Title: The Cottage with the Purple Door, A Non-Linear Love Story
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, (Draco/Astoria, Harry/Ginny as needed for canon compliancy), Hermione/Ron, implied Teddy/Victoire
Summary: A story that's all about love, unlikely friendships, and a place to call 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.
Warning(s): Smut scene contains rimming.
Epilogue compliant? Somewhat. Epilogue children exist, but the marriages that produced them didn't last.
Word Count: ~10,500
Author's Notes: Special thanks to my three wonderful and fast betas for the hand-holding and inspiration. I hope you like this amythystluna. It ended up so different than my original vision for the story, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I hope you are, too. There was so much more I wanted to write, but the deadline caught up with me too quickly.
The cottage has a purple door. Scorpius is not impressed by this, but Al thinks it suits them just fine. Al knows it reminds his dad of Professor Dumbledore, and Merlin knows what it reminds Scorpius's father of, but it stands out from the monochromatic stone walls, from the pale grey shutters flanking the windows, from the green vines and shrubs that creep and tumble over the stones and lintel, and down the roof in back of the house. Al thinks of it as a portal into their lives, his dad's and Draco Malfoy's. It's a place to hide from all the rumors and recognition involved in being Harry Potter's son. Harry's usual smile and good-natured spirit is different here, somehow, better. This is a place where Albus's dad is happy.
January 22, 2010
Draco greets her with a nod, his attention still focused on the drink in front of him.
"That's an unusually nice thing for you to call me," says Luna, gliding onto the bar stool beside him.
"It's your name," says Draco. He pulls the cherry from his glass and wrinkles his nose at it.
"But you don't use it often," says Luna.
Draco's gaze slides over to her, his eyebrows furrowed in annoyance. Really, she has no right to make him feel guilty for referring to her as "Loony" most of the time. Everybody else does, after all, and he's never heard her complain.
"Are you here for a reason?" he asks.
"We're all here for a reason," she says. "On this planet, on this continent, in this pub."
"I didn't mean a philosophical reason," he says, then wonders why he bothered to clarify. She's speaking an entirely different language anyway.
"You're so strange, Draco," says Luna, and she heaves an overstuffed rucksack onto the bar between them.
Draco pushes his stool back a bit further. "What's in there?"
"A book," she says, and she reaches into the bag and pulls out just that.
Draco's half certain that from somewhere inside the rucksack, he just heard something growl.
"What kind of a book?"
"Well, it's not How to Win the Attentions of Harry Potter, unfortunately," she says, pouting thoughtfully.
"Shhh," hisses Draco as he looks around the pub, certain that everyone in the place just heard her. If they did, no one is impressed. They're all too busy staring at their meals or drinks or companions.
"But it's close enough." She pushes the book in front of him.
How to Win Friends and Influence People reads the cover. Draco snorts.
"This is a Muggle book."
"Muggles need love, too," says Luna.
"I'm not looking for more friends, Lovegood. I have plenty of those."
Luna beams, as if this second use of her proper name is confirmation that she's one of those friends. Draco rolls his eyes, but he doesn't deny it. What would be the use?
He looks at the book again, then shakes his head. There are probably seven thousand reasons that he's better off hexing this book to ash than opening to the first page, but dry humor is generally lost on Luna, and he's too drained from a double shift at St Mungo's to come up with a line clever enough to amuse himself.
"I don't think this is going to help," he says finally.
"Oh," says Luna. "Okay. Then I suppose you'll have to resort to desperate measures."
"Oh, yes?" he says, and he takes a small plastic sword from the bar and stabs the cherry.
"Yes," she says. "You have to talk to him."
June 10, 2000
"Are you now, or have you ever been, under the care of a Muggle physician?"
Harry taps the end of the quill against the clipboard as he reads the questions in front of him under his breath.
He and Ron were participating in what the seasoned Aurors referred to as "gruelling duelling", a three day long exercise inside the training labyrinth during which a pair of Aurors in training used every non-lethal, legal hex at their disposal to take their opponent out of the race to the center. Harry had been nearly there, only five hours away from reaching his goal. The last time he'd seen Ron the latter had been face down in a pile of conjured mashed potatoes, a particularly messy jinx that had earned him a standing ovation from the Aurors observing the exercise. Of course, Harry reckoned they'd likely been near death from boredom by then, since it had been eleven hours of steady progress for both men, with neither crossing the other's path during that entire stretch. By then, Harry had felt that it was his sworn duty to liven things up some.
But Ron had recovered more quickly than Harry had expected, and he was barely prepared for the leg-locking curse that hit him as he stood poised to leap from one narrow precipice to the next. The fall had been fairly short for this labyrinth, only about two meters, but Harry's right leg had broken and his right elbow bruised badly. He'd tried to convince Robards and the other senior Aurors that he was able to perform the rest of the exercise before receiving medical attention, but they had a maddening habit of treating "the Chosen One" with kid gloves at times, and this, apparently, was one of those times.
Now he sits on an examination table, filling out department accident paperwork and waiting impatiently for a healer to take a look at him so he can get back to work. The door opens and Harry doesn't look up.
"I only need my right leg mended," he says absently, checking off a little box to verify that Ron's hex carried no noticeable malicious intent. "Then I'll be out of your hair."
"I don't know, Potter. It seems like every time I think you are out of my hair, you come rolling back like a bad knut."
Harry looks up to see Draco Malfoy standing in the doorway, smirking cat-like as he leans against the wall. Harry feels a bit like a caged canary.
"You're my healer?" he says, the words more incredulous than he means for them to be, and out of his mouth far too fast.
"In training," says Draco curtly, and his Chesire grin is gone. He approaches the table. "But I'm competent enough to mend a broken leg, if that's what you mean."
"I never said I didn't think you were competent," says Harry. "I barely said anything at all."
"Let me take a look," says Draco, and he rests one hand on Harry's thigh, pulls out a wand with the other.
Harry presses himself into the table. "It's broken. I know that already."
Draco ignores him, finishes the diagnostic charm. "And now I know that too," he says.
Harry's aware of Draco's hand still pressed against his leg. The last time he touched Draco, they were sharing a broom over the hungry roar of fiendfyre. There was a lot more clothing involved, then. Now it's a flimsy slip of fabric, no more concealing than the hospital gowns Muggles use.
"What?" says Draco. "I'm expected to take your word for it? I may be a novice healer, Potter, but I'm not an idiot."
By now, he's stuck his chin so high in the air that all Harry can see is his throat. Draco swallows, and Harry swallows, and Draco's hand is still on his thigh. Up until this moment, he's been certain that he didn't sustain a head injury in the fall, but now? Now he's clearly hallucinating, because Draco's throat is suddenly something he wants to see.
