Gift for: owens_mom
Length: 10,791 Words
Challenge: hd_holidays Fest Exchange for owens_mom. I hope you’ll enjoy this story!
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, just having some fun.
Summary: “There’s no magic to finding your soulmate. Let us be your fairy godmother.” Timeless Matches Incorporated, Proprietor : Draco Malfoy.
A/N: A certain scene in this fic was borrowed from the movie “Junior”, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emma Thompson. Thank you lauriegilbert for the fantastic beta!
Harry’s quill hovered above the parchment and he scowled. It was ridiculous that such a simple question had to even be the subject of debate. He cursed his unwanted fame yet again as he dipped his quill to ink and bent over the form, scrawling ‘Christopher Watson’ on the line.
Oh, for heaven’s bloody sake. What did he have to be ashamed of? The ad had clearly stated that the company promised the utmost discretion in the handling of their client’s identities. The Minister of Magic’s own daughter had endorsed them, so clearly these people were used to handling celebrities and dignitaries.
Chewing his lower lip, Harry crossed out ‘Christopher Watson’ and scrawled in his own name instead.
Gender and Age.
Well, at least those were easy ones, thought Harry as he filled in the blank spots.
‘Washed up ex-saviour-of-the-wizarding-world,’ Harry thought sardonically. Yet another stupidly dumb question any old lout off the street would be able to fill in with nary a passing thought, and here he was stuck for an answer once more. He was tempted to write in ‘unemployed’, which was the truth, really, but he knew that would get his application bounced out of the queue rather quickly.
He chewed on the end of the quill and debated his options. ‘Rich playboy’ was probably the most apt. The gold in the vault he’d inherited from his parents had long run out, but he was set for life thanks to his monthly stipend from the Ministry that he’d been awarded for fulfilling his destiny.
Harry cursed as a drop of ink splattered down onto the form. Magicing it away, he scrawled down ‘self-employed’; it was close enough.
Sexual orientation – straight, same-sex, bisexual.
‘None of the above?’ Harry snorted. Did his preferences count when he’d been such an abject failure at every relationship he’d ever had? He put the quill down, rubbing his eyes in frustration, mentally ticking them off.
There had been Cho. The awkward teenaged fumblings of that disaster barely even counted in his mind, though he had looked her up after everything had returned to some semblance of normal once the war was over. She’d long dumped Michael Corner and had been willing to give it another try. Unfortunately, their adult fumblings were almost as awful. Harry didn’t know who’d been more embarrassed by the experience.
Then there was Ginny. He’d never really felt anything for Ginny beyond brotherly fondness, but her hero worship and persistence had worn him down. He blamed his capitulation on his poor state of mind with all the stress of his sixth year. Harry still cringed when he thought about how ecstatic Molly had been at the thought of their future nuptials and grandchildren. Ron had been entirely unsympathetic: “You got yourself into this mess, mate, you’d better get yourself out,” he’d chortled.
Thankfully, Ginny had grown out of her crush and had happily fallen for some gypsy during a trip to Spain. Things at the Burrow had been decidedly chilly for Harry ever since.
The less said about that fling with Colin Creevey the better. Although, Harry forced himself to admit, it really had been the best sex he’d ever had. Which was sad, considering Colin sounded like a nattering gerbil in bed. Proof positive that either Harry Potter was a poof, or his sexual starvation had reached new heights. Harry sighed; probably both were true.
His relationships after Voldemort’s death all blurred together; he barely even remembered their names anymore. A string of worthless relationships, each more shallow than the one before; an endless lineup of pretty witches and gorgeous wizards who all wanted to bed the saviour of the wizarding world. Harry was disgusted with how he’d spent those weeks and months in a mostly drunken haze, depressed with his lack of prospects and the shocking letdown that came after slaying the scourge of wizardry.
Instead of feeling free after fulfilling the prophecy, he’d felt more trapped in his identity than ever before.
‘You’re overthinking again, twit,’ a rather Snapeish sounding voice in his head chastised. ‘Just write down bisexual, and be done with it.’ Cringing involuntarily, Harry obeyed.
What are your hobbies and interests?
Well, that seemed simple enough. Harry scrawled down something about quidditch, Muggle action movies, and traveling to foreign countries. He paused to reread his entry and deciding it sounded far too adolescent, and added romantic candlelit dinners, long walks on the beach, and quiet evenings by a roaring fire.
He managed to resist the snarky impulse to include part-time slayer of Dark Lords, renowned duelist and Dark Arts expert. He figured they might be a little off-putting.
What do you look for in a relationship?
Loyalty, a sense of humour, a good-hearted person…
…and if he was really lucky, love.
“I love you the most!” She batted her eyelashes.
“Oh no, my darling pumpkin pie, I love you the most!”
The nauseatingly ecstatic couple turned towards Draco as one, giggling in the most aggravating manner. Their arms were linked and they were almost rubbing against each other as they cooed and fondled.
Draco wanted to vomit. Pasting an artificially bright smile on his face, he pushed the form across the pitted desktop. “Congratulations on your engagement. Now, if you’ll only sign on the dotted line, you both agree to release Timeless Matches from all future liability, as well as agreeing that the afore mentioned company will not be held responsible if your future relationship or marriage fails to work out. Is that understood by both parties present?”
“Oh sure, sure,” the blonde witch babbled, but it was clear she only had eyes for the wizard who’s lap she was actually now sitting on. “I love you, pookems, more than the whole world!”
The wizard rubbed his nose against her little pert snub. “Oh, sugar cookie, I love you more than the entire universe!”
Draco rolled his eyes as the witch squealed in delight. The itch to plug his fingers in his ears was almost irresistible. Normally he could maintain his very professional and empathetic demeanor, but this was really just too much.
Besides, he doubted the canoodling lovestruck pair in front of him would notice if he streaked the bloody room, they were so engrossed in each other.
Oh, now, that was just wrong. Draco cringed as the witch actually ground her hips into the wizard’s lap. He cleared his throat loudly. “Ms. Leatherstone? Mr. Silvertree? If you’d like to both sign the forms, that will be everything for today. I don’t want to keep you from the rest of your very happy lives together.” And wasn’t that an understatement. He politely averted his eyes as the witch flushed and climbed off the wizard, setting her robes back to rights.
“There’s just the matter of the final transfer of your fees to clear your account with us. Now, will that be from your account, Ms. Leatherstone, or Mr. Silvertree’s?”
“Oh,” the witch giggled, “it doesn’t matter, since I’ll be Mrs. Silvertree in only a few days. Isn’t that right, snookems?”
“That’s right, buttercup. What’s mine is yours and yours is mine, you know that, sweetie pie.”
