Title: Hope For Us All
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione
Summary: Ron Weasley sets up his best mate and his partner at the Ministry on a date.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Deathly Hallows compliant? EWE
Word Count: 3,065
Author's Notes: The recipient loves Ron Weasley. I can only hope she likes my version of him.
“M-may I help you, s-sir?”
The blonde woman in charge of seating guests at the restaurant was clearly gobsmacked that the famous Harry Potter was standing before her.
“Yes, thank you,” Harry said good-naturedly. “I’m here to meet Ron Weasley. He said he made reservations for us at six o’clock.” Harry read the nervous woman’s name badge and noticed that her name was Sarah.
“Oh,” Sarah exclaimed. “Mr. Weasley sent word that he would be unable to join you for dinner this evening, but that he had invited a third guest, and you two should enjoy supper without him.”
Harry’s brow furrowed. “What? That can’t be right. He wouldn’t do that.”
If Sarah was nervous before, she seemed positively panicked now. “W-well, Mr. Potter, sir, I can assure you that I am quite correct. The other guest has already arrived and is seated at the table.” She raised a shaky hand to gesture to the inside of the restaurant. “Would you like to join him, sir?”
“Well, Sarah-” The woman’s breath hitched as he said her name. Harry pretended not to notice. “I think I just might go see who this person is. It’s all a bit of an intrigue isn’t it?” He waggled his eyebrows at her, which made her brown eyes go a bit glassy.
When Harry gave her a smile her cheeks turned a deep crimson colour and she abruptly looked away. “Won’t you follow me then, Mr. Potter?” she asked stepping from behind the podium.
“Wherever you lead, Sarah, I shall follow.”
With his words her breath became quick and shallow. Again, Harry pretended not to notice.
She led him to a charming and quiet table for two near a fireplace in the back of the dining area. Harry wasn’t expecting the romantic scene. But more unexpected than the cozy atmosphere was his intended dinner companion - Draco Malfoy.
“I think there’s been some mistake, Sarah,” Harry said rather stonily. “There is absolutely no way that Ron Weasley would have invited this man to dine with us.”
“Potter,” Draco said coolly with narrowed eyes, “I assure you that Weasley did indeed invite me to dinner. However, I had no idea that he had requested your presence as well, or that he would not be able to make it.” He stood up looked Harry squarely in the eye. “Therefore, I agree that this is a mistake, and I will take my leave.” He sauntered by Sarah, who plainly did not know quite how to handle the situation, but Harry wrapped his hand around Draco’s bicep before he could walk away.
Draco simply stared at Harry’s hand on his arm. For several seconds they stood, not speaking or moving. Finally, Draco raised his head to look into Harry’s eyes.
“What do you want, Potter?” he asked, clearly annoyed.
“Well, obviously, there was something that Ron wanted to discuss with both of us. Why don’t we at least try to figure out what that something might be?”
“Are you saying you want to have dinner with me?” Draco asked composedly as he picked at an imaginary piece of lint on his jacket.
Harry couldn’t help but smile slightly at the question, which just five minutes ago, would have seemed completely ridiculous. “Yes, Malfoy. I guess that’s what I’m saying.”
“Well,” Draco sniffed haughtily, “I am already here and I can’t deny that I’m hungry.”
Harry looked at Draco and raised his eyebrows in a silent question.
“Alright,” Draco sighed, “I must confess that I’m a little curious about all of this too. I suppose we can sit through one dinner without throwing hexes at each other.”
“Good! That’s settled!” Harry once again turned his attention to Sarah, who was standing with her mouth agape. “Sarah, looks like we’ll both be staying for dinner.”
Moments later, their orders had been taken and they were both sipping glasses of wine in a very uncomfortable silence.
“So,” they both said in unison. Harry smiled uneasily and gestured toward Draco. “Go ahead.”
“Well, I was just going to say that I am shocked to see you,” Draco said. “What are you doing back in London?”