"What are you looking at, Potter?" Draco says, slowly, enjoying that he's caught Harry doing whatever it is that Harry is doing.
"Nothing," says Harry. He looks away. "I was just... wondering when you were going to get on with it. Unless you're enjoying my company so much you can't bear the thought of healing me."
"As if," says Draco, and casts the spell.
With a snap, the leg is mended.
"It's a recent modification in the basic bone-mending spell," Draco says, before Harry can ask the question. "Faster, even less pain than the old one." And now the feline smirk returns. "Also one of the most complicated healing charms."
"Lucky for me you're handy with a wand," says Harry.
"Let me see that elbow."
"Not according to my diagnostics."
"Then your diagnostics are wrong."
"I believe we've already established that I'm more than proficient with a healer's wand."
"Do you know what I've missed about you, Malfoy? Your modesty."
"Modesty is for wizards who have no talent."
Harry snorts at that; he can't help himself. On his leg, the heat of Draco's hand is melting Harry's too-thin hospital gown to his skin.
"Unless you're planning on feeling me up," says Harry, but his voice sounds embarrassingly husky to his own ears, "you might want to remove that hand."
Every bit of Draco's visible skin flushes crimson, his hair even paler in contrast. Harry notes that it is starting to recede just slightly. It suits him.
"You make it sound," says Draco, as that scorching place on Harry's thigh goes cold, "as if you want me to feel you up."
"Mmm, yeah. I've been dreaming about it all this time."
Draco doesn't say anything else, but he takes Harry's wrist and Harry lets him stretch out the arm to get a good look at the elbow. Somehow, the quiet is more uncomfortable than that caustically flirtatious exchange.
A few bruises are healed, and Draco lets go, starts writing on Harry's chart. Harry feels like a patient all of the sudden, instead of... well, instead of whatever it is that he felt like before, when Draco was addressing him, touching him.
Yes, it's most definitely a head injury, he thinks, but he doesn't ask Draco to check that out, too.
"Well, Potter," says Draco, "good news. The wizarding world won't have to do without it's hero for long. You've managed, once again, to escape serious injury." The words are painted with a layer of sarcasm so thick, that Harry's surprised Draco doesn't choke on them.
Still, Harry is feeling pretty good, partly for reasons he doesn't want to examine too closely at the moment.
"I think you've found your calling, Malfoy," he says, reaching for his Auror robes, folded at the end of the table. "I mean, who doesn't want an ill-tempered healer willing to insult you to your face while healing all that ails you? Sounds like a niche market to me."
"To think, soon my safety and well-being will be in your hands. Inspiring, really." Draco tucks the chart beneath his arm and heads for the door. "Oh, and Potter? I'm not always ill-tempered. It just depends on the company."
The words are razor sharp, but he's smirking as he leaves, and all afternoon Harry finds himself smiling for no particular reason. This does not amuse Ron when Robards tells them that they have to restart the gruelling duel from Day 1.
November 24, 2009
"A pint for me and one for my friend."
The pub scene is filtered through a dim haze, the kind a room full of smokers would leave, except this fog is pale blue and occasionally swirls into a funnelling dervish around patrons' heads before dancing away toward the ceiling. But take away that small piece of magical ambiance, and it could be a pub anywhere in London, Muggle or otherwise. The only real difference for Harry, the only thing making it different than any other pub visit after a long day at work is that it's not Ron sitting on the bar stool beside him.
It's Gregory Goyle.
"You know Of Mice and Men?" says Goyle.
"The book?" says Harry, and he feels stupid right away, because of course Goyle means the book. The only thing less likely than Greg Goyle reading an American Muggle book is Greg Goyle seeing an American Muggle film, right?
"There's a book?"
For two beats, Harry falls for it, then Goyle is rolling his eyes and Harry realizes it was a joke. The bartender sets down two pints and Harry grabs for his.
"Seriously, Potter, they say I'm the thick one. Anyway, do you know it or not?"
"Yeah, I know it," says Harry, and his grimace is involuntary.
There was a summer, one painfully long summer, when the kids were small and Ginny and Hermione got it into their heads that both families should holiday at the shore. But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst of it was that she'd brought a reading list. They'd walked right into the trap of becoming her own captive little book club, and her theme for the season was "American Muggle Literature of the 20th Century". Harry often thinks that it's amazing that, after that summer, he and Ginny were the couple whose marriage did not survive. He'd never seen Ron so close to tears so many times in so short a period. The Minister himself had given them both two months leave for outstanding performance on the job and six weeks in, Ron was begging to be pulled for special assignment.
"You didn't like it?" says Goyle, and he looks hurt.
"Oh, no, I liked it just fine," says Harry. He nods vigorously. "Just fine."
"Well good," says Goyle, "because I was gonna say that sometimes I used to feel a little bit like George."
"You mean Lenny," says Harry, almost automatically.
"No," Goyle says slowly. "I mean George. Vince was Lenny. The Lenny to my George. That's what it felt like anyway. Sometimes."
It disturbs Harry that he can actually see it the way Goyle describes it. "Goyle, why are you telling me this?"
"I dunno," says Goyle, and he shrugs, looking at his drink. "This is, what? Our fifth, sixth meeting like this at this pub?"
"Yeah, see? It's like our thing. This is our place."
Oh, Merlin. Harry wonders for a moment if he's inadvertently started dating Gregory Goyle. Ron will never let him hear the end of this.
"Uh, Goyle? I don't know how to put this but... Well..." Harry shakes his head. "You're a good bloke and all, surprisingly, really, but I'm not looking to... date... at the moment..." He adjusts his glasses.
Goyle looks at him, just looks, and then begins to laugh. It's a low chuckle at first, and he sets aside his drink and his laughter turns raucous. He throws his head back, face going red, and pounds his fist on the bar so hard that everyone turns and looks.
"You thought I... with you! Oh my... Oh, that's... Potter!" He wipes a tear from his eye. Harry fidgets on his barstool. "I'm into the birds, Potter. Exclusively. Besides, Draco would hand me my arse in a silver cup if I made a pass at you."
Harry's humiliation seems to evaporate at that.
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"I'm straight, Potter! Het'rosexual!"
"No, I got that part," Harry says, along with everyone else in London, thanks. "I mean the part about Dr--Malfoy."
Goyle sobers a bit. "Draco being in love with you, you mean? Why are you looking at me like that's news? Oh, hell. It is news, isn't it? To you, anyway." He chuckles again. "Not to anyone else."
Harry looks down at his drink and wants to ask a thousand different questions all at once. He's only seen Draco a half dozen times since Hogwarts. And yeah, so there's been some weird tension a few of those times, but that's because they hate each other, isn't it? Maybe hate is too strong of a word by now. Maybe they don't hate each other anymore. Maybe it's something more like "slightly hostile tolerance."
