Title: Home For The Holidays
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, past Harry/OMC
Summary: Will Harry and Draco find their way home?
Rating: Hard R
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Epilogue compliant? Not in all the important ways (i.e., Harry never married Ginny and they don’t have children), but some of the other characters did marry and procreate the way the epilogue describes.
Word Count: 9500
Author's Notes: I do hope you like this, soul_bound_8686! I’m sorry the sex isn’t too graphic - it just wouldn’t fit into the story properly. But I had a lot of fun writing this. Happy holidays! Beta’d by the incomparable warriorbot.
The heavy brass key turned in the lock on Monday morning and Harry shouldered the door open, coffee cup in one hand and the post in the other.
He didn’t bother to flick on the lights as he walked through the shop to the cluttered back office; he knew the route by heart, navigating around the tables filled with books and the squashy armchairs with ease.
The December morning light filtered thinly into his office as he deposited coffee and post on the battered desk and checked for Floo messages. There was a request from an owl-order customer for an obscure text by Oswald Beamish about goblin rights, and a message from Molly Weasley, telling him in no uncertain terms that he was expected for Sunday lunch, no excuses. Harry sighed.
He rose from the desk and went back into the shop, carrying his coffee and waving his wand at the lights as he went. They flickered to life and Harry surveyed his domain.
After the war, most people expected Harry Potter to join the Auror squad and put in his time being a hero before assuming his inevitable destiny as Minister for Magic. Most people were therefore rather surprised when Harry instead took some of the Galleons he’d inherited from Sirius and his parents and bought a small bookshop off the Charing Cross road.
“A bookshop?” Ron had asked, stunned. “But you don’t even like books that much, do you?”
“I just want to be somewhere that’s quiet most of the time,” Harry had explained, and nobody could have argued with that.
“I’ll be your best customer,” Hermione had beamed, and indeed it was likely she’d spent more money in the shop than anyone, special-ordering the most arcane texts on potions and healing spells that existed, as she completed her Healer studies at St Mungo’s.
Harry settled himself behind the till with his coffee and an old, battered Terry Pratchett, waving his wand idly to unlock the door and turn the sign to “Open”. He was ready, even eager, for a dull morning.
He was therefore surprised and a bit disgruntled when the bell dinged as a customer entered the shop not an hour later. He was even more surprised to peer over the counter and recognise Draco Malfoy. This was a seemingly Muggle bookshop, after all.
Harry thought that Malfoy had aged rather well. He’d be...well, he’d be 28, same age as Harry himself was. Malfoy had filled out a bit and his face was less pointy. He wore his hair in a softer style now, and he had a light tan that contrasted attractively with his pale hair and crisp white shirt.
“Hello,” Harry said neutrally.
“Oh, hello,” Draco replied, leafing idly through a book on the table to his right. He still hadn’t looked at Harry. “I wonder if you could help me. I’m looking for something for my-” In that moment, he’d raised his head and seen Harry.
“Oh,” Draco said.
Harry waited a beat, watching a whole panoply of emotions cross Malfoy’s face, then prompted evenly, “For your...?”
Malfoy was silent, appraising Harry. For one ridiculous moment, Harry wondered how he looked to Malfoy, whether Malfoy would approve of his longer hair, his still-lean body (thanks to regular flying, not to mention the hard physical work he’d done in Romania...), his rumpled corduroy jacket and his cable knit jumper. Harry still wore glasses, though the round-lensed variety of his youth had been, thankfully, retired.
Malfoy said, finally, “For my mother. For Christmas. She’s...difficult to shop for. I wondered if you had anything..unusual.”
Harry came out from behind the counter. “The wizarding books are back there,” he said, pointing toward the room in the back of the shop, separated by a curtain.
“How do you keep the Muggles out?” Malfoy asked curiously.
Harry gestured at the sign above the door, which read Books On Geometry. “I’ve performed a scientific study, and it turns out no one on earth wants to read books about geometry.” He risked a tentative smile and was gratified to see an answering twitch at the corner of Malfoy’s mouth. “What sort of books does your mother enjoy?” he enquired.
“She’s read almost all the wizarding books that exist, I think. Perhaps a Muggle book, actually.”
Harry laughed unthinkingly. “Your mother? Read a Muggle book? I can’t believe she’d even let one in her house!”
As soon as he’d said it, he regretted it. Malfoy’s face hardened and he drew himself up straight.
“You know, Potter, some things have changed since the war. The world didn’t stop eleven years ago. Good day.” And he turned and walked stiffly out of the shop, shutting the door carefully and quietly behind him.
Through the window, Harry watched him walk down the street. He felt very sorry for what he’d said. Malfoy was right: things had changed since the war, and it was wrong of Harry to judge people based on their past actions. If anyone should know that, it was Harry - didn’t everyone still expect him to behave like the saviour of the wizarding world?
Harry sighed. His long, boring day suddenly stretched out before him, and it looked much less appealing than before.
A few days later, in the mid-afternoon, Draco sat in his study, quill poised over a pile of documents that required his signature. He sighed, restless.
Though he’d trained and qualified as a solicitor, he’d only practiced for a few years. The negative scrutiny of “that Malfoy boy” in the courtroom had proved too vicious for him to bear. Since then, he’d concentrated on managing the still-vast Malfoy estate. Despite the fines that had been levied against the family after the war, and Lucius’s general upkeep in Azkaban, and Narcissa’s round-the-world trips when the press got too overwhelming, the Malfoy vault at Gringotts was still stuffed with Galleons. Managing that much money and property was a full-time job, and Draco didn’t trust anyone else to do it.
Although he knew he was doing the right thing for his family, his name, and his reputation, his chosen work didn’t provide much contact with the outside wizarding world. There were weeks when he never left the Manor. Meals were provided by the house-elves, new clothes bought by his mother (yes, still), and special orders could be made by owl post. He isolated himself, and then felt sorry for himself. Ridiculous, he thought with a snort.
