Дженнифер (zhonnika) wrote in hd_holidays,

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Happy H/D Holidays twistedm!! | A Good Book - R

Title: A Good Book
Author: wook77
Recipients Name:twistedm

Summary: Harry reads the end of the book before he buys it. When it comes time to write his own, it’s only natural he writes the ending first. Sometimes, endings are meant to change.
Rating: R
Disclaimer: All recognisable bits from the universe of Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling. The rest are products of my imagination.

A/N: Many thanks to my betas who shall, unfortunately, go nameless right now. Without their help, this story would still be in the beginning stages. Any remaining mistakes are my own. Finally, Happy Holidays, twistedm. I made sure not to include Christmas, just for you. I hope you enjoy this!

It was peaceful there at the end. His eyes drifted shut, his breath rattled once more and then he stilled. Horatio was gone and it was a blessing, really. He couldn't hear the weeping of the assembled friends around him as he breathed his last. He was free of the pain and suffering that had only just begun for the living.

Harry thought it was a good ending. It tugged at his heartstrings, at least. He wasn't much of a reader, though. Hermione had always been one to tell him that if he'd only read more, he'd realise that there were only a few stories out there and that every one had been told. The memory of Hermione and her 'Honestly, Harry' with her arms crossed in front of her chest made him smile fondly.

Unlike Harry, Hermione had never been one for starting at the end and working her way back to the beginning. Every time they'd browsed for books together, she'd gotten exasperated with him as he'd thumbed through to the end of the book, seeing if the ending was gripping enough to justify purchasing the book. It was one of their countless routines, normal and comforting for all the bickering and name calling.

He missed the routine of it now that she and Ron were gone. For a moment, he allowed himself the regret that came with their deaths. He'd not pursued Auror training, hadn't been able to stomach any more fighting after Voldemort. They'd shared a look during a clean-up mission, he and Ron, a few months after Voldemort fell and he'd known that Ron felt the same way. Even Moody'd been able to recognise that they didn't have the heart for it any more.

Harry blew at his tea before taking a sip, hoping it was cool enough to drink. Thankfully, it was just as he liked it. He though fondly of Dobby, who took such good care of him, as he went back to the story.

Horatio was a painfully skinny young man with close cropped hair and an uneven gait. His time serving in the war had given him that, in addition to the scar on his chest. He'd almost avoided the slash, stumbled just at the right moment to only have it cut and scar but not to have it threaten his life.

The snow was thick on the ground, unmarred even under the boots of Draco Malfoy as he stood outside the window and stared in. Potter was working in front of that computer once more, unblinking eyes focused on it as his fingers moved rapidly. Every once in awhile, he would pause and look out the window, the window outside of which Draco was currently standing. He'd suck his lip in and chew, a disgusting habit that both repelled and attracted Draco. The thought of it, biting off a piece of one's lip, was disgusting. The watching of it, though, the motions and the rhythm, intrigued him.

Every time Potter looked out the window, Draco would flinch, ready to duck or jerk to the side. He'd always stop himself, remembering his concealment charms. The Ministry hadn't left him with much but they'd left him with his wand and most of his personal belongings. If he longed for the earbobs his mum had been fond of or that ridiculous hat his father had been so infatuated with, it could be attributed to nostalgia.

Anyone could be forgiven for nostalgia when they were left with only a few clothes stuffed in a rucksack, a wand, and fifty galleons. He'd lost everything material but he had his life as well as a couple of photographs he'd sneaked out of the Manor before the Ministry finished seizing it and the rest of his parents' estate.

It had worked out for the best, in the end. He might not be rich but at least he hadn't been Kissed like his father had been. He hadn't been tortured into insanity like his mother. He was still a Malfoy and the name would mean something once more, as soon as he achieved his goals. Until then, he'd keep his hair cut short, his chin held up and his dreams firmly in his mind.

He'd fallen into being a soldier. When he'd been a child, he'd wanted to be a machinist like his father or a carpenter like his Uncle Mike. After school, he'd gone out for a night at the pub with his mates. When he'd woken from his stupor, he was a not-so-proud member of Her Majesty's Army. He'd signed the contract and it'd worked out for the best for him. The structure and regimen kept him in line when otherwise he'd probably have gone with a bad crowd and aimlessly drifted from job to job.

Harry clicked 'save' and pushed back from the computer. He'd been at it for hours and his back was in a cramp. Perhaps he should get a new chair or a laptop. A laptop might be a wise investment, he could curl up on the couch or even bring the computer into the loo with him if inspiration struck. Considering how often inspiration had struck while he was showering or cooking food, he was slowly drifting towards purchasing one. Until then, though, he'd continue sitting in this creaky chair that had looked much more comfortable in the store.

