Word Count: 12, 5000
Warnings: Slash, light angst, frottage. Appearance of Scorpius, and past Draco/Astoria.
Summary: Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, attempt to write history textbooks.
Notes: Written for the hpvalensmut 's Valentine Smut Fest and for reikokatsura . Title comes from the Larkin poem "MCMXIV".
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go to | Part One
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Harry paced a bit before the fireplace in his quarters at Hogwarts before plunging his hand into the ceramic pot of Floo-powder and tossing a handful into the grate. Blazing green flames merrily licked at the edges of the brickwork.
“Hermione Granger,” Harry intoned clearly as he knelt down on the hardwood floor. The fire flashed purple for a moment before Hermione’s head appeared in it, looking slightly frazzled.
“Hey Harry!” she said breathlessly, pushing an errant lock of curly hair behind her ear.
“Hey Hermione. Sorry, is this a bad time?”
“Oh, no don’t worry about it—Ron’s off visiting Molly, and I’ve just put Rose to bed after a particularly vigorous tantrum she threw during bathtime.” Hermione laughed, and tilted her head expectantly. “Everything alright?”
Harry fidgeted for a moment before responding. “I have a favor to ask of you. But it’s, er, Ministry-related.” He licked his lips and looked at her. “Actually, it’s Draco-related.”
Hermione eyed him warily before nodding, indicating that he should come through the Floo. “Sure. It’s best we talk in here. I’ll go put the kettle on.”
Her head disappeared from the fire and Harry stepped through, clambering awkwardly out of the fireplace on the other side. He brushed the soot off his jacket and made his way towards the kitchen where Hermione was busying herself with making tea. Harry took a seat at the ring-marked kitchen table, moving Rose’s assorted crayons and half-dried unicorn stickers out of the way.
“How’s Rosie?” he asked off-handedly, toying with one sticker. It half-heartedly curled around his finger, its hooves moving gently against the pad of his finger.
“Oh, fine, fine. She won’t stop talking about you, you know,” she replied, throwing him an amused glance over her shoulder, love for her daughter evident on her face. “I swear she falls asleep clutching that training broom you bought for you—thanks for that, by the way, it was a lovely birthday present—and this morning she used an entire jar of my cold cream as a makeshift broom polish.”
Harry chuckled sheepishly. “I’ll get her some real polish. And, erm, how’s work?”
Hermione elegantly raised an eyebrow at him as she sat down. With a careless wave of her hand, teacups, saucers, spoons, and sugarcubes came flying out of the cupboards. “Now, I know that’s not the reason you Floo-called me.”
“That, and you’d have to kill me if you told me right?”
She smiled dryly. “That too. Two sugars?”
“Alright, what’s going on Harry?”
Harry cleared his throat and toyed with his sleeve. “Draco needs access to the Ministry Archives.”
Both of Hermione’s eyebrows went flying to her hairline. She paused. “You know that’s restricted access—”
“—which is why I came to you,” Harry finished hurriedly. “You’ve heard the fuss McGongall’s making about a new, updated Hogwarts History of Magic curriculum to encompass the War and Voldemort’s rise.” Hermione nodded tersely at this. “Well, Draco’s supposed to be drawing up the outline for a new curriculum that’s going to be implemented next term, but there’s kilometers of red tape that’s tangling this curriculum restructuring that everything has been more or less stopped at this point. From an administrative point of view at least.”
“Goodfeather,” Hermione interjected darkly. “Her parents were killed by Death Eaters, weren’t they? I remember reading about it in The Prophet when she was—handed the position.”
“Right. Neither McGongall nor the Hogwarts’ Board of Governors can get anything moving forward; Goodfeather is the Minister’s second cousin and has basically been given free reign of the proceedings.”
“Can’t imagine she would be too pleased with having Malfoy as one of her staff.”
“About as pleased as Umbridge was with me.” Harry unconsciously scratched at the back of his hand. “Goodfeather is saving face for the Ministry—the last thing they want is to be shown as incompetent and bumbling, not when Britain’s young wizards will be reading about it in their History of Magic classes for years to come. If the Minister can’t manage to polarize the war in the new curriculum, she can tighten her grip and stop the whole reform process. Essentially, it’s the administrative equivalent to folding your arms.”
“Why do you need the Archives, then?” Hermione asked.
Harry traced the rim of his cup, smiling a little when the sticker curled itself from his finger and stuck to the ceramic. “Well, any and all official—and unofficial—records throughout the war are bound to be in the Ministry’s Archvies right?—and Goodfeather’s not going to sign off on Draco doing any research anytime soon. The only ones who can actually access those records any time they want are Ministers, Department Heads, and—”
There was a long pause before Hermione spoke again. “And once you get into the Archives, what then?”
“Was that a yes?” Harry asked hopefully, tilting his head to one side.
“We’ll figure it out from then, I suppose.” He took a long, deliberate sip of tea to avoid Hermione’s why-am-I-not-surprised expression.
“Wait—we?” Hermione asked, her voice suspicious. She placed both hands on the table and leaned forward.
“What?” Harry responded, wide-eyed.
“You said ‘we’. You’re not—oh, for godssakes Harry, you’re not planning to go down there with them!”
“Why not?” Harry said crossly.
“You may be Harry Potter but you can’t just go flouncing through the Ministry Archives! At least if Draco and I went it might look plausible, seeing as how we’re Ministry employees. Nevermind the fact that Draco’s not really supposed to be there anyways. If Goodfeather finds out, or hell, my supervisor, it’s not just his employment at stake but mine as well.”
