The important thing is this: To be able at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. -- Charles DuBois
"So, you're coming tonight, right?"
"I told you I'd be there, Hermione, but if this turns out to be another one of your matchmaking schemes, I'm leaving."
"It's not, I promise. But it wouldn't hurt you to at least try. I'm sure there will be some—"
"No. I've tried," Harry interrupted brusquely. "You know how it always turns out."
"I know, I know. Either you like them or they like you, never both."
"It's not the end of the world, you know. I'm only twenty-five. There's plenty of time for me to—"
"Find the perfect man?"
Harry took off his glasses, rubbing his tired eyes as he shook his head. "You know I don't want perfect. I thought I had perfect once and it turned out to be anything but. I'd settle for halfway decent."
Hermione studied her friend closely. She knew he wanted to find someone to share his life with, and it angered her that after everything he'd been through, it seemed such an impossible task. "You look tired, Harry. When's the last time you had a good night's sleep?"
Harry replaced his glasses and gave her a sideways look. "Oh, let's see, when I was eleven, maybe."
Hermione opened her mouth then shut it again quickly. Bringing up the past wouldn't help matters.
"Anyway, I have to get back to work. Was that the only reason you dropped by? To make sure I wasn't going to back out of your little soiree?"
Hermione touched him lightly on the forearm. "No, Harry. I just wanted to see how you were doing. We don't see you enough nowadays, and ever since Graham left you just seem ... we just worry about you, that's all."
Taking Hermione's hand, he squeezed it gently. "I know. I've been working a lot. It keeps my mind off other things."
It wasn't necessary to say what the other things were. Hermione knew all too well and if she ever caught up with that arse of an ex-boyfriend, she would cast a few experimental hexes on him herself. "Okay, then, I'll see you at our place at eight. Maybe you should ... I don't know, take a Pepperup Potion or something before you come. You're looking a bit sickly."
"Healer Potter, emergency, level four," a disembodied voice echoed in the corridor.
Harry raised his brows. "Duty calls," he said with a grin and a wave before disappearing without a sound.
"What is it, Sophia?"
"A hex, Healer Potter, a nasty one from the looks of it. He's in room twelve. I've given him a Pain Potion, but he still seems to be quite uncomfortable."
"Fine, I'll take it from here," Harry said nonchalantly. Taking the clipboard, he started looking over the notes as he walked into the room. "So, Mr—"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, I asked for the best Healer they had, not you."
Harry's emotions immediately surged between surprise and irritation. He managed to bite off a sharp retort, which took all of the professionalism he could manage when confronted with a bleeding, insolent Draco Malfoy. "If you asked for the best, then you were asking for me, whether you knew it or not."
"As arrogant as always, I see. It seems some things never change."
Harry's lip was practically bleeding from biting back a response. "If you'd like to settle for second best, I can call someone else. I have other patients that need my care."
"Can't you see I'm bleeding all over the fucking floor, Potter? There's no time to call anyone else. Just..." he waved his hands dismissively, "do whatever it is you do."
Harry nodded slightly and took out his wand. Trying to pretend this was just another patient, he stepped closer so he could survey the damage. It looked bad, but from what he could see, it wasn't life threatening. "I'll have to remove your robe to ensure that I see all of the damage."
Draco looked away, but nodded. With a wave of Harry's wand, the man was sitting nude on the sterile white bed. He clutched at the sheet to pull it over himself.
The wounds were deeper than Harry had previously thought and it looked as though he'd lost a significant amount of blood. He was surprised Draco was still conscious, much less able to complain. "Lie back and tell me what happened."
Surprisingly, Draco obeyed. "I was minding my own business, having lunch, when some madman burst from his seat and started throwing hexes at me."
"Did you hear what spells he cast?"
"No. He spoke in another language. German, I think, but I can't be sure."
Draco winced when Harry touched his stomach, but otherwise stayed perfectly still.
"Okay, I'm going to clean off the blood so I can heal the wounds." Harry waved his wand again to clear away the blood, and then began the incantations to stitch the flesh back together. "This might hurt a little, even with the Pain Potions."
Draco closed his eyes. "Just get it over with, Potter."
As the first wound began to heal, Harry noticed Draco clenching the side of his bed and he paused. "Draco? I can stop if you need me to."
"No. It just ... burns."
Harry stopped instantly. "What do you mean it burns?"
"Fuck, Potter, it burns. Like you're setting my guts on fire."
Harry ran his wand over the wounds again, whispering a variety of diagnostic spells. "We need to find out what hex caused this before I can continue. It wasn't a standard slicing curse or it wouldn't burn."
Harry called for Sophia to bring in another Pain Potion. "Do you know if they captured the man who did this?" he asked her before she was even through the door.
"Find out." He took the Pain Potion from her and said, more harshly than he would have normally, "Now." His instinct was telling him there was something very wrong about the situation and he didn't like it one bit.
Sophia rushed out of the room with a look of surprise on her face.
"I wouldn't have pegged you for one who would yell at the hired help," Draco said dryly.
"I'm not," Harry said quickly, turning again to face his patient. "At least not normally," he added as he motioned for Draco to drink the Potion. "You always did bring out the worst in me."
"Yes, I seem to have that effect on a lot of people lately."
Harry wondered what he meant by that, but assumed he was talking about whoever had hexed him. He strode to a corner cabinet and pulled out sterile bandages and tape. "We'll have to do this the Muggle way until I can find out what the spell was. You'll need to stay here until then. How's the pain? Is the burning gone?"
"Yes," Draco said quietly. "Thank you."
Harry's head shot up in surprise, and when his eyes met what should have been cold grey, he was even more surprised. "You're welcome," he said quietly, unable to drag his eyes away from the soft silver.
Suddenly touching Draco's skin was more personal than it ever had been with a patient. Harry admonished himself immediately. He was a professional, a Healer, first and foremost. When he was working, skin was just another organ to be cared for. He'd never viewed it as anything else. Until today. Today it was porcelain, ivory, satin ... Harry jumped when the door burst open and Sophia bustled into the room. "They weren't able to apprehend the man. He Apparated before Aurors arrived."
"Damn," Harry muttered, grateful to have his mind back where it belonged.
"So what does that mean?" Draco asked cautiously.
"It means we keep you here until we figure out how to heal the wounds, or until they heal on their own. The latter is highly unlikely given the reaction you had. We'll have to keep you on Pain Potions." Harry examined the bandages closely. "And a Blood-Replenishing Potion since it appears they'll continue to bleed until we can heal them."
Draco let his head fall back against his pillow. "How long?"
"I honestly don't know, Draco. I'll need to do some more tests and contact a few colleagues of mine." Harry turned to Sophia, giving her a string of instructions about who to contact before turning his attention back to Draco. "I'll get you out of here as soon as I can."
Draco nodded. "I'm tired," he said quietly.
"It's the Pain Potion I gave you. It's rather strong, but it will help you rest. The best thing for you to do—" Draco was asleep before Harry had finished the sentence.
