Title: Two Blokes, A Bike and A Biro
Summary: Out with the old, in with the new. Draco Malfoy’s got his life classified and catalogued, everything in its place. But, Harry Potter’s unexpected appearance at Hogwarts shakes up Draco’s organized world.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Kinda fluffy, but no real warnings
Word Count: ~8600
Author's Notes: For sesheta_66, I hope you find some enjoyment here. Special thanks to a good friend who helped me make it better.
“Shameful!” came the not-so-subtle jibe.
“A disgrace!” another voice chimed in.
“You don’t belong here,” Madam Pince whispered from her place to his left, “you’ve made a mockery of this library.”
“Irma, do be quiet. You, and everyone else here, have made it perfectly clear what you think of my methods. It’s my library now, and I’ll run it the way I see fit. So, ssshhhh, or I’ll put you in the back with the rest of Hogwarts’ ancient archival material.”
Draco was growing increasingly tired of the insults and harassment from the previous librarians whose portraits hung on his office wall, but he was reluctant to take them down and break with all traditions.
They did, on occasion, have their uses. There had been that time he’d needed to find the school’s lone copy of The Dark Arts Outsmarted, and his predecessors had known its location. Of course, convincing them to relinquish the information had taken the better part of an afternoon and a sworn promise to not remove the hexes from some of the more obscure books in the restricted section. Why he allowed himself to be bullied by a bunch of old ladies’ portraits was beyond reason.
But, he did know why. This position meant the world to him. Minerva McGonagall was the only person willing to take him on after the war. One of the only people willing to give him a second chance, and while he grudgingly accepted the appointment as the Hogwarts librarian after Pince’s passing, he knew it was the best offer he was going to get. He owed her everything, and if that meant putting up with the busybodies on his wall, so be it.
Draco was allowed ten minutes of golden silence.
“There were students here at 8:45 last evening,” Octavia Orbuttle said, clearly scolding, “that is far too late for students to be in the library.”
“How am I to get any work accomplished with the constant harping from you all?” Draco had finally lost his patience. “You will all adhere to the rule that if you have nothing kind to say, you will say nothing at all. If that is not possible, then I will immediately remove your portraits from these walls and hang you in the Owlery where you may harangue the owls to your hearts’ content. Am I perfectly clear?”
The librarians, obviously affronted, turned their backs to Draco and made no further comment.
“Good. I’m glad we’ve reached an understanding.” He watched Octavia slink out of her portrait, and knew she was off to visit a “friend”, where she would undoubtedly complain most vociferously about this new librarian who was wreaking havoc in her library. And, he had the audacity to be male. Traditionally, librarians at Hogwarts had been female, and Draco had had to endure a solid three weeks of tittering and whispering until the portraits had finally decided to talk to him, and now he was very sorry they had.
He was fully immersed in a new book on dark potions that he was contemplating adding to the collection when a small brown owl swooped through the window and landed on his desk. She delicately held out her leg and waited while he untied the note. Draco gave her a quick pat in thanks and she left immediately.
Draco, Please join me for tea at 4:00 pm. We have several things to discuss. Minerva.
The owl hadn’t waited for a response, and it really wasn’t a question anyway. He had been summoned, and he would make an appearance. He was certain Octavia had been tattling on him and Minerva wished to discuss many of the changes that he had made. Draco sighed, it was going to be a long afternoon.
“Draco, you can stop looking quite so defiant. You are not here so that I can call you onto the carpet for transgressions against the library. I approve, heartily I might add, of many of the changes that you’ve made. Especially, the décor; it is a much warmer, more inviting place since you’ve added the plants and rugs and things. I’ve noticed that it is much busier in there, and the student grapevine has it as the best place to ‘hang out’. You’re helping to bring Hogwarts into the present, and for that I am most grateful. Which brings me to the reason that I asked you to tea.” Minerva stopped to sip at her tea and munch lightly on a biscuit.
“Thank you for that. Irma and her ilk seem to be offended by everything I’ve done so far, and they have not suffered silently, I can assure you.” Draco hadn’t meant to sound so petulant, but he was still angry from their abuse of earlier.
The Headmistress nodded her understanding. “Yes, I’ve heard all about it, and supported you fully. However, your work alone is not going to carry the school where it needs to go. Since the war, the separation between the wizarding world and the Muggle one has grown smaller, and we need to train our young witches and wizards in the ways of Muggles so that they may slip more easily between the two worlds, and not be noticed. I’ve decided it’s time to augment the Muggle Studies curriculum by hiring a new teacher who has lived in both worlds effectively.” She paused again to nibble biscuits and sip tea.
Draco’s curiosity was piqued. He could think of several people that fit that description, none of whom would he be thrilled to work with, but he assumed he’d been brought here to be told of the decision, not to be asked about it. “I presume you are talking about Hermione Granger.”
“Ms. Granger would make an excellent choice, but her life at the moment makes teaching here an impossibility. No, Mr. Potter has agreed to take on this particular challenge.”
“Of course, he has. My life wouldn’t be complete unless Potter was around to watch over me.” Draco shook his head in resignation, and wondered how long it would be until he got fired for hexing Potter in front of students.
Draco had decided that cool civility was the only way he was going to survive working in close proximity to Harry Potter. Minimum interaction would lead to maximum satisfaction, as far as Draco was concerned. Unfortunately, Potter seemed to be in disagreement, and went out of his way to engage Draco in conversation. His first night on the grounds was a case in point.
