Title: Riches and Wonders
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Harry/Ginny, Draco/Astoria
Summary: The affair starts on a Thursday.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Infidelity, sex both semi-explicit and explicit, general aura of misery?
Epilogue compliant? Indeed, although it begins several years before the epilogue is set.
Word Count: ~9000
Author's Notes: Calissons are a melon-flavoured sweet from Provence-en-Aix. 'Arde' is the singular imperative from the Latin ardeo, ardere, arsi, arsus - 'burn'.
The affair starts on a Thursday.
In the course of Harry's job, numerous reports and files come across his desk. He's never adapted to the paperwork in this job and delegates to his secretary as much as possible, but some things have to be reviewed and signed by him personally.
So, one Wednesday, he gets a form requesting permission for a former known Death Eater to leave the country for a holiday. Unusual, nowadays - most of them fled soon after the war to the continent or further permanently. Britain is missing several of its Pureblood families. The Ministry would be more worried, except that this now dumps them on other Wizarding governments, thus absolving them of responsibility. He scans the form until he finds the name - Draco Malfoy.
The Malfoys were among those who left to France - the French and British Pureblood communities have always had strong ties, and as Harry recalls the Malfoys have family there. Is Draco planning to visit Mummy and Daddy dearest? Yes and no - he's going to Paris for three weeks, but with three days out to Lyon, where his parents are now living. Nothing wrong with that: the Malfoys have strong family ties.
Frankly, Draco is unlikely to be a risk. He's got a wife and young son now - who incidentally aren't coming with him on his trip - and, if Harry's honest, he was never much of a Death Eater in the first place. He may have been a snide bully, but he lacks that necessary spark of true evil.
Normally, Harry would delegate this to a lower-ranking Auror: get them to check up on Draco, just make absolutely sure he's not planning on trying anything.
Instead, he makes an appointment with him, at his home, tomorrow afternoon. Strictly speaking he doesn't have the time, but according to his schedule he doesn't have time to shower in the mornings either, and he somehow manages that. It won't be a long visit, anyway - half an hour to make sure he hasn't backslid into the depths of blood-snobbery.
What could it hurt?
He turns up at 4:00pm sharp at Malfoy's house. His first surprise of the day is that it's not the Manor, but a white stuccoed townhouse in a Muggle area: a nice part of suburban West End London. What is not surprising is that of all the Muggle residential areas of London, the Malfoys have chosen to reside in Belgravia. Standards must be kept, even in the midst of the great unwashed. It's warded, of course, so that Muggles don't notice it. The doorknocker is a dragon's head. He strokes a fingertip down its muzzle, making it blow a small puff of smoke, and waits.
The door is opened by a house-elf, who ushers him in deferently and offers to take his coat, which Harry politly declines - he doesn't intend to stay long, and he may need to make a swift exit. So far, so standard.
He's led into the parlour. Draco is in a large, uncomfortable-looking wingback chair which is undoubtedly covered in Cushioning Charms. Draco looks just as he has whenever Harry's caught glimpses of him this past decade: tall, thin and pale. If Harry squints, he might uncharitably say that his hairline looks like it's receding - but it's striking just how much he hasn't changed. The most striking difference is the addition of a long, thin cigarette, held loosely between the second and third fingers of his right hand. Draco opens his mouth and exhales pale green smoke.
"Potter." The same inflection on his name, in a manner which manages to be both drawling and clipped. Of course he isn't invited to sit down.
"Draco." The use of his first name is technically inappropriate in this situation, but Harry gave up on propriety before he knew what it was. He can never be anything but Draco to him now. "I'm just here to ask some routine questions about you going off to France."
"Of course you are." Is Draco mocking him? Probably. "Am I really of such importance to merit the attentions of the Head Auror?" The drawl on those two words - definitely mocking him. He starts:
"What would you say are the main purposes of your visit?"
"Relaxation and visiting family." He snorts. "Come on, Potter, it's not like I'm going to say 'bringing about the rise of the next Dark Lord', is it?" Harry nods, mouth twisted. He's right, of course. But he has to ask it anyway.
"Are you planning to meet with anyone apart from your family?" Who are known Death Eaters, he doesn't say. If he did, Draco would say former Death Eaters, Potter, but the unofficial Ministry line is that there's no such thing.
"No." Short. Interesting - he can't have seen some of these people he once called friends for years, and now he's given the chance he won't take it. A falling-out?
"Oh? I thought some of your old friends were living over there now - I'm sure the Zabinis are there."
"I am aware that they are. I still have no intention of contacting them in any way about or during this trip." A little sharp. Harry really wants to ask why, but bites his tongue - there are limits as to how invasive he can be here.
After the war, he'd been the one to promote building bridges again. There would have to be trials, he had said - you can't just execute people, that's what the Death Eaters did. The press had had a field day over that one, but he hadn't retracted the statement. Voldemort had been powered by genuine megalomania, but Harry couldn't help but think that there was a certain amount of revenge fantasy in his treatment of Muggles.
And of course, there was Snape. He'd had to spend a lot of time reinterpreting Snape after the revelation, and had come to the conclusion that he was indeed a bitter, jaded man, old before his time and possessed of intellectual snobbery if not that of blood. He was also clever and courageous enough for Harry to campaign for his posthumous award of the Order of Merlin - which he received - and name his son after him, if only as a middle name. Albus Dumbledore must naturally come first.