Harry didn't know why, but he couldn't take his eyes off the sleeping man. This was the first time he'd seen Draco in years. The entire family had all but disappeared after Voldemort's death. Whether by choice or by Ministry request, Harry didn't know. He'd never given it much thought until today. His eyes travelled to Draco's forearm and he felt a vast sense of relief that it was as pale and unblemished as the rest of his body.
Watching him sleep with bandages decorating his chest brought back eerie reminders of a life Harry had left behind. He was no longer the celebrated Boy Who Lived. It was amazing how quickly people had forgotten him after the war was over. It seemed that once the threat of Voldemort was gone, the world no longer needed a hero and he was more than happy to slink into the shadows and live the quiet life of a Healer. It was more fulfilling than anything he'd ever done, and he was truly happy with his life. His one regret was that he didn't have anyone to share it with.
"Healer Potter, Floo call in your office," the announcement whispered into the room. Harry shut the door quietly behind him feeling an odd tightness in his chest.
Sophia met him at the door of his office. "I contacted Healer Brakenstrack but he was unavailable. Healer Johnson is anxious to speak with you though."
"Thank you." As the mediwitch turned to walk away, Harry called out to her. "Sophia, I'm sorry I snapped earlier."
The young witch smiled. "It's alright, Healer Potter. I understand."
Harry nodded and entered his office. He didn't leave for almost three hours. He'd consulted with five of the most reputable Healers in Europe, yet he was no closer to understanding Draco's odd reaction than he had been earlier. The clock on his wall chimed six o'clock and Harry sighed heavily. He still had rounds to do before he left. There would be no time to run home and change before going to Ron and Hermione's dinner party.
An hour later, he'd finally made it back to check on Draco. "How's he feeling?" he asked the evening mediwitch who was on duty.
"Grumpy, but other than that, about the same. We've had to change the bandages more frequently. They're soaked through after half an hour now."
Harry frowned as he entered Draco's room. He was a bit surprised that no one was there visiting him. "So, how do you feel?" Harry asked in his most professional tone of voice.
"How would you feel, Potter?" Draco snapped.
"Fuck, Draco," Harry said gruffly. "Can we please leave off with the animosity until you get out of here? I'm trying to help you, in case you haven't noticed."
Draco turned his face away and remained silent.
Harry let his glasses fall to the tip of his nose and rubbed his forehead. He could feel a headache coming on and made a mental note to add a Headache Potion to the Pepperup before leaving. "Look, I'm sorry. Is the pain better or worse?
The word was spoken softly and Harry could tell by the irregular rise and fall of Draco's chest that he was doing all he could to stay calm and in control. "I can't increase the Pain Potion. You're on too high a dose as it is. Can you describe the pain?"
"It ... it feels as though someone is trying to claw their way out of my chest."
Harry's brow furrowed. He ran his wand over Draco's chest again but it still didn't register anything out of the ordinary. "Marci," Harry called and the mediwitch scurried into the room. "When was the last bandage change?"
She looked at the chart she held in her hands. "Ten minutes ago, sir."
Harry swore under his breath.
"Why are they changing them so much more frequently?" Draco asked, his voice strained and if Harry was reading it correctly, a bit frightened.
"The bleeding is getting worse. Whatever hex it was, it's making your body respond in the exact opposite way that it should. Instead of clotting, your blood seems to be thinning, causing you to bleed more profusely."
"So if you can't find the spell, and you can't heal the wounds, I'll eventually bleed to death."
"Fuck, I knew I shouldn't have come back."
"I haven't lost a patient yet, Draco, and I'm not about to start now. We'll increase the Blood-Replenishing Potion. There's a way to reverse the effects of the curse; I just haven't found it yet."
Draco nodded, closed his eyes, and fell back to sleep.
Harry wasn't thrilled to have to cancel on Ron and Hermione. He had been looking forward to getting away, but if he didn't solve this puzzle soon, there was no doubt Draco would die, and he wasn't about to let that happen.
"Mate, can't someone else—"
"No, Ron. He's my patient and there's no one else with my qualifications. You know that."
"Yeah, I know. Healer Potter to the rescue once again."
"Tell Hermione I'm sorry. I'll drop by once he's stable."
"Fine, Harry. But get some sleep would you. You look awful."
"Thanks mate, that makes me feel so much better."
It took Harry three days and two trips to Germany before he figured out how to reverse the spell and how to heal his patient's curse wounds. Draco had been in and out of consciousness the entire time, mumbling things Harry knew the man would have rather not revealed. Only Harry understood what the incoherent screams were about and what caused the strange choking sounds that made Draco's body tremble with fear - fear that should have been long forgotten after all of this time. He had never imagined he would be looking forward to hearing Draco's scathing remarks and jabs, but as he stood over his pale, unmoving body, he wanted nothing more.
"Well, I must be alive. If this were hell, Weasley would be here too." Draco's voice was weak and cracked from lack of use, but to Harry it was the sound of triumph. He couldn't help but smile.
"Yes, I'm afraid you'll be around for a few more years, Malfoy. There's a bit of scarring, but the wounds have healed completely and your blood levels are back to normal. How do you feel?"
"Draco sat up cautiously, as though he was expecting to feel excruciating pain, but relief flooded his face."Hungry. How does one go about getting a decent meal in this place?"
Harry knew he had a foolish grin on his face, but he couldn't seem to hide it. He kept telling himself it was just the feeling of saving someone's life, but he was pretty sure that wasn't all of it, a fact that excited him and terrified him in equal measure. "I'll have something sent up for you. I doubt it will be what you're used to, but it'll at least be nutritious. Any pain at all?"
Draco twisted his torso and stretched his arms over his head. "Everything is a bit sore, but not bad. It actually feels like I just played a hard game of Quidditch." He looked up from his bed at Harry and smirked. "From the aching muscles it must have been a game against you."
Harry's grin widened unbelievably. A dozen memories assaulted him at once. Draco on his broom, wearing his Slytherin Quidditch uniform with a snarl plastered on his face. If he squinted, he could still see the sour-faced, nasty child Draco had been, but if he wasn't looking for him, all he could see was the man before him who had very nearly died for no good reason. He nodded. "You should be able to go home tomorrow. There's a list of things that you can't do for a while, but most urgently, you're not allowed to Apparate or Floo for at least a week. Is there someone who can come get you?"
"No, I'll be fine," Draco said quickly. Too quickly.
Harry hung the clipboard on its hook and sat in the chair next to Draco's bed. "Draco, it's none of my business, but ... your parents were notified of your condition. I'm surprised they aren't here."
Harry regretted his words immediately when Draco's warm eyes frosted into pale ice. "You're right, Potter. It's none of your business."
Harry sighed heavily. He knew he should just drop it and walk away, remember that he was dealing with Malfoy and say good riddance when he was gone, but something tearing at his chest wouldn't let him. "Look, Draco, you can't Apparate or Floo. You need someone to take you home. Is there anyone—"
"No, there's not and I told you I'll be fine. I'll ... take a cab. Isn't that what Muggles do?"
"Do you have Muggle money to pay for a cab?" Harry asked, knowing the answer already.
"I'll figure it out," Draco said coolly. "Why don't you run along and harass one of your other patients? I'm tired." With that, he rolled over in his bed, with his back to Harry and closed his eyes.
