scarlet_malfoy: (h/d kitties)
posted by [personal profile] scarlet_malfoy at 10:06pm on 11/01/2009
“I can’t believe you live less than a mile away from me. How didn’t I know this?” Harry slurred his words together as he walked arm and arm with Draco down the sidewalk. They were on Draco’s block now, and it was very dark – he had specifically looked for a location away from the busiest streets and most popular hubs of London. It was below freezing out, but they both had so much alcohol in their systems that they barely noticed.

“Because you aren’t an Unspeakable. You don’t get to know things like that.”

Harry stopped very suddenly, and Draco almost tripped headfirst into the side of a building. He caught himself with his palm against the bricks just in time.

“You knew where I lived?” Harry asked incredulously.

“I didn’t know know, but I could have known quite easily, yes! What did you stop for, you arse? That bloody hurt!” Draco disentangled himself from Harry to lean against the wall as he fished his wand out of his pocket. When he tried to focus on his scraped palm his vision blurred, and he paused, thinking better of casting the healing spell. It wasn’t a horrible scrape; it could wait until morning.

“You could have told me that you knew.” Harry leaned against the wall next to him, nearly pouting.

He was really close, Draco noted. He could feel the heat radiating off the other man, and it was all too tempting to lean into him. Too dangerous. He eased along the wall a bit, but Harry eased right along with him, ending up closer to him than before.

“No, I couldn’t have. Then you would have known that I knew, and you can’t know what I know. I can never tell you the things I know.” Draco winced, not sure why his mental filter wasn’t working. He wasn’t really making much sense, but he was coming very close to abusing The Oath again. The magic was tingling threateningly on the tip of his tongue, and Harry was an ever present weight against him, getting harder and harder to ignore.

Harry turned to him, a familiar glint in his eye, and Draco inwardly groaned. He knew Harry was a little too curious about his job for both his and Draco’s own good, and a drunken Harry could not be trusted not to ask questions. He could be trusted about as much as a drunken Draco could be trusted not to attempt to answer those same questions through a sworn Oath. He wondered, not for the first time, whether Kilpatrick had a way of knowing how many times the Oath was actually invoked.

“The Department of Mysteries just freaks me out,” Harry stated, finally looking away. Light from a streetlamp several feet away caught on his glasses at a strange angle, and Draco looked away, squinting. He could feel a headache coming on.

“What’s so weird about it? It’s only there for your protection, you know.”

A car drove by, and Harry didn’t respond at all until it had passed. He watched it until it turned the corner and then leaned his head back against the brick wall, taking a steadying breath. “Well, Sirius died there.”

“Oh.” Draco had forgotten. “I’m sorry.” He felt Harry slide slowly down the wall, and there was nothing Draco could do but slide with him until they were both sitting on the cement, leaning against one another. At the slow movement, the world began to spin inside Draco’s head until he was properly settled. Who knew what disgusting substances he was sitting in, but at the moment it was hard for him to concentrate on such things.

“I know that’s not the Department’s fault, though. It just creeps me out. I hate going there.” Harry spoke clearly and with surprising ease. Draco didn’t know how he managed it; he could barely even think about his mother, let about speak about her. But then again, Harry had had a lot more practice. He grimaced at the thought, and unconsciously linked arms with Harry.

“Maybe I can come pick up your report from you from now on. I’m sorry -” Draco began, but Harry cut him off.

“No, it’s not so bad. I like getting to talk to you.”

Draco smiled. “I like talking to you, too. We could still talk in your office, you know.”

“I wouldn’t want to put you out. It’s really fine. As long as you’re there, I can handle it.” Harry’s head became a comfortable weight on his shoulder then, and Draco shivered and closed his eyes.

What was happening? He was trying to appreciate this moment of unexpected closeness for all that it was, for all that he knew it would ever be, but he could not stop the tiny bud of hope that had begun to grow in his chest. It would be so easy, if he just turned his head…

No. Fuck, no. Harry was straight, and that was it. They were both drunk, and Harry was going to hate himself in the morning, even for these simple touches. He was sure Harry didn’t get drunk and cuddle with Ron, or even with Hermione. This situation had to be Draco’s own fault somehow, it was the only explanation. Harry would realize that tomorrow, and Draco would lose him.

“Draco?” Harry asked. He hadn’t moved an inch, seeming content to stay exactly where he was. Draco knew he had to stop this, now, but he couldn’t force himself to pull away.

“Hmm?”