How is that grounds for being in love? And how does it make any sense at all that Draco Malfoy would be interested in Harry? Or, you know, be capable of loving anyone but himself?
"Anyways," says Goyle, and it takes Harry a moment to realize the conversation has moved on before he even knew what was happening, "as I was saying, we're like, mates now. And that's good." He raises his pint, tapping it against the glass Harry holds slackly in his hand. "Cheers!"
Harry blinks. What the hell just happened here?
The bed in the cottage with the purple door is made from stone. Scorpius says it reminds him of a sarcophagus. Al knows his father made it himself, the stones repurposed from the walls of Hogwarts, those walls that crumbled and fell when Voldemort and the Death Eaters attacked. Al knows the significance of this, knows it in the deepest parts of his heart, even if his best friend will never quite understand.
Harry took those scarred stones from the foundation of Hogwarts and saved them, kept them in his vault at Gringotts until he and Draco chose the cottage with the purple door as their own. Then Harry took them, and with magic as strong as that which bound them to their former occupation, he made them into the frame of their bed.
The bed is imperfect, scarred like Al's father, the scorch marks deep and vivid. But they've become part of something beautiful now.
June 19, 2007
"Hello, Draco Malfoy."
"Loony." Draco doesn't look up from his book.
Luna tilts her head to examine the cover. "The New York Trilogy," she says, her head still sideways. "Are you planning a trip?"
"It's fiction," says Draco, leafing over the next page.
"Oh, but fictional trips are my favorite sort."
"Are you here for a reason?" asks Draco. He's curled up in an overstuffed chair in the very back of a coffee shop in Hogsmeade. It's not as though he's made himself easy to find.
"Not especially," says Luna. "And you?"
"I'm reading," Draco says, very slowly, as if speaking to a child.
"And enjoying hot coffee," says Luna.
"Clearly Ravenclaw chose you for your powers of observation."
"Really? I always thought it was more for general cleverness."
Draco blinks a few times, then turns his attention back to his coffee.
"If you're quite done interrupting my reading--"
"Of course not. What is it, Loony?"
"Just something I thought you'd like to know," she says, as if that gives him enough information.
He waits a few seconds, but apparently more prompting is in order. "I'm hanging on your every word," he says. "Do go on."
"Harry Potter is getting a divorce."
Draco's coffee cup is just below his lips as she speaks, and he holds it there for just a moment, before setting it down slowly.
"What on earth makes you think I care?" he says.
Luna looks at him, puzzled, then rises to her feet, that dreamy, vacant smile on her face again.
"You should probably learn to accept the idea of intuition, Draco," she says. "I think it would be good for you. Also, your right eyebrow twitches up, just a little bit, every time you say his name. I thought you knew that."
And then she's gone.
Draco wiggles his eyebrows a few times, raises the book in front of his face and mouths the name "Harry Potter" to see if he can feel anything.
"Keep this up and I'll be as mad as she is," he mutters, closing the book with a loud clap.
He tucks it under his arm and rises to his feet. He's going to need something stronger than coffee to put this encounter out of his mind.
December 13, 2009
"So Goyle tells me you're in love with me."
Harry thinks he could have picked a smoother opening line. He's seen Draco flush before: out of embarrassment, out of anger, out of some other unfathomable Malfoyism, but not like this. He's never seen Draco go vivid a shade of scarlet that his skin appears to be on fire. There was probably a more delicate way for Harry to pass on Goyle's message, but Harry's never done anything delicately.
"If you've come to taunt me over Goyle's gossip, save your breath, Potter," says Draco, burying his face in some file on the table in front of him.
They're sitting in the cafeteria at St Mungo's, having lunch. It had taken some finagling to get into this position. Harry cornered Draco, came close to causing a scene, then cajoled him into sharing a corner table near a false window, charmed with a pastoral view of a perfect summer day.
"Is it true?" Harry asked. Again, could have been smoother.
Draco raises his coffee to his lips. "A gross exaggeration at best."
"Is that so?" Harry tries to keep his voice even as he reaches for a pastry.
"Yes, Potter, that's so," says Draco.
"So what does the truth sound like?"
Draco stabs a slice of pie viciously with his fork. "The truth? Would be that I have a slightly lessened impulse to kick you in the face when we meet."
Harry smiles. He can't help it. "Should I be flattered that your violent impulses are lessened in my presence these days?"
"Yeah. Well. You were never much of a threat when it came to duelling," Harry says, and as soon as the words escape him, he wishes he could take them back, cleanse them of their sarcasm, start again.
Draco's expression hardens and he pushes the plate to the middle of the table, rises to his feet.
"Perhaps I wasn't as much of a threat as you, Potter, because there were things I wasn't willing to do." He rises to his feet. "I'm quite certain that if you knew what it takes to reverse a Sectumsempra, you wouldn't be so flippant about it."
"Draco, I didn't mean--" Harry cuts himself off. Why is he apologizing? Hasn't Draco done things that are hundreds of times worse?
"I'm a very busy man, Potter. You'll have to excuse me," Draco says, and he leaves.
Harry sits at the table, stares down at his cup of coffee. This is possibly his worst idea yet.
March 4, 2011
"Ginny is going to have my balls for this."
Harry is dabbing at Scorpius's eye with a cold cloth, frowning as the bruise blossoms a deeper purple over his pale skin.
"Don't dab it," Draco hisses, letting go of Albus with one hand to reach across his body and Harry's and jerk the wash cloth from Harry's hand. "Just hold it there. The cooling charm will suffice. Like this."
"Thank you, Healer Malfoy," Harry says sharply.
"You know you fight like an old married couple, don't you?"
"Shut up, Teddy," Harry and Draco say in unison.
"Whatever." Teddy pushes off the doorway and saunters away toward the kitchen. The thirteen year-old who knows everything. Harry wonders if all kids that age--the ones who don't have a dark lord out to kill them--are so bloody arrogant. Merlin knows Draco was.
He looks up at Draco, smiles.
"These two are going to kill each other," Harry says.
"And then our ex-wives will kill us in turn," says Draco. "Beautifully ironic end for us, isn't it?"
"I don't know about Astoria, but I'm pretty sure there's not going to be anything beautiful about what Ginny does to me when she sees that hand."
"Am I not a healer?"
"Draco, the hand is on backwards."
"So you don't think I'm capable of undoing a bit of magic done by a five year-old, is that it? Scorpius, stop that."
Harry lifts Scorpius, the cloth still pressed against his head, and moves him out of swiping reach of Albus.