There wouldn’t be any enamel left on his molars at the rate these two were going. Draco made a big show out of opening his desk drawer, pushing the pot of ink across the desk in a not-so-subtle hint. Thankfully, the lovestruck pair took up their quills, and even though they never took their eyes off the other, managed to scrawl their signatures on the forms.
“Thank you both. I wish you a very happy marriage, and I hope you’ll recommend us to your friends in need.” Draco waved his wand, instantly duplicating the forms, and stickied one of his business cards onto the couple’s copy. “Remember, with Timeless Matches, there’s no magic to finding your soulmate if you let us be your fairy godmother.”
“And you certainly did that for us, Mr. Malfoy. Thank you very much, I don’t know how to repay you for helping me find the other half of my soul.” Silvertree beamed widely at Draco before turning to stare into his fiancee’s eyes again. She nudged him and whispered in his ear. “Oh, of course! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself. Mr. Malfoy, we would be honoured if you’d attend the wedding. It’s a small affair, and I’m sure you’re used to much more grand ceremonies, but we wouldn’t be together if it weren’t for you and we’d love to have you there.” Silvertree dug a parchment card out from somewhere inside his robes and handed it to Draco.
Draco managed a weak smile. “Of course, it would be my pleasure. I’m happy just to see the two of you together.” It was all a lie of course; he never knew why his clients always insisted on inviting him to their schmaltzy nuptials. He made a mental note to have Goyle send the couple a gift. He shook their hands again and breathed an audible sigh of relief as they finally left his office, still clinging to each other as if their lives depended on it.
What was it like, he wondered, to be that enraptured, obsessed, and possessed by another person? Years ago he would have scoffed at the very notion, that he certainly didn’t want or need to be so dependent on another person. It was stupid to give another so much power over your emotional well-being, not to mention your assets and financial resources.
Still, he admitted to being just a little bit curious to know what it was like.
His assistant and erstwhile sidekick poked his heavyset face around the doorjamb. “Yes, boss?”
“Is my ten o’clock here yet?” Draco scowled as Goyle shuffled his feet. The lumbering man had uncomfortable written all over him. “Well? Spit it out.” He knew he wasn’t being fair to Greg, but the sickening lovebird display he just had to sit through had worn through what little patience he might have had.
“Uhm…well…what I mean to say is…” Goyle stammered, a crimson flush washing up his thick neck.
“WHAT?” Draco roared, regretting his overly harsh tone as Gregory cringed back.
“I’m just not sure it’s someone you want to have as a client, that’s all.” Goyle finally got out, all in a rush.
Draco rolled his eyes. “What have I told you a million times, Gregory? Business is business. We can’t only cater to our friends, or we’d go broke in no time flat. We are here to make money off our clients; we don’t have to like them. Goddess knows if that were a prerequisite, none of these socially-challenged nincompoops would ever cross the threshold.”
Goyle just blinked and looked confused by Draco’s logic.
“Never mind,” Draco sighed. “Just bring him or her in. I promise I won’t hold you responsible, no matter who it is.” Goyle nodded and disappeared again. Draco shoved his chair back, turning to look out the window at the bustling streets of Hogsmeade. “Not even if it were Harry Potter himself,” he muttered under his breath.
“I hope you mean that,” a too-familiar voice said. “I’d hate to have Goyle bear the brunt of your temper on my behalf.”
Oh, that just bloody well figured. Draco carefully schooled his features into a mask of indifference before slowly turning around. “Potter.” Harry Potter, Boy Who Lived, Saviour of the Wizarding World, Slayer of Voldemort, and eternal-thorn-in-Draco-Malfoy’s-side. This day was just getting better and better. “I would have thought the witches and wizards all over the wizarding world would be fawning at your feet, Potty.”
Potter nonchalantly sat down, coolly arranging his robes around him. “Not as much as you’d think, Malfoy. Hero worship does not a successful relationship make, to my eternal chagrin.” Potter shrugged. “Believe me, if I’d known Timeless Matches was your outfit, I would never have come. Seeing as I’m here already, I might as well see what you have to offer.”
“Oh, and I’m supposed to be grateful for that?” Draco scathed, feeling his ire grow. “That the Great Harry Potter would deign to use our services?”
Potter had the audacity to look stung. “No,” he answered quietly. “And please don’t call me that – there’s nothing Great about me.”
“It’s about damned time the Golden Gryffindor Boy realized it too,” Draco snarked back. Somehow, though, there wasn’t any fun in it when your opponent was looking like a kicked puppy. Draco sobered at the sight. “Why did you choose us?”
“Because you’re the best, and your company promised the utmost in discretion with your higher profile clients. That’s important to me.”
Draco could understand that. He remembered seeing Potter’s face emblazoned all over the front page of the Daily Prophet with the last scandalous love affair he’d had with a set of married twins. “The Wittersteins?”
Potter looked up, his eyes blazing in fury. “That article was a lie. I never knew they were married, and they seduced me. I got rid of them as soon as I found out the truth. Rita just has it in for me.”
“Whoa, Potter, that’s fine. You don’t have to explain it to me; I don’t care.” Draco had almost reeled back from the power of Potter’s glare. Not so depressed then. “If it means anything, I believe you.”
Potter gave a sharp jerk of the head which might have been a nod.
“Why don’t we look at your application then?” Draco pulled the file Gregory had placed on the desk. He made nonsensical noises as he read. “You sure didn’t make your application very interesting, Potter. But I know you, so I think I’ll be able to get you a good match. Any reason you decided to use us?”
A noncommittal shrug. “I guess I’m at a place in my life where I need more, and I’m losing hope of ever finding it. I’m sick of swimming against my fame in everything I do, and being left behind by my childhood friends. They’re all growing up, and I’m just…just…” Potter seemed to fish for the right words.
“…just stuck,” Draco finished the thought quietly.
“Exactly.” Green eyes met grey in silent understanding.
Draco looked away first. “So, self-employed? Last I heard you were living off the Ministry’s goodwill.”
Potter visibly bristled before regaining control of his temper. “I am not a charity case, Malfoy. They insisted on shoving that stipend down my throat, and seeing as how I can’t seem to find another job, I have no choice but to take it.”
“No one wants to hire the Great Harry Potter?”
“No, I guess they don’t.” The quiet and serious reply stopped Draco in his tracks.
“Hmm,” Draco turned back to the application, but he couldn’t get over his curiosity. “So why didn’t you go work in the Muggle world, then? It would’ve been easy to find the anonymity you seek there.”
Potter shrugged. “I guess I just loved magic too much. I couldn’t leave it behind.” He raised his head again, meeting Draco’s gaze. “Could you, in my place?”
