The Two Broomsticks Autumn Fic-A-Thon

Of Fools and Gold

by Silver Ariel




I’m sorry, Harry.  I just can’t do this anymore.


I read the note in my hand again, trying to decide exactly how I feel.  I stare around at the living room in disbelief, taking in the disarray.  I came home from work this evening and found the living room in shambles and a note in Ginny’s handwriting stuck to the wall above the fireplace.  Books are tossed haphazardly on the sofa, open facedown, pages bent.  Some of the pictures on the wall are missing, as is the satin throw that draped over the chair.  Ginny apparently packed hastily, taking photos and knickknacks, but she left behind a set of magical encyclopaedias that she absolutely had to purchase last year.  Our bedroom will probably be just as wrecked.


I just can’t do this anymore.


I’m at a total loss.  I look at the parchment again, willing it to make sense this time.  Ginny’s normally pretty handwriting is rushed, messy, and doesn’t tell me anything more than it did the first time I read it.  I’m stunned, but deep down, I’m rather unsurprised.  Why?  Shouldn’t I be outraged?  Devastated?  Perhaps I’m in shock.


“Why, Ginny?” I ask aloud.


The empty room presses in on me, providing no answer.  I feel very alone all of a sudden, and I crumple her note in my fist.  Reluctantly, I walk into the bedroom.


It’s just as I thought it would be.  The wardrobe door hangs ajar; clothes are strewn across the bed and on the floor.  Pictures are gone from above the bed.  Ginny’s trunk is no longer in its usual place in the closet; my trunk is tossed over on its lock, the top open.  I close my eyes and sigh.  Why am I taking this so calmly?  I step over a pile of clothes towards the bed, and a glint of gold catches my eye.  My knees buckle and I sink heavily onto the bed as I recognise that her wedding ring is lying, discarded on top of her dressing table.


An ache wells up from deep in my gut, making my throat thick and my eyes prickle.  Ginny left me, and I have no idea why.  Well, maybe I do, but if she was that unhappy, she should have said something.  Not kissed me goodbye with an “I love you” as we parted ways to go to work this morning.  She obviously planned this and lied to my face today, because nothing seemed out of the ordinary with her earlier.  The ache mutates into fury.


I need answers.


I make my way back to the front door, ignoring more evidence of her hasty exit in the hall, and Apparate to The Burrow.


I land silently in the garden; years spent during and after the war as an Auror required stealth, and as much as I still find Apparating uncomfortable, I’ve become very proficient at it.  When I near the kitchen door, I hear voices wafting out of the open window above the kitchen sink.


“I thought you were happy with Harry.”  That’s Molly.


“Hardly,” comes Ginny’s voice.


Scowling, I stop abruptly as her reply hits me like a kick in the gut.  I need to hear this, painful as it is likely to be.  I think I’m about to get my answers.


“Well, I was, but he changed so much after the war,” she says, oozing resentment.


“Really?  How so?”  Mrs. Weasley’s voice is hollow with surprise.  I’m surprised, too.  I don’t think I’ve changed since Hogwarts.  Sure, I have a job and pay bills and all that other domestic stuff people have to do after they leave school, but fundamentally I’m still the same person.  I hang out with my friends, play casual Quidditch games with co-workers, spend time with my wife, and generally enjoy a Voldemort and Death Eater free world, where I’m not required to be the hero anymore.


“He just did.”  Ginny sounds frustrated and defensive.  “He wasn’t at all like he was in school.”


“Dear, he grew up.”  Molly sounds like she wants Ginny to get to the point, to the truth about what’s going on.  I feel the same way.


A chair scrapes across the floor, and I hear Ginny’s shoes clack as she paces about the room.  “Look, it doesn’t matter!”  She sighs loudly.  I know from her tone that she’s hiding something—something else is going on with her that prompted her to leave, something other than my supposed change in personality after the war.


“What else is there?” Molly asks knowingly.  I almost smile.  Mrs. Weasley can see past all her kids’ bullshit, even mine, which proves just how much she’s welcomed me into her family.


A weighty silence reigns for a moment, and then Molly says, “Sit down, Ginny, and drink your tea.”


The chair scrapes across the floor again, then gives an audible thud as Ginny apparently sits down heavily.  A teaspoon clinks against porcelain, ringing as she stirs her tea, and then Ginny sighs again.  “Mum, I’m pregnant.”


My stomach flies into my throat and my heart starts pounding excitedly.  Pregnant?  My brain seems to jam, trying to reconcile this brilliant news, something I’ve always wanted, with the fact that it pushed her to leave me.  I barely register Ginny’s sobs, which muddy my thoughts further.


“Oh, Ginny, that’s wonderful!  Does Harry know?”


Ginny gives a pathetic half-laugh half-cry.  “No.”


“Well, tell him and then you two will be able to work this out and get back together.  He adores Natalia so much; I know he wants children—”


“Mum, no!  Don’t you see?”  Ginny is crying audibly now, and she takes a great, heaving breath.  “It’s not his.”


Molly makes a loud choking noise, echoing exactly how I feel.  My budding elation about being a father vanishes, leaving a painful void in my chest, and for a moment, I can’t breathe, like the wind has been knocked out of me.


Not mine.  Not mine.  Ginny’s pregnant and it’s not mine!  Grief crashes down on me, and the calm astonishment I felt when I first read her note evaporates.  I want kids, have always wanted kids, and now I find out that my wife has gone off and got herself knocked up with someone else’s child!


Seething, I stomp through the kitchen door, throwing it open so that it hits the wall with a loud slam!


Ginny and Molly jump at the noise and gape at me; Mrs. Weasley is clearly still reeling from the shocking news, and Ginny looks terrified and guilty, and completely out of place in her designer robes.  She never did have the elegance to carry them well.  “Harry!” she gasps and stands abruptly, barely managing to put her teacup down on the table without dropping it.  Tea splashes out of it onto the scrubbed wooden table, and Molly stands to clean it up.


“I don’t believe you, Ginny!”  I say as calmly as I can manage.  “You cheated on me?!  Why?  If you were so unhappy with me, why didn’t you say anything?”  My voice nearly breaks, and I try to swallow down the aching fury.


“You should have known!” Ginny retorts, pointing a well-manicured finger at me accusingly.  “I was miserable and you never did anything about it!”


I’m completely stunned.  Yeah, we’ve had a few problems here and there, but nothing to suggest that she was miserable.  We weren’t having sex all that often lately, but we’ve both been busy, and she’s not acted at all like it bothered her.  She has been as affectionate as she always was…  No, there has been no sign of misery from her, none at all.  “I’m not a Legilimens!” I shout, baffled.  “I can’t read your mind!  How am I supposed to do anything if YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG?!”  I’m waving my arms at her now, pleading for her to say something that helps me understand.


Ginny crosses her arms and glares at me, her lips pressed tightly together.  Molly looks supremely uncomfortable, her wand still pointing at the now clean table and her mouth open as if she’s going to interject.  Normally she would be between us, trying to force us to calm down and talk rationally, but she seems stunned herself.  She obviously doesn’t know what to say, as she remains silent, staring back and forth between us.


I rake my hands through my hair.  This is pointless.  “Who is the father, Ginny?”


Ginny drops her eyes to her fancy shoes and says nothing, radiating frustration and sheer stubbornness.




“Zacharias Smith,” she says after a moment, still looking at the floor.


And suddenly everything makes sense.


Pompous, popular, good-looking Zacharias Smith is a war hero and the wizarding world’s resident party boy.  Smith bought out The Daily Prophet shortly after the war, and he’s quite famous and influential now.  He regularly hosts parties, balls, and charity events, makes numerous public appearances, and is generally in the centre of the glamorous wizarding elite.  Basically, he took over my role, after I refused to be the wizarding world’s Golden Boy anymore.  I didn’t care; I’m perfectly happy for him to get all of the attention.  I had more than enough of it during the war.  But Zacharias Smith glories in it.  Even Draco thinks Smith is a snob, which says a lot.


Suddenly, all the arguments over my refusal to attend public events stand out in my mind.  We routinely get invitations to public and Ministry events, and I almost always decline them.  All I ever wanted was a quiet, normal and private life, which I forfeit whenever I go out in public, because a reporter from the Prophet or some other rag is inevitably on the hunt for juicy gossip about my life.  But Ginny always wanted to go to these galas and spent a small fortune on formal dress robes.  I agreed to go with her a few times, earlier in our marriage, but after several instances of being hounded by people asking about the war, about how I defeated Voldemort, about private details of my marriage and friendships, and then seeing it all splashed in the Prophet, I absolutely refused to go to any more public events.  Ginny was quite put out, and we rowed spectacularly over it on numerous occasions.  But I was adamant.  I thought she understood—I explained my reasons to her enough.  I guess I was wrong.


“Oh, I see,” I mutter over Molly’s astonished gasp of “Ginevra!”  Mrs. Weasley apparently had the same epiphany I just did, from the outraged look she’s casting at her daughter now.


“I see perfectly.  I wasn’t glamorous enough for you, you superficial, shallow—” I barely manage to avoid calling her a bitch, for Molly’s sake.  “You wanted someone famous, someone who would take you to fancy parties and let you show off your expensive robe collection!”


She cringes slightly, but meets my stare nonetheless.  “You’re Harry Potter!  You’re supposed to—”


I cut her off with a roar.  I am so fucking fed up with people thinking that just because I’m Harry Potter, ‘The Man Who Defeated The Dark Lord,’ that I should sign autographs and kiss children and run for Minister of Magic and write an autobiography and pose for magazine and calendar shoots and let statues be mounted in my honour and let people use my name to market products I’ve never even heard of.  The teacups on the table begin to rattle, I’m so livid.


“Where the hell have you been the last ten years?!  I NEVER wanted to be famous!  I NEVER wanted the adoring public!  I NEVER wanted all the press at our wedding, or a big wedding at all!  I NEVER wanted to schmooze and talk about nothing at parties with people who think they’re better than me, or who want something from me!  YOU should have known better, Ginny.  But you apparently never knew me at all.  You wanted to be the famous wife of a famous war hero.  I just wanted to be your husband and have a quiet, normal, private life.  I thought you were different, that you understood me.  Well, I was obviously wrong and you certainly got what you want now, as long as Smith doesn’t drop you like he has his last three girlfriends.”  I yank my wedding ring off my finger and chuck it at her as forcefully as I can.  Her face crumples as it hits her chest, hard, just below her clavicle and then falls to the floor with a hollow ping.  I hope it leaves a bruise.  “You’ll have divorce papers in your hands by tomorrow night.”


I whirl around to storm out the door, but then stop and look back at Mrs. Weasley, who is obviously just barely holding herself together after watching her daughter and adopted son blow spectacularly to pieces.  “I’m sorry, Molly,” I say.  “I’m sorry you had to see that.  I…”  I don’t know what to say to reassure her that I still love her, that she’s still my surrogate mother.


She gives me a weak smile.  “We’ll talk later, Harry,” she says softly.  It’s enough for now.


I nod tightly at her, and ignoring Ginny’s red and tear-streaked face, I leave, Apparating home as soon as I pass The Burrow’s wards.


And then I’m faced with Ginny’s betrayal all over again, as I survey my wrecked living room.  I grab the one vase that Ginny left behind from the table next to the door and hurl it at the wall, screaming.  It shatters, leaving a large dent in the wall and sends shards of porcelain skittering across the floor, where they glitter sharply in the evening sun shining in from the living room window.


I can’t stay here, or I’ll lose it completely.  I need to get away from this house where I’ve blindingly lived in a sham of a marriage for six years and get blindingly drunk.  I need a friend.  I need Draco.


Fighting back tears, I stumble to the fireplace, fling a pinch of Floo powder in the grate, and shout, “Malfoy Manor!”