"Good morning." Harry looked at the tray next to Draco's bed, still half filled with food. "I see you've already had breakfast."
Draco snorted. "If you call that rubbish breakfast."
Harry couldn't help but laugh. The food was rather horrible, even to him, and he wasn't the least bit finicky. "I just have to check you over and then you're free to go."
Harry ran his wand over Draco several times making notes on his clipboard each time. The tests were really unnecessary and he knew he was stalling. "Everything looks good. There's a change of clothes in the loo. I wasn't sure of your size, but I think they'll fit. After you get dressed, I'll take you home."
Draco's eyes shot up to Harry's faster than a bewitched Snitch.
"I'm not letting you leave here alone. If there's no one to take you home, you're stuck with me," Harry said firmly, arms crossed and shoulders squared. If he'd blinked, he would have missed the look of gratitude that flickered in Draco's eyes.
"Fine." Draco flung off his covers and stood. "Do you want to hold my hand while I have a piss too?"
Harry was expecting this type of reaction. He'd known Draco wouldn't accept his help without making a big deal out of it, but there was no venom in his voice, no bite to his words, and if Harry could see the man's expression, he'd bet twenty Galleons there was a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
"Not really, but thanks for the offer," Harry said with the slightest grin. Draco snorted, and for some reason the response pleased Harry more than he would admit. After all, considering the source, it was just as good as a laugh.
When Draco came out of the loo fully dressed, Harry was waiting for him.
"Don't you have patients to see, Potter?"
"No. It's my day off."
"Then why are you here?"
Harry raised both eyebrows and gave Draco a look that said, "Are you really that stupid?"
"Oh," Draco said quietly, his eyes the warm grey that Harry had somehow come to expect. "Thanks."
The long drive to the Manor passed more quickly than Harry would have imagined. Draco had been civil, pleasant even. He'd asked questions about Harry's life that normally would have felt intrusive, but for some reason just felt like polite conversation. Whenever Harry would ask something of Draco though, he found the conversation turned to questions about why he owned a car and what made him choose such a small one. Draco laughed and said he would have expected something a bit bigger from the Slayer of the Dark Lord. As they pulled up to the Manor, a thick silence fell between them. Harry hadn't thought of Malfoy Manor in years, but some memories never faded. He parked and tried not to dwell on the past and from the looks of it, Draco was having the same problem.
"Thank you again for ... well, fuck, I guess for once again saving my life."
Harry shrugged. "I'm a Healer now. It's what I do," he said matter-of-factly.
Draco let out a puff of air through his nose, part snort and part laugh. "For someone who hates me, you certainly have made a habit of saving my bloody arse, Potter."
"It's my job, Draco. Besides, I never said I hated you."
Harry barely had time to register the surprise before it disappeared. "Well, okay then. I'll see you around I suppose." Draco made to get out of the car, but looked confused about how to actually go about it. Harry reached over him and pulled the door lever, pushing the door open slightly.
"Thanks," Draco said quietly, a slight flush to his cheeks. "I've never actually been in a Muggle car before."
It shouldn't have surprised Harry, but even after all his years in the wizarding world, he still forgot that most wizards didn't know how to do things that he took for granted. "It's okay; I would imagine you had no reason to before."
He expected Draco to step out of the car and never look back and for reasons he didn't want to examine too closely, the thought made him frown. "Are your parents here?" he asked, just as Draco swung one long leg out of the tiny door and sat it onto the ground.
Draco stilled and after a pause that seemed longer to Harry than it probably was, he answered, "No, they're still ... away."
"Is there someone here who can look after you? You know, in case there's a problem?"
"There'll be house-elves I'm sure," Draco said as he slung his other leg out and lifted his body out of the low seat, wincing slightly as he used muscles that were still a bit tender.
"What do you mean, you're sure? Don't you know?"
Harry could hear the heavy sigh as Draco crossed his arms over the roof of the car. "No, Potter, I haven't been back yet, but I'm sure they're here or the place would look unkempt. Thanks again for the ride. I'll see you around."
Harry watched as the man turned to make his way up the path that led to the looming Manor. Draco must not have heard the clunk of Harry's door opening and closing behind him or the crunch of autumn leaves underneath Harry's feet as he followed him up the path, because he seemed surprised to see Harry standing next to him once he reached the front door.
"Potter, what are you doing?"
"I'm making sure all of my hard work wasn't for naught. I didn't save your bloody arse three times to have you die alone from a foolish complication."
Draco rolled his eyes, but other than looking completely put out, made no indication that Harry should leave. The house-elf that greeted them squeaked when he saw Draco. "Good morning, Hinkle."
"Master Malfoy," the elf stuttered. "I ... we is not knowing you will be coming." He scrambled out of the doorway to allow them entrance, tugging nervously on his tea towel.
"It's alright, Hinkle. Would you bring a tea tray into the parlour?"
"Right away, Master. Would you and your guest be liking some biscuits too?"
Draco gave the elf an irritated glare. "My guest won't be staying that long," he said at the same time Harry said, "Yes, please."
The elf looked back and forth between them, eyes wide with terror.
"Fine, bring the whole bloody kitchen if you want, as long as I get a decent cup of tea."
The elf popped away instantly.
"Charming as always," Harry said sarcastically as he followed Draco down a corridor lined with paintings that whispered to each other and pointed rudely.
Draco stopped at a large arched doorway that opened into a room filled with house-elves furiously setting out fresh flowers and fluffing pillows. "Out," Draco barked as he headed straight for the drinks cabinet.
"Uh, Draco? Alcohol is on the list of things you shouldn't consume."
"What are you, my bloody self-appointed nanny?" he asked as he reached into the cabinet and pulled out a glass and a bottle of something blood red.
"No," Harry said as he reached around Draco and took the bottle. "I'm your Healer, and if you don't want to spend the next week eating stale food and being poked and prodded every three hours, you'll listen to me."
Draco leaned his elbows on the cabinet and let his head fall into his hands. "Look, Harry, I appreciate what you're trying to do, really, I do. But it's not necessary. I can take care of myself."
"I know you can, Draco. The question is, will you?"
Draco lifted his head slowly and his eyes bored mercilessly into Harry's. "Why do you suddenly care?"
Harry couldn't drag his eyes away. He felt like he was being sucked into a sea of grey quicksand and the tiny blue specks of Draco's eyes were wild creatures ready to devour him as soon as he was unconscious. It took moving his entire body away from Draco to release the hold those eyes had on him, and when he finally did he realised his palms were sweaty. "I should go then," he said quickly, trying to cover the confusing signals his mind was shooing out in all directions like uncontrolled fireworks.
He didn't mean to still instantly, but the words were like a Stunning Spell and his feet seemed Spellotaped to the floor.
"I'm sorry. You've been nothing but kind to me and I've been very rude. Old habits die hard, I suppose."
Harry wasn't sure why he didn't turn around, but he suspected he was fearful of getting caught in another grey pit – one that he might not be able to escape from next time.
