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17 December 2007 @ 06:29 pm
Happy H/D Holidays, sherant!  
Author: mizbean
Recipient: sherant
Title: Three Septembers and a January
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Harry/Ginny
Summary: In September 2002, Harry walks into a pub during a rainstorm and his relationship with Ginny changes forever.
Rating: R
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Infidelity.
Deathly Hallows compliant? Yes, including the epilogue.
Word Count: 6,000
Author's Notes: sherant, I used your prompt of autumn and tried to incorporate your desire for something sad and desperate although I wasn't wholly successful in that regard. Still, I hope you enjoy. Thank you to e for her feedback, my family for their patience, and the mods for running this fest. I borrowed the title from Neil Gaiman.


The day after he defeated Voldemort, Harry asks Ginny to marry him.

Her cheeks flush and then a heartbeat later she throws back her head and laughs.

"If you don't--" Harry starts.

"No. No. Wait," she says, stilling him with her hands. They are sitting cross-legged in an empty Hogwarts classroom, oblivious to the fallen brick and broken glass scattered around them. The air is still heavy with ash and grief, and yet Harry can't think of a more appropriate setting, for the future is finally theirs for the taking. "You're serious, aren't you?" Ginny asks.

Harry has never been more serious in his life, and he tells her that.

She's grinning now, and Harry is reminded of how much he missed seeing her smile. He tells himself he will remember this moment forever.

"Okay," she says.

"Okay?"

"Yes, I'll marry you."

Seven years later they marry in a simple ceremony in a field outside of Hogsmeade, the towers of Hogwarts rising in the distance. There is no marquee or band, just the stars and the gentle wind rocking the trees, and the footsteps of spirits who still haunt Harry's dreams, for the past is not so easy to forget.

Nor is the present, yet Ginny still looks radiant in pale blue when she walks toward him. "This is all I've ever wanted," she tells Harry, taking his hand. Fairy lights dance above their heads, and a whistle sounds from the back row that can only from someone as loud and enthusiastic as Rubeus Hagrid.

Harry smiles at her and tucks her hand under his arm. "Me too," he says. He looks out at their friends and family gathered around them. Everyone is smiling. Everyone looks happy.

***


Leaves crunch under Harry's feet as he jogs down the wooded path. He used to think running was like flying. Speed. Resistance. Pure adrenaline. It's not. Running is boring. Running is nothing. The staccato rhythm of his feet hitting the ground drowns everything out until there's nothing inside his head but dull gray space.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

He loves that.

He crests a hill. The path is narrower here, the wood thicker, and he has to duck under the tree limbs that hang too low over the path. Still he stays on pace.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

He isn't thinking about Ginny.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Or Draco.

Crunch. Crunch.

Really.


At once Harry's foot catches on a tree root in his path and he stumbles. Panting, he rights himself as he hears the sound of another runner coming up from behind. Harry quickens his pace, not looking back as he speeds down the hill and then up again, turning left and then right. His lungs are burning now, his knuckles raw from the branches slapping his hands.

Still he keeps going.

Step. Step. Duck. Step. Turn. The forest is a blur now. Green. Brown. Orange. A fallen tree lies in his path and he sails over it, his pursuer on top of him now. Fingertips graze the tail of Harry's shirt.

"Harry."

How many times would Harry have given everything away to never hear that voice again? At least as many times as he prayed to hear that voice wake him up every morning.

"Go away, Malfoy." Annoyed, he thrusts out his elbow, hitting soft flesh.

Draco barely loses his footing. "I know what you're doing," he says, catching Harry's eyes briefly as he pulls abreast.

"Yeah?"

"You' re bemoaning that no one understands you, your life is so unfair, oh poor Harry Potter, blah, blah, blah, and you're thinking about her."

Harry smirks, knowing full well that Draco would rather host tea to Hagrid, Molly Weasley and Sibyll Trelawney than ever admit that he was jealous of anyone. "She's still my wife. Of course, I'm thinking about her."

"Only because you insist on nailing yourself to the cross over something as inconsequential as an affair."

"Inconsequential?" Harry roars, grinding to a halt. He rounds on Malfoy, his nostrils flaring.

"You know that's not what I meant, Potter. Calm down."

"I guess we all can't have wives as open and understanding as yours."

"My wife isn't understanding. She's realistic."

Harry stares at him, undecided if he's appalled or jealous of Draco's frank dismissal of his own infidelity. One thing is certain, there is no such easy disregard for Harry's "obsession with Malfoy" in the Potter household. Ginny already made her feelings quite clear when Harry returned home one night to pick up his things and found the sum total of them melted into a gooey gob on his front lawn. Only his favorite running shoes (Muggle ones because Wizards know shit about rubber) were spared. Those he found smoldering on the center of the dining room table.

"Harry--" Draco starts, but Harry cuts him off.

