Title: Not Just Another Cream Bun
Summary: After Eighth Year at Hogwarts, everyone seems to be getting on with their lives in various ways. In Malfoy’s case, this seems to involve a peculiar new shop on Diagon Alley, being stalked by a familiar bespectacled bumpkin and a dashing new apron.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Other than an overabundance of radishes, shoelaces, Nargles and other miscellaneous Magical creatures – none!
Epilogue compliant? EWE
Word Count: 5,540
Author's Notes: Hi acromantular! I’m sorry I didn’t manage to include more of your prompts into this fic – I hope you like the gift nonetheless! Thanks especially to my new amazing beta JL, and also to S who was kind enough to give this a read-through. As always, much love to the fantastic mods of HD Holidays – you guys are the best! ♥
"Who do you have to screw around here to get a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit?"
~ Love Actually
Harry doesn't know what to make of Malfoy. He has been sitting in Luna's tea shop for the last twenty minutes, reading the nonsensical menu painted on each of the round wooden tables – Moon Frog pie? Heliopath salad? – and Malfoy has yet to budge an inch.
Malfoy sits behind the counter, pointy chin on hand, and flicks through past issues of The Quibbler with a certain air of ça ne fait rien, giving the impression of a haughty kitten ignoring an increasingly irascible mouse. Harry resists the urge to grind his teeth.
"Waiter?" Perhaps for the tenth time, Harry raises his hand. Malfoy, with the exception of a minute twitch to a pale eyebrow, continues to ignore him.
Contrary to expectations, Luna's tea shop is a huge hit with the Wizarding populace. Everyone seems to have taken to the shop's rather outré air of fantasy, and it's undeniably chic these days to partake of oddities like periwinkle juice and Humdinger Hamburgers (which Harry is still pretty sure don’t actually exist). Everyone seems to find the shop marvellously creative and original, and it doesn't hurt that: a) Luna has cleverly located the shop’s entrance next to No. 93, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes (WWW), in the busiest bit of Diagon Alley; b) thanks to an ingenious permanent floor-Portkey, the shop is actually located in Brighton, and customers cannot help but be impressed by its gorgeous sea views merely two steps away from London’s dirty cobblestones; and c) it's the only place in England where ex-Death Eaters don berets and tiny aprons and serve you tea and fruitcake.
Not that Harry would know, as the waiter seems to be rudely ignoring him.
The shop's popularity notwithstanding, it's 2.45 p.m. on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, and Harry's the only paying customer in sight. It's after the lunch crowd and too early for afternoon tea, and even the tiny fairies adorning the fairy gift-baskets on the counter seem to be taking a break – there's a high-pitched chittering coming from their direction as they gossip to each other, sneaking peeks at him and giggling.
Malfoy nonchalantly flips another page of The Quibbler with his little finger.
"Argh!" Suddenly irritated beyond measure, Harry gets up from his table (narrowly avoiding toppling the delicate Queen Anne chair on which he has been sitting) and stomps to the radish-and-shoelace-decorated counter. The tweed beret perched on Malfoy's head dips a little, then rises, as Malfoy finally, finally deigns to abandon his reading and look at him.
Harry pauses. Faced with Malfoy's carefully blank stare, he fights the sudden urge to fiddle with the nonexistent buttons on his cricket sweater.
"Tart?" Malfoy's expression doesn't change, but there is a slight – very slight – hint of a grimace creasing the smooth skin around his mouth.
"Excuse me?" Harry sputters.
"Tart," Malfoy enunciates carefully. After a moment, he waves an insouciant hand towards the board behind him, which Harry belatedly realises carries the descriptions of even more of Luna's outrageous dishes, written in an elegant cursive hand. "It's our special today. Chinese Chomping Cabbage tarts."
"Oh. Erm... do you have anything more... more like fish and chips?" Harry barely represses a wince at the affronted glare Malfoy throws at him. Even the sea-shells and – are those skulls and crossbones? – dotting Malfoy's turquoise-and-white-striped apron look affronted.