Two hours later, I’m sitting at a table in our regular pub, working on my second beer, waiting for Draco to arrive.  He was in the middle of brewing a batch of Wolfsbane potion when I Floo-called him, and he couldn’t leave the potion unattended until it was finished.  He was furious at my news and promised to meet me at Mulligan’s as soon as he could.


So I came here to wait, and think.  I’ll have to talk to Ron and Hermione about this soon, but with them living in Toronto now, there isn’t much they can do.  I was so proud of Hermione when she was appointed Ambassador to Canada, but I really miss my two best friends sometimes.  International Floo conversations make me queasy, but I’ll put up with it for this.  I just hope Ron won’t take it too badly.  He was so thrilled when Ginny and I got together.  Hermione will be astounded that Ginny could be so deluded.  I chuckle as I imagine the flabbergasted look on her face:  I probably shouldn’t call them until I pull myself together, though.  And really, Draco is the best one to help me do that.


Thank Merlin I have him.


I give an ironic chuckle.  I never would have predicted back at Hogwarts that Draco Malfoy, hated Slytherin and rival, would become one of my best friends, but nevertheless, it happened.  Draco approached me the summer after sixth year bleeding, bedraggled, unkempt, and terrified.  “He killed my mother,” Draco said, looking completely out of place on the Dursleys’ doorstep in dirty robes.  He didn’t meet my eyes.  “He killed her for trying to protect me from being punished for my failure, and he made me watch.  I can’t stay there, and I have no where else to go, Potter.”  I could tell that he was holding back tears.


I was very glad to see him, actually.  I had thought about him a lot since the night that Snape killed Dumbledore.  He lowered his wand.  He wanted out.  When faced with the choice, he showed he wasn’t a murderer.  He was going to take Dumbledore’s offer to switch sides.  But then Snape showed up and robbed him of that choice, and he and his mother paid the price for it.  So I let him in and took him up to my room, where I healed the cuts on his face.  I then led him to the bathroom and told him to take a shower.  At least the Dursleys weren’t home.  They left on a holiday to France after they picked me up at King’s Cross Station, with strict instructions that I be moved out before they returned.  They couldn’t have done a nicer thing for me, really, even though I know they did it just to not have to deal with me before I left permanently.  The quiet had allowed me to think and come to terms with Dumbledore’s death, not to mention getting my summer homework done and start planning my search for the Horcruxes.


Draco interrupted my musing when he came back into my bedroom, his hair damp and dressed in the pyjamas I’d given him.  “Why are you helping me?” he asked, his voice unsure.


“Because I know, Malfoy.  I was there on the tower that night.  I know what happened, what you were going to do before Snape fucked everything up.  Dumbledore thought you deserved a chance, and I’m going to give it to you.”


Draco didn’t seem to know how to respond to that, and he sat down on my bed, staring at me with wide, astonished and anguished grey eyes.  “Even after everything I did?” he asked after a moment.


“Yes,” I said simply.  Somehow I just knew, looking at him, hunched over and seeming so small, that Draco Malfoy had a lot of regrets.  And he’d just lost his mother.  My heart went out to him, even though part of me was still screaming in my head that this was Draco Malfoy, not to be trusted, and that I should turn him over to the Order and let them deal with him.  I didn’t trust him then, but I knew, deep down, that I could, that he would prove himself worthy if given the chance.  I knew I was probably taking a major risk, but it was the last thing that Dumbledore tried to do before he died, so I took the chance.


And prove himself he did.  Over the summer, we got to know each other better, and we realised that we had a lot in common—the burden of expectations, loss of loved ones, and childhoods marked by abuse.  He told me everything he knew about Voldemort and the Death Eaters, including the locations of several of their hideouts.  We were able to capture many Death Eaters on Draco’s information.  He was an invaluable asset to the Order, once they accepted that he wasn’t a spy.  That took some convincing, but with my support (and later Ron and Hermione’s, too), they accepted him as a member of The Order.  Everyone hated that he and I were becoming friends, but for once, I didn’t care.  It wasn’t easy, and it took a while for us to learn to trust each other, but I felt better with Draco around, more confident that I could get through the war, that I could do what I was prophesied to do.


We grieved together, for his mother and Dumbledore.  It was surreal, us crying on each other’s shoulders, but it really helped.  He actually apologised to the Weasleys and me about that night on the Astronomy Tower.  “I had no idea that Greyback would be there,” he said emphatically to the roomful of angry redheads.  “I was just trying to protect my mother.  I would never have willingly unleashed that monster on the school, and I promise I will do whatever I can to make up for it.  You have my sincerest apologies.”


The Weasleys had been wary at first, but when Draco honoured his word by working on potions to help Bill, they forgave him and eventually welcomed him as a friend.  Even Ron, amazingly, though it took a couple of fistfights.  The fact that Ron finally found someone who could challenge him at Wizard’s Chess certainly helped.  And that once Draco stopped being malicious, he was really quite funny.  By Christmas of seventh year, our trio had become a quartet.


Draco was with me every step of the way as Ron, Hermione, and I searched for and found the Horcruxes.  He helped us destroy them—he knew spells that we could never have found in all our research and we really couldn’t have done it without him, not without being seriously injured or killed.  He stood next to me as I faced and defeated Voldemort.  I honestly think I would have died without his help and support.  The last thought I had before I passed out after the final battle was ‘Draco had better be alright, or I’m going to kill him.


I woke up in St. Mungo’s several days later, calling Draco’s name.  But he wasn’t there, Ginny was, and I was so disappointed.  I didn’t think she noticed, then, but she might have for all I know—she did seem put out that I was asking for him and not her.  She latched onto me quickly, though, going on about how I saved the world and how everyone had been holding a candlelight vigil for three days, hoping I would recover.  Looking back at it now, I wish I had seen that she was smitten with the hero, not me.


And then Draco came in, looking exhausted, and nothing else mattered to me in that moment but making sure he was okay.


“I’m fine, Potter,” he said tiredly as he sat down by my bed.  “Better now that you’re awake.  How are you feeling?”  He ran his hand through my hair, his fingers pressing firmly across my scalp, as if he were feeling for injuries.  His face was paler than usual, but it could have been the dark rings under his eyes.  When his grey eyes met mine, I could see that he was tremendously relieved.


“I’m okay, I think,” I said, shifting about a bit in the bed to see if anything hurt.  “Just stiff.”


“Yes, he’s just fine, Malfoy, you can go home now,” Ginny said snidely, reminding me of her presence.  “Merlin knows you need a shower.”  She wrinkled her nose and waved her hand in front of her face.


And then I realised that Draco was wearing the same clothes he had on the day of the battle and his hair was stringy and dull.  “You’ve been here the whole time?” I asked, surprised.


He smiled at me and gently tugged at my hair.  “Yes.  I couldn’t leave until I knew you were okay.”


Something passed between us then, but I still can’t explain exactly what it was.  I took his hand that wasn’t in my hair and gave it a squeeze.  “You should go home, Draco, and get some rest.  You look like shit.”  I grinned at him.


He laughed softly and tugged at my hair again.  “Alright, then, now that I know you’re not dying, I do think a bath and my bed sound very inviting.  I’ll come back later, but Floo me if you need anything.”  And then he kissed me on the forehead before standing to gather his cloak from the other unmade bed in the room.


“See you later,” I said.


He nodded at me from the door and then left, and I suddenly felt alone, despite Ginny still sitting at my side, pouting.  I didn’t get to think on it much, though, as the rest of the Weasleys and Hermione poured into the room then, excited to see me awake.


I’m pulled out of my thoughts as the door to the pub opens, jingling a bell, and Draco walks in, his eyes scanning the room for me.  He never fails to look amazing in Muggle clothes, the prat, and he is stunning tonight in a black leather jacket over a blue silk shirt and black jeans.  I like that he’s wearing his hair longer now, tied back at the nape of his neck so I can see his handsome face better.  Feeling fifty pounds lighter at the mere sight of my friend, I wave at him from across the smoky room.


“Harry,” Draco says when he reaches the table, his voice intense.  I suddenly find myself wrapped in a fierce hug, although I don’t recall standing up.  Draco is strong and firm against me, and I’m momentarily overcome by the smell of his cologne.  The hollow in my chest seems to disappear, and I relax against him, enjoying the familiar comfort Draco always makes me feel.


With a firm pat on my shoulder, Draco steps back and glances at the table.  “You’ve got a head start on me, Potter,” he chuckles when he sees the empty beer tankard.  “I’d better catch up quick,” he says, then downs the remainder of my beer.  “I’ll get us another round; it’s going to be one of those nights.”


I nod and smile as Draco goes to the bar and comes back with two pints.  “I ordered us some chips, too,” he says as he sits down.


“Thanks.”  Food is probably a good idea.


“So, the lovely Ginevra Weasley discovered that all that shimmers seems to fade away, I take it?”  Draco licks the foam off his lips.


I can’t help but snort at that very appropriate comment.  “Apparently.  Being married to ‘The Saviour’ wasn’t as glamorous as she thought it should be.”  The ache returns, but it isn’t as sharp as it was previously.  “I can’t believe I didn’t see it before,” I muse.  “She was always pushing me to go to these fancy socialite parties, to hobnob with important people.”


“Which, if she knew you at all,” Draco replies, “she would have known that you absolutely detest that sort of affair.  She always did seem to like your fame more than you did.”


“I guess I was too busy trying to be normal to notice.”


Now Draco snorts.  “Harry, you will never be normal, thank Merlin.  But I, unlike the soon to be former Mrs. Potter, know that, and I prefer you just as you are.”


I smile.  “Thanks, Draco.”  We sit quietly for a few minutes.


Draco’s face grows solemn.  “How are you doing?”


I give a sigh.  That’s a tough question to answer, mostly because I’m not really sure yet.  “I don’t know.  I’m angry and disappointed, but…”


“But what?”


“Shouldn’t I be devastated?  Shouldn’t I be wounded and betrayed and hurt and a blubbering mess?”


“Perhaps,” Draco replies.  “Perhaps you’re focusing on what you think you should feel rather than how you really feel.”


I suddenly flash back to my wedding day, when I was so terribly anxious and nauseous and confused.


“Is it normal for me to be this nervous?” I asked, fiddling with my tie yet again.  My stomach was churning, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong.


Draco stepped up to me and batted my hands away from my tie.  “Of course it’s normal to be nervous, Harry.  It’s just pre-wedding jitters,” he said as he tied an elegant half-Windsor knot in my tie.


I gave a sigh.  I felt better with Draco here, but I still felt…off.


Draco smirked at me, pressing his hands across my collarbones and grasping my shoulders.  “You love Ginny, right?”


“Um…” I said, swallowing hard.  “Yeah.”  Draco was so close, his normally grey eyes reflecting the blue from his elegant dress robes.  “Of course I do.”


“But…” Draco prompted.


“But… I don’t know.  This is what I want, isn’t it?”


“You tell me, Potter.”  Draco smoothed my hair, fingers trailing around my ear.


I shivered, stepped back, and sat on the bed.  Yes, this was what I wanted, what I was supposed to want.  To marry Ginny Weasley.  My best friend’s sister.  So why did I feel nauseous?


“Hey, Harry,” Ron’s voice interrupted the quiet moment as he stepped in the room.  “It’s time, mate.”


I looked up from the bed at Ron’s smiling face and decided I was doing the best thing.  I was just nervous, this was a big step, that’s all.


Draco extended his hand to help me up, and I took it as I stood, feeling the soft palm slide against mine.  Draco smiled at me softly and withdrew his hand, only to place it at the small of my back as I made my way to the door.


Ron grinned at us both, bouncing on the balls of his feet.  “Mum’s already crying buckets, Harry, but wait until you see Gin.”  The redhead winked at me, and I couldn’t help but laugh as we walked to the garden where the ceremony would be held.  I even managed not to scowl at the row of reporters who were busy flashing their cameras at us, quills writing crazily.