He wants to ask Draco about Snape, but can't think where to start. So instead he asks the rest of the routine questions about Dark artifacts and the like, and watches Draco's eyes flicker around the room to rest briefly on the ornaments on the mantels, the flocked victorian wallpaper - no portraits, Harry notices - without really seeming to see them. He's bored. Fair enough - so's Harry.
He asks his last question and Draco gives his last answer, and they sit in awkward silence for several minutes. The room is smoky, but it doesn't smell like Muggle cigarette smoke - instead it's rather musky, even spicy. It makes him want to relax, but he's very concious of being in Draco Malfoy's living room. Draco's eyes are closed. Should he just let himself out? He moves to stand up, and Draco shifts in such a way that his right sleeve slips to reveal his pale forearm. Harry sees lean muscle, blue veins and in the crook the faded grey that is the remains of the Dark Mark.
He cannot describe the feeling that overtakes him. As if in a dream, he reaches out to take the arm and turns it over to rest palm-up, cigarette dangling loosely between the fingers. He reaches to press his fingers over the Mark, and Draco takes a sharp breath and jerks his arm away. Harry catches his wrist, feels the bird-pulse fluttering out of time with his own.
He lets go, murmurs something and is escorted out in a haze. Vague impressions - the Dark Mark like smudged ink, blossoming like a bruise on the pale skin; grey eyes with fair lashes, unreadable. The heartbeat, delicately resolute like boot heels on cobbles, beating in the gaps of his own.
His hand tingles, and he presses his nails into the palm until it hurts.
Draco leaves the next Monday, and on the fourth day Harry decides to pay him another visit. This is also routine - the Auror assigned to the case checking up on his charge. He still thinks it's unlikely that he'll do a bunk, but.
He arranges it as his last job of the day and takes a Portkey to the street on which Draco is staying. It's in the Wizarding part of Paris, which overlaps the fourth and fifth arrondissements. It's picturesquely beautiful - shopfronts in rose, pale lemon, mint, powder blue and lavender, gilt sign-lettering gleaming in the early summer sun. His boots clack on glass-green cobbles. It's late afternoon, and he passes a sweet shop selling Wizarding sweets, both the ones that he knows and French ones which he's only seen briefly before - macaron variants and some small pastilles called calissons.
He comes to a narrow townhouse with steps up to the front door. He knows instinctively that it'll be bigger on the inside. The window boxes are immaculate, and the curtains are drawn.
This was a ridiculous idea. He's probably not even in, since Harry didn't think ahead to check beforehand. He knocks anyway: the doorknocker is another dragon, and this one briefly licks his hand in a manner which might be construed as affectionate.
This time, Draco opens the door himself. He looks at Harry, sighs and turns to lead him in without a word. He looks better - a touch more colour in his cheeks, light in his eyes.
"Here to make sure I'm not drumming up support for the next Dark Lord?" he asks, with a definite air of humour. Harry briefly wonders if he's drunk, but he doesn't smell of alcohol and isn't displaying any other symptoms of intoxication. Just in a good mood, then.
The drawing room curtains are open to let the afternoon sun stream in. The room is done in dark wood, lemon and cream, with chairs which for once look as soft as they feel.
"So," Draco begins, sprawling in one of them, "What is it this time? Not convinced that I'm telling the truth and have permission to administer Veritaserum?"
"You're in a good mood today," says Harry, neutrally. Some kind of drug? This is the brightest he's seen him since he and the rest of the DA were hauled before Umbridge in fifth year.
"The joy of being in a civilised country again. Now tell me, what are you going to do to spoil it?"
"Nothing, I hope. I'm just here for a check-up. Standard procedure." This is technically true. Malfoy snorts.
"Since when have you been one for following procedure?" There's no malice behind it, no memory of old hurts - just good-natured ribbing. Harry's starting to wonder if he's fallen into an alternate dimension.
"Since I became head of department," he says. "I've been campaigning to get the sheer volume of parchment and 'necessary' forms around the place reduced, but so far all they've done is give me a secretary to deal with it for me."
"You're telling me that even the Head Auror, the great Harry Potter, Saviour of the Wizarding World, adored by all, can't get the admin system to work as he wants? Scandalous." Draco grins at him from the depths of his armchair: hesitantly, Harry grins back.
"So tell me," says Draco after a short pause, "How's married life treating you?"
"I could ask the same of you," returns Harry, because he really is a little curious. Astoria Greengrass is of course a well-bred woman from an old Pureblood family - not as old as the Malfoys, but he's not exactly slumming it.
"Boring," says Draco, cheerfully. He takes one of those long, thin cigarettes he had last time out of a lacquer-wood box and lights it with a brief incantation.
"...I'm sorry?" What on earth do you say to something like that?
"Don't be." Draco takes a brief drag. "Sometimes arranged marriages work out, sometimes they don't. My parents - they fell in love at school, you know, which was lucky because both sides had their eyes on that match. I think the original plan was to wed Father to Bellatrix, actually, but one Black sister was as good as another - better, as it turned out, because even back then she was a nutcase." Another drag. "Mine could be worse. We don't despise each other, we even get along quite well. We're just not interested in each other." He refocusses on Harry: "Now stop avoiding the question and tell me about how it goes with the Weaselette."