Even his voice was shaky. If he opened his eyes, he knew the world would be spinning and there would be a very good chance he would pass out, right here, with Harry Potter lying nearly on top of him, leaning against someone’s flat down the block from his own.

“What should I do? About Ginny, I mean. I just… I don’t know what to do.” Harry was shaking, huddling against him, and Draco’s heart plummeted into his stomach.

Swallowing heavily, he went over what he knew about the situation in his mind. “Well… you don’t seem very happy, Harry. I think you need to talk to her. Something needs to change. You deserve to be happy.”

Harry didn’t reply, but Draco could tell, even with eyes closed, that Harry had turned and was now looking at him. He chanced a peek, and found the world quite stationary. Only the dull ache in the back of his head was intensifying a bit, which he knew he very well deserved.

Harry had a very strange look on his face.

It took Draco a few seconds to realize that, no, the world actually hadn’t begun to spin again, but Harry himself was slowly closing the distance between them. The split second before their lips met, Draco realized with sudden clarity what was about to happen, and he was sure his sudden intake of breath was not all that pleasant to kiss around.

He was kissing him. Harry Potter, right now, he was… standing up. Unsteadily, leaning against the wall and muttering almost unintelligibly. “Oh… oh, fuck! Merlin, what have… oh, god...”

Draco forced himself to his feet, and held Harry up by the shoulders. “Harry, are you okay? Are you going to pass out?”

“No, I… no.” Harry pulled himself out of Draco’s grasp, a look of horror upon his face.

“It’s okay! Calm down, will you?” Draco could feel himself shaking. Things certainly weren’t okay, but he had to hold it together before Harry had a nervous breakdown.

“I’m so sorry.” It was all but a whisper, almost choked from his mouth, and then Harry turned, took a couple of unsteady steps, and Apparated away from the street.


~*~

Strange how we fit each other…

~*~


Friday October 10th, 2008


Harry paced in his office during his lunch break, coldly eyeing his finished report. It lay there innocently mocking him from the corner of his desk. James and Albus Severus’ pictures smiled down at him, but he couldn’t look them in the eye without cringing. The events of the night played over and over again in his mind, and a horrible feeling was bubbled just beneath the surface of his skin. His stomach worst of all was turning in on itself in uncomfortable knots. The lunch that Ginny had made him was still in his desk drawer, and would undoubtedly be staying there, because the thought of food only amplified it all.

After what he’d put her through last night, it was probably poisoned, anyway.

Ginny. God. He’d Apparated home and she’d taken care of him in his state, even though she’d been pissed at him already. He hadn’t even been able to look at her without wanting to throw up, for reasons that he knew had nothing to do with the amount he’d had to drink.

He couldn’t allow himself to think about her, about what he’d done to her. Up till now there hadn’t been any logical reason he could see for the way she’d been acting towards him, but now he felt that he’d deserved it all along, deserved it in advance. Whenever the image of her popped into his mind anyway, unbidden, he tried to focus on his finishing his report. He had to get it in today, that was for sure. He would be fired if he didn’t.

But he was equally certain that Malfoy would never want to see him again, not after last night. How could he have fucking kissed him? How could he go into the man’s office again and face him after what he’d inflicted upon him? Malfoy would probably Hex him on the spot.

The voice of reason within him kept trying to point out that he was being maybe just a little drastic about the whole situation. They weren’t kids anymore. How many times had he reminded himself of that fact? He and Malfoy were both adults. These kinds of things happened all the time, these kinds of drunken mistakes. It might even be pretty normal, this thing happening between equally consenting and drunken adults. Maybe regular people could just go back to work the next day and laugh it off, pretend it never happened. Maybe that’s what he and Malfoy could do.

Harry stopped in the middle of his office with his face in his hands. As hard as he tried to convince himself, he just knew – inherently knew – that he’d made “laughing it off” or “pretending it hadn’t happened” impossible right after he’d freaked out and Apparated away.

How in the bloody hell had he thought that was a good idea? Both the Apparating away while drunk, and also the kissing of the man who was his co-worker and who Harry believed might still hate him deep down inside. It was an insecurity that Harry hadn’t been able to get over, not completely, no matter how friendly the two of them had been as of late. Harry no longer hated him or even disliked him. Though he could not place the day or time this change had occurred, he only knew it had sometime over the last few months. They’d become friends. And last night, when Malfoy had been so kind and understanding and open with him… he couldn’t remember the last time someone had opened up to him that way. And he definitely couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt that he could actually trust someone enough to tell them about his problems. They’d been so fucking drunk. Was Malfoy even gay? He’d certainly kissed him back, though he’d seemed surprised at first.