"Will you stay for lunch?" Draco asked quietly. "You've driven all this way and..." Draco let the words trail off as if there was more to say, but voicing it was unnecessary.
"Yeah, okay," Harry answered without really planning to.
Harry heard the clink of glass and turned around to admonish Draco but stopped when he saw that Draco was putting the glass and bottle away. He smirked at Harry's surprised look. "No alcohol. Healer's orders."
A quiet chuckle snuck out without Harry's permission. "Smart Healer. You're lucky to have found one so competent."
Draco's lip quirked into a half smile. "Yes," he said, nodding slightly, "I suppose I am."
Lunch was more spectacular than most of the banquets Harry had attended, and after he got over the initial awkwardness of the situation, he found himself having a rather enjoyable time. As he was driving home, though, he realised that he knew nothing more about where Draco had been for the last eight years than he had before. The man was a master at steering the conversation exactly where he wanted it to go.
When he got home, he made himself a cup of tea and curled up on his sofa to read the book he'd been dying to finish, but the house suddenly seemed too big, too quiet, and too empty. He tossed the book onto the coffee table and took a pinch of Floo powder from the bowl on the mantle.
"Harry! What a pleasant surprise." Hermione brushed the soot from Harry's shoulders before giving him a quick hug. "We didn't know you were planning to drop by tonight."
"Well, I wasn't really. I just thought ... I haven't seen you guys in a while."
"Yes, I know. How's your patient? Better than he started out I'd wager," she teased.
"Yeah, he's fine. Back to his old self, I suppose." Harry wasn't sure that statement was entirely true. At lunch, Draco had been more pleasant than Harry had ever remembered him being. He also wasn't sure why he was keeping Draco's identity from his friends, but something kept him from mentioning the man by name.
"We'll be having supper in an hour or so. You'll stay, won't you? Ron should be home any minute."
"Yeah, sure. I'd love to." Harry sat at the kitchen table while Hermione fumbled through supper preparations. She, like Harry, had never learned to appreciate cooking. "How did the party go?"
They talked about the party and about Hermione's efforts to create a library that was open to the wizarding public. All through supper, they discussed work and friends and the various comings and goings of the Weasley clan. But no matter what he did, Harry couldn't get his mind off one certain blond wizard that had him completely and totally befuddled.
"Harry, mate, you okay there?"
"What? Oh yeah, I was just ... thinking about work. Sorry."
"Harry, you eat, drink and sleep that job. You really need to get away more often. You need a social life, mate. How long has it been since you've seen Neville or Seamus, or any of the old gang?"
"I see Dean all of the time."
"Yeah, at work, Harry. I mean, gone out to the pub for a drink with your mates?"
"Ron, don't start again. I'm fine just the way things are."
They all knew it was a lie, but they also knew it was useless to argue about it.
The next two days passed in a flurry of patients, magical mishaps, splinchings, broken bones, the usual. Harry had never been bored with his job. Each patient, no matter how minor the illness or injury, had always been a joy to deal with. But he was getting more and more irritated that he couldn't keep his mind on his work. He finally decided he would go check on the patient that had caused such a major distraction in his life.
He Apparated to the Manor, telling himself he was just making sure Draco was following his orders and that he had a way to make it to his appointment on Friday. It had nothing to do with his desire to see that Draco was okay.
He was expecting a house-elf to answer, so when Draco opened the door dressed in perfectly tailored trousers and a soft blue jumper that exactly matched the tiny specks in his eyes, Harry was completely speechless.
Draco quirked a brow and gave Harry a look that was a perfect balance of a smirk and a grin. "So Healers do still make house calls, eh? A little archaic, isn't it, Healer Potter?"
"I just ... you have an appointment on Friday. I wanted to make sure you had a way to get to St Mungo's." Draco was staring through him and Harry could feel the heat in his cheeks as they blushed what was most likely a putrid magenta. Draco opened the door to allow Harry entrance. "And you couldn't have sent an owl?"
Harry walked over the threshold quickly, eager to get away from Draco's intense stare. "I didn't want to give you the opportunity to ignore it."
"Oh, but I wouldn't have. I've actually been looking forward to it."
Harry turned back to Draco in surprise. "Why?"
The self-assured smirk disappeared and Draco simply shrugged. "It's been a bit boring around here. I was hoping I could entice you to come to dinner with me after. You know, to thank you."
Draco met Harry's gaze with a questioning look. One that said far more than any words could. That asked the question Harry had been subconsciously asking himself since the first day they brought Draco into St Mungo's. Harry bit his lip when he realised his breathing had suddenly sped up and his heart was pounding like the gears of the Hogwarts Express.
"So, is it a date then?" Draco asked softly.
Harry couldn't speak. What if he was reading this all wrong? What if this was some pureblood tradition that Harry didn't know about? What if Draco really did want to take him to dinner just to thank him?
Draco didn't wait for an answer; he led the way into the sitting room where he lounged casually on the sofa.
"Do you want to know why I came back? Why my parents didn't come to St Mungo's when they were notified that I'd been injured?"
Harry sat at the other end of the sofa. The tension in the room was as thick as Mrs Weasley's Christmas pudding. "Yeah, if you want to tell me."
"I refused to marry. The Malfoy family loyalty takes precedence over many things, but a dark wizard is nothing compared to a son who refuses to carry on the family name."
Harry had been staring at his feet, watching Draco out of the corner of his eye. He could tell this was something Draco didn't discuss and there was only one reason he'd be sharing it now. Harry finally looked up to see Draco watching him closely, studying him as if he were one of Hagrid's odd experiments. The disappointment in his eyes when they met Harry's was palpable. "I'm sorry if I misread your intentions, Harry. I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything to anyone," he said quietly.
Harry was terrified of taking the next step. He hadn't come this close since Graham had left. He hadn't thought he'd ever want to again, but part of his brain was screaming out that this was what he'd been waiting for and he'd be a fool to let it slip away. But then the other part of him pointed out who this man was, who his family was, what the odds of them ever making a relationship work would be. It was quite possibly the hardest decision Harry had ever made.
"You didn't," he finally said, watching Draco's eyes closely as the meaning of the words registered.
Draco smiled, not just with his lips, but with his eyes. His whole body seemed to radiate relief. "So, it's a date, then?" he asked again, the smirk somehow teasingly sexy and Harry knew he was blushing again.
"Yeah, it's a date."
The tension cleared and something else replaced it. Excitement, anticipation, call it whatever you will, but Harry felt more alive at that moment than he could ever remember. He was a bit startled when Draco stood abruptly, holding out his hand. "You could stay for dinner tonight. If you don't have plans, that is."
Harry took the outstretched hand and allowed Draco to pull him up from the sofa. He was mere inches away from Draco, his heart hammering nervously in his chest. He laced his fingers with Draco's and nodded. "I think I'd like that."
Draco took his other hand and it all felt so surreal, to be standing there, facing his old school rival, feeling the warmth of the man's hands travel up his arms and spread throughout his body as if they had just ignited a blazing fire. He wanted nothing more than to kiss Draco, but it seemed too soon, too rushed, too important to jump right into.
Draco cocked his head sideways and looked at Harry curiously. "You okay?"