"That's not what I said," says Harry. "Al! Don't touch that. Wands are off-limits, as you well know."
Draco frowns, tugging hard as he tries to pry his wand from the iron grip of Albus's backwards hand.
"Daaaaaaaaaaaad! Lily let my toads out again!"
"Just a minute, James. I'm busy right now."
"But Dad! They're getting away!"
"Ask Teddy to help you."
James' only response is a giggle.
"James? What did you do to Teddy?"
"Dad! My toads!"
"Albus, let go of the wand!"
"Harry, let me use yours."
"Are you mad? What if it makes you turn his hand inside out or something?"
"I don't want to be inside out!" Albus wails.
"That was lovely," says Draco. "Because the hysteria in here wasn't quite at the level you desired?"
"In a minute, James!" Harry shouts back. "Draco, just fix his hand!"
Draco speaks through clenched teeth. "I can't do that without a wand."
"Albus, if you don't want to be inside out, give Draco your wand."
Albus wails louder, but loosens his grip. Draco hoists the wand above his head triumphantly.
"Right. Sorry." He casts the spells, finally, and Albus's hand is righted.
The wailing stops. Harry loosens his grip on Scorpius.
"Now," says Draco, "let me see that eye."
Scorpius smiles, then goes snakelike, flattening himself out on the counter so he can slip from Harry's grasp and slither to the floor. He scampers away with a cry of "TOADS!"
Albus follows, shouting, "Don't you take them all! Those aren't your toads!"
Draco sinks back against the wall and runs a hand through his hair. "No more taking them on the same weekends," he says.
"Agreed." Harry shakes his head. "Can you imagine what it will be like when they're old enough to do real damage?"
"They'll be worse than we were," says Draco.
"Remind me again why you had so many?" Draco says.
"It's just three, plus Teddy sometimes. It only feels like more." Harry exhales and sets the cloth aside, pulling Draco with him out of the bathroom. "And you know why I did it, remember? Apparently, I thrive on hysteria."
When Draco is cooking, the kitchen in the cottage with the purple door smells every bit as good as Molly Weasley's kitchen. Albus is careful not to mention this in front of his father, because when Harry cooks, it smells more like the makeshift barn behind the hut where Hagrid lives. But Draco has a natural talent for it, and he's well aware of this, unabashedly telling anyone who will listen that the only thing he does better is heal people. Harry seems amused by this, though Albus cannot for the life of him understand why. When Draco raves about his talents like this, it drives Albus out of his mind.
Tonight the meal is minestrone with homemade bread, a salad full of green things that Albus is fairly certain he just saw moving, and leg of lamb with mint.
How fucking pretentious is that? thinks Albus. Who even eats like this anymore? At home, on a weeknight. It's complete and utter madness is what it is. Scorpius reminds him that it could be worse, because at least the elder Malfoy has long given up the notion that meals are to be prepared by house-elves instead of human hands. Albus thanks Merlin for small favors, because Aunt Hermione would pop a capillary over that sentiment.
So Albus doesn't complain, because food is food after all, and even if he'd rather spend this late summer evening outside--Uncle Charlie has promised some long awaited Quidditch tutoring while he's visiting the Burrow this August--at a decent distance from the cottage with the purple door, Albus has kind of gotten used to this family thing. He and Scorpius are really almost like brothers now. And besides, a growing boy has got to eat, right?
June 11, 2000
"So Malfoy was your healer?"
Ron stuffs a forkful of pie into his mouth.
"Yeah," says Harry. "Well, kind of. He's a healer-in-training, I guess."
Ron snorts. "Not even a real healer."
"Just like you're not even a real Auror yet?" Ginny shoots back.
"That's different," says Ron. "Our career is... respectable."
"Healers save lives," says Hermione.
"Well, we're not smarmy pricks like Malfoy."
"Ron!" Ginny and Hermione shout in unison, but Harry mouths the name at the same time, so well-expected is the chastisement.
"Are you sure he didn't booby trap you somehow?" Ron has chosen to carry on as if nothing was said.
"Booby trap me how, exactly, Ron?"
"I dunno. Some secret healer prank spell, maybe. Something to make your hair fall out or your... bits change size."
Ginny pitches a roll at Ron's head, and he ducks just in time.
"You're disgusting," she says.
"It could happen," says Ron.
"Malfoy didn't do anything to me," says Harry. "Except heal a few minor injuries. Besides, Ron, This is Malfoy we're talking about, not George or Lee."
"You should be thankful for that," says Ron. "Last month they somehow managed to turn Angelina's broom into a rubber chicken while she was running practice drills in the garden. She almost dumped George over it."
Harry snorts, glad for the deflection, though it doesn't ask long.
"So what did you think of him?" asks Hermione.
As soon as Harry speaks, he wishes it had taken him at least a few moments longer to puzzle out whom she was talking about. He answers too quickly.
"Malfoy? He's good at his job. As prickly as ever, but he knows his stuff."
"Blimey, Harry," says Ron. "If you've become such a Malfoy fan, why don't you marry him?"
There's a little piece of Harry, buried far below the surface, that is deeply embarrassed by this comment, though he doesn't seem to know why. At least he doesn't need to answer that. Ginny has folded up her napkin and pitched it across the table, hitting Ron square in the forehead.
Harry and Hermione laugh.
"I'd apologize for my brother," says Ginny, standing up as she clears away the plates, "but, well, you've all met him before."
"Ginny!" Ron says, pulling the napkin from his head. It sticks to a spot on his forehead. "What the hell is that? Mashed potato?"
Ginny only smirks, shoots Harry a wink, and collects the rest of the plates with a flick of her wrist.
September 24, 2008
"You have everything?"
The words lodge in Draco's throat, because he knows she has everything now; she's holding Scorpius in her arms.
Astoria nods. "Will you be all right?"
"Of course you will." She lingers in the doorway, as if she wants to stay just a little while longer.
He rocks up on the balls of his feet as if he'd like to ask her to do just that.
"Your mother sent three owls," she says suddenly, as if this will stretch out their time together. "She wants you to know that the floo connection to the Manor will be open all night." She kneads her lower lip with her teeth for a moment. Scorpius reaches up and tugs on her hair. "You'll use it if you need it, won't you?"
Draco rolls his eyes. "For fuck's sake, Astoria, I'm gay, not helpless!"
She smiles. "But I know you don't like to be lonely."
"I'll send for Goyle to keep me company if that's what you're worried about. Or Theodore, though Merlin only knows where he's off to at the moment."
"You really need to find yourself some decent friends. Not another henchman or playboy. Someone who is... more like you." Scorpius sighs tiredly and rests his head on her shoulder, his chubby fists loosening their grip on her hair.
"Like me?" says Draco. "You mean gay friends?"