Harry had known for a long time that he liked both men and women, and he was quite aware that Malfoy was good-looking. He’d also been so caught up in his problems with Ginny and so used to believing himself absolutely in love that thoughts of Malfoy in that way hadn’t even crossed his mind. Not until he got so drunk he lost all his inhibitions. It would have been unthinkable a year or so ago.

Now that he thought about it, Malfoy did sometimes get this weird look about him, when they were having lunch together or chatting in his office at the end of the day, as they’d done several times. This look that was at once open and closed, revealing and unsure. Harry had no idea what it meant, but he soon realized it was a signature Malfoy “look”, as similarly occurring as his usual smirk, but totally unknowable. It was as if Malfoy were contemplating him – it always began when they happened to catch each other’s eye. Malfoy’s face would change, and then close up completely, like a window blown open in a sudden breeze, but just as quickly slammed shut again. There was something going on in Malfoy’s head, and Harry longed to know what it was.

If he were being completely honest with himself, he had been wanting to know what it was for quite some time now. And as horrible as he felt about what had happened, there was still a part of him that couldn’t regret it. A resistant part, bitter and fed up with the course his own life was taking. How could he regret the first time he’d felt truly alive in months?

Glancing at the clock on the wall behind his desk, he sighed. It was now or never. His next class started in fifteen minutes.

And so he walked, and with each step he could feel the tension knotting itself in his stomach even tighter. He rode the unnervingly empty elevator to the ninth level, and had to literally force himself forward to walk through the open grilles. At his entrance, several nondescript people at desks looked up, but they immediately returned to their work. Harry figured they must be used to random people coming into their department all the time, what with all the reports being delivered throughout the day. It was probably a nuisance for them – it was, after all, the Department of Mysteries, and as a generality he’d have imagined they would want to keep to themselves.

Harry felt bad for any poor sod who didn't know where to deliver his report and would have to question this tough crowd, but he knew exactly where Malfoy’s office was. He walked past the main hall and the unfriendly receptionists, and took a right.

The lights seemed brighter than usual, bearing down on him and forcing his anxiety to manifest itself in external ways instead of just tightly wound up in his chest. His breathing quickened with each step, and much too soon he could see Malfoy’s door in the distance. His hands were shaking, seeming to borrow nervous energy from his chest, but without relieving any of his anxiousness.

He reached the door, and glanced at the silver nameplate with Malfoy’s name etched deeply in black. The door had a window filling nearly its entire length, the kind of windows people had in their bathroom. Vague shapes and light could filter through, but nothing defined or definite. He couldn't stand there long, knowing that if Malfoy happened to glance at the door he'd see a vaguely Harry Potter-shaped silhouette standing there.

Taking a long deep breath, he knocked just twice, clipped and short, before his hand fell uselessly to his side. His other hand gripped the report under his arm so tightly that he could feel the thick binding digging into his palm. He was reminded of the paper cut he’d received at their first real encounter only a month before.

"Come in," Malfoy intoned, almost lazily. He was probably taking his lunch break, like other normal people. Harry envied him his calmness, while at the same time not really understanding. Draco had to be expecting him sometime. Wasn’t he anxious or mad at all? Or were the events of last night so far below him that he couldn’t even bother to be affected?

The door swung open then with a rush of air, and Harry stood, frozen. When he glanced into the office, he saw that Draco was seated at his desk, looking up at him with wide, surprised eyes. His wand was pointed towards the door, and with the other hand he’d apparently been writing with a quill on a piece of parchment. The quill was being held down against the parchment so hard that ink was spreading all over his document.

“Hi,” Draco said, looking confused. He then noticed the mess he was making, and he cursed under his breath, standing and dropping the quill to his desk as he banished the ruined parchment. The quill rolled slowly toward the edge, but didn’t fall.

Harry took a very tentative step inside.


~*~



Each time someone had knocked on his office door that afternoon, Draco had prepared himself to see Harry, and each time he had been disappointed and slightly relieved to see that it wasn’t him. Now his lunch hour was practically over, and he was fairly certain that Harry wasn’t going to show up. He would stop by Harry’s office before the end of the day to personally pick up his report, of course, because he didn’t want Harry getting in any trouble as result of something so petty. Draco understood why Harry didn’t want to see him, but he wasn’t going to let it affect his job. He wasn’t going to accept the guilt of having brought something like that upon Harry, along with everything else.