Damn the man for still being able to make him squirm. “No, I suppose not.” Draco quickly reviewed the rest of the form. “Everything else looks good. It usually takes me a few days to a week to match up a new client with someone who fits their profile. Do you have any questions?”
“Just one. I’m concerned about my infamy, of course. Do you have a way to protect my identity?”
“I thought you might be worried about that. Don’t be. We have a lot of clients who are important and famous in their own right. Perhaps not as famous as yourself,” Draco teased lightly, smirking when Potter rolled his eyes, “but are still celebrities in their own right. Privacy is very important to us. What we usually do is assign a random alphanumeric code to each file. When you correspond to the match I have made for you, you will simply address your letters to the code name.”
Potter looked astonished. “Wow. I had no idea – why all the secrecy?”
Draco shrugged. “As I said, some of our clients are extremely concerned about their privacy, and some are embarrassed about using our services. It wouldn’t do for some of our client’s identities to be revealed if the matches didn’t work out.”
“It makes sense to me.” Potter still looked uncertain.
“Don’t worry, Potter, even if we’ve had our differences, my professional integrity is very important to me. I won’t betray your confidence.”
“Alright.” Potter stood, drawing his dark cloak around him. With a wave of wandless magic, he weaved a glamour over his famous features. He tugged the hood up over his forehead to hide that famous scar. “I don’t know why, but I trust you, Malfoy. Good day.”
Draco stared at Potter’s open file for a long time after the man had left. Without quite knowing what he was doing, he opened a drawer and pulled out a blank application form. Digging out a quill and pot of ink, he dipped the nib, and started to write.
“I mean wow, I know I’ve said this already, but my friends will just never believe this. I’m on a date with Harry Potter!” The witch beamed, her bucked teeth gleaming in the candlelight.
Harry was proud of himself for not visibly flinching at the sight.
The witch – Judy Copperspoon Harry thought, though he had tuned out her yammering hours ago – gesticulated wildly with the lobster claw she had clutched in one hand. “So, like, you must get a lot of reporters wanting to interview you and such, right? It must be just so wickedly cool to be a celebrity! Okay, okay, I’ll pretend to be Rita Skeeter, and you’ll be, well,” Judy giggled wildly, “Harry Potter of course. Ready?” She propped the lobster claw under her chin and waited expectantly.
It took Harry a long while to notice the awkward silence. “Oh! Sorry, uhm….”
“Right, Judy. Sorry. What were you saying?” Harry found his gaze wandering away from that horrifying set of gnashing teeth. Boy, were the lampshades in his favourite restaurant always so dirty?
“What does the saviour of the wizarding world, the boy hero himself, a Golden Gryffindor for the ages, do with himself during his free time? What are Mr. Harry Potter’s favourite hobbies?” She mimicked Skeeter’s high pitched voice with alarming accuracy.
“Quidditch, uhh….Muggle action movies, and, umm,” Harry wracked his brains for the short list he’d put on his application form, and rattled those off too.
Judy actually squealed and clapped her hands together. “You don’t say! That’s just wonderful Harry. Did you know I like all those things too?” Abandoning her ‘microphone’, she started to gnaw on the lobster claw again.
Well, the butter-dripping-off-the-chin and lobster-bits-in-the-teeth look certainly didn’t suit the woman.
Then again, the bright pink set of robes and neon purple boa around her neck didn’t either. Harry’s fingers itched to make use of the boa. He picked through his salmon, flicking the bones away.
“And so my friend Angela was saying how much her boyfriend is just, like, totally cool, and I can’t wait until I can tell her my blind date was THE Harry Potter himself, and it serves her bloody well right for making fun of me for using a dating service and all…oh oops! Dammit!” Judy cut herself off and cursed as the lobster claw she was whacking at broke off with a crack, sailing high into the air and landing with a splash into the waterglass of a patron a few tables down.
Harry started to shred his napkin into little small bits.
Goddamn Draco Malfoy.
He tore each of the small bits into even tinier bits.
Curse Judy Copperspoon and her very eloquent written skills. The hundreds of letters they had exchanged sure hadn’t revealed this side of her personality.
“Madam? I believe this is yours?” The waiter held out the lobster claw in a linen napkin. Judy giggled as she took it, waving it at Harry, who smiled weakly.
He was going to kill Malfoy.
Draco very precisely dissected the shrimp stuffed trout, which had come with roasted petite potatoes and glazed carrots. The silverware clinked against his plate as he lifted away a thin sheet of flashing silver skin and folded it neatly to one side next to the other little piles. Hah – it had even come off in one piece this time.
His date, some prim and proper English gent of a wizard, was nattering on about Muggle/wizarding gold exchange rates, their prospective values in the near future, and the wisdom of currency investment in the current market conditions. Draco made a concerted effort to be polite, nodding and murmuring agreeably, but he could feel his eyes glazing over.
Funny; the man had sure seemed interesting on paper. Four hundred years of pureblood ancestry, a family estate valued in the top ten in the world, and properties the world over had seemed, at first, to be exactly what Draco wanted in a perspective partner.
“And so, Draco, you can see why I believe that the current yield of thirteen percent on today’s exchange rate is undervalued, considering the housing starts and new job creation rate the Muggles have over the wizarding world at the moment. Why, we haven’t seen such an investment opportunity since Grafferty the Great predicted the last economic bubble burst,” Jonathan Francis Umpernion Mortonworth III waved his hands enthusiastically, shoving the glasses up his nose absentmindedly before continuing.
Draco suddenly had a flashback to another pair of glasses, far less stylish, on a far less regal nose, perched on eyes that seemed to suck his soul towards them…
Damn. Where had that thought come from?
“Why, I would bet that the current market is just bursting to explode, and I do feel that it’s only because of the gold-under-the-mattress syndrome everyone seems to still have leftover from the war that is keeping the general wizarding public from seeing this amazing opportunity. There’s a potential for a twelve or greater percent investment return here, Draco, and I don’t share my advice with just anyone you know…”
Tuning the man out again, Draco returned his attention to his fish. The trout was perfectly done, the Hollandaise just the right consistency, and yet here he was mangling it to bits. He watched dispassionately as his fork sorted another piece of shrimp into the growing pink pile.
Kerplunk! He started as a big red something landed with a splash in his goblet of water. Was that a lobster claw?
“I’m so sorry, sirs, I’ll get rid of that right away.” The efficient waiter whisked the glass away and just like that, a fresh goblet had been set down. Draco could hear ear-piercing shrieking laughter from across the room.
Well, at least someone was having a date worse than his was.
“Will there be any dessert or coffee for you tonight, sir? Ma’am?”
