hd_hols (hd_hols) wrote in hd_holidays,
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Happy H/D Holidays celandineb

Author: tehgiantsquid
Recipient: celandineb
Title: The Pursuit of Happiness (Part 2/2)



After Juan-from-Panama, Harry decided to stop fucking his way around the world and get serious about his life. There was a reason he had left England in the first place, and it wasn’t to see how many men he could screw around with. He decided to leave the Americas altogether and next found himself in Australia. He’d stayed for nine months before packing his bags and heading for India, then Egypt, and finally arriving in Bulgaria.

Viktor had been very pleased to see Harry, since the last time they’d met it had been while he’d been searching for the Horcruxes. Viktor had invited Harry into his home, his life, for nearly a year, before inviting Harry into his bed.

“But…I thought you liked Hermione,” Harry said breathlessly as Viktor sucked on a very sensitive part of Harry’s neck.

“Mmm,” Viktor hummed. “Yes, she is nice, very beautiful, but she is vith Veasley now, yes? You are very beautiful as vell.” He bit down lightly on Harry’s shoulder, and Harry’s eyes rolled into the back of his head.

Viktor’s long fingers splayed across Harry’s belly, scratching and tugging lightly on the hair that led down into his tented boxers. With a wide smile, Viktor kissed his way down Harry’s flushed body and his brain pretty much shut down after that.

His and Viktor’s relationship was the only thing Harry could ever call an actual relationship. They had dinner together every time Viktor was in town; they’d go to the cinema or out to eat; they fought, made up, fucked, farted in each other’s presence. Harry loved it, and for the first time in a long time, he felt happy and at peace with himself. Viktor showed Harry what a good life could be like, what a healthy relationship was like.

Which was why he was devastated when Viktor broke it off.

“You are not happy here,” he said in a soft rumbling voice. Harry’s eyes were burning and his stomach rolled violently. He felt like he was going to sick up.

“I am happy,” Harry choked. “I love…it here. I love being with you.”

“But do you love me?” said Viktor.

Harry opened his mouth, the words were right there, he could say them, but nothing came out. He stared at Viktor, and then in horrifying silence watched him walk out the door.

Ron and Hermione’s wedding invitation arrived the next day and Harry didn’t hesitate. He left without saying goodbye.

Malfoy was extremely grumpy as he and Harry made their way towards Ernie Macmillan’s large house. It had begun raining not long after they had left Harry’s apartment, soaking Malfoy to his skin because he couldn’t cast a Protection Spell quickly enough. Harry, meanwhile, rather enjoyed seeing Malfoy’s muscles move through his wet shirt and watching Malfoy flick his hair out of his eyes.

I really needed to get laid, Harry thought.

Soon enough, Malfoy was pounding on Ernie’s front door, looking flustered and a little irritated. The door swung open a moment later and a squeaky voice said, “Can Duffy be helping you sirs?”

Harry’s head snapped down to find a fat house-elf staring up at him with round blue eyes.

“Er,” he said.

“Tell Master Macmillan that Detective Malfoy and Harry Potter are here to see him,” said Malfoy imperiously. “Well, go on!”

Duffy squeaked and then disappeared with a crack. A few moments later, Ernie came scurrying down the hall, a wide grin plastered to his face. “Harry!” he crowed, grabbing Harry’s hand and shaking vigorously. “H-How good to see you! Please, come in, come in. Here, let me take your cloaks.”

Ernie sniffed at the sight of Malfoy’s drenched robes, but didn’t say anything, to Harry’s relief. He led the two through the foyer, past several elaborate tapestries, and into a large room filled to the ceiling with books. Ernie gestured for Harry and Malfoy to sit, and then Duffy appeared carrying a tray laden with tea and scones.

“It’s so good to see you again, Harry,” said Ernie earnestly, staring in a way that gave Harry gooseflesh. “I’m glad to see you keeping in touch with the people who supported you in the war.” Here he cast a disgruntled look at Malfoy, who scowled.

“Yes, well, we’re not quite here to catch up on old times,” Harry said quickly. “Malfoy here’s a private investigator who’s been hired by the Caldwells to look into Elyse’s disappearance. We were hoping you’d help us out.”

Ernie had gone very still and his eyes shifted back and forth between Harry and Malfoy. “I don’t know anything about Elyse’s disappearance,” he said, then stood quickly. “Look, I have a really busy afternoon, so not to be rude, but I need to get going—”

“If you know anything, you need to tell us,” said Malfoy, speaking for the first time. “Her parents still haven’t recovered. Her mother sobbed whenever I met with them. We just saw Sarah Fawcett yesterday and she’s still upset about it. If you know anything, Mr Macmillan, you have a responsibility to tell us.”

Ernie’s face turned a shade of red that could rival Ron’s, but he sighed and sat back down. “Fine. What do you want to know?”

“Sarah said that Elyse was going to meet you at the Leaky Cauldron the night she disappeared. What was the purpose of the meeting?”

“It wasn’t a meeting,” Ernie mumbled. “It was a date. We were dating at the time, though she hadn’t told her parents. I don’t know why, so don’t ask.”

“What did you do when she didn’t show up?” asked Malfoy, who once again had pulled out a quill and parchment.

“I assume she’d stood me up. She’d done it before,” he added under his breath.

“What do you mean?”

Ernie sighed, then took a sip of tea. “We’d made plans before and she’d either back out of just not show up. And not just me, but with Sarah and Penny too. She didn’t even go to Percy Weasley’s funeral, and she worked for the bastard. Er, sorry,” he added when Harry glared.

Malfoy nodded and then pulled out the set of notes he’d taken at Sarah’s house. “Do you have any idea where Elyse was going when she wasn’t with you?”

A long silence passed as Ernie frowned into his teacup. “No. But…I had an idea.” He sighed loudly. “I thought she was cheating on me.”

Malfoy’s eyebrows flew into his hairline. “Why did you think that?”

“It was the little things,” said Ernie, sounding sad. “She’d tell Sarah or Penny that she’d be meeting ‘him’ at a restaurant, but that would never be me, you know? Penny would say that Elyse would talk about important meetings she’d have, but Elyse was just a secretary. She wasn’t important. But she just…she was different. She’d disappear for hours at a time, then show up looking pleased as punch. She’d talk about the war and how much she wanted to help the ‘cause’.” Ernie trailed off and frowned.

“I assume Sarah told you, then?” he said softly.

“Miss Fawcett informed us that Elyse’s loyalties lay with the Dark Lord, yes,” said Malfoy carefully.

Ernie let out a soft snort. “You could say that. She got quite fanatical about it near the end, always going on about how much she was doing for the cause, how much she was helping, how he was so proud of her.”

“He?” said Malfoy, leaning forward.

“I don’t know who he was,” said Ernie, suddenly sounding angry. “I don’t know if he was the one she was cheating with, or if he was a Death Eater. But there was definitely someone.”

“Do you know where Elyse would meet this man?”