Draco had practically crawled home the night before. He hated to remember it, and he hoped none of his neighbors had been awake to witness his shameful retreat at that late hour. Somehow he’d made it up the stairs and into his own flat. Once he’d shut the door behind him, he managed to make it to the main floor bathroom, where he kept his hangover potion precisely for nights like this. He felt better after downing it, but the events of the evening were suddenly all that much clearer to him.

He had forced himself to go to bed, but sleep hadn’t come easily. He couldn’t stop himself from reliving the kiss, seeing the horror and disgust on Harry’s face, over and over again. He’d never been more thankful for his wife’s many extended trips to France, because he didn’t think he’d be able to keep his cover tonight. She’d have taken one look at him and she’d have known.

He missed Scorpius greatly. Draco had never known what it was like to truly love somebody until he’d looked into his son’s own cool grey eyes for the first time, so much brighter than his own. From that moment he was convinced that he was alive only for his son’s sake, and he couldn’t believe that he’d made it as far as he had in life without him to live for. Astoria didn’t always take him with her, but on this particular visit she had. He hadn’t seen Scorpius in over three weeks.

Draco realized that there were unshed tears building in his eyes. At first, he hadn’t been able to understand why. Of course he missed his son, but he would be seeing him again in less than a week.

Unbidden, Harry popped into his thoughts once more. The smile Harry had on his face when he’d greeted Draco at the Quidditch match earlier. The way Harry’s head had slipped so easily onto his shoulder. The way he’d laughed last week in the office after Draco had said something sarcastic – he couldn’t remember what it had been, but he had probably been calling him out on his Gryffindor tendancies. Harry had taken it in stride, of course. Just like everything else the world said about him, Harry didn’t take any of it to heart. Even with all of his problems, he was still able to shine with some inner light. Draco didn’t know how Harry did it. He hadn’t been blessed with any sort of inner light, had never been taught the glass half full approach to life.

He knew then that he’d really grown to care about Harry. It wasn’t really his son he was upset about. He was upset over the fact that every day, he was starting to care about Harry in the same way that he cared about his son. He’d never let anybody else in so deeply in all his life. And there was no way to reverse it, no way to go back in time. Just like he couldn’t imagine life without his son, he couldn’t imagine just forgetting about Harry. Not anymore – not after being in the man’s presence often enough to see that the wonderful things people had always said about him, the same things he’d scoffed at for years, were unabashedly true.

He’d never been more ashamed in his life of all the things he’d done and said to Harry over the years. And he’d never been so afraid of losing someone. At his desk that afternoon, he had actually been writing a memo to Harry, a very formal one, regarding stopping by later that afternoon when Harry had knocked.

A thick, uncomfortable silence pervaded the room after Harry had stepped inside, looking much paler than usual. Draco didn’t know what to say to him. Was he here because he didn’t want to lose his job, or was he here because he actually wanted to talk to him about last night?

Without speaking, Harry approached the desk. Draco was still standing awkwardly behind it. Harry met his eyes for a brief moment before setting his report down on top of the small pile stacked there. He noticed that Harry’s breathing was restricted and his hands were shaking slightly. He didn’t know if that meant he was merely embarrassed, or something else entirely. Whatever it was, Harry was feeling something, and he was affected by what had happened. He knew he would regret not saying anything if Harry were to just walk out right now. He had to do something, had to fix this somehow.

"Listen, Harry. About last – "

"I'm really sorry. I was really drunk. It was a really stupid thing for me to do,” Harry interrupted quickly, sounding as if he’d rehearsed the lines in his head a million times over. He wouldn’t look at Draco, but he glared fiercely at the ground, as if trying to convince the tiled floors to believe him.

Draco’s heart fell, but he could live with Harry viewing it all as a big mistake, if that meant he wasn’t going to lose him. That was by far the most important thing. "It’s okay. Really. We can just forget about it."

Harry looked up at him and exhaled quickly, almost a laugh but not quite, and it was clear he was trying to smile but it wasn't quite reaching the corners of his lips. He looked like he wanted to say more, but he didn’t – he just turned and walked swiftly toward the door.

Draco watched him, wondering if things would ever be okay between them if Harry insisted on walking out every time things got awkward, when Harry tripped over the garbage can near the door in his haste to leave. He didn’t fall, but he was unsteadied, and a deep red blush crept its way up the back of his neck.