"Not necessarily," says Astoria. "Just... decent friends. Oh, all right, I'll leave it alone. You know where to find us if you need anything. And I'll bring Scorpius by on Friday evening to spend the weekend."
"Astoria, there's a fine line between being supportive and doing your best impression of my mother. I'm fairly certain you've crossed it."
She rolls her eyes, but steps forward on her toes and presses a kiss to his cheek.
"Say goodbye to Daddy, dear," she murmurs, but Scorpius is already sleeping.
Draco kisses both their foreheads, watches her turn away.
April 17, 2010
"Ah, so this is a first date with Harry Potter."
Harry elbows Draco as they follow the hostess to the table. "You make it sound like we haven't been shagging for weeks."
"I make it sound like you've been too cheap to take me out on a proper date."
"It's a good thing I have rich healer for a boyfriend."
Draco stops walking, and Harry doesn't realise it's because of what he just said for another few paces.
"Boyfriend?" says Draco.
Harry wants to keep walking, to pretend the word never escaped his mouth, but he doesn't.
"Yes," he says finally, turning slowly to face Draco.
Draco, who is grinning a wicked, ominous grin. Perfect, thinks Harry. I'll never hear the end of this.
"I'm your boyfriend," says Draco, more slowly this time.
"That's what I said," Harry says, matching Draco's cadence.
"That sounds awfully serious, Auror Potter."
"Maybe it is. Do you have a problem with that, Healer Malfoy?"
Draco watches him for a moment, his expression unreadable, like a detached spectator to their conversation, and Harry resents the ease with which Draco raises himself above Harry's scrutiny. Finally he answers.
"I suppose it sounds rather nice," Draco says. "Besides, it adds legitimacy to our... liaisons."
Harry snorts and takes Draco by the elbow, pulling him to the table.
"Liaisons?" he says. "Seriously?"
"It wouldn't kill you to improve your patois."
"Your vernacular, Harry." And then, "Vocabulary." A thin line creases Draco's brow as he frowns. "Why are you looking at me like that? Please tell me you recognize the word 'vocabulary'."
"You called me 'Harry'."
"Well, yes. We've already established that I'm your boyfriend." Draco's cheeks are going the lightest shade of pink just now. "And it's not as if it's the first time."
"It's the first time clothed. Or without 'Potter' attached to it."
Draco shakes his head and pulls out Harry's chair. "Our relationship is progressing," he says. "Clearly."
Harry grins and sits down. "Yeah," he says. "I guess it is."
May 8, 2017
"You hexed his what?"
Albus cups his hands over his mouth and whispers into Harry's ear.
"Albus Severus!" Harry says.
Draco runs a hand through his ever thinning hair. He's fairly certain that these two boys of theirs are responsible for a solid eighty percent of his hair loss.
"Never once," he says quietly, though his voice begins to grow in volume as he starts to pace, "never once in all my years at Hogwarts was my father called to the school because of my abysmal behavior."
"No, Mr Malfoy," Minerva McGonagall's heavy brogue slices right through Draco's tirade, "your father came to the school for much more appropriate reasons. Like the time you were scared nearly to death by a hippogriff."
She is standing in the doorway to the hospital ward, and from behind her, the sound of Scorpius's stifled giggle echoes through the room. Harry snorts, and Draco shoots him a withering look.
"I was mortally wounded," says Draco, but the words pass his lips as something just slightly more articulate than a grumble. He sees Harry mouth something to McGonagall, but doesn't comment. He's in their territory now. He should have expected this.
"Clearly both boys are fine," Draco says. "It's youthful pranking, nothing more."
"Draco..." Harry's voice is low, but persistent. "It's been a problem for years."
"Well," says Draco irritably. "What do you suggest? That we separate them permanently? Send one of them to Durmstrang? Or, better yet, Salem! Let's put an ocean between them, see if that makes a difference."
Scorpius crosses his arms over his chest and looks sullen, turning away. Albus is glaring wide-eyed at his father, as if he expects Draco to actually do it.
"Of course not," says Harry. "But they need to learn to behave together."
"That hasn't happened in the last six years, what makes you think it will happen now? They need to be separated."
"Dad, no!" It's Albus who breaks first, pleading to his father. "You can't pull me out of Hogwarts! I love it here."
"Then you stay," says Draco sternly. "And Scorpius goes."
"Father!" Scorpius's pale face is round and pleading as he turns to implore Draco.
"Draco," says Harry, softly, "if they really want to stay, maybe we should leave it up to them to work it out."
"They haven't proven to me that they can," says Draco.
"We can!" It's Albus who speaks first again, eager to find resolution. Scorpius is more wary.
Clever boy, thinks Draco, though he doesn't say it.
"Are you certain?" says Draco.
"Al," says Harry, "if this happens again, I have no say in where Draco sends Scorpius."
Albus looks ashamed, his gaze down on his lap. "We'll be good," he says. "Promise."
"Yeah," adds Scorpius. "Promise."
As they finally leave McGonagall's office, Harry leans close to Draco, murmuring in his ear. "For a man who's not an Auror," he says softly, "you play "bad cop" even better than I do."
Draco smirks, his ego thoroughly stroked. "I keep telling you, Harry, there isn't much that I don't do well."
"Then let's get home," says Harry. "And you can prove it."
The cottage with the purple door has a study that Harry finished off for Draco the first winter they lived there together. Draco had often lamented the lack of a decent library in the cottage, and while Harry didn't manage to recreate the grand library at Malfoy Manor, or even the modest one Draco enjoyed at the townhouse he'd shared with Astoria, it has become Draco's favorite place to pass a rare afternoon of leisure. There's a chair in the sunniest corner, an overstuffed monstrosity that looks as though it would be more at home in the Burrow than at any house occupied by a Malfoy, but Draco has claimed it as his own all the same.
He's lost count of the number of afternoons he's spent there with Scorpius perched on the arm of the chair as Draco reads to him, Scorpius's cat, Salazar, curled in a small white heap on the ottoman at their feet. In later years, Scorpius takes the window seat, his lanky, teenage legs sprawled on the ottoman and the arm of Draco's chair, his head bent intently over the book he's chosen, so absorbed in the words that he doesn't notice the pointed looks from his father as Draco enters the room.
Scorpius spends his father-weekends locked in Draco's library unless Al is around.Then they wander the garden talking about school, or complaining that nothing interesting ever happens at the cottage with the purple door, or attempting to prepare a meal for the family. The latter almost always ends in disaster if they can't scrape together enough galleons to pay Lily to do it for them. Scorpius once attempted to bribe James (the second best cook in the family, after Draco) instead, but Al wisely stepped in, reminding him that James was likely to lord it over their heads for all of eternity, whilst Lily was still young enough to be thrilled with the thought of earning a bit of spending money for the next trip to Diagon Alley.