“They won’t find out. Hermione, you—oh, don’t give me that look—you know how critical this curriculum reform is going to be. It’s defining history for two generations, and I know you’re not going to stand by as the Ministry tries to whitewash more than fourty years of British Wizarding history, as if those people that died weren’t really important.”
“That’s not the issue, Harry.” Hermione said tightly. Her usually warm face had a pinched look to it as she deliberately avoided eye contact with him.
“Then what is?” He could feel the beginnings of a flush rising to his ears.
“The fact that you want to go with him.”
“We won’t get caught, Hermione.”
“We’re not seriously going back to this conversation again.” Harry pinned her with a disappointed, half-angry stare. “I know neither you nor Ron approve of my friendship with Draco, but this isn’t about that. The reason I came was not so that you could question the reasons behind my relationship with him, but to see if you could help us with this. Yeah, us.”
Hermione raised her eyes skyward. “It would be breaking protocol,” she said, almost to herself.
“It would completely be breaking protocol,” Harry repeated. He didn’t miss the exasperated look she shot him.
“I could get sacked.”
“You won’t get sacked, Hermione. They can’t sack you. Youngest Unspeakable in history, remember?”
“You’re not supposed to know that.”
“I’m not supposed to know a lot of things,” Harry replied cheekily.
“How much have you charmed out of dear old Doris?”
“Not my fault she’s a wicked gossip.”
Hermione sighed. “You’re not going to relent, are you?”
Harry raised both eyebrows.
“Come to my office on Tuesday at seven,” Hermione said grudgingly. “I know—as much as I can’t believe I’m saying it—that Draco’s doing the right thing, this time.”
“You’d be surprised by him, Hermione,” Harry said softly, and knew that a blush was working its way to his ears.
“Look Harry,” she started carefully, training her clear eyes onto him as he stared into his cup. “I don’t mean to pry, but how long have you—er—do you…like…him?” It was clear that the change in conversation was uncomfortable for her.
Harry avoided her gaze. “You could say that with a little less disbelief, thanks,” he murmured tersely. A frisson of irritation shot through him at the mistrust in Hermione’s unnaturally flinty voice. His fingers unconsciously curled in the pocket of his jacket.
“Harry, isn’t not like that at all.” She exhaled sharply and reached for his shoulder, then hesitated and pulled back. “Look, it’s been—difficult—just coming to terms with your close friendship with him, without—”
“—what? Realising there may be other complications, Hermione? That I could—” Harry stopped abruptly and reached for the tin of biscuit, just to occupy his hands. He could hardly even say it, let alone explain it. There was a hollow feeling in his chest that was quickly seeping to his arms and legs, an unexplainable jittery sensation that he got every time he though of Draco.
Hermione wrapped her hands tightly around her mug. “You really love him, don’t you?” she murmured softly. Harry knew it wasn’t a question, and almost smiled.
“Oh, the dazzling powers of deduction the Unspeakables have taught you.”
“Ooh, swearing too.”
Hermione smiled at him briefly and reached over to pry the biscuit tin from Harry’s grip. Absently she handed him a chocolate one and placed hers on the table, playing with the flaky crust. Harry watched her chase a crumb with a finger, and nibbled on the corner of his biscuit.
“Have you told him, that—er—”
“I want to shag him through his flimsy office desk?”
“Well, if you want to be crass about it.”
“Believe me, if you spent every other day with him, you’d be crass too.” He smirked wryly.
Hermione was silent for a moment, perhaps hiding a wan smile behind her tea mug.
“Christ.” Harry ran an agitated hand through his thick hair. “No. Hermione, I won’t just ruin a friendship like that, not after these past couple of years, and not if I can help it.”
“They’re not exactly mutually exclusive things,” Hermione pointed out matter-of-factly, “beings friends and being in love. Ron and I—”
“—have had unresolved sexual tension since about Third Year. Yes, thank you but no, it’s absolutely not the same thing. ” He sighed. “Do you know what the worst part is?” he contined in a low voice, almost to himself. “For all his insight and intelligence, he really has no idea how—amazing he is.” Harry hid his face in his hands. “Circe’s left tit.” he mumbled into his fingers.
Hermione pried his hands off his face. “Go on,” she said.
“I mean, he busies himself with his work and taking care of Scorpius—which is a terrific thing, don’t get me wrong, you should see him Hermione, he’s fantastic with the boy—but he feels so…I don’t know. Unbelievably unattractive, I suppose. It’s—it’s mad.”
Hermione frowned. “Do you think he—knows, Harry? That you—love him?”
Harry shot her a half-exasperated, half-desperate look and furrowed his brow. “Hermione, I’m not even sure if I know.”
“So, just to sum things up, Draco doesn’t know that you might or might not love him, but he certainly doesn’t know that you want to shag him—what did you say?—‘through his flimsy office desk’.”
Harry took a sip of his tea. “Yeah, pretty much.”
Hermione started laughing, and then quickly covered her mouth with her hands at Harry’s pained expression. She gave a fond, lop-sided smile and covered one of his hands with her own. “Harry, I’m not sure what you want me to say to you.”
He sighed and closed his eyes. “I’m not entirely sure either, Hermione.” Cracking one eye open to peer at her accusingly, he said, “You’re supposed to be the clever one.”