Draco took his place next to Ron, who was my best man, and I suddenly missed Draco’s presence.  And then Ginny was walking towards me, glowing, her long red hair done up in loose curls with flowers, with a smile that could be seen for a mile.  She looked utterly triumphant.


I barely heard myself speak my vows over the thumping of my heart, but as I repeated the minister’s words, Draco’s face appeared in my mind, smiling his encouragement, and the nervousness I had been feeling vanished.


“I do.”


Draco is absolutely right.  Even at my wedding, I was worried about what I should want, not about what I actually felt.  I married Ginny because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.  I loved her because I thought I should love her.


“Fuck,” I drop my forehead into my hands.


At that moment, a waitress arrives with our chips, salt, and a bottle of vinegar.  “Anything else?” she asks brightly.


“Not at the moment, thanks,” Draco answers, and she wanders off.


“So what was the great epiphany, just now?” Draco asks, drizzling vinegar on the chips on his half of the plate.


I prefer salt only, and take a moment to season my half while I think about what to say.


“I just realised that I married her for all the wrong reasons and that the last six years were an utter waste,” I say, then shove a chip into my mouth.


Draco raises an eyebrow at me.  “What reasons were they?”


I swallow my chip and take another swig of my beer.  “I know you told me when you married Pansy that marriage and love have nothing to do with each other, and maybe you can be alright with marrying someone you don’t love, but I never felt that way.  I loved Ginny, or I thought I did.  I think now that I married her because I thought that was what I should want.  That I should love my best friend’s sister and get married in a beautiful ceremony where the entire wizarding world could see and approve and celebrate.  Never mind that I didn’t want a public ceremony, never mind that I didn’t owe the wizarding world a thing after the war, never mind that I didn’t want any of the press there, and never mind that little voice in my head telling me that none of this was what I really wanted.  So it was all a waste.”  Resentment overwhelms me for a moment, which I try to wash down with half a pint of beer.


Draco’s foot reaches out under the table and rubs against my ankle, and the sourness fades.  “Well now you know better, don’t you?” he says encouragingly.  “You’ll do what you want to do, from now on, won’t you?”


I nod and reach for another chip.  Draco finishes his beer and gets up to fetch us another round.  I swirl what’s left of my beer around in the glass and watch him lean against the bar, relieved that I’m starting to feel pleasantly numb.  This is exactly what I needed.


“So maybe that’s what you needed to learn, Harry,” Draco says after he returns with two more pints.  “You spent so much of your life doing what other people wanted you to do, living up to their expectations.  When did you ever do something just because you wanted to?  You needed to realise that, and now that you have, you can start living life on your own terms.”


I chuckle.  Draco is a big proponent of seeing the positive side in every experience, of taking what you needed to learn from even the most terrible of life events and moving on.  I never pegged Draco as an optimist before we became friends, but now I see that particular trait as one of the reasons why I admire him so much.


“You’re starting to sound like a Gryffindor,” I tease.


Draco laughs.  “Consequences of spending time with you, Golden Boy.”


I shoot him a smirk.  That particular insult is so affectionate coming from Draco.  “Wait, I have done something just because it was what I wanted, before,” I say as the thought occurs to me.


“Really,” Draco drawls disbelievingly.


“I became friends with you,” I reply smugly.  “Everyone else had fits about it.  Even Ron and Hermione, at first.  If I had just done what they wanted, I would have used you like Dumbledore used Snape.  Made you an asset, but never never trusted you outside of the war effort or befriended you.  But I wanted to, so I told them all to shove it.”


A warm light fills Draco’s face as I say this.  He smiles broadly at me, and I feel something inside me melt just a little at being able to make Draco look like that, look happy.


Then Draco blushes and looks down at his chips.  “That you did, Harry,” he smirks.  “Quite entertaining, too, to see all their arses pucker up when you and Ron and Hermione all defended me.”


I grin and finish my beer.  Draco pushes the full pint towards me.


“So what are you going to do now?” Draco asks a few moments later.


I sigh, brought back to reality and not entirely happy about it.  “I don’t know, really.  File for divorce.  After that, I don’t know.”


“Need a place to stay?”  Draco’s face is hopeful.


“That would be great, Draco,” I answer.  It would be great.  I love staying at Malfoy Manor.  It’s so beautiful, and it’s so nice to be able to spend time with him and Natalia.


“You can stay with us as long as you need, Harry,” Draco reassures.


“Thanks.  I suppose I’ll let Ginny keep the house,” I muse.


“Why?  It’s a great house, and she certainly doesn’t deserve it,” Draco snarls.


“I never wanted to live in London, Draco.  I wanted to find or build a place in Godric’s Hollow.  But Ginny insisted.  She’d had enough of living in the country and wanted to be where all the excitement was.  It’s a nice enough place, but I never really wanted to be there.”  It’s painfully obvious, now that I recognise it, that I went along with what Ginny wanted for nearly everything in our relationship, until I put my foot down about attending fancy parties.  So Draco’s idea of me only doing things because I want to is quite appealing.


“Ah,” Draco mumbles around a mouthful of chip.  I love how his aristocratic manners fly out the window after he’s had a few beers and relaxes.  He only ever seems to do that around me, actually.


“So now that you’re going to live how you want, we should be scouting for properties in Godric’s Hollow, then,” Draco says after he swallows his mouthful.


“Actually, that sounds great—”


“I’ll get in touch with an estate agent in the morning,” he interjects.


“You don’t have to do that,” I protest.  I’d love to have him with me while I look for a new place, but I don’t want him to go out of his way.  Godric’s Hollow isn’t exactly close to Wiltshire.


“Of course I don’t, Harry.  I want to help you find a place you really like.  I’m your friend.”


I smile, feeling incredibly warm all of a sudden.  Finding a house with Draco sounds wonderful.  “Thanks.”


Draco’s foot nudges my ankle and he winks as he eats another chip and chases it with a swallow of beer.  “No problem, Harry.  I still think you should sell the house, though.  Cheating bint doesn’t deserve to keep it.”


I laugh.  “Probably not, but I’ll let her have it anyway.  She’s pregnant, and if Zacharias Smith is at all consistent, she’ll be raising the kid alone.”


Draco snorts.  “Pompous arse,” he grumbles.


“Too right,” I agree.  “But as angry as I am at her, I won’t screw her over.  The kid might not be mine, but I won’t be responsible for making another child’s life miserable.”


Draco nods, his grey eyes completely understanding.  “Just don’t let her get too much out of you.  And I suppose it really is a good thing that the child isn’t yours.”  His face grows pensive.  “It would make things so much more complicated.”


“Yeah.  Actually, that’s what hurt the most, I think—that I wanted kids, and she kept putting it off, saying she wanted to enjoy a few years without the burden of children, and then she gets pregnant with another guy.”


“She’s lucky she’s pregnant, Harry, or I’d curse her something terrible next time I see her,” Draco sneers.  “Put her bat-bogey hex to shame.”


I give a half-hearted laugh and say nothing, feeling incredibly disappointed.


“She doesn’t know what she’s been missing, either, though I hope she’ll figure it out soon enough.  Children may complicate your life, but they’re not a burden.”  Draco’s face lights up again and I know he’s thinking of his daughter.


“How is Natalia doing, by the way?” I ask, smiling.  Draco adores his daughter, and I do, too.  As her Godfather, I enjoy every minute I spend with the precocious five-year-old.  Until I have the chance to be the father I never had, I live it vicariously through my Goddaughter.


Draco’s grin is infectious.  “She’s going to be a butterfly for Halloween, and even though it’s a month away, she rarely takes the costume off.  She keeps trying to magic the wings to fly.  Not having a wand, all she’s managed to do is get them to flutter every now and then”


I chuckle.  “She’ll be a nightmare on a broom, just you watch.”


“Oh, I know,” Draco replies excitedly.  “I can’t wait until her birthday—I’m getting her a practice broom.  Pansy is all upset about the idea, though, and swears she won’t let the girl off the ground until she’s ten.”  Draco’s face dims when he mentions his wife.


“How are things with you and Pansy, Draco?”  Draco married Pansy shortly after Lucius died, for the sole purpose of having an heir.  Draco is very gay, but when his father died in Azkaban (at the hands of a guard who had lost family to the Death Eaters, which I privately feel was poetic justice), Draco experienced a sort of crisis when he realised that he was the last Malfoy.  I tried to talk him out of it, but received a lecture about how love and marriage don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other, and while it was all fine and noble that I married Ginny for love, marriage in his family had always been about political alliances and ensuring heirs.  Draco wanted a child, so he married Pansy to get one.  I’ve always wondered how Draco had managed to get it up, but sure enough, Natalia was born nine and a half months after their wedding.  At least she looks more like Draco than Pansy.


He sighs.  “The same.  She has her rooms, I have mine.  We’re friends.”


I resist saying something about living in a loveless marriage not being any better than marrying for the wrong reasons, but Draco never has been good at taking his own advice.  “You still seeing Blaise, then?”


Draco nodded.  “On and off.  Pansy knows all about it, I think.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a lover, too.”  He gives a small groan.  “God, it’s just like my parents’ marriage.  They both had affairs, you know.”


I nod, supremely uncomfortable with the idea of Draco sleeping with someone else, though I’m not sure why I feel that way.  It has always bothered me, actually, ever since I first found out that Draco was gay, but I have never voiced this curious feeling that I can’t really explain.  I have no problem with Draco’s sexual orientation, never have—I’m not even all that fussed about my own—but the idea of Draco having sex with another man has always niggled at me, something almost like jealousy, if I think about it, which I make a point to avoid doing.  Bringing my thoughts back to the present, I ask, “Is Blaise okay with it, then, being your ‘affair’?”


Draco shrugs as he finishes his beer.  “Sure.  It’s just a casual fuck, we both know that.  I’m certainly not in love with him, nor he with me.  I don’t even really like him all that much.  But it meets the need.”  He pauses, seemingly thinking about something.  “Oh, Harry, that’s the worst part of it, isn’t it?  No more regular sex!”


My face heats up as I flush.  Yes, Draco is getting a bit intoxicated.  He always talks casually about sex when he’s drunk, which makes for entertaining and slightly uncomfortable conversations.  “It wasn’t happening all that regularly before, either, so this shouldn’t be all that different.”


Draco blinks in astonishment.  “She wasn’t—?  She didn’t—?”  He swallows and then takes a more serious tone, leaning forward to close the distance between us.  “How was the sex between you, anyway?” he asks in soft tones.


“It was good, or at least I thought so.  Apparently she thought otherwise.  Not for my lack of effort, though,” I say softly.  “I mean, I know she got off, but she often seemed disappointed that it wasn’t, I don’t know, more ‘earth-shaking’.  We were only having sex once every couple of weeks or so for the past few months.  She was always busy or too tired and rarely came to bed at the same time I did.  Guess I know why, now, huh?”  I’m distinctly self-conscious, facing the possibility that I might not have been the best lover.


Apparently sensing my insecurity, Draco reaches across the table and rests his hand on my arm, the heat soaking through my sleeve.  “I’m sure that whatever she thought you were lacking was all in her head, Harry.  She obviously had an outlandish fantasy of you, but when she realised that, no, your cock does not vibrate, she got all disappointed.”  He rolls his eyes.


I nearly shoot beer out my nose.  “Draco!” I splutter, and then lose it completely, laughing hysterically.


Grinning unrepentantly, Draco leans back in his chair and raises his arms in triumph.  “Yes, I have succeeded!”