“No,” Ernie growled. “If I had, I would have punched his lights out, or—or killed him!”

Malfoy’s quill scratched loudly against the parchment, allowing Ernie some time to cool down. Finally, Malfoy raised his head and said, “Thank you, Mr Macmillan. You’ve helped us a great deal…Now, if we could speak to the lady of the household, I’d appreciate it.”

Ernie looked stunned, then a small, humorless smiled crept onto his face. “You do you research well, Malfoy,” he said coolly. “But Penny’s not home. She’s at work, and she hates to be disturbed.”

“How did you know they were married?” Harry later asked after he and Malfoy had been shown out of the house.

“They’re not,” replied Malfoy as he fastened his cloak. “Did you see a ring on his finger? No, they’re just living together. Quite scandalous, actually, but since you don’t read beyond the first page of the Prophet, you wouldn’t know about that, would you?”

“Oh shut up,” Harry muttered. “So you do you think this man was? The one she was meeting?”

“If I knew, Potter, I wouldn’t be standing here with you, would I?” Malfoy sighed and stepped out onto the path leading away from the house. “Penelope Clearwater works in the Department of Mysteries, so it’ll be impossible to catch her at the Ministry. And by the time she returns home, Ernie will have warned her about us and her information will be useless.”

“I’m sure—”

Useless,” Malfoy spat. He grabbed Harry’s upper arm and said, “Come on,” before Disapparating with a loud crack.

“You need to warn someone when you’re going to do that,” said Harry, blinking away the dizziness.

“I’m going to the loo,” Malfoy announced, and when Harry looked up, he had vanished into the bathroom.

Harry opened his icebox and stared into the emptiness, contemplating what he should have for lunch, when Malfoy gave out a loud shriek. Tripping over his feet, Harry stumbled towards the bathroom door and knocked rapidly.

“Malfoy, are you all right?”

The door swung open then, causing Harry to lurch forward and nearly fall into Malfoy’s arms.

“Rat!” Malfoy gasped. “You have rats! That is so unbelievably disgusting, Potter, I swear. Ugh!” He roughly pushed past Harry and stormed into the living room, with Harry trailing behind, feeling lost.

“Look, Malfoy, I don’t have rats,” he said. “I’m not a slob. And, well…even if I did, so what? I live in London. Rats are kinda the prerequisite for living here.”

“It’s disgusting,” Malfoy moaned. “They carry disease, they’re filthy, they bite and claw and chew. For all you know, they’re fucking Animagi!”

Harry and Malfoy both instantly froze and Harry’s heart began to pound in his chest. “When was Elyse reported missing?” said Harry. “The following morning, right?”

“August ninth,” said Malfoy. “So she went missing on the eighth.”

Harry stepped very close to Malfoy and said, “Peter Pettigrew was found dead on August eighth.”

“You don’t think…”

Malfoy’s breaths came faster and faster. He grabbed onto Harry’s arm again and said, “Come on. The Caldwells aren’t home and I want to check out Elyse’s bedroom again.” Without another word, he and Harry Disapparated.

::

“I’m pretty sure this is breaking and entering,” said Harry conversationally as Malfoy spelled his way into the Caldwell home. “I’m pretty sure we could get arrested for this.”

“Will you shut up?” said Malfoy through gritted teeth. With one final wave of his wand, the backdoor swung open, and Malfoy pulled Harry through the threshold. “Elyse’s room is at the top of the stairs and to the right. I’ll meet you up there in a minute, I need to put up some spells to warn us if the Caldwells come home early.”

Harry nodded and quickly bounded up the stairs. Elyse’s room was easy to find, but Harry paused upon entering. It was eerie, he thought, to see it the same way Elyse had left it. The bed sheets were still crumpled, a pair of trousers were still draped on the back of her desk chair. A thick layer of dust had settled over everything, and bright light streamed through the open curtains on the window. Nearly everything was pink, from the color on the walls to the carpet on the floor.

“She was their only child.”

Harry nearly jumped out of his skin and he threw a glare at Malfoy as he strolled into the room.

“What do you hope to find in here?” asked Harry as Malfoy bent down over her desk.

“I don’t know. Anything. A diary, preferably. Her mother said she’d kept one. Help me look for it.”

Malfoy then actually got down on his knees to peer underneath her bed, and then searched between the mattress and box springs. Harry, meanwhile, watched in amusement, enjoying the look of Malfoy’s arse up in the air, then said, “Accio Elyse’s diary!

Malfoy’s head snapped up, and then with a yelp he ducked again as a simple black book barreled over his head and towards Harry. Snatching it easily out of the air, Harry flipped the diary open and began to read.

Grumbling, Malfoy hauled himself off the floor and came to stand beside Harry, peering down at the diary. “Does it say anything useful?” he asked, breath puffing against Harry’s skin.

Harry suppressed a shiver as best he could. “I, er, dunno. Let’s take it back to my flat so you can read it and I can work on the wand.”

“Good idea,” said Malfoy. His hand slipped into Harry’s and a moment later, they reappeared in Harry’s flat. Malfoy dropped his hand immediately, then flopped onto the sofa. Harry stared after him for a moment, his stomach rolling in an all too familiar way, and suddenly found that he had to get out of there. He needed to be alone, if only for a little while.

Stepping over to the sofa, Harry picked up the box that contained Elyse’s wand and said, “I’m gonna take this to my shop. I’ve better equipment and potions there for dealing with this kind of stuff. I’ll bring lunch back when I’m done, how’s that?”

Malfoy mumbled something in agreement and shooed Harry away with his hand. Smiling in spite of himself, Harry Apparated into his shop and instantly felt more at ease.

It’s impossible, Harry thought as he sat down at his worktable and pulled out Elyse’s wand. I don’t even know him. For God’s sake, it’s Malfoy! With his pureblood issues and pointy face and pointy nose and silky white hair and pink, full lips—Stop it!

“Fuck,” he muttered, and banged his head against the table. Okay, fine. Yes. He thought Malfoy was attractive, so what? He also thought Ron was attractive, but that didn’t mean anything. He just hadn’t had sex in a while—nine months, whatever. That was all. He was just sexually frustrated, and Malfoy was there, and he had nice hair, and Harry knew without a doubt that Malfoy was gay.

Malfoy showed up on Grimmauld’s steps mere weeks after he and Snape had fled Hogwarts the night Dumbledore died. To this day, Harry still didn’t know how Malfoy was able to see the house and get past the Fidelius, but he did, and Malfoy was allowed to stay in Harry’s house, eat Harry’s food, and generally make Harry’s life a living hell.

Malfoy’s room was across from his own, and they would run into each other often on the stairs or in the hall. They’d exchange words, have a scuffle or two before turning in for the night. Harry, for the most part, just pretended Malfoy didn’t exist. But Malfoy was always there, in the way, in the library or the kitchen or the loo. Harry could never seem to avoid him.