"Er," says Harry, still processing the fact that Draco Malfoy wants to gossip about their married lives. "It's, er." How does he describe the comfortable routine, the easy rapport they have? He doesn't even bother to take umbrage at the nickname - if there's one thing marriage has taught him, it's that some things just aren't worth arguing over.
"It's 'er'. I see. That good, then?"
Harry shrugs. "We're a very normal couple, I suppose. We get along, divide the housework, make sure we both see the children enough..."
"Right, your wife stayed with the Harpies as a coach. That must be difficult during the Quiddith season." Harry nods. It is difficult - not as much as it was when she was a player, but they have to make extensive use of Molly, who thankfully loves children and her grandchildren especially. "But I have to say, Potter - you don't seem like you're enjoying it very much."
"What do you mean?" He is simulatenously defensive and weary. Not this shit again.
"I mean that by your own summary your marriage seems to be in a similar state to mine. Oh, you get along very well, take care of your responsibilities - but frankly I've written History of Magic essays with more passion."
"I don't think you know enough about it to make that judgement." Controlled.
"I know what you've told me, and in my unfortunately experienced opinion, that's what it sounds like." He curves his pale lips around the end of his cigarette, but doesn't inhale. He looks at Harry with a look best described as 'calculating'.
Apparently it is this shit again. Harry sighs and stands up. "I'd better go," he says. "Thank you for your-"
"No passion at all," Draco announces, cutting across him. "You know, like this."
And he strides across the room to take Harry's lapels and walk him backwards to press him against the wall. He's taller than Harry, but not as broad - should he prove a threat, Harry can throw him off. He doesn't know why he hasn't already done so.
The sunlight makes Draco's eyes look silver. He has very pale lashes, Harry notes, before Draco seizes his jaw in one hand and kisses him.
Harry has never been kissed like this. Draco's other hand grips his hip, warm pressure of lips then hot open mouth and all around them the smell of those cigarettes, in the air in his nose in his mouth, spicy, dizzying. The blood beats loud in his ears; he breathes in Draco. This is nothing like a woman, like Ginny.
He shoves Draco away and flees without ever making eye contact. He doesn't want to see his face, shocked, yearning - a mirror of his own.
Again, he stumbles home in a daze - it's a wonder he even manages to deal with the Portkey correctly. No-one's home: Ginny won't be back until evening - the enchanted note on the table says seven - and he has half an hour before Molly sends the children back through the Floo. To pass the time he makes himself a cup of tea and sits at the kitchen table, letting it go cold without tasting it.
He can taste Draco's cigarette smoke in his mouth, smell it on his clothes - woodsy, exotic. Forbidden. He puts his elbows on the table and rests his head in his hands.
By the time the children come home, he's perfectly composed, cold tea cleared away and an afternoon snack provided: strawberries with a couple of squares of chocolate for James and Albus and Jacob's crackers with butter for Lily, who's going through an odd phase. At least it's a healthy one.
He entertains them until shortly before dinner, at which point he tells James, now 7, to take care of the younger ones while Daddy takes a shower. He makes sure to completely scrub away the smell of smoke, and brushes his teeth twice. He can still taste it, but he's pretty sure it's just his imagination.
He cooks dinner, as usual when he comes home first. There's beef stew frozen - Ginny didn't take much persuading to get a fridge, Freezing Charms on food are a pain - but Lily's off that at the moment, says it's too heavy, so spag bol it is. Might as well, it's only like they've got five or more family portions waiting to be eaten, and for some reason all the kids adore pasta. He gets out two saucepans, one for the pasta and one for the bolognaise. He's been seriously considering a microwave, but today he spends ten blissful minutes immersed in cooking.
Ginny appears through the Floo while he's draining the pasta. She comes over to quickly kiss his cheek, then goes to dump her bag in the lounge and kick off her boots. Harry calls the children, and by some miracle they all manage to sit down and eat at roughly the same time.
Dinner goes as sedately as possible, considering that it involves three children under eight. Albus and James only squabble briefly, and Lily eats her food with her typical air of serious contemplation, as if spaghetti bolognaise is some new, audacious dish that must be sampled, considered and subject to rigorous testing. She only stops once, when Harry reaches across the table to refasten one of her hairclips: her ginger curls are obviously Weasley, but are showing signs of becoming as unruly as his hair. It's cute, but just at that awkward stage where it's a touch too short to tie back but will get in everything if left loose. Their solution is three kirby grips on either side, and Harry gets the task of putting them in every morning. Red goes at the top, then green, then blue, all of them with little stars on the end - she's quite particular, is Lily.
He washes the dishes, wand flicking lazily through the air. These days he can do it with only half an eye on it, but tonight he concentrates on getting every last speck of dirt off them. By the time he's done they veritably sparkle - they're probably cleaner than when they were bought.
He whiles away the rest of the evening doing paperwork, throwing himself into reading thrilling treatises and signing forms about the regulation material and thickness of cauldron bottoms, which is apparently still a big issue. Why the Head Auror has to deal with such things, he doesn't know, but it's easier to just sign the damn forms than make a fuss about how it's not his department. In an idle moment he rifles through the stack in search of something vaguely interesting and comes up with a note about the regular sweep of Dark wizards' abodes for illegal items. On the list is Malfoy Manor.