"Potter." Finally abandoning his perch behind the counter, Malfoy rises, and Harry beholds him in all his beret-and-apron glory. "Are you taking the piss?"
"What? No! I'm just…" Harry backtracks, confronted by five feet and eleven inches of infuriated pureblood. "I'm just not quite familiar with the food here, so, er… why don’t you recommend something?"
Throwing a suspicious glance over an apron-ed shoulder, Malfoy mutters something that sounds like typicalGryffindortroublemaker and disappears into what Harry assumes is the kitchen.
Heaving a sigh, Harry returns to his table and lays his head on its cool surface. Apart from normal wood colours, the wood grain is streaked with pinks and yellows, and Harry supposes the effect is somewhat pleasing, if a bit odd. Kind of like Luna herself.
This was a bad idea. Harry tells himself. Very, very bad.
Eighth year at Hogwarts, after Voldemort's demise, had been surprisingly un-simple for Harry. After the end of the war, Harry had somehow expected things to be more – simple, but frustratingly, they were not.
He had subconsciously been expecting Ginny and himself to pick up where they'd left off, but a number of factors – Ginny's grief over Fred's death, Ginny's increasing school workload, Ginny's growing attraction to Stephen Cornfoot (whom Harry had belatedly realised was the dark-haired, bespectacled Hufflepuff in his year he'd always thought was a Ravenclaw) and Harry's mute acceptance of her drifting attentions – had led to their rather amicable not-getting-togetherness. Harry had to admit he'd been a bit disappointed, but generally all he'd felt was a bit numb. Numb to the rabid clamouring of the post-war press – Harry Potter's favourite underpants are grey boxers! – and, seemingly, numb to everything else.
Hermione and Ron had been a bit worried about him, but he'd shushed their concerns. In the absence of anything to feel very strongly about – most of his emotions seemed to have been leached by the war, and the funerals after – Harry had focused on his schoolwork with a conscientiousness that left Ron gobsmacked. All that had changed, of course, with an accidental snog at Christmas.
With a bloke.
After that… excruciating experience, Harry had thrown himself even more into his studies, leading to a peculiar, almost-competitive, studying relationship with Hermione. After school was out, he'd escaped on a three-month round-the-world holiday with Lee Jordan and George Weasley, who'd made their first million Galleons with WWW (Lee had joined forces with George in managing the shop after the war) and were adamant about celebrating with their silent partner. During the trip, Harry had woken up a little – it was hard not to come fully into your faculties when dodging tuk-tuks in Bangkok or creating distance between yourself and rampaging orangutans in Borneo – and really, he’d thought the trip had been a great success for all three of them.
Lee, who had lost a sister to Rookwood during the battle, had finally seemed like his old self, pestering George with new and frankly horrifying ideas for the shop, such as A-go-go Galoshes (which made whoever was wearing them perform a striptease and something obscene with a ping-pong ball). George, who had become falsely - almost maniacally - cheerful after the war, had finally calmed down, and started to make his peace with the silence beside him. Together, the three of them had toasted the first anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts in the middle of Tokyo, surrounded by neon lights and alien Tokyo-pop beats, and Harry had snogged another bloke.
And taken him home.
It had all been a little disturbing, made even more so when, somehow, pictures of Harry and his attractive Japanese bedmate had trickled down to the Daily Prophet offices in London, causing the merry folk of England to wake up to headlines of Saviour turns Gay! Loves Asians! with their morning Whizzpuffs and Cheerios. On that note, and following a few carefully-worded intercontinental owls from Hermione, Mrs Weasley and (surprisingly) Cho Chang, Harry had decided it was time to come home.
When he’d arrived back in England and heard about Luna’s daring new business, visiting Luna had been a vague inclination that had solidified into a spur of the moment impulse, what with not having seen Luna for ages, the shop’s location just next to WWW and the very idea of Malfoy in an apron...!