Despite still being stuck on the image of a vibrating cock and thinking that sounds quite interesting, I can see that Draco is trying to cheer me up.  Yes, this is exactly why I need him.  I feel a million times better now than I did earlier this evening, and more importantly, I know I’ll be able to get past Ginny’s betrayal fairly easily and move on with my life.  With Draco’s support, I can get through anything.




“Harry!” Hermione gasps in surprise when my head stops spinning and she can see my face.  “I was going to Floo you later today.  Ron!” she shouts towards the kitchen.  “Harry’s on the Floo!”


She smiles warmly at me as she sets aside her knitting (which has improved by leaps and bounds since Hogwarts) and sinks down in front of the fireplace, clasping her hands together in her lap as though she’s restraining herself from pulling me through the Floo for a hug.


“Hi, Hermione,” I grin, genuinely relieved at seeing her.  Her hair is pulled up haphazardly on the top of her head, pinned in place with a couple of knitting needles.  She looks delightfully domestic.


“Harry!” Ron calls as he jogs into the room.  He hurdles the sofa rather than walk around it, his long legs making it an easy feat.  “How are you, mate?” he says as he kneels down next to his wife.


I can’t help but grin stupidly at them both—I haven’t seen them in over a month.  The few days I’ve been at Draco’s have been busy with divorce paperwork and playing with Natalia, so I haven’t been able to contact them before now.  “I’m doing okay, actually, all things considered,” I reply.  “Draco helped me pack my things and move them into the Manor, and we’re looking for a place in Godric’s Hollow.”


“Oh, good,” Hermione says, her eyes glittering at the mention Draco.  “I was worried about you after Molly told us what happened.  Godric’s Hollow?”


“Yeah, that’s where I wanted to live, but Ginny insisted on London,” I say, failing to keep the resentment out of my voice.


Hermione nods, understanding, and then scowls.  “Well, I’m glad you’re doing what you want for a change.”


I smile.  Even Hermione had seen that about me.  She always was more observant than Ron and me.


“I’m so sorry, mate,” Ron says.  “I thought it was brilliant when you two hooked up, but I never imagined she’d do anything like this.”


Hermione gives a wry smile.  “You should have heard them arguing, Harry.  Ron was great.”


“Yeah?” I’ve been worried that Ron would feel torn between me and Ginny. Sure, I’m his best friend, but Ginny is family.


“Yeah,” Ron smiles.  “She Flooed us, all upset, going on about how you were so horrible to her at Mum’s.  So I asked her what you said, and she went off about you not wanting to live up to your obligation to the wizarding world—”


“What?!” I start, fuming.  How dare she!  She should know better than anyone—


“Hang on, Harry, it gets better,” Hermione sneers, cutting off my mutinous thoughts.


“She kept saying, ‘but he’s Harry Potter’ and things like ‘it’s his job to be a public figure,’ and generally she was all bent out of shape that you don’t take advantage of your fame,” Ron continues, frowning.  His lifts his voice into a falsetto, imitating his sister, “‘He never should have quit his job as an Auror, and now he’s some no-name in the Department for Underaged Magic!’  I wanted to slap her,” he says in his normal voice.  “I mean, come on, does she know you at all?  I really laid into her.  You don’t have any obligation to the wizarding world, not after the war.  If anything, we all have an obligation to you.  I told her that, and that she had to be out of her head if she thought you would ever enjoy being famous.  Me, Hermione, and Draco, we all know that you hate it, that you just want a normal life, and we all supported you in that.  I told her that you love your job because you get to work with kids and that she was being completely unreasonable, and then Hermione took over.”


Hermione nods.  “She tried to get sympathy from me, seeing as I was the one she talked to about her crush on you back at school.  I said that she never got over her crush on Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, and that her expectations of you were unrealistic.  That she had set herself up for this by falling in love with this illusion of a hero that never existed and never looking for the real person underneath.”


“And then I said that I hated growing up poor, too,” Ron cuts in, “but that I never let being poor push me to take advantage of my friendship with you.  She didn’t like that much,” he muses.


“Tell Harry what you called her, Ron,” Hermione grins.


Ron flushes.  “It’s rotten that I had to say this to my sister, but I call things as I see them.  I told her that she was a superficial, social-climbing gold digger, and that she deserves what she gets out of this mess.”


I am completely speechless for a moment.  “Wow,” I say after I pull my thoughts together.


“She’s still my sister, and I’ll always love her,” Ron sighs, “but she is completely wrong about you.  I told her that, too.”


I swallow back tears.  Merlin, I needed this.  “Thanks, Ron.”


Ron nods stiffly, obviously struggling with his own emotions.  Hermione puts her arm around her husband and gives him a gentle squeeze.


“Are you really okay, Harry?” she asks, worry still tinting her eyes.


“Yeah, I really am,” I smile.  “I realised when I was talking with Draco about this the other night that I married her for all the wrong reasons, because I thought it was what I should do.  The problems with Ginny started when I decided that I wasn’t going to be the public hero anymore, not even for her, which really was the first time in our relationship that I stood up for what I wanted.  Draco said that’s what I needed to learn, so now I’m going to live how I want, not how other people think I should.  And once I realised that, everything made sense, and it didn’t hurt so much anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still upset about this situation with Ginny, but I’m not devastated.  Actually, once it’s all over, I think I’ll be better than I have been in a long time, because I’ll finally be living on my own terms.”


Hermione beams.  “That’s great, Harry.  I’m so proud of you.”


Ron nods.  “I’m glad Draco was there for you.  I really hate that we’re so far away sometimes.”


“I do, too, Ron,” I reply.  “You’ll both have to come and stay for a while after I get set up at my new place.”


“We will, we promise,” Hermione says.  “Just let us know and we’ll take some time off.  Make a proper holiday out of it.”


“Yeah, it will be great to come home for a while,” Ron agrees.


I grin. “I’ll let you know after I’m moved in.  I’ve got to go now.  Draco and I are meeting an estate agent in Godric’s Hollow in half an hour.”


“Good luck, Harry,” Hermione says, smiling.


“See you,” Ron adds.


“Thanks, guys, I mean it.  Talk to you soon.”


They smile at me, and then I pull my head out of the fire, trying not to lose my lunch as my head spins and spins as it whirls its way back across the Atlantic.  I still don’t know how the Floo system works, how it is possible for my head to be in Canada and my body in England.  Magic, I think ironically as I lie on the floor in front of the fireplace in my room at the Manor and try to calm my heaving stomach.  It was worth the discomfort to talk to Ron and Hermione, though.


I gingerly get to my feet, and then notice the time.  “Shit,” I curse and rush into the lavatory.  I need to brush my hair and make sure I don’t have any Floo smudges on my face before I go downstairs to meet Draco.  And find a nicer set of robes to wear, I muse as I wash my face.




Grinning, I detach the envelope from the owl’s leg.  If I’m right, this should be from the estate agent.  I open the envelope and a set of keys fall out of the letter into my palm.  “Yes!” I say to myself as I peruse the letter.  Perfect.  The sale is final; the house is mine.


I took several days off work, which Draco and I spent house hunting in Godric’s Hollow, a small, charming community with a mix of Muggles and wizards.  Draco stood next to me, his presence strong and reassuring as I knelt at my parents’ graves and told them what had happened.  I haven’t visited them in so long, and just being near them made me feel better.


“They would have supported you, Harry, absolutely,” Draco whispered to me as we left the cemetery, his hand sliding into mine and squeezing it gently.  “They would be proud of you.”


I resisted the urge to twine our fingers together and instead squeezed gently back, enjoying the feel of our skin touching.  “Yeah, I think they would,” I replied.


We found the perfect place the next day.  It was a comfortable two-storey farmhouse with a large porch.  The house was a quarter of a mile from the road, hidden from view by the trees that line the drive.  A waist-high stone wall wended around the property, which included a large garden, a cherry tree, and numerous other trees and bushes, vibrant with autumn colour.  It was across town from where my parents had lived—I don’t think I could live where they had died.  I still own that property, though, and I’m thinking of turning it into a park with a small memorial.  But this house allows me to be close to my parents without dwelling in the bad memories.


I immediately fell in love with the farmhouse and its open, spacious floor plan, despite its slight disrepair.  It’s structurally sound, and a few Reparo charms will fix it right up.  I made an offer on the spot, and this letter confirms that it is now mine.  It took long enough for the paperwork to go through, but at least I got to spend three weeks with Draco and Natalia.


Delighted, I finger the keys.  I need to tell Draco.  I weave around the boxes in my room (I’ve been so eager to move in that I’ve been completely packed and ready to go for a week) and go downstairs to look for my friend.


I don’t have much luck finding Draco, however.  He isn’t in the playroom with Natalia, who is having a tea party with several of her friends and numerous teddy bears.  She grins and waves at me when she sees my head poke through the door.  “Uncle Harry!  Come and play with us!”


“I can’t right now, love,” I say, stepping into the room fully.  “I need to find your father.  Do you know where he is?”


“No, Mummy just went to find him,” she says, getting to her feet and running over to me.  “Do you like my dress?”  It is a frilly, pale lavender ‘princess’ dress, and she looks absolutely adorable in it, with her sandy blonde hair done up in ringlets.  I wish I had a camera with me at the moment.


“I do, Natalia, very much.  Did your Mummy do your hair?”


She bounces and twirls, making her hair spin around her face.  “Yes, and she said she wanted to find Daddy so he could see how pretty I am.”


“Well then, I’d better see if I can help her find him.  He won’t want to miss this,” I say, fingering one ringlet of her hair that flopped the wrong way.


“Okay!” she says, delighted, and runs back over to her friends, jumping on a cushion and giggling madly when she falls off of it and her dress flips over her head.


I watch her for a moment awash in a wave of protective love as she laughs and plays with her friends, and then I resume my search for her father.  Draco isn’t in the dining room, and he isn’t in his study.  I walk out of the study into the entrance hall and stop when I hear footsteps coming rapidly down the stairs.


It’s Pansy, and she appears quite upset.  She doesn’t see me as she stands near the front door, taking several large breaths, and I’m not sure what to do.  Pansy and I get along just fine, but we aren’t very close.


A moment later, Draco comes down the stairs after her, calling her name, and my brain completely stops.


Draco is wearing only a pair of pyjama bottoms that hang low on his hips and tent out slightly in front of his groin.  His hair is in complete disarray, as though someone has fisted it.  He is sweaty and flushed, his lips full and red.  Faint love-bites trail from his neck down his chest, and even from across the hall, I can smell it.  Sex.  I’m rooted to the floor, my mouth dry, my heart beating quickly.  I don’t get a chance to examine my strong reaction to seeing Draco, though, as Draco doesn’t see me either, and he immediately starts talking to his wife.


“Pansy, I thought you knew,” he pants.


“Oh, I did,” she says, frowning. “It’s different, though, seeing it.”  She sighs and puts her face in her hands.  “Oh, Merlin, I’ve been so deluded,” she continues.


Whatever Draco was expecting her to say, it isn’t that.  He clearly has no idea how to respond, and he shifts on his bare feet, his hands falling limply to his sides.


She looks up from her hands, and her face is the most open and honest I have ever seen it.  “I knew you were gay well before we got married.  But I thought that it wouldn’t matter, that I could love you enough that you would grow to love me.”


“I do love you, Pans—” Draco starts, stepping forward.


“Not the way I need you to.  I thought it would be enough—us married, having Natalia, that it would be enough and we would be happy.  But we’re not.”


Draco makes a noise as though he is going to argue with her, but she glares at him and he quiets.


“We’re NOT,” she emphasises, placing her hands on her hips.  “I’m not.  You’re not, or you wouldn’t need Blaise to get what you need, something that I am physically incapable of giving you.  I know that we thought love was for the sentimental Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors back at school, that all that mattered was having money and power and prestige, and that marriage was a business contract for providing heirs.  But you know what, Draco?  We were wrong.  It’s not enough.  I love you, I love Natalia, but this sham of a marriage is not enough for me.  I feel so goddamned empty inside, like something vital is missing, and when I saw you just now with Blaise fucking you into the mattress, I realised. I want more.”  She folds her arms and stared at her husband, waiting for him to respond.