"Dobby?" Dobby was getting slower and Harry hated to ask him for anything. But Dobby had wept and bashed himself upside the head with a heavy iron bookend when Harry had told him that, though, so he'd compromised and only ever asked Dobby for tea and the occasional biscuit or scone.

"Yes, Mister Harry Potter, sir?" Even after all their years together, Dobby refused to call him anything other than 'Mister Harry Potter, sir'.

"Could I have a fresh cuppa?" Dobby smiled at the request before disappearing with the cup.

While he waited for Dobby, he reflected back to when they'd first met, he and the house-elf. It was over seventeen years ago; the length of time shocked Harry. Not that Dobby had changed much other than the slowing. It was more that Harry had changed, really. Then again, so had the world.

It had been five years since he lost Ron and Hermione. He wondered, briefly, if they would have liked him as he was now, if he would have liked them as they would've been. He knew the answer was 'yes', had to be after all they'd been through. If you could love someone in the midst of destroying pieces of an evil man's soul, then you could love them even when they were spending most of their days writing a book that would probably never see the light of day.

"There you goes, Mister Harry Potter, sir. Dobby needs to be telling Mister Harry Potter, sir, that he is almost outs of his favouritest tea." Dobby set the steaming cup on its saucer at Harry's elbow.

"Thank you, Dobby. I'll run out this afternoon and pick up some food. Is there anything you'd like?" The answer was always no but Harry couldn't help but ask. Dobby was his only company and he refused to treat the elf like a servant when he wasn't.

"Mister Harry Potter is so kind to Dobby! Dobby is happy that Mister Harry Potter asks this of Dobby but Dobby is not needing anything." Dobby looked close to tears even though Harry asked him every week if he required anything. The routine of it, was soothing so Harry couldn't be annoyed for very long.

"Thank you, then, Dobby." It was a clear dismissal and Dobby disappeared with a snap.

Harry stood, grateful to be out of that chair and sipped at his tea as he walked into the foyer. It took him a few minutes of rifling about before he found his coat and gloves. Another couple of minutes and he found his hat. By then, the tea was gone and he left the cup on a table.

Fortified and dressed for the weather, Harry Apparated to Diagon Alley. He'd had an owl that a new book was available at Flourish and Blotts and he wanted to make as few trips as possible. The ideas were rattling about in his head and he longed for a pad of paper and a pen or a quill.

Horatio fell into being a hero, just as he'd fallen into his career. It was an accident when he rescued those people. He'd gotten distracted and walked down the wrong path. He wasn't going to admit it, though. He wasn't quite sure how the crowds would react.

Draco hadn't planned on being in the store today. It was his partner's turn to check on the books and insure that their managers weren't mismanaging the funds but his partner had fallen ill. Just as Draco walked into the store from the back room, Potter walked in the front. Some would call it kismet; Draco called it shite luck. Potter never shopped on Tuesdays. He was always either far too busy on his Muggle machine or, every other week, meeting one or another former Gryffindor for lunch.

"Malfoy?" Potter sounded confused as Draco lost his last opportunity for escape.

"Potter." Draco grabbed the handle of a nearby trolley.



"Can we have a conversation with more than one word?" Potter rolled his eyes and Draco fought the smile that threatened to break at Potter's exasperation.

"I highly doubt that." Draco cocked an eyebrow while looking in the trolley. Most of the items looked appropriate; the milk, eggs, bread, toilet tissue and crackers were all things he'd utilise. The tampons, however, would require an explanation should Potter notice them.

"There, I knew we could. How have you been, Malfoy? It's been a long time." Draco ignored the flop his heart gave when Potter turned that stupid beaming smile towards him.

"There's a reason for the length of time, you realise." Potter's smile disappeared. "Did you really expect all of us to get together once a month and have coffee and relive our war days? Perhaps an annual ball held in our honour?"

"No, but I didn't expect you, of all people, to disappear from the world."

"Of course not as I'm clearly the sort of person that would enjoy a boot to my arse and then beg for more. We're not all as forgiving as you, Potter." Draco shook his head at the last. He'd done his bit in the war, had turned on his family history after his mother's torture and his father's death.

Not that he'd done it on purpose, saving the Patils and Finnigan. He'd been out walking, avoiding Potter if he were honest with himself - which he wasn't as it was a state he tried to avoid and a small shiver up his spine had barely given warning before he'd heard the singsong voice of his aunt. It was luck that he'd been able to stun Bellatrix long enough for the idiotic three to escape. Of course, they'd given credit to Potter who'd been wandering behind him, not that Draco was bitter.