“Hullo, Malfoy. I understand you’re the librarian now. I’m sure our paths will be crossing often,” he’d said as he sat down opposite Draco in the staff room.
“Potter. I spend most of my time in the library these days, I’m sure our paths won’t cross all that often, actually.” Draco chanced a glance up from his book and caught a benign smile on Harry’s face.
“Perhaps you’re right. The books in the library on Muggles are all woefully out-of-date and full of misinformation, but I would like to talk about adding some fiction, Muggle fiction, to the collection. It can provide a fairly accurate view of the daily life of a child and I think the students would find fiction to be a nice escape from their regular routines and research. Don’t you agree?” Harry’s voice was calmly curious.
Draco seethed. The last thing he wanted to do was agree with Harry Potter, but in fact, he’d had a similar conversation with the Headmistress about adding significantly to the fiction collection of the library; yet another change the painted guardians dismissed as frivolous and ridiculous. He suddenly wondered if Minerva hadn’t put Potter up to the question, just to give them something to agree upon.
“It’s a possibility. I’ll take it into consideration,” Draco gritted out. He stood and gathered his belongings, nodding briefly in acknowledgement to Harry. “Potter,” was all he could manage before he headed towards his rooms.
A faint “Goodnight, Malfoy” followed him out of the staff room.
Seventy-two hours later, there was a polite knock at Draco’s office door, but before he could respond, it opened and Harry Potter stepped through with an armload of books that threatened to spill.
“I’ve got those books we talked about, thought I’d offer them up as donations to the cause. You can add them to the shelves.” Harry was glancing about looking for an empty surface on which to dump his burden.
“Put them over there,” Draco finally said, pointing vaguely to a shelf that was already piled precariously with dusty tomes. “I’ll look them over first chance I get.”
Relieved of his books, Harry plunked himself down in the only available chair. “You won’t. You’re just humoring me. I’ve read them all, I can vouch for their quality.” Harry grinned.
“Well, then. If they have the Potter stamp of approval why the hell would the librarian need to have a say in the matter? Perhaps you’d like to take on the job of cataloging them, as well? No? Shelve them in their appropriate place? No? Maybe you’d like to introduce them to the students then?” Draco’s dry delivery only made Harry’s grin grow wider.
“I could do,” Harry finally said.
“Introduce them to the students. Like I said, I’ve read them all, enjoyed them, as well. I’d be happy to share my reading experiences with the students.”
“Potter…” Draco was cut off by Hortence Hamborough, whose scratchy voice never failed to send shivers down Draco’s spine.
“This is a research library! There is no place for fiction. Only fools and the addle-pated read fiction. Students must keep their minds on their work, stories will only lead them into things that are most unwise. Really, Mr. Malfoy I must insist that you refuse such a ridiculous request.” Hortence was incensed. It was the first Draco’d heard from any of the old ladies since his outburst three days ago, and, generally, Hortence kept to herself. This was most unusual.
Harry burst out laughing while Draco was still forming a reply. “God, I’m glad I’m not the only one being harrassed by the portraits. Bloody nuisance they are. How do you stand it, Malfoy? I’ve already removed all the former Muggle Studies professors. They were positively scandalized when I mentioned to Minerva that my classes would be hands-on, no textbooks at all.” Harry snorted at the memory. “Not one of them could identify a bicycle. Muggle Studies, my arse.”
“A bicycle?” Draco was intrigued despite himself.
Harry shook his head. “A muggle form of transportation. Like a broom, of sorts, but with wheels. How do you manage a childhood and not know what a bicycle is?” The question seemed rhetorical, and Draco had no answer for it anyway, so he ignored it.
“Like a broom, you say?” Any mentions of flying always brought out the competitive edge in Draco.
“Yeah. Takes a fair bit of balance, and stamina, not unlike riding a broom. Hard to explain though, much easier if I just show you. How about we take an afternoon and I’ll teach you how to ride?”
Draco stared hard at Potter after that last comment. Was Potter flirting with him? Was there some sort of innuendo to be found in that offer? He couldn’t be sure, so again, he ignored it.
“I’ll think about it. But, now, I have work to do. If you don’t mind?” Draco’s expectant tone indicated that Harry had been dismissed.
“All right, I’m going. But, I’ll be back. And, I will teach you to ride a bike.”
Draco stood behind the circulation desk of the library. His student helper, a seventh year girl, begged off her duties, claiming a massive essay for Advanced Potions and Draco liked her just enough to let her get away with that excuse once. So, here he was, checking out books to second-years and helping a few third years find appropriate sources for their DADA papers that were due soon.
“What is that, Ms. Higgins?” Draco couldn’t quite manage to keep the scorn out of his voice.
“It’s a pen, sir. A ballpoint pen.” She held up the item for his closer inspection.
“I know what it is. I meant, why do you have it? Where is your quill?” Draco clarified.
“I…oh, well, Professor Potter gave us these in Muggle Studies the other day, and really they’re rather brilliant. I don’t have to carry around inkpots any longer, and they don’t break nearly as often as quills. They come in all sorts of colors, some sparkly….”
Draco held up a hand to fend off the rest of the explanation. “That’s more answer than I was seeking, but thank you. What other devices has Professor Potter passed along to his students?”