“A lot of people were surprised,” Harry said, setting down his glass of wine. “It was just time I came home, you know.”
“Why? Why now?” Draco realized that the question may have been slightly presumptuous. “That is, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Well, well, Malfoy,” Harry teased, “When did you get so polite? I believe that’s the kindest you’ve ever spoken to me.” The words were serious, but his eyes danced with firelight and a hint of mirth as he said them.
“Things change, Potter. It’s been two years since the war ended. A lot can happen to a person in two years. I’m not the same man I was.”
Harry took a moment to really look at Malfoy. He was dressed in an expertly tailored black suit with a red silk shirt underneath. His hair, like burnished platinum in the firelight, was exactly the way Harry remembered it. Thoughts of how many times his fingers had itched to touch that hair while at Hogwarts flooded Harry’s mind causing him to shift uncomfortably in his chair.
“I don’t know about that. You look the same to me.” Harry took another sip of his wine in order to avoid meeting Draco’s gaze. “But to answer your question, there is no specific reason why I decided to come back from America. I just felt it was time. I missed Ron and Hermione. I need to be here more for Teddy, my godson. I don’t know…”
Draco nodded in understanding. “When did you get back?”
“About a week ago. I’ve only seen Ron once since then, though. He’s quite important at the Ministry, isn’t he?”
Draco absently swirled the wine in his glass. “He’s brilliant actually. He’s completely changing the way Aurors do their jobs. He’s incorporating some new and amazing methods of processing evidence.” A pale pink blush suddenly stained Malfoy’s cheeks. “I’m helping him actually. Potions and stuff. We’re sort of a team, if you will.”
“Honestly, you could knock me over with a feather right now. Ron never mentioned that you were working together!”
Draco merely swallowed his wine and pretended to become enthralled with the fire roaring in the fireplace, his cheeks still burning.
Sweet Merlin, I’ve never seen Draco blush before, Harry thought to himself. It makes me want to say extremely naughty things to him, just to see if I can make his skin turn that colour. “So,” Harry said in an effort to stop his mind from traveling in that particular direction. “Do you reckon that he wanted to speak to both of us about something work related?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Draco said. “Why, do you?”
“I can’t think of a single reason why he’d want to talk to both of us at the same time.”
“I can.” Draco mumbled under his breath. But before Harry could question him about it, their food arrived.
Grateful for a reason not to make conversation, both men tucked into their dinners with a bit more energy than they usually would.
“So, how are you doing then, Malfoy,” Harry said between bites. “Do you like working with my best mate? Tell me what it’s like for you.”
“It’s great, thank you.” Draco took another sip of wine. “He actually convinced the Ministry to take me on. They initially wanted nothing to do with me because of… well, you know.” Draco inhaled deeply and put down his fork. “My father and his very poor decisions made life very difficult for me for a bit. But Weasley really helped me out, spoke on my behalf and wouldn’t stop until the Ministry took me on as his partner.”
“That doesn’t surprise me, really. Ron can be pretty unstoppable when he wants something.” Harry smiled and folded his hands in front of him as he looked Draco directly in the eye. “But why would he fight so hard for you? I mean, you two weren’t exactly the best of friends in school.”
“He said it was because I was the best at potions, plain and simple,” Draco replied candidly. “He wanted the best.”
“And he got him.”
Once again Malfoy’s pale cheeks suddenly turned that gorgeous shade of pink. Harry wriggled in his chair as he fought the physical reaction he was having.
Draco audibly cleared his throat before taking another sip of wine. “Of course we’ve moved slightly beyond being just partners. He’s a very likeable bloke, once you get past all that awkwardness and outrageously red hair. I like to think we’re friends.”
“There’s a lot to like about Ron,” Harry agreed as he looked into the fire burning in the fireplace.
“You’ve missed him, haven’t you?” Draco asked as he placed his hand on top of Harry’s.