The tapping of an owl at the window interrupted his reverie. He looked up, frowning. It wasn’t an owl he recognized; it was a big, tawny barn owl. He rose and unlatched the window, and the owl barged right in and stood impatiently on Draco’s desk, holding out its leg, to which a substantial package was affixed. Draco detached the package and paid the owl, which flew back out the window without further delay.
He opened the package and found a lovely leather-bound Muggle book about raising exotic orchids, along with a note:
Draco smiled, charmed. The encounter with Potter had been unpleasant, although Draco was used to a certain level of tension and rudeness as a result of having been on the wrong side of the war, and having a father in Azkaban. Of course, he didn’t usually have encounters with the man who’d put his father there. There was a lot of history between them, and Draco had assumed that Potter’s level of enmity had not abated since he’d testified against Lucius, eleven years before. He was glad to see he was wrong, and considered that perhaps he’d overreacted to Potter’s comment without giving Potter a chance to explain himself.
He made a snap decision. Leaving the rest of the unsigned documents on his desk, he swept up his cloak and headed for the door. He passed his mother in the conservatory on the way.
“Hello Mother...I’m headed out. Do you need anything?”
“No, my love, I’m fine,” Narcissa replied, head bent over her embroidery. “Enjoy yourself.”
Draco Apparated to Diagon Alley, and decided to walk the rest of the way, as the weather was cold but fine. By the time he was halfway to the bookshop, he was feeling inexplicably nervous. Of course, there was no denying Potter was an attractive man...and it had been ages since Draco’d been on a date, much less had a relationship, but...he was being silly. They were both grown men. They hadn’t seen each other for over a decade. They had a terrible shared history, most of which had been spent loathing the sight of one another. What were the chances they would feel...any sort of way about one another? Ridiculous. He was going to say thank you, and pay for the book, and that was all.
(Besides, Potter was straight...wasn’t he? There’d been all that speculation in the Prophet several years ago: The Boy Who Lived...With Another Man?, the headlines had blared. But who could believe the press?)
Still, he stopped to run his fingers through his hair in front of a shop window on Charing Cross Road before he turned into the little alleyway, carefully arranging it to look artfully mussed.
Harry looked up as the bell jingled, and barely repressed a grin when he saw Malfoy’s face. I was not waiting for him. That’s not why I sent the book. It’s just nice to have a customer, that’s all, he insisted to his subconscious, which smirked knowingly.
He did smile then, and said “Hi,” to Malfoy, who was smiling back.
“Hi. I got the book.”
“Oh yes?” Harry asked casually. “Did it seem like something she might like?”
“Yes, very much. She’s an avid gardener, actually, and we don’t have any orchids. I understand they’re fiddly and temperamental to grow - that’s perfect for her.”
“I’m glad,” Harry replied. He moved from behind the counter to stand in front of Malfoy. He found himself admiring the way Malfoy’s hair looked perfectly windswept, mussed in an attractive way. “How do you do that?” he blurted out.
“Make your hair look like that. Mine always just looks rumpled.”
Malfoy laughed. “Well, your hair’s always been a bit of a nightmare, from what I remember. But to answer your question, I don’t really pay much attention to my hair; I suppose it’s just the wind outside.” Did Harry imagine it, or was Malfoy blushing? “Anyway, I came to pay you for the book. It was really very thoughtful of you to send it over.”
Harry waved his hand. “No, I don’t want your Galleons. The book was an ‘I’m sorry I’m an arse’ present. It’s on me.” He shuffled his feet and looked down.
“You weren’t really that bad,” Malfoy said, smiling. “I think I may have overreacted a little. But no matter. If you won’t take my money, let me take you out for a coffee.”
Harry looked up in surprise. “I...sure, all right. Let me close up here.” He walked to the back room to retrieve his keys, surprised to find himself feeling nervous. It’s only a coffee, he reminded himself. He reached behind the counter for the “Back in an hour” sign and sellotaped it to the door on the way out. He locked the door and turned to face Malfoy. “All yours,” he said.
“Brilliant. The Leaky?”
“Sure. Why not shock the hell out of people?” Harry said, laughing, and Draco joined in, before they both moved to an obscured corner of the alley and Apparated.
The Leaky was nearly empty at this time of the afternoon, so a bit less shocking of people than Harry had anticipated. They both forewent coffee for a whisky, and settled down in two wingchairs near the fire.
“That’s nice,” Malfoy said, stretching his long legs toward the flames.
“It’s a good day for it,” Harry agreed. “Blustery.”
“I love this time of year,” Malfoy commented. “December is my favourite month.”
“Because of Christmas?”
“Well, in part...mainly, it’s because school hols always made my mother so happy. To have us all at the Manor together, as a family....” Malfoy trailed off.
“Ah. Must be a bit difficult now,” Harry said, tentatively.
Malfoy looked at him directly. “I don’t blame you, you know. I did, for a long time. I missed my father, and my mother was so sad...But you did what was right. You told the truth about what he’d done. It’s not your fault he’s in Azkaban. It’s his.”
“Thanks for saying that,” Harry said, and meant it.
“Sure. Now, are you ready for another?” Malfoy gestured to Harry’s empty glass and held up his own. “It’s my round.”
“Sounds good.” Harry handed his glass over with a smile and stared into the fire while Malfoy made his way to the bar.
Another voice interrupted his musings. “Hullo mate, what are you doing here?”
Harry turned and leant forward to see around the wingchair. Ron was approaching, Seamus in tow. Bollocks, Harry thought. Despite the fact that Malfoy had been on perfect behaviour for well over a decade, as well as making financial reparations above and beyond what the Ministry had required, he knew Ron had never forgiven any of the “other side”.
“Hey,” he greeted Ron warily, conscious of Malfoy at the bar, his back to them. “What’s up?”
“Nothing. We’re just having a quick nip to warm up before we go back on patrol.” Ron and Seamus were partners on the Auror squad. It was a quiet job, post-war. “Here, we’ll find another seat and join you.”
“Actually...” Harry felt awkward. “I’m here with someone.”