“Spiral notebooks!” came an enthusiastic voice from the table.
“Index cards for notes, they’re excellent.”
“My, my. I had no idea Muggle Studies was so full of office supplies. The curriculum certainly has changed since I was a student.”
There were a few shared looks of distrust among the group, clearly Potter engendered a fair bit of loyalty from his students.
“We learn about other things, as well,” ventured one brave soul. “Television, computers, The Beatles, …”
“The Beatles?” Draco echoed.
“Yes, they were a brilliant music group…” the student helpfully began an explanation.
“Quite,” Draco interrupted, “I know who The Beatles are, Ms. Higgins, I just didn’t realize the curriculum was so full of Muggle popular culture…and office supplies.” He finally looked more carefully at the students gathered around the table, and noticed that several were wearing t-shirts with writing and images on them, one of them read ‘The Killers’. Draco’s eyebrows raised at that, but he said nothing, it just seemed easier than encouraging more explanations. There were moments in this job when he just felt so old, and he was only twenty-six.
“Professor Potter says that it’s easier to assimilate into their world if we fully understand and feel comfortable with their pop culture references. He says that wizards and witches will stand out less, and that Muggles will be less scared and less likely to react ‘badly’ if we blend,” Ms. Higgins finished in a rush of words.
“Professor Potter says a lot. The library will be closing in fifteen minutes, be sure that you have everything you need before you leave this evening.”
The students nodded obediently and began gathering up their books…and office supplies.
Though he hadn’t actually seen ‘Professor Potter’ in days, nearly a week actually, his presence around the school was everywhere. Students gathered around the lake on sunny days, strumming guitars and playing Beatles’ songs or ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ballpoint pens had become pervasive and de rigueur, no one but professors seemed to be using quills. Most appalling, was the occasional appearance of Muggle soda beverages. Red Coca-Cola cans could be glimpsed as they were surreptitiously sipped during breaks and on weekends. Remarkably, Honeydukes began stocking it alongside the Chocolate Frogs and acid pops.
He was amused that Potter had chosen the worst of Muggle culture to introduce to students. Where was Mozart? What about great works of art? As much as Draco derided Muggles, he could appreciate that some of their masters had been brilliant artists and musicians. He noted that none of the books that Potter had brought to him included great works of literature, not one Shakespeare tragedy, not one bit of Dickens. Why he allowed himself any bit of surprise that Potter’s tastes ran to the plebeian was a mystery.
The weird attempts at collegiality and overtures of friendship had come to an abrupt halt. Potter no longer bounded into his office with ideas about how to engage the students in discussion about Muggles and assimilation. Potter had completely stopped trying to pull Draco into conversation in the staff room or over meals. Draco was enormously relieved, but also a bit offended. Harry Potter seemed to be everyone’s best friend at Hogwarts, he’d managed to ingratiate himself to every other adult in the community, and had charmed everyone into thinking that he was doing miraculous things with students. It was as if he’d completely given up on Draco.
Sitting at the professors’ table in the Great Hall one day during lunch, Draco noticed that several students had what appeared to be tattoos on their arms; some had Chinese writing on their wrists, one even had a bit of what looked like a Celtic knot peeping out of his shirt collar.
“It postively reeks of Muggle around here,” Draco murmured to himself, but was obviously overheard by Flitwick, whose hearing was clearly better than would seem possible, given his doddering appearance and obvious age.
“Don’t be such a curmudgeon, Draco. Hogwarts needs to be shaken up a bit, Harry is doing a world of good for future relations between Wizards and Muggles. You two are of the same generation, I’d think you’d be of a similar mind.”
Draco spluttered for a moment, there were so many points to argue in that simple statement, but he finally settled on the most offensive one. “I’m hardly a curmudgeon!”
Flitwick smiled at Draco. “You are so like Severus when he was your age. An old man before his time. So set in his ways. So didactic, and often inflexible. You need to let yourself go, Draco. You are young, relatively care-free, living in a world where your biggest concern seems to be what Harry Potter is doing; not so different than when you were a student here, no?”
Draco was stunned at Flitwick’s keen observation. Clearly there was much more to this man than he had ever given him credit for. How much did he know about the history between Potter and himself while they were students? Again, Draco could only focus on one idea. “Harry Potter is not my biggest concern!”
He stood and left the table, but not before he noted the twinkle in the old professor’s eye. Draco’s last thought as he slipped out of the room was that Flitwick must be channeling Dumbledore.
The library was closed on Sunday mornings. The castle was a sleepy place then, everyone moving slowly, and keeping to themselves. Draco generally used the time to catch up on pleasure reading, or if the weather permitted, to get outside and away from the musty, dank castle walls.
One such morning, just as Draco had cleared the castle doors and was heading out for a walk the silence was broken by a shout.
“Oi, Malfoy! Wait.”
Draco turned at the sound and watched Potter trot towards him, pushing a thing that had two wheels and looked rather ungainly. He said nothing, but eyed the device with a fair bit of suspicion. Whatever it was that Potter wanted, Draco was sure he was not going to like it.
“It’s a beautiful morning,” was all Potter said.
“Perfect day for learning a bit of bicycle riding.” Harry waggled his eyebrows and pushed the device towards Draco.