Only angering Harry further was the fact that people like Mr Weasley and Remus allowed Malfoy to live there, had welcomed him with open arms. They never explained their reasoning, only saying that Malfoy wasn’t the same person anymore, and can’t you learn to like him?

Harry hated him; he’d always hated him and he always would.

Not too long after, Harry, Ron, and Hermione left to search for and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, not knowing at the time that Malfoy was in possession of the locket. After six months, and the destruction of Hufflepuff’s cup and Ravenclaw’s wand, the exhausted trio returned to Grimmauld Place.

“We have no idea where the locket could be,” Harry explained later that night to a select few members of the Order. At first, he had avoided telling them about the Horcruxes, but he soon realized that he would need all their help, and told them as little as he could without giving too much away. All they knew was that he was searching for artifacts that had belonged to the Founders of Hogwarts.

“We’ve interrogated Dung twice under Veritaserum, but he still doesn’t know what happened to the locket,” said Tonks, her blue hair nearly blinding. “All he can tell us is that he sold it to some man in a dark hood in Knockturn. Fat load of help that is.”

Harry wearily ran his hand over his face, upsetting his glasses. “We need to sleep,” he said, indicating himself, Ron, and Hermione. The meeting ended shortly thereafter, and Harry trudged up the stairs to his room. When he opened the door, however, he found Malfoy sitting primly on his bed and wearing a smirk that could rival the best of them.

Frowning, Harry slammed his door shut and stormed over to Malfoy, who remained seated. “What the fuck are you doing in here?” Harry demanded.

Malfoy remained completely unperturbed. Instead, he rose slowly and pulled a long, fleshy Extendable Ear from his trouser pocket. Harry saw red and with a shout, he shoved Malfoy backwards onto the bed. Straddling him, Harry wrestled the Ear out of Malfoy’s grip and then pinned Malfoy’s wrists down.

“Were you spying on us?” Harry hissed.

“It’s ridiculously easy,” said Malfoy, licking his lips. “They never put spells up anymore. They trust me, Potter.” He gave a twisted smile.

Harry’s grip tightened and he felt a surge of satisfaction when Malfoy winced.

“Potter,” he said through clenched teeth, “look under my shirt.”

“What?” Harry snapped, startled.

“My shirt, you giant freak,” Malfoy barked. “You might like the locket I’m wearing.”

For six months, Harry had been searching for Slytherin’s locket, and it had been around Malfoy’s neck at Grimmauld Place the entire time.

After the locket was destroyed, the only Horcrux left was Nagini, and as the year passed, tensions were getting high. Everyone sought ways to relieve the pressure and the pain they were feeling. Ron and Hermione christened every room at Grimmauld. Molly baked enough food to feed a small army. Harry wanked endlessly. And Malfoy, apparently, began to fuck Weasleys.

Well, one Weasley to be exact.

Harry’s eighteenth birthday had passed uneventfully, with no attacks or sightings of Voldemort. Molly had baked a small cake and a few people showed up to congratulate Harry, including Fred and George Weasley.

Having not seen them in ages, Harry actually enjoyed spending time with the twins, who never failed to make him laugh and keep his spirits high. But after Percy’s death in early September, even the twins couldn’t fake any cheer. Fred and George moved into Grimmauld a few days later in order to help take care of their mum, who was inconsolable.

That night, Harry was on his way to bed when he heard an odd noise coming from Malfoy’s bedroom. Since Harry could never resist when his curiosity was peaked, he crept towards the bedroom and pressed his ear against the door.

Moaning, two voices, gasps of pleasure. Harry jerked back and gaped in astonishment. Malfoy was having sex, and Harry wasn’t? Despite being indignant, Harry’s cock was swelling between his legs and his heart was pounding through his chest. One little peak wouldn’t hurt, would it? Malfoy would be so caught up in the sex that he surely wouldn’t notice Harry.

But just to be safe, Harry quickly ran back to grab his Invisibility Cloak. When he returned, the moans had intensified, making Harry grow even harder, and with a murmured spell, the door unlocked and silently opened just a few inches.

That was all Harry needed to see exactly what was going on in the room. Malfoy lay on his back, legs wrapped around a freckled arse, head thrown back as George Weasley thrust into his body.

Harry quietly closed the door, snuck back into his room, and then proceeded to have the best wank of his life. Two days later, Harry left to destroy Nagini. He never spoke of what he saw to anybody.

::

As he removed the last of the Protection Spells surrounding the wand, Harry sat back and admired his handiwork. The jinxes had been juvenile, fifth year level at most, and the spells a joke. Any Auror could have removed them, but Harry suspected they just didn’t care.

Harry stared at the floating wand for a minute, contemplating it from different angles, before he reached his hand out and gripped it in his palm.

No warmth. No magic. It wasn’t a real wand.

Standing, Harry strode into the back room and pulled out his wand corer. Gingerly placing the wand between the two ends, he cranked the corer once, twice, then stopped and removed the wand.

Inside the core was a white wisp of something, but even a child could tell that it was no unicorn tail. With his thumb and forefinger, Harry eased the fake core out of the wand and placed it on the table.

Harry ran a quick diagnostic and determined that the core belonged to a regular, non-magical horse. Grabbing the wand and core, Harry quickly Disapparated.

“I got lunch,” Malfoy said in a scathing tone. “Since you’ve been gone for hours. Flooing next time would be a polite thing to do.”

“The wand’s fake,” said Harry breathlessly, and Malfoy sat up straighter. “I mean—the wood, it’s real. ‘S’not like it’s hard to find hawthorn if you know where to look. The length, it’s wrong, you know that. But the core. It wasn’t unicorn, just horse hair.”

Malfoy’s head snapped up. “Elyse used to ride. She owned a horse, kept it in a stable in Hyde Park.”

“Pettigrew’s body was found outside a horse stable,” Harry said in a low voice.

Malfoy stood up and thrust Elyse’s diary into Harry’s hands. “I’ve been reading nonstop since you left. She mentions meeting a man every Thursday down at the stables. She was passing information. All those documents she was told to destroy, she didn’t—she kept them and then gave them away.”

Harry grabbed the diary and flipped it open, though he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. “Did she ever say what those documents contained?”

“No, not specifically, but Potter…She called the man her ‘pet’.”

“Pettigrew,” Harry growled.

“But he’s dead,” said Malfoy, looking a little wild, his hair sticking up in the back. “You saw the body, didn’t you? Even he wasn’t that talented.”

“He’s faked his death before.” Harry clenched his fists. “He could have done it again.”

“But is he that stupid?” said Malfoy. “I mean—all right, say he did fake his death. He sure as hell wouldn’t hang around here, would he?”

“You’d be surprised,” muttered Harry. “Where was Pettigrew buried?”

Malfoy frowned. “I don’t know. I could find out, though. But not until tonight, after the Ministry closes. I don’t have access to those, ah, particular areas. Why?”

Harry set his jaw. “Because we have to exhume the body.”

“We can’t do that on our own, Potter,” hissed Malfoy. “We need to present our findings first to the Wizengamot, plus we need to find an Auror who’ll back us up in court.”