"I tried to… well, it doesn't matter, does it? Can't change the past." Potter's gaze went to his trolley. "Married, then?"

"Why would you make that asinine assumption?"

"The, err, well, um, see, it's the, well, it's those," Potter stammered and blushed as he pointed out the tampons.

"That would be none of your business…" Just as Draco was gearing up for a really excellent diatribe on the invasion of his privacy, a middle-aged woman with the most horrendous hat in existence swatted his hands away from the trolley.

"Young man, this is my trolley, you'll have to get your own." With a huff, the woman tossed a rack of lamb into the cart and pushed her way past both Draco and Potter.

"What's going on, Malfoy?"

"Nothing… I –"

"Mister Malfoy? You've an owl in your office." The young girl fidgeted from side to side while Draco glared at her, cursing the fates or the gods or whatever and whomever he could. In short, he cursed Potter.

"Thank you, Kirsten. That will be all." The girl hurried away.

"Do you, that is, do you run this?" Potter's hands flailed about as if he were trying to take in the whole of the store with a gesture.

"Don't be an arse, Potter, of course not. I have managers for that."

"Exotic Epicurean Experiences is yours? I thought it was…"

"Mine and a partner's, yes. If you'll excuse me, as much as I'm enjoying this scintillating conversation, some of us actually have to work for a living." Draco turned on his heel and went back to the office, his initial reason for entering the store completely forgotten.

When Horatio came back from the war, everyone had muttered how much he'd changed, as if the world could stay the same as before the battles and the bloodshed. The victims and the soldiers knew differently, of course.

Harry stopped at home briefly to drop off the sacks of groceries, leaving Dobby to put them away. He waved off the prattling house-elf before going back out the door and Apparating away.

The gate of the small graveyard creaked as Harry pushed it open. Some people had said that this graveyard should be cleaned up, shined and polished with a large monument to the memories of all those interred here but Harry didn't agree in the least. There shouldn't be a monument to their deaths but to their lives and actions; a graveyard wasn't the place for a monument.

Shaking his head at the idea, Harry wove through the paths until he came to his destination. He quickly cleared the dead flowers and placed new ones in the small holders in front of the nondescript markers.

"I saw Malfoy today," he started as he stared at Hermione's stone. "Same prat as he was before. He owns that grocery store I'd told you about, Exotic Epicurean Experiences, a Wizarding version of Tesco's? It's a real success, too.

"Hi, Ron. I know you were never too fond of Malfoy but he did his part and Seamus… well, it's not like Seamus doesn't owe his life to Malfoy." Harry dug his fingers into the grass, lightly pulling at it to feel that tug of resistance of the roots. "He looks good and I know you always hated when I would say anything of the sort but he did and does, still a pointy git but he's matured too."

Shifting his position to hug his knees to his chest, he thought about that day when he'd lost them, how the news had hit him and dropped him into a despair he'd taken months to claw his way out of. Had they pursued their Auror training, Ron might have had fast enough reflexes to get out of the trap set by a group of Voldemort supporters. It didn't matter that the group had been caught, tried and Kissed; it only mattered that they'd succeeded in taking away Harry's friends.

"I'm still sorry, you know, sorry I wasn't there. You would've hit me by now, I know. It's just that it's odd to come here and talk to you like this. I should get back to my book, you'd love it, I think. You, though," Harry turned to Hermione's marker, "you'd yell at me for writing the ending before the beginning."

He stood and looked at the stones once more. "I'll come back next week."

He hadn't expected trumpets sounding whenever he entered a room but some sort of acknowledgement wouldn't have been unwelcome. After all, Horatio had been willing to give up everything for the world that was, currently, ignoring him. It was as he was railing at the injustice that friendship came from an unexpected quarter.

Yet again, Draco cursed Potter for his infallible sense of shite timing.

"Fancy meeting you here, Malfoy," Potter said with a grin that Draco wanted to wipe off his face, preferably with any hex he could think of.

"What a shock, finding me at the store I own. Your powers of reasoning overwhelm me," he said dryly.

"Thought it might. Are you busy?" Potter scuffed his foot and wouldn't make eye contact.

"I'm always busy, Potter. The place doesn't run itself."

"Thought you had managers for that. Just a coffee or something, yeah?" Potter leaned against a display that promptly shifted under his weight. As he grabbed at a falling can of peas, Draco barely contained the laugh.

"What possible reason can you give me for wanting to get a coffee with you?" Draco watched as Potter flushed under his gaze.