"I can't talk about this right now," he says, running away. He can hear Malfoy following and they run in silence, legs flying as the wood begins to thin. They round a small lake, steel blue against flannel gray skies. Malfoy's face is a study of exertion, skin glistening; mouth slack. Harry could fixate on what that image does to him. What that image has done to him for years now. Instead he takes off like a shot, like a Firebolt, sprinting down the path, leaving Malfoy behind in a flutter of skittering leaves.

This is why he runs. This is what he tries to forget.



[September 2002]

It's the most random of circumstances, how Harry found Draco again.

Harry is wandering the crooked streets of Diagon Alley, depressed and unsettled after a long day at the Ministry. Whoever said peace was easy never saw the never-ending stream of memos that flocked into his inbox, never saw the mothers who wept for their dead children, and never saw the endless lines of rapists and murderers who paraded past his desk. Sometimes Harry hates being an Auror.

Sometimes Harry hates being in love too.

So he wanders, not thinking that the last time he saw Ginny she was sound asleep in his bed, her chest rising and falling beneath the sheets. He had worked late yet again, his dinner left congealed and cold on the kitchen table. Another missed meal. After he crawled into bed and fell gratefully to sleep by her side, he awoke the next morning to find the house empty. She's playing in Sheffield this week, or is it Manchester? Harry has a hard time keeping track of her Quidditch schedule, or maybe he just doesn't care anymore.

They were supposed to be married by now, weren't they?

As he rounds the corner next to Flourish & Blotts and heads down the narrow lane, clouds converge in the sky and it starts to rain. Hard. Brilliant. He could Apparate, but he hears a sign creaking in the gusty wind, and he looks up. The Merry Wayfarer, the sign reads, and he opens the red door and walks inside. Soaked to the skin and his glasses fogged, he doesn't notice the tall, blond man sitting alone at the bar, and it's probably just as well. With the mood Harry is in, he would have turned around and walked back out the door. It's not like he needs the aggravation. But by the time his robes are charmed dry and his firewhisky ordered, and Harry finally notices the stunned pair of gray eyes staring at him in the mirror's reflection behind the bar, he has no interest in going back out in the rain.

"Malfoy," he says, staring down at the amber liquid swirling around inside his glass He tips his head back and swallows down a gulp, his throat burning as the firewhisky slides into his stomach. It hurts. It really hurts, and Harry immediately takes another gulp.

"Good?"

Harry blinks, having already forgotten whom he is sitting beside. His brain starting to buzz, he turns his head to look at the man who once caused him so much consternation in school and grins at him. "Yeah," he says.

Harry comes back the following day and the day after that. The Merry Wayfarer becomes his regular haunt. Malfoy is almost always there when he arrives, always sitting at the same barstool, always drinking the same whisky. Always staring at Harry's reflection in the mirror.

He doesn't tell Ginny about it. He doesn't even tell Hermione and Ron. He tells himself there's nothing to tell.

Of course, he's a liar.

***


"So why the fuck are you here, Potter?" Malfoy asks after a week has gone by and Harry has visited the pub four times. He looks amused, but Harry thinks it must be the whiskey.

"I'm bored, I guess," Harry replies. It's the best answer he can come up with. It beats sitting in an empty house, staring at the cold fireplace, and waiting for Ginny to Floo through it.

"Aw." Malfoy feigns a pout. "You've won the war, and now you have nothing to do," he drawls.

Harry smirks. "I have plenty to do, Malfoy."

Malfoy's hand grazes the back of Harry's wrist. "Pity. I'm bored myself."

They stumble into the gents. Quick. Dirty. It's over in a flash of white light when Harry comes all over Malfoy's hand. Malfoy sneers and pushes him away, and Harry stares at him and wonders what the hell just happened. None of that stops him from coming back for more. A hand job under the table. A quick frot in the alcove behind the stairs. Harry doesn't consider it a problem because they don't fuck and they never kiss.

He tells himself when he climbs into bed with Ginny that he's not a cheat because Malfoy doesn't mean anything. And she means everything.

The first time Malfoy's lips touch Harry's cock, Harry comes in seconds, and he thinks, as he catches his breath, that this is what happens when you are trained to do only one thing in life. Nothing ever fucking changes. Work. Meetings. Dinner. A kiss goodnight. A quick fuck after the lights go out (and when was the last time that happened)?

All is well, indeed.

"Come here," he says, watching Malfoy get to his feet, a shit-eating smirk on his face.

"What?" Malfoy suddenly looks worried.

"I said, come here," Harry repeats, louder, grabbing Malfoy by the collar and yanking him, stumbling, toward him. Malfoy makes a sound of protest as their mouths crash together, but Harry isn't about to let go. Not until he tastes himself on Malfoy's tongue and feels Malfoy's hands wrapped around him. He hasn't felt this alive in weeks, months even, every nerve ending awake as he devours Malfoy's mouth, prizing open his lips and, finally -- Malfoy lets out a moan as Harry's tongue sweeps into his mouth.