A mixture of drinking too much wine, feeling the warmth of Draco’s hand on his own, and having too much Gryffindor courage caused Harry to blurt out, “Come have a drink at my place, Malfoy.”
Draco’s eyes were wide, and his lips were slightly parted. He obviously didn’t know exactly how to respond.
“C’mon. I promise I won’t hex you.” Harry placed his own free hand on top of Draco’s. “They’ll want to close this place up pretty soon, I think, and we still haven’t discerned the reason for Ron bringing us together like this. What do you say?”
“All right, then,” Draco replied softly. “Let me get my coat.”
After a quick Apparation they were inside 12 Grimmauld Place. “So, this is it,” Harry said gesturing around the entry hall. “Just try to be quiet until we pass this portrait. It’s Sirius’s mother and she shrieks like a blast-ended skrewt.” Harry led the way through the hall into a small, comfortable study. “Let me just get the fire going.” With a flick of his wand the fire was roaring. He gestured to the brown leather sofa against the wall. “Go ahead and get comfortable. What would you like to drink?” Harry raised his eyebrows questioningly. “More wine or something stronger?”
Draco sat on the sofa, pleased with how inviting Harry’s place was. “Anything,” he replied to Harry’s question. “Surprise me.”
Harry walked over to the small bar and poured them both glasses of firewhiskey. He approached the sofa with a soft smile and handed Draco one of the glasses. Making himself comfortable, he sat near Draco instead of on the other end of the sofa like the other man expected.
“To new friends,” Harry said as he clinked his glass against Draco’s, his emerald eyes sparkling.
“To new friends,” Draco echoed before tossing down a large gulp of the burning liquor.
Looking at Harry, Draco said, “Is that what we are, Potter? New friends.”
Harry played with his glass a bit before answering. “Well, it was only one dinner, but I think we’ve made a pretty good start, don’t you?”
“That we have,” Draco agreed before taking another swig. “That we have.”
“Besides, if you’ve turned Ron into a friend, I really must get to know this new Malfoy.” Harry rested his free arm along the back of the couch, his fingers almost close enough to brush Malfoy’s neck. “You know, I heard what you said at dinner. You are aware of the reason Ron wanted us to talk.” Harry pointedly turned his body so that he was fully facing Draco. “So talk. Tell me why.”
“I really don’t want to talk about it, regardless of what Weasley thought.” He took another large sip of firewhiskey, enjoying the burn traveling down his throat.
Harry watched Draco carefully. It was obviously important, whatever it was that Ron wanted them to discuss. So, he pushed further.
“It must be significant, Malfoy. Go ahead and tell me.” Harry moved his hand from the back of the sofa to place it on Draco’s knee. “Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad.”
Malfoy jumped from the sofa as if Harry’s touch had burned him. He stalked to the fireplace, his back to Harry. “I will not discuss this right now, Potter. I didn’t even know you were in town, damn it. How could Weasley have expected me to deal with this?”
Harry got up and slowly walked to the fireplace to stand beside Draco. “Deal with what, Malfoy? I can help you, whatever it is.”
Draco turned to face Harry, his pale pink lips stretched in a grim line. His gray eyes were hard and flinty. “It wasn’t Weasley’s place to do this, but since we’re here, I may as well have out with it.”
“Go on, Malfoy.” Harry’s eyes showed nothing but concern. He placed a reassuring hand on Draco’s shoulder. “I’m listening.”
Draco shrugged off Harry’s hand and stepped away from the fireplace, putting some distance between him and the other man. He gazed pointedly into the fire as he began to speak. “As you know, I’ve become rather chummy with Weasley and his wife. I’ve been to dinner at their flat a few times, you know, the usual kind of things. And one night, after I’d had a little too much to drink-” Draco lifted his glass and downed another large swallow. “Weasley’s wife, who is far too clever by half, somehow managed to get me to admit to certain feelings that I’d been harboring for years.”