“Oh. Right.” Ron looked uncomfortable. There were several reasons for that discomfort, Harry thought, not even including the Malfoy factor. The first was that Ron was still not perfectly comfortable with the fact Harry was gay, even though Harry had come out to the whole Weasley family almost ten years before. Even Ginny had accepted the situation with good grace, marrying Neville a few years later and seemingly blissfully happy with two young daughters. But Ron still froze up when the topic was mentioned, and avoided it as much as possible with Harry. The other reason was...more complicated. “Who is it?” Ron asked, without much enthusiasm.
As if on cue, Malfoy walked back to them from the bar. “I got Ogden’s again, unless you want something more-” he looked up and saw Ron and Seamus standing there. “Ah.”
“Ah,” Ron echoed, looking part infuriated and part mortified.
“Ugh,” Harry groaned under his breath. Seamus looked avidly from one person to the next, as if anticipating a brawl.
Harry stood. “Ron, Seamus, you remember Mal- Draco, of course.”
Ron stared. “Harry, can I talk to you for a minute? In private?”
Harry sighed. Malfoy murmured, “Perhaps I should be heading-” and Harry said, “NO,” too loudly and everyone stared at him. He sighed again. “You wait there,” he ordered Malfoy, pointing at the wingchair. Malfoy sat meekly, still holding both glasses. “Seamus, go get yourself a drink. Ron, get over here.” He waited for Seamus to turn and head for the bar, then gave Malfoy a grimace and hauled Ron across the room by the arm, turning impatiently to face him. “What is it?”
“Him? Harry, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Ron, first of all, it’s none of your business. Second, it’s none of your business! Third, we’re just having a drink. It’s nothing. Fourth, you are horribly judgmental and Hermione would be ashamed of you.”
“But...but...” Ron sputtered. “It’s Malfoy.”
“Yes, Ron. It’s Draco Malfoy. What is your point, exactly?”
Ron closed his mouth, then opened it again. “But...what about Charlie?” he asked softly.
Harry closed his eyes and groaned. “You always know how to say exactly the wrong thing, Ron. Well done.”
Draco watched the conversation between Ron Weasley and Potter across the room. It looked tense. He sat back in the wingchair and deposited Potter’s whisky on the small table next to him, sipping his own.
It hadn’t taken long for his and Potter’s...what? Relationship? Friendship? Wary detente?... to attract negative attention. This was going to be complicated.
Just then, Finnegan approached, pint in hand. He seemed unsure whether to wait with Draco for Weasley and Potter, or go across the room and join then. When Potter groaned and clutched his forehead in an obvious show of frustration, Finnegan opted for the less dangerous option and perched on the edge of the other wingchair next to Draco. “Hullo,” he muttered, taking a gulp of his Guinness.
“Hello,” Draco said politely. They both seemed out of words. Draco tried gamely, “So you’re an Auror, then?” gesturing at Finnegan’s robes.
“Aye, I am,” Finnegan answered. They lapsed into silence again. Then Finnegan tried, “Heard you were a solicitor?”
“I was, yes. Now I manage my family’s affairs.”
“Hmm,” Finnegan replied, clearly bored. He half-rose from his seat. “Well, I’m going to-” and was spared from figuring out how to escape by Weasley and Potter’s return.
Draco looked at Potter. His face was set in hard lines. But as he looked at Malfoy, they softened. “Ron and Seamus are going to join us for a drink, if that’s all right?” he asked.
“Of course,” Malfoy replied. “Can I get anyone anything?”
“Got you a pint here, mate,” Finnegan said to Weasley, handing him a glass.
“Cheers,” Weasley said, and took a drink. “So, Malfoy, what have you been up to lately? Still skulking around dark alleys?” He laughed.
“Ron!” Potter hissed.
“Sorry, sorry. But seriously, what have you been up to?”
“I manage my family’s affairs,” Draco repeated stiffly.
Weasley snorted. “Is that a job?”
Draco held his temper in check, watching Potter’s chagrined face. “It is, yes.”
But Weasley had lost interest. “Harry, you’re coming for lunch Sunday, right? Mum told me to remind you if I saw you.”
“Yes, I’ll be there,” Potter answered. “She sent me a message this morning, too.”
“Well, you know why, right? Charlie’s home. He wants to see you, Harry. Did you know, Malfoy, that Harry used to date my brother Charlie? The dragon tamer?” Weasley turned to Draco, his eyes alight with malice.
“Ron!” Potter exclaimed.
But Draco held up his hand. “I didn’t know that, no. It’s none of my business, and just as I value my privacy, I’m sure Harry does, too. And besides, what does it matter who anyone’s dated in the past?” He put a slight emphasis on the last three words.
“Ah, but it wasn’t so long ago, was it, Harry?” Weasley taunted, elbowing Potter in the ribs. “Since you were Apparating to Romania every other day and coming home with fresh burns on your arms?” He chuckled.
Draco had had enough. He rose. “I think I should be off.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Weasley muttered.
But Potter rose too. “I’m coming with you. I’m not interested in staying here. Seamus, good to see you.” And he turned and walked out of the pub. Draco followed.
Outside, Potter turned to him with a look of extreme annoyance on his face. “I’m really sorry about that. Ron can be such a...”
Draco smiled. “Yes.”
“He promised he’d be polite; otherwise I never would have invited them to join us. Sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s understandable, really.”
“It’s inexcusable, is what it is,” Potter said vehemently.
“Not really, not in light of our history. The things I did were inexcusable; that was just awkward.”
Potter stared at him. “You’ve really changed.”
Draco laughed out loud. “I should hope so. Remember the way I used to wear my hair?”
Potter joined him laughing. “I should get back to the shop.”
“All right. Another time, maybe?” Draco said, keeping his voice casual.
“Yes, definitely. See you, Draco,” Potter replied, looking Draco right in the eye. Draco’s stomach turned over and he watched Potter Apparate before turning and striding down the street himself, smiling just a little.
The Weasley kitchen was stiflingly hot and filled with people when Harry entered. He was tackled around the knees before he’d even taken off his jacket.