She laughed and reached up to pour herself another cup. “There’s only so far cleverness can take you,” she said and they sat in silence.
“They’re not much help, I realise,” Harry said, threading his way through the looming stacks towards the backroom of the library. Draco blinked as they entered into a completely dark room, located just behind the librarian’s desk. Harry stepped forward and tapped his wand against the wall, and the room was illuminated with flickering overhead lights.
Turning, he faced Draco. “Nothing compared to the Ministry Archives of course—pity they were warded off yesterday—but maybe you’ll be able to find something.” Harry’s face glowed under the flickering lights, softening his patrician nose and making those familiar verdant eyes glimmer with something Draco couldn’t identity. Perhaps something he wasn’t ready to identify.
Draco nodded slowly, taking in the stacked rolls of parchment and voluminous, dusty tomes. They were collected haphazardly, with each bundle of parchment bound with twine and a yellowed label in spidery script.
Harry moved along the nearest shelf, leaning against the wooden frame as he pointed out various sections or books that might prove helpful. However, Draco didn’t quite hear him. In the sputtering light that painted the room with dizzying surrealism his vision seemed to swerve in and out of focus, focusing in turn on Harry’s each movement. The slide of his broad fingers along the spine of a book, the way the dim light caught those glasses, yet-unchanged from their school days.
Something welled up from inside of him, a deliciously pleasant sensation that traveled from his chest to flush up his neck and down to his trembling fingers. Draco could almost picture himself tentatively reaching out to Harry’s black frames and—
Suddenly, images of pressing Harry against the library stacks invaded his mind, abruptly derailing his earlier train of thought.. Hipbones slamming against each other. The wet slide of lips against collarbones. The sound of paper and seams tearing. Fumbling at zips in the dim light. Writhing.
“Draco?” Harry asked hesitantly.
Pull yourself together, for fuck’s sake. Draco inhaled sharply and passed a trembling hand over his weary face. He closed his eyes and cleared his throat. This was not the right time to indulge in his school-boy fantasies of Harry Potter, of all fucking people. What was he, fourteen again?
“Sorry, er, the air in here’s a little stale.” Draco said and turned to hide his blush. He fingered a nearby book and sneezed as a cloud of dust rose into the air. “Do you actually have a system in place, or--?” He sneezed again and shot Harry an exasperated glance through watery eyes.
Harry smiled at him briefly, eyes darting to the prominent bags under Draco’s watery eyes, and shook his head. “Not really.” He motioned his head towards the door. “Well, I’ll be out there if you need anything. I would help you, but I’ve a class of Sixth Years coming in for DADA research.”
Draco nodded and murmured his thanks, before turning back to the stacks of parchment and aged books before him. As Harry closed the door behind him, Draco sat down heavily on a nearby chair and exhaled heavily. Harry is strictly off-limits and doesn’t want you anyways, he repeated under his breath until the syllables caught in his throat. The resolute mantra did nothing for his fluttering pulse.
Calming himself, Draco picked up a book and started to read.
+ + +
Draco disarmed the wards to his house, bustling himself and Harry through the hallway to the living room at the back. As Draco hung up their robes, Harry spread out onto the coffee table the scant books on Voldemort’s rise, as well as the odd personal account or newspaper clippings that Draco had collected from the Hogwarts archives.
Moving pictures of houses burning and the glow of the Dark Mark over the forest during the Quidditch World Cup played on a sickening black-and-white loop. Touching one finger to the first picture, flames of black ink lapped at edge of the image, curling around the smoldering house and the indentation his finger made on the page. Even after all this time, magical photos still unnerved Harry. Glancing at the gauzy image of the Dark Mark on the newspaper clipping, Harry wondered not for the first time how Draco managed to lay his ghosts to rest. He wondered where the reserves of courage were hidden, then chastised himself for being surprised by Draco’s resolve. The Mark seemed to leer at him, and Harry turned the paper over.
“Nothing really substantial, then,” Draco remarked as he strode back into the living room.
“No, not really,” Harry said. He shuffled the newspaper clippings. “Do you want to go through all this now?”
Draco frowned at the stack of papers. “Not particularly, no. It’s been a long day, Harry, and research is exhausting, no matter how worthwhile. ”
He sunk gracefully into the leather sofa and sighed heavily. “I’m waiting for the Minister to return from the Magical Education conference. Mother’s there right now, actually. I received an owl from her this morning—apparently there are some out-of-print books on Voldemort stashed away in a few magical bookshops in Copenhagen that she’s trying to purchase and send to me. The international owl post—especially with large packages—is a bit shoddy though, and it might take a while.” Draco closed his eyes. “I’m sorry if I’ve wasted your time Harry, going through these probably useless newspaper clippings and old books.”
“No,” Harry replied, “it’s alright. I’ve already told you, I think it’s important what you’re doing—what you’re trying to do.”
Draco nodded wearily at that, and closed his eyes, leaning back against the sofa.
“What’s your mother doing in Copenhagen?” Harry asked lightly, wondering how far he could push Draco on the subject of his parents. Ever since Draco and Astoria’s divorce and Lucius and Narcissa’s expatriation, it wasn’t really a topic for casual conversation.
“Visiting Astoria,” Draco replied, and there was only a hint of tension in his voice. “She was always rather fond of her, surprisingly. Though personally, I think Mother warmed to her only after the divorce.” Draco laughed mirthlessly.
“Draco, this is entirely irrelevant, but...has there been anyone since Astoria?”