A faint cough interrupts his musings, and Harry straightens hurriedly as Malfoy approaches, unaware that his forehead has retained a few wood-grain marks.
The funny thing about Malfoy is that he hasn’t changed very much. He’s become a little less pointy and less ragged round the edges – there’s a healthy, near-pink flush on his cheeks, a great improvement over the sallow near-death emaciation that characterised his Death Eater years – but even bedecked in his frankly ridiculous outfit, he looks almost... debonair. His apron is tied with a neat little bow at the small of his back, and the soft strands of hair that escape from his beret skim his face in an almost flattering manner. Underneath his apron, he has on dark Muggle trousers and a plain grey jumper. The overall effect is still very Malfoy, but somehow... softer. Weirder.
Malfoy stops by his table, and something in his grey eyes flickers.
Harry straightens his back, and tries to look approachable and non-belligerent.
“I’ve checked with Goyle – he can cook up some Aquavirius Maggots and Dirigible Plum chips, Potter. You can take it or leave it.” There is a definite dare underlying the careful neutrality in Malfoy’s voice, Harry is sure of it.
Aquavirius Maggots, though?
“Ah..” Harry stands up, running a hand through his bird’s nest hair. “Actually... I think I’ll pass, after all. Thanks... Malfoy.”
Finding yet another emotion he can’t identify surface in the murky depths of Malfoy’s eyes – triumph? relief? disappointment? – Malfoy nods before slowly backing away, resuming his lofty seat behind the counter.
Harry looks back as he leaves the tea shop, and hesitates before stepping onto the floor-Portkey.
“See you around, Malfoy.”
A glimmer of surprise, and Harry hears a murmured “Later, Potter,” as he is whisked away.
“Maggots? Seriously mate, what are tea shops coming to?”
This is Ron’s informed opinion on the matter – informed, that is, by two and a half pints of Butterbeer and a new drink called, rather evocatively, Big Girl’s Blouse. Enamoured with its tiny, chintz-patterned umbrella floating in a lavender and starfruit tincture, Ron had refused to let either Harry or Hermione try a sip of it, choosing instead to hog the drink to himself jealously.
“Oh, Ron. I think it’s brilliant – everyone obviously needs a little light-hearted escapism after the events of last year, and Luna’s always had all these brilliant names for imaginary things...” Hermione lapses into a giggle, peering profoundly into the amber bubbles of her own drink, the Brown-Noser.
“I don’t understand, ‘Mione,” Harry mumbles, fiddling morosely with his cocktail glass. “Why is Malfoy working for Luna?”
Ron wrinkles his nose. “Everyone knows why, Harry.” He twirls the little umbrella with his fingers. “It’s ’cuz of the new law, innit?”
“Oh, Harry.” Hermione sighs, puffing a lock of hair away from her face. “You know, the Death Eater law? The one passed just after the exams?”
Harry blinks, wisely. “There’s a law that makes all ex-Death Eaters wear aprons?”
Hermione laughs, tilting ever so slightly closer to Ron, like the slope of a right-angled triangle. “No, silly. The one that states that all ex-Death Eaters who are not in Azkaban have to be either in full-time education or full-time employment, to better integrate into post-war society!”
Ron pats Hermione’s hair affectionately. “Clever ‘Mione.”
“Oh,” Harry looks back at his drink, watching lilac foam slowly dissipate into clear cobalt-hued alcohol. “But – I don’t get it. Why’s he with Luna, then? Wearing... you know... aprons and things? Could’ve gotten a normal job. One without... aprons.”
“I think you’re fixating on Malfoy’s apron, mate,” Ron mumbles, just as Hermione says, “Well, I’m not a hundred per cent sure, but really – I think it’s because Luna asked him.”
“And, well, he couldn’t bring himself to say no, perhaps. After what she went through in the Malfoy cellars... ” Hermione trails off, and all three of them are quiet for a bit.