“Unca Harry! Unca Harry!” Rose screamed. “Whatja bring me? Huh? Huh?”
“Rose!” Hermione admonished her and Ron’s daughter, kissing Harry on the cheek. “It’s not polite to expect a present every time you see someone.”
“Ah, but you’re right, Rosie Posey. I did bring you a present,” Harry chuckled, kneeling down and retrieving a small book from his jacket pocket. He handed it over. “It’s about a little girl who lives in an attic and thinks she’s all alone in the world, but it turns out she has a secret benefactor.”
“What’s a benefactor?” Rose asked seriously, clutching the book.
“Your mum will want you to look it up,” Harry said fondly, stroking her red curls. She ran off. Harry straightened and was immediately smothered in Mrs Weasley’s embrace.
“Harry! So glad you could come. I’ve made your favourite, beef stew, and there’s treacle tart for pudding. Give me your jacket, go through, go through, it’s madness in here,” and she pushed him toward the living room. He squeezed past Fleur, who pressed a kiss to his cheek before turning back to the stove, her silvery hair swinging behind her. Ginny’s second daughter Olive came screaming through the room, pursued closely by a grinning dog Harry didn’t recognise and Neville, who stopped to shake Harry’s hand before rescuing his daughter, who was being covered in doggy kisses. Arthur waved from the table, where he was trying to explain something over the din to George and Percy, neither of whom were paying him the least bit of attention. Ron was also at the table, and gave Harry an abashed look.
Harry backed into the relatively saner living room and turned to find himself face to face with Charlie. “Oh! Hi.”
Charlie smiled warmly at him. “Hey. You made it.”
“Yeah, of course,” Harry said. “I wanted to see you.”
“Me too. Let’s...shall we take a walk before lunch?”
“All right,” Harry agreed. “I just need to get my jacket from the kitchen...” he looked doubtfully at the press of humanity behind him.
Charlie laughed. “I’ve got something in the broom shed that will fit you. Let’s get out of here.”
Harry waved toward Bill and Ginny on the sofa, both of whom waved back and then resumed what looked like a serious conversation. Both held babies in their arms. Teddy Lupin lay on his stomach on the floor, engrossed in a game of wizard chess with Gabrielle Delacour.
The weather was cold but crisp and clear. Harry shuffled his feet through dead leaves as they walked along the lane behind the house, not speaking. Despite everything, Harry felt the pull of the familiar: Charlie’s stocky figure beside him felt right, Charlie’s jacket around him smelled right, like pine and brimstone, and sported a scorched spot on the shoulder.
“It misses you.”
“Straight in, then,” Harry said wryly.
“Harry.” Charlie stopped, turned to him. “There’s no point beating around it. I love you. You know that. I want you back, whatever it takes. I’ll move back to England if you like, or you can come to Romania and we’ll find you a little bookshop to buy.” He smiled tentatively, his eyes pleading.
Harry stopped too, head down. “Charlie,” he whispered. “I can’t. I explained...”
“Yeah, yeah, you can’t. You can’t get close to anyone, can’t risk losing them. But Harry, you’re not going to lose me. I’m here. Look.” He spread open his arms, and he looked so solid, so genuinely good, that Harry couldn’t help moving into their embrace. Charlie sighed, and tightened his arms around Harry. “I miss you so much,” Charlie murmured.
Harry felt the guilt churn in his gut. He felt Charlie’s hands stroking his hair, and he was clinging to Charlie’s hard body despite himself. It felt so normal, so right, to feel Charlie’s big arms around him, his coarse red stubble against Harry’s cheek. For two years, Charlie’s arms had been Harry’s safe haven. When the world was too much, Charlie was there, quiet and sturdy. It had only been six months since Harry had admitted to himself and Charlie that he couldn’t, wouldn’t go further, wouldn’t commit, wouldn’t move to Romania and have a real life with the man who loved him. Wouldn’t let that man move to England to be with him. The thought of loving someone else and losing them like his parents, like Sirius, like Dumbledore, terrified and paralyzed him. He pushed away, broke the embrace. “No. I can’t.”
Charlie didn’t give up. He put his hands on Harry’s face, rubbing his calloused thumbs gently over Harry’s cheekbones. “Please. Just...just kiss me.” His face was desperate. Harry closed his eyes, the guilt overwhelming now because he knew he would kiss Charlie, and he would enjoy it, and then he would leave again and hurt him more.
But that was later. Right now was Charlie’s lips, warm and soft on this cold day, Charlie’s sweet breath, Charlie’s strong hands on Harry’s shoulders, his chest, his stomach, Charlie’s low groan in the back of his throat as Harry responded to the kiss even though he knew it was a terrible, terrible idea.
“Harry,” Charlie panted, leaning his forehead against Harry’s as he broke the kiss. “Come back to me.”
“I...” Harry’s head spun. “Charlie...” This was agony. He didn’t know what to say or do.
Charlie sighed. “All right. I’m not being fair, am I? You told me what you wanted and I’m not respecting that. I’m sorry. I just...wanted to be sure you knew how I felt. I’ve said it now, and I’ll leave it alone. I’m here, Harry. If you change your mind, I’m here.”
They walked back to the house in silence, though it was companionable at least. They’d always got on well.
Between the awkwardness with Charlie, and Ron alternating between apologizing and being unrepentant about what he’d said at the pub (“I mean, it was Malfoy!”), Harry did not enjoy the afternoon much. He wound up getting unusually drunk on Firewhisky and lapsed into silence, sitting in the corner while the chaos of the Weasley household swirled around him.
Harry rose unsteadily at six o’clock and said, “Well, I’m off,” to whomever happened to be around. Charlie was across the room, and gave him a somber look before turning and going upstairs with Bill. Mrs Weasley waved sadly from her place by the fire, and Rose smothered him with hugs.
Not trusting himself to Apparate, he used the Floo, and before he’d thought about it, he’d shouted the name of his bookshop instead of his flat. He looked around his office in confusion, before an idea, a very bad drunken idea, occurred to him.