Draco turned to him incredulously, a faint sadness tugging at the corners of his mouth. His lips dropped into a sneer that had no real bite to it, just disparaging unhappiness. “You would know once I knew,” he replied. His airy tone didn’t fool Harry for an instant.
Seeing Harry’s expression, Draco laughed. “Do you honestly think I would date anyone right now?”
“It happens, you know. Even with people who have kids.”
Draco smiled wryly. “Sure, Harry.”
Harry longed to say something, but chose another topic. “When was the last time Astoria visited?”
Draco laughed hollowly. “She left about fourteen months after Scorpius was born and hasn’t been back since. She might have sent a Christmas card two years ago, but course that doesn’t mean anything. But you knew that, Harry.”
Harry dipped his head. “Isn’t she with—”
“—the British ambassador to Denmark? Yeah. Albert Cunningham. He was six years our senior at Hogwarts. Ravenclaw, of course.”
“Was he really?”
“Tall, awkward gait, receding hairline—you don’t remember? Merlin, Harry, you’re oblivious.” It was a disparaging comment, but Draco shot him a teasing look. “Enough about that. How’s the Weaselette?”
Harry pinched his arm. “Play nice,” he said lazily. “Ginny’s just fine; she and Luna moved into a flat in London last month.”
“Molly Weasley still holding out for your great impending love with her only daughter?”
“You have no idea,” Harry groaned. “Ginny and I gave that up a long time ago, but Molly can’t seem to shake the idea.”
“Maybe you can persuade Ginny to let you move in with them. It would be a win-win situation for every party involved—Ginny, Luna, you, and Molly.” Draco’s smirk was positively obscene.
“How’s that?” Harry challenged.
“Well,” Draco ticked off his fingers as he spoke, “Ginny and Luna get to shack up, Molly thinks you and Ginny are together, and you’re privy to steaming lesbian sex right there in the apartment.”
“Ah, the Slytherin cunning put to good use.”
“I thought so.”
Harry laughed and shoved Draco’s shoulder with this own. “Frankly Draco, that’s off-putting.”
“What kind of red-blooded heterosexual male are you?” Draco exclaimed, nearly collapsing in laughter at Harry’s affronted facial expression. Recovering himself, he managed to affix a straight face. “It’s the ginger pubes, isn’t it?”
Laughing and sputtering in disbelief, Harry leaned against Draco’s warm shoulder as the blonde snickered.
“I’m partial to blondes myself,” Harry remarked off-handedly.
“Bet you are.”
“You would think they’d be beating down the door, with a gorgeous blonde like yourself,” Harry added jokingly.
“What’s a bloke to do?” Draco sighed dramatically, then turned and smiled at Harry. “Good thing I’ve got you for company then.”
Harry looked down at Draco’s languid expression and a hot, churning feeling started in his chest. Downy white-blonde hair was tickling the underside of his chin, smelling faintly of rosemary and mint and Harry closed his eyes as he leaned down to press a kiss to the top of Draco’s head he closed his eyes and took in the warm scent. He didn’t answer, content to linger just where he wanted to be.
Harry’s stomach suddenly rumbled, breaking the serenity of the moment. “Got anything to eat?” he asked.
Draco let him go reluctantly and walked over to the fridge. He felt bereft of Harry’s steady warmth along his left side. “There’s some left-over shepherd’s pie from last night. And Butter Chicken and some naan, I think.”
Harry laughed. “How you survive on a diet of take-away confounds me.”
“You could just cook for me,” Draco suggested, warming up the cold food.
“Lazy arse,” Harry retorted lightly. “As if I’ve nothing better to do. Where’s your corkscrew?”
“Trust you to get into the good wine,” Draco said. Spooning out the steaming pie and chicken, he set two plates down on his small kitchen table.
“It’s begging to be opened. You wouldn’t have drunk it without me anyways. Drink loves company.”
“True. Though I think the saying is ‘misery loves company’.”
“Either way, hopefully it will mask whatever the hell it is you’re feeding me,” Harry dead-panned. “Merlot and marsala, does wonders for heart-burn.” He ducked as Draco threw a piece of naan squarely at his face.
On a sudden whim, Harry walked over to a drawer by the stove and took out two pink tapered candles and a set of matches.
“Alright if we use these?” Harry asked, forcing a casual tone. He set the candlestick holder on the marble tabletop and hoped his blush wouldn’t be seen in the dim lighting of Draco’s kitchen.
Draco paused for a moment and his gaze was searching and inscrutable. “Sure,” he replied slowly. “Feeling romantic, Harry?” Draco’s voice was slightly strangled, though Harry couldn’t imagine why.
“Ah, just thought it would be a nice, er, atmosphere.” He blushed fiercely and moved to put the candles back in the drawer. He felt like such a fool, standing there before Draco with two candles clenched in his fist. When had this trepidation and nervousness developed between them? “But…clearly not. Er. I’ll just—yeah—I’ll put them back. I’m sorry—it was just—my God—stupid of me.”
“No, hold on,” Draco said quietly. He reached out and grasped Harry’s wrist, slowly turning the other man back to face him. Draco pried the candles from Harry’s grip and set them on the table, lighting them with a quick flick of his wand. The twin flames burned merrily in kitchen, throwing soft light onto the planes of Harry’s face.
“It’s a nice attempt at a candle-lit dinner,” Draco said lightly. In an effort to control his trembling voice, he sat down in his chair and busied himself with his silverware. “Just before Valentine’s Day and all.”