Panting and sated, Harry finally breaks the kiss, and Malfoy blinks back at him, looking stunned.

Harry can see now that he has done something horribly wrong. "I can't do this," he gasps, his hands still clutched to Malfoy's collar. "This is bad. I--"

"Potter." Malfoy pulls away. "Look, this is --"

"Nothing, I know," Harry snaps back. He crosses his arms in front of his chest, leaning against the tiled wall, furious with himself. "It's just sex in a fucking men's room," he spits.

Malfoy laughs. "No, sex is sex. This is…" He trails off.

"A really bad idea," Harry finishes for him.

"Yeah," Malfoy says.

***


Harry starts running his first year of Auror training. He hates it at first. It's dull and his knees hurt, and he's not a morning person, so he resents getting dragged out of bed at the crack of dawn to run laps with the rest of his class. He is told that it's important to be fit and at the ready. Constant vigilance, as Moody once said, so he sticks with it, running faster and harder everyday.

Now he runs every morning. It's the only thing that keeps him sane.

The city of London opens up before Harry. The glass buildings that rise above the Thames glint in the morning sun. At five a.m. your mind can be so alive, so full of ideas and plans. What if, Harry wonders, he whisks Ginny away from all this? Somewhere far away. They could have a farm, a vineyard even. Simple people living off the land, rich in spirit and grateful for the blessings that life has given them.

Would they be in love again?

They talked the night before, Ginny waiting up for him on the living room sofa.

"I don't think this is working," she said, looking at her hands. "You're not you any more."

He laughed at that. This is how he's always been. Driven to the point of being obsessive, moody, unsettled. "And you smell like whisky," she added, wrinkling her nose. "You're worse than George."

"You want me home every time you're here, but you're never here half the time I'm home," Harry countered, his attempt at reason sounding more bitter than he intended.

Her mouth set in a straight line, she got to her feet. "I've signed for another season with the Harpies."

Harry stared at her. They had talked. She had promised. Of course, he had made promises too.

"I'm sorry, Harry."

And then she was gone in a flash of green flame.

The city awaits and Harry checks his watch. It's 5:15, and he runs.

***


"Marriage is nothing but a business transaction," Malfoy tells Harry later, sitting at a corner table. "If neither party benefits what's the point?"

"I see," Harry replies in good humor, the haze of alcohol softening the sharp planes of Malfoy's face. "And where does that leave love?"

"Love? Bah," Malfoy scoffs, laughing as if it's the funniest notion ever, whisky tipping over the rim of his glass. "Who needs love?"

Harry laughs too even though he fervently disagrees. Both are pissed on whisky and cheap beer. It's Saturday night. Why the hell not?

"What do I know?" Malfoy's goes on, emptying a bottle of whisky into his glass. "I've never been in love."

"I have," says Harry, his hands gripped around his whisky glass, and not looking into the soft gray of Malfoy's eyes. "I wouldn't recommend it."

***


Malfoy's chest trembles under his hands, the moonlight streaming through the leaded windows cutting curious patterns across his pale skin. "Malfoy," Harry starts, fingers drifting over hard, pink nipples down to the hollow of Malfoy's stomach, over fine wiry hair.

"Don't. Let's not talk about this, okay?" Malfoy says it so softly that Harry has to strain to hear over the laughter and clinking glasses coming up through the raw floorboards.

Harry nods. It's the best idea he's heard in a long time. Malfoy is shaking by the time as Harry bends down to lay a soft kiss where a pool of moonlight has gathered at the base of his neck. Such delicious surrender, Harry laps at his throat, chin, his hands wandering over of dips and crevices, before hesitating, his lips tantalizingly close to Malfoy's waiting mouth. For a moment neither moves, Malfoy's eyes wide, and Harry's gut clenching inside him, and then he closes the distance between them, not thinking about Ginny at all.

***


"You fucking bastard," Draco calls as Harry sprints down the hill. "Don't you dare run away from me."

Harry ignores him for now he is flying. It's just him and his legs and his lungs and the blur of trees and sky and road. There is a thatch-covered cottage after the crest of the next hill. Inside there is a soft bed and there is peace.

"I'm getting too old for this," Harry hears Draco moan.

"Then maybe you should give up," says Harry, chancing a look over his shoulder.

Draco is only a few paces behind, his pale limbs flailing. He looks up and grins, showing Harry his white teeth. "Never," he says.

Harry snorts, looking back up at the trail ahead. The top of the hill is in sight. He's nearly there when...

"Oof," he cries, hitting the ground hard, his glasses skidding out of reach.

Draco clamors on top of him. "I told you not to run away from me," he says.



[January 2004]

"Ginny looks beautiful," Hermione says, peering over Harry's shoulder.

In long blue velvet, Harry has to admit she does. She catches Harry's eyes from across the dance floor and smiles.