Harry laughed softly, "Yeah, it's just..." he chewed his lip nervously. He wasn't sure what it was. It was something impossible to put into words.
"You're rather charming when you do that. It makes me wonder what that lip tastes like."
Harry hadn't blushed so much since he was fifteen.
Draco let go of Harry's left hand and brushed the back of his fingers along Harry's cheek. "And you're adorable when you blush, but I bet you knew that already. I'm amazed I never noticed it before."
"We sort of had other things on our minds the last time we met."
"Yes, I suppose we did." Draco nodded toward the large glass doors that opened onto a huge patio. Beyond the patio, Harry could just make out a winding path lined by twinkling fairy lights. "Do you want to take a walk before dinner? It's a mild night and the sky is quite clear."
It turned out to be an extremely warm night for late September, but Harry was grateful that every now and again, a cool breeze would sweep through the trees to make Draco squeeze in closer to him for warmth and tighten the arm that was wrapped around his waist.
They talked a lot on their walk and even more during dinner. They talked about what Draco wanted to do with his life and why Harry had become a Healer. They talked about Draco's parents and Harry's friends, about Quidditch and Potions and their favourite books. Harry avoided bringing up the past. There were questions he wanted to ask, but he figured Draco would explain things in his own time.
It was rather late by the time Draco walked Harry to the end of the path to say goodbye, and Harry realised he liked the man before him. Not just because of the eyes that were the most striking colour he'd ever seen, and not just because Draco's touch sent shivers up his spine like no touch ever had, but because his mind was as sharp as his wit and he was pleasant to talk to and he was an attentive listener and ... a thousand other things that he couldn't quite name.
"You know you could stay here. There are plenty of spare rooms."
Harry laughed softly. "I don't think that's such a good idea."
Draco's eyes sparkled devilishly when he smiled. "Yes, I suppose there are some things that are best savoured before they're devoured."
Harry couldn't hold himself back any longer. He took Draco's face in his hands, tracing the sharp cheekbones with his thumbs, letting his fingers trail through white strands that were softer than any magical silk could ever dream of being. Draco's eyes fluttered shut and his lips parted slightly as a soft sigh slipped between them. Harry had never seen anything so beautiful, so vulnerable, so open. When their lips met, it was like tasting liquid gold. It was soft and innocent, like the childhoods neither of them had. It lasted only for a brief minute, but Harry knew that no matter what happened after this, it would be a minute that he would remember for a lifetime. Draco had slipped his arms around Harry's waist and it felt so right, so perfect that Harry couldn't imagine ever wanting to be anywhere else, and by the look of amazement in Draco's eyes, he was thinking the same thing.
"Thanks for coming to check on me," Draco said softly as he let his arms slip away.
"Yeah, thanks for dinner," Harry answered, reluctantly releasing Draco's face and letting his hand drift down to lace once again with Draco's fingers. They both stood there, unable to break the hold the moment had over them.
"You should go; you have to be at St Mungo's early in the morning."
"Yeah, I'll ... can I come pick you up on Friday? You still can't Apparate or Floo, remember."
Draco smiled and brushed a stray curl from Harry's eyes. "Yes, I'd like it if you did."
"Okay." Harry released Draco's hand and watched as it fell to his side but he couldn't bring himself to say goodbye, "I'll see you on Friday, then."
Draco smiled and waved.
"So who is he?" Dean asked as he dropped a carton of Thai chicken onto Harry's desk.
Harry took a deep breath as the aroma of lunch filled his office. He hadn't realised how hungry he was until that very moment. "Who is who?" he asked as he popped open the carton and took his first gigantic bite.
"Whoever has put that insufferable smile on your face. That kind of a smile only means one thing, mate. Now spill."
Harry had to chuckle because he knew Dean was right. He'd been in a better mood over the last few days than he'd been in a very long time. He'd forgotten what it could feel like. Actually, he'd given up on ever feeling this type of exhilaration ever again. He had received an owl from Draco the morning after his visit thanking him again for dropping by. Then the next morning, after waking up from dreams of pale skin and blond hair, he'd owled Draco to say he'd been thinking of him. Draco had owled back, and Harry could almost see the smirk on the man's face as he'd written that he, too, had had trouble sleeping and that it was unfair that Harry had seen him practically naked when all he had was his imagination. Harry had wanked that morning while reading the note, visualising Draco lying on his bed, wanking to images of him. Then just this morning he'd received an owl saying Draco was looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. Harry hadn't had time to owl back, as he was late to work because he'd spent too long fantasizing in the shower. He'd considered Apparating to the Manor after work, just to say hello, he told himself, but then he admonished himself, thinking he didn't want to appear too needy.
"Hello, mate." Dean said as he waved his hand in front of Harry's face. "Whoever it is, you've got it bad if even the mention of him makes you go all unfocused."
Harry couldn't keep the grin from his face. He wasn't ready to tell his friends just yet. After all, they hadn't even gone on a real date yet. Anything could happen and he wasn't prepared to see pity in his friends' eyes again. He'd had enough of that to last a lifetime.
"Fine, don't tell me. But you know you won't be able to keep it secret for long. The walls around here have eyes, ears, and mouths." Dean grinned and picked up his food carton, heading for the doorway.
So, do we have to go to St Mungo's or can you just give me the all clear and we can make it an early dinner?" Draco asked hopefully.
"Er, we have to do it there, make it official so to speak."
Draco pouted and Harry couldn't resist leaning over to kiss the pout away.
"Hey, you're supposed to be driving you idiot. You'll kill me. I can see the headlines now. Malfoy Heir Killed By Potter's Kiss." Draco was smiling, his eyes dancing with mirth, and Harry had never been so pleased to have someone call him an idiot.
"Yeah, you're just afraid your hair might get messed up in the accident and the photo might end up in the Prophet for all to see."
Draco leaned over and ruffled Harry's already messy hair. "It might be a considerable improvement for you though."
They continued the teasing all the way to St Mungo's, even resorting to Scarhead and Ferret once or twice. It was as if they were taking these things from their childhood, these representations of the animosity and the anger that clouded their past, and were somehow bringing them to the present to make peace with them.
Harry parked and Draco got out of the car, waiting for Harry before he continued the short walk to St Mungo's.
"You realise that if we walk in together ... well, maybe not, but most likely people will talk."
Draco stopped walking and looked at Harry with cool eyes that Harry had become unaccustomed to seeing. "And is that a problem? What, you don't mind kissing me in private, but in public the Boy Who Lived doesn't want to associate with an ex-Death Eater?"
The words, the tone, the spite, sliced through Harry like a magical sword. "Bloody hell, Draco, that's not what I meant."
"Then what, exactly, did you mean?" Draco spat.
"I just ... with your parents and everything, I didn't know if you wanted to be seen with me."
Draco reached out to take Harry's hand in his. "Fuck my parents. This is who I am, and if the world doesn't like it they can kiss my bloody arse."
They walked along in silence until Harry found the courage to voice what was on his mind. He nudged Draco's shoulder with his and said quietly, "Besides, you weren't a Death Eater."