“Right,” Harry replied, obviously relieved. “Though the food’s a bit crap.” He let a hesitant smirk slide onto his face.
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing Mr Potter,” Draco said in a solemn voice. He poured them each a glass of wine. “Plying me with alcohol and lighting candles. Tsk, tsk.” Winking at Harry, he took a careful sip of his wine, nearly choking when a furious blush blossomed across Harry’s olive skin.
Their knees knocked against each other under the cramped table. “Eat,” Draco commanded, unable to hide his grin. “You’re too thin.”
“You’re one to talk,” Harry replied.
“All Malfoys are naturally slender,” Draco said, but patted his ribs self-consciously.
+ + +
“It’s out of control!” Draco said virulently, and then peered guiltily over his shoulder to the bedroom down the hall where Scorpius slept, hoping he hadn’t woken the boy. Draco sat down suddenly and pressed his long fingers against his eyes. His frustration was evident; Harry wanted to reach out and pry those fingers away, to grasp Draco’s hand and not let go.
Harry settled for reaching up into the cupboard and brought down two glasses and a vintage bottle of Ogden’s finest. For a moment, the only sound in the apartment was the quiet splash of Firewhisky being poured and Draco’s laboured breathing. Placing one glass into the blonde’s limp palm with a murmured “You need it”, Harry sat back down on the couch.
“Look,” Draco started again softly. “This is our war. Even if I could change my past, which Merlin knows I’ve fucked up nine ways to Knockturn Alley, I wouldn’t because it’s my past and looking away from it isn’t going to change the fact that it’s there.”
Harry was silent but took a hearty sip of Firewhisky in response, relishing the way it smoldered like smoke on the way down. The heat was almost as powerful as the warmth from Draco’s side pressing into his. It was the kind of heat Harry wanted to wrap around himself and press his nose into forever, if he could.
Draco turned to face Harry, his glass held precariously in his grip. “Astoria asked me once if it was worth it, working this thankless job in a department in a Ministry that was doing its best to pretend the war never happened,” Draco mused.
“Worth it? More than you could imagine.”
Harry smiled. “For Hogwarts, yeah. Absolutely.”
“You know what they say: those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, write history textbooks.” Draco shot his friend an uncharacteristically wide smile.
“Pathetic, isn’t it.”
“Not at all. Not if you’re actively trying to make things better than they are right now.”
“You mean trying to peel away the prejudices to re-write history.”
"You ca—can't just rewrite history like that,” Harry protested, the Firewhisky pulling his vowels out into a slightly inebriated drawl. The alcohol swirled in his stomach and did strange things to his vision. He turned his head to inspect what amber liquid remained in the glass, only to find his nose scant inches from Draco’s. Draco had a trail of light freckles from his cheekbone to his ear. Harry had the sudden desire to press forward and lap at it.
"Apparently, you can," Draco responded grimly. His fingers gripped his glass. “The problem is that there’s a gaping hole in magical history records and you can't just keep teaching children about the Goblin Wars of 1624, pretending as if nothing happened in Britain in the last thirty or so years. There's a general reluctance to rewrite -- no, to definitively write in the first place -- history for history books because the government is scared.” He scowled and drained his glass.
"Thing is,” he continued, “the only ‘official’ accounts we have from the war and the last battle are Skeeter's insipid articles and the Minister's feeble speeches. And to fill that gap, silence, rumours, and half-formed stories. You can’t write anything authoritative based on that.
“God forbid we remember what actually happened. God forbid we prevent another war.” Draco’s last statement was punctuated by a pained exhale. “You know what was so terrifying? What's so bloody difficult to articulate in history texts? The fact that there wasn't an external enemy, just people that were just as British as you or I. This is what's holding up permission for the printing of new magical history textbooks. The Ministry's is still deciding how to best portray a civil war. All that lies behind us is the shocked silence of war and the crushing relief of the end of horrors.”
“They’re trying to protect our children.”
“But they’re not!” Draco said fiercely, the alcohol in his stomach stoking his fury. “We’re not protecting them with his naïve madness, and we’re not protecting them by lying!”
“I know Draco, I know. Gods, I know that.” Harry twined his fingers with Draco’s, running his thumb across his palm soothingly. “Coming to terms with the war means trying to explain it, and being able to explain it presents the danger of explaining it away.”
“It’s a continual and thorough process of villianising people, even innocent people,” Draco said wearily.
“You can’t villianise someone who was dragged into the war by association.” As soon as he said it, Harry closed his eyes and cringed. That was exactly what the Wizarding world had done to Draco Malfoy, and countless other Slytherins. There wasn’t a witch or wizard that went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin.
Harry imagined their final year in Hogwarts, the sea of black robes and the timid faces along the Slytherin table. Eleven and twelve-year-olds that were given a wide, contemptuous berth by other students because of the crest on their robes.
Draco laughed, more of a harsh bark than a happy sound. “Oh yes you can Harry. Yes you can. Merlin knows we’ve seen it.”
Draco reached for the bottle again, filling their glasses until amber liquid sloshed over the top and ran down their fingers. “To history,” he said solemnly, bitterness curling at the edges of his mouth. They downed their glasses and Harry wiped his mouth on his sleeve. He looked up to find Draco suddenly sucking off the excess Firewhisky dribbling down his fingers, unaware of Harry’s heated, wide-eyed stare following his actions.