"Harry?" Draco held his breath, coming around the side of his desk, leaving behind his safety as one hand ran idly through his hair and he inched closer to him. “You okay?”

Harry turned around to face him, face flaming. “I’m a fucking idiot.”

He knew it was probably unkind, but he had to laugh. The situation had to be the most awkward, horrible one he’d ever encountered. Harry didn’t seem to hate him, though, which was the one perk of it. “You’re not an idiot. I do that about three times a day. I would have taken that secret to my grave if I didn’t want to make you feel better, by the way.”

Harry seemed to be fighting back a smile again. “Not that. Just - I really am sorry. The last thing I wanted was to fuck this up. You’re the only one I can talk to.” He let his arms fall loosely to his side, and tilted his head down so far his chin was nearly touching his chest. “Please tell me I haven’t fucked this up,” he whispered.

Draco would have given anything to kiss him again at that moment, but he knew that wasn’t going to help matters. His heart was becoming more and more content in the knowledge that Harry didn’t want to lose him, either. He’d take it. The promise of real friendship could be enough for him. It had to be; it was better than the alternative.

"You haven’t fucked this up. Not by a long shot.”

Harry looked up, a faint smile on his face. It was the first genuine emotion Draco had seen on his face all day. His smile was like a beacon, and Draco couldn’t look at anything else. The only thing he understood was that he needed to hold on to this, carve the image into his memory.

“Thank you,” Harry said, almost shyly.

Draco smiled back as best he could, and cleared his throat. “After you get off, would you, ah... like to go out for a drink, maybe?"

Green eyes widened behind their frames almost comically. "Um. A drink?"

"Yes. You know." Draco pantomimed reaching for a cup and tipping his head back. "Just a drink. Non-alcoholic, if you prefer - that way we can avoid any fiascos. We can just talk."

"Oh. Well then, sure. I mean – all right. Sounds good. What time?"

“I’ll meet you in your office around six thirty, since it’s closer to the Atrium.” Draco leaned back to grip the edges of his desk for support. He was feeling a little shaky. “I mean, if that’s okay.”

“Yeah, that’s fine.” Harry looked at him then, and Draco would have given anything to know what was going on inside his head. His own heart was beating like mad. He tried to push aside the feelings of desire that were at war with his conscience, but it was next to impossible. It was something he’d have to work on, weed out of his system. He wanted to be a proper friend to Harry. He didn’t deserve anything less.

But it was difficult to even contemplate burying those feelings when Harry was looking at him like that, as if he were trying to dig his way into Draco’s own head to figure him out.

Harry turned and walked toward the door, and for a moment Draco thought he was running away again, but instead he just shut the door softly, and turned to face him. There was something entirely different in his demeanor, something that hadn’t been there a moment ago, and something that definitely hadn’t been there when he’d first come into the office that afternoon.

He looked like a broken man, one who’d been up all night praying but who’d somehow missed out on the salvation of morning. He didn’t look any less nervous than before, but he’d stopped hiding his confusion from Draco. It was all on display, from the intense creasing of his brow to the lower lip he had tucked between his teeth. It was there that Draco focused his intention, watching intently the tongue that wormed its way out to wet the lips, and he hardly noticed that Harry had moved forward again.

Then Harry was right there in front of him, and the energy radiating off of him made the hair on Draco’s body stand on end. Draco couldn’t let Harry do what he had a feeling he was about to do, though every cell in his body seemed to be anticipating Harry’s touch, and every part of him wanted it, craved it with all that he was.

“Harry, please. We can’t…” Draco began, but he couldn’t say more. Harry had leaned into him, had aligned himself with him, and he had nowhere to go. Harry’s hands gripped the desk to either side of him.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Harry began, a low rumble that made Draco nearly moan aloud. “I don’t know what this means.”

He was so close. It was like he was sapping all Draco’s energy, all his brain power. His decision-making skills seemed to have vanished, and his hands seemed to think it was a very good idea to touch Harry’s forearms, easily accessible as they were beside him. He could feel the blood pumping through the skin, could feel Harry shiver slightly at the touch.

“I don’t know either, but I don’t want - oh, God, Harry...” Harry had dipped his head, and was ghosting over the skin of his neck and just below his ear with his lips. “Please, if I lost you for good over this, I’d… I’d never forgive myself.”

Harry’s arms moved, to lightly rest on Draco’s waist where his trousers met skin. “You won’t lose me over this. I don’t know what’s going happen, but I can promise you’ll never lose me.”