“Hmm,” is Ron’s proffered opinion on that trail of thought, and Harry returns to gazing pensively into his strangely unappetising Arse Bandit, before downing it.
That night, Harry dreams of Malfoy.
Malfoy is leaning over one of the tables in Luna’s tea shop, dishcloth in hand. From his vantage point, all Harry can see is Malfoy’s profile – straight nose, slightly downturned mouth, colourless hair shielding his eyes and tangling in his eyelashes. His apron bunches up around his front as he bends over, assiduously wiping down the table with his dishcloth, paying particular attention to some spot on the corner of the table that he cannot remove. Harry imagines he is muttering to himself – there’s a soft quiver to his mouth, and his forearm flexes as he rubs against the spot, knuckles tensing.
Harry walks up to Malfoy, and there’s no surprise in Malfoy’s eyes as Harry – slowly, awkwardly – reaches out a hand to cradle the side of his face. Malfoy’s skin is papery and warm, heated perhaps by the faint blush cresting his cheekbones. Harry earns himself a ghost of a smile as he gently brushes Malfoy’s hair away from his eyes.
They’re standing very close – close enough for Harry to lean in and breathe Malfoy’s scent. It’s something musky and smoky, like a combination of tea and ashes. Harry feels the fine strands of Malfoy’s hair against his own cheek as their heads touch, and the slight tremble that breaks across Malfoy’s body, like a wave breaching the seashore, as Harry slips an arm around Malfoy’s waist.
Malfoy turns his face into Harry’s, his lips brushing Harry’s cheek, as Harry’s hand strokes Malfoy’s side in slow, soothing sweeps.
They stand like that for a while, caught in this quietly strange embrace, and Harry can’t help but feel oddly calm – like being overcome by stillness after an extended period of movement.
In his dream, the world narrows, like a black-and-white photograph, to the silhouette of the two of them leaning into each other, and the shadow of the Dark Mark on the table.
Draco doesn’t know what to make of Potter.
The bespectacled bumpkin has been coming back to the tea shop unfailingly, day after day, and Draco has that familiar, doomed feeling of being at his wits’ end.
He’s fed Potter the disgusting Maggots dish, the weird Frog dish, and even the putrid lime-green periwinkle juice that Goyle had forgotten to add sweetener to, and still Potter doesn’t seem to get the hint.
Twiddling with his apron string, Draco leans against the kitchen door, squinting to peer into the sunlight-drenched kitchen alcove. Goyle is humming under his breath again; like a rather rotund pendulum, his body sways slowly from side to side as he whisks a bowl of eggs to the tune of Polishing Your Wand by the Bootilicious Banshees.
“God, Goyle, you jelly-belly. Stop humming that awful tune.”
Draco strides into the kitchen, breathing in the unmistakeable smells of Goyle’s cooking. Copper pots and pans line Goyle’s workspace, and the ubiquitous sounds of bubbling and steaming liquids calm Draco a little – they remind him of Mother’s potions laboratory at home.
“Hey, Draco.” Goyle has a beatific smile on his face – one that, depressingly, seems to have taken up permanent residence of late. Draco glares at him, but it’s a half-hearted effort at best. “Oh. Potter’s here again.”
Wordlessly, Draco drops his head into his hands. His radish-and-feather earring tickles his finger.
“Hmm.” A thoughtful look steals across Goyle’s face – rather like a lone wisp of cloud travelling over a wide expanse. “He’s here rather often.”
“He’s been here every day since last Wednesday, actually.”
“Never orders the same thing, does he?” Goyle busies himself tidying the countertop, sliding the bowl of eggs to the side, and drawing a large purplish blob of dough towards him. “What’s he want this time?”
Draco gives an inward shudder, but manages to keep a straight face. “I recommended the Nargle Noodles. He wants them extra spicy.”
Goyle nods to himself with a satisfied air, and proceeds to knead the purple dough. “It’s funny, you know.”
Watching Goyle pat the dough down with an expression more suited to someone watching a train wreck, Draco mutters, “What?” somewhat absently.