Harry looks away. "So do you," he says, taking her hand and giving her a kiss on the cheek. To the scandal of those in attendance Hermione married Ron in her mother's Muggle wedding dress. She also refused to wear the Weasley tiara. Aunt Muriel is still stewing by the punch bowl.

"Maybe you should ask her to dance."

"Hermione." Harry can see Ron getting drunk at the bar. He has a firm mind to join him.

"Bachelorhood doesn't suit you. You're worse than a teen-ager, the way you brood, and I know Ginny has been lonely since she returned to London." Hermione takes Harry's arm. "She's working for the Prophet now."

"I heard." Harry beckons to a server carrying a tray laden with champagne. "I don't do relationships well. Just ask Ginny." He drains the proffered champagne flute in one gulp.

"She has said nothing of the sort," Hermione replies with a stern look, the sort she always used when he lied about his scar. "Besides, you were both young--"

"I was more than young, Hermione," Harry cuts her off. He looks at her eager face and sighs. Only the certainty that she would never understand has kept him from telling her about Malfoy even though he has come close so many times, that and the sure knowledge that it would ruin his friendship with Ron. He kisses her on the cheek again, eager to flee. "Tell Ron to stay away from the whisky," he whispers into her ear. "Trust me on that."

***


January is a hell of a time to get married; Harry shivers as he leaves the hotel. Nearing midnight, Diagon Alley is all but deserted. Only a hag begging for Knuts and two lovers walking hand-in-hand in front of him provide company. He watches the two of them, feeling depressed and unsettled, and he is hardly surprised to find himself rounding the corner near Flourish & Blotts to the narrow lane that leads to the Merry Wayfarer's front door.

***


"Stop thinking about her," Malfoy says, a year ago, crawling across the bed inside the Merry Wayfarer's attic room.

"I'm not," Harry says, stretched out beneath him, his nerves worn thin. Lately, they seemed to argue more than they fucked.

"Liar!" Malfoy says harshly, roughly prying apart Harry's legs. He crawls between them, lifting them onto his shoulders, mouth set and furious.

"I'm not. I'm thinking about you!" Harry replies with equal force.

At once a shadow crosses Malfoy's face, and the range of emotions left behind… pity… loathing… disgust… is far more troubling than Malfoy's petty paranoia.

"Would it kill you to admit that you like me?" Harry asks, even though he's almost certain of the answer.

"Yes," Malfoy replies.

Harry called him a coward and worse, and Malfoy just laughed. His words still ring in Harry's ears. People don't change, Potter.

That night they fought like they hadn't in years. Bruises mottled Malfoy's pale skin by the time Harry took him from behind, and Harry's own mouth was split and his left eye black. As he pounded Malfoy into the mattress, he told Malfoy over and over that he was wrong. People do change. He was living proof.

Then he walked away.

Harry opens the red door. The pub is empty. The disappointment is crushing.

***


The clerk in the Hall of Records lets out a huff. "You need who?" she says, looking at Harry over the rims of her glasses.

Irritated, Harry shakes his head. "Address. I need Draco Malfoy's London address. The Wiltshire location won't do. It's too heavily warded." And his father lives there, he doesn't say. He slides his Auror badge across the desk.

The clerk sighs as she summons a hefty leather bound book with a large M inscribed on the front. She shoves it into his hands. "You look."

***


The house-elf looks at Harry curiously, his eyes focusing on the scar on Harry's head. "Yes?" he says.

Harry clears his throat. "Harry Potter for Draco Malfoy. I don't have an appointment."

The elf says nothing, and then to Harry's great shock, he bows his head to the ground. "Master Draco is in the library. Pimm will take you there."

He finds Draco sitting behind a parchment-strewn desk, furiously writing. Harry can see the ink stains on his fingers.

"Master Potter to see you," Pimm says.

Malfoy jumps. "Harry!" he exclaims. For an unguarded moment he almost looks… pleased, but surely Harry is mistaken. Indeed by the time Malfoy has rounded his desk with his hand extended, his demeanor is as bland and officious as if Harry had wandered into a Ministry conference room instead of wandering into his ex-lover's house unannounced.

Harry takes his hand still taken aback by the use of his first name and gratified at least that Malfoy's hand feels clammy to the touch. "Sorry for the intrusion. I--"

Malfoy waves him off. "The Ministry is bleeding me dry. Again," he says with a glare in Harry's direction. "As if I personally funded the Dark Lord." He lets out a laugh, amused with himself, and Harry stares at him, baffled. He looks up at the large painting of Lucius hanging over the fireplace and starts to feel a little sick. "Drink?" Malfoy says, holding up a crystal decanter.

Harry swallows. "Please."

"And you are well, I trust?" Malfoy asks after they have both sat down.

So bloody polite. Harry came all over that prissy mouth once and Malfoy loved it. "Fine," he snaps, fiddling with the crystal tumbler balanced on his knee.

"Harry."

"Stop bloody calling me that. You never did before."