Draco stepped back. “That’s what that is? Doesn’t look a bit like a broom.”
“No, it doesn’t, you’re right. But, it does require some of the same skills. I imagine you’ll pick it up pretty quickly. No time like the present.”
“I don’t…” Accusations of curmudgeonliness and inflexibility flitted through his mind, but he squelched them quickly. “I really had other plans today, Potter. Perhaps another time.”
The smile dropped off Harry’s face immediately. “Please, Draco. I really need the support of the entire staff if I’m to convince the students that adapting certain Muggle activities is wise. I’d love to be able to show the students that if the other professors are willing that they should be, too. It’ll also go a long way in helping to convince some of the more recalcitrant parents who are being rather vocal in their disapproval.”
Draco could relate to that argument more than he was willing to share with Potter. He’d already heard from a fair few parents, and knew that Minerva had intercepted many more complaints than she let on; he’d been very grateful.
“Come on, Draco. It really is fun, and you can go rather fast when you get better at it. I might even let you win a race.”
“Fine, Potter. One hour, no more. I have things to do today.”
“Okay, great. Thank you! Let me give you a quick demonstration first so you can see the mechanics of it.” Harry swung a leg over the contraption, put his right foot onto one of the pedals and slowly pushed himself with other to get going. He wobbled briefly and then began pedaling in earnest, looping a circle around where Draco stood.
Draco watched carefully, trying to observe the subtle movements. He refused to make a fool of himself and be bested by Potter. “Looks easy enough, hand it over. Really, Potter, I don’t see what the big deal is.”
Harry pulled to a stop, hopped off and pushed the bicycle towards Draco. “Well, it’s not as easy as it looks. Took me a fair bit of time to learn to do it properly.”
Draco snorted at this comment. “I ride a broom with the best of them, Potter, I’m certain I can handle this.” He placed his hands on the handlebars and moved to straddle the bicycle. Draco had to stand on tiptoe to avoid having his bits squashed by the bar in the middle. He put his right foot on the pedal, just as he’d seen Potter do and pushed off with his left foot. What he’d failed to notice was that Harry had moved the right pedal up a bit to gain a bit of downward momentum as he pushed with his left foot. When the bicycle started rolling Draco forgot to put his left foot on the pedal and start pushing immediately. One foot on a pedal, the other flailing off to the side, he attempted to steer. He rolled about a couple of feet before the bike listed seriously to the right and the whole thing, with Draco still straddling, toppled over.
“DRACO! Are you all right? You took off before I could stop you. Really, you need to wait and I’ll hold the back of the bicycle while you get comfortable and get a feel for it.” Harry rushed over and patted Draco down looking for injury. He gently extracted Draco from underneath and around the bicycle, who hadn’t uttered a sound, but scrambled to his feet quickly.
“Are you accusing me of something, Potter? I think I’ve had enough.” Draco brushed himself off and quickly healed a scrape on his elbow.
“Oh, no. Don’t give up yet. It was only your first attempt. It’ll get better, I promise. Please?? I’ll hold on to the bike so you… er… it won’t fall over. I’ll even cast a cushioning charm and then take it off as soon as you get the hang of it. Even Muggle children have what they call ‘training wheels’ put on the bicycle so they won’t fall over.”
Disgruntled, Draco just wanted to head back to his quarters and nurse his wounds, but he couldn’t stand the thought that Muggle children could ride these things and he couldn’t. Draco had been called many names in his life, some of them deserved, some not, but quitter was not among them. He looked at Potter, then at the bicycle in his hands, then back at Potter, who oozed nothing but earnestness. There wasn’t a hint of laughter behind his bland smile and hopeful eyes.
Draco glanced around to be sure that no one had seen his inelegant first attempt to ride a bicycle.
“Fine. All right, I’ll try again, but this time that thing had better not throw me to the ground, or I may end up hexing it and you.”
A huge smile lit up Harry’s face. “Great! Thanks so much. I swear this time it will be easier.” He moved closer and positioned the device in front of Draco, encouraging him to sling his leg over the middle. “Ok, you’re right-handed, right? So, your right leg is probably stronger. Go ahead and put it on the pedal on that side, but first use your toes to bring the pedal up to the top, then put your foot on it. Yeah…like that. Ok, when I say so you’re going to push down with your right foot and propel yourself a bit with your left foot on the ground. Try to hold the handlebars steady and pointing straight. I’ll hold on to the back of the seat to keep you upright and then I’ll give you a big push for momentum. You have to remember to sit up straight, which shouldn’t be a problem since you’ve got such good posture, and to pedal furiously with both feet. The faster you go the easier it is to stay up. I’ve already cast the cushioning charm, so even if you fall over, you won’t actually hit the ground…”
“Christ, Potter. Shut up, already. You’re talking too much. A little less direction and a little more action, yes? Is this the way you lecture your students? It’s a wonder they absorb any information at all.” Draco was getting frustrated and a bit overwhelmed with all the instructions.
“Fine, fine. No need to get snippy. My students do very well, thank you. I just want you to do well, too, all right? Ok, here we go. Ready?…Set…Go!”
Draco felt a massive push on the bicycle and he frantically tried to remember all the directions. He pushed down with his right, pushed off with his left and then hesitated for a second, unsure what to do next.
“Keep pedaling, Draco!”