Draco stared straight ahead but shook his head slightly. "Not in the end, but in the beginning—"
"You were young, Draco. Your parents—"
"I was the same age as you, Harry. I could have said no. I should have said no, but I didn't. I was so caught up in what I wanted to believe that I let the truth slip right through my fingers."
They reached the abandoned department store that housed St Mungo's and the dummy in the window immediately let Harry through, but eyed Draco suspiciously. "You have an appointment, young man?"
"Yes, I do," Draco said with irritation.
"Draco Malfoy. You just let my Healer enter; I have an appointment with him in ten minutes."
"You may enter, but you must check in before continuing on to the proper floor. Have a lovely day."
Draco stepped through the glass to find Harry looking amused. "She must like you. She only flirts with those she fancies."
Draco rolled his eyes as he walked to the counter to check in. Harry soon realised his concern had been completely unfounded. No one had even given them a second glance.
"I'm going to head up to get the paperwork ready. I'll meet you on the fourth floor once you've checked in, okay?''
Draco waved him away as he stepped up to the counter. On his way to the mediwitch station to retrieve Draco's file, he passed Dean's office and stuck his head in to say hello.
"I thought you were off today, Harry?"
"I am. I just have one patient I needed to check on and then I'm gone."
Dean cocked his head and smiled. "Does this one patient happen to have anything to do with the smile on your face?"
Harry's smile widened. "Yeah, he does."
"I still don't think it's fair that I have to lay here with my shirt off while you still have yours on," Draco complained.
"If you were the Healer, and I was the patient, then I'd have my shirt off. As it is, hold still so I can make sure there are no remnants of magic in the wounds."
"They aren't wounds anymore. They're scars," Draco corrected matter-of-factly.
Harry laughed. "You were a much better patient when you were unconscious. Now stop squirming."
Draco huffed, watching Harry's wand as he ran it up and down every faint scar. "Well?" he asked when Harry put his wand away.
"You're good as new," Harry said as he handed Draco a clipboard. "And as soon as you sign this, you can Apparate to your heart's content."
Draco sat up and signed the paper with a lavish swoop of the quill. "Can I get dressed now?" he asked with a smirk.
Harry laid his hand on Draco's chest and ran the tips of his fingers over the scars. "Yeah, I suppose you should."
"I'm surprised there's not a rule about being romantically involved with a patient."
"Well, actually, there probably is," Harry said with a devilish grin.
"Hm, once a rule-breaker always a rule-breaker, eh? I think I like that."
Draco laid one hand over Harry's, using the other to pull him down into a lazy kiss. A thousand fantasies flashed through Harry's mind. No one, not even Graham, had ever made him feel like this, so wanted, so ... he didn't think there was an actual word for what he was feeling. It had been so long since he'd been with someone who kissed him for the joy of the kiss and not as a prelude to ripping his clothes off. Not that the thought of Draco ripping his clothes off didn't appeal to him, because, sweet Merlin, it did, but this ... this intimacy was what he craved more than anything else. The feel of Draco's hand running along his back and the taste of his lips was almost more than he could handle. Finally, he reluctantly pulled away. "I guess this is why there's a rule against dating patients."
Draco smirked as he put on his shirt, buttoning it slowly from bottom to top so that Harry had those few extra seconds to stare wistfully at the pale skin that was disappearing before his eyes. He would never have thought someone getting dressed could be so sexy.
Harry stopped by the mediwitch station to turn in Draco's file and they headed for the lift.
"So, I thought we'd go to the Crystal Shrivelfig for dinner, if that's okay with you."
"That'd be brilliant," Harry said immediately. "It's practically my favourite restaurant in the world."
Draco rolled his eyes. "I know, dimwit. Why do you think I suggested it?"
"But ... how did you know?"
Draco shrugged. "I sent out a few owls. I was bored."
Harry laughed as they walked onto the street into a throng of people rushing home after work. "So what else do you know about me? Have I no secrets left?"
As they turned and started walking down the street to their destination, Draco hooked a single finger around Harry's. The tiny touch sent waves of excitement screaming through Harry's veins. He didn't understand how such a simple touch could make him feel like he was the only one in the world that mattered to Draco, but it did.
"Let's see," Draco began with a chuckle. "I know you like Thai food and that you and your co-workers order takeaway at least once a week. I know that you do your grocery shopping every Sunday. I know that you get your hair cut at Flutterby's. And I know you've had your heart broken at least once."
Harry stopped walking and let go of Draco's finger, but Draco tightened his hold so it wouldn't fall away. "How do you know about Graham?" Harry asked quietly, looking down at the dirty street in front of him. "What right did you have..." He bit his lip, anger, frustration, and confusion all warring inside of him.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I just needed to know what I was getting myself into. I ... I needed to make sure you weren't ... I know how it feels," he said nervously.
Harry looked up into Draco's eyes and the anger melted away instantly. He could see his own pain reflected there and he understood. He nodded, twining Draco's fingers with his and squeezing gently. They continued to walk until they reached a secluded garden path that led to a large stone monument. Harry brought out his wand, tapped three times, and whispered, "Magic."
Draco chuckled. "You'd think they could have come up with something a little more original."
"Well, at least this way no one forgets it, except for Neville occasionally," Harry added with a grin.
Dinner was delicious and Harry was pleased that Draco seemed to open up to him completely. He talked all about the places he'd visited in the years that he'd been gone, stories of historical cities and beautiful mountainsides, fine wines and exclusive restaurants, places with a thousand bridges and lakes like oceans. Harry had never had much interest in travelling before, but suddenly the world became a place to explore instead of a place to hide away from.
"What are you doing next weekend?" Draco asked suddenly, after Harry had commented about how interesting his journeys must have been.
"I, er, nothing that I know of."
"Well, you have plans now. There's this place that I think you need to see and I'd like to take you there."
"Um, okay," Harry said a bit hesitantly. "You're not planning on tying me to a tree naked and leaving me there are you?"
Draco smirked and gave Harry a devilish grin. "The tying you up naked part has its merits."
Harry laughed, but knew he was once again blushing furiously. He didn't know what it was about Draco that made him feel like a fourteen-year-old and blush like a virgin.
Friday's dinner led to Saturday afternoon at the Manor, which led to Tuesday's dinner at Harry's flat. It was becoming more and more difficult to say goodbye each night and Harry had come close to asking Draco to stay Tuesday night, but something niggling at the back of his mind had stopped him.
During every spare moment at work, he found his mind wandering back to the feel of Draco's skin under his fingertips and of warm breath on his neck. The way Draco's body moulded to fit perfectly against his and the way Draco's lips opened so willingly to his tongue. He had never enjoyed snogging as much as he had over the last week and it simultaneously thrilled and terrified him. He knew what was happening, but he'd given up on the possibility that it would ever happen again.
"So will we get to meet him before the wedding?" Dean asked as he leaned casually against the doorframe of Harry's office.
Harry laughed and threw a wadded piece of parchment at his head. Dean dodged it easily and sat in the chair in front of Harry's desk. "You'll never guess who I ran into in Diagon Alley today."
