up again.

“Words, Draco. Use words, because I do not understand caveman frustration,” Pansy said.

“Children, Pans,” Draco snapped. “We’ve been discussing children the entire fucking day!”

“Language,” she admonished. “What do you mean, discussing children?”

“Discussing children, it’s not a hard concept, even for you!” Draco growled. “From the first moment I got there, Weasel went on and on about how Harry wanted a house filled with them. Then that bloody annoying mini-Granger, too adorable for words. I swear , Pans, she’s a Siren or something equally mind warping. She had these watery blue eyes that wouldn’t let go. Magic , Pans, it’s the only thing that can explain! And then the rest of those children, they were everywhere ! And of course Teddy Lupin, who had the audacity to look like a carbon copy of Potter until he changed his hair to look like mine! My hair, on a mini-Potter! And then the conversation switched to me and him having children. Having children! I’m not even sure if these feelings for him will last! I’m not ready to discuss children, Pans! I’m not!”

The hand returned to his shoulder and he calmed unwillingly. “But the worst thing was that I liked it, talking about having children with him. I could see myself, you know? Changing nappies and playing with Harry and a bunch of kids in the garden. When I saw him with Teddy, I was honestly not sure which of them I was more jealous of.”

“It’s alright to have dreams, Drake,” Pansy whispered. “Everyone has dreams.”

“No!” He said stubbornly.

“It doesn’t matter if they are about a distant future,” she tried again.

“No!” Draco repeated. “Dreams hurt! I used to have dreams, but I can’t handle having them now! They’re too fickle, too prone to go astray! I won’t do it, won’t let them take over!”

“And what did little Draco used to dream about? Hmmm? That cute little Malfoy prince?” Pansy purred and Draco shook his head. “You can hide it all you like, sweetie, but I know your secrets. You’ve been telling me the little wonders of your heart for your entire life.”

“Fuck off, Pans,” he bit back.

“Maybe you should dream again, seeing that the dreams of your youth seem to be coming true,” she teased.

“I did not dream about Potter!” he said.

“You can’t have him, Pansy! He’s mine! Malfoys always get what they want!” Pansy whined in a high childish voice.

“I was four ! And it wasn’t about Potter, not really! I just wanted the jewel that shone the brightest while my mother read me those stories. I was over it once she started on the founders, then I wanted to marry Helga Hufflepuff. That should emphasise my diminished capacity as a child!” Draco replied angrily.

“Oh, grow up!” Pansy said. “You were besotted well into our Hogwarts years.”

“I was not besotted!” he yelled.

“That’s why you moped around for weeks after he turned you down the first day?” she asked innocently.

“My father said I would get a Nimbus 2000 if I befriended him, I was mourning the broom!” he replied.

“Say what you will, Drake,” Pansy said, clearly letting it go for now. “I don’t buy it. And as for your dreams, don’t push them away. You will never be happy if you continue to let your fears rule your life. You’ve always chosen the certain path, the path guaranteed to bring you pain and suffering. You think it’s the safer path, but you misunderstand. Guaranteed pain, despite the predictability of it, is still pain, and it will ruin you, Drake. I worry for you.”

She kissed the back of his head lightly, shocking him to his core, and walked towards the door.

Draco blinked, once, twice, before he pulled himself together. “Stop reading about Muggle Psychology!” he yelled as the front door closed behind her.