Oh. Right. Pedaling. Sitting up. Steady handlebars. He could feel the bicycle wobbling underneath him and he used his body to compensate for every little swerve of the bike. This was nothing like riding a broom, what the fuck had Potter been thinking? Draco was still pedaling and moving forward, but the damn handlebars seemed to have a mind of their own. He realized that Potter was running beside him, one hand still attached the seat directly behind Draco’s arse. He was muttering a litany of encouragement that Draco hadn’t even really heard.
“If you sit up straight, the bike won’t wobble so much.”
Draco tried it and had immediately felt a bit more comfortable. Knowing Potter was holding to him helped some, as well. And then suddenly, it all fell into place and riding a bicycle seemed the easiest thing in the world. Draco pushed harder on the pedals and the bicycle responded by leaping forward faster.
“Let go, Potter. I’ve got it now!”
“Ok. Keep pedaling. Try turning the handlebars gently to the left and make a circle around me. The charm is still in place.”
Draco did and looped a wide arc around as Potter turned in place to watch. “You’re doing great, Draco! Try turning the other direction.”
Draco was feeling quite confident and began turning figure-eights around the small meadow that served as their training ground. “Ok, Potter. I’ve got it. Take off the cushioning charm.”
Harry did and continued watching Draco carefully.
Draco decided to take a break, but suddenly realized he didn’t know how to stop the thing. He did know that if he slowed down too much, he’d fall over, and without the charm he really didn’t want to do that. “So, Potter. How do I stop?”
“Oh, shit. I forgot about that. There are brakes on the handlebars, those little silver bars, you reach out and press on them…”
Before he could finish the sentence, Draco had pushed hard on both of the brakes. The bicycle squealed to a stop and Draco almost flew over the front of the bike. Before he could land, Harry had cast a quick Wingardium Leviosa. Harry wrapped his arms around Draco and stood him on his feet before removing the spell.
“Sorry. I should have explained braking before we started. I was just so excited to see you doing so well, I forgot. You have to press on the brakes very slowly and then let the bike slow down enough so you can put your feet on the ground. Want to practice some more? Try getting it started on your own?”
Potter’s quick save and Draco’s giddiness at successful bicycle riding suppressed most of his anger and embarrassment over his near-death experience. Eager to try again, Draco nodded and made a grab for the bicycle.
Two hours later, Draco was the master of the bike, and Harry had deemed him ready for a bit of friendly competition. They agreed on the following Sunday morning, giving Draco a week in which to practice his new-found skills and prepare himself for battle with Potter.
Draco was a masterful librarian and his research skills were excellent. He used the week to dig up every resource he had on Muggles and bicycles, trying to glean as much information as possible. Not one to limit himself to books, he Apparated himself and the bicycle to an isolated meadow every evening to practice and hone his skills. Determined to beat Potter at his own game, Draco threw himself into this competition with enthusiasm. He’d even made a quick trip to Muggle London, tracking down a book on bicycle maintenance that he’d devoured with characteristic single-mindedness. Tuning and tweaking the bicycle until he was certain that it could perform no better, Draco had set about getting himself in similar shape. He ran every evening, did some stretching and sit-ups in the morning before breakfast and was very careful about what he ate at each meal.
Saturday lunch was a fairly quiet affair in the Great Hall, especially at the staff table. Most professors chose to eat in the privacy of their quarters or be away from the castle all-together. Draco was among only a handful of faculty left in the castle. Flitwick, unfortunately, was also present.
“Mr. Malfoy, you are looking much relaxed this week. Took my advice, did you?”
“I beg your pardon? What advice was that?” Draco’s thoughts had been on the impending race with Potter, and Flitwick’s interruption confused him.
“To let yourself go a little, of course. To relax. To enjoy yourself. I’ve seen you actually smile several times this week. Most unheard of. Even some of the students have commented that you are not nearly as rigid in the library as you have been.” Flitwick’s eye twinkle was back and he glanced rather obviously at Harry further down the table before returning his gaze to Draco.
Per usual, Flitwick had the ability to completely unnerve Draco. His response was not nearly as biting as he intended. “Ridiculous! No idea what you are talking about. Nothing’s changed!” He scooped up the remainder of his sandwich and excused himself from the table. He caught Potter’s glance just as he was leaving. The man had the nerve to nod and wink at him, as if they were in cahoots. Draco just glared. Everyone seemed a bit mad today.
It was a brisk, cool Sunday morning. Draco and Harry were on their brooms scouting a course for their little bit of “friendly competition”. They had agreed that a short sprint would never do, and thus they were charting paths through some forest, over open fields and even across a stream or two. Draco was still confident. In the course of his thorough research he had learned a lot about bicycles, including the fact that Potter had provided mountain bikes, specifically geared for more rugged terrain.
When they reached the starting point, they stowed their brooms and talked about some ground rules, including no magic and no sabotage.
“None of your dirty Quidditch tricks, Malfoy. You can count on the fact that I’ll let the whole of the school know that you are a lowlife cheater if you even sneeze in my direction. Here, I brought you one, too.” Potter held out some sort of blue hat towards Draco. “Since, we’re not using magic, that means no cushioning charms, which means this gets a bit more dangerous. It’s to protect your pretty little head.”
Draco took the proferred hat and put it on his head. It immediately slipped forward nearly covering his eyes. “Works like a charm, Potter. Obscures my vision and you are guaranteed to win. Besides, I don’t think it will actually protect anything if I fall, which I won’t.”