“Ron’ll do that—”

“Yes,” said Malfoy, “but Weasley’s in Italy until Saturday.”

“We can’t just let Pettigrew get away!” Harry shouted. Malfoy made an angry face and stomped forward, pressing Harry back against the door.

“Listen to me, Potter,” he growled. “I didn’t come all this way just to have you fuck up my career. We have to be patient, we have to wait, all right? Listen, I’ll try to dig up as much information on Pettigrew as I can, see if it’s possible he could have made that wand. You, meanwhile…get some sleep, you look like shite.”

Harry snorted, and at once he felt himself deflate, slumping against the door. “He murdered my parents,” Harry whispered, and Malfoy’s eyes lost some of their edge. “He killed Cedric and brought Voldemort back. If it weren’t for him…” Harry trailed off, staring at a point beyond Malfoy’s shoulder.

With a sigh, Malfoy’s fingers brushed Harry’s chin, drawing his attention. “If he is alive, we’ll find him. And we’ll make the bastard tell us what he did to Elyse.”

Harry’s breath caught in his throat. Malfoy was so close, he could see every eyelash, and Harry’s body felt aflame. Then Malfoy stepped away, quickly dropping his arm, and turned towards the sofa.

“Listen, Potter,” he said thickly, “it’s getting late. Would it be all right if I stayed here again? Just for one night.”

“Yes,” Harry said at once. Malfoy turned around and smiled slightly. “The Ministry’ll close in a few hours. Let’s get all our evidence together and organized to present to the Wizengamot. Owl Weasley, too, and see if he can’t Apparate here for just a few hours while we present to the court.”

Nodding, Harry and Malfoy stared at one another for a few moments, then Malfoy turned back to the sofa and began leafing through his notes.

::

Several days passed before Harry heard back from Ron. With a soft hoot, Hedwig glided through Harry’s open window and landed delicately on his shoulder. “There’s a good girl,” he murmured, removing the parchment tied to her leg. She nipped his fingers affectionately and then flew into her cage where she promptly tucked her head under her wing and began to snooze.

Unfurling the parchment, Harry walked over to Malfoy and showed him the letter:

Harry and Draco—

I got your letter and I’ve already arranged for you to meet the Wizengamot tomorrow at 9:00 sharp. I hope you can stand to wait that long. It’ll be a small hearing, nothing like your fifth year Harry, so don’t worry. Edward Elderberry will be presiding. He’s fair. My dad’ll be there too so you two have nothing to worry about.

Blimey, I can’t believe this is all happening again. Harry promise me we’ll get the bastard.

I’m doing fine. The Italian Ministry is full of gits. Nothing new. Oh, Hermione is pregnant.

—Ron


“Oh my God,” Harry breathed.

“I know,” said Malfoy. “Weasley has appalling grammar.”

“No, you idiot!” said Harry with a laugh. “Hermione’s pregnant! That’s so fantastic, I have to go see her. I can’t believe they didn’t tell me.”

“I figure she was waiting to tell you after Weasley returned,” said Malfoy.

Comprehension dawned and Harry had to agree. “You’re probably right,” he said, mulling over the note again. “Wow, I’m gonna be an uncle…”

Malfoy snorted but otherwise didn’t tease Harry as he’d expected. That night, Harry and Malfoy went over their notes again for their presentation to the court, then ate some take-away from another restaurant Malfoy had recommended. Soon enough, conversation turned towards their days at Hogwarts, before the war, before everything went to hell.

“You should’ve seen his face,” Malfoy wheezed, taking another sip of wine. Harry was struggling not to laugh, but was having a hard time with it. “Weasley was horrified. It was brilliant. I was so proud of that song…” Malfoy mused. “‘Weasley is our king, he always lets the Quaffle in!’”

“That’s an awful song,” said Harry, then laughed at the look of indignation on Malfoy’s face. “Why did you always have to antagonize him so much?”

“Ahh, isn’t it obvious,” Malfoy said, grinning. “Wanted to get into his knickers!”

Harry burst out laughing and clutched at his side. “Oh I see!” he sniggered. “You’ve always had a thing for him, then? Liked to annoy him just to see how red he could turn?”

“You’ve got it, Potter,” said Malfoy, losing the teasing tone in his voice. “Why do you think I threw myself in front of the curse that was meant for him during that battle?”

Snorting loudly, Harry shook his head and took another swig of wine. “Because you looooved him?” He began to laugh again at the absurdity.

“Yes,” said Malfoy, very quietly.

Harry sniggered again, but sobered quickly when he realized Malfoy was being completely serious. “Wait—I don’t understand…” he said. “You hated Ron.”

“Have you never liked someone even though you hated them at the same time?” said Malfoy, rolling the wineglass between his fingers.

“Yes,” Harry blurted, thinking of Juan…No, not Juan anymore. Malfoy.

“That was Weasley for me,” continued Malfoy, staring down into his wine. “I really hated myself, you know, because I was appalled that I could like someone so ridiculous, so Gryffindor…so red.” He shrugged a bony shoulder. “It got worse after you three returned from your little quest. He was always there, always around, always snogging Granger.”

“You sort of like Hermione,” Harry said weakly.

“I do now,” Malfoy admitted. “But definitely not always.”

Harry was so confused. “I don’t get it,” he admitted. And then, things went horribly wrong, all because that little link between his mouth and his brain had been destroyed again by the wine. As if in slow motion, Harry felt the words bubbling up in his throat and spewing out of his mouth. “I saw you fucking George Weasley once.”

What followed was possibly the loudest silence Harry had ever heard. Malfoy stared at him in horror, his cheeks flooding with color. He slammed his wineglass onto the table, breaking the stem, and marched out of the room. Harry flinched when he heard his bedroom door slam shut and he knew he’d been sleeping on the sofa tonight.

Twenty minutes later Harry was lying awake after taking a cold shower, staring up at his ceiling and contemplating brushing his teeth when he heard his bedroom door being wrenched open and Malfoy stomping down the hall.

“Just so you know,” Malfoy barked, “yes, I did screw George Weasley. He was an amazing fuck, as I’m sure you know, since you fucked him not a week after you split up with Viktor Krum!”

Harry scrambled off the couch. “How the hell did you know about that?” he demanded, stumbling a little over the words once he saw that Malfoy was wearing nothing but boxers.

“I’m an investigator!” Malfoy cried. “I know things, I read the paper, I listen to gossip, you big idiot! It’s not like you’re the most discreet person ever to walk the planet!”

“Will you stop yelling at me?” Harry roared.

“NO!” And with a strangled cry, Malfoy leapt towards Harry and knocked him to the ground.

Gasping in pain, Harry kicked out his legs and flailed his arms, succeeding in elbowing Malfoy right in the ribs. Wheezing, Malfoy doubled over, then slammed his knee down onto Harry’s right ankle. With a howl, Harry shoved Malfoy hard in the chest, and he went flying backwards, landing on his arse. Harry pounced, pinning Malfoy’s wrists, but Malfoy had got stronger over the years and he was able to roll Harry off him with ease.