"Fine. Potter, then," Malfoy sneers. "Why the fuck are you here?"

Harry snorts. "That's better," he says. "More honest at least."

"I aim to please."

"Do you? Go to The Merry Wayfarer anymore?"

"No."

"I see." Feeling incredibly foolish, Harry gets to his feet. "I'm sorry I wasted your time," he says, walking swiftly toward the door.

"I think I should tell you that I'm getting married," Malfoy calls.

Harry stops and turns around. "What?"

"It hasn't been officially announced yet. She is a distant relative of my father. It's a good match. She's smart, knows her way around society, and my mother likes her, more importantly." He gives Harry a wry grin. "And the Ministry can't touch a Galleon of her money."

Harry can only stare at him.

"I need an heir, Harry. If I'm going to rebuild this family."

"Does she know you're a poof?" Harry suddenly asks. It's a low blow, but he doesn't fucking care.

It hits its mark and Malfoy pales. "I'm no more of a poof than you are," he hisses back.

Harry at once feels exhausted and very stupid. "Fuck. Sorry, I shouldn't have. I--"

"No, she doesn't know," Draco interrupts.

Harry looks down at the whisky in his hands and laughs. The sound is bitter to his ears. "If you want money. I have fucking money. You can have every last Galleon. It just sits in my vault anway."

"Don't be absurd."

"Why not? You want all this? What is all this anyway? It obviously wasn't enough to keep you from crawling into bed with me. Tell me, does your father know you were fucking someone who put him in Azkaban?"

Malfoy slams his whisky glass down. "Shut up, Potter. I wasn't the one fucking around. Stupid cunt, I bet she never knew it was me she was tasting every time you kissed her goodnight."

"You leave her out of this," Harry shouts, picking a vase up before he can stop himself and hurling it across the room. It shatters against the wall, landing just south of Lucius' ear.

"Oh good," says Malfoy. "We are now destroying priceless artifacts. Don't worry. There are more where that came from. Want another one? Here. My mother's got loads." He picks up a crystal bowl off the desk and tosses it in Harry's direction where it shatters at his feet.

Harry stares at it before seeing Malfoy pick up a glass paperweight off the desk and hefting it onto the floor. He winces as it shatters too. What could he possibly have thought he would accomplish by coming here? "Malfoy, don't," he says, holding up his hands.

"Fuck you," Malfoy says, turning away. Moments later the contents of Malfoy's desk tumble to the ground with a sudden swipe of his arm. "What a perfect couple, you were. Did you go home and fuck her right after you fucked me?"

"No, it wasn't like that," Harry says, frowning, watching spilled ink puddle across the parchment scroll Malfoy was so furiously writing on when Harry came in.

"The hell it wasn't."

Harry glares at him. "Like you ever cared."

"I cared as much as you did."

Harry stares at him. He licks his lips, unable to speak.

"Did you think I enjoyed knowing I couldn't have you?" Malfoy asks, still turned away.

"I never knew what you felt about me."

"Well, now you know," Malfoy says, sinking back down on the sofa. "I must be getting soft," he muses, staring into his whisky glass, "I can't believe you got that out of me."

Harry swallows and sits down beside him. Only the certainty that Malfoy would push him away keeps him from taking him into his arms. Still his fingers creep toward Malfoy's hand. "We could--"

"No, we can't. I need to rebuild this family. That's more important than fucking you. I'm sorry."

Harry supposes that should offend him, but it doesn't. Their fingertips touch, and miraculously Malfoy doesn't pull away. Harry's pinky curls around Malfoy's middle finger. "I always thought that having a family would be the most important thing I'd ever do," he says, staring down at the floor.

Malfoy's hand is warm, his thumb tracing circles across the back of Harry's hand. "So did I."

***


The ring sparkles on Ginny's left hand. Harry wishes he could say the same for the look in her eyes.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" Ginny lifts her hand in front of the window, admiring the way the light bounces off the diamond. Harry spent more than he should on it, but the ring felt good in his hands. It felt real.

"Yes," Harry says. Outside Ginny's bedroom window he can hear Ron and Hermione laughing as Bill and Fleur's daughter toddles around the yard. He has been away from this family for too long.

Ginny clears her throat. "You saw the paper?"

"Yes." The news of Malfoy's engagement has been the talk of the Wizarding world. Last night, Harry sat Ginny down and told her everything. He had to.

"It's over, then?" Her eyes pierce his.

Harry nods.

"Good."



[September 2017]

It seems as if autumn arrived the minute August left, knowing that children would be clamoring onboard the Hogwarts Express, eager for another year at school. Harry shivers, stepping outside and blowing into his hands, his feet already starting to move. In a few hours they would be off to Kings Cross, the house already awake. Al barely slept through the night.

Neither did Harry.

Harry picks up speed, lopping down the bricked path to Grove Street. He makes it as far as the paved road that leads to the Muggle village nearby before he stops and vomits all over the grass. A car whooshes by as Harry rubs the sweat off his forehead, his insides aching.