"Thought it'd be nice to, err, well, I thought maybe…"

"Go on, Potter, I'm sure you can think of something clever and witty to say. Keep in mind that as I'm forced to work for a living, I don't have all day to wait for you to spit out whatever drivel you have trapped behind your bumbling ineptitude." Potter flushed once more and Draco suddenly realized... "You're asking me on a date, aren't you?"

"Um, maybe?" Potter looked like a puppy just waiting to be kicked and Draco could only heave a sigh.

"Then come on," Draco went back towards his office and the only tolerable coffee in the area. Potter trotted along behind him and Draco was reminded of the puppy comparison.

Draco's office wasn't overly large and not completely his as he shared it with his partner. There weren't any personal effects in the room and he preferred it that way. Since he'd had everything material stripped from him, he'd referred not to form attachments to anything.

It was short work to pour himself a coffee and then gesture towards the machine. Taking the steaming mug, Draco sat behind his desk.

"This isn't quite what I had in mind for a coffee, you know. I thought we might go somewhere for it." Potter gestured again, hands waving about in the air.

"You'll have to ask me properly, then. Take what you can get, Potter." Draco sipped at the coffee and appreciated the richness of it as he watched Potter stare about the office before finally pouring himself a mug and sitting.

"So this is where you spend your day?" Potter's inane question, followed by a heavy blush, made Draco laugh.

"Quite the debonair manner, it's amazing that you date as much as you do with that sort of conversational gambit." Draco's amusement increased as Potter's blush spread below the neckline of his shirt.

"Sod off, Malfoy, I'm just trying to make conversation. Not much of yourself in here, is there?" As Potter stuttered and stammered, he picked up a framed photograph that his partner had placed there. "Seamus is your partner?"

"Is that such a surprise?" His amusement disappeared under the disbelief from Potter.

"No, not really, I guess. I mean, I knew he owned one of the stores but I didn't know about this one too."

"Just because the rest of the world forgot what I did doesn't mean that Finnigan did. He's an alright sort and the less we see of each other, the better we get along, of course." A beeping sound interrupted him. "What is that noise?"

"My alarm, I have to, um, well, I have to take something. Can we get a coffee sometime, a real coffee somewhere?" Potter did something with his watch and Draco smiled.

"That's much better. I'll think about it." Potter nodded before leaving the office.

Draco hadn't expected Potter to come back. He'd counted on it. He mentally cursed himself for forgetting Potter's habit of never doing what was expected.

Slowly, life realigned itself and included people he'd never expected. His circle of friends absorbed the new additions with a surprising ease and Horatio was thankful for the adaptability of his friends and family. Perhaps he'd had to live through the worst to get to the point where he knew what living was about. It was about love and life and friendship and being a part of the world, whatever shape or colour that world might be.

Harry liked how the book was coming along and thought that it might be one that even Hermione would enjoy. After all, there was plenty of commentary on the state of the world, a discourse on equal treatment for all kinds – though it was lacking knitted hats and interesting organisations like S.P.E.W. – and an exploration on new friendships regardless of the circumstances of birth.

He wondered what she would say if she knew that he'd been meeting Malfoy for a drink or a meal every Thursday for a month? Would she be willing to let bygones be bygones for all the 'Mudblood' and other insults tossed so hurtfully? Or, would she disapprove in her normal lecturing manner or possibly the quiet but emphatic whispered conversations with Ron?

Ron, on the other hand, would have sputtered and stomped around the room. He would have railed and yelled and then pouted until Hermione spoke to him. Harry knew he could have counted on Ron's predictability when it came to Malfoy, no matter how Malfoy had helped them during the war.

Ignoring the minor twinge of guilt and longing for that predictability, Harry clicked 'save' and then looked at his notes and the countless revisions he'd done in the past month. The plot had changed without him even thinking about it or wanting it. If Harry were honest with himself – something he tried to be at all times – he had no clue where it was going next.

The book had started as a way to heal after the loss of Ron and Hermione. He'd set out to tell his story and then kill himself off, at least in the book. He just wanted people to realise that he wasn't the hero they thought. He wasn't the sort that wanted the glory and parades and monuments. There were others that were far more deserving of it, people like Malfoy.

The thought of Malfoy had Harry looking at his watch and cursing beneath his breath. The damnable alarm hadn't sounded or else he'd turned it off without realising and he was, now, very late to meet Malfoy at that silly French restaurant. Without telling Dobby, Harry Apparated to the alley behind the restaurant and hoped for the best.

What most shocked Horatio was the strange bedfellows. During the war, Horatio had found solace and comfort in the arms of a friend in the trenches with him. It'd been the first time he'd realised that he might prefer the company of men. The hardness of a flat muscular chest under his hands and lips intrigued him though the war didn't allow for much experimentation. It was during this time of realisation that Horatio became aware.