“Potter. He’s a funny bloke.”
Draco arches a pale eyebrow.
“Well... he does sort of like to... follow you around.”
An odd expression – a cross between horror and unwilling interest – flashes across Draco’s face as Goyle continues, rolling the dough out with a serpent-handled rolling pin.
“I mean... he was there in sixth year. And he did it last year, at school, for a while round New Year, and now here he is, doing it again! It’s like a bad habit, him needing to follow you.” Goyle shakes his head solemnly, before proceeding to cut the purple dough into thin, noodle-like strips.
Oblivious to Draco’s uncharacteristic silence, Goyle continues, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought he fancies you. You know - it’s like how Nott followed Millicent around all last year, making googly eyes.”
Choking back a snort, Draco echoes, rather faintly, “Googly... eyes?”
“Yeah. Potter’s got really googly eyes, don’t you think? Sort of all green and... spacey.” Goyle ponders this for a moment, before dismissing the thought with a shrug that ripples, like a tectonic wave, across his shoulders. “But he doesn’t fancy you, though. Fancies Asians. Saw it in the Prophet.”
Standing up, Draco shoves a hand through his hair, dislodging the careful placement of his beret.
“You know what, Greg - I think I need to go out for a bit. I’ll be back in a few.” Goyle watches bemusedly as Draco dashes – in a manner resembling a cat scalded by boiling water – out of the back door, his beret slanting dangerously off the back of his head.
With a philosophical sigh, Goyle places the purple noodles into a waiting pan.
Draco considers himself a patient man. At nineteen years old, he’s survived the collapse of the world as he knew it, torture at the hands of arguably the most inhuman wizard to ever grace English shores, and the debilitating humiliation of having his family and his life beholden to the boy he’d thought he’d hated most in the world.
Life is a cruel remedy to pride – and Draco has swallowed his share of its medicine unflinchingly. This, however, is quite beyond the pale.
Breathing a silent sigh, he watches Potter walk along the Brighton shoreline, silhouetted by heaving waves. The pebbles that make up this stretch of beach are slick from the afternoon’s light rain, and grey clouds still cast a gloomy pall to match the seagulls’ monotone screeching. Here and there, though, brilliant streaks of sunlight break through the overcast sky, limning the waves with gold.
Pausing by the tea shop’s back door, Draco holds a momentary internal debate, before overcoming his adolescent instinct to just ignore the git and making his way down the footpath towards the beach. Shivering a little in the chill wind, he pulls the sleeves of his cashmere cardigan over his fingers, tucking his hands into the folds of his apron as he approaches Potter.
Rumpled black hair, abominable glasses, an awkward, lanky figure in an oversized sweater and baggy jeans – the Saviour of the Wizarding World cuts an unassuming figure in the growing darkness. He looks pale in the winter light - the tan he sported from his tropical adventures is already fading - and there is something terribly piquant, like the sting of aspic in a Tarantula tart, about child-like wonder in the eyes of someone who has seen so much.
Potter sees him as he approaches – the berk has the audacity to look as if he’s been caught off-guard, as though he hasn’t been invading Draco’s place of work for the past week. Feeling an irrational surge of irritation, Draco mutters “Potter,” drawing up beside the git to look out upon the waves.
“Hi, Malfoy. Er - ” Potter scratches at the calamity that passes for his hair. “The food’s ready, is it?”
“No. Goyle still has to pulverise the Nargles before adding them to the noodles.” Unaccountably awkward, Draco starts to fiddle with the delicate lace frills on his apron.
“Oh. Right.” Potter’s face, Draco is pleased to see, has taken on a distinctly greenish tint.
Suddenly tiring of this, Draco turns to look Potter directly in his googly, unnaturally green eyes. “Look, Potter. I’ve put up with you for a week. What, exactly, are you playing at?”