“I’d love some!” Judy squealed before Harry could get rid of the annoyingly ‘helpful’ waiter. “Harry, dear, doesn’t a lovely piece of Chocolate Mousse Heaven just sound divine?” The witch looked like a bloody ball of candy floss as she flapped around enthusiastically.
“I’ll just have a cup of tea,” Harry said through his teeth. He cheerfully fantasized about strangling the hapless waiter for prolonging his agony.
“So, Harry, and I’m so flattered you’re letting me call you Harry,” Judy flapped, “do you want to have kids someday? It said on your application that you thought of yourself as a family man.”
Oh dear God, Harry could see this trap coming a mile away. “Someday, perhaps Judy, but I’d like to see the world a bit first, maybe, before I settle down.” Where the hell was that cursed waiter with the desserts?
Judy wasn’t so easily diverted from her goal, however. “That’s all well and good, Harry, but with you being so responsible and mature, I just know the playboy lifestyle wouldn’t appeal for too long. So would you prefer a boy or a girl? What do you think they’d look like? I think they’d be just darling with your eyes and my hair, and maybe we could name them after your parents in honour of their sacrifice in the first war and all…”
Fucking hell, was that waiter grinding the cocoa beans himself and roasting the chocolate in the backroom?
“Of course, it would be best for the kids to have my brains and your looks. After all, you are the penultimate Gryffindor, which is fabulous and all when you need to defeat a dark lord, but it’s not that useful in the real world and for finding a real job, is it?” Judy giggled.
Unfortunately, she had a point there. Not for the first time, Harry wished Voldemort had taken his life too on that bloody battlefield. He’d just never wished it quite so fervently before.
“Now, one boy and one girl would be perfect if you wanted a small family, but I always wanted a big one, sort of like the Weasleys but maybe not quite that big. They really did overextend themselves, didn’t they? I mean, if you’re too poor to afford it, it’s not really responsible to have so many kids. Of course with your funds, I’m sure we could have as many kids as we wanted. Momma always said I had inherited the family’s wide birthing hips!”
Oh wasn’t that just lovely. An insult to his dearest childhood friend and foster family, blatent gold-digging, and far more than Harry had ever wanted to know about Judy Copperstone’s hips. He vowed to look up castration spells the second he got home, assuming he was ever able to escape Judy’s clutches.
“And I’m not kidding either. With my third youngest brother, momma barely went into labour before the baby was crowning. And when her waters broke, Merlin save me it was a like a dam had burst! It ruined our sofa, the rug, and the blood…”
“Your dessert, ma’am, and your tea, sir.”
Thank Merlin – saved by the erstwhile waiter. Harry decided to let the man live after all. He slowly sipped his hot tea as he watched Judy attack the towering chocolate confection with gusto. Oh, yuck. A gaping maw of smushed chocolate cake as she tried to eat and talk at the same time didn’t look good on Judy either.
Harry’s stomach was rolling nauseatingly by the time Judy polished off the last of the dessert. “So,” she grinned at him, “when would you like to go out again?”
A sound not unlike the screeching of car tyres reverberated in his head. Before he knew what he was doing he had jumped to his feet, attracting the unwanted attention of all the other patrons in the restaurant. “Never! What I mean is…uhm…” Harry’s jaw worked as his conscience screamed what a rude, obnoxious lout he was being. “…that is to say…well…Never!” He slapped his hand over his wayward mouth before he could tell Judy what he really thought of her. The stares of the other wizards and witches around him bore into his back.
Judy’s face crumpled as if she were about to burst into tears. Oh shit. Harry could see the headlines in the Prophet now: ‘Hero of Wizarding World makes his date cry – Reputed Gentleman is really a Scoundrel!’ Taking pity on her, he frantically tried to think up of an easy way to let her down. “What I mean to say is, I can’t see you again, because it wouldn’t be fair to you, because…well, because I’m gay.”
He swore he could hear a pin drop in the restaurant. Judy boggled at him. “Gay?” she screeched. Well, if anyone possibly hadn’t heard his pronouncement, they surely had now. “But…but…you can’t be gay. You’re Harry Potter! Didn’t your application say you liked girls?”
Harry shifted uncomfortably, feeling heat rise in his face. “Sort of. But I’m really gay, I’m sure of it now.”
Judy stared at him disbelievingly. “Harry Potter is gay. Harry POTTER is a bloody poof!” She started to laugh hysterically, bending over and slapping her knee with hilarious mirth.
Looking around the restaurant, which seemed to yaw and tilt like some crazy funhouse mirror, Harry saw that everyone else was laughing out loud, tittering, or refusing to meet his eyes. As if his life wasn’t shitty enough already, now his name and reputation was mud too. He murmured his apologies to the still chortling Judy, threw a pile of Galleons on the table, and fled.
A certain blond’s gaze followed him all the way out the door.
Draco winced sympathetically at the spectacle Potter made; trouble just seemed to follow the man wherever he went. Draco almost laughed that he’d ever been envious of Potter’s infamy. Taking a good look at the pink explosion that had been Potter’s date, Draco cringed. What had he been thinking, setting Potter up with Judy Copperstone?
Maybe you were thinking he’d swear off women once and for all… a tiny little voice came from somewhere in his head. What the fuck? He firmly decided the only regret he had was the reputation of his hard-earned business, since Potter’s disapproval would carry a great weight with public opinion.
The bustle of the restaurant was returning to normal and the diners were slowly returning to their meals, though still distracted by Harry Potter’s latest gossip-worthy incident. Draco turned back to his crème brulee and pretended to listen to Mortonworth’s statistical analysis of this year’s professional Quidditch team competitions for the best investment opportunities in sports betting.
Merlin, this guy could make even Quidditch sound boring. He tried to get the waiters attention; he was going to need a refill on his coffee, and soon, before he fell asleep into his dessert.
“Goy-le!” Draco refused to admit to the whine in his voice as he deliberately maligned his assistant’s name. “Where are the new accounts? I specifically asked you to leave them on my desk, and all I have here is an application for Roger Pringdropper. The same Roger Pringdropper, I might add, who was so incredibly pathetic that he was the first and only customer we’ve ever fired. Where are my files, and why the fuck is this douchebag’s name sitting on my desk?”
Gregory lumbered in, looking apologetic. “I’m sorry boss, but business just hasn’t been the same since, well,” his voice dropped to a whisper, “you know, the incident.” The thick necked lout waggled his eyebrows as if gossiping about the Minister of Magic’s penchant for wearing ladies silk camisoles under his state robes. “It just hasn’t been the same ever since.” Goyle sighed mournfully.