Draco hated feeling stood up, he hated the waiting and the pacing and the unbelievable rudeness of someone to make arrangements and then dismiss them without the courtesy of a call. He'd matured, gotten used to the fact that not everyone wanted his company and he'd become more selective on whom he agreed to meet.

Out of all the people in the world, he'd never expected Harry Potter to stand him up.

Just as he was leaving the restaurant, Potter came rushing in, breathing heavily and stammering apologies. "I'm so sorry, Draco. I lost track of time and my alarm didn't go off and then there were all these people and I…"

"Of course, Potter, not a thing is your fault." Draco started to push past Potter but paused to add, "Next time you wish to play your games, choose another victim."

"I didn't mean it, Draco. I wouldn't miss this, I almost made it on time!" Potter sounded panicked and it soothed Draco's ego a bit but he still walked out of the restaurant. As he did so, he cursed that small bit of hope that Potter would come after him, continue to stammer those lackluster apologies and beg to make it up to him.

The tight hand on his shoulder disabused him of that notion. "Christ, Malfoy, you think I meant it?"

"I suggest you remove your hands from my person right now." Draco pulled out his wand and pointed it at Potter.

"Or what? You're going to hex me? In a Muggle area?" Potter sounded disbelieving of Draco's willingness to follow through. Before Draco could react, Potter's grip tightened and they were Apparating.

When they arrived, Draco looked around and realised that he was outside Potter's house. He had barely absorbed this information before Potter was dragging him into the house and slamming the door.

"There, hex me now, go for it. You've wanted to for how many years? I'm such a prat, after all. I couldn't possibly be telling the truth about why I was late." Potter tossed his hands in the air and turned his back on Draco.

"You didn't tell me why, you stammered on about alarms and people. What were you doing that was ever so much more important than being on time for dinner with me?" Draco, in direct contrast to Potter, stood completely still as he waited.

"I was working. Not all of us go to an office, you know."

"Right, some of us sit in front of a computer drinking tea in the comfort of our own home." As soon as the words were out, Draco wanted to pull them back. He hoped that Potter would think that possibly Potter himself had let something slip during one of their various conversations.

"How would you know that?" Potter's abrupt cessation of motion and his demand disabused Draco of that notion.

"You told me." It was the truth in a way. After all, Potter had left the drapes open for anyone to walk past and notice and…

"I didn't. How did you know?"

"You… I… this isn't about that! This is about you being late." Hoping that turning the conversation back might distract Potter, Draco continued to search for a possible explanation.

"Me sitting in front of a computer is why I was late. So spill, Draco." Potter stalked closer, invading Draco's personal space.

"I might have heard about it from a friend." Another half truth as he'd heard from Finnigan - as close to a friend as he had considering that the rest of his friends were either dead or imprisoned – that Potter had purchased a computer and was working on some sort of top secret project, that he had been since he'd lost Weasley and Granger.

"Which one? Who told you about my book?" Potter's voice had gone from angry to hurt and Draco ignored the small twinge in his stomach to focus on the information that Potter had just given him.

"You're writing a book? About who?"

"You didn't know about the book? Shite." Potter raked his hands through his hair and glared at his feet. "It's not about anyone, alright? It's just a stupid book. Look, I owe you dinner, yeah? Just let me get Dobby to make us something."

"I want to talk about this book, Potter." Draco had no idea why he was fixating on the idea. It might have been that he'd never thought Potter one for being good with words what with the stammering and all. It might have been that he wondered if Potter was writing about his life. He wouldn't consider the possibility that it might have been that he wondered just what it was that had Potter avoiding most everyone in the world to stare at a screen and drink tea.

"It's nothing, alright. I'm just… I'm just trying to work some things out is all. Can we let it go now?"

"No, we're going to discuss this. I've talked about my life and what I'm doing, turnabout and all that." Draco decided that he might have made a misjudgment as Potter pressed closer, looking angry.

"Shut up, Malfoy." Potter was far too close, his breath brushing Draco's lips and if Draco leaned just a bit closer, he would be able to feel the rumble of Potter's words in his chest.

"Make me." Draco barely finished speaking before Potter's lips pressed against his, insistent and forceful and welcome. Potter's hands speared into his hair, gripping a bit too hard as he furthered his control of the kiss, nipping Draco's lower lip and tugging it.

"Open," he murmured and Draco opened his mouth to tell Potter that he wouldn't do what Potter said, especially when he was biting almost painfully. Instead of saying it, Draco found Potter's tongue touching his, tracing his teeth and feeding the curl of need deep in his gut.