Scorpius is fairly certain Harry knows about this--the flicker of mischief passing behind those glasses when he glances at Scorpius during dinner gives him away--but Scorpius knows for certain that his father has no clue. Draco's too eager to pin his pride on Scorpius to have any idea that his darling son is playing him for a fool. Sometimes he wonders how Harry ended up in Gryffindor, and Draco in Slytherin.
Scorpius doesn't understand how they manage to make so much sense together when individually, they don't seem to make any at all.
July 3, 2010
The thin sheen of sweat covering Draco's back and shoulders makes it hard to hold on, but hold on Harry does, his fingers digging reddened crescents into Draco's skin. Harry pushes him down to the bed, presses his lips to the base of Draco's neck, his body spreading out over Draco, covering him, holding him in place.
"Dammit, Harry. More."
"But I love you like this: trembling and begging."
"I'm not begging."
"You will be." Harry runs his tongue along the valley of salty skin where Draco's spine curves into the arch of his back.
"Close," Harry murmurs, and he drags his fingertips over Draco's arse, then presses them in, raking his nails over Draco's pale skin, leaving red welts in their wake.
Harry presses Draco's arsecheeks apart. Draco writhes on the bed, his fingers splayed wide apart as he stretches out his arms, anchoring himself against the bed to push back against Harry. Harry leans down, teeth grazing Draco's soft skin, then biting Draco's arse, the tremor that wracks Draco's body going straight to his cock.
Harry can't stop kissing Draco, everywhere, the backs of his thighs, his arse, the small of his back. Mouth and tongue and the brush of his cheek across Draco's skin, it doesn't seem possible to touch enough.
"Beg me, dammit," Harry growls, scraping teeth over Draco's flesh.
Draco chuckles, but the sound is tight and thin, strained. "Sounds like you're closer to begging than I am."
It's true, and Harry knows it, but he doesn't want to lose here, not to Draco. He slides the tip of his thumb closer to Draco's hole, teasingly, slowly, and not too close, not close enough.
"Harry." Draco raises his arse, tries to force Harry's thumb in, but Harry is fast, he moves his hand, grabs Draco's hips and slams him down to the bed.
"Fuck. Potter. All right. Please."
Draco is wriggling beneath him now, squirming on the bed, and Harry holds fast.
"You don't want to get up without your reward," he says, and then, in the place where his thumb was seconds before, now his tongue slides against Draco's salty skin.
"That fucking mouth," Draco breathes, and he's fisting the sheets, dragging them off the bed as he tenses beneath Harry.
Harry rolls his tongue around that tight opening, the corners of his mouth tugging up as Draco curses violently and pounds the bed. He licks and kisses and dips his tongue inside just far enough that Draco bucks and whines.
Harry's hand slips between Draco and the bed, closes around Draco's cock, hard and leaking onto the rumpled sheets beneath them, as sunlight spills over them both, the gold and pink of early evening glinting off the surface of Draco's skin, making this one idyllic moment somehow even more perfect than before. Harry closes his eyes as Draco begs again: "More. Harry, please." And he lets Draco's sounds and scent and rushing pulse swallow him up. He doesn't know how things could possibly get better than they are right now.
June 24, 2007
"Oi, Potter, I've got a bone to pick with you!"
Harry raises his pounding head only slightly, squinting as Gregory Goyle comes into view in the dim light of the bar.
"What's the meaning of this?" Goyle slaps a copy of The Daily Prophet down on the bar in front of Harry.
Harry blinks at it for half a minute before the words make sense to him.
"Aurory to Raid Former Death Eater Residences," he says slowly. "It means that Aurors are going to search the homes of convicted criminals for dark artifacts."
"I know what it means," says Goyle, now looming over Harry on his bar stool. "What I wanna know is why is it happening?"
"Why is it... Because we've..." Harry presses his fingertips to his temple. He hasn't even seen Gregory Goyle in years. Why is he wasting his time explaining Ministry orders to the man now? "Don't you have someone else to bother about this?"
"No." Goyle's jaw clicks as he grinds his teeth. "I'm not on speaking terms with any other Aurors."
"Since when are you on speaking terms with me?"
Harry hears a sound that might be Goyle's knuckles cracking and he forces himself more upright.
"Since three minutes ago," says Goyle. "Now answer my question, Potter. Why is this happening? Why now?"
Harry takes a sip of the drink he's been nursing for an hour now, willing this hangover to go away so he can get started on getting drunk again.
"Because... The Ministry thinks a regular inventory of dark objects is in the best interest of the wizarding population," says Harry.
"The Ministry thinks that?" says Goyle. "What do you think?"
"What do I--Uh..." Harry frowns. Really, the orders were just given two days ago, and Harry's spent most of that time drowning the reality of his divorce in Old Ogden's. He hasn't thought anything of it so far. "Why do you want to know?"
Goyle heaves a sigh so long and so loud that it sounds like a gale force wind. He drops down to the bar stool beside Harry.
"My dad's been in Azkaban for eight years, Potter. He hasn't been back to the house in all that time. You're not going to find anything there."
"So what's the problem then?" says Harry.
"My mum. She's real sick, has been for six months now. I can't stand the idea of all those Aurors going through her house, through her stuff. She can't stand up for herself anymore, my mum. She's always been a private person. This is just going to kill her."
Harry's headache suddenly doesn't seem quite as bad. Why has he never pictured Gregory Goyle as having a mother before?
"Huh," says Harry. "I can see why that's a problem."
"So you'll stop it, then?" Goyle's eyes brighten like a little child's.
"Me? How would I stop it?"
Goyle looks at him as if Harry has grown a horn in the middle of his forehead. "Well, duh. You're Harry Potter."
June 9, 2010
"You're joking about this. About living with Malfoy. Aren't you?"
Ron is slumped back on a stack of pillows.
"We've been serious for a while now," says Harry, stuffing some old paperwork he's been meaning to sort through for ages into a box. "It only makes sense."
"You've only been dating," Ron says the word as if it tastes bad, "for a couple of months. What if this is just a... phase. A shag your enemy phase. Maybe you'll outgrow it in another week or two. Why don't you sleep on it first?"
"I've been sleeping on it. And we've decided it's time." Harry thinks about how they came to that conclusion only six days ago, but he doesn't give the thought voice. Just thinking about the moment Draco asked him, naked and spread out in Harry's bed, impaled on Harry's cock... It makes Harry's eyes glaze over.