The incident. Draco rolled his eyes; as if he could forget! It had been six months since the very public kerfluffle at Madame Murphy’s Seafood Haven, and his business had never been the same again. The Prophet’s restaurant critic had been reviewing Madame Murphy’s Summer Delights menu, and he knew good gossip when he saw it. By the time the Daily Prophet’s screaming headlines had hit newsstands the next morning, Draco knew his reputation was as good as toast.
Seemingly overnight, all the high-ranking officials, celebrities, foreign dignitaries, and rich pureblooded bachelors and spinsters quietly withdrew their accounts, and soon Timeless Matches was left with only the most pathetic losers and wannabes as their clients. With one notable exception; Harry Potter himself, who had been too embarrassed by the fallout from his very public display to dump the service.
Potter had even meekly gone along on all the matchups Draco had sent him on since. Draco supposed it was Potter’s way of apologizing for ruining his life’s work, but fat lot of good that did him or his bank account now.
Pringdropper. Well, shite. Was this what it had come down to? He dropped his head to his desk with a solid thunk, the impact reverberating painfully around his skull. Ow. The nausea that he’d held at bay for most of the morning returned full force, and he felt his stomach turn over slowly. “Goyle!”
“Yes boss?” Gregory poked his head back inside his office door.
“Hangover remedy. Now.” The resident marching band which he’d thought he’d already banished took up their drums again with fervor. Fucking hell.
Goyle was shaking his head.
“What the fuck do you mean, no? What are you, my mother? I don’t need to hear that I’m drinking too much and too early.” Draco buried his face in his arms, trying to block out the too-goddamn-bright sunlight streaming through the blinds. “Now give me the damned potion.”
“I can’t, boss. I’m sorry.”
Draco blearily cracked one eye open. “What do you mean, you can’t? Do I pay you to say no to me?” Gregory muttered something about the last few paychecks bouncing anyways. Well, he supposed Goyle had a point there.
“We don’t have any left, boss.”
“Then go to the apothecary, and get some.” Draco buried his face back into his arms. Minutes passed, the clock in the outer office ticking loudly, and still Goyle stood there. “Well? What’s the problem? You passed at least a handful of OWLs, I trust you can handle a simple errand.” Gregory mumbled something unintelligible. “What was that?”
“I said, Draco, we haven’t the money. The rent on the office cleared out our Gringott’s account.”
Draco swore loudly, vehemently, and creatively, and for so long Gregory’s blush was cresting his hairline.
“No, Gregory,” Draco cut his assistant off before he could finish the thought. He’d be damned if he’d crawl back to his mother like an errant schoolboy. She had been derisive enough about his self-made business, and he’d die before giving her the satisfaction of saying ‘I told you so’. It was a good thing he’d inherited one of the family summer homes just outside Hogsmeade, complete with a staff of ten house-elfs and self-replenishing food stores, or he’d have had to crawl back to Narcissa months ago.
Goyle looked like he was on the verge of giving another misbegotten piece of advice. “No, Gregory. I don’t want to hear it. Just pass me the files that need to be matched, alright?” Draco was relieved when his request was obeyed without protest, and with a heavy thump an armful of file folders was shoved onto his desk. “Thank you. I’ll call you if I need you.”
Endless minutes later, Draco found himself shuffling the same batch of folders over and over, the headache raging in his skull. It was hopeless; he just couldn’t concentrate anymore. The few that he’d managed to match up were clipped together in his out tray. The pile there was depressingly small compared to the stack he had left to go through. Of course, all of the files combined were but a mere fraction of the work he used to have to do. Curse Rodney Troybuckle and his stupid gourmet column.
He stared at the two folders he was holding now, and snorted. It would figure he’d be left going in endless circles with Potter’s file and his own. The devils in his head were jamming a pitchfork into the back of his eyeballs now, and he just didn’t care anymore. He tossed the folders aside, shoved his chair back, and grabbed his cloak. Screw this, it was time to go home. It wasn’t as if his business were picking up in any case.
Draco didn’t notice the pair of folders that had landed in the wrong tray.
Dear Mr. 14B-5,
Thank you for your last letter. I appreciate your concern about my business, but please don’t worry, my family is quite influential and I will persevere. I did go to Hogwarts, as a matter of fact, and as per family tradition, I was a proud Slytherin.
How about yourself?
Dear Mr. 18F-2,
You were a Slytherin? Wow, I didn’t know that. You don’t seem as…sneaky as some of the Slytherins I knew in my time. But then again, I suppose we all grow up eventually. I’m almost afraid to tell you this, but I was a Gryffindor during my years in school.
Have you been on a lot of dates through this service?
Yours in good faith,
Dear Mr. 14B-5,
Unfortunately yes. And almost every was one an unmitigated disaster. You would think that writing a person hundreds of times would grant you some insight into their personality, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case.
It seems, perhaps, that I don’t know myself as well as I think I do, nor do I seem to know what I want in a partner in life. It makes me question what I believe about myself sometimes. I never did want to inherit the family business, and my choice of careers was deemed inadequate for one of my prestigious family. Needless to say, I do not speak to Mother very often any more.
Do you know how difficult it can be to swim against the tide of family expectations?
Dear Mr. 18F-2,
I, too, have been on many horrible dates. Of course none of them worked out, and obviously they didn’t for you either, or we wouldn’t still be stuck in the system, would we? (You may imagine a sardonic laugh here).
As for family expectations, no, I cannot identify in the least, for I was orphaned at less than two years of age. I grew up with relatives who despised my very existence, and worked me like a house-elf. Even when I got out of that horrid little house, I still found people wanted to use me more than they ever cared for me. To this day I feel like everyone I know or meet still sees only what they can use me for, not the person I am inside.
I am, I guess you can say, a person of some infamy. Clearly I’m not supposed to reveal my identity yet, nor am I to give you enough clues to deduce who I am, but suffice it to say you probably know who I am. I feel trapped by the wizarding world’s expectation of who they think I am; which is, more often than not, not who I am at all.
I would give anything to be just an average bloke, even if it meant having no money at all. The freedom to just be myself without the weight of any expectations would be worth it.
But enough of the serious stuff. What was the worst date you ever had?
Dear Mr. 14B-5,
It sounds like we have much in common. You, trapped by your infamy and public expectation; me, trapped by generations of my forefathers before me and the weight to represent the family’s pureblood values. I don’t mean to sound like a pureblood snob, mind you. I think I used to be, when I was younger and stupider, before the war changed us all.
I can’t say I could willingly give up the family fortune, even for unlimited personal freedoms, but things change. I once said I wouldn’t use a dating service either.