Without thinking about it, Draco's hands came up to grip Potter's arse and pull him closer, press chest to chest, groin to groin as the kiss turned into a battle for control. Draco tried his best to steal that control but Potter merely changed tactics, distracting Draco with a swivel of his hips or a tug on his hair.

When they pulled back, panting and fighting for breath, Potter's hands didn't stop moving. They started to work on Draco's shirt, opening it and then, gripping too hard once more, grabbed his hips and pushed into Draco's trousers. Draco hadn't had this sort of contact in years, not since he'd started rebuilding his life. He hadn't had time for it, not with everything else. It was only luck that Finnigan had been willing to be the name and face of the store, probably the only reason the store had succeeded the way it had.

Draco refused to acknowledge that it had been gratitude for the rescue that had had Finnigan searching Draco out when he'd been left with nothing. He preferred to think that it was for Draco's ability to thrive and make anything a success. "The Malfoy Touch" as he mockingly referred to it, after all, hadn't it worked out ever so well for his father?

As the cold air tickled at his cock, Draco realised that while he'd been thinking of his father, Potter had been undoing his belt and trousers. Coupled with the wrongness of the subject of his thoughts and the fact that they were in the foyer of Potter's house, Draco batted away Potter's hands.

"What are you doing?" He snarled as he righted his clothing.

"It sort of got out of hand. I just meant to kiss you but then you moaned and I couldn't stop myself from wondering what your skin felt like and…" Potter looked confused.

"Ask next time." Draco turned on his heel and left, ignoring Potter's calls and Apparating before he could catch up.

When Draco arrived safely and alone in his flat, he flopped onto the sofa. He'd enjoyed Potter's lips and hands. He was still hard from Potter's hand on his bits. The thought of what would have happened had he not thought of his father for a brief second scared Draco.

He hadn't been standing outside Potter's window to spy on the Hero and gather ammunition to blackmail Potter into elevating him within the wizarding world. He'd been spying on Potter because he'd wanted to know what he was doing. That realisation burned as Draco also realised that, if Potter were touching his bits again in the future, Draco might not make him stop the next time.

It was the first relationship outside the trenches and blood of war that made Horatio nervous. He found that relationships without that edge of possible loss were harder to maintain, as mistakes were harder to forgive and Horatio made his fair share and more. They worked through them and he found his propensity for mistakes lessened.

Harry fidgeted after he rang the bell. Draco was, to put it mildly, going to be pissed that he'd had the audacity to show up here after bollocksing everything up yesterday. That hadn't stopped him from asking then cajoling then begging Seamus to give up Draco's address. Now, as he shifted from foot to foot while racking a hand through his hair, Harry thought, perhaps, it would have been better to wait a few days, give Draco time to cool off.

"Come to take advantage again, Potter?" Draco stood in the doorway, looking immaculate and somehow that seemed completely wrong. After all, it was six o'clock in the morning on a Saturday, no less, and no sane rational person was up that early, let alone completely dressed with hair done and shoes on.

"You're up," he said lamely. It wasn't what he'd meant to say. He'd meant to say, 'I'm sorry' or perhaps 'look, give me another chance'.

"Brilliant deduction, glad you stopped by to inform me of this development. Had you not told me, I shudder to conceive of what could possibly have happened." Draco made to shut the door but Harry slipped his foot between door and jamb. "Potter, move your foot."

"No, I came to say something and I'm going to say it." Harry, once more, faltered.

"Get on with it. I've reports to finish." The pressure on his foot eased a bit.

"I'm sorry for yesterday and I'd really like you to give me another chance." The last phrase was blurred into one word and Harry flushed. This was worse than Fourth Year when he'd asked Cho to go to the Yule Ball with him.

As he was pondering just when it was that he would finally mature to the point of being able to ask someone for a date without stumbling over his words, Draco asked, "Why?"

"I'm tired of stumbl… oh right, not about that. That is to say, um, well, what I mean is that I messed up but for some reason, I had a great time at dinner and every time we've met for coffee and would you please just open the door because I think you might have done permanent damage to my foot?"

"Goodbye, Potter." Draco increased the pressure on his foot and Harry winced.

"What do you want me to say?"

"Certainly not that load of tripe." The pressure increased again and because he really did need that foot, Harry pulled it out of the doorway. The door closed with an understated slam.

For a few minutes, Harry paced the hallway, throwing his hands in the air and muttering to himself about how ungracious Malfoy was and how horribly this entire predicament was going. He didn't even know why he was here, for God's sake. He'd made an arse out of himself and for what? "Nothing, that's what, not a damn thing, what's he want me to say anyway?"