There was nothing for it. Maybe if Harry had gone along with the ‘mistake’ idea, he could have ignored his own desires, but not while Harry was feeding into them like this. He melted, literally seemed to become one with his desk when Harry kissed him, until Harry smiled against his lips and pulled him up, into his arms.

Draco was lost.


~*~

And now I am sure
Like never before
Of my reasons for defying reason
Embracing the seasons
We dance through the colors
Both followed and led


~*~


Monday December 22nd, 2008
Morning


Draco awoke when he heard a small pop. He’d been dreaming, and for once it had been quite nice. Maybe if he kept his eyes shut, refused to acknowledge the morning, he could fall right back to sleep, and into Harry’s arms…

There was a sudden dip in the bed on the side closest to him. His eyes shot open, but he relaxed when he saw that it was the real Harry, kneeling and resting his elbows on the edge of the bed and wearing hideous red-flannel pajama bottoms.

“Hi,” Harry said almost shyly, a small smile on his face. He lifted his wand and cast a silent spell on Draco’s mouth, which left behind a strong minty taste. Draco made a face at him for showing off, and also for the unexpected cleansing – he was not feeling fully awake yet.

But then Harry leaned forward and kissed him, and he promptly forgot about being annoyed.

Draco sighed into his mouth, unable to stop himself from turning the kiss into something much more passionate than the simple good morning kiss Harry had perhaps envisioned. His tongue slipped into Harry’s mouth, and Harry struggled to find a better kneeling position to reach him better. Draco’s hand moved over Harry’s torso, reveling in the warmth of his skin and the distinct tangibility of him. He’d been dreaming about him, of course, but the reality of him was infinitely nicer. Harry pulled away eventually, still smiling down at him but now looking sufficiently snogged.

“Well, hi,” Draco breathed. “Back so soon?”

“Yes. Is that all right?”

“Are you kidding?” Without waiting for a response, he tugged insistently at Harry’s arms, pulling him into the bed he’d vacated just several hours earlier. They settled in together underneath the sheets, a familiar routine by now, while Harry’s fingers played a distinct pattern on Draco’s lower stomach. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I just… realized I couldn’t face you today at work without apologizing first.”

Draco gave him a blank look.

“For last night.” Harry said, as if that explained everything, except that it didn't.

“You are apologizing for what, exactly?”

"For just... not even a word. I just came through the floo and threw off the duvet and - I'm so sorry, Draco. I should have said something." A deep blush filled his cheeks, and Draco almost laughed before he realized he was serious.

"Harry, for fuck's sake! You’re not joking?"

“No, not joking.” Harry wouldn’t meet his eyes. His fingers lay flat against his stomach, and Draco shivered slightly before he could go on.

“You really have no idea, do you? Last night was - well, a surprise, certainly, but I’m not sorry about it.” Draco took Harry’s face in his hands, forcing him to look at him. "Harry?"

“I don’t know what came over me,” he whispered, inching closer. “I was angry with Ginny, as usual, and I had to get out of there. I couldn’t think about anything but you. Being near you. Being in you.” Harry winced. “Did I hurt you?”

Draco shook his head and swallowed heavily, feeling slightly awkward that Harry had brought up his wife. He hated to think about her when they were together, and he didn’t like how Harry would pull away from him at the mere mention of her, would go someplace else in his mind. He didn’t know how Harry expected him to respond to any topic regarding her, either. It was so much easier to tiptoe around it, to ignore it. It was what he’d done all his married life – almost second nature by now. But Harry’s conscience wasn’t nearly as lenient, and Draco could see in his eyes how much he hated himself for what he was doing. Every time Harry left, a part of Draco was convinced it was the last time - yet, for the better part of two months now, he had returned. It was something Draco was continually trying to stop taking for granted.

“I’m still sorry that I didn’t explain myself to you.” Harry had left almost immediately afterwards, without saying very much. Draco hadn’t known what to make of the abruptness of it. All their previous encounters had been preplanned and purposeful, but last night had been something different entirely. He’d grown to understand that Harry was a very passionate, yet very careful lover. The Harry that had appeared in his bedroom last night had been burning with intensity, and he’d taken everything he wanted without asking for it, and… he’d been positively hot.