“It’s good Firewhisky,” Draco said by way of explanation. The wet sound as his finger popped out of his mouth and the way he elongated his vowels sent a tidal wave of heat straight to Harry’s crotch. Harry shifted uncomfortably and tugged his shirt downwards to hide his burgeoning erection.
Draco wiped his fingers down on his pant leg. When his eyes slowly met Harry’s glazed-over ones—from the alcohol or something else he couldn’t be sure—Harry leaned over and kissed him.
Draco reared away in shock. Their noses were centimeters apart and they breathed the same air for a moment. Draco squeezed his eyes shut, something like nausea but far more pleasant, was roiling and fluttering in his gut. Apprehension flickered across his face and his lips tugged down, revealing the small worry lines around his mouth. He plainly didn’t understand the reasons behind this latest development, but Harry was determined to prove his point.
“Harry, what—” Draco started tentatively, and Harry kissed him again with certainty. The second time was less abrupt and more sensual. Harry kissed from the curve of Draco’s thin upper lip to probe gently at the corner of his mouth. He trailed kisses along Draco’s jawline, following the path of freckles dusted there. There was nothing forceful about this, just slow, insistent licks at Draco’s chapped mouth asking to be let in.
The stiffness in the line of Draco’s shoulders melted as Harry’s slick tongue twined with his, lapping at the inside of his mouth. Draco brought his hands up to grip at Harry’s broad shoulders, gasping when Harry twined himself more securely around Draco. The solid heat of Harry’s chest and arms was searing, piercing Draco down to his very core. Maybe it was the fact that Draco hadn’t been with anyone since Astoria, a fumbling and thoroughly unfulfilling handjob in the bathroom of the Leaky Cauldron notwithstanding, and the sheer unexpected pleasure was unraveling him slowly.
As Harry ducked his head to press a chaste kiss to the side of Draco’s arched neck, deftly slipping the blonde man’s shirt off his shoulders with calloused hands, Draco realised it was something else entirely. He had never experienced this kind of intimacy before, where every move was dictated by an aching slowness rather than a desire to fuck and get it over with. He knew he wasn’t in the same shape he was ten years ago; his Quidditch-toned physique had given way to the body of a mostly sedentary paper-pusher, one who ate alone standing in front of the stove and practically crawled into bed every night. The feeling of Harry’s hot breath on his lips and collarbone was igniting something deep inside him: the slow curl of attraction being realised.
Clutching at the fabric of Harry’s shirt to steady himself, Draco pulled the brunet down for a languid kiss. No one had ever taken the time to thoroughly explore his body as Harry was doing right now. Draco would be mortified if Harry saw him cry over a simple kiss.
Having pulled Draco’s shirt off, Harry bent down and latched his mouth around one dusky pink nipple. He hummed in pleasure as Draco’s breathing audibly hitched. Lapping at the other nipple, Harry kissed and licked his way down the long, pale planes of Draco’s torso and stomach. He glanced up in amusement as Draco gurgled incoherently.
Draco arched his spine against the back of the sofa. The sofa. Draco tangled his fingers in Harry’s thick hair, willing himself to calm down. “Wait—stop—” he gasped unconvincingly. He could still feel the numbing sensation caused by the Firewhisky, and that coupled with Harry’s ministrations had him riding on a euphoric high.
Harry looked up, uncertainty flickering across his open face. “What’s wrong? Is there—”
“—bedroom,” Draco panted, and tugged the other man up by his shirt. “Can’t—not here, Scorpius could see.”
Harry Draco up effortlessly and stumbling blindly towards the bedroom while keeping as much skin contact as possible. They fell into bed, trousers and socks eased off in the darkness of Draco’s bedroom.
Harry settled his full weight on top of Draco and mapped out the planes and angles of the gasping man beneath him. Draco made the most delicious little moans as Harry’s calloused fingers stroked him just so: his palm cupping a jutting hipbone or fingers teasing at the soft skin of Draco’s inner thigh.
“Harry,” Draco groaned softly, arching up into his searing body heat. He bore up against that slick, supple body as Harry moved languidly against him. It had been forever since he had been touched like this, and Draco’s desire turned quickly into frustration. He wanted Harry, and he wanted him now. Draco’s fingers scrabbled wildly at the dip of Harry’s back, urging the other man down.
“Wait,” came the soothing whisper. Harry raised himself on one arm and peered fuzzily down at Draco, as if seeing him for the first time. He ran a hand down Draco’s chest in an attempt to slow the pace down. “Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” Harry murmured reverently and bent to kiss him again.
Harry’s fingers crept under the elastic of Draco’s black silk trousers. Draco hissed as the first touch to his overly sensitive cock has him rubbing against Harry like a fumbling fifteen year old. With trembling fingers Harry pulled the rest of the material away and clutches at Draco’s cock, his palm a little clammy. He pushed the foreskin back and ran a thumb experimentally across the weeping slit, smearing pre-cum around the glistening red head, and all the while Draco was panting and keening and looking up at Harry with acquiescent wonder as his hands tore at the sheets.
Draco pushed up wantonly against Harry and aligned their bodies so that their cocks brushed. Belatedly he realised that Harry’s boxers are still on, though they’re slipping precariously down slim hips. The sensation of his skin sliding against damp material was sensual, but the outline of Harry’s erection pressing insistently into Draco’s skin was even more overwhelming.