An air of finality settles around them.  Draco sighs and nods.  “You’re right, Pans.  And I can’t give that to you.”


“No, you can’t.”


“I’m sorry.”


“So am I, but it’s my fault too.”


Draco nods again, and then gives her a hug.  “I want you to have what you want, Pansy,” he says into her hair.  “I do love you, you know.”


Pansy steps away from him and wipes her eyes. “I know you do.  And I love you too.  We’re family, and that won’t change.  But we both need more than that.”


“Yes, we do,” Draco agrees.


“I’m going to go stay with Mum and Dad for a few days while I figure out what I want to do with my life.  Will you keep Natalia?”  She runs her fingers through Draco’s hair, straightening it somewhat.


He blushes as he realises just how dishevelled he is.  “Of course I will.  What should we tell her?”


She drops her hands from Draco’s hair, which is only marginally improved.  “I don’t know yet.  She knows we’re not together, so this might not be that much of a shock.  Let me figure out what I’m going to do first, and then we’ll decide what to tell her.  For now, I’m just visiting my parents.”


“Okay,” Draco nods.  “We’re still a family, though, and you are welcome to stay here, if you want.”


At this moment, Blaise comes down the stairs and interrupts them.  He is fully clothed and shows no sign of dishabille that Draco does.  Clearly he’s taken the time to straighten up.  Pansy gives him a mild glare but says nothing.


“Call me when you get your domestic issues resolved, Draco,” he sneers as he opens the door and shoots Pansy a nasty look.  “I’d prefer to go without the interruptions next time—finishing with my hand after fucking your glorious arse is quite disappointing.”


Draco visibly bristles, his shoulders rolling back, the muscles in his arms and chest flexing, and he steps towards Blaise.  “Your prick isn’t so amazing that I’ll put up with that kind of shit from you, Zabini.  There won’t be a next time, you fucking bastard.”


Blaise shrugs and gives a careless grin.  “Whatever.  You’re not my only fuck, so it makes no difference to me.”  And he shuts the door behind him as he leaves.  A crack of Apparation tells us that Blaise is gone.


“Fucking arsehole,” he curses at the door.  “Sorry,” Draco mumbles to Pansy.


“I never understood what you saw in him, Draco, but it doesn’t matter now.”  She kisses him on the cheek.  “I’ll be back in a couple of days.  Tell Natalia that I love her.”


Draco says nothing as she too leaves and Apparates away.  He just stands there, staring at the front door, his shoulders slouched.  I suddenly feel completely self-conscious for observing such a private conversation.  Realising that I can move, I try to quietly step back into the study.


But Draco hears me or senses me somehow, and he turns around.  Our eyes lock, and I blush.  Draco raises an eyebrow, clearly letting me know that he knows I saw what just transpired.


I clear my throat and look down at my hands.  I’m still holding my house keys, and then I remember what I was doing before becoming utterly caught up in Draco and Pansy’s conversation.  “Er... the sale is finalised.  I just got the keys, and I was looking for you,” I say, holding the keys up for Draco to see.  “I’m all set to move in now.”


Draco gives me an absent smile and walks towards me.  “That’s great, Harry.  I’ll have some house elves help you move your things over, if that’s okay.  I need to clean up and spend some time with Natalia.”


“Of course,” I reply.  “That’s just fine.  I just saw her, and she’s dressed up and excited for you to see how pretty she is.”  I smile.


Draco smiles back, and then surprises me completely by wrapping me in a hug, burying his face into my shoulder.  I let the keys fall to the floor and hold him tightly.  Draco is shaking slightly, clearly in shock.  I hold him up, as he has done so often for me, and take in the warmth of his skin, the tangy smell of his sweat.


We stand there for what feels like several minutes, embracing each other, until Draco finally raises his head and leans back, his arms still around my waist.  His grey eyes are intense with some emotion that I can’t identify.


“Give me a couple of days, and then I’ll come over and help you unpack,” he says softly.


“Take all the time you need, Draco,” I reply.


Draco hugs me again and then kisses me on the forehead.  “See you in a few days,” he says, then steps away and walks up the stairs.


I stand there for a moment, stunned at everything that just happened.  It’s too much to take in all at once.  I pick up my house keys and decide to distract myself with moving.




When I arrived at my house after leaving Malfoy Manor, I quickly realised that I needed furniture.  I left most of our furniture with the house in London.  Ginny picked it all out, so I don’t really care about letting her keep it.  I particularly didn’t want to keep the bed, even though it was really comfortable.  No, I needed to start over fresh.


So I went shopping.


Normally, Draco would have joined me for this, but he had his own life to straighten out just then.  I saw it as an opportunity for me to furnish my new home with only things that I like, for once.  No more frilly floral patterns for me, thanks very much.


It was more fun and more exhausting than I thought it would be.  I bought a beautiful four-poster king sized bed for my room, with matching tallboys and wardrobe, a large bed and matching furniture for the guest room, and a small single bed and furniture set for Natalia’s room.  I can’t wait to have her over so we can decorate it together, likely in various shades of purple.


I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the other two rooms, but I suppose I’ll figure it out soon enough.  I got all the bedroom furnishings, as well as furniture for the living room, kitchen, and dining room, from a Muggle shop—the wizarding press will learn of my new house eventually; the divorce and Ginny’s pregnancy are already headlining Witch Weekly, but the longer I can keep it from them, the better.  As soon as the delivery men left, I cast the strongest wards I know around the property, added some “notice-me-not” charms on the drive, and set about doing the place up a bit.


All in all, my first few days at my new home were very productive.  It would have taken me weeks to get this much done without magic, and I certainly couldn’t have done it alone.


As much as I’ve been enjoying my newfound independence, I was very happy to hear from Draco when he Flooed me this morning.


“You free this evening?” Draco asked.


“Definitely,” I answered.  I’ve been looking forward to showing Draco all the great furniture I got.  “I’ll make supper.”


“Great,” he said.  “I’ll bring some brandy.  See you at eight, then.”


It’s a quarter to eight now, and supper is almost ready.  I’m in the dining room, setting the table, when I hear a crack of Apparation on the porch.  Grinning, I light the candles.  Draco raps on the door and then lets himself in.


“Wow, Harry, you really have improved this place,” he drawls, surveying the living room.  “And all without my help.  I’m impressed.”


I walk over to greet him, chuckling.  “You’ve rubbed off on me, Draco.  Not such plebeian tastes anymore, eh?”


He grins and wraps me in a warm hug, and then steps back and places a bottle of brandy in my hands.  “For after supper,” he whispers.


“Thanks,” I say, and then I head back to the kitchen.  “Take a look around, I’ve just got to get the roast out of the oven.”  I put the brandy on the table and make my final preparations for dinner.  Draco comes into the dining area after a few minutes, and I’m struck by how golden his hair looks in the candlelight.  He is very handsome this evening, wearing a soft blue-grey formal robe over a silvery-grey shirt and black trousers.


“Smells great, Harry.  I’m starving,” he says as I motion for him to sit down.


“Busy day?” I ask as we tuck into our meal.


“You have no idea,” Draco groans.  “Pansy and I went over the divorce paperwork, and while I’m happy with the way we’re settling things, it’s bloody exhausting.  And then I spent all afternoon working on refining potions ingredients for the Apothecary.”


Draco bought the Apothecary in Diagon Alley after the war.  He certainly didn’t need to work, not with the Malfoy fortune, but he wanted to do something productive.  He has people who run the store, but he provides the ingredients—he’s devoted large swathes of the Manor’s gardens to cultivating magical plants, and he actually hired Neville Longbottom to manage them.  Draco makes a lot of potions himself to be sold over the counter, and he provides Wolfsbane potion free of charge to anyone who needs it but can’t afford to pay.  There were so many people who were bitten during the war that this task alone keeps him fairly busy.  But I think it’s so important to him because he sees it as a way to atone for his past actions.  I personally feel he’s done more than enough, but I think it’s a great thing he’s doing nonetheless.  His Apothecary has developed a reputation for providing some of the best quality and most affordable ingredients and potions in London.


We eat and chat about my venture into furniture shopping, and as we talk, I grow more concerned.  The more we talk, the more I can see that he’s upset about something.  The muscles of his jaw are flexed, his shoulders are tense, and the smile that was in his eyes when he first came in has faded.


“Draco,” I say and reach across the table to put my hand on his arm.  “Something is bothering you.”


He sighs and tosses his napkin on the table.  “I think it’s my turn for a relationship crisis, Harry,” he says sombrely and runs his hands through his hair.


I squeeze his forearm gently and then stand up.  “Well, then, let’s break into the brandy you brought.”  I retrieve it from the counter and grab a couple of tumblers.  “Join me in the living room?”


He sends me a grateful smile and follows me into the next room, lighting the fire before he settles onto the sofa.


I pour our drinks and sit next to him, putting my feet up on the sofa so I can face him, and hand him his glass.  “So, talk,” I say and nudge his leg with my foot.


“Where to start?” he mumbles, swirling the brandy around in its glass before he downs it in one gulp.  He must be really wound up over this, because he usually sips brandy.  He sits quietly for a few moments, thinking.


“Pansy was right, Harry,” he says eventually.  “Our marriage, my casual affair with Blaise… it wasn’t enough.  I got by because I thought there wouldn’t ever be anything more.”


I take a swallow of my drink, thinking about what he said.  Does he think he’ll never find love?  Despite my experience with Ginny, I still believe in love, and I hope I’ll eventually find it, not some fake hero-worship.  And now that Draco’s split from both Pansy and Blaise, he can find it, too.  Maybe that’s what he’s worried about.  “And now that you’re divorcing Pansy, and you’ve ditched Blaise…” I prod.


“I still don’t know if there’s more, Harry,” he says, turning sad grey eyes to me.  He hands over his glass and I refill it.  Giving myself a mental shrug that I might as well keep up with him, I finish my drink and refill it, too.


“I think you need a dose of your own advice, Draco,” I say after a moment.  He raises an eyebrow at me, a sceptical look on his face.


“You’ve been living how you think a pureblood should,” I continue.  “Marrying for an heir, not for love, and then fucking around on your wife with someone who only cares about the sex—because how can you have a deep and meaningful relationship with someone when you’re already committed to your marriage?—you’ve been doing everything that your father would have expected of you, and you’re surprised that you’re not happy?”


He glares at me.  “You don’t understand the obligation—” he starts.


“Don’t I?” I scoff.  “I know all about obligation and duty, Draco, and I know what I’m talking about.  The point you need to keep in mind is that you are free from all of that now, just like I am.  You can live how you want now, and that includes finding that ‘more’ you didn’t have before.”


He gapes at me, his mouth hanging open, and I can almost see the gears turning in his head as he wraps his brain around what I just said.  After a minute, his face morphs into a brilliant grin, his eyes sparkling.  “To divorce,” he toasts, holding his drink up to mine.


“To divorce,” I reply, smiling broadly, and we down our drinks in unison.




Two hours later, we’re both quite drunk, and in typical fashion, Draco is talking about sex.  Actually, he’s whinging about Blaise.


“Stinking great pillock, he is,” Draco says again.  He’s slouched down in the sofa, his feet in my lap.


I laugh at how much he sounds like Ron when he’s drunk.  Scratch that, Draco’s aristocratic accent often devolves so much that he sounds like Hagrid when he gets drunk.  “So why’d you fuck ‘im, then?” I ask.  “I always wondered how come you were with ‘im, he always came off as a prick.”