Harry snorted and stepped towards Draco. “Like this.” He reached out, turned the helmet around and then carefully fastened and tightened the chinstraps. “It won’t come off if you fall, which you won’t. Is your vision obscured now?”
“No.” Draco knew he sounded like a brat, but he had thought it was some sort of joke on Potter’s part. “Ready to have your arse kicked?”
“I’m ready to race, but it’s not my arse that’s going to get kicked here. I’ve got loads more experience on these things.”
“Stalling for time is not going to help you. Get on your contraption and let’s have at it. I’ve got other things that need seeing to today.”
“Always in such a hurry, Draco. You need to stop and smell the roses occasionally. Enjoy the moment.”
“With you? Hardly qualifies as a ‘moment’. I’ll give you ten seconds to get yourself ready otherwise I’m declaring myself the winner of this little race.”
“All right, all right. I’m ready. I’ll even let you call it.”
Draco flashed an evil grin, “Ready? Set. GO!” He pushed off quickly with his left foot and began furious pedaling. He’d been practicing his starts specifically, knowing that it could make all the difference.
It was an exhilarating thirty minutes. Draco’s heart pounded so hard it was nearly all he could hear. His legs burned with exertion and were screaming for rest, but Draco knew that it was only a hundred or so more yards and then it would all be finished. For now. While it didn’t have the thrill of a good Quidditch match, it had the intensity, and Draco had the satisfaction of relying completely on himself and no one else. He could see the red scrap of fabric they had tied up as a finish line and he pushed his body to the limit, promising it all sorts of good things tonight if it would just give him a little bit more. He could hear Potter’s rough panting right behind him and knew that it was going to be close. Draco stretched out his arm, reaching for the red flag, Potter’s arm came into his peripheral vision, also reaching, but Draco had a slight advantage, he was a bit taller than Potter and thus had longer arms, and he was able to snatch the fabric just before Potter.
He crowed in victory and slowed the bike before hopping off and throwing himself to the ground. It was all he could do to keep from vomiting right there. He stared at the blue sky and grinned, while the red scrap may not be the Snitch, it was a pretty damn good substitute. Harry flopped down beside him and tried to get his breathing under control.
“Nicely done, Malfoy. You’ve been practicing.”
“I have. Did you honestly think I wasn’t going to do everything in my power to win? You may have always got to the Snitch before me, but this one was mine.” Draco tossed the fabric at Harry and then got to his feet. “But now, I have other things that need doing. This was fun, Potter, I’ll give you that. If you want to do this again sometime, just let me know.”
Draco’s good spirits over his win against Potter last through the first part of the week. It was on Wednesday evening as he was checking in library books that he noticed little yellow pieces of paper sticking out from the pages of certain texts. He gently shook the book by its spine to dislodge the squares of paper, but they didn’t budge. He opened the book and pulled at them where he discovered that they had some sort of adhesive backing, yet they pulled away easily enough without leaving a stain on the page. Nevertheless, Draco was less than pleased to see that many of the books had little yellow squares sticking out.
A fifth-year Hufflepuff girl had the misfortune to approach the desk with yet one more book with little yellow pieces of paper. Just as she was moving to slide the book into the return slot, Draco barked out a command.
“Stop right there!”
The poor girl froze in terror. Eyes wide, she stared at Draco, book still halfway into the slot.
“What are those?” Draco enunciated very quietly.
“Um….books?” she squeaked.
“I can see that. I meant, what are the yellow pieces of paper?” Draco clarified.
The student hadn’t actually moved a muscle. “Oh. Professor Potter calls them Post-Its™, most of us just call them stickies. They’re dead useful for research, easy to keep track of the pages in books that we need.” She smiled helpfully, hoping that would alleviate some of Draco’s apparent anger.
“I would appreciate,” Draco enunciated carefully, “if that in the future, you and your friends using these ‘stickies’ take them out of the books before you return them to me. Be sure to pass on that instruction. I’ll hold you personally responsible.”
She carefully pulled the almost-returned library book towards her chest and nodded emphatically. "Yes, sir. I’ll tell everyone.” She scooted away and began moving from table to table, whispering Draco’s missive to one and all. He was confident that no more books with little yellow pieces of paper would be returned to the library.
Bloody Potter and his office supplies fetish.
A muffled thump sounded through the wall of Draco’s office. He cocked his head and listened more carefully. Another bump and the high trill of someone whistling had Draco jumping to his feet and reaching for his wand. The library was closed, and locked, at this hour on a Friday night.
Draco quietly opened the office door and peered out. At first he saw nothing, but then he caught a glimpse of a shadow moving very quickly, but instead of legs this particular shadow had wheels.
“Potter! What the fuck are you doing riding a bike in my library?” Draco stepped out fully from his office, arms crossed on his chest.
Harry wheeled into sight, rounding a tall bookshelf and a table, he looped in front of Draco, neatly navigating around many of the obstacles in the room. He tossed an easy grin at Draco. “It’s Friday night, Draco. Time to have some fun, you need to loosen up a bit. Let down your hair, so to speak. It’s a full moon. Let’s go for a ride.”
Draco couldn’t help but smile, though he hid it behind his hand. “How romantic, Potter. A moonlit ride. Shall we bring a bottle of wine and call it a date?”