“What kind of feelings?” asked Harry, a puzzled expression on his face.
Draco steadily gazed into the fire. “Feelings of love, Potter. I had been in love with someone for about a year and a half. Someone I hadn’t seen for a long time. But I couldn’t get him out of my mind.”
“Him?” Harry asked.
Draco scowled into the fire. “Yes, Potter. Him. Does that shock you?”
Harry swallowed hard before he replied, “No. It doesn’t shock me. I just never would have thought… Anyway, please continue, Malfoy. I’d really like to know why Ron would want me to know about this.”
“It’s simple really,” Draco said icily as he finally turned to face Harry. “You’re the one I’m in love with. Ever since you threw me onto the back of your broom and I wrapped my arms around you as you flew me to safety, I was hopelessly in love.”
Once again he looked into the flames instead of Harry’s face. “Are you going to hex me now, or will you allow me to leave quietly?”
“Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake, I’m not going to hex you. Nor am I going to just let you walk out of here after what you’ve just said.” Harry strode toward Draco until he was standing right before him, their toes almost touching. “Can we please sit down and talk about this?”
Draco nodded curtly and returned to the sofa. But before Harry could sit down, Draco gave him his glass and said, ‘Before we start, I’m going to need some more firewhiskey.”
Harry’s heart was thudding hard against his ribcage as he took the glass from Draco’s hand. Their fingertips brushed, and Harry could have sworn he felt some sort of electric energy pass between them. He quickly refilled the glass and brought it back to Draco. He noticed that the blond’s hand was trembling slightly as he grasped the glass.
“So, you love me?” Harry began. “And have for the past two years?”
“Laugh at me, and I’ll kill you, Potter,” Draco warned before gulping down more of the burning liquid.
“Does it look like I’m laughing, Malfoy?”
Draco turned to look deep into the green depths of Harry’s eyes. Harry could only gaze back, silent and still. And then he was amazed when the flinty hardness in Draco’s cool gray eyes melted into warm pools of silver. He slid closer to Draco, took the glass from his hand and set it hastily on the side table. Harry slid his hands up Draco’s arms until they were cupping the back of his neck. Before he could think to stop himself, he captured Draco’s lips in a tentative kiss.
For a moment, Draco did not respond to Harry’s lips on his own. Shock seemed to have taken him hostage, and the blond sat motionless. But when Harry slid his tongue along the seam of Draco’s lips the dam broke. He pressed his lithe form against Harry’s solid chest and slid his tongue against Harry’s.
Harry could feel a fire burning low in the pit of his belly. As Draco kissed him with every bit of his desire flames burned through every nerve in Harry’s body. At that moment, Harry would have happily burned forever.
Trembling in Harry’s arms, Draco broke the kiss and whispered, “I’ve wanted that for so long.”
Harry smiled and tried to hold Draco tighter. “I think we have a lot to talk about, Draco,” Harry said softly. “Are you up for it?”
“There will be time enough for talking, Harry.” Draco rested his head on Harry’s shoulder. “For now, can we just sit like this for awhile? I think I’d like to let the fact that you just gave me the snog of my life sink in.”
It was only one year later that Ron Weasley, best friend to both of the grooms, stood before the entire wedding party.
“I would like to make a toast,” he called out raising his glass of champagne. “But before I wish these two men a long and happy life together, I would like to remind everyone here that I am solely responsible for bringing these two together.” He gestured to the newly married couple at the head table. Harry and Draco had their arms wrapped around each other and they nodded emphatically at Ron’s declaration. “See? They’ll tell you the same.”
There were light laughs and deep chuckles through the hall.
“But in all seriousness, my hope for you two is that you’re as deliriously happy as ‘Mione and I are.” Ron’s wife blew him a kiss. “To Harry and Draco!” Ron raised his glass high in salute and took a long sip. “If these two can fall in love, there’s hope for all of us.”