Draco was dressing for Sunday dinner with his mother when a house-elf knocked at the open door of his room. “Master has a visitor,” he squeaked.
Draco looked up in surprise. “Really?” No one ever visited the Manor. “All right, show them into the conservatory. Thank you, Boggy.”
He straightened his clothes and descended the stairs, curious. Probably someone asking for a donation for charity, he decided, so he was unprepared to see Harry Potter, looking pink-cheeked and disheveled, leaning against the fireplace mantel.
“Harry?” he asked, crossing into the room.
“Draco!” Harry said, a bit too loudly. “Was in the neighbourhood...well, not in the neighbourhood, who lives in Wiltshire? S’nice, though, that’s not what I...well.” He stopped and thought for a moment while Draco absorbed the fact that Harry was clearly drunk. Harry thrust a package at him. “S’another book for your mum. This one’s a “Sorry my friend’s an arse” present.” He smiled winningly, then burped.
Draco took it a bit warily. He removed the untidy wrapping and found a book on the Spanish Inquisition.
“‘Cause, witches, you see? Witches!” Harry said emphatically, raising a finger. Draco nodded, smiling slightly.
“Thank you. I do see. Witches.”
“S’what I mean!” Potter said, nodding. “Well, I should, maybe...” he stumbled a bit.
“How about a coffee?” Draco suggested, and guided Harry across the room to the settee.
“That sounds good,” Harry agreed, relieved, and flopped onto the settee. Draco summoned a house-elf and asked for coffee, then turned back to Harry. He was staring at Draco, as if trying to remember something.
“So, Harry, I’m sure you don’t hand-deliver books to all your customers...” Draco began, then was surprised to see Harry drop his head into his hands, looking inconsolable. Draco hesitated, then leant forward, placing a tentative hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Harry? Are you all right?”
“I saw Charlie,” Harry mumbled, “and I hurt him again.”
The house-elf entered the room carrying a tray laden with coffee things, and Draco motioned for him to leave it on the table and go.
“What happened?” Draco asked simply, patting Harry’s shoulder. He ignored the twinge of jealousy he felt at the mention of Harry’s ex-boyfriend.
“He wants me back, and I can’t go.” Harry’s face was still hidden, his words muffled.
“Because...because it’s not right. For two years we tried, and he always wanted more, and I always wanted less. He’s a good guy.” Harry raised his head blearily and suddenly seemed to remember where he was. “Oh god, why am I telling you all of this? I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be here. Why am I here?”
Draco smiled and patted Harry’s shoulder again. “For that coffee I promised you, right?” He crossed the room and poured them both a cup, then turned and nearly ran into Harry, who was standing right behind him.
“Oh! Sorry,” Draco exclaimed, as coffee sloshed over the rims of both cups and landed on Harry’s shoes. “I’ll just-” and then Harry kissed him.
The kiss was sloppy and Harry tasted strongly of Firewhisky, but Draco had to admit that he was rather enjoying it. Harry’s lips were soft and full and he roughly grabbed Draco by the back of the head and pulled him in closer.
Suddenly, Draco pulled away.
“What is it?” Harry slurred, confused.
“Harry, you’re drunk. And apparently, you’ve had a bit of a...an emotional day, and perhaps this isn’t the-”
“You don’t want to kiss me?” Harry growled, grabbing at Draco’s shirt and hauling him closer, hands clumsily pawing over Draco’s body.
“It’s not...Harry, listen for a moment. Just...if you could...stop.” He pulled away from Harry’s crude advances and straightened his shirt.
Harry glared. “Fine.” He spun on his heel, almost fell over, then regained his balance and marched out of the room and down the hall...in the opposite direction of the front door.
Draco sighed, then called after him, “Harry.”
Harry stopped, then turned and rather sheepishly walked back the way he’d come. He stopped in the doorway of the conservatory. “I better be going,” he muttered.
“I think that’s probably a good idea,” Draco said. Harry let himself out of the front door and closed it quietly behind him.
Draco sat alone on the settee, sipping the cooling coffee and thinking. He was annoyed, even angry, with Harry for showing up at his home unannounced and drunk, and behaving so crudely. Honestly, they really didn’t know each other very well, and it was totally inappropriate for Harry to have behaved that way. On the other hand, Draco had to admit that he wouldn’t mind trying the kissing thing again when they were both sober and had fresh breath. He shook his head exasperatedly.
Monday morning was not a pretty sight at the bookshop. Harry slumped behind the counter, unshaven and with hair even more disheveled than usual. He had a book open in front of him, but he hadn’t turned a page for three quarters of an hour. He’d already drunk three cups of coffee and it hadn’t made a bit of difference.
The dinging of the bell made him wince. He rose slightly to see who it was and his stomach rumbled ominously.
“Ha,” Hermione said, but quietly. “You look terrible.”
“Thank you, that’s helpful,” Harry said, laying his head down and pressing his cheek against the cool counter.
“I came to talk some sense into you.”
“Thank god,” Harry whispered.
Hermione came behind the counter and sat beside Harry. She put a hand on his shoulder. “You know I love you.”
“But if you keep hurting Charlie, I’m going to be very angry with you.”
“I know, I know.”
“He was very upset last night. He wouldn’t talk about it - you know Charlie - but he just looked miserable. Ron feels caught in the middle and the whole family feels awkward about it. And you know you’re part of the family too, Harry, so you need to find a way to work this out so you two can be in the same room together and not have it be horrible for everyone else.”
Hermione paused and Harry looked at her, bleary-eyed. “What do you want, Harry? Do you want to be with Charlie or not?”
Harry buried his head in his hands. “Not.”
“Well then, what on earth?”
“Look, he kissed me!” Harry said defensively.
Hermione just looked at him.
“And then, yeah, I kissed him back.”
Hermione touched her wand to his full coffee cup and it started steaming again. She was silent.
“Look, I’m lonely, okay? And Charlie is...familiar, he’s safe and he doesn’t talk too much and I understand him.”
“So why don’t you want to be with him?"
“I just don’t want to lose-”
But Hermione cut him off. “Don’t, Harry.”