Harry nodded amiably. “If you like. I’m all right with that.”
“I was joking, Potter.”
Harry nodded again. “Yeah, I caught that. I’m not a complete idiot. Why do you insist on still calling me Potter?” He was still riding uneven circles around the library, but catching Draco’s eye every chance he got.
“It’s your name, it suits. Why shouldn’t I?”
“It feels vaguely antagonistic. I think we’ve moved on from that stage in our relationship, so I think we should use our given names, Draco.”
Draco considered it. He didn’t really hate Potter all that much anymore, and he was doing good things for the students, despite the weird fascination with all things office-related. He was occasionally even good company. But, he wasn’t quite ready to admit that to Potter yet.
“And which stage, precisely, is our relationship at?” Draco asked.
“I think…” Harry was interrupted as he had to work to miss a chair that had somehow moved into the aisle, “that we are moving into friendship, possibly more.”
Draco frowned. “Possibly more? What does that mean?”
“It means,” Harry stopped directly in front of Draco, “that I like you. I think you’re fit. You even have a decent sense of humor, sometimes. So, yes, think of this invitation for a ride in the moonlight as a date. Are you game?”
“Potter, I’m not sure…”
“You wish.” Draco couldn’t help but smile at the reminder of so many childhood moments. A more innocent time.
“C’mon, What have you got to lose? I won’t tell anyone.”
Despite himself, Draco was charmed. It had been too long since anyone had expressed any interest in him beyond his skills in research. He was a little bit flattered.
“You’re not going to give up until I go, are you?”
“I won’t wait forever, but if you need time, I can give you some of that.”
“No. I don’t reckon I need time. Fine, a ride tonight it is. On the bicycle that is, but I need to go and change into something warmer and retrieve my bicycle. I’ll meet you on the Pitch in fifteen minutes.”
“No. Don’t get your bike. I have a special one.” Harry slipped out the doors of the library, zigzagging down the wide corridor, the whistling growing fainter.
Draco ducked back into his office to clean up and gather a few things.
“What was going on out there, Mr. Malfoy? Was Professor Potter desecrating the library somehow?” Madam Pince’s voice was shrill.
“Yes, he was. Next time I may join him.”
Twenty-seven minutes later Draco strolled out to the Pitch. Harry was sitting on the grass in the middle, with a bicycle lying beside him. It was much larger than any Draco had seen before, of course, he’d only seen two others, but this one had two seats, two sets of handlebars and two sets of pedals.
“I am. That’s a very odd bicycle.”
“It’s a tandem bicycle for two. I thought, perhaps, it might be nice for us to work together on this ride, as opposed to competing. Takes a fair bit of skill to make it work well.”
“Hmm…who rides in front? That looks the power seat to me.” Draco had sat down on the other side of the bicycle and was eyeing it critically. When he looked up at Harry he saw him smirking.
“We can take turns. Share the control. I’m sure we’ll sort out who likes what more, as we go.”
Draco had the distinct feeling they weren’t talking about riding bicycles any longer. “Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One step at a time, and all that. I brought beer. Shall we?”
“How about after? I’m always up for a drink after a good ride.” Harry’s grin grew wider.
“Christ, Potter. You are as subtle as a thirteen-year old boy. Keep up the adolescent attempts at innuendo and I’m heading back to my quarters to drink alone.”
Harry laughed. “Sorry. Stash the beer, let’s try out the bike first. I’ve never actually ridden one, so this’ll be a first for both of us. Figured that made us even for our first date.” He shrugged and hauled the bicycle upright. “You want the front or the back?”
“I’ll start in the back.” Draco decided that Harry had gone through considerable trouble to get this thing, he should get first dibs on the front. Besides, Draco realized he’d get a lovely view of Harry’s backside while they rode. Now who’s being the adolescent?
It was much harder than it looked, and it was a good thing they had decided on using magic. The cushioning charm had come in handy a number of times as they were quite wobbly in the beginning. Unfortunately, their apparent clumsiness had given Draco a case of the giggles. He couldn’t stop snorting with laughter, which got Harry going, and really trying to pedal and steer a bike while laughing uncontrollably was most difficult. They finally gave up and crawled back to their starting spot, to retrieve the beers.
“Good choice to bring beer instead of wine.” Harry finally said, after taking a few swallows from his bottle.
“Seemed like the right thing at the time.”
They listened to the sounds of the night around them for a while longer, bats occasionally swooped nearby, hunting moths and other insects.
Draco fished around for something neutral to talk about. “So, Harry. Are office supplies your new obsession?”
“What?” Harry looked over at Draco. “What are you talking about?”
“Your students. You’ve created a cult of office supply-loving zombies. They can’t stop telling me how useful things like paperclips and staplers are. Don’t even get me started on the stickies.”
“I…well…uh…most of those things are useful. Much better than dragging around inkpots and large, feathery quills. Rolls of parchment take up enormous amounts of space. A spiral notebook full of paper is much more efficient…” Harry trailed off when he saw Draco laughing. “You’re making fun of me.”
“Yes, “Draco agreed.
Harry leaned in close to Draco, invading his space and whispered, “Just wait ‘til I introduce you the joys of the rubber stamp. Librarians around the world covet them.” He bit lightly on Draco’s earlobe, who startled suddenly. “Did I hurt you?”