He shuffles the note to the bottom of the pile and gets back to regulating the quality of newt eyes.
He goes upstairs and finds Ginny making her way from the bathroom to the same place. "They're all in bed," she says. In the bedroom, she turns off the main light, leaving only the lamps on, and strips off her robes to change into her pyjamas. Harry comes up behind her, wraps an arm around her waist and very carefully presses a kiss to her neck.
"So it's like that, is it?" she teases, turning round to so he can embrace her properly. "Well, it's time we had an early night."
Harry kisses her gently, aware of the slenderness of her arms, the narrow curve of her waist. She's a professional athlete and could probably take him in a fist fight, but he is always careful, always cautious. He doesn't want to bruise her.
Ginny has far less compunction - she likes to gnaw his shoulder and claw his back, like she's marking him. Harry can't say he minds, and tonight he relishes it - clear, cleansing pain keeping him in the moment, in his lovely wife, who smells like violet soap and woman, not smoke and pine overlaid with jasmine wrapping around him, sharp and strong and he can almost taste it-
Ginny sleeps well that night. Harry lies awake, fist pressed against his heart, bruises already blossoming green.
Exactly two weeks later, Ginny's out for dinner with an old friend and the kids are in bed. Harry Apparates to Draco's home address, stares at the doorknocker puffing smoke into the cool air. A solitary white peacock wanders up to inspect him critically, then stalks away in disdain.
Ten years ago, he defeated Voldemort. He did it through courage, determination and the power of love. Ten years ago, he would never have dreamed this, what he's about to do. But even boy heroes get old. Back then he had the constant high of anticipation - first that of a child's, then that of a young man in danger with the fate of the Wizarding World riding on his underdeveloped shoulders. Now, he has a wife and young children and a prestigious but boring job that could be done by a trained crup.
Seven years spending all his energy fighting Voldemort; ten more after that being a good husband and father and head auror and role model. He's tired of walking through life half-asleep. It's time to do something for himself. He raises his hand to knock.
The door opens, leaving his hand frozen in midair. Draco, clad in a black dressing gown, stares at him with an aura of deep exasperation.
"Well, are you going to come in?"
Inside, the flat is luxuriantly warm.
"I can't stand the cold," Draco explains, shepherding him into a different parlour than the last. This one is outfitted as a living room, with big soft armchairs and sofas in deep, velvety blue. He notes that there are still no portraits on the walls.
"So you and Astoria live separately?" Harry could kick himself. Talking about his wife when you're contemplating an affair: smart move. But Draco doesn't seem upset:
"She lives in the Manor with Scorpius. I go there regularly, but I spend most of my time here. I...prefer my own company." His fingers twitch, as if expecting a cigarette in them.
"You can smoke if you want. I don't mind." Ill at ease himself, Harry is doing a terrible job of putting Draco at his.
"I don't need your permission, Potter." His fingers twitch a litle more. Well, at least Harry isn't the only jittery one.
"Of course not," says Harry, more nervous by the second.
Draco tips back his head and sighs, carefully releasing the tension from his body.
"Are we going to do this?" he asks, looking Harry in the eye. "You have far more to lose than me."
Harry takes a breath, gathers all his Gryffindor courage. But then, didn't the Hat say that he could have been a Slytherin? It's our choices that define us. Exhale, take another, new breath:
"Yes." His mouth is dry. "Yes we are."
They fuck on the sofa, there in that blue room. Draco sucks his cock just like he imagined, like he's desperate, and Harry learns the feel of another man's dick for the first time. You notice different things when it's someone else's - the texture, the weight. He likes the way Draco's thighs flex when he strokes over the head. Draco's flat chest doesn't turn him off like he thought it would - he likes breasts, but the hard planes and small pink nipples have a charm all of their own.
Afterwards, he leaves without a word. What do you say?
The house is dark and silent, warm comforting blackness, but once again he can't sleep. Ginny comes in a bit before midnight; he pretends to be asleep as she slips in beside him, violet and a touch of alcohol. She's had a good night out. She rolls closer, and he catches the faint whiff of smoke in her hair - not spicy, just ordinary cigarette smoke. He feels slightly sick.
Five in the morning he gets up for work, no matter that he usually only gets up at six. He takes a shower, taking the liberty of magically heating the water a few more degrees since the boiler is only just waking up. He's been hard since he smelt that smoke in Ginny's hair, aroused despite his discomfort. He doesn't really want to touch his cock, now an alien object, but he has to be a good husband and father when he gets out so it's best to get it over with.
He thinks of Ginny, but the freckles keep disappearing from her pale skin, so he tries to think of nothing at all - but still Draco slips through and into the cracks. Around him the steam takes on a green tinge. Harry closes his eyes and comes to the memory of a red mouth and pale fingers and bright grey eyes
He comes back the next week, and the week after that, and before he knows it it's been two months and he's still coming back, same day every week, regular as clockwork.
It hadn't really occurred to him what it would be like, having sex with another man. He knew about it in theory, had seen some dirty magazines, but the actual physicality of it surprises him. He'd known about anal sex, though he'd never really been interested in trying it with Ginny, and had assumed that it was like penetrating a woman. It's not, of course - and that's to say nothing of being penetrated. Draco doesn't sound like a woman - even if he gets high-pitched, there's nothing womanly or feminine about it. Ginny is an athlete and as strong as Harry himself, but he could never quite let himself go, pin her down like he does Draco. They bite each other and leave bruises casually, though Harry has to spell them away before he goes home.