Potter looks away shiftily, biting his bottom lip. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I know you’re not here for the food. I’ve fed you the most repellent dishes we have, both on and off the menu, and yet you persist in inflicting your presence on us.” Draco glares at Potter, feeling his ire rise to the surface. Like an emotional tuning fork, his earring starts to tremble.
“I guess it must be amusing for you, coming round to see how far your – your nemesis has fallen. I’m the first Malfoy who actually does something as plebeian as wait at tables for at least four centuries, for Merlin’s sake – but you know,” Draco turns away at this, gazing unseeingly out to sea, “I actually thought we were beyond these games.”
“Huh?” At this, Potter has the temerity to grab hold of Draco’s arm. From this vantage point, altogether too close to Potter, Draco can see the nearly invisible, fading freckles dotting Potter’s nose. “Look – Malfoy, you’ve got this all wrong... ”
“Oh, please.” Draco tries to tug his arm away, but Potter leans closer, his mouth nearly touching Draco’s ear. Potter’s unsteady breaths have the odd side-effect of causing a spray of goosebumps to break out across Draco’s skin.
“I mean it!” Draco watches a blush bloom across Potter’s cheekbones. “I-I just don’t know why I keep coming back here, all right?”
Draco scoffs. He is tempted to flick his hand dismissively in Potter’s face, but Potter’s too close - someone seeing them from a distance could have mistaken their pose for dancers, caught mid-pass, one face tilted to the other’s.
“A likely story. I bet you get off on telling all your Gryffindor friends how much you like seeing a Malfoy in an apron.”
“That’s – that’s got nothing to do with anything.” Draco’s gaze is drawn, like a suicidal moth, towards the redness staining Potter’s lips. “The apron, I mean.”
“Potter.” Draco clears his throat. “What are you on about?”
“Look – I’ll... I’ll stop coming round, all right? If it really bothers you so much.” At this, Potter lets go of his arm, and Draco has never wanted to know how stupidly bereft he feels at the loss of Potter’s nearness.
“I just don’t understand. Why are you here all the time in the first place?” Involuntarily, Draco feels a scowl twist his features. “We were never friends. The food I feed you is atrocious. We have these horrible, awkward conversations. I mean, what can you possibly be getting out of it?”
There is a moment of silence, during which Potter gazes inscrutably at Draco through the frames of his glasses. “Malfoy, I... what do you remember about Christmas Eve, last year?”
“You remember, don’t you?” Potter steps closer, his gaze narrowing. Draco tries not to feel like a deer caught in green headlights. “I just – I can’t get it out of my head.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I think I might – fancy you. Just a little.” Potter coughs, awkwardly rubbing at the back of his neck, and Draco feels all sanity leaving his body in a single whoosh.
“You – Potter. Have you gone absolutely raving bonkers?” Draco, depressingly, can feel each thud of his heartbeat like a cabalistic drum, heralding disaster. “We’re both blokes! You fancy Asians! We hate each other!”
“Oh, I’m not going to talk about this. This is absolutely ridiculous.”
Draco turns to leave, reverting to his tried-and-true modus operandi of fleeing in the face of imminent danger, but Potter forestalls him. The sneaky bastard has moved in closer, cupping Draco’s chin in his palm, and Draco is caught, corralled by Potter’s body heat and the press of Potter’s chest against his. He feels the rough callus on Potter’s thumb graze his pulse-point, and shivers.
“Malfoy,” The word is a whisper. “Stop running away from me.”
Last Christmas had been rather unspectacular by traditional Malfoy standards. After Father had been incarcerated, Mother had moved in with Aunt Andromeda, ostensibly to help with Theodore but really, Draco supposed, to escape the long shadow of the Dark Lord at the Manor. Draco’d had his trunk packed for the holidays, and he’d been - quite secretly - longing for the comforts of home when the Owl came, informing him of the sudden bout of Hippogriff flu that had overcome the Tonks-Lupin-Black household.
That was that, then. Christmas at Hogwarts. As if the past few months of barely cloaked hostility, glacial silence and the emptying Slytherin dorms weren’t enough.