The worst date? Well, for me, that would have to be an investment broker I saw a few months ago. The man looked like my match on paper – rich, well educated, smart, ambitious. Unfortunately, he was a bigger bore than the Hogwarts Great Squid.
Perhaps I should try the complete opposite and try dating Harry Potter. Hah – there’s a laugh!
Dear Mr. 18F-2,
Sorry for the delay in replying. I guess I was quite taken aback at how laughable you thought dating Harry Potter would be. I’m very…similar to Mr. Potter, I guess you could say. Our backgrounds and upbringing have a lot in common, and I’d like to think we have the same values.
Often I think the media can be blamed for creating an impression of Potter that doesn’t really exist. I imagine Harry in real life is nothing like his public persona; he’s pretty much a victim of his own publicity, I would imagine. It sure can’t be easy to live with the weight of knowing it’s up to you, as a child, to save the entire wizarding world.
I guess you aren’t too surprised that I would jump to Potter’s defense, given that I’m a fellow Gryffindor. (Laughs.)
As for me, my worst date was this horrifying woman who could not get over my celebrity. It was awful, and the longest evening of my life. Add to the fact that she was wearing this revolting pink outfit, and had the manners of a horse, and it was probably the most nightmarish experience I have ever had in my life.
Well, okay, perhaps not, but save a few notable exceptions in my life, I would be hard-pressed to recall a more torturous evening. To cap it all off, as if her hero-worship wasn’t quite bad enough, she had the worst table manners I have ever seen in my life. At one horrifying moment she actually managed to fling an entire lobster claw across the restaurant, where it landed in some poor sod’s water glass.
I just about died. I wish I knew what karmic gods I had offended in a past life to deserve the public humiliation. I sort of lost my temper, made a ridiculous spectacle of myself, and, well…let’s just say that whatever shreds of my reputation I once had left are probably no more.
Such is the trappings of fame, I suppose. (Snorts.)
Draco reread the last owl he’d gotten from the mysterious Mr. 14B-5, feeling his jaw gape open.
Fine, the not-so-mysterious Mr. 14B-5. His mind flashed back to a certain humiliating scene in a certain restaurant so many months ago, trying to reconcile all the assumptions he’d always had about Potter with the new revelations he’d learned about his penpal friend.
The man in the letters was thoughtful, if a little cynical, and beaten up by life. He had a sarcastic wit that appealed to Draco’s sense of humour, and a slightly rumpled but still optimistic outlook that Draco admired. He had really gotten the gut feeling that there was some great potential with this one.
Then he’d finished reading the latest letter from his mystery man, and to his stunned horror, his would-be suitor was none other than Harry Potter himself. Fate sure had a cruel sense of humor. He knew he should cut off communication now, to just write to Potter…Harry (when the fuck had he started to think of that cursed Gryffindor as anything but Potter anyway?)…to the damned Boy Who Lived that there was no hope of a future.
When hell froze over.
Draco’s quill hovered over blank parchment, ready to tell Potter to bugger off and that this was all a colossal mistake. Right. Any minute now, he’d put nub to parchment and pen the short but curt statement, edged with just the right amount of biting sarcasm.
Yes, that’s exactly what he would do.
If only his bloody arm would cooperate, instead of hovering up in the air like some paralyzed vulture. What the fuck? No matter how much he tried to start the letter, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Some annoyingly persistent inner voice was nagging at him not to ruin this, that he’d found the one he wanted, if only he’d let himself see past his childhood prejudices. Could he do this? Could he see himself having a future with Harry Potter, of all people? The idea was preposterous.
Was it as crazy as it seemed though? That damned voice inside him just wouldn’t shut up.
Was it? His own personal scruples aside, Potter was a pretty fine catch. Wealthy, with a name that lacked pureblood status but was surely no less prestigious, and definitely influential enough. And he’d liked the man well enough until he’d learned his identity.
Of course, now that he knew who his penpal was, he wondered just how in the world he had managed to match himself with Potter. The random serial numbers were issued by Goyle; as the matchmaker he had to consider who each of his clients were, their overall impression and personalities beyond their applications forms, in order to match them up. The only time he had even had his and Potter’s file out at the same time was that very drunken night way back…
Oh. Well, that made sense then. He couldn’t exactly blame Goyle for it either.
Not to mention you did seem to set him up with all the worst possible matches you could think of…every witch or wizard who was prone to hero-worship, for one… Oh hell, his inner conscience just would not let him off the hook.
Convinced this was the stupidest idea he’d ever had, Draco dipped the nub into the inkpot, and finally started to write.
Dear Mr. 14B-5…
Harry read the latest owl post from his mysterious suitor. They had been corresponding for months now, and the letters had been steadily getting more intimate, though not in a sexual fashion. It was intimate in a way that two lifelong friends or lovers were intimate, where you started to understand and know the other person’s motivations and inner self almost more than you knew yourself.
It was the sort of intimacy that led to couples finishing each other’s sentences, and anticipating the other person’s need before the person realized they needed it.
Was this what love was? If love was a soul-deep ache at the thought of never meeting and loving this person in reality, Harry supposed it was the farthest he’d ever come to finding it. He was, simply put, obsessed with Mr. 18F-2. He wanted to know everything about the man – his favourite foods, his favourite books, his pet peeves, if he bathed morning or night. Did he sleep in boxers, briefs, or nothing at all?
Oh. Harry blinked. Wasn’t that a thought now.
The parchment in his hand was slightly crumpled from where he’d clenched it in his suddenly sweating palms. He carefully flattened it out, smoothing out the wrinkles, and was relieved that he had managed to avoid smearing the ink.
Dear Mr. 14B-5,
I feel like I’m getting to know you more than I know myself. Is that idea as bizarre to you as it is to me? I have revealed things to you that normally I rarely admit to myself, let alone tell anyone else. I don’t know why I trust you, but I do. I hope you know how much that means, coming from a Slytherin whose house loyalties run through my very veins.
You say you despise hero-worship and false expectations of perfection more than almost anything else. From what I know of you, I say that’s very justified, after what you’ve been through. I promise you that I am not that sort of person. As a child, I despised Harry Potter; I am not proud to admit this, and you are the first to know, but I was bitterly jealous of his infamy and celebrity. I was the one that came from a very proud family line, I was the first and only son in my family, I was the heir to an enormous fortune. Yet this Muggle-raised twerp usurped everyone’s attention and headlined all the press during the same years I was coming of age.
It took me a very long time to acknowledge that it was my own shortcomings which were at fault, not Potter’s. He didn’t choose the fame, or his destiny, and truth be told, I don’t envy him his fate. It surely could not have been easy to bear the weight of the future of the wizarding world, to be the subject of that Prophecy, and yet to rise to the occasion and win us the war. I may never get a chance to tell Potter this, but for that, he has my eternal gratitude and admiration, neither of which I give easily to anyone.