As Harry struggled to free himself, Malfoy bent over and glared into Harry’s eyes. “Do you know what it’s like?” he hissed, squeezing Harry’s arms. “To hear Ron talk about you all the time? To go on and on about how amazing you are, how great a friend you are, when you abandoned him for four fucking years?”

“Gerroff me!” Harry snapped.

Malfoy ignored him. “You weren’t there, Potter, to comfort him when you wouldn’t return his letters. To see the disappointment in his eyes. To watch him fall in love with someone else, a Mudblood. And then to have to let him go.”

Everything suddenly got very hot as all the blood in Harry’s body rushed to the surface of his skin as Malfoy slowly lowered himself onto Harry. Oh God, Harry thought with a groan when he felt Malfoy’s erection poking him in the hip.

“So I let Ron go,” Malfoy whispered. “I let him go and began to listen. And all he ever talked about was you. Harry this, Harry that. Harry’s so great, so smart, he’s a good-looking bloke, you know, you’d two get along great. He’d show me pictures of you around the world. And I kept them.” Malfoy snorted softly. “And I suppose you could say I turned my attention on you.”

Harry’s eyes widened and Malfoy chuckled softly. “Don’t worry, I’m not some fanatical stalker,” he said, loosening his hold on Harry’s wrists. “But I do like you. I’ve no idea why, mind. You’re infuriating, do you know that?” Malfoy grinned, white teeth gleaming like a Cheshire cat, and Harry suddenly wanted nothing more than to roll Malfoy over and fuck him through the floor.

Seeing the heat in Harry’s eyes, Malfoy tilted his head and kissed Harry lightly on the lips. A shiver raced down his spine and he groaned. Encouraged, Malfoy kissed him harder, letting go of his wrists to tug on Harry’s hair.

Harry gasped at the sensation and arched up, grinding his erection against Malfoy’s. Malfoy moaned into Harry’s mouth and pressed his hips down, causing Harry to buck once more. Malfoy tore his mouth away and began kissing down Harry’s throat, sucking on sensitive skin.

“You’re so fuckin’ beautiful,” Malfoy rumbled in Harry’s ear, and suddenly everything went cold.

Harry froze, back stiffening, and Malfoy raised his head, staring down at him with dilated eyes. “Potter?” he whispered.

“I can’t,” said Harry, sitting up abruptly and dislodging Malfoy from his lap. He landed with a thud on the cold wood floor and stared at Harry with growing ire. “I can’t,” Harry said again, feeling utterly useless.

Malfoy just glared at him. Harry could feel his eyes boring into the back of his head, but he couldn’t, not anymore, it wouldn’t make him happy, so Harry turned his head away and Malfoy let out a growl.

“Fine,” he snapped. “Fine!” Malfoy stood, grabbing his wand from the table, then stomped over to his suitcase. With a loud crack, he was gone.

Harry didn’t sleep at all that night.

::

“Well, I’m glad to see you two getting along so well,” said Ron the following morning as he, Harry, and Malfoy awaited the verdict on their evidence.

Harry had showed up around 8:30, unsure whether Malfoy would show. But he was already there, chatting with Ron and looking as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Until he saw Harry—then his face went blank and his eyes cold. Ron had glanced back and forth between the two, but hadn’t had time to say anything as they were called into the small courtroom early.

They presented the evidence calmly and answered all the Wizengamot’s answers, and now all they had to do was wait to see if they would get permission to exhume Pettigrew’s body.

Harry frowned at Ron’s barb and turned further away from Malfoy, who in turn did the same. Ron sighed loudly and glanced down at his watch. “You two got a lot done in just a few days,” he said amiably, rocking on the balls of his feet. Malfoy snorted and Harry gritted his teeth.

“I always knew you two could get along,” Ron continued. Harry felt like slamming his head against the wall. Surely even Ron wasn’t that clueless?

“Oh yes, we got along spiffingly,” Malfoy snapped sarcastically, and Harry’s head whipped around.

“All right, come on you two, what happened?” said Ron, exasperated.

“Nothing,” said Harry forcefully at the same time Malfoy snapped, “Ask wonder boy over there.”

Ron ran a hand over his face and peered at Harry from behind his fingers.

“Don’t look at me,” Harry hissed. Malfoy growled low in his throat and looked ready to knock Harry to the ground, but just then Mr Weasley poked his head out through the courtroom door.

“We’ve made a decision,” he said with a smile. “Come on in, boys.”

“The evidence you’ve presented is rather disturbing,” boomed Edward Elderberry, who’d become Chief Warlock after Dumbledore’s death. Balder than a newborn babe, Elderberry had to have been the oldest man Harry had ever seen, though he moved quickly and efficiently. His thick spectacles made his eyes look like an owl’s as he peered down at Harry, Ron, and Malfoy.

“The very idea that a traitor such as Peter Pettigrew could still be at large leaves many of us uneasy.” Elderberry coughed loudly into a handkerchief, then wrinkled his nose. “It is thereby the decision of this court to grant your proposal and allow the exhumation of the body of Peter Pettigrew this Saturday at nine o’clock in the morn.”

Harry let out a long breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and grinned at Ron, who winked back. Despite Malfoy and the general awfulness of Harry’s life, things were beginning to come together.

He didn’t pause to think how quickly everything was going to fall apart.

::

Neither Harry nor Malfoy were allowed to go to the exhumation, so Harry waited impatiently in his flat, pacing up and down the hall, trying desperately not to think about Malfoy or George or Viktor or Juan or Bernard. He needed to concentrate on this case, on the possibility that it wasn’t Pettigrew’s body in that grave, that it could be Elyse’s.

He was exhausted, mentally and physically, and so confused about Malfoy, about why Harry had frozen up the way he did. Flinging himself onto his sofa, Harry took off his glasses and covered his eyes with his arm.

Bernard had called him beautiful the first day they’d met. Harry had blushed and stammered, unused to such attention from a man, but liking it all the same. The first time Harry ever had sex was with Bernard, who’d kept calling him ‘Black Beauty’. It had been an amazing experience, and up ‘til then Harry had always treasured that memory.

Juan…He had never called Harry beautiful, not that he could recall, but his Spanish was quite poor. But Juan did call him ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’, just never beautiful. Though Juan rarely said nice things to Harry.

Viktor, however. Harry let his head fall back against the sofa. Viktor would lavish Harry with compliments and kind words. At times it felt as if he were being worshipped, and it made Harry feel good. He’d liked it, a lot. It wasn’t until after Viktor ended things that Harry realized he never said anything nice back to him. He never gave Viktor a compliment, or told him he was beautiful.

“Why am I so fucked up?” Harry asked the room.

“Because you’re a freak.”

Harry let out a shout and flew off the sofa, swinging his wand around and training it on Malfoy, who was standing in the open front door looking mildly amused.