“No. Harry, I don’t…” Draco began, but stopped abruptly when Harry started whispering in his ear again.
“Sharpies™, Draco, in all sorts of colors. You’ll love them. Pencils are one of the modern wonders of the world; you can write and then erase.” Harry continued nibbling on Draco’s ear and neck, interspersing bites with commentary.
“Harry, are you talking dirty to me?” Draco asked shakily.
“Mmmm….is it working?”
“Yessss….I’m ashamed to say that it is.” Draco turned his head suddenly and caught Harry’s mouth with his own. It was a slow melding of mouths. The cool slide of their tongues quickly warmed, mirroring the growing heat of their bodies. But, when Harry’s lips left Draco’s to explore the territory behind his ear and down his neck, Draco took a gasp of cold, fresh air and clarity struck him, full-force.
“Potter…Harry, stop, I mean, wait a minute. Delicious as this is, and don’t be mistaken, it is truly delicious, office supplies will only get you so far. I’d like to think this isn’t a quick one-off because of the moonlight or something, yeah? So…” Draco leaned in and gave a lingering kiss before standing up, “let’s do this again sometime.” He pulled Harry to his feet, who was apparently struggling to keep up with Draco’s everchanging moods.
Harry just nodded as Draco gathered up the beer bottles and headed back to the castle.
Draco had just shooed the last of the complaining Sixth-Years out of the library, with cries of “But we have to write eleven inches by 9:00 A.M. tomorrow, please just another thirty minutes” still ringing down the corridor, when Harry stepped out from behind a suit of armor, burdened with a basket full of mysterious objects and a huge grin. He held it aloft like a prize.
“I’ve brought presents for you.”
Unable to completely banish thoughts of Harry Potter from his head all day, Draco was actually relieved to see the real thing. “Well, come in, then. Who am I to turn down gifts?”
Harry headed straight for the office and began unpacking his delights on Draco’s desk. The portraits nearly leaned out of their frames to get a better look at the baffling objects. When Harry noticed Madam Pince’s interest he winked at her which caused her to blush and sit back down, crossing her hands primly. “Big changes are coming, Irma, better batten down the hatches.” Harry added. She huffed, but didn’t turn away, Draco noticed.
Draco was picking through the various objects, holding them up, shaking them a bit. Some were familiar and some were completely alien.
“What is this?” he asked, holding up a small white bottle.
“White-out.” Harry answered absently, after a quick glance. He didn’t offer further explanation, but continued sorting stuff into piles on Draco’s desk, pushing parchments and inkpots to the corners where they perched precariously.
“Now this, Draco,” Harry said as he held up a slim object, “is something you’ll find useful. Here sit down and I’ll show you.”
Draco sat and Harry pulled a pad of paper in front of him. The slim object was placed in his right hand. “A writing device.”
“Yes, it is. The ink is stored inside it, you never need to dip it, the ink just keeps flowing out.” Harry explained, voice neutral.
Draco held it up to the light. “Why doesn’t the ink just drip out the end?” He tried shaking it a bit, but still no ink came out.
“There’s a teeny, tiny ball at the end where the nib would normally be, and as you roll that ball along the paper, it pulls the ink from inside the pen and puts it on the paper. It also keeps the ink from dripping when it’s not moving. Ingenious, no?” Harry couldn’t keep the glee from his voice, and he flapped his hands around a bit in his excitement. “Try it.”
So Draco moved the pen along the paper, but nothing happened. He could see an indentation along the line where he had stroked, but there was no color there. “Wow.”
“Shut it, you. Sometimes you have to get the ink started. I usually give it a quick lick.”
Draco made a face at that. “I’m not licking that thing, Potter.”
“Don’t be such a prude.” Harry picked up Draco’s hand holding the pen and carefully licked the end of the pen himself. Draco couldn’t take his eyes off Harry’s tongue. “Try it again.”
This time the pen worked and there was a streak of pink sparkly ink on the fresh white paper. “Pink, Potter!?! What makes you think I want a thing that writes pink?”
“It was just for fun, don’t worry, I got you other colors, as well.” Suddenly, Harry’s voice was very close to Draco’s ear. “There’s a rubber stamp in here, just for you.” His hand snaked around from behind Draco and reached for an odd little thing that had a small wooden handle. He carefully flipped open the lid of a flat plastic box and stamped rather hard with the device into the opened box. He then thumped equally hard on the paper.
This book is the property of the Hogwarts Library was clearly visible on the paper.
“I thought you’d like to mark your territory, so to speak. What do you think, Draco?” Harry was still leaning down, pressing the length of his chest against Draco’s back, arms all but wound around Draco.
“I like that one very much. Some of these things may have their uses yet.” Draco was willing to be generous, especially under the onslaught of sensations rippling through his system from Harry’s touch. Without any thought, Draco turned his head and kissed Harry fully. He slid from the chair to stand, wrapping his arms around Harry as he did so.
Startled gasps and not-so-quiet clucking from the portraits reminded Draco where he was, what he was doing and, most importantly, with whom. Reluctantly this time, he pulled away. “We need to take this somewhere else.”
“We do,” Harry said to Draco and pulled him from the office. “My quarters are closer.” He stopped only to snag the small white plastic bottle from the desk. “I’ll introduce you to the joys of White-Out.”