"Oi, wipe that look off your face right now," says Ron. "Honestly, Harry, sometimes you look like you're perving out over Malfoy." At Harry's silence, Ron throws his head back dramatically. "Christ, you are perving out over Malfoy. Harry, what's he done to you? Is it a curse? I'll bet Bill could break it."
"Ron, Draco didn't curse me. I'm--we're moving in together. We're going to look at a few places this afternoon."
"Yet you're already packing."
"I want to be prepared." Harry doesn't look up at Ron.
"You've already found a place, haven't you?"
Harry can feel the heat rise to his cheeks, coloring them brightly. "I may have a few things in mind. I don't know what Draco's going to think about them, though."
"Who cares what Malfoy thinks--Oh, wait, you do. Seriously, what's he done to you? Unless it's not Malfoy at all who's messing with your mind. Of course! He never did his own dirty work. It's Goyle. All that time you've spent hanging out at pubs with Goyle."
The heat bubbling at the surface of Harry's skin recedes, and he blinks his gaze up to look at Ron.
"Is this another case of you envying Goyle? I told you, Ron, somehow the bloke and I get along well enough. And besides, he's really trying to turn his life around."
"He knows at some point he has to stop turning or he'll end up in circles, right? He's awfully thick, after all."
"Stop being an arse. Goyle's fine. Draco's fine. Nobody's making me do anything I don't want to do. I want to move in with Draco, Ron."
"Fine." Ron waves his hand dismissively. "Fine, fine. Do what you want. But when push comes to shove, you're not sleeping on our couch while you nurse that broken heart. Hermione's already said."
"I'm not going--Oh, whatever. Just get up and help me pack, yeah? Your wife's out of town and took all the good packing charms with her."
"She is always telling us to pay more attention to what she says." Ron rises to his feet, groaning with a hand flattened on his lower back. "Speaking of which, I need to pick up the kids from the Burrow. She didn't want them to stay a minute past dinner. Afraid Mum will feed them sweets again. Makes Hugo climb the walls. Literally. At least the biscuits George and Lee dropped off did."
"Good. Abandon me in my hour of need. Some best mate you are."
Ron laughs, already scooping up a handful of floo powder. "Why don't you call Goyle over to lend a hand. Bloke's built like a gorilla. He'll get it all done in no time."
Then Ron is gone and Harry closes the first box, thinking that maybe he'll do just that.
Christmas at the cottage with the purple door involves far more people than Scorpius considers necessary. He remembers those days when he was small, and the cottage was packed with Harry's kids and Teddy, and he felt like the whole world was closing in on him. Now, he and Al try to show up at the same time if they can, but they're both busy with apprenticeships and girlfriends (or trying to rectify the lack thereof), and their visits have grown shorter each year.
Al seems to feel worse about this than Scorpius, but that's probably because Al's mother comes to the cottage with the purple door as well. Scorpius must divide his holiday between two households because Astoria has her own very firm ideas about Christmas tradition, and even Draco knows better than to argue with her.
Still, the visit isn't all bad. There was the one year George Weasley and Lee Jordan spiked Bill Weasley's punch with Veritaserum. A simple question from Al's Uncle Charlie had ended in an over-abundance of information about Bill's personal relations with his wife. Teddy claimed that Victoire was so traumatized that she wouldn't let him touch her for a month after that. And Louis had to be rushed to St Mungo's for a botched attempt to Obliviate himself. Scorpius loves that story, even if after witnessing it live, he can't figure out why anyone would have so many children.
October 31, 2005
"You know something, Loony? You're not half bad to have around sometimes."
"You are very drunk, Draco Malfoy. Peanut?" Lovegood pulls a peanut from a paper bag sitting on the bar in front of them and begins shelling it.
Draco cocks his head to the side. "No, thank you."
"Suit yourself," she says. She rummages through her pocket with one hand and pulls out a needle and thread, then strings the peanut, sliding it onto a chain of small objects Draco can only imagine have been pulled from a rubbish heap.
"I take it back. You're still weird."
"Mmm, I should hope so. Don't you have a pregnant wife to tend to this evening?"
Draco snorts and rests his spinning head on the bar, the cool surface calming against his cheek.
"Her mother and sister are "tending" her just fine," he says. "They don't need me. She doesn't need me for any of this."
"Aha. You're feeling useless."
"Something like that." He closes his eyes. This is comfortable. Maybe he'll just sleep here tonight. He's so drunk that everything seems hallucinatory. That has to be the reason Lovegood's odd appearance beside him tonight hasn't fazed him. They're the only two patrons in the bar without costumes. He doesn't know what that says about either of them, and right now he doesn't care. It's not as if Lovegood needs a costume, anyway.
"That looks very pleasant," she says.
When Draco opens his eyes again, she's nose to nose with him, her wide eyes blinking slowly as she watches him.
"If I were sober, you might have given me a heart attack just then," he says.
"Then it's a good thing you're far from sober." Lovegood sits up and Draco does the same. "Would you like to explore why you're feeling useless in your marriage?"
"I didn't say I was feeling useless in my marriage," he begins, but he stops right there. She's smiling at him, placidly, as if she knows some big secret she's not telling. "What?"
"Parenting is a great responsibility," she says. "And with great responsibility, comes great power. It's a Muggle saying, but it's true for spiders and wizards alike."
Draco just stares at her. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Your baby. The one Astoria is about to hatch. You'll have to be very careful with him, you see."
"How do you know that it's a him?" he says, but before she has given him an answer, the chime on his watch begins to sound. Astoria is in labor. "Oh, bugger."
"You have a baby alarm! That's charming."
"I'm far too drunk to--" He slides off the stool and staggers forward a few steps, nearly running into a dancing carrot.
Lovegood is beside him then, pulling him back to safety. "I'm sorry," she tells the carrot, "he's just a very big fan of vegetables." The carrot glares and moves on. "I do so love Halloween," she says.
"That makes one of us." He braces one hand on the bar stool. What does he do now? He looks to Lovegood. "What do I do now?"
"You could take a sobering potion."
"Apothecary's closed this time of night."
She smiles again, and reaches back into that pocket, pulls out a small vial. "I always take it with me when I'm going out. Some people are much more interesting sober."
Draco takes the vial and she tugs off the cork for him. "Loony, you're a godsend," he says.
"No," she says thoughtfully. "I'm a naturalist."
The potion goes down bitter, but it's working in seconds, and Draco throws back his head and exhales.
"All right," he says, ignoring the throbbing headache beginning to form between his eyebrows. "St Mungo's. Here I go."
"Break a leg," says Lovegood. "But not the baby's."
"I, erm, of course not," he says, and he starts to leave. "Er, Loony? Thank you."
"You're welcome. And I'll save you a peanut," she calls after him. "In case you change your mind!"
February 14, 2010
"Can I see them?"