After waving goodbye to Goyle at Hogsmeade station, Draco had sequestered himself in the Slytherin common room. He wasn’t surprised to find himself the only Slytherin staying over the holidays – public opinion of Slytherin House was at an all-time low after the war, and the dungeons weren’t exactly cheery to begin with. After inadvertently dozing off over Prewett’s Potions Pandemonium, he’d woken up an hour before Christmas to find himself still on the common room couch - overheated from being too close to the fireplace, sleep-befuddled and hungry.
The Hogwarts elves had overdone themselves that year; in the darkness, the castle’s hallways glittered with festoons of silvered holly leaves and bluebell flames, transforming the route to the kitchens into an unfamiliar labyrinth of shifting shadows and faraway, flickering lights.
Draco had felt an uncharacteristic pang of nostalgia – he’d never expected to be back at the school he’d scarcely given a thought to, even when plotting its downfall, yet here it still stood – its pulse of ancient magic reinvigorated by months of rebuilding, its doors resolutely open to students old and new.
With something approaching remorse, he carefully fingered the deep green hangings that adorned this part of the castle, their rich sheen backlit by blue flame. Hogwarts was his – and every magical child’s – birthright, and until recently, he’d never realised what a privilege that was.
He was just about to turn into another corridor when something caught his eye – the trailing end of a shoelace, the cheap Muggle kind, seemingly appearing out of thin air on the floor beneath Snape’s portrait. Snape had originally been hung together with the rest of the Hogwarts Headmasters, but apparently the portrait had been so vociferous about his wish to be placed in the dungeons that he had finally been moved the week before.
Warily, Draco approached the shoelace, drawing his wand. There was a subtle shimmer in the air above the shoelace, invisible to all but those who were specifically looking for it. With a looming sense of inevitability, Draco reached out, and touched heavy, silky fabric.
Slowly, he drew the Invisibility Cloak aside, revealing Potter’s sleeping form, huddled like a hedgehog in the narrow alcove. Potter’s glasses were slightly askew, and his hair its usual incomprehensible nightmare. With growing incredulity, Draco noted the tiny snitches zooming around Potter’s orange Chudley Cannons pyjamas, which hung open at his neck, revealing a triangular patch of milky skin.
Sleep-softened, Potter’s face had the unnerving openness of a child’s, with only the firmness of his jawline and the dark shadows under his eyes betraying his history. Without his green eyes dominating his face, Potter looked strangely vulnerable. Draco felt a strange jolt of surprise – he’d never realised Potter’s eyelashes were so long.
Crouching down, bringing himself eye-level with Potter, Draco took the opportunity to study the boy who had dominated his childhood. With an odd tug in his abdomen, Draco realised that, sometime in the past few years, Potter had changed - he’d grown up - without Draco noticing. He’d been Draco’s rival, the bane of his life, the Dark Lord’s greatest enemy and – in a strange twist of fate – Draco’s unexpected saviour. In a year’s time, once they were finally out of Hogwarts, who knew when he’d actually see Potter again, other than as a headline or another moving photograph in the daily paper?
He’d never been this close to Potter before, without some rush of emotion – hatred, rage, or fear – clouding his thoughts. Looking at Potter now, Draco couldn’t explain the mixed feelings that roiled in his gut – he couldn’t even put a finger on what had changed.
Carefully balancing his weight on his heels, Draco leaned closer, and caught Potter’s lips with his own.
Harry had slowly woken to the feel of lips brushing against his. Unthinking, he’d kissed back, subconsciously seeking the faint taste of tea and yearning, and felt pleasure spiral down his body at the echoing press of lips and light, kittenish flicks of tongue.
He’d reached out, and in a haze of delight failed to register the hardness of the chest beneath his touch. Curling his hand around a warm nape, he breathed in a strangely familiar scent of musk and smoke, and felt short, silky strands of hair brush against his fingers.