“Don’t what?” he asked, genuinely confused.
“Don’t give me that excuse, because I’m not buying it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Listen, I know you’ve lost a lot of important people to you in your life, and I believe that’s left its mark on you, but it’s never stopped you from getting close to me or Ron or the whole Weasley clan or any of your other friends. It’s not that, and I know it, and you know it.”
Harry was silent.
“You don’t have to say it to Charlie, but admit it to me. You just didn’t love him, did you?”
“No, I did love him! I do!”
“Okay, but...not enough. You didn’t love him enough. It wasn’t right.”
Harry sighed and slumped further in his chair. “Yes.”
Hermione patted him on the arm. “Thank you for being honest. It doesn’t make you a horrible person, you know. Sometimes it’s just not there, whatever that elusive thing is. And it’s taken you a long time to even admit who you are and it’s not surprising that you didn’t pick the right person for your first try with a relationship of the proper gender, you know.”
Harry smiled weakly at her. “The proper gender?”
“Oh, you know what I mean. The gender you want.”
Harry felt his cheeks flush as he remembered the other kiss from last night. “It’s all so complicated.”
Hermione’s eyebrows rose. “There’s more?”
“I’m sort of...interested in someone else, too. And I went to his house last night, drunk, and made a fool of myself, because I was upset about Charlie and I just wanted to forget about it all.”
“Brilliant, Harry. Well done.” But she fixed a hole in his sweater with her wand as she spoke. “Who is it?”
“Oh, don’t tell me Ron didn’t tell you.”
Her eyebrows were approaching her hairline now. “Draco Malfoy? Oh, Harry. Really?”
“He’s changed! He’s a different person from when we were all in school. That was a long time ago.”
She raised her hands. “I’m not denying that. I’m sure he has changed. I’m just surprised your personal history of animosity hasn’t put a damper on things.”
“No, but my going over there pissed and kissing him against his will might have.”
Hermione chuckled. “God, Harry, you never do things by half, do you? What are you going to do now?”
He shook his head, which turned out to be a mistake. He clutched his skull and moaned. Hermione took pity on him and slipped a potion out of her handbag. She unstoppered the tiny bottle and poured the contents into Harry’s coffee, then handed it to him. “Drink this,” she ordered. He didn’t even look at it before gulping it down. Steam poured out of his ears and nose and he felt instantly better.
“Ah god, thank you, Hermione. Why didn’t you give me that when you got here?”
“I wasn’t sure you deserved it,” she said, rising. “Just stay away from Charlie for a little while, Harry. Be polite, but don’t lead him on. And if you really are interested in Mal...Draco, then you’d better apologise.”
“I love you, Hermione.”
“I know.” And she let herself out the door, deliberately slamming it behind her. Harry laughed.
Draco was giving even less attention to the pile of documents in front of him than usual when he heard the rapping on the window again. Again, he rose and let the same owl into his study. It held out its leg, to which was affixed only an envelope this time. Draco retrieved the letter and the owl flew back out of the window.
I strongly considered sending a book about 19th century dog breeding techniques for your mother along with a note that said “This is a ‘sorry I’m a drunken arse who can’t keep his hands or his lips to himself’ present”, but that seemed cowardly.
May I have your permission to visit you and
grovelapologise appropriately? We’ve known each other for about ten minutes, all told, (not including the time when we were each other’s nemeses, of course) so I wouldn’t blame you if this all seems too much. But I still hope you let me come over.
Yours in perpetual sobriety,
Draco was still laughing when he flung the answering message into the Floo. It said simply, “All right.”
Thirty seconds passed before the house-elf appeared in the doorway and announced the arrival of Mister Potter.
“Show him up.”
When Harry appeared in the doorway, Draco thought he looked much more adorable than he had any right to, considering the state he’d been in the night before. Harry looked at him for a long moment, then his face resolved and he crossed the room in three strides.
This kiss was much nicer than the first one. Harry’s lips were firm, not sloppy, and his mouth tasted of toothpaste. Draco pulled away though, for form’s sake.
“Aren’t you supposed to be apologising to me?” he asked rather sternly, but his hands were resting on Harry’s waist and he was smiling.
“I am terrible at this, aren’t I,” Harry commented, ducking his head to kiss Draco’s neck, feather-light.
“You really are. I should throw you out by rights. Ah god, that’s nice,” Draco gasped.
“You absolutely should. I’m very disappointed in you.” Harry’s fingers were busy with the buttons of Draco’s shirt.
Draco’s little secret was that he liked to be dominated in bed. Not in any scary, rubber hose sort of way, but just to be ordered around a bit, pushed down and kissed within an inch of his life, that sort of thing. But because of his innate reserve and having been raised in the aristocracy, he was naturally incapable of telling anyone this. His most successful physical relationships had been with men who tended to dominate organically. The discovery that Harry was that sort of man was like coming downstairs to a pile of presents on Christmas morning.
It took a shamefully short time for them to reach Draco’s bed. I am a slut, Draco mused happily, relinquishing control of his wrists to Harry’s firm grip as Harry leant over him, shirtless, and kissed him thoroughly and well.
More surprising to both of them than how compatible they were in bed was how compatible they were the rest of the time. Draco, always having thought Harry was a bit of a moron, was delighted to find he was quite wrong; Harry had spent a lot of time reading since his school days and was well-versed in even the most arcane of subjects. Harry, for his part, having known Draco as a poncy, aristocratic toff, discovered that Draco in fact enjoyed a pint and a packet of crisps at the pub as much as the next bloke, and was passionate about not only Quidditch and cricket, but rugby and football as well (even if he did support Man United). Harry got on shockingly well with Narcissa and they bonded over their shared love of books while Draco looked on in quiet pleasure. Draco, for his part, remained unfailingly polite when they ran into Harry’s friends out and about, and eventually everyone managed to behave themselves, with the notable exception of Ron, who simply excused himself and left when they ran into one another. He hadn’t forgiven Harry for messing Charlie about, or for choosing Draco over his brother. But, other than the Ron problem, things were generally very nice.