"Oh, let me see, that hot lead singer of the Hinkypunks that you've been lusting over for months."
Dean grinned. "Nah, that's just in my dreams. Actually, it was someone we went to school with. I'm sure you'd remember him. Draco Malfoy."
Harry was sure his heart stopped beating. "Yeah?" was all he could manage.
"Yeah. He said he'd been home for a few weeks. Apparently had a bit of an accident when he first got back that landed him here a week or two ago. About the same time you started acting like a love sick puppy."
Harry tried not to react, but apparently that was reaction enough. Dean shook his head and grinned. "Not bad, Harry. He's grown up quite nicely, if you ask me."
Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his face. "I don't recall asking you."
Dean chuckled and stood to leave. "No one's going to care that it's him, you know. It's been a long time."
"It's not just that," Harry said quietly.
"Harry, it's been two years. Graham's not coming back and if he did, would you really take him back?"
"No. I just ... I feel like I need closure, Dean. He just left, you know. Without saying goodbye, without even leaving a fucking note. It's just ... what if something happened to him? What if he didn't intend to leave for good?"
"Harry, you spent almost a year looking for him. He packed his bags and left. He didn't want to be found, and it's time you moved on."
Harry nodded. Dean was right. He needed to forget about Graham and move on with his life, but something wouldn't let him do it completely.
"So are you coming tonight?" Dean asked, sensing a change of topic was required.
"Of course I am." Harry looked at Dean as if he'd lost his mind. "Hermione would never forgive me if I missed it. It's not every day your friend gets to open her own library,"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Who knew the Ministry would throw such a big party after fighting against it for so long? Now they're trying to make people think it was all their idea. Makes me want to hex someone."
"Yeah, well, Hermione has the library she wants, so don't hex too quickly. Now get out of here so I can finish up and not be late."
The library opening was a smashing success. Everyone who was anyone in the wizarding world was there. Harry was having his third glass of Champagne when he walked through the door. Dean followed his line of sight and put his hand on Harry's arm.
"Don't do anything you'll regret, mate."
Harry didn't know what he would do. Graham looked more handsome than Harry had remembered and the dashing young man on his arm appeared to know it. So many emotions came rushing back that Harry felt dizzy. Graham caught Harry's eyes and smiled. He whispered something into his date's ear and walked directly toward Harry, his long legs covering the distance more quickly than seemed possible.
"Harry, love, so good to see you again," he said smoothly. "How have you been?"
The cheerfulness and smug look was more than Harry could bear. He was fuming inside. All the worry and hurt that he'd been harbouring turned quickly to disdain. "What the fuck are you doing here?" he finally asked in a low, menacing tone.
Graham had the audacity to look surprised. "Harry, there's no need to be rude. I was invited, so I came."
"Where have you been? I looked everywhere for you. You couldn't have at least had the decency to say goodbye?"
"Harry, you were about as possessive as they come. We both know you wouldn't have just let me walk away with a wave and a nice handshake."
Harry was floored. They'd spent almost two years together and Graham was acting as though it was an afternoon stroll. "I loved you," he said in disbelief.
"And that was the problem, Harry. I never loved you." Graham gave Harry a look of pity, then turned and walked away. Harry glanced up to see his friends watching closely, nothing but sympathy in their eyes. He turned away and immediately Apparated home.
He climbed into bed without even changing his clothes. He just wanted to sleep, wanted to forget he'd ever been in love in the first place, wanted to bury his head in his pillow and never again see the light of day. Sleep wouldn't come, and for what felt like hours, he lay there, staring at the ceiling while Graham's words ran through his mind like the never-ending wail of the dead. How could he have been foolish enough to fall in love with someone like that? Graham obviously wasn't the person Harry had thought.
At least he had his closure now, but he didn't feel a hell of a lot better for it. He could move on with his life, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to risk ever feeling like this again. Having your heart ripped out of your chest and trampled was something he really only wanted to suffer through once in his lifetime.
"Harry? Can I come in?"
Harry sat up to see Draco standing in the doorway wearing a cloak over his pyjamas. His hair was a dishevelled mess - he'd obviously been sleeping. "What are you doing here?"
Draco entered the bedroom and sat on the end of the bed. "Dean owled me. He was worried about you."
"Oh," Harry said, lying back down and covering his head with his pillow. "Then you know what happened."
"I know that if I ever meet this Graham person he'll be two bollocks short and in a lot of pain," Draco said contemptibly.
Harry uncovered his head and looked down at Draco. He seemed angrier than Harry had ever seen him, and that was saying something. He couldn't help but laugh at the vision of a vindictive Draco cursing Graham to hell and back. It felt good to laugh. "Come here," he said softly.
Draco hesitated for a moment, and then stood to remove his cloak and toe off his shoes before walking to the side of the bed where Harry was holding up the covers. He climbed in, holding his arm out so Harry could curl up with his head on Draco's chest. "He's a fool, you know," Draco whispered as he kissed the top of Harry's head. Harry smiled. Maybe Graham was a fool, but Harry wasn't, and he knew with absolute certainty now what he wanted. He didn't remember closing his eyes or drifting off to sleep, but he did remember having the best dreams of his entire life.
Harry dressed quietly, careful not to wake Draco who was even more gorgeous with this hair all messed and a sleepy smile on his lips. He scribbled a note and left it on the door where he was sure Draco wouldn't miss it. Never, since becoming a Healer, had Harry wished he didn't have to go to work - until today. He would see Draco this weekend and the memory of waking up in his arms would have to do until then.
Dean was waiting in Harry's office when he arrived.
"You okay, mate?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, thanks for ... you know."
Dean laughed. "I'm glad I was right or I would have had a lot explaining to do."
"So, are you ready?"
Harry shrugged. "Since you won't tell me where we're going, I can't say for sure."
The butterflies in Harry's stomach hadn't stopped fluttering since yesterday when he'd received Draco's owl which simply read, "I'll be at your flat tomorrow at six-thirty. The Portkey leaves at seven o'clock sharp. Pack light; you won't need much."
The note had been absolutely no help in deciphering where Draco was taking him, but it had made one thing perfectly clear. This wasn't a jaunt to a favourite restaurant. There was packing involved, which meant there was an overnight stay involved, which Harry only hoped meant what he thought it meant.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, now would it?" Draco said smugly. It was rather obvious that Draco was thoroughly enjoying his discomfort.
"You know I have to be back for work Monday morning, right?"
"Yes, I know. It's a shame we can only stay one night, but I promise it will be worth it."
Harry felt the familiar hook in his stomach and held on tightly to Draco's hand. They came to a halt in the lobby of what looked like a small bed and breakfast. Draco gave Harry's hand a squeeze and tugged him to the counter so they could check in.
"Yes sir, Mr Malfoy, your room is ready." The elderly man behind the counter spoke in heavily accented English as he handed Draco a key. "Enjoy your evening."
Draco smirked at the old man and headed toward the stairs with Harry still in tow.
"Where are we?" Harry asked, looking around for clues.
"Iceland," Draco said, as he opened the door to their room, motioning for Harry to go first.