Draco groans and rubs his crotch.  Tha’s exactly why, Harry,” Draco drawls out my name.  “He’s got an amazin’ prick.  And arse.  Fuckin’ arsehole.  S’not right he’s so fabfabul… great in bed when he’s such a…” he trails off, seemingly unable to find the right word to describe Blaise’s arsehole-ness.


I laugh and drop my head onto the back of the couch.  “Yeah, I s’pose he’s alright-looking, so long as he doesn’t open his mouth.  Though he’s probably good with that, too, when he’s not talking, eh?”


Draco sniggers, and then whips his head around to stare at me, doing a lovely impression of a goldfish.  Then he shakes his head, looking at me warily.


Wha?” I mumble at him.


“Thought I heard you say Blaise was good looking,” he says, and then laughs again.  Musta’ been hearin’ things.”


Naw, I didn’t say he was good-lookin’” I say.  “I wouldn’ go that far.  He’s alrigh’, but you’re much attractiver…more prettier than he is.”  Did I just say that?  Well, it’s true, Draco is much more attractive than Blaise, in my opinion.


Draco grins and poses.  “Why, thank you, Harry.”  Then his face wrinkles up in confusion.  “Hang on a sec, arenchoo straight?”  He sits up and scoots closer to me, tucking his feet under his knees.


It takes me a moment to process the question.  “Never all that fussed one way or the other,” I shrug.


“But you were wi’ Ginny, an’ Cho…” Draco presses, suddenly serious.


I sit up straighter, trying to make my brain work right.  “Yeah…think tha’ makes me bi…bi-sexual?” I reply, and I can’t think of anything else to say, because he’s so close to me now, and he smells like brandy and spice, his heat is soaking into my side…  “You have bits of blue in your eyes, did’ya know?” I say stupidly.


And then his lips touch mine.  A shock of electricity shoots through my whole body, and I gasp in surprise.  Fucking hell, this feels so much better than any kiss I ever had with Ginny.


“Shit, I’m sorry,” Draco says and pulls away, his eyes downcast.


“Wait,” I grab his arm to prevent him from getting too far.  I didn’t get a chance to kiss him back.


“Harry,” he says mournfully, “I—”


I silence him by pressing my lips to his, and he gasps this time.  That same shiver runs through me, and then Draco groans and opens his mouth, his tongue slides against mine, and the electricity pools low in my groin.


Suddenly, I’m flat on my back on the sofa and Draco is on top of me, snogging me fiercely.  My mind is swimming in brandy and pleasure, and nothing has ever felt this good.  His hands roam my body, someone is moaning, my hands are in his hair and on his arse and—“Sweet Merlin, Draco”—his hands fumble at my belt, and he pauses, gasping for air, his eyes searching mine.


“Don’ stop,” I whisper, and lick from his Adam’s apple to his ear.  Fuck, he tastes good.


“Fuck, Harry,” he gasps, and then sits up and begins tearing at his clothes and then mine.  I don’t think I’ve ever been turned on by anything more in my life.  Before I know it, we’re both naked from the waist up, he’s got my trousers undone and he pushes his own down to his knees, releasing his erection, and then his hand is on my cock, stroking it firmly.  I almost lose it, but I manage to hold it off.  I want to feel him against me, so I grab his cock with one hand and pull him down against my chest with the other and suck his tongue into my mouth.


He whimpers, and then it’s all breathy moans and sweaty skin and wet tongues and he feels so right in my hand, on top of me, and my toes are curling and I can’t hold it off any longer.  My orgasm rushes through me, spilling into his hand, and then I feel his body go rigid as he climaxes with me, groaning loudly.


He falls limp on top of me, pressing kisses to my ear, and the last thing I’m aware of before dozing off is listening to his heartbeat and thinking that his weight feels so comfortable on my chest.




I wake up in bed, and it takes me a minute to figure out why I’m confused.  Bed?  Looking around, it’s clear that I’m alone, although why that’s different than any other morning isn’t quite clear to me, but something in my heart sinks nevertheless.  I sit up and rub my eyes, and then groan as I realise that I’ve got a splitting headache.  Just brilliant.  I fumble my way out of bed to search for a headache potion, grabbing my glasses off the bedside table, and then I see my reflection in the bathroom mirror.


I’ve got a great purple love bite on my neck.


An image of Draco writhing on top of me flashes in my mind, and I flush.  I fell asleep on the sofa with Draco last night, after we made out and exchanged hand jobs.  “Holy shit,” I mumble, and my knees wobble.  “What the fuck did we do?”  And how did I get into bed?


I take a deep breath and then resume my search for a headache potion.  I find one in the cabinet, and down it quickly.  I need to think about what happened.


In a bit of a daze, I locate my trousers and a t-shirt and head downstairs to the kitchen to make tea.  The remains of last night’s meal are still on the table, but I ignore them for now and put the kettle on the stove.


The mostly empty bottle of brandy is still on the coffee table in the living room.  Next to the bottle, the tumblers sit in a pool of spilled liquor, one still partially full.  The sofa is all in order, though, thankfully without any stains.  Draco must have moved me to the bed and cleaned up the sofa sometime before he left, it’s the only explanation.


The kettle starts to whistle, so I go back in the kitchen and brew myself a cup of English Breakfast.  Leaning against the table, I sip the scalding tea and think.  I’m not sure how Draco and I ended up getting off together, but I know I enjoyed it.  A frisson of pleasure runs through me as I remember it.  But he and I both are in the middle of divorces, so we’re both on the rebound, lonely and horny, and I’m not about to let that ruin our friendship.  I care for him deeply, and I don’t want him hurt.  I need to find out what he thinks about all this.  I put my tea down and walk back into the living room to use the Floo.


After my head stops spinning, I’m looking into Draco’s lab, and I can see him standing behind a work bench, stirring a potion rhythmically.  He doesn’t look over at me, just continues staring pensively at his potion.  He seems tired, blue smudges under his eyes, and he apparently hasn’t brushed his hair.  He’s still wearing the same clothes from last night.


“Draco?” I call.


He glances up at me and startles.  “Harry!  Er…”  He blushes and looks back at his potion.


“You alright?” I ask, suddenly very flustered.


“Yeah, fine,” he answers, too quickly.  “You?”


“Okay,” I answer.  “Um, about last night…”


He stiffens, but keeps stirring the potion.  “Are you angry with me?”


“What?  No.” I say, surprised.  “I just—”


He sighs and cuts me off.  “I’m sorry, Harry.  Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.”


Okay, now I’m hurt and confused.  I was going to say that I was fine with it but I just wanted to see how he felt about it.  He wants to forget about it?  Well, I guess I have my answer, then.  “Right,” I say.  “Still friends?”


He gives me a weak smile.  “Of course!  That’s exactly why we should forget about it.”


“Oh.  Makes sense,” I mumble, wondering why this hurts so much.


At this moment, a loud crash sounds outside the door, and Natalia starts wailing.


“Shit, Harry, have to go,” he says and runs off to rescue his daughter from whatever situation she got herself into this time.


“Let me know she’s okay,” I call after him.  He nods at me and then disappears from my view.


“Fuck,” I curse, and then withdraw from the fireplace.  “At least we’re still friends,” I reassure myself.  “We just got drunk and spent too much time talking about sex, that’s all.”  I get up and go about cleaning up the mess from supper, trying to ignore the hollow in my chest.




The few weeks since that night have been rough.  I had a long conversation with Molly, who has decided not to take sides.  She thinks Ginny was wrong, but she’s her daughter, and she’s looking forward to being a grandmother again.  And I’m still her adopted son, which is a huge relief.  I’ll still probably skip out on family gatherings for a while, nevertheless.  Ginny cheated on me, but she apparently is still playing the poor, neglected wife.  Smith hasn’t dumped her, yet, but who knows how long that will last?


I’ve been in a daze, though.  My colleagues have been patting me on the back and giving me all sorts of sympathy, but I’ve had a hard time accepting it.  They think I’m still upset about Ginny, but I’m not.  I’m disappointed with her more than anything else.  I’m not even all that hurt about it now.  Which is so odd.  I don’t even feel angry at Ginny anymore, because she essentially set me free.


No, I couldn’t care less about the divorce.  The situation with Draco, on the other hand, is eating me up inside.


He and I have only spoken once since our stilted talk that morning, other than a short owl that Natalia was fine, just fell and bumped her head.  Hermione and Ron are coming tonight for a week long visit, and they want to see him too, so I Floo-called him yesterday to invite him to dinner.  Our conversation was normal enough, polite, and he smiled and said he was looking forward to it, but it felt forced to me.  There’s this thing between us now, and I don’t know what to do about it, not if he wants to pretend it never happened.


So now I’m getting things ready for dinner, and I’m thinking about Draco.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him over the past few weeks.  About our friendship.  It’s always been platonic, always.  But I realised the other night, when I was looking through some photo albums I was unpacking, that there has been more to our relationship than just friendship, possibly since the start.


It hit me when I saw a picture of my wedding.  The whole bridal party was standing in a group, grinning and hamming it up for the camera, but despite standing next to Ginny and holding her hand, I was looking at Draco.  And he was looking at me.  My smile was brighter when I was looking at him than the one time I turned and looked at my bride.  And he spent more time smiling at me than paying attention to Pansy.  It was like that in almost every picture.


Draco and I spent a lot of time alone together during the war.  Most of the time it was just him, Ron, Hermione, and me, but with Ron and Hermione dating, he and I often ended up in the same room or tent.  We frequently stayed up all night talking, about everything and nothing, and there were several mornings when I woke up curled up next to him, something that I found comforting more than anything else.  He was my rock when the stress got to be overwhelming, and vice versa.  But nothing else ever happened between us.  I think that there was just too much going on with the war for me to even entertain the notion of something more than friendship with Draco.  And he never made any advances, not one.


Since I got to know him, I’ve always felt a deep affection for him.  He’s funny, smart, cunning, brave, and incredibly caring.  I feel closer to him than to Ron and Hermione sometimes, and now that I look back, he and I were substantially more intimate emotionally than I ever was with Ginny.  And I do find him incredibly attractive.


Ron and I never hug as often as Draco and I do, and Ron is more likely to give me a hard slap on the back, or a punch in the shoulder.  With Draco, it’s gentle nudges, touches to my arm, fingers in my hair.  I never questioned that, because it felt so natural, and it was just how Draco was with me.


So how come I never noticed this before?  Maybe it was because he was always unavailable.  The war kept us busy and distracted, and then he was dating someone else, and then I started dating Ginny again.  I’ve always been a bit thick about things like this, so maybe it’s not such a surprise that it honestly never occurred to me to see him as more than a friend.


And now I can, and I do.  I can easily see myself in a relationship with him, and I just know it would be more intense and fulfilling than anything I’ve ever experienced before.  I can’t help my heart from wanting it.


But he doesn’t.  And that hurts more than anything Ginny ever did to me.


I’m terribly nervous about dinner tonight.  At least Ron and Hermione will be here.




The Floo chimes and whooshes, and then Ron’s voice calls out, “Harry!”  Another whoosh, and I can hear Ron helping Hermione from the fireplace.  Grinning, I put down the tomatoes I’m slicing for the salad, wipe my hands on a towel, and walk into the living room.


“Ron, Hermione!” I greet them warmly.  Ron picks me up in a great bear hug and then drops me back on my feet unceremoniously, patting me on the back.  Merlin, he’s fucking tall.  I always seem to forget that when I haven’t seen him for a while.


“Been too long, mate,” he grins, and then turns to look around the room.


“Hi, Hermione,” I smile as she hugs me gently.


“Wow, great place!” Ron exclaims, drowning out Hermione’s “I’ve missed you so much, Harry!”


I laugh, feeling much lighter.  “Thanks, Ron,” I say.  “I’ve missed you both, too.  Did you guys Floo straight here?”  I wasn’t actually expecting them by Floo—international Floo trips are just as nausea-inducing as international Floo-calls.