After one session in the seventh week, they sprawl on opposite sides of the bed. Draco lights a cigarette.
"Say, Potter." He still forgets to call him Harry. "Does your wife know?"
"No." Unease prickles at the back of his neck.
"Do you get off on it? Sneaking around like this, behind her back?"
"...No." He has to take a minute to think about that one, but he's pretty sure it's not true. "It feels...disloyal."
"That would be because it is," Draco points out, mildly.
Well, yes. The fact that it's Draco Malfoy he's sneaking around with doesn't help.
But all this cloak-and-dagger stuff reminds him of how he was back in the day: hiding from Death Eaters, plotting how to destroy the Horcruxes, danger and excitement at every turn. It had its downsides, of course - mainly the ever-looming spectre of gruesome death - but the adrenaline rush was better even than flying. Being an Auror now just can't compete.
The truth is, Harry fulfilled his destiny at seventeen. He hit his peak before twenty, and has been going slowly downhill ever since. He's living the cliche of every older man having an affair: Draco makes him feel alive again, makes him feel young.
It's just sex, really - he's still in love with Ginny, still has sex with her. Hell, their sex life has improved since this started. He just needs this. Just for a little while.
"Here," says Draco. Harry turns from getting dressed to find him holding out a Galleon. He takes it cautiously, keenly aware that it could be a Dark object. Draco takes another Galleon off the bedside table and concentrates on it: Immediately, Harry's coin begins to heat up and he drops it. Draco rolls his eyes. "It's not going to hurt you," he says. "Since it looks like we're doing this regularly for the forseeable. It's for arranging our, ah, rendevous. The incantation is Arde, and you should be able to manage it wandless and wordless. Make sure you don't try to actually buy anything with it."
"Right." Harry picks it up and rolls it between his fingers. It looks just like any Galleon, but the writing around the edge isn't the usual Latin: 14 NOV 1:46PM, it reads. The current time - he's on his lunch break and should be getting back.
Neither of them mention the obvious associations.
"Thanks," he says instead. "It's a good idea."
"Blowing your own trumpet, Potter? You thought of it." He didn't, actually, but he's not going to bring Hermione into this. So he just says:
"I'm flattered you think so highly of me," and puts it in his pocket. We're doing this regularly for the forseeable. Something in his chest uncoils.
Ginny's away for a few days with the team. I hate to leave you alone with the kids, she'd said, but Harry had told her to go with a fond smile - don't worry, Molly'll look after them.
The first night, alone in the house after a family meal at the Burrow - Molly worries about him like one of her own - he lies awake in bed, tired but tense and unable to sleep. He is beset by a peculiar feeling of guilt. When he finally drifts off, he sleeps fitfully, waking up several times in the early hours.
The next night, he Floo's right into Draco's living room at seven. For once Draco fucks him in the bedroom, which to Harry's surprise is decorated in shades of luxuriant crimson and burgundy, with rich gold embroidery on everything. Draco always makes him think of cool colours: grey and green, smoke and glass.
Afterwards, while Draco is showering, Harry dresses himself before taking a moment to rifle through the wardrobe. No real reason - natural curiosity with possibly a touch of justified paranoia. It contains a multitude of robes about equally divided between black and deep, rich colours. They are all of expensive cut and fabric, often trimmed in metallic thread, soft to the touch even when the material looks stiff - charms, of course. It's one of the things about the Wizarding world that Harry will never, ever get tired of: the way that magic pervades everything, every nook of everyday life. Even if he lives to be Dumbledore's age, he will never lose this sense of wonder.
There is also a selection of long smock-like shirts - chemises, they're called - for wearing underneath the robe. They're predominantly white but also in soft pastels and jewel tones, intended to be glimpsed at the neck or wide sleeve of a robe.
Harry's hand hovers over a white one, very plain with only a little embroidery at the edges. He shouldn't, he knows - what if Draco calls him out on it? But he does it anyway, and by the time Draco is out of the shower the room is back exactly as it was and Harry has the shrunken chemise in his pocket. Merlin, he hopes it goes back to normal size correctly - he has no idea how expensive fabrics like this react to Shrinking Charms.
If he notices that the wardrobe has been rifled through, Draco doesn't show it, just says,
"You could have showered."
"I could have." To use Draco's bathroom feels more intimate than the sex, but he doesn't want to say that to Draco. But Draco just shrugs and says,
"Have it your way." And he wanders off to the kitchen in his bathrobe and Harry, after a moment's indecision, follows. He leans awkwardly against the counter while Draco lights one of his long, thin cigarettes. He inhales, holds in a moment before exhaling a plume of greenish smoke. Head tilted back, eyes closed, he resembles the dragon of the constellation he is named after.
It's five in the morning. Outside the window, suburban London comes to life again: the motorised hum of electric gates and the purr of expensive cars. Draco breathes out more curling smoke, and says,
"Go back to your wife, Potter."
So Harry goes back to his empty bed in his empty house, and sleeps the night through.
He waits a few days before wearing the shirt to work.