But then he left, just as suddenly as he had arrived, and Draco had felt oddly ill at ease. He’d thought about it until he finally fell asleep, and then he’d dreamt of falling asleep in Harry’s arms – something that had never happened. Draco wasn’t sure it ever would. Spending the night seemed to be an invisible line Harry had drawn around their whole arrangement, and it reminded Draco of Henri – of how very differently he felt about Harry, and how differently that same rule applied to Harry made him feel.

“You could have waited until we saw each other this afternoon, you know. Not that I’m complaining,” Draco said, finding Harry’s hand between them and giving it a squeeze.

“Well,” Harry began, fingers of his other hand reviving and inching lower, gracing the waistline of his pajamas. Draco held his breath. “I suppose there’s also the fact that I woke up alone and hard and wishing I was still here, with you.”

Draco closed his eyes and kissed him, hard. He didn’t trust himself to try and explain to Harry how he could have been here with him, quite easily. It wasn’t like Draco had asked him to leave. Harry had been a little wary of doing anything in Draco’s flat in the beginning, but Draco had assured him that his bedroom was heavily warded – for ‘work-related reasons’, which was what his wife believed. There was no chance of being caught or heard. Draco and Harry were the only ones to whom the wards would allow admittance. There was nothing but Harry’s own reluctance keeping him away, and they both knew it.

Harry’s ever-southbound hand slipped beneath the waistband of Draco’s pajamas then, and his breathing hitched mid-kiss, all other thought processes abruptly shifting to the back of his mind. Harry grinned against his mouth, deft fingers slowly stroking him to full hardness.

He could feel Harry’s own erection against his thigh, and he moved purposefully against it, making Harry moan and rock back against him, squeezing his fingers tightly around Draco’s cock.

“Fuck me, Harry,” Draco gasped, burying his face in Harry’s neck as he began to stroke him again, less gently this time. He recalled the sensation of Harry filling him last night, the pounding and the barely constrained power that was constantly shifting beneath Harry’s skin. There hadn’t been any kissing, any preparation. Harry had simply taken him, and Draco had enjoyed it far more than he ever would have imagined.

He felt Harry shake his head. “No. I want…” He stopped stroking and began to run the tips of his fingers up and down Draco’s length lightly, almost mindlessly, enough to keep Draco sufficiently distracted. “I want you to fuck me.”

“What?” Draco pulled back, surprised. “Are you sure? Have you ever...?”

Harry blushed again, and Draco couldn’t help but kiss him for it. “No, I haven’t,” Harry murmured against Draco’s lips, “but I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“What have you been thinking?” Draco’s heart was pounding in his chest at just the thought of being inside Harry. He’d thought about it, of course, but he never would have pushed for it, and probably never would have outright asked. He wouldn’t do anything that might upset the careful balance between the two of them, which he knew could come tumbling down any moment. He couldn’t fuck it all up over something so trivial.

“I’ve been thinking that I want to be yours in a way that… that’s only yours.” Harry had removed his hand from around Draco, and he used it to pull him closer, aligning them chest to chest. Draco could hardly breathe. “I had nothing else I could think of to give you.”

Draco found he couldn’t look Harry in the eye as he spoke. He could scarcely contemplate the words coming out of Harry’s mouth. “Harry, you don’t have to give me anything, you know that.”

“But I want to.”

“Why?” The single word had come out sounding agonized, against his will. Embarrassed, he let his forehead fall onto Harry’s shoulder, and he instructed himself to take deep breaths, to hold on to the simple warmth that arms surrounding him were providing.

“Look at me,” Harry instructed, and Draco found himself shaking his head. He didn’t think he could speak without his voice breaking again. Then he felt Harry shift lower, one of his hands coming to rest gently on his cheek. “Draco, please look at me,” he whispered.

Draco finally conceded, knowing there was nothing he could hide from Harry in the end. He’d give Harry anything he asked for. Draco knew that his eyes were brimming with tears, and that he was shaking in Harry’s arms, and he wanted to hide underneath his duvet rather than look Harry in the eye, but when he finally did, there was nothing but tenderness in the green gaze. Nothing but understanding. Draco took a shuddering breath, and then asked again. “Why?”

“You won’t laugh, will you?”

Draco gave him the best Malfoy glare he could manage under the circumstances. “Do I really look like someone who’s going to laugh at you?”

“I suppose not,” Harry sighed, a small smile momentarily crossing his features before he became quite serious again. “It’s just that, I thought being content was the most I could expect out of life.”

“Content?”