It was as he was about to punch the wall opposite Malfoy's door that it clicked, the proverbial light bulb shone and Harry finally realised just what it was Draco wanted.

"I was going to kill myself, that's what the book was about." The confession was said matter of factly. If it was a fact, Harry didn't have to think about the idea that Draco was on the other side of the door, possibly not even listening as he said things that he hadn't ever verbalised before.

"I'm writing a book about me and the war and how much it fucking sucks to be the hero all the time when I just want to be left alone. I hate people staring all the time or calling me 'Harry Potter' when I'm just Harry. I'm just Harry," the last was muttered in direct contrast to the slight roar he'd used at the beginning. He banged his forehead on the door over and over. "You were always one of the ones who just saw me as 'Harry' and I thought maybe you might still see me that way and…"

There was a sound on the other side of the door, barely audible over the throbbing in his forehead. The door still didn't open. "Fine, Draco, since it's obvious that you don't want me here, I'll leave."

Harry turned and started down the hall when the door opened and shut. He paused but didn't look back.

"It's normally considered a sign of good breeding to wait for your date while he or she puts their coat on, Potter. Do keep that in mind in the future." Footsteps approached while Harry's grin spread, the frustration of just moments before evaporated.

"I'll do that." He held out his hand. When Draco twined his fingers with Harry's, Harry couldn't help but smile.

"Where are we heading?"

"I, um, don't know. Didn't really have a plan beyond coming over here and apologising." Harry admitted while Draco snorted.

"Come along, then, you owe me a meal."

Horatio was glad when the crowds slowly stopped forming around him whenever he braved leaving his flat. It helped that his companion was fiercely protective and talented with a quip or a barbed insult. It wasn't perfection, they were far too disparate to have that, but Horatio didn't mind the give and take, the game of wits and the dance between them. It kept him on his toes and reminded him that he was, in the end, just a man.

Draco paced the length of the kitchen, scolding Dobby for his forgetfulness. There wasn't much heat to his diatribe but old habits died hard and Draco expected a certain level of service.

"Harry requires his tea at half two, half two, do you understand?" Instead of waiting for the house-elf's response, he grabbed the cup and saucer and fixed Harry's tea. Crackers were arranged on a small plate as well as small sandwiches and Draco left the kitchen with the tray bearing the food.

"That infernal elf, Harry, I swear, it's time for him to retire. He's getting old and forgetful and - what's wrong?" Draco preferred the word 'concern' to the word 'panic' to describe the reason for his voice raising when he saw Harry slump onto the floor in the entryway right in front of him.

"It came, Draco, it came." Harry's voice was full of wonder while he stared at a small brown-wrapped parcel.

"Our letter of apology from the fat cow of a minister's wife?" Draco quipped lightly before setting the tray on the small table.

"My book." The wonder increased and Draco grinned.

"Well, hand it over then." Draco held out his hand. Harry's hand shook as he handed the book over. "Come on, off the floor, we'll do this like civilised people."

The book went onto the tray and Draco started walking to the couch in the sitting room. "Potter, now."

Harry followed and Draco placed a cup of tea in his hands before going back to the parcel. When he opened it, the title In War, a Hero Born shone from the cover in understated elegance.

"Quite fitting, it looks very nice." Draco approved of the small flourishes along the spine and, as he flipped through, the chapter markings. One passage, near the end, caught his attention.

Horatio knew, when he met Declan as a child, that the man would have an impact on his life. What he didn't know, couldn't have known, was that Declan would be the man that completed him. They were opposites, in colouring and in dispositions, but they proved that old adage, opposites attract.

"Is this how you feel about me?" Draco asked after staring at the page for an indeterminate length of time.

"Of course it is, why else would I put up with you?" No longer sounding so gobsmacked, Harry sounded flirtatious and Draco turned and cocked an eyebrow.

"It would be lovely if you'd share that sort of information with me, I mean, Declan. Good manners, Potter, we have to work on your manners." Draco meant to continue but Harry pressed his lips against Draco's and the rest of his words fled in the face of the happiness and love he felt.

Draco didn't mind when Harry pressed his advantage, hands unbuttoning Draco's shirt while lips ravaged Draco's own. So different from their first kiss, Draco didn't want Harry to stop as he pushed the shirt away and moved his lips to mouth their way across Draco's chest, pausing to lick and nip just where it would make him wriggle. Even as Harry sucked in a nipple, his hands were playing with Draco's belt, undoing the clasp and slowly pulling it out of the loops.

"Get on with it, do I have to do everything myself?" Draco pushed against Harry's chest, pulling his t-shirt over his head and undoing the button of his denims before sneaking a hand between cock and zipper and sliding the zipper down. "This is how it's done, Potter."