Draco's shirt is still buttoned, his fingers poised at his collar, tugging it loose as he swallows hard. "What's that?" he says.
"Can I see them... the scars?" Harry says, and he licks his lips, staring at the hollow at the base of Draco's throat, at the angular tip of Draco's chin, at the curve of Draco's lips, anywhere but at Draco's eyes.
He's just issued an apology for the scars he left behind so many years ago, and he doesn't want to see the rejection in Draco's gaze just yet. He's trying hard not to think about that night, about the blood, about the sounds of it all, about Snape's black eyes boring into him. He's trying hard not to think about that night, but it's the only thing to think about, the only thought left in the world.
"Yeah," says Draco, and the word is so unexpected that Harry does look up. Draco is already unbuttoning his shirt.
He opens it, slowly, and Harry wants to watch through his fingers, but he doesn't. Because he did this. He needs to see. They're here alone in Harry's flat, and the initial shock of Draco's presence, of Draco's agreement to come to this place, on Harry's turf, and hear him out, is finally starting to fade. The shock Harry feels now is something else entirely.
The scars are thin, thinner than he expects, and not at all straight. He swears he remembers straight gashes cutting into Draco's skin. But it was so long ago and there was so much blood. He shakes his head.
"It's not as if they're still open wounds." Draco's voice is defensive. "You needn't act so squeamish, Potter."
"I'm not. I--It's that..." Harry wishes he had words right now, but all he has is guilt. Guilt and the tremendous crush of remorse seated over his neck like a yoke. "I put those there," he finishes quietly.
"Indeed you did," says Draco. "And it hurt."
"I know." Harry thinks of the scars he bears. The one on his forehead, did that hurt? He has no recollection. The faded script on his hand, though, that one did.
Before he knows what he's doing, Harry is reaching out, trailing his fingertips along the raised lines that thread across Draco's skin. He loses himself in following their path, in the slow crawl of his fingers through the pale, sparse hair on Draco's chest. He hardly hears the noise Draco makes, the noise of wanting and longing that fills the space between him.
By the time he realizes what that noise is, Draco is kissing him, and Harry, without hesitation, is kissing back.
Draco Malfoy is in love with him. Isn't that what Goyle said? Harry pushes the shirt off Draco's shoulders, his fingers curling around it as he walks Draco back against the wall. He's not going to dissect any of this in his head, to try to process it logically with his mind. Not yet. Not when Draco's breath his hot over his skin, Draco's hands tentatively on his waist.
Harry doesn't even care how this happened, as long as it doesn't stop.
July 3, 2007
"This is ludicrous!"
Draco can feel the tips of his ears going red, but he doesn't care. This is about protecting his family name, about protecting his mother, as she once risked everything to protect him, and he's not going to let them do this without a fight.
"My father never even went to Azkaban after the war! There's no proof he did anything wrong! You should not--"
"Shut it, Malfoy." The Auror in the front of the group is a tall, lanky man with a broad, square jaw and dark, dull eyes. He holds up a scroll as he stomps up the front steps. "By decree of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement we're here to sweep the property for dark artifacts. Stand aside and let us do our job."
"I will do no such thing."
"Then you'll be arrested," says another Auror, a woman, looking no more friendly than the first.
Who can blame her? thinks Draco. Inside his robes, he has his hand clasped around his wand and all of the Aurors are certainly aware of it.
"Arrest me if you will, but I have no intention of letting you in this house."
"Ministerial decree," says the first Auror again, as if it's some secret password, and he starts to push past.
"Hold on a minute, Lawton!"
As soon as Draco hears that voice, he stiffens. As if this whole ordeal needed to be even more humiliating than it was already.
"Potter, you're not on this assignment."
"Neither are you," says Harry, and he's (thankfully) not looking at Draco, but at the other Aurors instead. "Nobody is. That decree has been revoked by Minister Shacklebolt."
"As of when?"
"As of two hours ago. You can all go home now."
"Let me see that," says the Auror, Lawton, and he hurries down the steps to take the notice from Harry's hand.
Draco is still holding his wand, still standing with his feet apart in the doorway, barring entrance to his parents' home. Harry glances up, then looks away quickly. Draco does the same.
"Oh, all right," says Lawton, and he sounds disappointed, clearly the kind of Ministry-appointed dunderhead who gets off on this sort of thing. He addresses the other Aurors. "You heard Potter. Get a move on. Change of assignments, I suppose."
There is a bit of griping, but most of the Aurors move away quickly. Soon it is only Draco and Harry standing there, one at the top of the steps, and one at the bottom. Draco lets go of his wand. Harry clears his throat.
"Right then," says Harry. "Well, uh... Carry on, I guess."
Draco frowns. "That's it? You just march in here and call off your dogs and then leave with no further explanation?"
"The Ministry has decided it's a waste of time and resources to chase old ghosts," says Harry. "The MLE is focusing on more productive ventures."
Draco snorts. "Since when?"
"Since I convinced them it's in their best interest," says Harry, and he looks at Draco for a long moment, then suddenly turns away. "I'll see you around, Malfoy."
"Potter," Draco calls after him. "I... I have to know. How did you... do that?"
Harry looks back over his shoulder and smiles, and the expression is so easy and comfortable across his face that Draco can't look away. He feels ridiculous, and hates himself a little bit for it, but he, ever so faintly, smiles back.
"It wasn't too hard," Harry says. "After all, I am Harry Potter."
And then he walks away.
The cottage with the purple door sits quietly now, sometimes the song of soft, classical music comes drifting through the library windows. Scorpius brings his wife and their daughter to visit every other weekend, and on holidays. Albus has come with both his former wives, and now comes alone with twin girls, two years into Hogwarts and causing as much mayhem as both sets of Weasley twins before them. Draco still cooks, though his flare for the dramatic has mellowed some, and the meals are simpler, more pleasing for the grandchildren. Harry tells them stories, teaches them defensive spells, then makes them promise not to use them outside of school.
Most often though, it's just Draco and Harry there together, retired from their jobs and living far away from the public eye. Harry's name is almost a fairy tale now; some children don't even believe his grandchildren are telling the truth at all. Albus thinks his father likes it better like this. Lily is certain that's true.
Scorpius still thinks they should repaint the door. "An eyesore," he says, and he shakes his head. Albus still thinks it suits them just fine, but he doesn't argue, his mind is on a thousand other things these days. They sit down at the table together, all of them, and Albus watches the girls, cousins by heart if not by blood, and he knows they can feel it too, how special this place is, how much it is home. And he watches his father and Draco, the way they sit together, the way they hardly have to look at each other these days in order to know what the other is doing, and he thinks that maybe he understands, just a little, how they made it that way.