“No, we got a Portkey,” Hermione says.  “We stopped in at my parents’ place first.  I promised them we’d come early and have lunch with them.”  She pulls out a shrunken suitcase from her pocket.


“Oh, let me take you to the guest room so you can unpack,” I say, taking her cue, and head up the stairs.


“Wow, this really is lovely, Harry,” she says when I show them into their room for the week.


“I love this house,” I beam.  “I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it, but I’m really looking forward to it.”


“Did Draco help you decorate?” she asks as she unshrinks her luggage and starts sorting through it.


“Er, no,” I stutter, taken off-guard at the mention of him.  “He’s been busy with his divorce,” I cover.  “I did all this by myself.”


She looks at me shrewdly, catching my nervousness.


“Well you’ve done a great job,” Ron says, oblivious to what just passed between Hermione and me.


“I’ll go finish the salad while you settle in.  The toilet is across the hall.  Make yourselves comfortable, and we’ll eat when Draco gets here.”  I exit hastily, knowing that I’ll have to talk with Hermione about Draco sooner or later.


Just as I’m walking through the living room, though, the fireplace whooshes to life and Draco steps out of it, dusting himself off.  I’m stuck to the floor, and my mouth goes dry.  He is as handsome as ever, his hair tied at the nape of his neck, wearing a black travelling cloak.  He looks up from dusting himself off and sees me standing here, gawping at him.


I can’t seem to think of anything to say.  Apparently, neither can he, and he blushes and looks away.


“Was that the Floo I just heard?” Hermione asks as she walks into the room.  “Oh, Draco!”  She runs over and pulls him into a hug.  “It’s so good to see you!” 


He seems relieved.  “Likewise, Hermione,” he says warmly and kisses her cheek.  “It’s been too long.  How is Toronto?”


“I love it there, but it’s not home,” she answers.


Ron comes in then and bustles past me.  “Draco, mate, how you been?”  He pumps Draco’s hand.


“I’m fine, thanks.  You?” he replies, grinning.


“Fabulous,” Ron exclaims.  “I can have a real chess match now that you’re here.”


“I look forward to kicking your arse, Weasel,” Draco teases.


“In your dreams, Ferret,” Ron laughs.  “After supper, yeah?”


“Sure,” Draco smirks, his eyes twinkling.  He and Ron have a lot of fun playing chess.  It’s how they got past their history.  And it kept them from killing each other when Draco first switched sides.


I suddenly realise that all three of them are staring at me, and I’m still just standing there stupidly, gazing at Draco.  Then it hits me.  Supper.  “Right, well let’s eat, then!” I say a little too brightly.


Hermione eyes me suspiciously as we sit down at the table.  We chat amiably about her job in Toronto, about Draco’s Apothecary, about Ron’s job as Quidditch coach (Quidditch is something of a new fad in North America—they usually play Quodpot, but there’s growing demand for Quidditch).  Draco and I don’t talk to each other as much as we usually do, and Hermione and Ron keep exchanging significant looks.


“Well, I have some treacle tart for dessert,” I say as the conversation drops to a lull. 


Ron gives a start; Hermione probably kicked him under the table.  “Let me help you with that, mate,” he says and follows me into the kitchen.  I can see Hermione leaning over to speak to Draco quietly.  Ron pushes me so I can’t see them anymore.  “So what is going on with you and Draco, Harry?” he asks, his voice low.


Merlin, even Ron can see the tension between us.  Either that or Hermione clued him in on it.  I sigh and busy myself with getting plates for the treacle tart.


He pokes me in the side.  “Come on, it’s obvious something isn’t right with you two.  What’s up?”


“Something happened between us a few weeks ago, Ron, after we had a bit much to drink” I say, setting the plates down and leaning against the counter.


“Like what?” he prods.


I look up at him and raise my eyebrows, willing him to understand.


His eyes widen.  “Oh, right.  So what’s the problem?”


I stare at my best friend, mouth hanging open, wondering why he doesn’t seem surprised.  He grins at me.  “Look, Harry,” he starts.  “Before you got back with Ginny, me and Hermione were positive you and Draco were going to get together.  You were so close, like Hermione and me are close.  I was surprised when you and Gin started dating, actually.”


“But you were so excited about me and Ginny,” I stutter, confused.


“Oh, I was.  I loved the idea of you being my brother-in-law, you were already like a brother anyway.  But Harry, all I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy.  That’s why we were surprised when you and Draco didn’t get together: you seemed really happy around him.  But then you started dating Ginny, and we just figured you were straight.”


“I’ve never cared all that much one way or the other, Ron.  I think I’m bi,” I insist.


“News to me, mate.  And it’s probably news to Draco, too.  I could have sworn that he had a thing for you after the war—well, we thought you had a thing for each other—but if I had no idea that you aren’t completely straight, then neither did Draco.”


“Shit, Ron, what am I going to do?”  I run my hand through my hair in frustration.  “He wants to just forget anything happened.”


“What do you want, Harry?”


I take a deep breath and think for a moment.  The answer to that question surges up from my toes, my whole body shouting it at me.  “I want him,” I whisper.


Ron grins at me, obviously pleased that I’m finally catching on to what he and Hermione have known for a long time.  “So go after him, Harry.  He probably thinks you regret it.  Make him see otherwise.”


Hermione comes into the kitchen then, a question on her face.  Ron beams at her, and she visibly relaxes.  “Harry, how about we skip dessert and come back tomorrow?  We haven’t been to see Ron’s parents yet, and you and Draco need to talk,” she says.


“Save me some of that treacle tart for later,” Ron insists.  “Yours is better than Mum’s, but don’t tell her I said so.”


I give a tense chuckle.  “Are you sure?”


Hermione nods and gives me a gentle squeeze.  “Yes, Harry.  You and Draco need to work this out, and you don’t need an audience.”  She leans in to whisper in my ear.  “He’s still sure you’re completely straight, and that it was a drunken rebound.  He thinks he took advantage of you.”


“He didn’t!” I insist.  “I wanted it!”


“So go and let him know that.”  She steps back and takes Ron’s hand.  “We’ll come back tomorrow for lunch, then.”  They leave the kitchen, and a minute later, I hear the whoosh of the Floo as they leave.


Taking a deep breath, I walk back into the dining room.  Draco isn’t there, so I continue on into the living room.  He’s standing at the window, looking out at the cherry trees in the garden.  His arms are crossed in front of his chest and he’s biting his lip, a sure sign that he’s nervous.


“Draco,” I start, stepping closer to him.


“I owe you an apology, Harry,” he says softly, his grey eyes flicking to mine and then away towards the window.


“No you don’t,” I say matter-of-factly.  He looks at me in surprise, about to protest.  “Look, we need to talk about this,” I continue.  Taking his hand, I pull him over to the sofa, deliberately sitting down exactly where everything happened before.


“Harry,” he persists, looking supremely uncomfortable, but he sits down when I tug on his hand.


“Draco, you did not take advantage of me.  I wanted what happened.”


“But you’re straight!”  He lets go of my hand and drops it into his lap.


“Don’t you remember me telling you that I think I’m bi?  I did say that before anything happened.”




“But nothing.  If I didn’t want it, I wouldn’t have kissed you back.”  I lean towards him and tuck a loose strand of hair behind his ear.  He shivers, his grey eyes pleading with me.  “Haven’t we been talking about living how we want, not doing things just because someone thinks we should?  Draco, I kissed you back because it was more amazing than any kiss I’ve ever had before, and I wanted to feel that again.  It didn’t matter that you’re a guy.  It felt right.”


His mouth falls slightly open in astonishment, his bottom lip reddened from where he was chewing at it.  I can’t help myself, and I close the distance between us and kiss him again.


Oh, it’s even better sober.  Pleasure shoots through me, bright and sharp.  He gasps, then presses against me after a moment of shock.  I desperately want to deepen the kiss, but we still have much to talk about.  Both of us need to be very clear about what we want.  So I pull back from him before things get too heated.


“I’ve not had any alcohol tonight, Draco,” I reassure.  “I know what I’m saying, I know what I want.  What about you?”


Sighing, he leans back against the sofa.  “I’ve been thinking about this ever since that night, Harry,” he says, his eyes dark and intense.  “I’ve never felt like I truly belonged somewhere, except when I was with you.  Even back when we were first getting to know each other, it always felt right to be with you.  There was so much going on, we were risking our lives every day, but I knew it would be okay as long as I was with you.  But I accepted that all I would ever be to you was a friend early on, because you were obviously straight,” he shoots me a hurt look, “and that I would have to be satisfied with that.  So I never let myself even imagine anything more with you.


“But no one I was ever with was remotely right for me.  Not Pansy, certainly not Blaise, and none of my other lovers.  Only when I was with you did I feel somewhat whole, and even then, it wasn’t enough.  I began to wonder if I was never meant to find true happiness.”


His words cut deep into my heart, resonating with my own emotions that I hadn’t ever really identified.  Since we became friends, I have always felt more secure, more complete, and happier when Draco is around.  And no one else has ever done that for me.  My heart starts pounding as I recognise that I feel more deeply for Draco than anyone else in my life, in all ways—intimacy, trust, affection, admiration, desire, passion, love…  Merlin, I’m in love with him.  I suck in a deep breath as the epiphany rocks through me.


Draco continues speaking, unaware of my sudden realisation, as his eyes are closed, his head resting on the back of the sofa.  “So when I woke up on top of you on the sofa that night, I was sure that I had just ruined the best thing that ever happened to me: our friendship.”


“Oh, Draco, no, you didn’t,” I reassure him again.


He levels an intense stare at me, pinning me in place with his gaze.


“Remember when we were talking about me not being able to find the ‘more’ in my life that I was looking for?” he asks.


I nod, the conversation clear in my mind.


“I think I could have that with you, Harry.  The only times I ever felt that I was somewhat close to finding it was when I was with you, but anything other than friendship with you was an impossibility.  So you had better be serious about this, because I don’t think I could handle having it dangled in front of me and then falling through.  I can’t lose you, and I’d rather keep you in my life as just a friend if trying for more will ruin it.  It would break me.”


I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this vulnerable.  His eyes are glassy, and he bites his bottom lip as he gazes at me, his heart in his hands, waiting for me to have my say.  He is so beautiful.


Smiling, I take his hands in mine and weave our fingers together.  “I’ve been thinking about this, too, Draco.  At first I thought we were just rebounding, but when you said you wanted to forget about what happened, I couldn’t believe how much it hurt, so much more than what happened with Ginny.  I know I’m quite thick sometimes when it comes to feelings and relationships, but the thought of losing my closeness with you cut me to the core.  And then I realised, after doing a lot of thinking, remembering our time together during and after the war, and soul searching, that I care about you more than anyone else in my life.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.  It honestly just never occurred to me to think of you as more than a friend, but now that I do, it’s like everything in my life suddenly fits, and it feels as natural as breathing.  I can’t imagine that anyone else would ever be as right for me as you are.”


He drops his eyes to our entwined hands and takes a shuddering breath, that loose strand of hair falling into his eyes again.  I can feel him trembling.  “Are you sure, Harry?” he whispers.


“Absolutely.”  I can’t hold it in anymore, despite having fully understood it only for a few minutes, and the words spill from my lips.  “I’m in love with you.”


He lifts his face to gaze at me, his skin flushed and his grey eyes brimming with tears.  I can see the sudden realisation in his face when he says, “I love you, too.”  The truth hangs between us for a long moment, resonating blissfully as it settles within us.  “Fuck, Harry, why didn’t we figure this out sooner?”  He wipes at his eyes and we both chuckle.


“Because I’m a thick prat, like I said,” I reply, laughing softly.