It's cut to be hang loosely on Draco's narrow-shouldered frame, which is lucky for Harry because it fits him quite comfortably. It's not a perfect fit, of course - it may be loose, but it's still clearly tailored to Draco's measurements - but it's wonderfully soft, and the material flows. Harry's never cared much about clothes as long as they're clean, but he's starting to see the appeal.
He is hyperaware of the softness as he pulls it on, and of the lump of bedclothes that is Ginny. In the off-season she likes to get up as late as she can. He puts on his outerrobe, checks himself in the mirror (which whispers, 'Looking fancy today!'), kisses what little can be seen of Ginny's forehead above the blanket-line and goes off to work. One of the perks of being Head Auror (and, if he's honest, Harry Potter) - he's allowed to Floo directly from home into the Ministry rather than muck about with telephone boxes and public loos.
As he steps out of the Floo and heads for his office, he has to fight the feeling that people are staring at him. They can't be - they don't know, he tells himself. They can't. So he walks confidently and tries not to act suspicious. He should be a good liar by now - he's had enough practice.
Emile doesn't even look up as he comes in. He knows him by his footsteps, apparently, which is simultaneously impressive and slightly alarming. He's always impeccably groomed and speaks several languages: Harry always gets the feeling that he's over qualified for this job, but since he previously worked in the Department of Mysteries he can't really ask. As it is, Harry gets a frighteningly efficient secretary and Emile gets a very nice salary indeed to mange Harry's schedule, sort paperwork and stare at people until they back down, occasionally including Harry.
A brief inspection of today's stack of paper yields illegal trading in Boomslang skin, Goblin petitions to Dark items made by them returned to them with sincere apologies (not going to happen in this century) and yet more stuff about cauldron bottoms which is still not his problem. Sighing, he picks up his self-inking quill to sign whatever form they want signed this time - then stops. Ten years ago, he would have sent it to what he deemed the correct department and noted Internal Affairs that he was being sent irrelevant bumf. Ah, says a little voice, but ten years ago you didn't know how the Ministry worked. There are things you have to accept in this life.
There are. But this, Harry realises is not one of them. Two years in, he knew how the Ministry worked and was still trying to sort this kind of thing out. Eight years ago, he still gave a shit.
He marches out of his office and puts the form on Emile's desk with a certain amount of force.
"Emile, send this to whatever department is meant to deal with this sort of thing and send a note to Kingsley and Internal Affairs about me being sent irrelevant forms about cauldron bottom thickness which waste my time. If it happens again, don't bother telling me, just do the same thing."
Emile looks up at him and smiles for the first time Harry's seen in the two years he's had him, teeth bright against his dark skin.
"With pleasure, sir." Harry grins back. He knows how much pleasure Emile takes in writing sharp notes. "Also, if I may say - that's a very nice chemise you've got on today. Have you finally been convinced to buy some clothes in a style which isn't at least five years out of date?"
"This? Oh, this was a present." His voice doesn't waver. "It is rather nice, isn't it? I think it might have converted me to the view that sometimes expensive clothes are worth it."
Without hesitating, Emile bends to one side to open a drawer and pull out a magazine with an arty black-and-white photograph cover - WQ, 'for the fashionable Wizard'.
"For all our sakes," he says solemnly, then grins again. "Now shoo, I have to write a strongly-worded note to the appropriate parties." So Harry does, magazine under his arm, Emile's conspiratorial grin in his mind. This was all he had to do to earn his respect?
He sits in his office chair, puts the magazine on the desk. He is actually a little curious - several of his accquaintances like to imply that he could do with being a bit more stylish, and this chemise really is very soft - so he uses it as an incentive to get his work done quicker. Any irrelevant documents he puts in a pile to give to Emile, who will be thrilled at the chance to write barely-civil notes to the relevant departments.
He finds himself humming as he works - Celestina Warbeck's Amortentia or something, which he still somehow remembers from a decade ago even though he didn't even like the song. This is the happiest he's been at work since - probably since Lily was born. And all it took was remembering how to stand up for himself.
He rolls his shoulders, taking pleasure in the way the silk of the chemise slides against his skin: the softest secret.
A couple of days later, the coin is still cold in Harry's pocket. He tries twice, but it doesn't heat up with any reply. Maybe the charm's malfunctioning, he thinks, but he knows that's not true.
He'd write a letter, but it's too dangerous: Draco's mail is occasionally scanned. He has no other means of communication than face-to-face.
He doesn't know Draco's schedule, though he seems to be constantly available - he still has no idea what Draco does and doesn't really want to ask - so he goes when he usually does when Ginny's away: Thursday night. He usually Floos from his personal fireplace then wipes the trace, but Draco's Floo is closed to him - he gets the 'This is a Private Floo' message and stumbles back out of the fireplace with soot on his face. Definitely not the coin malfunctioning.
There's nothing for it: he'll have to Apparate.
The thing about no-one noticing the house is that nor does anyone notice when someone's on the steps which are included in the Disillusion: therefore, Harry can Apparate directly in front of them and dive up the steps with no Muggle the wiser. He strokes the dragon's nose and waits for something, anything. If Draco wants to break it off he at least wants to talk about it.
But the door remains closed: Draco doesn't even tell him to go away. For all he knows Draco could be out - but somehow he doesn't think so. He strokes the dragon once more, and it briefly wraps its tongue round his finger. Its jeweled eyes wink in the lamplight. It's a very sweet-natured door-knocker, he thinks - and the door swings open.