Harry’s hand worked faster now, the aching rhythm of his fingers against the base of Draco’s cock and balls juxtaposed with the soft, almost chaste kisses he dropped along his neck.
Harry murmured something unintelligible and suddenly Draco felt one slick finger sliding against his ass checks and probing gently at his entrance. Merlin, Harry wasn’t seriously going to—holy fuck, yes he would, and the intrusive feeling of Harry’s digit stroking his walls wracked Draco’s body with shudders from head to toe.
Harry’s rhythm was off but his enthusiasm was evident. There were obscenely wet sounds as Harry’s lips smacked around Draco’s cock and his finger—two now—pushed wetly into him, pressing against his prostate. The tight sensation building in Draco’s chest had nothing to do with the tell-tale coiling in his gut and balls.
“Harry,” Draco moaned again. “I can’t—fuck, it’s been too long—I’m going—” he stopped abruptly as his breath left his body in one tortured gasp.
Harry didn’t respond except to quicken his pace and tighten his grip on Draco. Draco writhed under Harry’s steadfast grasp, his hips bucking wildly and muscles seizing. There was an anguished moment of tension where every fibre and molecule in his body went taut, before Draco shattered into a thousand pieces. He groaned his release into the fleshy muscle between Harry’s neck and shoulder, realising that Harry had come at the same time as he had, if the increased dampness against Draco’s hip was any indication.
Their post-climax rasping was strident in the still darkness of the room. Draco attempted to get his breathing back under control, and he brought two hands up to twine slowly at the nape of Harry’s neck. It was his way of expressing gratitude, when words seemed woefully inept in the strange atmosphere that reigned.
Harry was laying fully on top of Draco, limbs sprawled everywhere on the expansive bed. Harry moved to push himself up with one arm but was stopped by a gentle tug at his hair.
“Draco,” he started hoarsely, but then stopped, unsure of what to say. Should he suggest a Cleaning Charm? A shower? A post-coitus emotional talk?
Draco looked up at him, something inscrutable—something like miserable resignation—flitted across his face.
“Go to sleep Harry,” he replied quietly and drew the brunet’s head to the warm crook of his shoulder. Their arms and legs were twined effortlessly around each other as they fell into a fitful sleep.
+ + +
When Harry woke slowly in an unfamiliar bed with white sheets tangled around his legs, he was alone. The pillow next to him was still warm and smelled of Draco’s citrusy cologne as he pressed his nose into it. Harry opened his eyes blearily and groped on the nightstand for his glasses, nearly knocking over a pitcher of water and a lamp in the process. Extricating himself from the covers, he slipped on his glasses and stood, cringing at the dried stickiness on his hands and chest.
The lofty bedroom was completely dark, disorienting Harry for a moment before he realized that he had only slept a few hours. From where he stood in the darkness of the room, the faint glow of Draco’s cigarette was a distant pinprick of light on the balcony. Pulling the sheet from the bed and wrapping it around himself, Harry walked to the half-opened balcony door and leaned against it, one hand gripping the frame and hesitant about intruding. The boundary of a Warming Charm tickled his fingers.
Draco glanced at Harry briefly over his shoulder before swiveling his head back to regard the quiet countryside.
“Feeling shy now?” Draco asked, a touch of wry amusement in his voice. There was something strange in his voice that Harry couldn’t quite place, a distance that unnerved him. “You don’t have to ask permission to step out onto the balcony, Harry. You practically live here.”
He sucked on his cigarette and let out a contented hiss as the smoke furled in the cool night air.
Harry flushed slightly and stepped forward so that his bare shoulders brushed against Draco’s. Out on the open balcony, the night wasn’t as consuming as it was inside the house. It was as if the land had still retained some heat and light from the day and warmed the air with it. The night was not so much a reversal but rather a quieter extension of the day—so that even this late, people moved with a languid, dreamy sort of grace.
Or maybe it was simply the fact that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were standing outside in the middle of a freezing February winter; the fact that a boundary had been irrevocably drawn; the fact that history was emerging from the past and visibly forming itself in the present. The silence around them was building, slowly and cautiously.
“Didn’t know you smoked,” Harry said awkwardly, just to break the eerie silence between them. He was unsure of himself, of where he stood now with Draco, of this surreal moment they were having.
“Bad habit I picked up after a year in the Ministry. Astoria used to smoke, but Scorpius hated the smell. I don’t much anymore.” Unless something like this comes up, lingered unsaid in the air. The corners of Draco’s mouth curled in a peculiar way. “Does it bother you?”
Harry wasn’t sure if that meant smoking, the mention of Astoria, or something else. “Oh—no, it’s fine,” he replied.
Draco let out a soft breath and stubbed out the dying embers in a ceramic ashtray next to him. He looked to his left to face Harry, tucking his chin into his shoulder in an unconsciously vulnerable pose although his eyes settled in the region of Harry’s bare stomach. Harry carefully touched the sharp line of Draco’s jaw and the slope of his cheekbones with his fingers, brushing back the blonde fringe that had fallen into Draco’s eyes.
The words are you alright—are we alright—bubbled up in Harry’s mouth, but fear of appearing foolish kept his lips firmly shut. They continued to stand there on the balcony, utterly silent and slow heat burning under their skin. Neither was quite sure what to say.
“I’m alright, Harry,” Draco said suddenly, and looked up. “I know what you were about to say—and yes, I’m fine.” He smiled wanly.