“I was content in my life, and in my marriage. Well, discounting the last few months, I guess. I was happy enough. I’d never really felt happier than that, you know? I didn’t know there was another level to it. That was the happiest I had ever been before, so I wasn’t complaining.” Harry’s hand made its way to the back of Draco’s neck then, softly threading through the soft hair there. “But then I met you.”

“Again,” Draco muttered, not sure why he was interrupting.

“Yes, again. I met you again. And I don’t know how things ended up this way, but I’ve never in my life met someone who makes me feel so… god, don’t laugh.” Harry rested his forehead against Draco’s, and Draco could only give a small nod to indicate he would not, under any circumstances, laugh. “I care about you like I’ve never cared about my wife. I want to be with you all the time, you challenge me and you make me laugh and you see me exactly as I am, nothing more, and… you’re beautiful. Draco, I wish I had more, but I have nothing left to give you but myself.”

Draco couldn’t move, for fear of breaking the moment in half, of destroying it with some careless phrase. This was exactly what he wanted. Harry was telling him exactly what he wanted to hear, and that was exactly why it scared him so much to hear it. There had to be a ‘but’ in there somewhere. There surely was a clause that stated Draco Malfoy could not really have Harry Potter, because nothing in his life had ever been that simple. He wasn’t about to believe that this could be. This, the very first time in his life he could remember wanting to share his good fortune with the entire world rather than hide it away.

“Please say something,” Harry whispered.

“I don’t know what to say.” Draco forced himself to pull away slightly, to see Harry more clearly. “You said I’d never lose you, but I just…”

“You don’t believe me.”

“How could I be so presumptuous, Harry?” he asked softly, trying to bring out the seed of doubt in Harry’s mind that he knew existed before he grew far too accustomed to the overwhelming happy feeling in his heart. He couldn’t let anything Harry said sink in. “You say you want to give me yourself, and that you wish you could give me more, but you don’t really mean that, do you? Your boys are everything to you. You’re going to have a new baby in a month, and you’re just killing yourself slowly every time you’re with me, can’t you see that?”

“What are you saying?” Harry’s eyes had grown hard. He’d put up a little shield around himself, and Draco could feel it, had known that he would feel it. He’d never wanted to feel it again, but he knew he would have sooner or later. He had to keep telling himself how much better it was this way.

“Please don’t think I don’t understand, Harry. I don’t think I’ve been this happy until I met you.”

“Again,” Harry echoed him quietly.

“Again,” Draco agreed. “But you’d never abandon your kids, Harry. You’d never do that to them. I know you. It’s only a matter of time before you realize it yourself.”

Then Harry was kissing him, nearly crushing his mouth. He was gripping the back of Draco’s head so tightly that he saw stars, but nothing could force him to pull away from the maddening brutality of it. Action felt good, after so much openness and so many words. It had always been the most direct approach between the two of them, the natural line of communication. Then just as forcefully, Harry pulled away.

“Are you asking me to choose?” he asked, voice dangerous and low. Draco shuddered.

“God, no,” he managed to get out. “You forget, I have a son, too. You think I don’t understand? You think I don’t get it? There is no choice…”

“There isn’t.” Harry kissed him once more, almost desperately. “There is no choice.”

“Okay.” Draco struggled to smile, but couldn’t quite manage it. “Okay. That’s settled, then.”

They both jumped when Draco’s alarm clock went off.

Harry looked at the offending clock over Draco’s shoulder, swearing under his breath at the time. He climbed out of bed while Draco leaned over to grab his wand and turn it off. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, feeling numb and disoriented by the sudden silence.

“I meant everything I said, Draco,” Harry said, biting his lip. “Maybe I can get away after the kids are asleep Christmas Eve. How does that sound?”

Draco nodded, looking up at him standing there so defiantly in his bedroom. Harry was going to keep pushing, he realized for the first time. Harry really did mean everything that he said. He wasn’t going to make a choice. He was going to run himself into the ground, until his own guilt destroyed him.

“Fuck, don’t you get it?” Harry pulled him to his feet. “Stop it! You’re giving up, and I can’t stand it.”

“What the hell am I supposed to do, Harry?”

Harry’s brow furrowed. “Stop being an idiot, for one, and kiss me goodbye.”

Draco did, all the while pondering the double entendre of Harry’s choice of words. And then with a turn Harry was gone, back to his wife and his children, and Draco knew, without a doubt, that it was up to him to save Harry from himself.

~*~

Time unfolds the petals
For our eyes to see
Strange how this journey's hurting
In ways we accept as part of fate's decree



Part 3

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