He steps cautiously inside, expecting a House Elf, but there's no-one. The door just seems to have opened on its own - and is now shutting in the same way. Harry casts a suspicious look at it, then proceeds down the corridor to the blue room - only to be confronted by Draco a couple of feet before he reaches it.
"How did you get in here?" he snaps, striding forward. He's not quite as neat as he usually is, and he smells strongly of smoke. As he gets closer, Harry thinks he smells alcohol. Brandy, probably.
"The door opened," says Harry, forcing himself not to step back. Draco scowls yet deeper.
"The door - that wretched dragon!" Apparently the door-knocker has a mind of its own - and approves of Harry. Well, then.
"Why are you here?" Draco demands.
"To see you." Harry shrugs. "I understand if you don't want to continue, but-" Draco cuts him off:
"I meant what I said, Potter: go back to your wife."
"I don't love my wife."
"You don't love me either."
"No," Harry admits. "But I like having sex with you."
Draco stares at him for a long moment, then slumps against the wall. For a terrible moment Harry thinks he's crying - but no, he realises, he's laughing. Hysterically.
"It really is that simple for you, isn't it? What the Great Harry Potter wants, he gets. No matter who gets hurt in the process."
"This isn't hurting Ginny," he protests. "She doesn't know and she never will."
"And you think that's right?" Harry doesn't respond. Draco sighs, leaning his head back. "Where did that upright Gryffindor character go, I wonder?"
"I don't know," Harry admits. "Saw a bit too much evil, I suppose."
"I suppose. Really, of all paths, you seem to have ended up rather Slytherin." He blows out a breath and lifts himself off the wall. "Well, that's my moral crisis of the year done. Now I can happily return to not having any. Blowjob?"
It's Albus' eighth birthday, and he's asked not to have a party. James, ten as of last month, scoffs, but Lily watches him with her huge dark eyes and says, "I know what you mean." Which, since she worships him, means that she won't want one either. Harry asks Ginny, after the are you sures and have you fallen out with someones - what kind of eight year old doesn't want a party?. Their child, apparently. Neither can worm the reason out of him, but in the end they agree that if he doesn't want a party he shouldn't be forced to have one: they compromise on presents and a cake, but not inviting anyone over or making a fuss.
Everything goes swimmingly - James seems to have had a change of heart and decided that if his poor deluded brother doesn't want a party, he's at least going to have a special birthday, and to that end hasn't teased him all day but has got on with him splendidly. Harry files it under 'Proof that James is perfectly capable of acting civilised and just enjoys baiting people'. He'll do marvelously when he goes to Hogwarts - he and Rose will be exploding toilets and putting newt eyes in peoples' beds in no time. Harry is simultaneously terrified and excited by the thought of the letters that will be sent home.
After dinner, they all retire to the living room with their cake - a special treat, since normally there'd be fits about getting crumbs on the carpet.
"As birthdays go, this has actually been rather nice," says Ginny, wine glass in one hand and fork in the other. "Quiet. I like the family, but there's an awful lot of them and they make an awful lot of noise."
"True." Harry squashes some crumbs with his fork. "Remember two years ago, that thing with James at Hugo's party...?"
"I could never forget!" Ginny cackles. "It was certainly a memorable experience, put it that way. George is a terrible influence."
Harry grins but doesn't answer, because he's remembering something else about that party: he arrived half an hour late, pleading a meeting which overran. The meeting did, in fact, overrun, but it was an hour before the party began. He'd gone to Draco's; Draco had been reluctant to let him go at the required time and used a tactical blowjob to reinforce this.
That was two years ago. This has been going on for more than two years, he turns thirty this year, and they show no sign of getting tired or bored of it.
Two years, and the guilt has worn off. Perversely, he thinks: so this is what it feels like to be a Slytherin.
Harry swirls the dregs of red wine in his glass, and drinks the last drops.
One weekend in the off-season, Ginny looks up over the breakfast table and says,
"Let's go to the beach."
So they do.
For once, the British summertime delivers: it's a gloriously sunny day, perfect ice-cream weather. There's a decent Wizarding community up in Whitby so they go there. Since they're wandering about in the Muggle part, they wear Muggle clothes - cut-off jeans are the order of the day. They go to the Mermaid for lunch then take a stroll along the beach, children rushing ahead to play in the surf, having finished their ice creams (or in Albus' case an ice lolly) much earlier, Harry and Ginny following more sedately, still eating theirs.
Idly admiring his wife's legs in her denim shorts (which are quite exceptionally short), Harry briefly considers what it would be like to have Draco here beside him instead of Ginny, and little Scopius out with the other three.
Well, Scorpius would probably stay with them instead - from the photographs in Draco's flat, Harry gets the impression he's not much of one for rough-and-tumble. Draco had called him a textbook Ravenclaw, and Harry had been surprised - but not a little pleased - at the lack of condemnation but rather fatherly pride in his tone.
So he wonders: if Draco Malfoy can be pleased with a Ravenclaw son, what's to say that he wouldn't enjoy a walk on a Muggle beach? Old habits die hard, but the most difficult thing about the image is the clothes: Harry can imagine him in an elegant suit, but the concept of Draco in a t-shirt and jeans holding an icecream eludes him. Maybe if they were very, very stylish jeans.