Harry looked back at him in surprise. "Iceland?" he asked as he dropped his bag by the door and looked around the room. It was rather small and much plainer than Harry thought it would be. He'd expected the grandeur of Paris or Milan, not ... this. Not that he was disappointed. He was just somewhat confused.
Draco walked up behind him and slipped his arms around Harry's waist. "Have you ever made love under the stars, Harry?" Draco whispered into his ear, making nerve endings explode in a thousand different directions.
"No," Harry answered, the word so soft it could have been mistaken for a simple breath.
Draco's lips travelled from Harry's ear, making a slow progression to his collar, while his fingers slipped underneath Harry's shirt and burned a line of heat from stomach to nipple. "If you had, it would have been nothing ... nothing, compared to this."
Draco paused long enough to take out his wand and point it at the ceiling. The lights in the room dimmed and the ceiling glistened before seeming to disappear altogether.
Harry stared, open mouthed, at what he saw. A kaleidoscope of rainbow coloured lights danced in the night sky above them, reflecting off the walls that now sparkled like a thousand tiny prisms. Harry was speechless. He had no idea what kind of magic this was, but he wasn't going to question it. He turned in Draco's arms. "It's beautiful." He wasn't sure if he was talking about the sky or the look on Draco's face. Both were equally brilliant and that last thread of reservation snapped like a tiny twig. He wanted this. He wanted Draco. And regardless of how frightened he was of getting hurt again, he was even more afraid of letting this moment slip away. When he kissed Draco, it was with the acceptance of everything that they had ever been to one another and everything he wanted them to become. He wouldn't ask for promises and he wouldn't ask for guarantees. All he asked for was this minute, this hour, this night. The rest they would sort out later.
Clothes fell carelessly onto the floor, and with each garment discarded, Harry marvelled at how the lights danced on Draco's skin, as if it was a reflection of something so much bigger than either of them. It was beautiful. He was beautiful. Harry wanted to tell him, but the words got stuck in his throat. He wouldn't scare Draco away. He wouldn't be overly protective and overbearing. He wouldn't lose this. He couldn't.
"Stop thinking," Draco said as the pulled Harry onto the bed. "Stop worrying. Just let it happen and it'll turn out the way you want."
Harry sat back and took in the sight before him. The scars from the hex were fading more every day, but without those scars... "Is it wrong to be thankful that you were hexed, that you almost died?"
Draco reached across the bed and snatched up a bottle of glistening liquid. "If it is, then I guess we're both wrong, aren't we?" Draco wrapped his legs around Harry's hips, handing him the Potion. "You do know what to do with that, right?" he teased.
Harry took the bottle in his hand. Looking down at the naked body on display, he grinned. "Oh, yeah, I know exactly what to do with it. When I'm good and ready." He leaned down and placed a kiss on Draco's sternum, then began a slow discovery of every inch of ivory skin. He wanted to memorise what Draco tasted like, how his smooth skin felt beneath his tongue, how his ribs felt sliding against Harry's teeth, how Draco's hair felt threading between his fingers.
Draco whimpered and told Harry everything that he liked so that Harry could repeat it as many times as he deemed necessary. His cock ached to be inside Draco, but there was no rush. They had all night, and at this rate, Harry fully expected them to be awake when the sun rose in the morning.
Draco was beautiful. Harry kept thinking it and wondering how on earth he'd ever seen anything other than beauty in the man. Even his annoying cheek seemed to be part of his charm now. He was like no one Harry had ever known, or probably would ever know.
"Stop stalling, Potter," Draco finally whispered. It was a perfect balance between a demand and a plea. He looked up at Harry with eyes that trapped him in bliss; eyes that Harry felt sure owned his very soul. His chest constricted with something completely foreign - something he'd thought he'd known once, but he now realised he'd never known at all.
Harry picked up the bottle and coated his cock and fingers, searching deep inside Draco for that spot that would break the last barrier between them. Draco took his own cock in his hand and squeezed tightly. "Hurry, Harry," Draco pleaded. "Please."
With their eyes locked in some unbreakable link, he entered Draco as slowly as he could manage. It took all of his concentration to wait until Draco adjusted to the intrusion, and when he nodded his assent, Harry felt a wave of carnal need like he'd never known. He leaned down and captured Draco's lips roughly, all of his patience having flown out the window. He vaguely registered that he was crushing Draco's hand and cock between them as he moved frantically to some internal rhythm. Draco's free hand tangled deeply in his hair, fingers gripping tightly, pulling Harry closer until he couldn't tell where Draco's body stopped and his began.
When he came, it felt better than he'd ever dreamt possible. He pulled away as much as his trembling legs would let him so Draco could move his hand. The man looked up at him and with two short strokes, he was coming, staring into Harry's eyes as if he was doing it just for him.
Harry reluctantly pulled away. When his softening cock slipped free of Draco's body, he felt an odd twinge of regret. Not about what had happened, but that it had to end. He stretched out next to Draco, pulling the man into his arms, unwilling to be even inches away.
Having Draco fall asleep in his arms, while the universe outside danced with colour, was one of the most amazing things he'd ever experienced. They had all day tomorrow together before they had to go back. Harry didn't want to dwell on what would happen then. Instead, he leaned his cheek against the top of Draco's head, letting the wisps of soft hair tickle him to sleep.
"Good morning," Draco whispered against Harry's skin as he kissed and nibbled his way from one earlobe to the other, taking the longest route possible to get there.
"Morning," Harry said with a pleased sigh, deciding instantly that he could get used to waking up like this.
When Draco had covered every inch of skin above Harry's nipples, he stopped and looked up. Propping himself up on his elbow, he rested his head in one hand and placed the other tentatively over Harry's heart. "Any regrets?" he asked cautiously.
"Yeah, one," Harry said with a smirk as he pulled Draco down into a searing kiss. "That we didn't do this years ago."
Draco laid his head on Harry's chest and Harry couldn't help but wrap his arms around the man protectively.
"I've never brought anyone here," Draco said quietly. "I used to come here to think, to try to come to terms with who I was and sort out what I wanted to do with my life. I'm glad I got to share it with you."
Harry wanted to say a thousand things, but he bit his lip before he could make a fool of himself. Draco lifted his head and smirked. "I expected some sappy remark to that."
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He didn't want to make the same mistakes he'd made with Graham. He didn't want to wear his heart on his sleeve and open himself up to having it ripped to shreds. But he didn't want to pretend to be someone he wasn't, either. If Draco really cared, he had the right to know the real Harry, insecurities, faults, and all. "I didn't want to..." He couldn't finish. How did you tell someone you were falling in love with that you didn't want to scare them away, that you didn't want them to think you too needy, that you didn't want them to leave one night without even saying goodbye?
Draco leaned in to kiss Harry so softly it could have been a wisp of air. "I think we should come back here every year. What do you think?"
Harry opened his eyes to see grey eyes searching - searching for the same promises that he wanted. A promise that this was real, that it would last, that despite everything they'd been through, they could make this work. He smiled, relieved beyond belief that they both wanted the same thing. "Yeah," he said softly, threading his fingers into Draco's hair. "I think that'd be brilliant."