“Dammit, Malfoy, don’t do that!” Harry barked. Malfoy rolled his eyes and strode into the room.

“Results are back from the exhumation,” he said icily.

Harry’s anger instantly deflated as he took a file out of Malfoy’s hands. He hesitated opening it, though. He wasn’t sure if he could handle the truth…

“It was Elyse’s body,” Malfoy said. Harry squeezed his eyes shut. “Large traces of Polyjuice were found around the body. The Aurors are still unsure as to what happened and why they were so sure it was Pettigrew’s body. But they’re going to the Caldwells soon, and I’m going with them. At least they’ll have closure.”

Harry stared down at the report in his hands. “What about all the things we found out…you know, about Elyse’s loyalties, about why she was passing along information?”

Malfoy hummed and pulled out her diary from his robes pocket. “I’ve found some hidden pages,” he explained, flipping the book open. “She was getting scared. She wanted out. She realized what she was doing was wrong. She was going to the stables that night to tell Pettigrew she wasn’t coming back.”

“And he killed her,” Harry said bitterly. “Because she wanted out.”

“That’s what the Aurors and I are assuming, yes.” Malfoy paused, then stared up at the ceiling. “Look, Potter, about the other night—”

“So Pettigrew’s still out there,” said Harry quickly. He didn’t want to talk about the other night, not yet, not until he understood his own feelings better.

Malfoy sighed and nodded.

“There are rats all around my shop. Some even live in it,” Harry said. “There are rats in here, you claim. So are you gonna help me find the son of a bitch or not?”

Malfoy lowered his eyes in surprise. Then he smiled, a genuine smile, and it took Harry’s breath away.

“Absolutely,” he said.

::

Harry and Malfoy walked up the smooth pathway leading towards Ernie Macmillan’s house. They had told Sarah Fawcett earlier about the recovery of Elyse’s body, and she had sobbed, relieved that Elyse and her parents could finally be at peace. Now they were hoping that Ernie and Penelope were home in order to give them the news.

“I couldn’t find much about Pettigrew in the files at the Ministry,” Malfoy was explaining. “But if he was able to become and Animagi, blow up a street of Muggles, kill a young student, and conjure a Dark Lord, among other things, I’m sure he could have made a decent fake wand.”

“It definitely reeked of his mediocre talent,” Harry said with a grimace. “But I still wonder what happened to Elyse’s wand, and why he went through all that trouble to make a new one.”

“Well, he knew Priori Incantatem would be cast and it’s possible he wanted to avoid giving away his game before he could make it safely away.” Malfoy rubbed the back of his neck and snorted. “If he ran away, that is. He would be stupid enough to stay around England, wouldn’t he?”

“You’ve no idea,” Harry murmured. They had reached the front door and Malfoy knocked swiftly three times. They waited, and waited, but no house-elf appeared. Malfoy sucked in a breath and knocked again, louder this time. Still no one came.

“Maybe they aren’t home,” Harry said uselessly, but Malfoy shook his head.

“They would have left the elf.”

Harry eyed Malfoy, noticing the tense shoulders and narrowed eyes. “Do you think something’s happened?” Harry asked in a low voice.

“I won’t know until I go in there,” said Malfoy.

Pulling out his wand, Harry nodded at the door and said, “I’m ready when you are.”

Malfoy cast him a glance, then aimed his wand at the doorknob and said, “Alohomora.” The heavy oak door swung open easily and Harry and Malfoy tread lightly into the house.

“Aw, fuck,” Malfoy muttered, and Harry turned his head to see Malfoy staring at the badly battered body of Duffy the house-elf.

Harry moved to help the poor creature, but Malfoy grabbed his arm. “Don’t,” he hissed. “It might be dead and you know what happens when an elf dies.”

He remembered all right. He’d witnessed the deaths of hundreds during the final battle.

“Leave it for now,” said Malfoy, “and let’s see if Macmillan or Clearwater are home.”

The kitchen and living rooms were clear, and they were approaching the library they’d been in days before when they heard a low moan come from the room. Without thinking, Harry charged towards the room, Malfoy on his heels, and burst through the doors. Ernie and Penelope lay on the floor several feet apart, blood pooling all around them.

“Oh God,” Harry groaned, heading towards Penelope while Malfoy rushed to Ernie’s side.

“Oh God,” he said again as he searched Penelope’s neck for a pulse. “Malfoy, she’s not breathing and I can’t feel a pulse. I’m going to send a Patronus to Ginny at St Mungo’s and then one to Ron. We need them here now.”

“Ernie’s all right,” said Malfoy, crawling over to Harry and Penelope. “He’s breathing and his pulse is strong. It just looks like he’s lost a lot of blood. Have you taken any Healer classes?” Malfoy asked anxiously. “We can’t just let her die.”

Harry stood, quickly averting his gaze from all the blood, and strode over to the window. Closing his eyes, Harry pictured Ron and Hermione flanking him on both sides while he battled with Voldemort, felt the love they were projecting, that all the Order was projecting, allowing it to fill his heart, his soul. And suddenly, Malfoy was there, his eyes bright, smile mischievous, and with and surge of magic, Harry bellowed, “Expecto Patronum!”

A white stag bright as the sun burst from the end of Harry’s wand and he said, “Go to Ginny and tell her we need Healers at—at Ernie Macmillan’s house in Holborn. Er—” Harry turned back to ask Malfoy what the address was, and froze.

In a matter of seconds that felt like an eternity, Harry watched as Ernie towered over Malfoy and then swung a large bat down onto his head. The sickening crack weakened Harry’s knees and he felt himself lurch forward as Malfoy’s eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped over Penelope’s still body, blood oozing from a large gash.

Ernie raised crazed eyes and glared at Harry, who stumbled backwards into his Patronus, destroying it.

“Ernie,” Harry choked. “What—what are you doing?”

“Six years, Potter,” he breathed. “Six years and no one cared about that stupid bitch. Not even the Aurors. The only reason her worthless parents care now is because they can get insurance if her body was found.”

“What the fuck are you doing?” Harry gasped. He struggled to raise his wand, but his hands were shaking; this had never happened before, but the image of Malfoy slumping over, the sound of the bat colliding with his head…Harry swallowed back bile. He hadn’t fought for his life since the war ended. His reflexes were shot.

“Put the wand down, Harry,” said Ernie, hovering over Malfoy. “Or I’ll do him permanent damage.”

Harry’s head was swimming. Fuck, he needed to get that Patronus out, he needed to help Malfoy and Penelope. He needed to distract Ernie.

“So did you kill Elyse then?” said Harry loudly. Ernie narrowed his eyes and gracelessly stepped over Penelope and Malfoy’s bodies.

“What’d she do?” Harry continued, backing up. “Was it because she was cheating on you? Because she was on the wrong side? Or did she just burn the toast?”

“You still haven’t figured it out, Harry?” said Ernie, looking viciously pleased. “And you used to be so smart. Your parents would be ashamed.”