It's all immaterial anyway, of course. But it's a nice thought.
"What are you smiling about?" asks Ginny, taking his arm.
"This," he says, and lets her draw her own conclusions.
One of Harry's absolute favourite things is being fucked by Draco.
He wouldn't have thought it - at school there were always choice words for someone who liked it up the arse like a girl - but there's something satisfying about it, something filling. Besides, Draco has to do all the work.
One time afterwards, Draco rolls over and says,
"You know, I've been getting along better with Astoria lately."
Harry frowns. "I thought you did get along."
"In the sense that we could eat dinner together without it turning into a shouting match and make pleasant conversation should we happen to meet in the house. But I mean that we may actually be moving from a cordial relationship into one which could possibly described as 'friendly'."
"Oh?" Harry rolls onto his side to face him, interested now.
"It's quite bizarre, but it is useful - public and private show of solidarity and all that. Even if we're not in love, it's better to have a spouse as a friend. It'll make Scorpius happy too."
They lie there for maybe half a minute of pensive silence, before Draco laughs.
"You're jealous," he says, his eyes silver-bright with mirth.
"Of course not," protests Harry, unease beginning to churn his stomach.
"Admit it, you are." Draco reaches out to poke him in the cheek. "I think it's a little sweet, really. But really, you of all people should know there's no chance of that."
And then it degenerates into blowjobs and then Harry has to leave for home and do paperwork and kiss Ginny and the children goodnight. But all through that night and all through the next day, that last phrase reasonates - you of all people - and he isn't sure whether it makes him uneasy or perversely pleased.
The night before James' 11 birthday, Harry makes love to his wife as tenderly as he can manage. She jokes about how he's slowing down in his old age, but moves gently with him anyway: she understands.
The night after James' 11th birthday, Harry fucks Draco into the mattress like he never has before. He stretches him with as many fingers as he can take, practically fisting him before Draco gets so impatient he actually drags Harry's fingers out and tries to climb onto his cock and Harry has to hold him down. Draco likes to wriggle during anal, but Harry pins him down and fucks him as hard and fast and well as he can until Draco claws at the pillows and nearly sobs when he comes.
Albus gets on the train, waves goodbye. Harry thinks he sees a flash of white-blond hair at a compartment window, but it's gone when he blinks. Draco catches his eye, and the coin in his pocket burns. While Ginny is extracting promises of good behaviour from James - sure to be broken almost the minute he arrives at Hogwarts - he takes it out to check. Five minutes.
The train leaves, and both he and Ginny wave until it's out of sight, his comforting arm around her shoulders. He makes an excuse to Ginny about having seen Justin Finch-Fletchley, who he desperately needs to talk to about something work-related. It's such a pain, love, I should have done it yesterday but forgot. He absentmindedly kisses her cheek, then goes off to find Draco.
He finds him in the small alleyway which leads to the gents' loos. No-one's ever used them to Harry's knowledge, so he reckons they're safe from detection if they're quiet.
Draco is leaning on the brick wall, just out of sight of the main concourse. Harry makes sure that no-one's looking before Disillusioning himself to slip into the alley. Once there, he lets go of the spell and casts another more general one to cover both himself and Draco, conveniently allowing them both to see one another. They kiss familiarly, intimately, Harry's hand on Draco's hip. They'd normally draw it out a little, one pressing the other into the wall, but they don't have time. So Harry slides down and is thankful for the current fashion for buttons up the front of the robe, all the way from the neck to the ankles. Makes quick and dirty blowjobs like this much easier.
Draco's cock is heavy and red on his tongue as he slowly slides it into his mouth, like a ritual. He's developed something of a fixation on it, tell the truth: cocks are never exactly pretty, but Draco's is the nicest he's ever seen. He takes pleasure in knowing exactly what Draco likes in a blowjob and goes through the list while he hikes up his own robes and wanks. Around the head, up the long vein on the underside; Draco's hands clench into fists. Semen fills his mouth, and Draco watches through half-lidded eyes as Harry masturbates himself to climax.
Five years. Harry rests his head in the hollow of Draco's hip, feels Draco's hand run through his hair and sighs. Five years, and this is what it's still like and will always be like: lunchtimes when Ginny's home, evenings when she's not and stolen moments like this, just begging to be discovered.
Harry stands up and they cast cleaning spells and generally make themselves presentable. They leave separately, of course, and Harry strides across the station back to Ginny and Lily, with the air of a man who has just had to listen to extended talk about the correct manner of filing forms.
"Terrible?" asks Ginny, her arm around Lily.
"As ever," says Harry, taking her other arm as they head out of the station to the Leaky Cauldron - he's promised Lily a trip to Flourish and Blotts and the Magical Menagerie to make up for the loss of Albus, who has acted as her pet for the past ten years. They step out of Kings Cross into the brisk September air at the same time as Draco and Astoria. Harry feels Ginny tense beside him.
Draco merely nods as he had on the platform; Astoria looks politely interested except for the twitch of genuine amusement at the corner of her mouth. This is the first time he's seen her in person - a tall, dark-haired woman with kind eyes. Harry nods back and the couples go their separate ways.
Ginny and Lily are negotiating whether or not a cat is practical. Harry taps the coin in his pocket:
7 SEPT 1:00