***


"Does your girlfriend know that you bugger men?" Malfoy whispers as clear as it was yesterday.

Malfoy's lips ghost the skin of Harry's cheek, "I don't bugger men," Harry says, turning his head away, looking down in time to see Malfoy's hand disappear inside the waistband of his pants and curl all too easily around his aching cock.

Malfoy pulls on it and Harry nearly sees stars. "You could," Malfoy says, his breath hot against Harry's ear as he steps impossibly close, pressing Harry into the wall.

Blood roars in Harry's ear as he struggles to grasp hold of his senses. Surely Malfoy is joking and certain of it he pushes Malfoy away, sending him pin wheeling backward toward the wall. They're both pissed and Harry has no idea what time it is. "What did you say?" he whispers.

Malfoy straightens up. He doesn't look like he's joking. "I said you could fuck me if you wanted."

"I--" I do. "Yes," he says, finally finding his voice.



Yes, Harry thinks now, staring over the hills at the pinking sky. Still.

***


Despite what Ginny thinks, Harry stays away from Draco for thirteen years, and though it is far from perfect, his marriage to Ginny is not an unhappy one, at least in the beginning. Still it's hard to keep up momentum for a marriage that's not based wholly on love. Children are one thing, desire is another, and by the time Albus is safely ensconced aboard the Hogwarts Express, Harry has already resumed his nighttime wanderings to the Merry Wayfarer.

He sits alone, however, staring into the mirrored glass, silently drinking his whisky until the day arrives when Draco walks through that red door.

On the third day of September, after Harry has already received an owl from Al complaining that James stole his cauldron so he had to share one with some boy named Scorpius, he does.

"I thought I'd find you here," he says.

Harry already has an open bottle set on the table, and he summons an extra glass as Draco sits down. "I was starting to think you wouldn't come," he says.

Draco makes a face as he accepts the glass. His hair thinner now, he still has the smooth skin of someone half his age, and Harry can't help staring. "Your son," he says, after taking a healthy swallow, "needs a new cauldron."

Harry nods. "I heard."



[September 2020]

Draco is only a few paces behind, his pale limbs flailing. He looks up and grins, showing Harry his white teeth. "Never," he says.

Harry snorts, looking back up at the trail ahead. The top of the hill is in sight. He's nearly there when...

"Oof," he cries, hitting the ground hard, his glasses skidding out of reach.

Draco clamors on top of him. "I told you not to run away from me," he says.

Harry lets out a moan, his knee throbbing. Fuck that. His whole body hurts. "Why did you do that?" he yells as Draco settles down atop his chest, straddling him. "I'm forty fucking years old. You can't do that anymore. Fuck."

"So?" Draco says, grapping Harry by the shirt and pulling him up, so that they are face to face. "You wouldn't stop," he says simply.

Wouldn't stop. Harry would roll his eyes, but that would mean moving. "I don't suppose the fact that I want to be alone means anything to you," Harry says, glaring back.

Draco shrugs, shifting his weight back and trapping Harry's cock, sheathed under a pair of thin running shorts, right under his arse. He grins, wiggling. "No. Not really."

Harry shuts his eyes, his traitorous cock enjoying the attention. Just like always. "You're not going to leave me alone, are you?" he asks, exasperated.

Draco lets go of Harry's shirt, smoothing down the wrinkles with his palms. "You're upset."

"Of course, I'm upset. My whole family is torn apart, and it's all my fault."

"Your fault? You don't think some of it is mine."

"I could have stayed away," Harry says grimly. "Somehow."

"Right." Draco nods.

"James still won't answer my owls. And Ron refuses to talk to me."

"Fuck Ron. And James will come around."

"And you know this?"

"No, but you were his age once and now look at you." Draco grins. "Putty in my hands."

Harry refuses to be swayed. "How is Scorpius dealing with this?" He is almost afraid to ask, knowing how reticent Draco is talking about his family.

Draco shrugs. "He's too busy nattering on about your son to care, honestly."

Harry frowns. "My son. What are you talking about?"

"Why am I not surprised that you have no idea what goes on in your children's lives?"

Harry bites his lip, distracted by the sensation of Draco's palms kneading his chest. "I've been preoccupied."

"Right. Your son, Albus and Scorpius are as thick as thieves. It's really quite appalling. It's ruining our family's reputation."

"I think your father already had a good start with that," Harry replies before letting out a squeal, having received a sharp pinch on the nipples.

"My father is off limits, just like that Granger person."

"Hermione," Harry corrects.

"Right. That Weasel lover."

Harry rolls his eyes. He supposes Draco is right. People don't ever change.

Malfoy tugs at Harry's collar, getting his attention again. "You ran away before I could finish what I wanted to say."

Harry sighs. "Fine. Tell me. And stop wiggling. It's… distracting."