“Oh.” Harry flushed. “That’s good then.” He felt stupid and flustered, like someone who had just had their virginity taken and had woken up to find the bed cold and empty. With Draco there was always this strange dichotomy of intense intimacy and aloof dispassion. The two extremes he oscillated between, between Harry and the professionalism demanded at work. Never had Harry seen the two sides of Draco come together like this before. He froze with his fingers still entangled in Draco’s hair, unsure of how exactly to respond without appearing like a love-struck idiot.
Draco shook his head away from Harry’s reach and reached for the pack of cigarettes lying on the railing, humming in irritation when he found it empty. Harry couldn’t help thinking he looked like a skittish kitten.
“Draco,” Harry started.
“I’m not sure what to say to you,” Draco murmured.
“Well, clearly you’re expecting some kind of explanation.” Draco moved his hands jerkily.
“Commendation of your flawless technique? An admission of love?”
“Any response would be nice right now, actually,” Harry replied tersely, a frisson of irritation shooting through him.
Draco swiveled his head towards Harry. “Don’t. Just—let’s not start the whole confession…ordeal. Professing our undying love for each other on the moonlit balcony and all that. We’re best mates Harry, and this isn’t a trashy romance novel. I don’t have nearly enough nicotine in my body for that conversation.” He shook the empty box for emphasis.
“You’re being a right twat, you know that?”
“I’m not expecting anything of you Draco!”
“Aren’t you?” Draco replied coolly. He turned to look at Harry straight in the eye. “You’re telling me that you’re not expecting me to say something? Because I know you, Harry, and I know there are a hundred and one things you would like to say to me right now.”
“Where is this coming from?” Harry began to get flustered, unconsciously wrapping his arms defensively around his bare chest. The Warming Charm around the little balcony started to dissipate, raising goosebumps on his flesh.
Draco’s lips were set in a firm line. “The sex was great, Harry, really. But, it’s been too long for me since the last time—which was with Astoria, for fuck’s sake, can you imagine that—and while I appreciate what you did—”
“What the hell do you mean, ‘what I did’?” Harry’s voice came in a low hiss.
“It was a pity fuck, right?” Draco turned glassy eyes towards him. “I understand that, you don’t have to coddle or patronize me.”
“Fucking hell, Draco! What are you on about?” Harry dug his fingernails into his skin, unwilling to reach out and touch Draco’s pale, trembling shoulder. That was what happened last time wasn’t it: one fleeting touch and myriad of tangled emotions afterwards.
“Last night. The wine, the dinner with—with candles, I understand. That, you know, this was the result, being so close to Valentines Day. I understand, and it’s fine.”
“Oh, understand do you? That’s great. Really. That’s bloody fantastic, Draco, mind letting me in on this understanding of yours?” Harry was aware he was spluttering, half-coherent with frustration and desperation.
“You don’t really want me!” Draco shouted, his eyes bright and terrified.
Harry was shocked into silence. After a few strained moments, he spoke again and his voice was oddly steady. “Is that what you think?”
“It’s what I know.”
“You think this is about your body?” Harry was incredulous. “I think we’ve already established I have no problems with your body, Draco. Where were you all this night?”
Draco exhaled wearily. “It’s not just that, Harry. I—I crawl into bed each night after work, so exhausted between the Ministry and Scorpius that I can barely think. I swear it’s been so long I almost forgot what pleasure is. It’s a shock my dick hasn’t fallen off yet from disuse. Who would want that? An overworked man who hasn’t even reached his thirtieth birthday and is just as far from sexy as you could possibly get.” He thinned his lips. “I wouldn’t fuck me,” he added bitterly.
“Draco,” Harry said desperately, not caring that his voice was cracking. He stepped forward and held the other man’s face steady between his palms. The sheet tucked around his waist fell and pooled around their feet, just as the last vestiges of the Warming Charm disappeared. Draco shivered and was pulled deeper into Harry’s warm embrace as the cool night air brushed over their exposed bodies.
“Last night’s dinner,” Harry started, “and everything that happened afterwards wasn’t an accident, nor was it a—pity fuck. I can’t believe you would think that. I can’t stand it any more, seeing you thinking that you’re unbelievably attractive, when you’re not. You’re not. You’re not at all.” Each repeated phrase was punctuated by a whispering kiss against Draco’s eyelids, the tip of his nose, the corner of his mouth. I want you, Harry mouthed silently against Draco’s temple. He could feel the blonde trembling in his arms.
Draco hid his face in the warm crook of Harry’s neck and laced his fingers around Harry’s waist.
“What that means, you obtuse Slytherin, is that you’re beautiful.”
Draco snickered softly. “I thought there weren’t going to be any declarations of love on the moonlit balcony.” He paused, and his speech was muffled by Harry’s neck. “You think I’m attractive?” he said tentatively, pressing his nose against Harry’s fluttering pulse point.
“Devilishly so. I promise.”
“You’re not taking the piss are you?”
Harry carded his hands slowly through Draco’s mussed blonde locks. “I wouldn’t dare,” he said softly.
“Good,” Draco replied. He pressed a timid kiss to the side of Harry’s arched neck and rose to meet Harry’s eyes. “Because I’m tired of playing games.”
They stayed that that for some time, just holding each other, until the pink mouth of the sun rose over the balcony and saturated the two figures with light.
Turning his face to the morning sun, Draco threaded his long fingers with Harrys’ and pulled the dark-haired man towards the balcony door. “Come on,” he said gently. “Let’s go back to bed.”