I don’t know if any of this means anything to you, but I hope it speaks to my character, and my maturity. I will be the first to admit that I was the typical, obnoxious, Slytherin pureblooded brat, but remember that I am a product of my upbringing as much as you are of yours. It makes me ache to hear about your terrible childhood and your revolting relatives. Would that I had a time-turner, I’d stuff that fat pig of an Uncle and your ghastly cousin, not to mention your shrewish Aunt, into that awful cupboard-under-the-stairs.
There were a few drops of ink on the parchment, as if the writer were hesitating over his next words.
I don’t know how wise this is, but I don’t think I have too much to lose. I have always been Slytherin in my whole life; thinking of myself and the ramifications my actions have on my well-being. I am the first to admit that Slytherins are a truly selfish bunch, but too often they get themselves where I find myself in my life. Alone, with no close friendships or loved ones of which to speak. Even my own mother uses me for her own means.
So, after thinking this over for a long time, I have decided, against all that comes naturally, to act the Gryffindor way. I can’t argue with results; almost all the Gryffindors I know of have found happiness, friendships, and love, and are content in their lives. With the notable exception of yourself, but I maintain that you are more Slytherin than you would admit.
Another series of ink blots, and some unintellible scribbling, which was crossed out in slashing lines. The messy scrawls were nothing like the usual neat, tight handwriting. When the writing finally resumed, the letters were smaller and tighter than usual, as if the writer had tried to get them out as fast as possible.
This is very hard for me, so I hope you can appreciate my hesitancy. I might as well just say it, I suppose.
If you are amenable to the idea, it would please me greatly to invite you to dinner this Friday evening, at seven in the evening. I have made reservations under our code names at Madame Murphy’s. Yes, I do realize this is the same restaurant you had that horrendous date in months ago, but I hope you will allow me, hopefully, to create better memories for you there.
I’ll be in navy blue robes, with a long stemmed rose on my lapel. I realize it’s a bit clichéd, but I’ve always found the tradition elegant and romantic. I hope you feel the same.
If you agree, just activate the rose watermarked on this parchment, by touching it with the tip of your wand and saying ‘spero a posterus’.
Harry murmured the latin spell under his breath. “Spero a posterus.” Hope for a future. How very appropriate indeed. He chewed his lip until he could feel it start to bruise; was he really ready for this? To meet this man that he already felt so much for, based on a handful of letters?
Well, he sure wasn’t getting any younger, that was for sure. Most of his classmates had already married and had children of their own. Harry had long felt like his contemporaries were passing him by. He was just yesterday’s news – the Gryffindor war hero, famed celebrity, slayer of Voldemort, and already people had forgotten most of the horrors of the war. Voldemort would soon be nothing but a bogeyman to scare children with in their bedtime stories.
At twenty-eight, Harry already felt like a relic.
Nothing risked, nothing gained, he supposed. Digging out his wand, its weight familiar and comforting in his palm, Harry whispered the latin spell. Before his eyes, the grey image of a rosebud bloomed into colour, petals swirling open, the flower a blood deep red. A stream of elegant black letters unfurled from the very center of the rose, unraveling and elegantly scrolling to the bottom of the parchment.
Hope and expectation blossomed in Harry’s chest as the dancing script formed a short sentence.
To our future together – thank you for risking your heart.
Draco didn’t think he’d ever been so nervous in all his life. He was a Malfoy damnit, and Malfoys didn’t lose their nerve like this. Especially over something as trite as a date, for Merlin’s sake.
A blind date.
With Harry Potter.
Who hates your guts, his inner voice whispered again, and will be justifiably furious that you deceived him for so long.
Goddamnit. When had he grown a conscience, anyway?
Face it…somehow you’ve managed to fall in love with the man, you stupid sod. Cripes, that voice just wouldn’t shut up.
Draco wiped his very sweaty palms down the front of his designer robes again, glancing at his pocketwatch; any minute now. Coming here half an hour early was a mistake, although his twitching nerves had been driving his house elfs insane. Troppy had actually threatened to make him give her a sock. Chastised, Draco had decided to wait for Harry at the restaurant.
Lucius was probably rolling in his grave, that the only scion of the Malfoy line was being threatened and manipulated by a lowly house-elf.
Draco’s fingers tightened on the stem of his wineglass and he finished the last of the very fine Bordeaux in one swallow. The efficient waiter was there almost immediately, hovering above his glass, but Draco waved him off. He needed his wits about him tonight.
He was just carefully rearranging the single long stemmed red rose on the linen napkin in front of him when he heard a familiar voice at the hostess stand. He suddenly felt lightheaded with nerves. This was it; would Harry, the Harry he had grown to know and love in their correspondence, the Harry he had finally reconciled with his misconceptions about Potter, would he be able to forgive his deception and give their relationship a chance?
It took every bit of Malfoy pride he had to not just get up and flee. He sat as primly as he could, trying to project an air of elegant nonchalance, knowing his back was to Harry. All the man would be able to see was his navy blue robes, and the flower on the table. He could hear footsteps approaching the table, and the waiter’s voice saying “it’s just the table in the corner, Mr. Potter.”
This was it. Steeling himself for the worst, Draco turned around.
Harry didn’t think he’d felt so much nervous anticipation for any date he’d ever had. He didn’t know if it were possible to fall in love with someone through letters alone, but that was sure what it felt like.
“It’s just the table in the corner, Mr. Potter,” the waiter led the way to the quiet corner table, away from the hustle and bustle of the main dining area. Harry was very thankful his penpal – or was it future lover – had been so considerate.
As he got closer, he felt his nerves start to jangle. He hadn’t ever lied, per se, but he felt like he had deceived his future amour nonetheless. It was a big deal, to be dating Harry Potter. Not everyone could deal with the pressure of the publicity that came with it, and most of the relationships with people who hadn’t been awed by his fame had fallen apart because of the repercussions of his infamy. Even just walking through the restaurant Harry could feel the stares at his back, the hushed whispers, mutterings, and rumormongering left in his wake. Honestly, he swore people thought he were deaf, the way they carried on in his very presence.
Harry was surprised how much he cared, considering this was the first time he was even meeting the wizard. A Slytherin no less; he couldn’t wait to see Hermione and Ron’s reaction. He could see the very elegant sweep of a clearly expensive designer robe and the perfect red rose on the table, exactly like the one in the letter.
Well, this was it. He took a deep breath to steel himself. “Mr. 18F-2?” Slowly the man turned around, and Harry felt his mouth gape in shock.