Harry’s blood ran cold and the buzzing in his ears grew so loud that he could barely see straight.

“Wormtail,” he spat.

Ernie smiled unpleasantly and his body began to morph, his limbs shortening, hair lightening and falling off in clumps. Peter had lost a lot of weight over the years, but he was just as recognizable as ever. Harry never hated someone so much.

“You know, I was so sure you’d figure it out that day you came to visit,” said Peter conversationally. “But I suppose six years living another person’s life can make even the Chosen One blind to the truth when it’s sitting right in front of him.”

“What have you done to Ernie?” Harry demanded.

Peter gave a twisted grin. “Ernie’s…alive, I suppose you could say.” He chuckled and then pulled his wand out from his robes, dropping the bat to the floor. “Hawthorn, twelve-and-three-quarters. Mine was broken helping the Dark Lord, so I borrowed Elyse’s. She didn’t mind, of course, since she was dead.”

“You’re a bastard,” Harry growled, rage coursing through his veins. “Now tell me where Ernie is!”

Peter tsked. “Now, Harry, show some patience. Like I said, Ernie’s alive. Physically. I needed him for the Polyjuice, though I expect he should be sharing the mental ward with the Longbottoms at St Mungo’s now. Nasty curse, Cruciatus.”

Harry gripped his wand so tightly that red and gold sparks flew out the end. Peter’s eyes snapped down and he sneered. “I told you to lose the wand, Potter. You don’t want me to harm your little boyfriend anymore, do you?”

“Shut up!” Harry shouted. “You’re not touching him again!”

Lip curling, Peter stepped closer to Harry, backing him against the window. “Your father would have been so ashamed,” he sneered. “Knowing his boy was a queer. He hated queers. That’s why he tormented Snape so much, you know.”

“Fuck you,” Harry growled. “You weren’t my father’s friend. You never were! You betrayed them, everyone, and you deserve to die!”

Peter gave out a sepulchral laugh. “You could barely kill the Dark Lord, Potter, and then only with your little friends by your side. But they aren’t here, are they? You’re all alone.”

“He’s not alone.”

Peter whirled around, tripping on his robes, and gasped once as Malfoy swung the bat wide and slammed it into Peter’s head.

Peter groaned and then collapsed, blood pooling beneath his head. Harry rushed forward and said, “Incarcerous,” binding his wrists and ankles, then added a spell that would prevent Pettigrew from transforming into a rat should he awake.

Malfoy gave a soft groan then and sank to the ground. Feeling sick, Harry quickly gathered him in his arms and Disapparated.

::

Malfoy had been immediately rushed into the emergency ward at St Mungo’s, but Harry hadn’t been allowed to follow him because the Aurors were swarming around him like mad. Eventually Ron was able to force his way through the crowd and Harry told him everything that had happened at Ernie’s house.

Ron’s eyes had gone round as saucers and he barked out orders to the surrounding men and women, who Disapparated at once, followed by a small team of Healers to check on the status of Penelope and the real Ernie.

Harry was later shown to Malfoy’s private room and he’d remained there ever since. It had been over a day since the incident at Ernie’s and Harry had been alone with Malfoy with the exception of a few Healers who came in to check on Malfoy’s status. He was going to be fine, they said. Just a mild concussion, he’s recovering well. You should get some sleep.

Harry refused to budge.

The door to Malfoy’s room opened and Ron strode in, followed by Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Harry stood as Ron walked right up to him and enveloped him in a huge hug.

“Don’t ever do that again,” he said into Harry’s shoulder, squeezing hard. Harry coughed and patted Ron on the back.

“I promise,” he murmured.

Ron let go and punched Harry a little too hard in the arm. Kingsley shook his hand and Tonks embraced him as well, kissing him on the cheek.

“Pettigrew’s in Azkaban as we speak,” said Ron, eyeing Malfoy out of the corner of his eye. “We found Ernie this morning in the cellar. He’s lost his mind completely. He’s been transferred to the spell damage ward.”

“What about Penelope?” asked Harry as he sank down into his chair.

“She was dead when we arrived at the house,” said Tonks. “Tests reveal that she’s been under Imperius for years, though, which would explain why she never told anyone. The house-elf is dead as well. He’d actually never belonged to the Macmillan family but was purchased by Peter after the war and after the house-elf rebellion. That’s why it was able to keep Pettigrew’s many secrets.”

“How are Ernie’s parents taking this? And Penelope’s?”

“As well as can be expected,” said Kingsley in a grave voice. “Potter, you should get some sleep. Go to the Burrow or Grimmauld Place. We’ll let you know when he wakes.”

“No,” Harry mumbled, rolling his head to the side and watching Malfoy’s peaceful face. “I want to be here.”

Harry missed the look Kingsley exchanged with Ron and Tonks. “Very well,” he rumbled. “We’ll see our way out.” He and Tonks bid Harry farewell and they strode out of the room.

Ron shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked on his feet. “He’s gonna be all right, you know,” he said. “He’s just sleeping because he knows it’ll annoy you.”

Harry snorted and allowed himself a small smile. “Yeah, he’s an irritating little bugger.”

“You like him.”

Harry stared down at the clasped hands in his lap. “Yeah,” he said. “I do. A lot.”

Ron smiled and said, “I knew you two would hit it off.”

“Ron, can I ask you something?” Harry said quickly.

“Sure, mate.”

Harry bit his lip and glanced once more at Malfoy’s still form on the bed. “How did you repay your life debt to him?”

Ron’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. He then sighed and pulled up a chair to sit down. “It’s…really personal, Harry. And not just for me, but for him. It happened when you were in…er, Australia, I think.”

“I want to know,” said Harry softly, yet firmly.

Nodding, Ron sighed again and rested his elbows on his knees. “His dad died in Azkaban, you know that. But his mum…she was accidentally Kissed by a dementor right after Voldemort was vanquished.”

“I knew she had died,” said Harry. He couldn’t resist reaching over and taking Malfoy’s hand in his own.

“Yeah, most people know,” said Ron, sounding tired. “But she was a living, breathing shell before that. Malfoy had to take care of her day and night, living with the knowledge that she would remain that way for the rest of her life—which could have been another seventy years. He couldn’t stand the thought…so he came to me.”

“He called in the life debt, then,” said Harry, and Ron nodded. “What did you do?”

“I wrote a few owls, had some chats with an important Healer here on staff…”

“Ginny?”

Ron smiled grimly. “Yeah. She got me some potions. A lot of potions, with instructions on how to dispense them into a body without suspicion arising. Then I went over to Draco’s house one night and gave him the potions and instructions. Mrs Malfoy was found the next morning to have died peacefully in her sleep.”

Harry silently contemplated this while Ron watched Malfoy sleep.

“You’re a good man,” Harry said. “And a good friend.”

Ron turned red and lowered his head. “Harry…” he mumbled.

Grinning, Harry felt his eyelids begin to droop and before long, he was dreaming of playful grey eyes and a Cheshire cat smile.