For all their rush, Draco's hands were steady as he pushed Harry's pants down and left them trapped about his ankles with his shoes. His grin turned arrogant as he leaned forward to lick at Harry's cock, along the vein that ran the length before tracing the slit. As he started backwards, Harry's hands threaded into his hair and the sharp tug added just enough of an edge that Draco's motions became rougher as he finally sucked in the length, gripping the base. Those hands in his hair urged him to speed up his motions and Draco slowed.

"Jesus Christ, Draco, first you're wanting fast now you're wanting slow and just get on with it or so help me…" Harry's voice trailed off.

"So help you what?"

"You'll always do the opposite of what I want, won't you?" Harry pulled his hands from Draco's hair and flopped back onto the couch. The smile belied the words and Draco returned it.

"It's about time you realise that, cretin." Draco slapped Harry's thigh before sliding off the couch and holding out his hand. "Come on, we're not as young as we used to be, I'd prefer to do this where we have lube available."

"You don't want to read the ending?" Harry looked mischievous. "Read the ending and then you'll do exactly as I want."

"Will I?" Draco gestured with his hand, impatient to move to the bedroom. "Come along or I'll simply have to take care of this myself."

"It's my day and you know you want to reward me for writing such an amazing piece of literature. I'll even let you feed me the tea and crackers you brought in."

"That would be why we need to be in the bedroom." This time, Harry allowed Draco to tug him off the sofa. As they walked back the hallway, their progress was slow as they paused to snog, pressing against the wall and, at one point, knocking a portrait to the ground. For all the rush of moments before, there was a languidness to the kissing now, far more intimate than Draco had ever expected out of any relationship.

The bedroom was a good reflection of their personalities. They'd wrangled with each other and then an interior decorator as Draco had insisted that their home have some sort of continuity throughout. He didn't function well in chaos, after all.

At that moment, though, the only thoughts on interior decorating he had was that he was thankful he'd been firm on the necessity of multiple pillows. They cushioned his fall as Harry fell forward onto Draco. Harry's hands didn't stop moving as they dragged up his torso before going back down, touching his hips and pushing at his trousers and pants. When they touched his cock, he arched into the touch and Harry pressed his advantage, hand slipping further back before grabbing Draco's leg and putting it over one shoulder.

Draco was open to Harry's touch and, soon, his cock as well. He felt it breach and press inside. It was tight and he panted as he adjusted. Harry waited for him, waited until he pushed up into Harry, forcing him a bit deeper. That was permission enough for Harry to start thrusting. Draco hadn't needed to tell Harry when to move in months.

Harry's hand reached up to pull at Draco's cock as their lips mashed together once more. For all the times they'd been together, when they were like this, it felt overwhelming and new. Draco hadn't wanted this sort of intimacy, he'd been to fixated on rebuilding the Malfoy name. Not that he'd ever admit it to Harry but rebuilding the Malfoy name didn't mean much in the face of this. This was enough.

He couldn't help but laugh at the memory of thinking of his father the first time they'd been snogging. Harry paused and raised an eyebrow but Draco only shrugged it off, "It's not you, Potter, so do keep moving. I haven't come yet."

"Thought this was about rewarding me for a book well done?" Harry's thrust was a bit harder than Draco was expecting.

"Aye, well, as you have said countless times that pleasing me pleases you, do get on with pleasing me." Harry's bark of laughter gave little warning to the increased pace. The softness of moments before washed away in the tide of arousal as Harry pushed deeper and harder.

With a cry, Draco came while Harry thrust. He raised a hand and brushed the damp hair off Harry's forehead. The touch was enough and Harry came as well. When he was done, he collapsed onto Draco.

"Was it good for you?" Harry mumbled into Draco's neck.

"It was tolerable." Draco finished their routine. They'd started it after their first time, when they'd been nervous and shy. Draco had been tempted to laugh at Harry's need for reassurance but he had held his tongue. Since then, every time, Harry would ask and Draco would respond in the same manner.

"I'm glad you're pleased. Now I get to be pleased as well." Harry's laugh was lazy and far-too-satisfied.

"Yes, well, I would rather have been reading but you're always wanting one thing from a bloke." Draco tried to sound put-upon.

"You never did read the end of the book, you know." Harry pushed up and grinned at Draco. That grin said that whatever was about to happen would either make Draco feel extremely happy or extremely exasperated. Knowing Harry, Draco was willing to bet that it would be exasperated.

"You'll just have to tell me, then. I'm sure you know what it is."

"They lived, not entirely happily, not entirely for forever. But in the end, they lived."
Tags: [fic], rated: r, round: winter 2006

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