Draco had a split second to see Harry’s true feelings in those famous green eyes. In the space of half a breath, Harry looked nervous, hopeful, and open in a way that Draco had never seen in his life. Given that they were childhood enemies and both had stubbornly clung onto that animosity all their lives, that really wasn’t a big surprise.
Then all of Harry’s defenses slammed up, and Draco felt his worst fears come to pass.
“Draco Malfoy,” Harry almost spat out his name. “I should have known it was you. Do you find this very amusing then?”
All his usual eloquence deserted him, and Draco found himself truly at a loss for words for one of the first times in his life. “No…Harry, I didn’t mean to lie to you…”
“Didn’t mean to lie?” Harry cut him off. “Oh that’s rich, coming from you, the penultimate Slytherin. I suppose you found it amusing then, hmm? Stringing me along like some sideshow puppet? All that stuff about how you felt about Harry Potter, that was you having some nasty laugh at my expense, wasn’t it?”
Draco couldn’t meet Harry’s blazing glare anymore, and he stared at the tablecloth sightlessly, wishing he could crawl under the table.
“I suppose you had this all planned, right from the moment I walked into your office. The Great Harry Potter, forced to seek help from his sworn enemy, so pathetic that he can’t even find a date.” Harry’s eyes suddenly narrowed, and his glare grew flinty. “Wait a moment – Judy Copperstone. That was your doing, wasn’t it, Malfoy? Oh, it wasn’t enough for you to humiliate me with Judy, and destroy whatever I had left of my reputation, you had to drive the point home. How very Slytherin of you, Draco,” Harry spat out his name, “to plan my public downfall in a way where you could look me in the eye as you drove home the knife. So where are the reporters?”
“What reporters?” Draco was truly bewildered.
“Don’t play coy with me. The Prophet reporters I’m sure you’ve planted all over this restaurant to capture the moment when you finally humiliated Harry Potter. How very apropos that it would be in the same restaurant where you managed to embarrass me the first time. I guess one crack at this Gryffindor wasn’t enough, huh?” Harry leaned so close Draco could feel his breath against his cheek. “Congratulations, Malfoy, you have finally defeated Harry Potter.” With that, Potter turned on his heel and strode out of the restaurant, leaving cold anger in his wake so frosty Draco could almost hear the crackle of ice.
He couldn’t quite believe how awful he felt; he hadn’t known it was even possible for him to care so much for anyone besides himself. Not that he’d ever have a chance to find out; he’d already lost Harry for good. And he had no one but himself to blame.
Draco squeezed his burning eyes shut. No, damnit. Malfoys did not cry.
A single tear slipped down his cheek, landing with a tiny splash in his water glass.
Draco shuffled the pile of parchment in front of him.
He did it again.
Bugger it all, it was hopeless; he still couldn’t concentrate. Some professional matchmaker he was turning out to be. He was supposed to be trying to find his clients the love matches of their lives, so that they could find their one true soulmate, and live happily ever after. Or some ridiculous nonsense like that.
Yeah, right. He couldn’t even make a relationship work for himself; what hypocrite was he to be trying to help these lovelorn sods?
Draco rubbed a weary hand over his face. It wasn’t so much that he was deliberately trying to sabotage his client’s matches – that would be bad for business after all. His obsession with his work in recent months had paid off and he’d managed to scrape Timeless Matches’ reputation from the bottom of the barrel. Most of his high profile clients had returned to the fold, and he had plenty of work to keep him in the office till the wee hours.
Unfortunately, he still had to go home every night. Troppy kept the whiskey bottle far away from him, to his eternal frustration, and the elf had put up with his shite too long for him to take out his frustrations on her. The enforced sober state did not help his insomnia, or the very long, lonely nights with nothing but what might have been running through his head. He just couldn’t seem to drag himself out of his funk. Draco knew he was a very eligible bachelor, rich, handsome, well-bred, and a pureblood to boot. In fact, no other bachelor in the wizarding world was probably as competitive as him except for maybe…
He cut off the thought abruptly. No, he wouldn’t go there. Glancing at the clock, he noticed it was almost time for his next appointment. He tried to shake off his morose mood and pasted a fake cheery grin on his face. No love-seeking client wanted to see a depressed matchmaker. “Goyle?” he called to the outer office.
“Is my ten o’clock here, yet?”
“Yes, boss.” Goyle sounded a little…odd.
“Send him in, please.”
“Sure thing, boss.”
Draco pushed his chair away from his desk, standing to face the window. Faint footsteps grew louder as they entered his office, and Draco steeled himself to project as much optimism and false cheer as he could. “My name is Draco Malfoy, and I’ll be your matchmaker. It’s a pleasure to meet you…” he turned as he finished his standard spiel, and felt his world spin to a complete stop.
A familiar crooked self-deprecating grin, the shy glance downwards to the floor before intense eyes came back up to meet his – he had dreamed this moment every night, every week, every month, forever.
“Hi Draco,” Harry, his Harry, was saying. Just when had he become his Harry? Draco slowly sank into his chair, grateful that it was right underneath him. His chest swelled until he couldn’t breathe.
“So I spent months wandering Europe, the Asian countries, hell, half of Africa and even across the pond to the Americas, and I just couldn’t settle anywhere. Nothing made me happy. No one seemed even close to being right. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, Draco, except maybe…” Harry looked away and started to fidget nervously. “Oh, hell, I don’t know why I came here anyway. I know after the scene I made you probably couldn’t forgive me, and I can’t say as I can blame you.” There was a loud scraping noise as he pushed his chair back. “Just forget it, I’m sorry, this was a mistake. I know you probably never wanted to see my face again. Forgive me for bothering you after all this time, I’ll just see myself out then…”
“Stop.” Draco said quietly.
“Pardon, Draco? I didn’t catch what you said?” Harry’s voice was hesitant, but faintly hopeful.
“I said, stop. Ask me out on a date.”
Harry slowly sank into the chair and swallowed audibly. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“You’re my client, and I’m advising you, as your matchmaker, to ask your potential mate out on a date.” The long silence that followed seemed to last an eternity.
“Draco,” Harry finally spoke up again. “Will you…what I mean is…are you free for dinner on Thursday night?”
“Oh,” The reply was lost, and bewildered. After an awkward and pained silence stretched on for minutes, Harry stood again. “I guess I thought…”
“Thursday I have a meeting with Gringott’s. But I’m free after that.” Draco left the ‘and for the rest of my life’ hanging in the air. “How about yourself?”
Harry’s smile lit up the world. “Oh, I’d say I’m available whenever you are.” He stood and met Draco’s eyes briefly before turning to leave.
This time, it didn’t hurt at all to watch Harry go.