::

Harry woke the next morning with a very painful crick in the neck and a warm blanket draped across him. Smacking his lips and sure that his breath smelt awful, Harry turned his head and found Malfoy’s bed empty.

He scrambled out of his chair in an instant and was heading for the door when a familiar voice stopped him.

“Potter, I’m right here.”

Whirling around, Harry saw Malfoy standing by a large window gazing out onto the busy street below.

“I woke up about an hour ago but I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“How are you feeling?” said Harry worriedly.

Malfoy continued to stare out the window as he said, “All right. A little dizzy but nothing I can’t handle. I take it Pettigrew’s in Azkaban then?”

“Er, yeah,” said Harry, taking a tentative step forward. “He won’t be getting out of there anytime soon. He’s in a special room to prevent him from changing into a rat.”

Malfoy nodded slowly. “And Penelope, I take it she didn’t make it.”

“No. But Ernie…he’s alive, but he’s in the Janus Thickey Ward. His mind will never recover.” Harry bit his lip, gathering the courage he would need.

“Malfoy, look—” he began.

“Potter, what have you been running away from all this time?” Malfoy interrupted.

Harry faltered. “I—what? I’m not running from anything,” he protested. “I’m…running towards something.”

Malfoy turned and began to walk shakily to where Harry was standing. “Running towards what?” he asked.

Harry’s heart pounded so loudly in his chest he was sure Malfoy could hear it. “Happiness,” he whispered. “I want to be happy. Ever since the war and traveling around the world and then moving back here…I want to know what it’s like to be happy, all the time.”

Malfoy was in front of Harry now and he reached up a hand to brush some fringe out of Harry’s eyes. “No one is happy all the time, Potter,” he said with a snort. “People have ups and downs. That’s just how it is.” He paused, cocking his head, then added, “What exactly do you think being happy entails?”

“I don’t know,” Harry muttered, closing his eyes and leaning into Malfoy’s hand. “Waking up with a smile. Going to bed with a smile. Having loads of sex. Good conversation. No arguments, no fighting.”

“No excitement,” said Malfoy. Harry’s eyes snapped open.

“That’s not—”

Malfoy ran his hands up Harry’s neck and grabbed Harry’s hair with his fists, tugging lightly. “Listen to me, Potter,” Malfoy breathed, hot air puffing against Harry’s lips. “This, this right here. This is happiness. It’s not about smiles or kittens or whatever fucked up idea you have.

“It’s about having a shitty life but being able to be at peace with oneself. It’s about being able to go to work, even if you hate waking up in the mornings, and meeting with friends on the weekends despite having seen them two days before; it’s about fucking ourselves raw, then waking up entangled the next morning with awful breath and kissing each other awake.”

Malfoy pressed his forehead against Harry’s. “It’s about arguing and making up. It’s about experiencing everything around you. It’s about feeling. It’s about being able to fall in love with the most infuriating man on earth.”

Harry’s breath caught in his throat. “I—”

“Shut up,” Malfoy mumbled. “Kiss me, fuck me, I don’t care, just shut up.”

“This is mad,” Harry gasped as Malfoy’s fingers ran lightly down his neck.

Malfoy kissed him then, hard and rough and needy, and every cell in Harry’s body came to life, and he kissed back just as eagerly, running his hands down Malfoy’s back, gripping his arse, and feeling alive, so alive. It was almost too much for Harry, but he didn’t pull away, he refused, because he needed to feel this, he needed to know what this felt like. This feeling, this emotion…

And he finally understood.

::

Harry was probably going to need a new wand corer soon, since he was having such difficulty coring the elder wood wand. The phoenix feather wasn’t making things any easier, either, proving to be especially stubborn as Harry tried for the fourth time to core the wood.

Finally, Harry was able to thread the feather through the core and he gave out a small whoop of joy. He took the wand down from the corer and then dipped it for seven seconds in a thin varnish. After casting a Drying Spell, Harry set the wand on his work table and admired the handiwork.

Elder wood, eleven-and-one-half inches, phoenix feather core, a bit stubborn but good for Defense. It was his favorite wand to date.

Summoning his ledger, Harry quickly wrote it into the book, then sent it flying back in place when he heard the bell to his shop ring.

Harry wiped his hands on his smock as he entered the front of his shop, then groaned silently. It was Jonah and his mother, Mrs Bakerson.

Sighing, Harry grabbed the test wand out of his back pocket and handed it to Jonah without saying a word.

Mrs Bakerson, however, was quite forthcoming today. “Where have you been, Mr Potter?” she demanded, hands on hips. “I tried to come twice last week and you weren’t here either time!”

“I was helping with an Auror case,” he said tersely. “I’ve done it before, you remember.”

“Well, Jonah needs to be able to test his magic,” she said somewhat shrilly, and Harry had had enough.

“That is it!” he barked, and Mrs Bakerson reared back, looking stunned. “You can no longer come in here and subject your poor boy to this torture any longer! This is my shop and I am not obligated to do anything for you!” Harry took a deep shuddering breath. “He is your son, you should love him no matter what. I did not sacrifice half my life saving this world just to have people like you—”

“Jonah,” she suddenly gasped, tears in her eyes. Harry stopped ranting and swiveled his head to find Jonah levitating a feather, an expression of pure awe on his face.

“Oh Jonah!” Mrs Bakerson sobbed, and gathered her son in her arms. “Oh my baby boy, I always knew you could do it. You used to fly your stuffed dragons all over your room as a babe.” She hugged her son again, who was grinning from ear to ear, and then she looked up at Harry and mouthed Thank you.

Stunned and a little unsure what to do, Harry just nodded and watched, bewildered, as Jonah and his mother bounded out of the shop.

The door opened again suddenly and Malfoy walked in, eyebrows raised. “Do women often run from your shop in tears?” he asked.

“Every day,” Harry quipped. “Er, not that I’m unhappy to see you, but is there something you need? I already showed you where I stored the laundry detergent…”

Malfoy grinned and rolled his eyes. “I’m here on business, actually,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Did I ever tell you my wand was broken after the war?”

That was surprising. “No,” said Harry. “Whose wand have you been using?”

“Mmm,” said Malfoy, casting his gaze about the shop. “My father’s, actually. Ash, unicorn hair, ten inches. Good for Charm work.” He pulled out the wand and placed it into Harry’s open hands.

“Why didn’t you ever get a new one?” he asked as he examined it.

“I…At the time, I didn’t care to get a new one,” Malfoy explained. “I was proud to be using my father’s wand. But after what happened the other day, I realized I needed a wand that had chosen me. It’s time to let this one go.”

Harry stared down at the wand once owned by Lucius Malfoy, a man Harry still hated to this day. The magic thrummed warmly in his palm. Smiling, Harry looked up and reached out to grasp one of Malfoy’s hands.

“I think I have the perfect wand.”

Fin
Tags: [fic], [long/chaptered fic], rated: r, round: summer 2007
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