Draco gives Harry a half-smile, before taking a deep breath, his face turning serious, and Harry props himself on his elbows, suddenly worried. "What is it?"

Draco shrugs, looking as uncomfortable as Harry can ever remember seeing him. "I'll understand if you want to walk away."

"What?" Harry cries.

"Let me finish. You were happy with… with her, and I came along and fucked things up, and…"

Harry shakes his head, knowing where this is going. "Draco."

"Will you shut up?"

"No. You're going to fall on your sword because I'm unhappy."

"Yes."

Harry tries to sit up, but he's stymied by the fact he's still trapped underneath Draco's legs, so he settles for pulling Draco forward by the elbows and staring him straight in the eyes. "Listen, I know I'm a moody bastard, but that doesn't mean--"

"Potter."

"Draco, I don't regret it." There he said it.

The corner of Draco's mouth quirks. "No?"

"No. And being noble is a really bad look on you, so stop it."

Draco's face splits into a wide grin. It's really quite captivating, and Harry finds himself grinning back. God, he's becoming an old queen. Next thing he'll be listening to Celestina Warbeck and coordinating Hermione's wardrobe, like she would ever let him. "Kiss me," Harry abruptly asks.

Draco lets out a laugh. "Why?"

"Because I need you close to me right now, so I won't forget how much I love you," Harry replies, his face heating.

"Potter, I'm touched."

"Fuck you." Harry cants his hips upward, his cock still trapped under Draco's delightfully wiggling body. "I'm waiting."

Draco rolls his eyes. "Fine. I'll kiss you." He leans forward, his lips parting, and Harry's breath catches in his throat. "Potter?" Draco whispers.
.
"Yeah?" Harry asks, plucking a leaf out of Draco's hair. His hand lingers, touching Draco's cheek.

"I love you too."

***


The house on Grove Street is empty. If Harry strains he can still hear peals of laughter as Lily ran through the front hall dressed in her mother's best shoes, Al and their dog, Rocky, nipping at her heels, and there are still scuffmarks on the walls from the impromptu indoor Quidditch game played on James' twelfth birthday when buckets of rain poured from the sky and no one dared fly outside.

Harry can't deny that some of his best memories happened in this house. They were happy once, weren't they? And their children are their legacy. James, who has his mother's hair and his father's temperament, but none of their common sense, and Albus, quiet as James is loud, and Lily, Harry's favorite, the one who used to curl up in his lap and tuck scribbled notes into the pockets of his robes. He hopes that someday they'll understand.

"Well, this is it," Ginny says, standing by the front door, hands perched on her hips. She looks fantastic, hair sleek, robes a soft gray. Divorce suits her. Harry finds himself speechless, staring.

"You look amazing," he says.

Ginny looks surprised and then pleased. "Why, thank you, Harry." Her face turns coy as she plays with the doorknob. "If you must know I have lunch plans."

"Oh. Oh," Harry says, figuring it out. His eyebrows turn downward. "With who?"

Ginny smoothes down her robes. "Not that it is any of your business…" She pauses, smirking. "Neville."

"Neville? Neville Longbottom?"

"Oh, fuck you, Harry. He's a good man."

"I know." Still.

"Besides, I'm rather hoping we skip lunch all together, so that he can take me back to Hogwarts and get me all dirty and fuck me on the greenhouse floor. I've always wanted to do that."

"Ginny!" Harry cries, reddening, obviously hearing of this fantasy for the first time.

Ginny is clearly enjoying herself. "Chin up, Harry," she says, straightening his collar. "You've had your fun, now I can have mine. Besides, it can't be any more scandalous than what you and he get up to."

Harry supposes not, considering Draco is a kinky bastard with an appetite for getting fucked while wearing ladies' knee socks.

Ginny tugs on his collar once more before letting go. "Good luck, Harry. I mean it."

"You too," he says, watching her go.

***


The mind is a funny thing. For example Harry can still remember the cold fear he felt in the seconds after the white queen struck Ron down in that horrible chess match nearly three decades ago. He is certain that the sheer exhilaration he felt riding a broom for the very first time will live with him always. Yet the image of Ginny's smile that he once held so dear to his heart twists and turns until he's not sure if it's the smile he remembers or something make-believe.

Although today he is pretty sure it was real.
 
 
 
Who's Queen?: A h/d romanceelephantqueen25 on December 17th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
*happy sigh*
Oh this was beautiful.
I really liked the structure and how it kept me from knowing the entire story right til the end.
Just.... *happy sigh*
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 8th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm so pleased the structure worked for and you enjoyed the story:)
Alysha・アリーシャotakuangel on December 18th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Delightful!
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 8th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you:)
Alysia Elizabethahleeshaa on December 18th, 2007 12:06 am (UTC)
Wow...this story was just...wow.

Usually I hate stories that are written in the present tense, but this one was something else. It was beautiful, in every sense of the word. I loved it.