Harry found himself taking real care when he chose his clothes in the mornings.
Draco read articles about the bookselling business in the Financial Times, not a subject that would have ever interested him before.
Both put thought into what gifts they would get for the other for Christmas, fast approaching.
And they laughed together, a lot.
Harry generally spent Christmas Day at the Weasleys, and as Draco hadn’t asked him to the Manor, he assumed that tradition would continue. It was a bit early in the relationship to start spending holidays together, after all. They’d only been seeing each other for a few weeks. However, Harry was not looking forward to the awkwardness with Charlie (who was home from Romania until the end of the month) or Mrs Weasley’s sad expression, or Ron’s anger, or Hermione’s pity. He was actually thinking of spending the day by himself, taking in a film, perhaps.
Harry was sitting in the Leaky Cauldron waiting for Draco on Christmas Eve, and had just resolved to talk to Draco about Christmas and see what Draco’s plans were, when he heard the door open behind him and turned with a welcoming smile on his face. “I was just about to give up on you-”
It wasn’t Draco. It was Charlie.
“I know what you mean. I was just about to give up on you, too,” he said, walking over to Harry’s table and taking a seat beside Harry. “I’m leaving for Romania on Boxing Day. I wasn’t sure if you’d come for Christmas. I know you’re...you’re seeing someone, and I thought maybe you’d spend the holidays with him. I didn’t know if I’d see you at all, and I just...that wasn’t okay with me.” He lowered his eyes for a moment, and Harry read the pain in his face. He hurried to change the subject.
“Here, let me go and get you a drink-” Harry rose, but Charlie grabbed his wrist and pulled him back down. His other hand grasped Harry’s face and before Harry knew what was going on, Charlie had leant forward and was kissing him passionately. Harry’s eyes opened wide-
And he watched Draco walk into the pub and stop in his tracks, staring at Harry in disbelief as Charlie continued to kiss him. Harry hadn’t even had time to put up his hands or pull away. Draco’s face hardened as Harry finally began to extricate himself, and by the time he’d pulled away enough to yell, “Draco, wait!” Draco had turned and exited the pub, slamming the door.
“Draco!” Harry called, pushing Charlie away and running for the door. He burst outside, to find an empty street. Draco was gone. “Shit!” he yelled, and kicked a rubbish bin in frustration.
“Draco, I don’t understand why you need to leave now, right before Christmas. Why not go on Boxing Day, or even after the New Year?”
Draco moved past Narcissa to his wardrobe, pulling out shirts and tossing them to the house-elf to be folded and packed. “I just need to get away, Mother. Just for a little while. You’re welcome to come along, as I said. New Zealand is beautiful this time of year.”
“But there’s nothing there, darling. No art, no culture, no society. Just sheep. What on earth would I do with myself?”
“I don’t know. But that’s where I’m going. It’s up to you.”
“But...what about Harry? Have you two had an argument?” Narcissa asked gently.
“All right, all right,” Narcissa said, raising her hands. “I’ll leave you to it. But let’s open our gifts for each other before you go, shall we? Since I’m not going to see my own son on Christmas Day.” But she smiled at him and he knew she wasn’t too angry.
He forced himself to smile back at her, even though all he wanted to do was flee the country and not have to deal with the fact that Harry was...Harry had...he shook his head, trying to erase the image of Harry in the arms of another man. “Yes, let’s do that. Go down to the drawing room and I’ll meet you there with your gifts.”
She left and Draco continued throwing clothes and books in the vague direction of his luggage. The house-elves would sort it all out anyway; he was hopeless at packing. He chose items at random; he’d probably end up with fifty shirts and no trousers. Suddenly, it was all too much.
“Come back later,” he said to the house-elf, who exited at once and closed the door behind him.
Draco sat down on the edge of the bed and finally gave in to the sadness he was feeling. When he’d returned home an hour ago, it had been rage that had sustained him through the decision to go abroad, and to begin packing. How dare Harry deceive him? He was a Malfoy , for Merlin’s sake! He was so far above that speccy git in station and propriety, it was ridiculous. Not to mention if anyone was going to do the deceiving, cheating, and lying, it was Draco!
But that was ebbing away now, and all that was left was the hollow feeling in his stomach that he’d lost something. He admitted to himself, with some discomfort, that he had cared for Harry, and the feeling he’d had when he saw that musclebound ginger...person kissing Harry...was grief.
How had this happened? There was something about that speccy git that had got to him more than he would have imagined possible. He had...well, he had loved him, hadn’t he? He shook his head, disgusted with himself. His father would be ashamed. He stood. He was a Malfoy. He would not let another person hurt him like this. He was leaving.
The wards would not open to Harry. He couldn’t get past the gates of the Manor. It was infuriating the way they didn’t even acknowledge his presence. They just stood, blank and imposing, between him and what he wanted. He finally threw pride to the wind and shouted “Draco!”
There was no response.
“Shit,” Harry said, more quietly, and slumped against the wrought iron.
“No need for that sort of language,” a soft voice behind him said. He spun around. It was Narcissa, apparently out for a walk in the garden.
“Narcissa!” Harry said urgently. “I need to speak to Draco, please! Will you let me in?”
“I will let you in, but it won’t do you any good. Draco’s not here.” Her face was compassionate, but her words were firm.
“Where is he?”
“I’ve been sworn to secrecy, Harry. I can’t tell you. Thank you for the book, by the way. It’s lovely.”
“Oh, you’re welcome,” Harry said distractedly. “Look, Narcissa, this is all a mistake. Draco thinks he saw something that he didn’t see, or at least it’s not what he thought it was, and I just need to-”
But she held up a hand. “Harry, I will not break faith with my son. He has asked me to keep his location a secret, and that is what I shall do. There’s no use you asking.”
Harry sighed. “All right. What about this? If I give you his Christmas present from me, will you pass it on to him?”
She thought for a moment. “Yes. I will do that.”
“Thank you, Narcissa. I’ll owl it over to you immediately. Happy Christmas.”