And then we’re embracing desperately, arms squeezing each other tightly.  I can feel his heartbeat pulsing against my chest, and my body screams at me to never let him go.


“Do you think that our other relationships failed because we are meant to be together?” he mumbles into my hair.


That thought makes perfect sense to me, actually.  Ginny and I were compatible on the surface, but at the deeper levels that matter more, we had very little in common.  And Draco and Pansy made great friends, but not lovers.  “Yeah, I do,” I answer, pressing a kiss just below his ear.


He gasps softly and shivers as he pulls back to look me in the eyes.  The love, desire, and lust I see reflected in his eyes slams into me and I am achingly aroused in an instant.  I’ve never needed anyone as much as I need him right now.


“I want you,” I plead.


He growls and kisses me hard, his fingers gripping my hair and his tongue slipping past my lips.  I can’t think of anything for a few minutes but the heaven that is his mouth and the drunken waves of desire that flow through me.


“Not on the sofa,” he breathes.


“Bed,” I mutter, pulling him up to his feet.  We stumble up the stairs to my bedroom, trying to kiss and walk and laugh all at the same time.  Once I close the bedroom door, though, we pause, breathing heavily.  Other than our intoxicated mutual wank a few weeks ago, I’ve never been with a man.


“You’ll have to take the lead here, Draco,” I pant.  “I’ve never wanted anyone as much as I want you right now, but I don’t exactly know what to do.”


He smiles and kisses me softly.  “We’ll take care of that soon enough,” he laughs.  “But for now, let me love you.”  His hands run down my front, deftly undoing my shirt buttons.  His thumbs trail across my collarbones as he pushes my shirt off my shoulders, sending sparks down my spine.  The fabric falls to the floor, and I reach up to divest him of his shirt.  He has a light dusting of blonde chest hair across his pecs and trailing down below his navel, and his skin is so soft under my hands.  The sunset light spilling in the window sets his hair and skin aglow, and I can’t breathe.


In the moment that I’m mesmerised at the sight of him, he unfastens my trousers, and they drop to my ankles before I’m aware of what he’s doing.  His hands slide under the waistband of my boxers, caressing my buttocks as he lowers the elastic over my hips.  My entire body is tingling, and I moan and lean into him as I step out of my clothes, toeing off my shoes.


“You are so gorgeous,” Draco breathes, eyeing my erection hungrily.  He pushes me down on the bed and then drops his trousers and pants in one smooth motion, exposing his cock, which juts eagerly towards me, fully erect.  He lies on top of me, pressing our bodies together from toe to nose.


“No, you are,” I grin, nibbling at his bottom lip.


He snickers, “Imp.”  And then he kisses me again, slowly, deeply, making love to my mouth.


If I weren’t already lying down, I’d be swooning, it’s so intense.  I’m ablaze with want: my hands are on his back, his arse, in his hair, my legs are entwining around his, he’s grinding into me and our cocks are rubbing together and—fucking hell—my hair is tingling with pleasure.


Draco breaks the kiss with a gasp and sits up rapidly, chest heaving.  “Need lube…”


“Er…” I pause, mourning the loss of skin contact.  I don’t have any lube, as I hadn’t exactly planned on this tonight.  The wetness from our erections cools on my stomach as he looks at me for a moment.


He smirks and mumbles, “Good thing I know a spell, or we’d really be fucked.”  Oh, but now I have a beautiful view of his body as he stretches across the bed and digs for his wand.  He is fucking stunning, his pale skin flushed and his cock heavy with desire.


He conjures a little tube of lubricant and squeezes a dollop onto my fingers.  Goose bumps shiver over me as I realise exactly what we are about to do.  His eyes lock with mine as he lifts himself up on his knees and guides my hand between his legs.  “Two fingers, Harry,” he breathes.  “Want you.”


I smear the gel around his hole, familiarising myself with the wrinkled skin there, and then press inward.


Sweet Merlin, it’s tight.  And hot, and smooth.  The mere thought of my cock being there, inside him, makes me nearly explode.


Draco groans and presses down against my hand.  He leans backwards a bit, causing my fingers to brush against the front of his passage, and I can feel a soft ridge there.  His groan turns into a whimper, hissing, “yes,” so I rub that area more deliberately.


He bucks on my fingers for a minute, and then pushes my hand away.  His hand, wet with lube, grasps my cock just enough to slick me up, and then he lines it up with his entrance and begins to slowly sink down.


“Fuck,” I gasp as I slide into him.  “Oh my god, Draco,” I moan, and then I can’t say anything coherent as I’m trying desperately not to come, he’s so tight.  His weight is resting completely on my hips, and I’m fully seated within him.  I’ve never felt anything so amazing in my life.  I take a few deep breaths and force my orgasm to subside, which it thankfully does after a moment.


“Fuck, Harry, you feel so good,” he groans.


“So do you,” I manage.


He places his hands on my chest and begins to move, riding me up and down, and I was wrong—this is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had.


I have to touch him, have to feel him, so I grab his hips and guide his body, thrusting up into him forcefully.


He moans.  “Yes, fuck me,” he pants, and he takes a hold of his cock with one hand and squeezes it, sliding his fingers up and down his length as he moves with me.


He is so fucking beautiful like this, wanton, straining, muscles flexing, his face alight with pleasure, that gorgeous prick disappearing under his palm…


Draco lets out a soft wail and tightens almost agonisingly around me as he comes, spurting across my chest.


And I can’t contain my climax any longer.  It swells from deep inside me and explodes, curling my toes and making my vision swims for a moment as my body shudders.


When I come to a minute later, he is lying on top of me, taking deep, heaving breaths.  I slide my fingers into his hair, enjoying the feel of the silky strands.  He smells so good, like sex and spice and sweat and Draco.


“Mmmm…” I hum and press a kiss to his temple.


He lifts his head and grins dazedly at me, his lips plump and red.  He kisses me again, slow and gentle.  “Just you wait until your turn,” he whispers.


The thought of him fucking me sends an aftershock through me, and my waning erection gives a feeble twitch, which causes it to slip from his body.


We snicker, grinning madly at each other, and then he rolls off of me and fishes around on the floor for his wand.  A moment later we are both clean, and he climbs back into bed with me, resting his arm across my chest possessively.


“I love you, Draco,” I say softly, running my fingers along his bicep.


He leans up to look me in the eyes, his face open and intense.  “I love you, too, Harry.”


His hair has half-fallen out of the tie at the nape of his neck, and he looks delightfully dishevelled.  I reach out and undo the hair tie completely so the rest of his hair falls loose around his shoulders, and then tuck a few strands behind his ear.  He smiles warmly at me and traces a finger across my eyebrows, cheekbones, and along my jaw.


“We still have a lot to work out, Harry,” he whispers.


“I know, and we will.  In the morning.  Can you stay?”  I’m suddenly aware of the fact that he hadn’t been planning on spending the night with me, but I don’t want him to leave.  Ever.


“Yes, Pansy is home with Natalia,” he replies.


“Good,” I say and then yawn.  My body is already calling me to sleep.


He grins at me and then drops his head onto my shoulder.  Snuggling close, he mumbles into my chest, “Goodnight, Harry.”


I curl one leg around his and press my face into his hair.  “Mmmm… g’night.”




I wake up in a whirl of pleasure.  Draco is pressed up behind me, his cock rubbing between my arse cheeks, his tongue licking the back of my neck in time with his hand on my prick.


“Oh my god, Draco,” I gasp and arch into him.  His cock is slippery as he grinds against me, and his strokes across my hole send lightning up my spine.  I never imagined anything could feel so good.


“Mmmm, like that?” he pants into my hair.


Yessss…” I hiss.


He groans into my neck and increases his pace.  I lose myself in the rhythm and slide, and after a few minutes, he bites my shoulder and moans loudly, his body shuddering as he comes against me.  I follow him shortly, gasping at the force of it.


“That is the best wake up call I’ve ever had,” I pant a moment later.


He chuckles and wipes at me with the sheet.  “Indeed.  Good morning, Harry.”


I roll over to face him and grin.  “Morning, love.”


He smiles, his face alive with happiness, and kisses me chastely on the lips.  “Can I use your shower?” he asks.


“Help yourself.  I’ll make breakfast, yeah?”


He stands up and stretches, smirking as I ogle him shamelessly.  “Sounds wonderful.”


I lay in bed for another long moment after he disappears into the bathroom, grinning stupidly at the ceiling.




We sit quietly at the kitchen table, sipping tea, my feet propped up in his lap.  It’s a comfortable silence, but we do need to talk.  “So how are things with you and Pansy?” I ask.  Those three weeks of not talking have left us a lot to catch up on.


“Better than they have been for a long time, actually,” he answers, setting his teacup down.  “She’s going to stay with us indefinitely, to minimise the disruption to Natalia, but she’ll have her own life, her own rooms.  It won’t be all that different, actually, except there aren’t any expectations on us as a couple.  We’ve both signed the papers, so the divorce is final.”


“That’s great, Draco.  It could be so much worse; I’m glad it’s worked out so well.”  I wish my divorce was as easy.  At least it didn’t take as long as it would in the Muggle world.


“So what’s the story with Ginny?” he returns.  “Anything new on that front?”


“Not much.”  The divorce was finalised before I got this house, so Draco’s well aware of that.  “I haven’t tried to keep up with her.  Ron and Hermione will probably have news later today, though.  The house in London is in her name now, Molly is happy to be a Grandmum again, and Ginny is still with Smith.  I wish her well, really.”  I smile as I realise that’s true.  I honestly do wish Ginny all the best.  Somehow finding my own happiness with Draco has eclipsed all the bad feelings about my ex-wife.


Draco rests his elbows on the table and his chin in his hands.  Looking at me intently, he comes right to the point.  “Harry, the thing you were most upset about with Ginny was the issue of children.  I know you want kids, but that clearly isn’t possible if you stay with me, as we both lack the proper equipment.”


I give him a wry smile.  “Last week, I had to go to a Muggle orphanage.  There was this little boy there, about three years old, and the people who run the orphanage couldn’t find anyone to adopt him because funny things kept happening around him.  Furniture levitating, lights flickering when he has a tantrum, etcetera, and they thought he was possessed.”  I chuckle.  “Obviously, the kid’s a wizard.  So I took care of all the paperwork and helped place him with a wizarding family.  And it occurred to me that there are a lot of children out there who need loving homes.  I don’t need a woman in my life to have a child.  I’ll just adopt.”


Draco looks absolutely gobsmacked.  “Wow, Harry, I didn’t consider that,” he says.  “I was sure this was going to be a problem for us.”


“It won’t be,” I reply, “not in that sense.  But what do you think about doing that with me?  I know there is a lot to consider, Natalia for one, but for the sake of discussion, what are your thoughts about it?”


He swallows, his face thoughtful.  “Well, it’s a little early on in our relationship to be talking about adopting kids, as we aren’t even living together…”


“I’m not talking about doing this tomorrow, Draco,” I reassure.  “I want to enjoy my time with you.  I just bought this house, which I love, and I really like having my independence right now.  But I hope that you and I can be forever, and eventually we’ll want to live together.  We can share time here and at the Manor, and there are a couple of empty bedrooms and an unfinished basement here, which you could turn into a potions lab.  So, hypothetically, in that future, what do you think about adopting more kids?”


He beams at me, his grey eyes twinkling brightly.  “I think it would be brilliant, Harry,” he answers.  “Natalia would love to have a brother or sister—she asked me about it the other day, in fact, and I had no idea what to tell her.  I just couldn’t stomach sleeping with Pansy again, so we never tried for another child.  I’d love to adopt with you.”


He leans forward and takes my hand, lacing our fingers together.  “We are forever, Harry,” he whispers, and kisses me softly.


I can’t help but think as his lips caress mine that our future appears very golden indeed.