He’d felt hands grasping his shoulders, then - boldly - travelling down his chest to circle his nipples, flicking them through the thin material of his pyjamas.
Moaning, still drugged by warm, lush laps of tongue, Harry’d slowly blinked his eyes open, only to see a blurred halo of pale hair, the green and silver of a Slytherin tie and -
His sudden stillness must have registered, for the kissing stopped abruptly. After an excruciating moment, with nothing but their heavy breaths echoing in the silence, Malfoy suddenly stood and took a few steps backwards, his grey eyes wide and dilated.
Notwithstanding the fuzziness that had invaded his brain, Harry’d been about to call his name, to reach out – but before he could do anything, Malfoy’d turned tail and ran, leaving only the sound of his reverberating footsteps and Harry in a pool of baffled frustration on the floor.
All this flashes through Harry’s mind as he considers the maddening, stubborn, confusing git before him. Just like that night, Malfoy’s eyes are wide, unreadable, but his breathing is a little too fast, his cheeks a little too pink against his paleness.
Watching the minute trembling of Malfoy’s downturned mouth, so close to his own, Harry has a world-toppling moment of comprehension, of the past eight years snicking – like a locking mechanism – into place.
He dips his head, and closes his eyes.
Malfoy’s taste is unnervingly familiar, from half-remembered memories and stealthy dreams, and Harry relishes being on the giving end for once, feeling the git melting in his arms.
Slanting his lips to deepen the kiss, Harry feels a savage satisfaction at the way Malfoy’s acquiescence swiftly becomes demanding - how their kiss turns from a tentative, almost gentle exploration into a battle of lips and half-bites and gasps.
Bunching his fists in Malfoy’s apron, gripping Malfoy’s hips to edge them closer, Harry feels Malfoy’s beret topple unceremoniously off his head, and feels - finally - at home.
Goyle is mournfully watching the remains of the Nargle Noodles congeal by the window when Luna enters the kitchens, pausing to place her travelling bag by the doorway. She is humming what Goyle reckons to be the tune to Mary the Swashbuckling Welsh Harpy - a surprisingly light, catchy ditty.
Catching sight of Goyle, Luna beams, setting her albino peacock-feather earrings swinging.
“Lovegood.” Goyle nods awkwardly.
“Hello, Greg. You seem terribly upset.” Luna’s eyes are also rather googly, Goyle observes – although they bulge rather more than Potter’s. Wordlessly, he gestures towards the uneaten plate of food by his elbow.
Luna considers the evidence – purple noodles, rather mushy unidentifiable meat and a suspicious moat of greenish gravy.
“I’ve told Draco we should stop disguising peacock meat as Nargles and Snorkacks – it’s quite dishonest, and even albino peacocks have feelings.”
Goyle shakes his head. “No – not that.” He wrings his hands pathetically. “Uneaten food. Makes me upset.”
“Oh,” Luna considers this. “Well, I suppose that’s why you’re so large for your age.”
Goyle shrugs - comments about his stature usually fill him with pride, but not today. “And it’s more than that. Draco’s gone mad.” He nods morosely towards the window. “He’s gone and snogged Potter, and Potter’s letting him.”
Luna’s eyebrows rise up her forehead. There is very little that surprises her, but this has been a season for unexpected surprises. First, Draco’s offer to fund her dream to educate people about under-appreciated Magical creatures, and then his willingness to volunteer both himself and Goyle to staff her tea shop, and now – this.
Luna feels a laugh bubble up from her belly. “Harry and Draco?”
“Madness, that’s what it is.” Goyle gazes broodingly at the two faraway figures on the Brighton shoreline. One figure – the pale, apron-ed one – seems suspiciously devoid of his trousers, and Goyle turns away with an involuntary shudder.
As Luna collapses in giggles against the stack of crockery bearing the tea shop’s name - Tea & Insanity - in shoelace-and-tinsel monogram, Goyle can be heard to grumble, in a rather long-suffering manner, “I don’t think we can blame this on the Wrackspurts.”