I'm sure Sherant will really enjoy this. Great job, mystery author.
jacked up on cheap champagne: glomp!mizbean on January 9th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so pleased you liked it ♥
Jinn-ninnydjinniyah on December 18th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
This was an excellent story! I loved the tiny details - Draco's knee sock fetish, Lily tucking notes into Harry's pockets, the Weasley tiara and Aunt Muriel sulking... :) Also, the snap-shot feel of this worked really well - everything felt a bit tipsy, both in time and from all the whisky (no doubt), and from the very nature of infidelity itself. Love and affection are tricksy, tricksy things, as you've written so well here. Great job!

jacked up on cheap champagne: heartsmizbean on January 9th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
What a lovely review ♥ Thank you! I'm glad you liked the fic, and yes, love is tricksy thing. If there's one thing I've learned in life, I've learned that:)
dreamyraynbo: H/D black&whitedreamyraynbo on December 18th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
This is really sweet. There's definitely a sense of desperation to the first bit of it, and even the ending isn't completely "happy", but it's realistic, and lovely. Your Ginny is wonderful, btw, and I love that you paired her with Neville at the end. :D
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 9th, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
I've been a Ginny/Neville fan since the GoF movie, and it hit me as I was writing this that pairing them up would make for a nice ending. I'm so glad you enjoyed the fic. Thank you!
Journey's End: D_touchcalanthe11 on December 18th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
A real treat. I love that indeed people will never change, but can still love each other ;-). The moment when Harry asks Draco not to call him Harry is perfect.
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 9th, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm so glad you liked it:)
dita pparlophone on December 18th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
That wry "All is well, indeed." quite early on in the story made me smirk delightedly, and I knew I was set for a spiffing read :)

The structure worked so well - wonderfully intriguing, and kept me on my toes :D
I loved that Harry and Draco hadn't revised a lot of their opinions of one another, despite falling in lust, and then love.

Thank you for a lovely read!
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you:)
nahimanaemerald_dragon8 on December 18th, 2007 01:37 am (UTC)
Oh, I love this. I loved how the whole thing is pieced together, and the interactions between the characters. Very nicely done.
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it:)
rickey_a: H/D Kissrickey_a on December 18th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
nice working H/D romance into epilogue canon
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
Thank you! Writing an epilogue-friendly romance was definitely a challenge, so I'm pleased to hear the story worked for you:)
The Infinite Gamelomonaaeren on December 18th, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
Wow. I love this.

The non-linearity of the story and the snapshot structure for some of the most important scenes are part of the reason it works so well, I think. We're allowed short glimpses into the characters' lives, but not enough to make them look sappy or horribly angsty or blameworthy.

The gestures are evocative, too. The image of Draco throwing glass at Harry is one that will stay with me for a long time. And so is the image of Draco jumping him as he runs towards the hill.

Finally, I just really like the line: Divorce suits her.

A great story all around.
jacked up on cheap champagne: glomp!mizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing such a thoughtful review, and I'm glad to hear the structure worked the way I hoped it would. And it may be sappy of me, but I wanted Ginny to have a happy ending too. I'm a softy at heart:)
parallel parking prodigy: angsty dracoempress_jae on December 18th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
that was simply beautiful!
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Thank you!:)
ladymorgana13: foreverOTPladymorgana13 on December 18th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
lovely.
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Thank you:)
Lady Agnewladyagnew on December 18th, 2007 06:21 am (UTC)
Brilliant! I have a mind that works linearly too much, so it took me a while to puzzle out the timeline as I was reading, but it all fits together so beautifully--the images, layered thoughts and Harry's moodiness coloring the whole thing through. I love the fact that this is very much a H/D story even though both marriages to other people were very much real.

And Ginny would look fabulous divorced and luring Neville to naughtiness in the greenhouse. Fabulous.
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear the timeline and structure worked for you, and I wanted to give everyone a happy ending, so Ginny and Neville got one too. Thank you for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the fic:)
Sam the dog: Damon and Grahamficliously on December 18th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
This was really different then what I usually read as far as H/D goes, but.. I liked it better for that. It was compelling and sucked me in, and then I remembered that I don't usually like stories like these, but I didn't care because it was too good to stop. I loved the structure and the flipping back and forth between time periods, and you actually made me like Ginny. You did a very very good job of portraying an older, matured Harry. All in all, a lovely piece. :)
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on January 10th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)
Thank you:) I'm glad you took the chance and gave my fic a read.
lilian_cho: Drarry candy for me <3lilian_cho on December 18th, 2007 07:18 am (UTC)
<333
Oh. OH.

!1111



I love how it's infidelity but not infidelity. Love your take on the canon relationships! =D
lilian_cho: All I want for Xmas is Dracolilian_cho on December 18th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC)
Re: <333
And Ginny/Neville FTW! >=D
Re: <333 - mizbean on January 10th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC) (Expand)