“And to you, Harry.”
The Malfoy station, located in the high country of the South Island of New Zealand, ran over 10,000 head of merino sheep and had 45 employees. The Malfoy family had owned it for 5 generations, but Draco was the only family member who had ever visited the ranch regularly. He liked the peace of the place, the isolation. He’d come here a lot after the war, to think.
The main house had been hurriedly readied for him as soon as he’d Apparated in. There was a fire burning in the great room and fresh sheets on the rough-hewn pine bed. Draco had taken a long walk upon his arrival, and now sat in front of the fire, staring into it and brooding, when the flames suddenly turned green and his mother’s face appeared in their midst.
“Hello, my darling.”
Draco jumped up, startled. “Mother! What on earth...?”
“You know I dislike kneeling in front of the hearth, my love, so please do pay attention. Harry Potter has asked me to give this to you.” And she held a package out through the fire. Draco leant forward and took it. She continued, “Now, I’m glad you’re settled there, although I cannot imagine why you’d want to be-”
“Yes, Mother, we’ve been over all of this.”
“Well. Yes, all right. Happy Christmas, darling.”
“You too. I’ll Floo you tomorrow morning.” And she was gone, leaving Draco holding a small package wrapped in plain paper.
He looked down at it and considered throwing it into the once-again-yellow fire, but decided against it. He sighed and tore off the paper.
Inside were two objects and a note. The first object was a small box. Draco opened it to find a handsome Victorian pocket watch. The second object was an ordinary brass key. He unfolded the note and read:
I bought the watch a week ago. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was perfect. It’s beautiful, refined, and classy, like you.
The key is to my flat. I’m not very good at talking about things like this, Draco, but I’m going to do my best here. I’ve never given anyone a key to my flat before. That’s because I’ve never felt like this before.
What you saw in the pub was Charlie kissing me, and me not kissing back. I swear to you I don’t want to kiss anyone but you. I don’t want to make love to anyone but you. And I don’t want anyone letting themselves into my flat but you.
I don’t know where you are, but I know this. I love you, Draco. These past few weeks have been like a dream that I don’t want to wake up from. If I can’t spend Christmas with you, I don’t want to spend it with anyone. Please believe me, and come home.
With a heart full of hope,
Draco stood, the note clutched in his hand. He peered at the pocket watch and did quick maths in his head. There was still time.
It was half past nine on Christmas morning. Harry sat alone in his flat. Several owls had already come from the Burrow, which had been ignored. Floo messages piled up, unread.
Harry wore his dressing gown. He was unshowered and unshaven. His hair was ridiculous. He drank from a bottle of twenty year old mead a customer had given him.
He couldn’t believe he’d blown it with Draco. All the time he’d spent trying to commit to Charlie, and it turned out it was just the wrong man. Draco had waltzed past all the defences he’d carefully constructed and claimed a spot in the centre of Harry’s heart. And now he was gone, and Harry was alone again, except this time it wasn’t his choice, and it hurt more than he could have possibly imagined.
He stood up and went into the kitchen to make himself a piece of toast. As he waited for the toaster, he couldn’t help letting his mind linger over memories from the past few weeks with Draco: laughing as they walked in Hyde Park together, kicking stones; arguing heatedly about politics as they leant against one another sitting in a crowded cafe; Draco’s eyes beneath him in the early morning sun as their bodies twined together...he groaned quietly with the pain of it.
The toast was ready. He plopped it onto a plate and desultorily smeared some butter over it. He carried it back into the living room.
Draco stood there.
“I let myself in,” he said tentatively, holding up the key.
Harry stared in silence as his heart expanded and expanded and expanded.
“I got your note.” Draco held it up in his other hand.
Harry was still unable to speak.
Finally, Draco smiled. “Come here, then, you silly man.”
An indescribable sound escaped Harry. The toast tumbled to the floor. He didn’t remember crossing the room, only Draco in his arms as he kissed him over and over again. They tumbled awkwardly onto the couch and Harry climbed on top of Draco and could not remove his clothes fast enough. All that pale skin, hiding beneath layers of shirt and jumper and coat, it simply had to be uncovered, for Harry’s eyes and hands and mouth to explore. Harry’s eyes were wide open and he occasionally whispered, “Draco” as if reminding himself that Draco was really there.
They kissed and groped all the way to Harry’s rumpled, unmade bed. Harry pushed Draco down and held him there, the way he knew Draco loved. Draco’s long legs wrapped around Harry’s body and his hands were in Harry’s hair.
“I bloody missed you,” Harry growled, softly dragging kisses across Draco’s clavicle. “Don’t ever take off like that again without telling me where you’re going.” Draco nodded and whispered Harry’s name in the way that drove Harry crazy.
Being inside Draco Malfoy was the best feeling in Harry’s world. He loved the way Draco looked at him, the way Draco fell apart, shuddering and moaning Harry’s name. Most of all, he loved the feeling that he belonged there, that Draco was home.
An hour and a quarter passed before they slowed, lying tangled together, panting and sweating. Harry buried his face in Draco’s chest, and Draco’s arm tightened around him.
“Happy Christmas, Harry,” Draco said softly. “I love you, too. Oh, and here’s your present.” He leant across and rummaged around in his trouser pockets with his one free arm. He passed Harry a small package, wrapped in heavy silver paper.
Harry disentangled himself enough to take the package and rip off the paper. Inside was a tiny yet heavy solid silver peacock. “Oh,” he said, a bit confused. “It’s...it’s lovely. Thank you.”
Draco laughed. “It’s not for decoration, you git. I know you a bit better than that. It opens the wards at the Manor.” His face grew serious. “I’ll never lock you out again.”
Harry grabbed Draco and pulled him on top of himself. He wrapped his arms and legs around Draco, reveling in the feel of that long, lean body against his own. “This is officially the best Christmas I’ve ever had. Let’s go have something to eat; I’m starving.”
Draco smiled down at him. “You’re always starving. Okay, let’s. But first, I need to tell you something.”
“This is the best Christmas I’ve ever had, too.”